Quackery

A Meandering Consideration of Absolutism

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, 3 March 2015.  (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

“Maybe it’s an unfortunate hallmark of contemporary conservative thought?”

Steve Benen

Over at Slate, Fred Kaplan offers an interesting consideration:

It’s looking more and more like Benjamin Netanyahu committed a strategic blunder in so ferociously opposing the Iran nuclear deal and in rallying his American allies to spend all their resources on a campaign to kill the deal in Congress.

SlateIf current trends hold, the Israeli prime minister and his stateside lobbyists—mainly AIPAC—are set to lose this fight. It’s politically risky for Israel’s head of state to go up against the president of his only big ally and benefactor; it’s catastrophic to do so and come away with nothing. Similarly, it’s a huge defeat for AIPAC, whose power derives from an image of invincibility. American politicians and donors might get the idea that the group isn’t so invincible after all, that they can defy its wishes, now and then, without great risk.

It would have been better for Netanyahu—and for Israel—had he maybe grumbled about the Iran deal but not opposed it outright, let alone so brazenly. He could have pried many more favors from Obama in exchange for his scowl-faced neutrality. Not that Obama, or any other American president, will cut Israel off; but relations will remain more strained, and requests for other favors (for more or bigger weapons, or for certain votes in international forums) will be scrutinized more warily, than they would have been.

There is, of course, much more to Kaplan’s consideration, including the implications of current Congressional momentum and the widening gap between the credibility of favoring and opposing arguments. Toward the latter, he notes, “Most criticisms of the deal actually have nothing to do with the deal”, and that’s about as least unfavorable as his critique of the criticism gets.

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My Own Private Disgrace

'Two Shades of Grey': Remix of Bug Martini, by nobody important, for no good reason, 23 August 2015; original by Adam Huber, 19 August 2015.

With utmost apologies, of course, to Adam Huber, though in truth none could possibly suffice. Sorry, Adam, I couldn’t help myself.

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 19 August 2015.To the other, such exercises are useful; in printed news media, the notion of column inches is disappearing into the electronic aether, but it does still exist for those whose writing aims to appear in the paper edition. And the nature of cartooning, of course, will always force some consideration of panel space.

This is the important part, because just how far does one push in order to make the joke work? There is an obvious hole in the remix, but it’s hard to explain just how our hero comes to expect that the stuff in the container is his grandmother’s cremated ashes mixed into baby fat and other such disgusting ingredients that she might await chthonic resurrection. (more…)

Governor Scott “Forcible Insertion Is Cool” Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, 26 February 2015.  Photo by H. Darr Beiser, USA Today.

This is a basic difference:

Walker told Loesch that criticism he received about the ultrasound bill was merely an attack from the “gotcha” media, and that he was in fact just trying to provide women with “a cool thing.”

“The thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea,” he said. “Most people I talked to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time that pull out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, we still have their first ultrasounds. It’s just a cool thing out there.”

“We just knew if we signed that law, if we provided the information that more people if they saw that unborn child would make a decision to protect and keep the life of that unborn child,” he said.

(Blue)

The question of how one advocates using force of law to insert foreign objects into a woman’s vagina for no medical purpose is beside the point.

Try that again: Using force of law to insert foreign objects into women’s vaginas. If this notion seems remotely appropriate to you?

Hello?

Governor Rapist Walker?

No, Governor, it is not cool.

This is not one of those things you should need reminding of.

____________________

Blue, Miranda. “Scott Walker: Ultrasounds Should Be Mandatory Since They’re ‘A Cool Thing'”. Right Wing Watch. 26 May 2015.

Good News with an Asterisk

Transgender pride

This is important:

The largest group of internal medicine doctors in the U.S. came out Monday in support of policies it says will improve the health of the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Those policies include support for civil marriage rights for same-sex couples, opposition to so-called conversion or reparative therapy and support for health insurance plans that include comprehensive transgender healthcare services.

“The LGBT community deserves the same high quality care that any community in the United States should be getting, but may not be getting,” said Dr. Wayne J. Riley, president of the American College of Physicians.

(Seaman)

This is the challenge: Prevention and risk identification. The Reuters report notes, for instance, that among the estimated 1.1 million HIV cases in the United States, one in six is not yet diagnosed. And think about that for a moment; that nearly seventeen percent works out to nearly one hundred eighty-four thousand people with unknown transmission potential likely in high risk profiles.

And this is a problem. First and foremost, doctors need to know these patients in order to help. But as a practical concern, this number also represents a tremendous gateway for potential further undiagnosed exposure, transmission, and contraction. Both individual and public health are at risk.

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Not Fiction

"But I said I don't like sour stuff!"  (Frame from 'FLCL' ep. 1, 'FLCL.)

To what degree is it refreshing that for once a Republican gaffe has nothing to do with female reproductive health? To the other, is there a line in Jon Ralston’s report on Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R-04, Clark County) that doesn’t read like political satire?

Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R-04, Clark County) in undated photo attributed to LetsTalkNevada.com.“If you have cancer, which I believe is a fungus,” she began, citing a widely debunked theory that the American Cancer Society warns about, “and we can put a pic line into your body and we’re flushing with, say, salt water, sodium cardonate (I think she means bicarbonate), through that line and flushing out the fungus. These are some procedures that are not FDA-approved in America that are very inexpensive, cost-effective.”

So says the expert who runs a home health care company with a sketchy tax history.

Yes. Really.

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Image note: Top ― “But I said I don’t like sour stuff!” Yet Naota drinks the lemon-squash something-or-other, anyway. Right ― The ever-elegant Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R-04, Clark County), a business owner in the health industry who thinks cancer is a fungus.

Ralston, Jon. “Dr. Fiore is in: Cancer is a fungus that can be flushed out!” Ralston Reports. 23 February 2015.

One of Those Questions That Might Be Worth Asking

'Why are you unvaccinated?' (Matt Bors, 11 February 2015, via Daily Kos Comics)

Matt Bors asks the Obvious Question.

Or, you know, never mind. With rumors of measles parties not yet fulfilled, there’s still time to pretend there’s nothing going on, here.

Not Exactly the Moral of the Story

"U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks in Washington on Dec. 2, 2014." (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Compartmentalization. Equivocation. Misdirection.

Watch the birdie.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has once again dug himself a hole, and yes, he’s annoyed that anyone noticed:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday continued to walk back his comments that parents should be allowed to choose whether to vaccinate their children, saying he holds the same position as President Barack Obama on the matter.

“I got annoyed that people were trying to depict me as someone who doesn’t think vaccines were a good idea,” Paul told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday, noting that he had been vaccinated before a recent trip to Guatemala and had vaccinated his children.

“I’m not sure I’m different from the president or anyone else on the position,” Paul said. “We have rules to encourage people to have vaccines in the country, but I don’t think anybody’s recommending that we hold them down.”

(Levine)

Did you catch that?

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Not the Latest in Alternative Therapies

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 2 January 2015.Given that we all recognize the work of Adam Huber, it should also be obvious that this is not—as it cannot possibly be—what it seems.

Short answer: Don’t ask. Just click.

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Huber, Adam. “Shake It Off”. Bug Martini. 2 January 2015.

A Shot in the Somethin’

Detail of cartoon by Jen Sorensen, 12 May 2014.

“I think it’s partly [suspicion of authority], but I also think it exposes something about liberal politics. It exposes the libertarian vein that can run through liberal politics. This is an issue where you see people who call themselves liberal and say that they’re concerned with social justice joining the same movement as people who are actually libertarians and more on the far right side of things or part of the Christian right.

“I think it has less to do with the suspicion of experts than it has to do with this thing that we treasure and nurture in America, individualism, which can actually be quite damaging if it’s taken to political extremes. And we can see it both on the right and the left.”

Eula Bliss

Here is a hint to any parent who might well be caught up in the process of trying to convince a coparent that skipping vaccinations is a bad idea: If you’re the parent who takes the kids to the doctor, just get them the freakin’ vaccinations.

The RumpusThat’s what we did. And, sure, there was some back and forth in there about who ever objected—as if I, for some reason, would—but surely enough it came up again from familiar quarters, this time repeating the vapid Michele Bachmann line—you know, the one about cognitive disabilities so ridiculous that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement to make the point?

Right. So, yeah. If the coparent wants to show up and pitch a fit in front of the doctor, she is welcome to do so. Other than that, it’s pretty straightforward. To the other, I doubt she would actually go so far as to show up at the doctor’s office and pitch a fit. After all, nobody likes being laughed out of the room. And, besides, it would require actually showing up at the doctor’s office.

Not everyone is gifted with such disposable tinfoil, but there are likely more than we might otherwise guess.

And for those, yes, subterfuge by omission is completely acceptable, because when it comes to harming your children, the fact that the other parent is a parent only matters so much.

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Koven, Suzanne. “The Big Idea #10: Eula Bliss”. The Rumpus. 17 November 2014.

Drobnic Holan, Angie and Louis Jacobson. “Michele Bachmann says HPV vaccine can cause mental retardation”. PolitiFact. 16 September 2011.

Burton, O. Marion. “American Academy of Pediatrics Statement on HPV Vaccine”. American Academy of Pediatrics. 13 September 2014.

FOX News and World Domination

It's time for an 'American jihad' (Keith Ablow/FOX News, 28 October 2014)

An American jihad would embrace the correct belief that if every nation on earth were governed by freely elected leaders and by our Constitution, the world would be a far better place. And an American jihad would not only hope for this outcome, but work toward it.

Keith Ablow

Is there a doctor in the house? No, no, Mr. Ablow, not you. A real doctor.

A nagging whisper at the back of pretty much any politically aware American’s mind is the question of what point would mark the unmistakable, irrevocable transition of the American Dream from a shining city on the hill to an empire akin to Coruscant. And while there are plenty who would denounce the demonstrable aspects of imperialism in American society and governance, one might be tempted to wonder if maybe, just maybe, the solution isn’t to throw down and go full Palpatine.

Just sayin’.

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