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The Carrie Prejean affair, particularly the reaction of Mr. Obermann and others, has prompted the Word Sommelier to dust off the old dictionary once again. In this installment, we examine the word "indecency".  

"Decent" and "indecent" are a curious pair of words. It seems like "indecent" ought to simply be a derivative of "decent".   It is, but the split was accomplished in Latin; each word subsequently made its way into English independently.  We get "decent" from the Middle French, and ultimate from the Latin decentem, which meant "being suitable or fitting".   "Indecent" arrives directly from the Latin indecentum (obviously "not suitable or fitting"). "Indecent" therefore has acquired a meaning  that is subtly different than merely "not decent".

When we call something "decent", we can mean a range of approbatory things.  We can mean something conforms to standards of good taste or decorum.  This relates to the earliest usage of the word in English, where "decent" bore connotations of "appropriate to one's social rank".  We can mean that something is free from offensive immodesty.  We can mean something is fairly, although not exceptionally good. A "decent" restaurant is acceptable whereas a "decent" cabaret would probably disappoint.

"Decent", then, has wide scope. It can mean bare sufficiency of taste, or something considerably above that.

"Indecent", on the other hand, has narrower scope.  It always carries a whiff of repugnance.  That which is "indecent" not only fails to meet standards of decorum, but exercises a kind of wicked fascination. That  which is indecent is not merely inadequate; it is positively damaging to standards of character and taste.   Thus while Mr. Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code fails to meet the Word Sommelier's minimum standards of literary taste, he would never characterize it as "indecent".

Within US law, "indecent" is bracketed between "inoffensive" and "obscene".   There is a three prong test used for "obcene": (1) an average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest (i.e., material having a tendency to excite lustful thoughts); (2) the material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and (3) the material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

So that which is offensive, but not "obscene" should be called "indecent", according to the law.  From a philosophical standpoint, such a litmus test distinction is not very satisfying. If a work is capable of damaging morality or virtue, it does not lose that potential through the addition of homeopathic quantities of artistic merit.  This litmus test exists merely to provide a presumption of innocence for artistic works; it keeps the courts and government censors out of the business of weighing a work's artistic merits against  its morally corrupting effects.

Which brings us to Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Musto on the April 30 2009 Countdown:

OLBERMANN:  There it is there, Miss California is opposed to same-sex marriage, which is at least marriage between two human beings, but she has fully endorsed now marriage between a man and a woman who is partially made out of plastic.

MUSTO:  She is dumb and twisted.  She‘s sort of like a human Barbie Doll.  You tell Perez Hilton you are against gay marriage.  That‘s like telling Simon Cowell you‘re against screeching a show tune.  This is the kind of girl who sits on the TV and watches the sofa.  You know, she thinks innuendo is a Italian suppository.

[No video link because the World Sommelier does not approve of judging words that way.]

The Word Sommelier does not habitually pass judgments on matters of taste and morality.  Prudery and prurience are neighbors in more than the pages of the dictionary.   The Word Sommelier's concern is mainly for beauty and power of expression.    Yet this is the kind of exchange that causes him to despair, because the very thoughts expressed are ugly.  It is a form of ugliness very familiar to him: the attitude of the educated and intelligent toward those they consider beneath them.  This is very the fault for which Jane Austen's Mr. Knightley upbraided Emma in her treatment of elderly and boorish Miss Bates. It is not that Emma has shown herself superior to Miss Bates, which we naturally accept. The pain is that she has cut her own stature down in the process.

Such thoughts are aesthetically irredeemable.   There is no way to clothe them in words to make them appear admirable, and indeed it is a shame with so many wonderful, beautiful words that have been said that we must make room for such as these.    The only possible way to justify such thoughts is to seek outside the words themselves to appeal to the depravity and malice of their object's opinion; to claim that by doing that object an evil turn we are doing a good deed.

