Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Total Surprise (by Phila)

Bruce Schneier links to an article which claims that the Nashville police are using Midazolam injections in order to calm "unruly" suspects.
While the Metro police had banned the use of Tasers for a time, they still used a controversial method to subdue unruly people, according to an I-Team report.

The city's policy to use the method, which calls for the injection of a drug into a person, came as a "total surprise" to people most would expect to know all about it.
Midazolam is allegedly indicated in cases of "excited delirium." Dr. Corey Slovis, Nashville’s emergency medical director, explains how to spot people who are suffering from this syndrome:
"I don't know if I would use the word diagnosing, but they are assessing the situation and saying, 'This person is not acting rationally. This is something I've been trained to recognize, this seems like excited delirium.'"
The problem is, "excited delirium" is not a recognized medical or psychiatric condition; the diagnosis tends to be applied posthumously to people who were unlucky enough to die while in police custody (cf. Patrick Lee, who died of "excited delirium" after being tased 19 times).

Also, it's safe to say that some of these people are going to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which makes injecting them with Midazolam even more dangerous than usual. Certain blood-pressure drugs, antifungals, antibiotics, and other medications can have serious interactions with Midazolam, too; it seems as though this could make "assessing the situation" a bit harder than Dr. Slovis lets on. Add to this the fact that it's going to be difficult to inject unruly people safely unless you already have them restrained, and the argument for sedating suspects with Midazolam begins to seem pretty dubious.

Still, none of that is quite as disturbing as this:
The biggest side effect that is seen in more than 80 percent of those who are injected with Versed is amnesia.

The side effect raises the question of a person being able to defend themselves in court if they can't remember what happened.

A Moral Sense of the World (by Phila)

Like all of our best cultural commentators, L. Brent Bozell III contrasts the hotheaded excesses of the Left and Right with the cool wisdom of the Center. The topic today is popular culture: on the Left, we have "nutty left-wing professors performing exotic Marxist autopsies on the imperialist dynamics of Donald Duck comic books." On the Right, we have "conservative academics" who are busy "teaching and writing about Homer the Greek poet," and refuse to lean down from this Parnassus long enough to guide us through moral crises like the popularity of Wall-E.

Don't drink that bottle of Liquid Plumbr yet, though; help is on the way!
Fortunately, there is Thomas Hibbs, a professor of ethics and culture at Baylor University — and a film critic for National Review Online.
What Hibbs has done, see, is he's written a book about film noir, which argues that despite the genre's dark themes, "there is a strain in many noir films of a quest to arrive at a moral sense of the world."

Well, yeah. It doesn't take much critical acumen to discover a preoccupation with morality in films like The Big Heat or On Dangerous Ground or The Reckless Moment or Act of Violence. I'm familiar with the conservative need to make art palatable by turning it into an ideological billy-club, but that tactic usually involves far more strenuous exegetical contortions ("The Incredibles is an attack on the Welfare State!"); this is simply a matter of representing films that are explicitly concerned with morality and justice as films that are implicitly concerned with morality and justice. (Which is apparently what Bozell hails as "interpretive talent.")

The inevitable sleight of hand comes with the assumption that this concern automatically dovetails with conservatism as it existed then, let alone now. On Dangerous Ground, for instance, is about nothing if not the attempt "to arrive at a moral sense of the world"; that moral sense, however, is utterly at odds with movement conservatism as set forth in rags like NR: A cop who routinely breaks the law in order to brutalize criminals is redeemed after he tries to protect a young murderer from a lynch mob. (To put it in terms Jonah Goldberg might understand, he's feminized by pity.)

Ayn Rand would've instantly recognized this film as "a glorification of depravity," in that it creates sympathy for a murderer and implies that he couldn't help his actions. As wrong as she is, she's more right than the likes of Bozell and Hibbs, who believe that they can claim neutral or nonconforming art for conservatism by invading and occupying it, and then use it as a base for incursions against whatever "secular and hedonistic (and often nihilistic)" cultural productions remain untransmuted by hard-right aestheticians into Triumphs of the Will.

Having uncovered decades of hidden Hollywood conservatism right where it occurred to him to look for it, Hibbs goes on to suggest that at long last, "Hollywood may be veering away somewhat from nihilism." Exhibits A through Y are The Passion of the Christ, which Bozell and Hibbs offer, with rare invention, as a path to understanding that the Nazis were bad.
Hibbs notes that the Romans saw their Jewish subjects as subhuman, an inferior race devoid of humanity....

