And To Think We Lost Eight Years

While America’s been incinerating discarded embryos rather than letting scientists find ways of helping the living with them, the Brits have had something of a breakthrough:

The London Times reports:

BRITISH scientists have developed the world’s first stem cell therapy to cure the most common cause of blindness. Surgeons predict it will become a routine, one-hour procedure that will be generally available in six or seven years’ time.

The treatment involves replacing a layer of degenerated cells with new ones created from embryonic stem cells. It was pioneered by scientists and surgeons from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London and Moorfields eye hospital.

I think that’s all that needs to be said.

Suckerz

When The Colbert Report first started airing, Stephen almost hoodwinked me. He’s such a good satirist I thought he might actually be conservative for an episode or so.

Turns out that, being a dirty flaming librul, I should’ve had no doubts:

The Irony of Satire

This study investigated biased message processing of political satire in The Colbert Report and the influence of political ideology on perceptions of Stephen Colbert. Results indicate that political ideology influences biased processing of ambiguous political messages and source in late-night comedy. Using data from an experiment (N = 332), we found that individual-level political ideology significantly predicted perceptions of Colbert’s political ideology. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism. Finally, a post hoc analysis revealed that perceptions of Colbert’s political opinions fully mediated the relationship between political ideology and individual-level opinion.

I’m sorry, but that cracks me up. It’s an awesome demonstration of cluelessness.

Oh, and in case you’re worried the liberals are the ones seeing only what they want to see, you can rest easy:

Although by his own account he was not particularly political before joining the cast of The Daily Show, Colbert is a self-described Democrat.[70][71] In an interview at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard Institute of Politics, he stated that he has “no problems with Republicans, just Republican policies.”[72]

(One of us! One of us! One of – ahem, sorry.)

All of this just goes to prove my point. Satire is currently impossible. But I’m glad that hasn’t stopped Stephen.


Join me in an enthusiastic tip o’ the shot glass to George, who sends me the most awesomest things.

Words and Music

When Simon & Garfunkel songs get lodged in my head, they’re usually songs like “The Sound of Silence” or “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” possibly “Mrs. Robinson” or “The Boxer.” They’re one of the bands my dad and I used to listen to together. Stuff like this makes you realize the ol’ dad is kinda cool after all. And excellent musical taste, when you ignore the country music.

“Richard Cory” is one of his favorites. It was one of my first hints that he actually liked poetry. It doesn’t get lodged in my brain nearly often enough:

Inspired by NP.

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Ah, sweet hypocrisy:

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), who was last making headlines for suggesting that Texas may consider seceding from the Union, is requesting help from the federal government to deal with a possible swine flu pandemic:
Gov. Rick Perry today in a precautionary measure requested the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide 37,430 courses of antiviral medications from the Strategic National Stockpile to Texas to prevent the spread of swine flu. Currently, three cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Texas.


You know what this reminds me of? The kid who screams at his parents how much he hates them, how he doesn’t need them telling him what to do, how he can make it on his own, etc., and storms out, only to return the second he needs $20 bucks and someone to do his laundry.

In other news of suddenly loving what they formerly hated, Cons despise France, but now that they think we’re ineligible to join the European Union, they’re suddenly upset that we’re not like the French:

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) conceded to the New York Times that Republicans have not yet “found our voice” during Obama’s presidency. To help prove the point, Alexander delivered the party’s weekly multimedia address yesterday.

“We Americans always have had a love-hate relationship with the French. Which was why it was so galling last month when the Democratic Congress passed a budget with such big deficits that it makes the United States literally ineligible to join France in the European Union.

“Now of course we don’t want to be in the European Union. We’re the United States of America. But French deficits are lower than ours, and their president has been running around sounding like a Republican — lecturing our president about spending so much.”

Yes, we now have conservative Republicans citing the French as a source to criticize American leadership. Times sure have changed.

Aren’t these the same assclowns who decided to rename fried potatos “Freedom Fries” because they thought the French were such pussies? Not to mention, we’ve still got a chance to join the EU – aside from that whole not being European thing. Once again, Cons have their facts wrong and their talking points all jumbled up.

On the torture front, the Cons are – what else? – blaming it all on the Dems:


The latest Republican parlor game on the torture issue is to pump up the talking point that torture is a Democratic problem, because Democrats have been in the majority in Congress since 2007, and therefore could have stopped the torture and didn’t.

Hmm.