Yet this is the very exercise the Word Sommelier has found unsupportable in the case of "obscenity."   That Olmbermann's and Musto's words are well intentioned there can be no doubt.  Yet their words are with equal certainty depraved.  They dehumanize Ms. Prejean, reduce her to a status of an object.   Against  this presumably petty evil we are implicitly expected to weigh the alleged depravity of Ms. Prejean's views.  It is the view of the Word Sommelier however that such justifications of poor taste are "indecent". This kind of objectification is actually more depraved when it has extraneous "justification".  Mere pornography is a largely harmless appeal to natural animal lust.   Dehumanizing an enemy for a "cause" is a corruption and degradation of moral reason itself.  Surely Mr. Olbermann has better in him than this.  We know he has great capacity for erudition and eloquence, which is sadly missing here.  We may do well to cut wicked people and thoughts down to size, but our choice of weapon matters. To cut both sides off at the knees may leave the Good in a superior position, yet greatly diminished from what it ought to be.

One constant source of pain for the word lover is the careless use of hyperbole as a form of emphasis.  It devalues words, and even thoughts.  It would be hyperbole to call Mr. Olbermann "The Worst Person in the World".  Rather, he may be the person who falls most short of what he might be.  This goes right back the original English sense of decency: suitable to one's station.  The Word Sommelier judges Mr. Olbermann's remarks as unsuited to his station.

Originally posted to grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:20 AM PDT.

Poll

KO's Remarks on Ms. Prejean

23%28 votes
29%35 votes
39%47 votes
8%10 votes

| 120 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Who can protest an injustice... (27+ / 0-)

    "Who can protest an injustice but does not is an accomplice to the act.” -- The Talmud

    I've lost my faith in nihilism

    by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:17:17 AM PDT

  •  This diary elevates me. (8+ / 0-)

    Somehow.

    When a faction is extinguished, the remainder subdivideth.

    by bugscuffle on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:25:25 AM PDT

  •  I voted in your poll... (0+ / 0-)

    but now I've thought again, and I think I was wrong.  By your definition of indecent and obscene, his remarks were neither.  They weren't admirable, and if I took offense to objectifying Ms. Prejean then they weren't inoffensive.  

    So what were they?

    oh this is just emo

    by gooners on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:29:20 AM PDT

    •  I don't mean to ask you.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp

      to explain it all again.  His remarks are indecent as in "not fitting to his station", not indecent as in "indecent exposure".  

      oh this is just emo

      by gooners on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:32:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It depends (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PaintyKat, lgmcp, pgm 01, gooners

      Do you feel that your offense was justified?   If so, then I would call the remarks "indecent".  If you feel they carry no objective harm to yourself, Ms. Prejean, or the atmosphere of civil discourse,  then perhaps we might consider the need for a slot between "inoffensive" and "indecent": "offensive but not indecent".  Normally, we talk as if there were no such slot, and perhaps this is a fault in our habitual thinking.

      I've lost my faith in nihilism

      by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:33:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We certainly don't go for that sort of thing here (10+ / 0-)

    Oh, wait: yes we do. We're always using all manner of dehumanizing language to insult Republicans and other miscreants, most of whom manifestly deserve it. Where's the difference?

    God, I hate happy-happy photo diaries.

    by phenry on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:30:11 AM PDT

  •  the poll lacks an option for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chrome327

    "why would anyone watch any segment of Countdown featuring Michael Musto"

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by klompendanser on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:31:47 AM PDT

  •  Carrie Prejean objectifies herself (21+ / 0-)

    by entering pageants!!

    As a woman, I'm glad to see her fake plastic self get smacked down.  Aggressively useless pandering bimbos like Carrie Prejean parading their stupidity on television and having their surgically manufactured physiques officially held out as the standard of American "beauty" sets us all back 20 and 30 years.

    And people sit around wondering why girls have such shitty self-esteem!!  Carrie Prejean should crawl back under the rock she came from and do us all a favour.

    •  In my experience (7+ / 0-)

      In my experience emphasizing one's superior intelligence is no cure for the stupidity of others.

      One does not strike a blow against the objectification of women by participating in it.

      To speak considerately and temperately to such would do much more good.

      I've lost my faith in nihilism

      by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:35:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

        •  I'm sorry. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PaintyKat, lgmcp

          That's my job here.  You are of course welcome to turn it into a debate by answering my position, if you can.