"Indeed, the scenes of the Roman soldiers cackling with glee as they scourge Christ and rip hunks of skin from his body is most reminiscent of the depiction of the Nazi soldiers in 'Schindler's List.'"
No wonder it turned Hollywood on its ear, and earned full-throated acclaim from the Fucking Jews. And no wonder so many recent Hollywood films have religious overtones:
Hibbs cites everything from the Harry Potter series to "The Lord of the Rings" and Narnia to comic-book superhero films like the Spider-Man movies.
Bozell hails this as proof that "that moviegoers can use their own quest for redemption to drag some fraction of Hollywood out of the dark swamp of despair." But this notion of "a quest for redemption" seems to me to apply more to our current bumper crop of conservative hermeneuticists than it does to the average moviegoer (the box-office receipts of The Love Guru notwithstanding).

In his interminable gushing over The Golgotha Chainsaw Massacre, Bozell unwittingly hints that what one gets out of movies may have something to do with what one brings to them:
Unlike so many blood-spurting films where the viewer is encouraged to laugh or be dazzled at the mechanics of death, "The Passion" compels the viewer to feel the need for repentance, that this bloody sacrifice was both his fault (through his sins) and yet his hope for eternal life.
With that in mind, I believe I'll go and watch The Third Man, which I'm told is about the brutal crushing of postwar anarcho-capitalism by the nascent European Nanny State.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Personal Safety (by Phila)

Having previously manufactured a pink Taser for gals (who like pretty little pink things!), and hosted a charity poker tournament for guys (who like card games and Playboy bunnies!), Taser International is intensifying its gender-obsessed marketing campaign:
Taser International's newest marketing technique: selling their stun guns in truck stops.

"Anybody's that's traveling does have concerns about personal safety. For the trucker away from his family, he might want one or think that his wife could use that while he's gone, or his daughter at college could use one," Taser exec Steve Tuttle tells the Toledo Blade. "It fits with our vision of getting our products into more mainstream stores."
Much as I like the idea of a Taser battle at a truck stop -- preferably in a haze of gasoline vapor -- I can't really approve of this development. Police and security personnel -- who are allegedly trained to use Tasers properly, and usually use them in public, while sober -- haven't exactly been modeling responsible use of the device (although at least some of the people they've irrationally tased were probably glad not to have been gunned down, or clubbed into a coma).

But ordinary citizens aren't trained at all, as far as I know. And they're perhaps less likely to understand that "nonlethal," in TI's sense, refers to the concept of the weapon, rather than to the certain outcome of using it.

Worse, TI's marketing efforts attempt to reinforce and exploit insecurities that have little to do with the actual violent crime rate in America (which remains quite low), but a lot to do with racial and psychosexual paranoia, and the relentless hyping of certain titillating types of crime in the media. These insecurities, I suspect, encourage more violence against women than Tasers will ward off. Which suggests to me that once again, women are being used as an alibi for the increased availability of weapons that are very likely to be used against them (surely rapists and stalkers will find some use for a Taser?).

On the bright side, we may someday be able to counter the threat posed by the sale of Tasers at truck stops by arming ourselves with a consumer version of Raytheon's Silent Guardian.

UPDATE: In comments, aka fredo provides a truly horrifying link on the "professional" use of Tasers.

"Obama is a feminist" (by Suzie)

         That's the headline on a story in the Tampa Tribune about Barack's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, visiting Tampa. Thursday, she told an audience of mostly women that Obama had given her "Our Bodies, Ourselves."
Soetoro-Ng said he has "pretty continuously made strong statements on behalf of women" and backed legislation that particularly helps women, including the earned income tax credit and the Title IX legislation aimed at equalizing treatment of men's and women's college sports teams.
         Read the article here.

