Thursday, June 2, 2011

Satire, Meet Reality; Try Not to Laugh Too Hard

I want to stress again that I don't think things are necessarily any worse than they were in the good old days, at least in some areas. People have always been insane. Still, certain things do make me want to bang my head against the wall and howl in despair.

For example, some students at a middle school in Arkansas included a list of the 5 Worst People in All Time in their yearbook: Adolf Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Charles Manson, George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney. Of course, these lists are easy to quibble with. Where's Stalin? Where's Richard Nixon? Where's Mao Zedong? Henry Kissinger? Arguably any of them is worse than Charles Manson.

But as I'm sure you'll have guessed, the hissyfits inspired by this list were over Bush and Cheney.
Parents were outraged when they discovered the list, according to the station, and, in reaction, the school district had the list covered with black duct tape.

Superintendent Randall Williams says the printing of the list was "an oversight," Fox 16 reports, and said he was disappointed to learn the tape could simply be peeled off the page.
Duct tape? And the Superintendent is surprised to learn that the tape can be peeled off? How is it that every adult in Russellville hasn't been declared mentally incompetent and placed under guardianship?
"I'm furious as a parent and as a board member and as a tax payer and as a resident of Russellville," School Board Member Chris Cloud, who has two children in the district, tells the station. "It's wrong."
Of course Fox News can't do more than generate soundbytes, but why does Mr. Cloud think that "it" (whatever it is) is "wrong"? As a taxpayer, I'm furious that this sort of tempest in a teapot is happening in a supposedly free country, though as an informed person I know that it's nothing new. Political Correctness has run amuck!
Williams tells Fox 16 the yearbook sponsor -- a teacher -- is "very, very, very" upset that she didn't pay more attention to the page with the list, and that the yearbook editing process is being reviewed. "I think she maybe just scanned the whole page and went on," he tells the station, adding that he can't talk about disciplinary action.
That doesn't mean there won't be disciplinary action, of course. Someone has to pay for making trouble. You don't go to school to learn to stick out in a crowd.

I don't believe that anyone -- anyone who mattered, I mean -- would have objected if an equally meaningless but more Truely Politically Correct list had appeared in the yearbook. But why doesn't anyone talk back to Chris Cloud and his gang? I sympathize with the superintendent, who can't reasonably be expected to jeer at the school board. But if anyone in Russellville has a different view, their Fair and Balanced news station didn't bother to inform us. And just because it's Arkansas doesn't mean everybody is a Teabagger.

Then Eric Alterman had to remind me how much Stupid there is on what we laughingly call the American Left. His current blog post at the Nation is called "Stupid Is", and he doesn't notice the backwash. The post is dedicated to touting his own latest column, on the idiocy of Republicans, and then "If the recent news of stubbornly high unemployment claims, weakening jobs reports, a re-imploding housing picture, and softening manufacturing activity didn’t convince you that both our country and President Obama’s chances for reelection are teetering on the brink of disaster ..." You see? Obama's reelection and the future of Our Country are inseparable.

As for those Republican idiots:
One aspect of American politics that receives insufficient attention is that a significant percentage of self-identified Republicans—around half—are complete idiots. And the candidates who wish to be elected by them must pander to them, either by being idiots themselves—see “Bachmann, Michele”—or pretending to be. Nobody in the MSM is empowered to say this aloud. Indeed, the very act of pointing it out brands one a “liberal elitist” who is biased against proud, patriotic conservatives.
He follows this up with some poll results showing the crazy things that Republicans believe. And there's no doubt about it, they're crazy things. But what about the crazy things that Democrats believe?

I've written about this video before:
“I would like to see a cleaner earth for my child that I’m bringing into the world very soon,” says one smiling young woman. “It’s time for change,” a serious young white man agrees, “I want a better future for my children.” “I would like our environment to be safe,” an elegant African American woman adds. “Someone to actually make a difference in my generation,” says a white man with close-cropped hair and what appears to be a bruised eye, wearing a bomber jacket and hoodie. “I would like to see us in a world without fear,” says a man with his arm around a smiling woman. “Basically, um, I just want the war to end,” says a young Latina who earlier assured the viewer that “Esto es nuestro America.” The expectant mother returns with “I would like the rest of the world to think highly of our amazing country.” Also I’d like an Xbox, a Hannah Montana DVD, and a Cabbage Patch doll, okay? … If I were going to satirize this video, I’d show Obama dressed in work clothes, shuffling and scraping as he pushed a broom, mumbling, “Yes’m, I’ll clean up the earth for you right away, ma’am. A world without fear, suh, comin’ right up!”
Obama has not only failed to deliver on these fantasies (which is not unreasonable), but has delivered a third Bush term instead (which is very unreasonable) and has attacked and laughed at his Democratic critics. (His right-wing critics, however, he takes very seriously, and his response to them is careful, measured, and civil.) Yet his approval ratings currently hover around 50 percent for the whole population, but among Democrats, it is 82 percent; among liberals, 76 percent. Consider what that means: the economy is still in trouble (except for the richest), we are still waging wars in at least three countries depending on what you consider a war, the Patriot Act was just renewed without debate, and so on, but a very large majority of Democrats think Obama's doing a good job. Some presumably know what he's doing and approve of it, others presumably believe that he's still working on that Xbox for next Christmas and would have brought about a world without fear if it weren't for those rascally Republicans. Numerous Obama apologists point to his good poll numbers among Democrats and liberals as evidence (or proof) that the God-King is doing a good job; what those numbers actually indicate is that substantial majorities of Democrats and liberals are delusional.

Between the Republicans and the Democrats, that's a lot of Stupid. What can be done about it, I don't know. I'm not sure anything can be done.