          I've lost my faith in nihilism

          by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:43:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I already did. (8+ / 0-)

            I said she objectifies herself by entering pageants.  If you don't want people discussing you as an object, don't go on TV in a bikini in a contest whose prime objective is to judge what you look like.
             
            Simple!  Dead simple!  But apparently not simple enough for the particular dim bulb in question.

            I'm actually quite amused but also slightly bewildered to see your liberal heart bleeding so heavily over a belligerently vapid plastic-titted Stepford Wife like Carrie Prejean.

            •  So (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PaintyKat

              I take it then you approve of objectification of women in some circumstances.  Or perhaps that a woman, once objectified, is permanently an object.

              I've lost my faith in nihilism

              by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:56:07 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Who said permanently? (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                panicbean, cybrestrike, csquared

                If she stops objectifying herself by entering pageants and implanting bags of saline into her chest for the sexual gratification of onlookers, I'll gladly stop objectifying her too.

                •  So (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  PaintyKat

                  so long as she retains her implants, she is fair game?

                  I've lost my faith in nihilism

                  by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:02:27 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I notice you're taking great care each time (4+ / 0-)

                    to avoid acknowledging the fact that she objectifies herself by entering beauty pageants.  

                    Obviously that undisputed fact does not serve your argument in any way, so you're trying to sweep it under the carpet.

                    •  Indeed I have (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      PaintyKat

                      because it is in my opinion not license for others to participate in that objectification.  I believe this is where we differ.

                      I've lost my faith in nihilism

                      by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:08:18 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  grumpynerd: you're fired! (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Dems 2008, cybrestrike, csquared

                        Have you hugged a torturing CIA thug today?

                        by memofromturner on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:30:17 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Let me try to understand, (5+ / 0-)

                        so it's ok for her to objectify herself by entering beauty pageants, which are designed to promote an unrealistic, unhealthy image of what beautiful women should look like, but if people judge her in her capacity as a beauty pageant, then she's suddenly dehumanized?  I don't buy that.

                        I think this whole thing is blown out of proportion.  To me, she chose to participate in the event, chose to go on stage in a spotlight, got asked a question on which she knew her answer would be judged, knew her personal belief on this controversial subject isn't a popular one, knew she wouldn't score points with her answer, and chose to answer it as she wanted anyway.  So people who have strong personal feelings toward the subject judged her based on her answer.  

                        •  I appreciate your attempt to understand (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          PaintyKat, sanglug, roystah

                          However I want to make something clear: I never said it was OK for her to objectify herself. I only said that it was not OK for others to do so.  At least for political ends.

                          My point is not that KO is wrong in attacking pageants, or should he so choose breast implants.   He is wrong to use breast implants as an argument for gay marriage.  It is an argument based on devaluing the opponent.

                          If the opponent's opinions are utter swill, then this operation is not necessary, and only discredits our side.   If the opponent's opinions are not swill, they cast doubt on our position.

                          I don't buy "fair game" type justifications for arguments in any situation.  There's always a better argument to be had than that.

                          Finally, I think it is fairly clear that Ms. Prejean did not prepare an answer in advance on the gay marriage question.  It is therefore unreasonable to bear special hostility to her as an activist against gay marriage.   The text of her remarks do not, in my opinion, make her out to be such.   It is the reaction of the "tolerant" left to her (slightly incoherent) position that has selected her for that role.

                          I've lost my faith in nihilism

                          by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:41:08 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  KO is pointing out her hypocracy (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Loquatrix, cybrestrike, csquared, roystah

                            KO has made plenty of arguments in favor of gay marriage.

                            I don't KO has a problem with pageants or people who get any kind of plastic surgery either.

                            I think he does have a problem with someone who is young, shallow, inexperienced, participates in pageants w/all expensed breast implants trying taking an air superiority on a particular issue over many same-sex couples that have been together for 10, 20, 30...even 40 & 50 years.