Roman Polanski & injustice (by Suzie)

          Opening in theaters today is a documentary on the rape case against the director Roman Polanski. Thirty years ago, he was accused of rape, sodomy and giving alcohol and drugs to a 13-year-old. He pleaded innocent, but after evidence was found, he agreed to plead guilty to having sex with Samantha (Gailey) Geimer, in exchange for the dropping of other charges.
          Polanski, then 43, maintained the sex was consensual. Geimer said she told him no repeatedly. But even if she had said yes, Polanski knew she was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. She had come to him to be photographed, and he manipulated her into taking off more and more clothing.
         He accused her mother of setting him up to be blackmailed. People continue to question the mother, as did this writer for the Denver Post. On an HBO forum, Geimer has spelled out the facts and asked people to stop blaming her mother.
         If you view all men as potential rapists, you’re labeled a man-hater. But if you don’t foresee a renowned, middle-aged director raping your 13-year-old, then you’re at fault, apparently.
          The Denver critic calls the film “a study of the effect of childhood tragedy on shaping personality,” but she’s referring to Polanski’s early life, not what happened to Geimer. (In addition to the rape, she had to deal with taunting at school and a media circus.)
           The director of “Wanted and Desired,” Marina Zenovich, says in an interview that she sees Polanski as “very human. … He’s not like — I can’t think of the male equivalent of Britney Spears.” That’s because there’s isn’t one. Lots of men in the entertainment world drink, do drugs, and sleep around, and the media doesn’t caricature them.
          About Polanski, Zenovich also says:
It’s not anybody else’s fault but his own, but I always come back to, 'How long do you have to pay for the crime?' He went through the system. He ended up fleeing because of what Judge Rittenband did. It’s very black and white. 
          If Polanski hadn’t raped a child, he would never have come before the judge. It would be more accurate to say the judge was going to throw out the plea deal, and Polanski fled because he didn’t want to go back to prison. He rejected “the system,” which includes an appeals process. He had the money and fame to make a good life for himself in France. 
          What would the sentence have been for an indigent man who raped a 13-year-old? What if he had a history with girls? (In Europe, Polanski had a relationship with Nastassia Kinski at age 15.)
          Like others, this article talks about Europe being less Puritanical than the U.S. What writers mean is that it’s more acceptable for men to have sex with teenagers. Perhaps so, but in France, the age of consent is 15, and Geimer was 13.
          This article, again like others, talks about “cultural attitudes toward age of consent laws,” ignoring the fact that Geimer said she didn’t consent.
          Women and girls pay a price for rape, the possibility of rape, and sexual harassment, a form of discrimination. I’d like Polanski to keep “paying” – whatever that means in his case – at least until he says he was wrong to rape a 13-year-old and then shift the blame to her and her mother.

Which girls deserve protection? (by Suzie)

         The Associated Press reports:
Gons G. Nachman, 42, pleaded guilty in April to possessing child pornography after admitting that he had sex with 14- to 17-year-old girls while serving as a consular officer in Brazil and Congo and documenting the encounters in pictures and videos.
          I want to use this case and others to talk about societal attitudes toward men having sex with teenage girls.
          Nachman has asked for leniency, citing cultural differences. He says girls grow up fast in Congo, and their parents want to marry them off to older men with money. (I don't know his excuse for Brazilian girls.)
          This is akin to the old argument that human life is valued less in poorer countries. If girls have a harder life there, sleazy U.S. diplomats have no business making it worse. Even if what he says about the culture is true, he knew the girls were having sex with him under false pretenses. 
         He's hardly alone in his attitudes. Plenty of men rationalize sex with girls in poorer countries, whether as girlfriends, prostitutes or some combination of both. 
         Nachman's defense also goes to the heart of which girls deserve protection. This was illustrated in the movie “American Beauty,” in which 42-year-old Lester Burnham lusts after a “sexually aggressive” and “flirtatious” friend of his daughter, according to Wikipedia. Burnham feels bad that he almost “consummated” their relationship, not because she’s too young, but because he finds she’s not a tramp after all – she’s a virgin.
         Men cannot control themselves when teens dress provocatively or flirt with them. If a girl lies about her age, a man is blameless, no matter what the age difference. Men are the victims of these scheming sluts.
         This is what a lot of guys said in their comments to an article on Kenneth Liles, 36, who “was charged with unlawful sexual activity” with a 16-year-old in Tampa. The article continued: “The girl's mother saw her daughter having sex with Liles, a criminal arrest affidavit states.”
         Only a couple of readers suggested that men are capable of saying no. I didn't see anyone suggest that men may trick girls into bed. It’s always the girls who are tricking men.
         Liles was charged with sexual assault of a minor, a second-degree felony classified as rape by the court, according to records.
        Societal anger at child rape seems confined to the prepubescent, as I noted in a comment to Phila’s excellent post, in which he noted the division between those who are innocent and those who are not, those who need protection and those who should know better.
        Some people will argue that girls have agency, and they can make choices. I agree. I just wish all men understood that they can make choices, too.  
         P.S. Nachman didn’t have sex just with girls. He acknowledges that he had sex with two women who applied for visas, but denies accusations he coerced them. Getting visas can be difficult enough without women getting the message that they need to offer themselves up to U.S. officials.