Yes, I’m pretty sure you instantly see the problem with that one. Republicans were in the majority in Congress for most of the duration of the Bush “administration’s” torture program. But there’s more to it than just that.

The new twist — really a recycled Iraq war talking point — is that since Democrats “knew about” the program thanks to the bare bones, no staff, top secret, we’ll-prosecute-you-for-treason-if-you-mention-this briefing four of them received, they “could have stopped it if they had wanted to.”

Here’s the meme from FOX:


Defenders of the interrogation program note that if Congress had wanted to kill the program, all it had to do was withhold funding, which didn’t happen.

Ah, yes. You’ll recognize it as the “have the courage of your convictions” argument from 2007. That is, the GOP talking point that said that Democrats must really favor not only the Iraq war, but the way it was being prosecuted, because they refused to register their disagreement by cutting off the funding.

[snip]

This was the context in which Republicans contend Congress had its fair shot at ending torture, but instead chose to give its backhanded endorsement to the practice. Congress could get no answers from the “administration” even on matters of routine domestic policy, and according to the “administration’s” own legal theories couldn’t even compel witnesses to appear to answer questions about what policies existed that they were supposedly empowered to terminate. And those high-ranking few who were privy to the briefings, such as they were, were under constant threat of accusations of having compromised national security if they had discussed with colleagues the very remedy Republicans say was so readily available.
Yepper, sure does look like those dirty Dems are just as guilty as the Bushies. Riiight.

But, of course, the torture program was, according to David Broder, “a deliberate, and internally well-debated, policy decision, made in the proper places — the White House, the intelligence agencies and the Justice Department — by the proper officials.” So other than it being completely fucking immoral, illegal and just plain wrong, where’s the problem?

Oh:


Consider this jaw-dropping report that ran in the New York Times on Wednesday (presumably before Broder’s deadline).

The program began with Central Intelligence Agency leaders in the grip of an alluring idea: They could get tough in terrorist interrogations without risking legal trouble by adopting a set of methods used on Americans during military training. How could that be torture?

In a series of high-level meetings in 2002, without a single dissent from cabinet members or lawmakers, the United States for the first time officially embraced the brutal methods of interrogation it had always condemned.

This extraordinary consensus was possible, an examination by The New York Times shows, largely because no one involved — not the top two C.I.A. officials who were pushing the program, not the senior aides to President George W. Bush, not the leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees — investigated the gruesome origins of the techniques they were approving with little debate.

These policies weren’t the result of a “deliberate” and “internally well-debated” process, they
were thrown together, without any thought to the techniques’ history or even effectiveness. “Internally well-debated” makes it sound as if there a spirited discussion among administration officials. There wasn’t — as was too often the case in the Bush administration, decisions were made without dissenting voices.

The top officials he briefed did not learn that waterboarding had been prosecuted by the United States in war-crimes trials after World War II and was a well-documented favorite of despotic governments since the Spanish Inquisition; one waterboard used under Pol Pot was even on display at the genocide museum in Cambodia.

They did not know that some veteran trainers from the SERE program itself had warned in internal memorandums that, morality aside, the methods were ineffective.

A former C.I.A. official told the NYT the process was “a perfect storm of ignorance and enthusiasm.”


Prosecutions. Now.

Poem o’ the Day

All right, I know we’ve done W.H. Auden, but this poem came up while I searched for something else, and it delighted me. Therefore, more Auden.

If I could tell you

Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

-W.H. Auden

The days are getting lovely. Thankfully, Orhan Veli Kantk’s got a poem for that.

Fine Days

These fine days have been my ruin.
On this kind of day I resigned
My job in “Pious Foundations”
On this kind of day I started to smoke
On this kind of day I fell in love
On this kind of day I forgot
To bring home bread and salt
On this kind of day I had a relapse
Into my versifying disease.
These fine days have been my ruin.

-Orhan Veli Kantk

Sunday Sensational Science

Doctors in the Blogosphere

So, we have an outbreak of swine influenza in Mexico, a chronic infestation of “healers” who wow with woo, and loads of health misinformation everywhere we turn. It’s turning critical. Someone call a doctor-blogger!

In this edition of Sunday Science, we’ll be making the medical rounds. And don’t forget to refer us to your favorite physician in the comments.

