Friday, December 7, 2007

The gods look down and laugh

Today's head is from Groucho in Animal Crackers, and is a simplification of Shakespeare's The gods look down, and this unnatural scene they laugh at (Coriolanus).

Let's keep this short and simple: we as a nation or as a species are in deep trouble till we can raise the quality of schooling such that citizens are able to make reasonably informed decisions on important topics, and--perhaps even more important--are able to recognize those topics on which they are not sufficiently informed to make reasonable decisions, and for which they must consult those with expertise.

None of that is to say that anyone should surrender all judgement to experts; but the patient who distrusts his or her doctor should get a second or even third opinion, not ignore the doctor and cook up some folk remedy.


U.S. State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard, under scrutiny for his brother's link to the Blackwater security firm, has decided to resign, U.S. officials said on Friday. And it's about time, too.

The Senate on Friday failed to approve a far-reaching House energy bill. The crux was that the bill contained production and other tax credits for various sorts of renewable energy, credits that are literally vital to the emerging industries in that field; under the Democratic "pay-go" principle, those credits would have had to be made up somewhere, the proposed somewhere being a repeal of Bush tax credits to big-oil companies. You can guess how that played out in the 49-Republicans Senate, where ye olde quainte & charming customs allow a minority to block the majority. In the end, because even the lethargic American public is now perceiving the importance of energy, they will probably pass a bill, but without the renewables credits. Laugh of the day: "Our country's energy focus should be on securing American energy supply, not discouraging future American energy production," said the president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

The "genial" Mike Huckabee, now that he is actually--however fleetingly remains to be seen--a possible contender, has started showing his colors more openly, announcing a "plan" under which illegal immigrants have four months to pack up and get out. Enforcement appears to consist of a threat to ring their doorbells and run.

Several fruits and vegetables have been proven to have significant cancer-reducing properties. Next thing you know, they'll be telling you that eating meat is bad for you. Oh, they did that already?

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said she spoke to President Bush this morning and that "he has no recollection of being made aware of the [CIA interrogation] tapes or their destruction before yesterday," when he was briefed about the matter by [CIA Directory] Hayden. On further questioning, she conceded that Bush also had no recollection of getting out of bed this morning.

A Rasmussen poll shows--ready for this?--that fewer than 1 in 5 American voters believes that Iran has halted its nuclear weapons program, the recent multi-agency NIE report notwithstanding. So if the top ranks of our nation's intelligence agencies conclude that Iran has a bomb program, they're right, but if they conclude that it doesn't, they're wrong. So why bother with all these expensive intelligence programs when you can get the real scoop by just asking the boys down at the Dew Drop Inn?

Speaking of polls, Rasmussen also found that only 1 in 20 Americans disapproves of spanking children; perhaps even more jaw-dropping is that almost 1 in 3 believes that teachers should be allowed to spank pupils. Why teachers should not be allowed to smack or paddle misbehaving parents is unclear.

Giulianium of the day: after duly noting hizzoner's now-legendary repeat torturing of data (aka "lying"), Michael Winship opines that:

if this were Rudy's only problem, we New York City voters might take him a little more seriously as a candidate. But those of us who knew him on the day before 9/11, and the years prior and since, keep watching his success on the campaign trail and asking Republican America a simple, rhetorical question:

Have you lost your ever-loving minds?
That is, besides lying about his purported accomplishments and others' purported failures, there are the matters of "just how corrupt his City Hall was and how he has exploited the 9/11 tragedy for financial gain." The entire piece richly deserves the attention of anyone not yet convinced that Rudy is the scuzziest candidate out there on either side.

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