Congressmen, and idiots

May 6, 2011

Mark Twain, who had covered Congress as a reporter, once quipped:

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.*

Our friend and correspondent Jim Kessler writes of a run-in he had with the staff of Congressman Peter King (Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee):

Peter T. King, Republican, chair of the Homeland Security Committee

Rep. Peter T. King: Are "idiot" and "congressman" redundant?

A day or two ago Congressman King said that we owed the knowledge of who/where the courier that we used to get to bin Laden to Bush’s waterboarding.

And because I’m a general pain in the ass to Republicans I called his office and asked the person who answered if he was standing by that statement.  She said yes.  So then I asked “So…that means the Bush
administration knew how to get to bin Laden for years and didn’t do so?  Does that mean we can prosecute them for knowingly endangering the country?”  Her response was, and I kid you not, “I don’t think you
passed geometery class.”

My response was “What does math have to do with this?”

Her response:  “Geometery isn’t math.”

My response was:  “Yes it is.  Go ask a math professor.  Perhaps next time before you try and act condescending to someone by acting like you’re smarter then them you should actually make sure you’re smarter then them rather then being stupidly arrogant?”

That’s when she hung up on me.

I’m considering writing an editorial to whatever paper is in King’s district where I point out that his staff apparently hasn’t passed high school level math.

I’m not reassured that Congressmen don’t appear to have gotten a lot smarter in the more than 150 years since Twain reported on them.

* Attributed to Twain, supposedly in a writing,  A Biography.  I haven’t confirmed where it is, though I’m pretty sure he actually said it.


Bathtub reading, mortuary, cemetery, restaurant and airport version

August 30, 2009

Family funerals combine bitter and sweet.  A long life well-lived, the grief over loss, getting together with family and friends from eight decades — and then it’s back to work in a jolt.

Trying to stay caught up:

Outrageous insult to Darwin and Constitution in Missouri: Were the parents concerned about the quality of the brass section in the band, or did they really object to a humorous depiction of “the evolution of brass” in 2009, the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth?

They deserve to have their brasses kicked, but the innocent kids don’t.

P. Z. Myers caught the grossest tragedy:

Band parent Sherry Melby, who is a teacher in the district, stands behind Pollitt’s decision. Melby said she associated the image on the T-shirt with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

“I was disappointed with the image on the shirt.” Melby said. “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.”

She doesn’t want her school associated with evolution?  How about associating the school with the Taliban of Afghanistan?  How about associating her school with Homer Simpson’s stupider brother?  How about associating her school with backwards thinking, 16th century bad science?  How about associating her school with the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and the sort of stupidity that leads religiously-based violence?

Ray Mummert probably got the call to help Sedalia out, and he’s organizing to fight the forces of smart and intelligent people.  Comments from residents of Sedalia are shocking in their lack of information, and depressing.

Kids, pay attention in science class: A proud science teacher in Minnesota, and probably some proud parents, tooTip of the old scrub brush to Pharyngula on this one.

Anybody who complains about this deserves to get their tail kicked with Tom Delay and every Republican who redistricted Texas last time around. (Sen. Ted Kennedy suggested the Massachusetts legislature should allow the governor to appoint a temporary replacement to represent the state in the U.S. Senate in the event of a vacancy, until a special election can be held.)

First Amendment wins again: Kentucky had a law that said the state could be safe from al Quaeda attack only by the grace of God.  A judge, noting that it will take a lot of work by a lot of dedicated Kentuckians who deserve credit, and that it’s illegal to make such a claim in law, overturned the law.

Private insurance failed this woman; Medicare would pay for the treatment under some circumstances, but there is no lie opponents to health care reform won’t tell in order to scare people away from the facts. They claim the woman couldn’t be treated under government care, but Medicare pays for the expensive drug in question.  Can’t they at least tell the truth?

This is getting depressing.  I’m going to go look at mountains.


Oh, this will get some attention at the water cooler

May 15, 2009

Scouting is one of the most vulnerable victims of wedge politics and attempts to polarize voters.  Even among veteran Scouts and Scouters, lines tend to get drawn over what the program should be doing.

Today the New York Times headlines a story, “Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and more.

It’s Explorers, a group which has been distanced from Boy Scouts by moving it to BSA’s Learning for Life programs.  These are not traditional Boy Scouts. I suspect that distinction, small as it is, will get blurred quickly.

It will be interesting to watch discussions about Scouts pictured with semi-automatic weapons and bullet-proof vests.

Exploring used to be more closely related to Scouting.  Exploring was for kids 14 years and older.  I belonged to an Explorer Post in Utah that specialized in kayaking (I was more active at the council level at the time), and I had the grand opportunity to work with a large Explorer Post affiliated with AMR Corp. (American Airlines), where some of our Scouts got significant time in aircraft simulators (in the good old days, when such machines had downtime).  It was a great program.

That was then.  Today, 14-21-year-old Scouts can join Venture Crews, which can be co-ed.  The old Exploring program you remember survives today mostly in Venturing.


Rewrite the government and civics texts

May 16, 2008

Government teachers, can you find this in the textbooks you use in your classes?

Nat Hentoff reports:

The Bush administration believes, he said, “that the president could ignore or modify existing executive orders that he and other presidents have issued without disclosing the new interpretation.”

I noted before, these are exciting times to be teaching, with all these examples of Constitutional law, and Constitution abuses, and President Bush’s War on the Constitution in the headlines, or buried on page 14, every day.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture WarsNat Hentoff’s original column is at WorldNet Daily (!!!).  The Constitution with comments, and also here.

Other resources:


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