Dr. PalMD, The White Coat Underground

A practicing physician in Detroit, MI, PalMD is many things: a delighted dad, a devoted doctor, and a relentless foe of woo. He’s become one of my favorite Science Bloggers. And if I lived in Detroit, he’d be my physician. Like the other bloggers I’m highlighting, he really knows his stuff. He’s also got a snarky sense of humor and isn’t afraid of the word “fuck.” If he’s accepting new patients, I think we’ll just have to make him the official doctor of En Tequila Es Verdad.

In this recent post, he takes down another woo pusher:

The other day, I wrote about the fake health experts at the Huffington Post. Prominent among them is “Dr” Patricia Fitzgerald. Now, we already talked about how writing a health piece in a major media outlet and using the title of “Dr” can be deceptive; the reader is likely to assume you are a medical doctor. In Fitzgerald’s case, she isn’t anything resembling a medical doctor, or even a health expert.

Like many of HuffPo’s so-called health experts, she’s selling something. While I’m all for capitalism, she presents herself as something she is not—a legitimate doctor. Let’s examine what she is and is not.

Patricia Fitzgerald is a licensed acupuncturist, certified clinical nutritionist, and a homeopath. She has a Master’s Degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and a Doctorate in Homeopathic Medicine.

There are two types of “real” doctors licensed to practice medicine in the US: Medical Doctors (MDs), and Doctors of Osteopathy (DOs). Anyone else claiming to treat common medical conditions is often practicing unlicensed care, or is licensed in a limited way to provide some health-related services.

None of the qualifications listed make her an expert in immunology, infectious disease, toxicology—all topics she has addressed at HuffPo. I’ll have to take her on her word that she is Doctor of Homeopathy—most doctors would give a little more information, like what the hell this doctorate is and what institution and board granted it. This is pretty important given that homeopathy is seen as a fringe cult-like practice by anyone who understands science.

The Doctors Revere, Effect Measure

No bloggers do better work on pandemic disease and the CDC than the Reveres. They know their stuff, being senior public health officials and practitioners. They’re currently on top of the swine flu outbreak, so head on over there if you’ve got questions needing answers. The post I’m highlighting here discusses some of the most recent research on influenza:

Every day, it seems, we find out that what we thought we knew about flu isn’t the case. As one noted flu expert said to me once, “I knew much more about flu 20 years ago than I do now.” So it’s good to remember that we are also finding out a lot about flu that we never knew or even thought we knew. A case in point is an extremely important new paper in PLoS Medicine ( Khurana S, Suguitan AL Jr., Rivera Y, Simmons CP, Lanzavecchia A, et al.(2009) Antigenic Fingerprinting of H5N1 Avian Influenza Using Convalescent Sera and Monoclonal Antibodies Reveals Potential Vaccine and Diagnostic Targets. PLoS Med 6(4): e1000049; online as of last night). This work makes a major advance in the science of antibody response to avian influenza/H5N1 (“bird flu”). The advance has two aspects. One is the information the work generated. Even more important is the second part: opening up specific new questions for further research.

Unlike much H5N1 work, this isn’t based on experiments in mice, as important and fruitful as such work is and has been. Instead it examines the antibody response of victims of a 2004 bird flu outbreak in Vietnam. Of 18, 13 died. Blood samples were obtained from the survivors during their recoveries. These patients lived long enough to get a response from the part of their immune system that makes antibodies.

Orac, Respectful Insolence

Orac’s a surgeon and equally-gifted writer who’s expert in taking down anti-vaccine fanatics. I do believe we’re going to have to press-gang him on board the HMS Elitist Bastard one of these days. In the meantime, you can enjoy a break from the anti-vacciners with him, and beat up on the Brassagers instead:

This time around, it’s not just any woo. In fact, it’s woo that relates to my area of expertise. As you may recall, I do a lot of breast cancer surgery, and I run a lab the focus of whose research is breast cancer. And what woo it is! it’s a shame that it may now be off the market. Well, not really, and it’s not even clear to me that it is off the market. After all, you can still buy Airborne, even though the company was fined millions for making exaggerated and false advertising claims. I still occasionally see Enzyte “male enhancement” commercials even though the company that makes Enzyte was similarly fined big time and its CEO is facing a prison term. So, I’m not surprised that I’m still seeing the website for the Brassage pushing the same woo. What is the Brassage, you ask?

It’s serious, serious woo. Indeed, it claims to be able to “stimulate” lymphatic flow in the breasts and thereby–well, why don’t you take a guess what “stimulation” of lymphatic flow in the breasts will do, ignoring for the moment that a bra isn’t going to stimulate lymphatic flow in the breasts?