              •  Yet another alternative is women who (0+ / 0-)

                objectify themselves - many find it empowering

                It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

                by sboucher on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:03:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  While I agree with grumpynerd, (0+ / 0-)

              I find myself ROFLMAO reading this thread and Loquatrix...does that make me an indecent or an unwilling participant?
              Yes she's getting the equivalent of a verbal stoning and people in glass houses there but for fortune let's rise above yada yada, but on the other hand she could put on her shirt, get decent & respectful herself, and use intelligence and compassion when talking about other people's marriages...that's the real indecency here.

              •  Well (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                PaintyKat

                I'm trying hard to be fair.  

                It's not my intention to stone Loquatrix or humiliate her.  I'm trying to address the issue of how to do we engage in these debates in a way that is persuasive and does justice to the philosophy of political liberalism.

                I believe liberalism is a political philosophy that is both rational and humane.  In fact, it is a philosophy that sees these not only as compatible, but necessary to each other.  We do not advocate burning villages to save them, torturing people in the name of freedom, or participating in the degradation of others (even self-inflicted degradation) in the name of human dignity.

                I've lost my faith in nihilism

                by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:29:08 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sorry, I meant we were stoning (0+ / 0-)

                  the beauty queen, not Loquatrix.
                  But beauty is as beauty does...
                  For me, there were two aspects to Miss Stake's, I mean Miss Prejean's, argument:  the verbal expression of her anti gay marriage sentiments and the exhibitionistic display of her body, which accompanied it and which is a form of discouse, too, an all too persuasive one that is meant to manipulate an audience and sway minds.  The visual pitch often trumps verbal reason, I'm sure you'll sadly agree.  This is why it feels fair to us to attack her image, since that falsely enhanced and all too eagerly revealed visual embodiment was itself meant to be part of the argument, to prey on the kind of shorthand, shortwired way our brains work. So her body, offered as illustration or background or vehicle of her argument, or more precisely, as an advertisement for her argument, feels like fair game to us as we protect our primitive brains from visual assault.  She leant her body to a pernicious argument, and humour is a great defense.

        •  It's a gentle and articulate lecture (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PaintyKat, Cottagerose

          and the occasional secular sermon is rather refreshing, for some of us.

          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

          by lgmcp on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:50:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  But isn't that (0+ / 0-)

          what you did in your 1st comment?  So if you can lecture why can't grumpynerd?

          •  To be fair (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Loquatrix

            she was directing her invective against somebody not present.  

            I was directly addressing the poster's own behavior, which was provocative.

            I've lost my faith in nihilism

            by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:24:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I understand that. (0+ / 0-)

              It just struck me that she admonished you for lecturing when she, herself, was lecturing.

              •  I think if you re-read my post you will notice (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cybrestrike

                I simply evoked my opinion.  A "lecture" would require some element of instruction, direction or guidance to the audience (such as grumpynerd gave me in his response) which clearly my little rant at the sky lacks.  :)

                •  I read your post carefully. (0+ / 0-)

                  And people sit around wondering why girls have such shitty self-esteem!!  Carrie Prejean should crawl back under the rock she came from and do us all a favour.

                  This does not appear to you to have a certain scolding quality?

                  I understand and commend your feelings on this matter, but it does not address the point of the diary, which is that treating people with high levels of discourtesy undermines our expressions of own moral outrage.

                  I've lost my faith in nihilism

                  by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:47:41 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Scolding of Carrie the plastic wingnut airhead (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    cybrestrike

                    not of you.

                    And if the point of the diary is that

                    treating people with high levels of discourtesy undermines our expressions of own moral outrage

                    then you are just going to have to accept the fact that, according to the comments and the ratings here, a lot of people disagree with you and think Carrie Prejean needs every bit of the public shaming she's receiving.

                    Not everyone's heart bleeds over the same things, you know?

                    •  Indeed. (0+ / 0-)

                      I am quite aware that most people on dKos think that Ms. Prejean is "fair game". How could I not be?  This is precisely the reason for the diary.

                      I'm not convinced that any reasonable system of morality admits any such status as "fair game".  It seems to me to be a mirror of the arguments that the US should be allowed to torture people we're pretty sure are terrorists.

                      And I simply do not believe in the coercive power of shame.  Shame in the face of people we cannot ignore, perhaps. Our loved ones.  But it seems to me that shame produces the opposite effect than that desired, one of overweening, defensive pride and certainty.