Friday Critter Blogging (by Suzie)

This is a photo of Streaker at the Chiwawagaga site. I must resist the temptation to put my Chihuahua in a cute costume. I must. It would be wrong.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Savage Child Rearing Advice

Remember the post in which we all discussed what being "a real man" means? It's almost as if wingnut Michael Savage wanted to chip in to that conversation when he went on a rant about autism:

That's what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.'" Savage concluded, "[I]f I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, 'Don't behave like a fool.' The worst thing he said — 'Don't behave like a fool. Don't be anybody's dummy. Don't sound like an idiot. Don't act like a girl. Don't cry.' That's what I was raised with. That's what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You're turning your son into a girl, and you're turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That's why we have the politicians we have."

Bolds are mine.

Notice how there is no autism epidemic but if there is it's the fault of the single mothers? Also, boys have to be brought up to properly associate "idiot" and "dummy" with being a girl. That's how Michael was brought up and it took!

And how does that link to our earlier discussion? I think it points out that the worst thing a boy might experience in that alternative reality inhabited by savages and Savages is that he would turn into something like a girl. That equals being a loser and a beaten man.

Now imagine being a girl and hearing that rant. What does it say to her?

The Housing Market Crisis

Has become a general crisis in the financial markets, and the reasons have to do with lack of regulations in that market, the invention of new instruments (sub-prime mortgages, jumbo mortgages, Alt-As, all bundled, shredded and served like coleslaw to investors) with severe systemic risks and the desire by everybody and their uncle to pretend that those risks don't exist. The government also has some responsibility for the crisis, because the Bush administration used the housing market bubble to pretend that the economy is doing better than it actually is, just like the Clinton administration used the high-tech bubble for the same purpose. And market bubbles, they pop, just like soap bubbles do.

The latter amuses children, but the breaking bubbles in various markets hurt people, including children. The housing market slump hurts people who were led into believing that they can afford a house they really could not. It also hurts people who were gambling on that market and perhaps deserve to be hurt, and it hurts people who used their home equity to finance other consumption.

The latter has resulted in the odd concept of "negative equity," or the value of the equity being less than all the debt that has been taken against it. The value of a house is not an ATM, in short, and using it as one may well cause unpleasant surprises when house values plummet.

The underlying assumption on which this whole teetering tower of cards was built was the assumption that real estate prices would go on rising for the foreseeable future. When they did not we got the crash and the crisis. But note that the reason why prices stopped rising and started falling is mostly (though not completely) caused by the teetering tower itself. The foundations of proper regulation and proper audits and accounts were not there to stop the tower from collapsing, and once it collapsed it took that belief in ever-rising prices with it.

So what should the government do about all this? Should it intervene now when it did not earlier? Moral arguments can be made both ways, but the real concern now is with the overall economy and the way the financial markets will drag everything else down with them if someone doesn't prop up that house of cards. That "someone" is likely to be the tax-payer, however wrong that might seem from a moral point of view.

Read My Gender Gap Series

Please, Washington Times reporters. It's written clearly and it's available for zero cost at my website. If you had read it you would not have written this inane and incorrect thing:

Summary: In an editorial about the pay gap between male and female workers, The Washington Times falsely asserted that "the relevant factors that affect pay -- occupation, experience, seniority, education and hours worked -- are ignored by those citing the wage gap." The editorial also asserted that "women tend to place a higher priority on flexibility and personal fulfillment" than on higher pay. In fact, a GAO study found that a pay gap persists even when controlling for work experience, seniority, education, industry, occupation, race, marital status, and job tenure.

And not only a GAO study but literally hundreds of studies have found the very same thing. More about why a conservative paper would argue otherwise can be found in the third part of my series. The studies are discussed in the second part, and the first part lays out the basic economic theories.

I do get furious when people lie, you know, and ignoring generations of well-made studies and their results is lying. It also paints all economists with the stupid-brush.