Dr. Steven Novella, Neurologica Blog

He teaches at Yale. That’s our first clue that he’s good. The proof, however, is in the writing, and Dr. Novella delivers the evidence. His blog covers all things woo, not to mention kneecapping creationists and teaching science. In this post, he sets the record straight on what studies show about homeopathy:

The Cochrane Collaboration, an organization dedicated to evidence-based medicine, has published a review of studies of homeopathic treatments for side effects of radiation therapy and chemotherapy for cancer. The results are unimpressive – consistent with the null-hypothesis that homeopathic remedies have no effect. And yet the review is being distorted to promote a very misleading bottom-line to the press – that homeopathic remedies have a role to play in cancer therapy.

One point has been made clear – the treatments under study are not for cancer itself, but for the side effects of standard cancer therapies: radiation and chemotherapy. However, the results are being presented as if they support the efficacy of homeopathic remedies, when they do not.

Other blogs of note.

Due to the lateness of the hour, the increasing length of this post, and the fact that I want to get back to drooling over Dr. Chase watching House, I’m alas out of time. But that doesn’t mean I’m out of medical blogs. All of them are well worth a read.

ERV: What you need to know about the cutting-edge of HIV research, ERV’s got, along with some of the best smackdowns in the blogosphere.

Neurotopia: What’s better than a neuroscience blog written by a guy called the Evil Monkey? Nothing. Start with this post.

DrugMonkey: Home of both DrugMonkey and PhysioProf. I don’t need to say any more, now, do I?

Science-Based Medicine: This site is a veritible cornucopia of doctors writing excellent posts on medicine. It’s even got a veternarian contributing. Pseudoscience, beware!

(Sorry, no pics this time – I’ll make it up to you next week.)

Haters Freak Over Hate Crimes Legislation

Hate crimes legislation is on the way to becoming a reality, and the right-wing haters are livid:

We’re finally making progress on passing a federal hate-crimes bill: On Thursday, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Protection Act passed out of the House Judiciary Committee.

Sure enough, as Kyle at RightWingWatch predicted, the right-wing freakout has begun. Unsurprisingly, Glenn Beck is already leading the way.

He invited on wingnut talk-show host Sandi Rios, who promptly declared hate crimes “thought crimes” (uh-huh, right). She also attacked Debbie Wasserman-Schulz, who was defending the bill from Republican attempts to nullify it by adding categories or victims by claiming:

Rios: Well, she’s saying that anybody that’s killed or harmed is not a real victim — unless they’re homosexual or gay or Jewish. Then they’re real victims. So you can murder more severely if they happen to homosexual or Jewish. It makes no sense.

Beck: Whatever happened to equal protection under the law? If you kill someone, you should go to jail!

Well, Glenn, that’s true. And people do in fact go to jail for killing people – unless of course they’re rich, powerful, and killing folks under the aegis of “national security” or poisonous corporations. What you fucktards don’t seem to get is that under law, there are aggravating factors to a crime. Kill someone in legitimate self-defense, and you don’t get treated the same way as someone who kills for monetary gain. Kill someone in a particularly heinous way, and you’re likely to get a harsher sentence. What this legislation says is that there’s another aggravating factor when you kill someone because you don’t like their religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. The majority of us think that people who kill other people for those reasons are dangerous enough to be treated a little bit more harshly under the law. Society’s also sending the message that certain crimes are more serious when they’re used to terrorize people for those factors.

Not that you Cons are sane enough to understand this.

Shoulda Been a Con: Ben Nelson Edition

Can someone please remind Ben Nelson which party he joined?

Greg Sargent reports that centrist Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (NE) — who voted to confirm both Sam Alito and John Roberts — will oppose Dawn Johnsen’s nomination to lead the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Nelson says he opposes Johnsen, a noted legal scholar and outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s torture program, because of her pro-choice views:

Senator Nelson is very concerned about the nomination of Dawn Johnson, based on her previous position as Counsel for NARAL. He believes that the Office of Legal Counsel is a position in which personal views can have an impact and is concerned about her outspoken pro-choice views on abortion.

When I first scanned this, I didn’t catch the name, just the statement. I had to do a double-take when I saw the fucktard behind this choice bit of Con talking point obstructionism.

