Answering the Rhetoric of the Rich and other short notes

This is how upside-down things have gotten: Cracked.com is now a leading source of common sense. Last week Cracked editor David Wong concentrated a giant dose of sense into 6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying.

I particularly liked the take-down of “I never got a job from a poor person.”

If you are working at a Toyota factory, your paycheck doesn’t come from under the mattress of the owner of the company. That money came from lots and lots of regular Joes who bought Toyota cars. The guys in suits are just middlemen between the supply and the demand. … It’s the same for somebody working at Walmart, or a grocery store, or a liquor store. You didn’t get your job from a poor person, but collectively their money made it happen.

As for “Stop asking for handouts! I never got help from anybody!”, Wong gives a foul-mouthed defense of the same point Ben Franklin made more politely in this week’s Sift quote.

The entire concept of owning anything, be it a hunk of land or a house or a fucking sandwich, exists purely because other people pay other armed men to protect it. Without society, all of your brave, individual talents and efforts won’t buy you a bucket of farts.

So when I say “We’re all in this together,” I’m not stating a philosophy. I’m stating a fact about the way human life works. No, you never asked for anything to be handed to you. You didn’t have to, because billions of humans who lived and died before you had already created a lavish support system where the streets are all but paved with gold. Everyone reading this — all of us living in a society advanced enough to have Internet access — was born one inch away from the finish line, plopped here at birth, by other people.


So what actually happens if college students’ birth control pills aren’t covered by insurance? A study that looked at the results of a temporary price increase in 2007 showed a variety of effects that don’t completely validate anybody’s position: Women had less sex, but when they did have sex, they resorted to cheaper, less effective forms of birth control, like the morning-after contraceptives that the Catholic Church considers “abortion pills”. The rate of accidental (post-abortion-pill) pregnancy stayed about the same.


Follow-up on the Rush Limbaugh mess that I covered last week:

  • The pressure on advertisers has really worked. During Limbaugh’s Thursday show, WABC in New York broadcast 77 public service announcements, 7 ads from companies that were in the process of withdrawing their advertising, two ads from continuing advertisers, and five minutes of dead air.
  • Nobody liked Limbaugh’s apology. Slate’s “Dear Prudence” column used it as an example of how not to apologize. Even Don Imus dissed it.
  • Rush hasn’t changed his behavior. Thursday he responded to a female writer’s satirical WaPo column about him by complaining about her “b-i-itchy opinion“. Over the last half century, white people have had to learn how to disagree with black people without calling them “niggers”. (It’s not that hard, once you catch on.) Limbaugh still hasn’t learned the comparable lesson about women. You don’t have to trot out bitch, slut, and whore just because one of them said something you don’t like.
  • Conservative-in-exile David Frum explained why the liberals-are-just-as-bad excuses don’t cut it.
  • The rest of the right wing is still hounding Sandra Fluke. Laura Ingraham calls her “a willing pawn in the process to subvert the truth” and (based on nothing) Bill O’Reilly conspiratorially claims she is being “run out of the White House” and Eric Bolling calls her “a plant”. As far as I can tell, no one on the Right is addressing the substance of Fluke’s testimony, which is that limiting access to contraception at Georgetown has harmed women’s health, sometimes because of conditions (like ovarian cysts) not caused by sex or pregnancy.

This musical response to Limbaugh comes from Reformed Whores:


A longer article on this topic has gotten crowded out of the Sift two weeks in a row now, so I’ll just post the link and hope to comment on it later: Worker abuse isn’t just a problem in Shenzhen, as I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave makes clear.


Jessica Winters’ column in Time addressed the question “Are Women People?“. The answer seems doubtful.

You see, like most women, I was born with the chromosome abnormality known as “XX,” a deviation of the normative “XY” pattern. Symptoms of XX, which affects slightly more than half of the American population, include breasts, ovaries, a uterus, a menstrual cycle, and the potential to bear and nurse children. Now, many would argue even today that the lack of a Y chromosome should not affect my ability to make informed choices about what health care options and lunchtime cat videos are right for me. But others have posited, with increasing volume and intensity, that XX is a disability, even a roadblock on the evolutionary highway.


One way to avoid appeal to the Supreme Court is to base your case on your state constitution. A Wisconsin state judge issued an injunction blocking Governor Walker’s vote-suppressing photo-ID law. He notes that the right to vote is guaranteed by the Wisconsin constitution.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that Indiana’s voter-ID law did not violate the U.S. constitution.


Here’s the Nile at night, as seen from the international space station somewhere over (I think) Sudan. Enjoy.


TPM’s Josh Marshall calls attention to Rick Santorum’s increasing unpopularity. His downturn began right about the time he dissed JFK and called President Obama “a snob” for wanting people to go to college.


One possible long-term solution to the energy problem is to burn a plentiful-but-dirty fossil fuel like coal, but avoid global warming by injecting the CO-2 into the ground. An experiment in Iceland makes that seem a little less like a fairy tale. Here’s now it works:

Waste carbon dioxide is first separated from steam and then dissolved in water, forming carbonic acid. The solution is then pumped 550 yards underground into a basalt formation, where the acidity leaches elements like calcium and magnesium from the surrounding rocks. Over time, the solution flows through the basalt formation and these elements recombine to form minerals like limestone.


But while we’re talking about ejecting fluids deep into the ground, we need to remember that sometimes it doesn’t work out. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is now claiming that brine injected into the ground by frackers accidentally caused 12 earthquakes.


Jonathan Chait’s “2012 or Never” explains the desperation of the Republican electorate and its unwillingness to accept half a loaf and fight for the rest later. When your party is based on the white majority and your social message falls flat among young voters, it’s now or never.


In polling, if you control the question, you control the answer.

Hullabaloo’s David Atkins is a liberal who thinks President Obama has compromised with Republicans too much and cut programs he should have protected. A Bloomberg poll asked whether he approved or disapproved of Obama’s negotiations with Republicans on the budget and his handling of the deficit.

Of course, my first instinct was to answer a resounding no to both questions. But I hesitated and reconsidered. … I knew that any disapproval answers for the President’s approach to the deficit and negotiating with Republicans would be interpreted by lazy researchers and a lazy press to mean that I had felt that the President was too partisan in his approach, and not concerned enough with closing the deficit. So I swallowed hard and said that I approved.


This clip displays a lot of what I like about Cenk Uygur’s show “The Young Turks” on Current TV. Cenk denounces what Cameron says, defends Cameron’s right to say it, and then makes the excellent point that the Bible says a lot of things, and people choose which parts to emphasize:

So it’s not just an argument between religious people and non-religious people. It’s an argument about people who have CHOSEN to find hate in the Bible.


In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, I link to an article explaining why the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts diverged politically.

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  • By Creatures of Society « The Weekly Sift on March 12, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    [...] Answering the rhetoric of the rich and other short notes. Cracked magazine is a surprising source of common sense. Limbaugh follow-up. Abused workers pack the products you order online. Are women really people? A judge blocks Wisconsin’s voter-ID law. An orbital view of the Nile at night. Turning greenhouse gases to stone. Why I like Cenk Uygur. And lots, lots more. [...]

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