Monday, April 26, 2010

Mental niblets

• On April 16, I attended a speech by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at Missouri State University. He spoke about the necessity of saving the environment, and why a green future is not just our best, but only, choice. A lot of people say that. What got me really excited about Kennedy's speech is the way he approached it: almost like a pitch, the way President Obama talks straight to critics and says, hey, not only am I not your worst nightmare, but I'm a lot like you. Kennedy wasn't speaking in pipe-dream terms of things that could happen by 2064 if we dismantled all corporations tomorrow; he talked about measures other countries are taking right now that America has the resources to adopt within the next few years if we choose. Extremely efficient solar panels like in China. An electric-car future with utility-owned batteries that you can swap out at gas stations, like can be done in Israel. And many more examples, all of which he said will require the hands of business. Kennedy might have gone over the top when he said, "I love corporations," but he did issue a passionate call for corporate reform and regulation, singling out Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship as a big part of the problem. For the most part, though, Kennedy's speech was positive, pleasing and promising. He's a sterling example of how all sides of the political spectrum should compose themselves. I hope his vision can come to pass, not just for that reason, but also because it's the right thing to do.

• The new Arizona "papers, please" law is horrifying, but it does deserve some morbid modicum of respect for being transparently political. You see so little of that these days. The legislation allows law enforcement officers to demand proof of citizenship to anyone who looks like they might be in this country illegally. On second thought, "allow" is not quite the right word, because citizens can report any officers they deem to be insufficiently enforcing this law. Many officer groups have gone on record as strongly against it, citing drains on resources and the sheer Jim Crow-level evilness inherent in it. And, really, they have a point. Who the hell carries their birth certificate around with them? It's not even a good idea to do so. At least one man, a U.S. citizen and truck driver who was arrested after failing to produce his birth certificate at a weigh station, has felt the effects firsthand before the law has even taken effect. Joe Arpaio's wet dream is every brown-skinned person's nightmare. Still, respect. That level of obvious bigotry takes some kind of twisted moxie to own up to. And after more than a year of "no, really, we don't hate Obama, we're just tired of taxes and don't think he's a real president," this is almost refreshing.

• After giving it some thought, I've decided to curb my use of the term "teabagger." I initially found the term amusing, because the tea party movement adopted the term before it realized the scrotal connotations therein. But two recent incidents made me do a 180 on this: 1) On "The Daily Show" last week, Jon Stewart had a conservative guest who used the term "Obamacare," but was otherwise making reasoned points. The guest insisted "Obamacare" was just a popular term adopted for health care reform. Jon disagreed, saying it was in fact a pejorative term. I agree — has anyone ever said, "I support Obamacare?" And while early tea party supporters might have indeed said, "I support teabagging," I think it's otherwise the same case with that word. It's not a term that will get us anywhere in the debate. Thus, I figure that if "Obamacare" irritates the health out of me (sorry), then I shouldn't open myself up to the same kind of disdain. Especially when facts are on my side. Which brings me to my second catalyst for change: 2) a recent, extremely heated debate I had online with several longtime friends. They spoke in apocalyptic terms about the Obama administration and met my attempts at engagements with the same kind of vicious personal attacks and partisan allegations typically reserved for anonymous trolls on this blog. And these were guys I hung out with with well into my 20s. And even though I didn't use any terms like "teabagger," I knew it would only have reduced me to that level. And I want to be better than that. So it's a start, at least.


Tom Alday said...

If Obama is so great and wonderful, and his health care takeover is so great and wonderful then why is it insulting to link him to it?

Maybe because you know one or the other sucks? I mean that's the only way it can be pejorative. Either Obama sucks and you don't want him associated with this awesome law, or the law sucks and you don't want him sullied by it. Which is it?

Ian McGibboney said...

Nice try, Tom. This is why I have no respect for your side these days. You come up with terms like "Democrat Party" and "Obamacare" as insults, and then try to claim they're nothing of the sort. That's not only petty, but weak. If you're going to use pejoratives, at least have the balls to defend them!! I am choosing not to use them myself, but I'd still respect you for having the integrity to state what you really think.

Yes, I suppose you could make a case that combining "Obama" and "care" is simply descriptive, but I have never heard "Obamacare" pronounced even once without its speaker dripping with contempt. That is why no one on any part of the political spectrum who wants to make any serious point refers to health care reform this way. Like I said in the blog, no one ever says, "I support Obamacare." It's always a partisan term. Always.

Tom Alday said...

"but I have never heard "Obamacare" pronounced even once without its speaker dripping with contempt."

"Republicans in Washington to make the fall election a referendum on Obamacare."

"Large segments of the American business community are going to present a formidable ally for Obamacare",8599,1974005,00.html

But anyway...

You didn't answer the question. If Obama is great and his law is great, then why is it wrong to connect them together?

Which one is the damaging one in your mind?

Ian McGibboney said...

That article proves my point, Tom, not yours. Halperin makes the distinction early on between health care reform and the "Obamacare" boogeyman that could backfire on the GOP in the fall. He does use "Obamacare" once, and rather loosely, near the end, but that's hardly a counter to my point that no one uses the term positively. That article is neutral at best, and Halperin is known for his criticism of the media's alleged positive treatment of Obama. But nice try.

As for your question: Why should I oppose the word "Obamacare" in light of its innocent etymological roots? Because, as I've stated, it's a pejorative term used by partisan critics of the health care bill. Words are more than the sum of their syllables. Here's another example: "colored." It's an innocent word in certain situations. Apply it to a person, however, and it's a racially tinged word that serves no positive purpose.

As Rush once said, "Words mean things." It's the only thing he's ever been right about.