Ben, I hate to tell you this, but you’re a Democrat, dear. You knew what the party platform was when you signed on. If you wanted to obstruct Presidential nominees because they support abortion, there’s a minority party across the aisle that’s much more in keeping with your views. To be clear, I’m not saying you can’t be pro-life and a Dem, but for fuck’s sake, the Office of Legal Counsel has nothing to do with abortion, you fuckwit. All you’re doing is playing Con games.

What a mook.

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Yesterday, the Cons got their asses handed to them in a district they should’ve won easily. Today, they try to put the best possible face on a humiliating defeat:

It’s the job of the parties’ campaign committees to put as positive a spin on election results as possible. But now that the results are final in the special election in New York’s 20th, I think the NRCC will have to do better than this.

Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that although Tedisco came up short that his message of fiscal discipline provided GOPers a blueprint on which to run next year.

“Since Election Day, we continue to hear the growing chorus of frustrated and concerned citizens who demand more from their government than profligate spending and mountains of debt that will be paid for in higher taxes by our children and grandchildren,” said Sessions. “Although Jim was unsuccessful in his hope to change Washington, he has shed light on our Party’s efforts to win back the majority in the House.”

Frankly, if I worked for the NRCC, I’m not sure what I would have come up with, but suggesting a failed strategy in a Republican district can be duplicated for success elsewhere seems rather foolish.

Is that all they’ve got? I’m disappointed. Where’s the conspiracy theories? Where’s the howls of voter fraud? Where’s Michael Steele with his zany crazy talk? I guess we’ll have to wait for Monday.

One thing we do have is the fact that Michael Steele’s gonna have ‘splainin’ to do:

Before the election, RNC Chairman Michael Steele boasted, “Our game is not up…our message still rings true with countless Americans, specifically with those in the 20th congressional district.”

The New York special election was held on March 31, 2009. Wasting absolutely no time, the very next day, Steele wrote an audacious — and foolish — op-ed in Politico, triumphantly declaring the outcome a defeat for President Obama’s agenda:

Tedisco’s victory will be a credible repudiation of the spending spree that Obama and Congress have been on since January. Even the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee acknowledged over the weekend that the race was “a referendum on the Economic Recovery Act and Barack Obama’s policies.” Well, the DCCC is right — this likely Republican victory is a referendum on the president. [...]

Well, the voters have spoken, and while the results are still pending, Republicans are confident that the final vote tallies will show those voters have rejected the president’s approach. [...]

The ground has shifted, and is shifting, as the voters become increasingly worried about Obamanomics. [...]

Tuesday’s election was a vote of “no confidence” in the Democrats’ tax, spend and borrow approach. I hope Obama and congressional Democrats are listening.

Nostradamus he ain’t.

They’re not in full freak-out mode over this loss just yet, and that could be because they’re busy frothing at the mouth over that DHS report on right-wing extremeism. Yes, still. And it’s Michele Bachmann, she of the revolutionary talk, who’s leading the charge:

With this in mind, I found it rather … what’s the word … amusing when Bachmann took to the floor of the House this week to ask whether Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has gone “absolutely stark raving mad.”

Seriously, sometimes these clowns make it a little too easy.

Bachmann then jumped into the paranoid waters, head first. “What’s going to happen now?” she asked. “Will the federal government start IDing returning veterans? Start IDing gun owners? Start IDing prolifers — and then pull us out of the line for special searches at the airports before we’re allowed to get on the plane because we could be considered a rightwing domestic terrorist while we would see Osama bin Laden and his friends skate by because they’re not…?”

I also loved this line: “It is intriguing to me, we have a report now that says … 80 percent of the American people would be classified as ‘right-wing extremists’ under this report. Couple that with a statement made by President Obama during the campaign that we need to have a federal police force the size of the military. Add it up.”

“Add it up,” as in, there’s a conspiracy afoot that Bachmann sees and the rest of us don’t. Indeed, in the next breath, Bachmann added that it’s “no wonder” people are stockpiling weapons and ammunition, since they see “the handwriting on the wall,” and need to be prepared for the Obama administration, which is “looking at weapon bans.”

Remember, she thinks others have gone “absolutely stark raving mad.”

We can always count on Michele to bring on the batshit fucking insanity. I wonder if this woman can so much as order a meal without launching into a rant against the oppressive forces in Washington that are coming to take her equally insane supporters away?

I somehow doubt it.

