Press Conference of Shame

This week, Anthony Weiner held the traditional press conference of shame. In his case, this is his second relating to the sexting scandal. As is traditional in the press conference of shame, his wife, Huma Abedin, stood by his side. She played the role of “The Good Wife” very well. I have to wonder what was going through her mind as she stood in front of all those cameras and microphones. What was she thinking about as he humiliated both of them in front of the whole world?

Was she thinking about how just last year, she was a high ranking aide in the State Department? Did she pause to think about how she’s a close confident of someone who could very well be the first woman president (One who has had her own share of public marital problems to deal with)? Did she wonder, “Why am I hanging with this schmuck, who already blew it as a Congressman and whose chances of becoming mayor of America’s largest city just fell to zero? In a few years, I could be on a short list for a cabinet position, why am I chaining myself to this narcissistic idiot?”?

Just once, in one of these press conferences of shame, I’d love to see the wife kick him in the balls and walk off. I guarantee, no one would stop her.

Anti-Intellectualism in Politics

A people’s history of Mitch Daniels – The Maddow Blog.

Former Indiana governor and current president of Purdue University recently got himself into a dust-up over what text books are appropriate to use in history. Reports are coming out that as both governor and university president, Daniels has tried to keep to certain text books from being used for credit in the classroom. He seems to have a particular vendetta against the writings of Howard Zinn, whom he accuses of promoting “liberal propaganda”. At first, it seemed like he was just focused on keeping the book out of K-12 classrooms, but latter reports revealed he has been trying to keep out of Indiana’s universities as well. Daniels has reportedly called the book “crap”, “Anti-American”, and has said that it “should not be accepted for any credit by the state.”

Now, there are two levels here. One is whether schools, in particular K-12, should be including controversial works in their reading lists. The other is whether these works should be critically examined at the college and university level. This isn’t like cases of trying to wedge creationism into science class. Creationism is not science. It can’t even be considered pseudo-science. It’s just a bunch of wishful thinking by people who refuse to look at the evidence. But in the case of students reading a text like Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” Daniels is objecting not because of any particular factual inaccuracies, but simply because he doesn’t like the political interpretation of the work. And that’s where he doesn’t just bump into the issue of academic freedom, but collides head on with it. The purpose of scholarship, especially in the social sciences, is not tell students to memorize a series of facts, but to examine the ideas that helped shaped the course of history. The fact that some of those ideas are controversial is all the more reason why they should be subjected to critical examination. Perhaps such an examination may be too advanced for K-12 schools that have to conform to a state mandated curriculum, but examining these works in the university setting is the very essence of critical thought. I’d rather have a student read the book and give an intelligent rebuttal for why she disagrees with it than not having been exposed to the ideas in the first place. Ideas, like life, that are not examined and critiqued are worthless, regardless of how precious they may seem to those who hold. If Mitch Daniels fears that a book will tear down the fabric of American society, than that speaks far more about his lack of faith in students than it does about the strength of the ideas presented in the book.

But maybe I’m wrong. Either way, I think I’ll add Howard Zinn to my reading list.

Dispatches from Crazy Town: One Million Moms Angry at Geico

From the Department of Silly Protests, the group that calls itself “One Million Moms” is offended by this Geico Commercial because they say it promotes bestiality.

You’ve probably seen the ad: Maxwell the Pig is on a date and their car breaks down. He uses his Geico App to call a tow truck, much to his date’s disappointment that they won’t be stuck up their “for hours with nothing to do”.

If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

Here’s where their objection fall apart: The entire joke of the ad is that they don’t have sex! Clueless Maxwell is oblivious to his date’s hints and would rather “pass the time” playing Fruit Ninja on his smart phone. How can they claim this ad promotes bestiality when the two characters very obviously don’t have any physical contact whatsoever?

Dispatches from Crazy Town: Skeetgate

Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past few years, you know that President Obama cannot release a single photo of himself without some nutbar claiming that it was photoshoped. The latest occurred after the Obama was asked in an interview with the New Republic if he’d ever fired a gun. His response was that he has gone skeet shooting at Camp David “all the time”. Now, if we lived in a sane world, that would have been the end of it.

Of course, America has become Crazy Town, which means the media immediately clamored for photographic evidence of the president actually firing a gun.

And they did:

And they didn’t disappoint. Almost as soon as the picture was release, the internets exploded with conspiracy theories. Just like with the birth certificate, suddenly, the web was aflame with photoshop “experts” who proved that the picture was faked.

I’m surprised Trump didn’t offer to donate $5 million to charity if Obama released the “original” photo.

This one is particularly laughable given that it would probably be easier to just hand the president a gun and take a pic of him shooting it than it would be to go through the trouble of photoshopping it.