                      Finally, I have read a transcript of Ms. Prejean's remarks. They do not strike me as particularly odious.  It is also quite obvious to me that she did not prepare remarks for such a question, and therefore cannot be justly held accountable for becoming an ad hoc spokesman against gay marriage.  Quite the contrary, it is the people on our side that made her so.

                      I've lost my faith in nihilism

                      by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:04:13 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Yep (0+ / 0-)

                    That's the part that really caught my attention as well.

                    I'm not trying to get caught up in some minute detail here.  It's my opinion that much of what goes on around this site is lecturing.  I'm not condemning it.  It's just the way it is.

                •  Well I guess we'll have to disagree (0+ / 0-)

                  on what "lecturing" means in this context.  To me, it's more along the lines of a scolding as opposed to lecturing in the form of instruction.

                  Semantics I guess.

    •  I Dunno... (4+ / 0-)

      I've seen those new pictures of this little hypocrite now floating over the Web, and I think those new fake plastic melons bolted onto her chest are too big to get under the rock.

      Or make that The ROCK, the mega-church (i.e., house of wacked-out fundamentalist Christianism, founded by a drug-addict ex-professional athlete and usually set in whatever half-empty business park warehouse they can afford to rent) she belongs to.

      By the way, Ms. Prejean deserves all the scorn she has received, and then some. Someone who pretends to represent ALL the citizens of a municipality or state or country can't stand up and declare that he or she thinks SOME of those citizens deserve official second-class citizenship and don't deserve ALL the rights afforded the anointed majority. FUCK HER. AND HER FUCKED-UP CHURCH.

      Until we are all equal, no one is equal. Pass ENDA NOW!! MARRIAGE EQUALITY NOW!!

      by CajunBoyLgb on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:42:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Personally (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PaintyKat

        the "enhancements" seem to me more sad than outrageous.

        Please be clear on one point. The Word Sommelier has no objection to taking on folly; only with taking on folly with the weapons of folly.

        FUCK HER. AND HER FUCKED-UP CHURCH.

        This is precisely the kind of expression it is the Word Sommelier's job to spruce up.  However, he does need a little more cognitive content to start with.

        Your use of "fuck" is a very interesting phenomenon.  It is the secular version of the use of the word "damn", which is to figuratively wish a person into Hell.  "Fuck you" is a figurative (please note) wish that the object be the victim of rape.

        Once again, it is not really possible to "spruce up" such sentiments to make them persuasive or admirable.

        I've lost my faith in nihilism

        by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:51:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And I'm Fine with That (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Loquatrix, ferallike, dougymi, zephron

          It is not your job to spruce up my outrage at this sad trollop's vacuous denial of a whole group of citizens' basic humanity and right to pursue happiness.

          Frankly, no one asked you to.

          Yet here you are, responding to nothing other than some misguided need to turn all expressions of outrage into some kind of inoffensive liberal porridge of mild objection, called out Keith Olbermann and Michael Musto riffing their anger at this woman's stupidity and hypocrisy.

          Guess what? Sometimes it's GOOD to express anger. Sometime's it's GOOD to expose hypocrisy and stupidity and injustice to light. Sometimes it's GOOD to call out the idiots of the world.

          No, I would not wish rape on ANYONE, even this creature (frankly, I'd pity the poor fool who'd want to get into those panties for ANY reason). And you know damn well that "fuck" has moved far away from that original meaning in this particular usage. Any suggestion that I meant "rape" is, well, outrageous and insulting and-- I'll say it!-- over-sensitive to the point of ridiculousness.

          Until we are all equal, no one is equal. Pass ENDA NOW!! MARRIAGE EQUALITY NOW!!

          by CajunBoyLgb on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:05:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Another point of disagreement. (0+ / 0-)

            I don't think that expression of anger does us any good; or at least as much good as articulating justice does.

            So far nobody asking me to accept this office, that is true.   Nor did anybody ask you to regulate the office chosen by others for themselves.  I have no quarrel with your choosing that office for yourself, but it neither lends nor detracts credence from what you say.