Tom Alday said...

Health care bill or Obama, which is being impugned?

Which is being sullied by linking it to the other?

You can dance around the question all you want, but the fact that you can't answer shows that you really have no answer and are just going along with the current talking point that use of the phrase "Obamacare" is mean, as your liberal icon Jon Stewart claimed just last week.

It's rare when we can actually see, without any doubt, where you have gotten your latest talking point from. Sure you may use "pejorative" instead of "derogatory" like Stewart does, but you have essentially lifted this talking point or faux grievance directly from the Daily Show.

Ian McGibboney said...

Hey, Tom, just because two people have the same thought doesn't mean that one is a mindless parrot of the other. You and I both know that "Obamacare" is a slur, and to suggest that it isn't is insulting to both our intelligences. And even if I am wrong about no one in favor of reform using the term (but I don't think I am), that doesn't mean that it isn't a politically loaded term.

It's too bad you can't attack the point without attacking the messenger.

Tom Alday said...

But why Ian, why is it a slur? You would think liberals would be happy to have Obama forever connected to such a glorious law. The fact that you aren't tells me one or the other is an embarrassment.

You don't see conservatives whining about the use of "Bush tax cuts" to describe tax cuts that were more bipartisan than Obamacare. And that's because conservatives have no problem connecting Bush to them or vice versa. Liberals obviously have a problem connecting Obama to this bill or this bill to Obama.

Ian McGibboney said...

"Obamacare" emanates from the same demagogic pit as "death panels," "socialism" and "government bureaucrats standing between you and your doctor." It arises from the same anti-cult of personality as those who mockingly refer to Obama as "the messiah." The term brings to mind the viciously inaccurate right-wing caricature of the health plan, not what it actually is. It's tea party language, which I'm sure suits you just fine but I have higher standards.

As for "Bush tax cuts," that term is not nearly as loaded. Mainly because critics did not feel the need to misrepresent those cuts. They were more beneficial to the rich, a notion both sides agreed on. The ideological difference was on whether or not that's what was good for the economy. Today's Obama critics make up their own facts in addition to their own terminology.

I refuse to legitimize "Obamacare," or any of the other plethora of loaded language that the right uses to continue its petty name-calling.

Tom Alday said...

lol @ "petty name-calling"

But "teabaggers" is alright in your book.

oh my bad, you're going to "curb" your use of it. That's mighty nice of you Mr. Civility.

Don't act like you're principled or that your disagreement with the term "Obamacare" has to do with anything other than shielding your guy from the political fallout of a bill that was conceived and passed in shit, and a large part of the population sees as a bad thing.

If he didn't want his name attached to it then he shouldn't have pimped it for a goddamn year while the economy fell apart.

Ian McGibboney said...

"...shielding your guy from the political fallout of a bill that was conceived and passed in shit, and a large part of the population sees as a bad thing..."

Citations? As far as I know, the health care bill is very popular. Oh, sure, not with a very loud-mouthed and ill-informed minority, or with some liberals who say the bill should go further, but it seems to enjoy more support than you suggest. So it's pretty absurd to assume my dislike of the term "Obamacare" is because I don't want Obama associated with it.

"...he shouldn't have pimped it for a goddamn year while the economy fell apart."

Yeah, the economy went to shit in 2009. Before that, it was glorious. Maybe you should the news (real news) sometime. You'll see that businesses are seeing their strongest quarter in years (and not because of layoffs) and that consumer spending is on the rise. It's far from finished, or even generating decent job numbers, but things are improving. We're on the right track. And health care is a leading contributor to personal bankruptcy. Do you even think about what you say, Tom?

In any case, this thread is played out. Clearly, we're on different worlds in terms of facts and perspective.

Hathor said...

If you are as old as your picture implies, you should know that those jingoistic marketing terms were not always use to describe the laws passed in this country, they were reserved for scandals, Since I am older than your picture implies, my first thought about the term Obamacare would infer that there is some scandal regarding health care and that it is a pejorative term..I think some Tea Partiers think it real cute, that they were able to come up with that term and no, it not criticism, it is just disrespect. I use the term cute, because the Tea Partiers remind me of how a toddler tickles himself when he first learns to say a so call bad word.

Tom Alday said...

Still waiting for an answer.

Who is being impugned, Obama or the law, by using the term Obamacare?

Ian McGibboney said...

In the case of people who use the word "Obamacare," it's both. It's used by people who hate both Obama and health care reform. We both know this, Tom, so knock off your mock semantic nitpicking.

Tom Alday said...

So you think it's an insult because other people think it's an insult?

Who's being insulted?

Ian McGibboney said...

The fact that people use as an insult is the reason people like me don't use it. How hard is that to understand?

Tom Alday said...

So everyone should stop using "Obamacare" but you still get to use "teabagger"?

Ian McGibboney said...

I said I'm no longer using "teabagger" for the same reason I don't like "Obamacare." In fact, that's the point of the blog.

It takes a certain kind of talent to miss my point that spectacularly.

Tom Alday said...

Actually you said you'll "curb" your use of it, that really can have a broad interpretation.

Are you that obtuse or do you really think I didn't read what you wrote? I even commented on your use of the word a few comments back. Try and keep up.

Ian McGibboney said...

Well, you seemed to have missed the point of it entirely, which is about par for the course for you. I am curious to see how much deeper your hair-splitting gets before you're criticizing the lack of serifs on my blog font.

Point is, I'm trying to make the debate better. Sometimes I wonder if there's any point in that.

Tom Alday said...

Yeah right, "make the debate better"

Keep trying because this blog proves you've failed at it for the past several years.

Ian McGibboney said...

I will keep trying, thanks.