Sunday, February 08, 2009

Some updates

Here are some later developments on two stories I blogged last week.

Michael Steele is still dumber than a sack of hammers
The new head of the Republican Party started his new job by saying, "Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job." Like a lot of people, I pointed out the jaw dropping stupidity of that statement. I sent a longer version of my mockery to the Seattle Times who published it. Most of the comments were from the far right and I took time to write a long answer to one who vomited out the Fox News talking point that all economists agree that the New Deal made the Depression worse. Meanwhile, it came out that Steele is being investigated for multiple campaign finance violations.

Today, he is expanding on his original stupid point about jobs.

STEELE: But you've got to look at the entire package. You've got to look at what's going to create sustainable jobs. What this administration is talking about is making work. It is creating work.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's a job.

STEELE: No, it's not a job. A job is something that -- that a business owner creates. It's going to be long term. What he's creating...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So a job doesn't count if it's a government job? [..]

STEELE: ... That is a contract. It ends at a certain point, George. You know that. These road projects that we're talking about have an end point.

We're looking at a textbook use of the no true Scotsman fallacy. After having the stupidity of his first statement pointed out, Steele has simply changed the definition of job to only mean work created by the private sector. If that wasn't enough of an assault on logic, he has further narrowed the definition to mean only permanent employment. Got that, contract workers don't have jobs, people paid for piece work don't have jobs, office temps don't have jobs, construction workers don't have jobs, the President doesn't have a job, substitute teachers don't have jobs, Steele himself didn't have a job when he was Lt. Governor of Maryland, musicians and actors don't have jobs. Okay, he might be on to something with the last group. But, since job security disappeared about twenty years ago, I guess no one in America has a job.

Steele is so much dumber than a sack of hammers that it's really unfair to the hammers to include them in the same sentence with his name.

Chris Ryan still thinks we all suck
Chris Ryan, who blogs as Chris in Paris at Americablog, wrote a short sarcastic rant which appeared to say all the world's economic woes are the fault of the baby boom generations. This was so logically, historically, and personally offensive that I pounded out a long, and probably overly emotional, response, pointing out that it's irresponsible to shoehorn seventy-five million people into one ugly caricature: in this case Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street. My impression has always been that fighting prejudice was one of the main points of Americablog and Chris' rant seemed to set up a gigantic double standard, i.e. that bigotry based on race, gender, religion, sexual preference, or nationality is bad, but bigotry based on age is okay.

Since I was still feeling mildly hysterical yesterday, I wrote directly to the address on the blog repeating some the things I said in post and asked that someone respond on this issue. John Aravosis, the founder of Americablog, wrote back and engaged in an e-mail dialog with me. The final outcome is that we agree to disagree. John pointed out that both he and Chris are boomers and that, yes, it is their position that our generation are responsible for the world's economic and environmental woes. I still think that such an opinion is bad history, bad logic, and that it's unfair for them to include in their self-flagellation the millions of boomers who have tried to make the world better.

I think John deserves a lot of credit for taking the time to talk to me. His blog gets more traffic in normal day than I get all year and, from the hundreds of comments and scores of letters he gets each day, he chose to spend time with me. He could have blown me off with a simple "fuck you," but he didn't. That shows a certain amount of humanity. But I'm still disappointed.

Unless something changes in a big way, that's all I'm going to say about Chris Ryan. However, I plan to keep making fun of Michael Steele. He's not only a partisan stooge, he's an incompetent partisan stooge, and I can't resist that.

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