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Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 06:41 AM PST

Palin has outsmarted me

by Kylopod

I once studied sentence structure in a grammar course in college. But I must confess, Palin's recent explanation for why she's qualified to be president of the United States has me completely befuddled. Her sentences have utterly defeated my attempts to parse or diagram them. I hate to say this, but she has proven herself beyond my intellectual capacity!

Here is the paragraph, and below the fold I will attempt to break it down grammatically and semantically and figure out what on earth she's trying to say:

I believe that I am because I have common sense.  And I have, I believe, the values that are reflective of so many other American values.  And I believe that what Americans are seeking is not the elitism, the kind of a spinelessness that perhaps is made up for that with some kind of elite Ivy League education and a fact resume that's based on anything but hard work and private sector, free enterprise principles.  Americans could be seeking something like that in positive change in their leadership.  I'm not saying that has to be me.

Let's take this paragraph step by step.

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Wed Dec 16, 2009 at 02:06 PM PST

First they came for talk radio

by Kylopod

This diary will be brief, but I just had to share this, a case of satire becoming reality. A few weeks ago, I and some others toyed with the old poem "First they came for communists," and created satiric versions meant to highlight the mindset of right-wingers today. Here was my version:

First they came for the whites....
But I did not speak out, for I am not a white.

Then they came for the men....
But I did not speak out, for I am not a man.

Then they came for the heterosexuals....
But I did not speak out, for I am not a heterosexual.

Then they came for the Gentiles....
But I did not speak out, for I am not a Gentile.

Then they came for the CEO billionaires....
But I did not speak out, for I am not a CEO billionaire.

But when they came for the black Jewish female gay paupers, I said, "WTF?"

Sound absurd? Well, guess what Laura Ingraham just came up with?

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Mon Nov 30, 2009 at 06:26 PM PST

Could computers replace politicians?

by Kylopod

In 1996, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg took a computer summarizing software and entered the combined texts of the speeches from the first two nights of the Republican Convention. The summary that this program returned was surprisingly coherent:

We are the Republican Party--a big, broad, diverse, and inclusive party, with a commonsense agenda and a better man for a better America, Bob Dole. We need a leader we can trust. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for being part of this quest in working with us to restore the American dream. The commonsense Republican proposals are the first step in restoring the American dream because Republicans care about America. But there is no greater dream than the dreams parents have for their children to be happy and to share God's blessings.

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In honor of the anniversary of Barack Obama's election, this diary presents quotes from various pundits and commentators who confidently predicted Obama's defeat in the presidential race. I've listed them in chronological order, starting in late 2006 and ending just before Election Day in '08.

If anyone has any more, I'll update the diary and mention whoever finds them. Just one thing: Let's stick to commentators who gave their real name (or at least something that looks like a real name), whether they be well-known pundits or more obscure bloggers. Anonymous messages on the Internet that said stuff like "Get over it libs, Obambi will never be president" number in the thousands or more and would be way too overwhelming to include here.

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While in college, I once gathered entries from Dictionary of Changes in Meaning by Adrian Room, a book that gives obsolete definitions of common English words and traces their evolution to their current meanings. In this diary I give a sampling of what I collected.

I had access to books like that at my university's library. If you don't wish to buy such a book but are looking for a free, online source for looking up word etymologies, go here. If you have any more examples of words that have changed in meaning (whether over the last few decades or the last couple of thousand years), feel free to provide them in the comments.

And if you have absolutely no interest in this topic whatsoever, what are you doing up at this hour?

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Tue Oct 13, 2009 at 10:06 AM PDT

Charles Barackhammer

by Kylopod

I dug up an old Charles Krauthammer column that sheds light into the man's obsessive antipathy toward Obama. The column was a response to Obama's 2006 announcement that he was considering entering the presidential race. Krauthammer encouraged Obama to enter--but simply to polish his credentials in preparation for a future run. For Obama to actually win in '08, Krauthammmer wrote, would require a "miracle."

