Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

In the Fairy Land of Republiconia, facts are made from thin air, and the voice of the people is whatever words those who would rule them choose to put there. Reality need never be faced as long as one can close their eyes and pretend really hard that something’s not so.

Take coastal drilling, for instance. Over the last few weeks, the Republicons really think they’ve hit on something with that bit of fuckery. Never mind those pesky facts: who cares if drilling will harm our environment, won’t reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil, won’t deliver lower gas prices, and won’t even deliver so much as a barrel of oil for at least 10 years? The Republicons, you see, have a poll, and they say it shows that the majority of the American people totally support coastal drilling. No question. Absolutely. Numbers don’t lie.

To paraphrase Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that poll. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Notably, a Gallup poll widely cited by the press beginning in June – precisely the time President Bush, Senator John McCain, and Governor Charlie Crist of Florida all began advocating for more drilling – did not ask respondents to choose from alternatives. It simply asked if they would favor or oppose drilling to “attempt to reduce the price of gasoline.” And 57 percent said they were in favor, a factor alluded to by Crist in his decision to reverse his position and support more drilling. Another influential, and crucially timed, poll by Zogby, released June 20, asserted that 74 percent of Americans favor offshore drilling, but it too did not present options.

Media outlets cite the Gallup and Zogby polls often, and often without qualification, despite Gallup’s note:

The responses to this type of question do not provide information about the relative acceptability of the idea of each of the alternative proposals taken separately, but rather more simply reflect a forced-choice preference.

“Forced-choice preference” is probably too big a phrase for the 1 1/2 remaining brain cells in the Republicon mind to process, so let me break this down: This is roughly like claiming that 57% of Americans favor anal rape, without noting that the actual choices were between being anally raped or raped in every orifice. Most of us, I think, would plump for the lesser of two evils.

So what happens when we include the “not be raped at all” option? Oh, now, that’s a little different:

For example, a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that 51 percent of state residents support more drilling; but it also showed that 83 percent want more federal funding for wind, solar, and hydrogen technology. A new Quinnipiac poll bolsters that case, polling Ohioans to find that “57 percent call for renewable energy sources” such as solar power, wind power and fuels as the best way to address the energy crisis, but only “20 percent support drilling in Alaska and currently protected offshore sites,” with similar results in Florida and Pennsylvania.

My goodness me. Those numbers say something completely different, don’t they? Whoda thunkit. Still, that was a little wordy, so let’s just paint our special Republicon friends a picture, shall we?

There we go. Of course, now they’ll probably confuse the green wedge with environmental conservation and think the gargantuan blue Pacman is just Dems, but hey, I didn’t come up with the colors. Maybe if we explain using really small words

In the Land of Republiconia, regulatory agencies regulate the minutae and ignore the big fat fucking details that endanger thousands of lives:

Another excellent benefit of Big Oil’s record profits.

Pilots are complaining that their airline bosses, desperate to cut costs, are forcing them to fly uncomfortably low on fuel.

Safety for passengers and crews could be compromised, they say.

The situation got bad enough three years ago, even before the latest surge in fuel prices, that NASA sent a safety alert to federal aviation officials.

There has been no action.

Since then, pilots, flight dispatchers and others have continued to sound off with their own warnings, yet the Federal Aviation Administration says there is no reason to order airlines to back off their effort to keep fuel loads to a minimum.

“We can’t dabble in the business policies or the personnel policies of an airline,” said FAA spokesman Les Dorr.

WTF? I know the Bush administration is fundamentally allergic to regulation of any kind, but the reason the FAA exists is to dabble in the business policies of the airlines.

Not in Republiconia, it doesn’t. It’s just there to make people think Big Brother’s looking out for their welfare while private companies are allowed to play silly buggers to their hearts’ content. And, of course, no one is worried about all those dead customers, because without abortion and birth control, there’ll always be plenty more where those came from.

And in the Land of Republiconia, WMDs were found in Iraq, and even shipped to Canada!!11!1!! It was a nefarious scheme, completely hidden from the public (aside from being reported in major daily newspapers). Wait ’till you hear the rest of the story:

For example, this week the Rev. Donald Wildmon’s OneNewsNow distorted a month-old Associated Press story and reported that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. Furthermore, OneNewsNow asserted, President George W. Bush knew the weapons were there but kept quiet about the removal of this material and is thus a hero.


Yellowcake is milled uranium ore. In this form, it is not a WMD. Nor was the yellowcake “found” in Iraq recently. It has been there since 1991, and everyone knew that. The material was not secretly spirited out of the country. Its removal was reported in The New York Times and elsewhere.


Flash forward to 2008.

Iraqi officials said they’d like to get the material out of the country, so the United States arranged for it to be sold to a Canadian firm. As The New York Times reported on July 7:

Although the material cannot be used in its current form for a nuclear weapon or even a so-called dirty bomb, officials decided that in Iraq’s unstable environment, it was important to make sure it did not fall into the wrong hands.

For some reason, several right-wing blogs have been reporting this recently as some great triumph for Bush. Let’s be clear on what happened: material that is not in its present form dangerous was removed from Iraq 17 years after it was discovered and impounded. It was put on boats and shipped to Canada. Only the soft bigotry of low expectations could turn that into a foreign-policy coup.

The soft bigotry of low expectations… or the stinking desperation of a political party so bereft of ideas, so inept at governing, and sinking so fast beneath the censure of voters that they have to create their own little fairy world to escape nasty, icky reality.

I do think it’s time they get psychiatric help.

Happy Hour Discurso

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