Garden and Dog Blogging

I found this picture while cleaning the garage. It shows Henrietta and Hank doing what they usually did: Hank pesters Henrietta and Henrietta tells her off. Or perhaps they are kissing? Not sure.

The picture was taken 2005 or earlier. You can get more details about my angel dogs and the garden, too, by clicking on it.

More Laura Nyro

She deserves more fame.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Déjà Vu All Over Again?

I'm pretty sure Karl Rove has fled the country. So who is it who is advising McCain to attack the strength of his opponent? It sounds like Swift-Boating, but much sillier.

Worth Reading

Open Left has a series of invited guest posts by feminists and womanists:

It is a great pleasure to promote the first invited post in our "mutual guest blogging" series on feminist and womanist perspectives on Hillary Clinton's withdrawal from the race -- and why this matters to progressives. Thanks to our guest bloggers -- and to everybody who's helped work to make this happen!--Jon Pincus

The first is by Melissa McEwan and the second by Sara Robinson.

I think there might be more than those two posts but when I search Open Left the site wants me to sign up or put them as heirs in my will or something similar before revealing anything.

Iraq And Afghanistan Wars For Dummies

We need that book, badly, and it should be read by all those who have been or are in charge of those wars. It should include answers to these questions:

"Why did the U.S. initiate two wars at the same time and is now hankering after a third simultaneous war?"

"How do these wars help in catching Osama bin Laden, given that he is probably in Pakistan?"

"Who benefits from the way these wars have been waged?"

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fun With Biased Polling

I recommend my statistics series for a deeper discussion on what polls mean. You can find it on the website given at the top of the blog.

But for a very, very bad example of polling, Lou Dobbs can't be beat. Here's today's question:

Do you find it outrageous that the Bush Administration refuses to give our Border Patrol agents the respect and support they deserve?

Internet polls of this kind are never based on random sampling, because those who respond are the ones who care enough to respond. Those who don't care that much will not respond. Besides the people who read, say Dobbs' website, are not a random sample of all Americans to begin with.

All this means that the polls on various websites tell us nothing what voters or web-users or Americans and so on think; only what those people who answered think. It's also quite possible to "freep" those polls so that one person can vote many, many times.

In short, such polls are garbage. But this particular poll would be garbage even if it used a random sampling scheme, because it employs a leading question. The word "outrage" leads the voter towards what he or she is supposed to feel about the lack of "respect" and "support" the Border Patrol agents "deserve." So you are told how you should think and then you are asked to agree with that, pretty much.

One reason why even proper polls on various topics (such as opinions about abortion) so often disagree in their findings is that the way the questions are worded does matter.
Added on July 16: Check out this FAIR post about how wording changes the conclusions of a poll even when the changes are quite subtle.

Real Men Lead

I learned that from a post entitled "Go Green: 10 Reasons Real Men Go Green." That Real Men Lead is reason no 1.

If that sounds a bit like something Promise Keepers or Southern Baptists might say, well, it is. Only this time it's expressed as something progressive, having to do with the care of the environment.

If Real Men Lead, who is it that follows? Unreal men and women, I guess. But presumably all men want to be counted among the real ones, and that leaves only women (and perhaps children) as the followers.

What's funny about the post is that it's written by a woman. Tsk, tsk. Women aren't supposed to lead by writing posts. Neither are women supposed to define masculinity, as you will learn if you go to the home site of this post and read the comments.

More Political Pictures

Check out this proposal for a New Yorker cover, one about the McCains. It's pretty close to a mirror image of the Obamas cover. Hat tip to watertiger.

And then from Think Progress:

The attached text notes that the billboard is seen as inappropriate by both political parties. Of course it's also hard to interpret, given that the 9/11 massacres took place during a Republican administration.

Anti-Discrimination, Bush Administration Style

Believe it or not, this administration does worry about discrimination in employment, though it's not sex- or race-based discrimination. Those types don't really exist, according to the conservatives, because the employers are supposed to have the right to determine whom they hire without government intervention and because we all know that any individual, irrespective of gender and race, can just try to work harder and to negotiate better labor contracts with the GE or the IBM or the local McDonald's.

Instead, the Bush administration is worried about "discrimination" against people who don't want other people to have abortions or even the contraceptive pill. This, my friends, is how they define discrimination:

The Bush administration wants to require all recipients of aid under federal health programs to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control.