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Mon Sep 07, 2009 at 08:15 AM PDT

Lewis Gould's history of the GOP

by Kylopod

Lewis Gould's Grand Old Party (2003) chronicles the history of the Republicans. (The companion volume on the history of the Democrats, Jules Witcover's Party of the People (2003), will be the subject of a future diary.) What I particularly liked about this book was that it stuck to a single theme, namely how the two parties, in the course of a century, apparently swapped places ideologically. The Republicans of the nineteenth century sounded in many respects like the Democrats of today, and vice versa. Specifics after the jump.

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Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 07:13 AM PDT

Are you a liberal or a progressive?

by Kylopod

I've always called myself a liberal rather than a progressive. Why I do is not entirely clear to me. The left today seems to be divided between those who prefer to call themselves progressives and those who prefer to call themselves liberal, but no one's quite sure what the difference signifies, even though many attempts have been made to explain it. In the diary below, I delve more into the question and attempt to make sense out of my own preference. I invite readers to explain theirs.

Poll

Which do you prefer to call yourself?

44%79 votes
31%56 votes
15%28 votes
7%14 votes

| 177 votes | Vote | Results

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Take a look at the following excerpt, which I got from an article:

"Hitler and Obama have a lot in common," says 65-year-old Rich Cook, explaining that both men manipulated the masses masterfully.

Let me ask all of you: do you suspect this of being a coded racial attack against the President?

Poll

Is the Hitler comparison in this excerpt a coded racial attack against Obama?

57%43 votes
42%32 votes

| 75 votes | Vote | Results

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Nate Silver did a post about how birtherism is getting more mainstream attention (and approval) than trutherism ever did, citing statistics to prove his point. One commenter argued that trutherism is more offensive, because it trivializes the deaths of thousands and their living relatives, whereas the only person the birthers could offend is Obama's dead mother.

This is clearly fallacious reasoning, but it points to an important realization: most of us find the whole birther phenomenon rather scary, and not just because of its mainstreaming and wide acceptance. The 9/11 conspiracy theories are silly, paranoid, overwrought, even offensive, but I don't find them anywhere near as disturbing, and I don't think I would even if they enjoyed as much publicity as the birthers.

Below the fold, I explain the primary reasons why birtherism is not only disturbing but dangerous.

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A lot of people here lump Palin together with Bush, and even Reagan, as brainless politicians. In a sense, we were crying wolf by calling Reagan an idiot, because he seemed brilliant compared to Bush. And Bush seems brilliant compared to Palin.

I don't, by the way, believe that any of them were/are literally stupid (though Bush and Palin are definitely incompetent). I know that probably puts me in the minority here. I think Bush and Palin deliberately play to the lowest common denominator. Their folksy anti-intellectualism represents the end result of something that's been going on in conservative circles for decades. What started out as attacks on elitism degenerated into attacks on anyone who reads a book (that was Bush's innovation) right down to anyone who reads a newspaper (Palin). I don't know what's next. Attack people who read shopping lists, I guess.

Palin's gambit, however, isn't working the way it did with Bush and Reagan, and it's not simply because the country has grown out of it. It's because she's just not that good at it.

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Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 07:11 AM PDT

Why the GOP is good

by Kylopod

It is too easy for partisan Democrats to gloat about the apparent collapse of the Republican Party. Some have even speculated that the Republicans will go the way of the Whigs, replaced by a new major party (say, the Libertarians). Others suggest they will simply be out of power for a long time.

One way or another, the Obama Administration is doing all it can to further the GOP's self-destruction, trying to prop up Rush Limbaugh, or selecting a Latino for the Supreme Court in what has predictably provoked a backlash from Republicans who will alienate a potentially valuable bloc. (You really think Obama didn't anticipate this when he selected her?)

Nevertheless, this situation might not be such a great blessing for liberals in the long run. Competent, sane conservatives are leaving the GOP in frustration. If they join the Democrats in droves, it risks changing the party's character. Progressives already complain that the Democratic Party has moved to the right. You think the situation will improve if disillusioned ex-Republicans flood the party? Maybe we should be encouraging the sane conservatives to keep trying to fix their old party instead of diluting ours. It may be difficult, but it will be better for everyone in the end.

Poll

Will the destruction of the GOP be good for liberals?

65%73 votes
34%39 votes

| 112 votes | Vote | Results

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