Meanwhile, Pat Buchanan is busy proving that even the most well-behaved Cons believe the most outrageous things:

In addition to his frequent MSNBC appearances, where he plays a mostly well-mannered, if hardline, conservative, Buchanan also writes a column for the far-right web magazine, Human Events. And that’s where he gets himself into trouble.

His most recent effort, “The Rooted and The Rootless,” takes as its premise the notion that there’s a “blood-and-soil, family-and-faith, God-and-country kind of nation” that’s competing with
a minority represented by the “rootless” Obama and his “aides with advanced degrees from elite colleges who react just like him.”

Already, we’re in National Socialist territory here, but let’s leave that aside (with Buchanan, once you start down this path, it can be hard to stop…). What jumped out at us was Buchanan’s contention that the “blood-and-soil” part of America…

does not comprehend how the president could sit in Trinidad and listen to the scrub stock of the hemisphere trash our country — and say nothing. (our itals)

Scrub stock? We weren’t familiar with that phrase. So we looked it up.

There’s no record of it appearing in the New York Times since 1943. (Hey, no one ever called Buchanan hip!) Until then, it was almost exclusively used to refer to an inferior breed of farm animal, usually cattle or horses, as when the paper reported in 1907: “Financial Disturbance Forces Cattlemen to Sell “Scrub” Stock to Hold Prime Grades.”

In 1934, a federal official writing in the Times about measures being taken in response to the drought of the period, used the phrase in a similar way: “In some cases the drought cattle are being exchanged for scrub stock. The scrub stock is canned and the good stock is used to replace it…”

In other words, “scrub stock” essentially means an inferior breed.

It’s worse than that, though. There’s evidence that theorists of racial and genetic superiority — an area of pseudo-scientific “scholarship” that was in vogue even among mainstream intellectuals in the late 19th and early 20th century — explicitly extended the use of the phrase beyond animals and into humans. In short, the phrase has been used by both eugenicists and racial segregationists to argue for the superiority of the white race.

And this assclown is still considered mainstream enough for MSNBC? I think it’s time for the network to reevaluate that relationship.

It’s hard to hold a national discourse with people this fucking stupid, prone to insanity, and unaware that racism is no longer acceptable. So it’s good to see that Dems have given up trying:

Ha ha. Remember those dumbass RNC members pushing a party resolution demanding the Democrats rename themselves the “Democrat Socialist Party” because, well, Republicans have nothing left to offer the political debate except for insults? The DNC responds:

I’m going to pass on marketing advice from folks who hadn’t fully thought out the implications of using tea bags as a brand,” said Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan. “But what’s clear is that when you’re devoid of leadership, devoid of ideas and your only answer is to say ‘no’ to change, it’s not surprising that angry, fringe elements take center stage at the Republican Party.”

Remember when people used to take the Republican Party seriously? And remember when Democrats used to cower in fear? Now everyone mocks them with impunity.

Yeah. Those days, kinda over. And as Kos points out, there’s even voices within the party joining in the mockery. Some Cons are just about sane enough to realize that the party took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and headed straight over a cliff. Cons like McCain strategist Michael Schmidt, in fact:

Schmidt also criticized his party’s political performance in the early days of the Obama presidency.

“As a matter of reality, in the first 100 days, [the Republican Party] has not done anything to improve its political position with regards to the fact that it has been a shrinking entity,” he said.

Maybe those occasional squeaks of reason from the terminally unreasonable are a good sign. Maybe they mean we’ll someday have a Republican party that can almost be taken seriously again.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Poem o’ the Day

All right, here it is, the moment none of you have been waiting for: a Dana Hunter original that didn’t come from an NP writing assignment.

This poor piece has been ripped from its context as part of a poetry war. But I like to flatter myself by thinking it stands fairly well on its own. Well, aside from the whole hooves thing, which is what happens when you’re writing a poem from the point of view of a character with hooves rather than tootsies.

Nothing lasts, eternal
Unchanged
Yesterday long past
Someone cooled their hooves in the mud of a stream
Where today you carve a line
Which holds greater worth:
That moment of coolness
Those lasting words?
I know what each of you would say

Nothing lasts

Things become separate
That side of the stream or this
This elevation or that
Mountains rise, plains fall
And it is often forgotten
That this mountain was a plain once
That this plain washed down from a peak

Things separate
Not really separate

Need for divisions
Divides us
Without boundaries we would be no different

We need divisions
Remember the places between