Under the draft of a proposed rule, hospitals, clinics, researchers and medical schools would have to sign "written certifications" as a prerequisite to getting money under any program run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Such certification would also be required of state and local governments, forbidden to discriminate, in areas like grant-making, against hospitals and other institutions that have policies against providing abortion.

The proposal, which circulated in the department on Monday, says the new requirement is needed to ensure that federal money does not "support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law." The administration said Congress had passed a number of laws to ensure that doctors, hospitals and health plans would not be forced to perform abortions.

In the proposal, obtained by The New York Times, the administration says it could cut off federal aid to individuals or entities that discriminate against people who object to abortion on the basis of "religious beliefs or moral convictions."

The proposal defines abortion as follows: "any of the various procedures — including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation."

I have bolded the crucial bits in that quote. Note how wide-spreading the rule would be. It could make it impossible for a rape victim in a hospital to get emergency contraception. Given that the draft adopts the pro-lifers' definition of abortion even the routine contraceptive pills are seen as abortifacients.

Maybe this is a good place to point out that refusing to hire workers who will not perform the tasks legitimately required by the job is not discrimination. Yet the Bush administration uses "discrimination" in that odd meaning. According to their definition, a Christian Scientist opposed to all conventional medical care should expect to be hired by a hospital ER, and any refusal to hire that person would be religious discrimination.

That is just plain silly. That we don't see the proposed rule as equally silly is because of its abortion framing: As long as the refusal to provide appropriate medical care only touches women its absurdity is hidden. Not to mention that this rule gives the power to make medical decisions over a patient to any religious health care worker and not just those the patient has delegated the power to.

Yes, the hospitals and so on are expected to cater for the patient, too, by having a second person with no such religious qualms somewhere close by. In practice this means double-staffing. It also means that patients will be subjected to speeches about religion and to delays in getting the treatment they want.

Let's hope that this draft will remain a draft.

Monday, July 14, 2008

McCain The Neo-Feminist?

John McCain has seen the light! He has become a spokesman for the women of this country, a feminist even. Granted, he still needs to find his sea legs on the issues specific to women, as this video demonstrates:

Mmm. Perhaps a little lost there? (Watch that again with the sound off. It's wonderful.)

Still, McCain's conversion is astonishing in its rapidity. It was only this April, after all, when he couldn't find the time to vote on the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would have extended the time for women to pursue pay-discrimination suits, though he did have enough time to tell us that he would have voted against the bill.

What a difference a few months can make. Here are McCain's new views on women and pay discrimination:
We haven't done enough. We have not done enough. And I'm committed to making sure that there's equal pay for equal work. That there is equal opportunity in every aspect of our society. And that is my record and you can count on it.

Don't you just love that last sentence? Too bad that McCain's voting record doesn't support his new-found feminist principles, and too bad that it is that record which we should probably count on.

McCain's astonishing feminist conversion is nothing of the kind, of course, but both the usual move towards the middle, something which is expected at this stage of the election campaigns, and also an attempt to fish for the votes of Democratic women who supported Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. What is astonishing about all this is how clumsy McCain's attempts are, how little research and thought he appears to have put into the necessary play-acting and what all this tells about his views on women voters.

Today's Outrage: The New Yorker Cover

It's seldom that the New Yorker is in the general news, except as the signifier of extreme high-browedness. But today it is, because of the cover depicting the Obamas in the White House.

My first reaction to the cover was that it obviously tried to ridicule the views of the extreme wingnuts concerning Obamas (that he's a terrorist Muslim, that she hates America etc.), but that it failed to do so. The reason for that failure is the same which made me once scrap a long funny piece about the wingnuts giving advice to America's mothers: I couldn't make any of the advice more extreme than what the wingnuts actually say.

In short, using exaggerations as a way into sarcasm about the wingnuts is almost impossible, and that should tell you how extreme they are.

Another way of saying that is Atrios' comment:

The New Yorker cover could have worked if had made more clear who it was satirizing (Fox news, the Republican party, Rush Limbaugh, whatever), or by being clever enough to provide the actual funny. As it is it's just a reflection of the Right's view of Obama, but there's nothing clever or funny about it. The cartoon could run as is on the cover of the National Review, also meaning to be "funny" but with a different target.

And the result is that both McCain and Obama have expressed strong outrage about the cover. Note that this is not because the cover was ridiculing the wingnuts, nope.

In that sense the joke certainly misfired.