            I've lost my faith in nihilism

            by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:10:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  "inoffensive liberal porridge" (0+ / 0-)

            Oooooh, I think I'm in love!

            •  The choice (0+ / 0-)

              isn't between being inoffensive and being persuasive.

              KO, and Al Gore were very persuasive and forceful (and offensive to those who disagreed with them) on subjects like Abu Ghraib.

              On the other hand, singling out Ms. Prejean's breasts because of her opinions on marriage is pure preaching to the choir.

              I've lost my faith in nihilism

              by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:20:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  She had breast implants (9+ / 0-)

      courtesy of the pageant officials:

      LOS ANGELES — Shanna Moakler, co-executive director of Miss California USA, has confirmed the group behind the pageant paid for Miss California Carrie Prejean’s breast implants, weeks before she competed in Miss USA.

      source

      They did not force to get them; she asked for the officials to pay for enhancements. She objectified herself in a big way.

      And let's put this paragon of the twisted right into perspective. There are 13 million children in this country without health insurance who cannot get proper medical care but this empty head just spent $50,000 on silicon sacks so she would have a better shot at winning the swimsuit competition.

      An end to the Bush nightmare is only the first step in rebuilding America.

      by DWG on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:46:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How about adding "Inconsequential" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PaintyKat, lgmcp, Dems 2008, chrome327

    to the list?

    "I'm just sayin... don't bring that horse in here!" -- Cassandra

    by tc59 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:43:45 AM PDT

  •  Thank you, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PaintyKat, panicbean, lgmcp

    sir/madame. Recommended for several reasons, but especially for use of one of my father's favorite words, decorum. Any excuse to whip out decorum or decorous, seemed to be a most welcome excuse for him.

  •  This comes under the heading of (8+ / 0-)

    "lighten up, Francis". It was joking. The fact is a pageant outed a contestant for getting breast implants. That is laughable, and in the last 8 minutes of Mr. Olberman's show he always pokes fun at people.

    An attempt to make it something more than it is, also is laughable.

    Getting Dems together and keeping them that way is like trying to herd cats, hopped up on crank, through LA, during an earthquake, in the rain. -6.25, -6.10

    by Something the Dog Said on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:46:41 AM PDT

    •  "It was joking" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PaintyKat, martydd

      Did you know that the guy who sent out the picture of the White House with a watermelon patch in front of it was also joking?

      •  Lets see how this is not the same: (4+ / 0-)

        1)No history of discrimination against women on pageants who augment their breasts.

        2)No political party hard feelings from KO or MM.

        3)No long term agenda for political gain on the part of MM and KO.

        4)Public figure famous for misspeaking and then being a bad sport about losing v. first African American president.

        5)Standard segment of a show dedicated to making fun of public figures who make fools of themselves, as opposed to a CA politician race baiting for political purposes.

        It seems they are hardly the same in any particular except the attempt at humor.

        Getting Dems together and keeping them that way is like trying to herd cats, hopped up on crank, through LA, during an earthquake, in the rain. -6.25, -6.10

        by Something the Dog Said on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:02:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "It seems..." (0+ / 0-)

          It seems they are hardly the same in any particular except the attempt at humor.

          Yes, the attempt at humor was what I was getting at.

          And I imagine that when the CA politician who sent that image around heard of the criticism, he might have also replied "lighten up, Francis".

          •  Well, you know... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PaintyKat

            Some of his best friends are black.

            "Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole. Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole."

            by homogenius on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:27:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think they are the same. (0+ / 0-)

            The watermelon slur is a known racist canard. While he might think it was funny it was also racist. There is no also in making fun of Miss CA.

            Getting Dems together and keeping them that way is like trying to herd cats, hopped up on crank, through LA, during an earthquake, in the rain. -6.25, -6.10

            by Something the Dog Said on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:02:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You don't think... (2+ / 0-)

              ...Olbermann and Musto's comments were also sexist?  

              I don't want to argue that the two examples are "the same", though. But I do think that when it comes to taking offense at the comments of others, there are too many double standards to keep track of. Let's face it, the only reason that so many here are applauding these attacks on her is that we don't like her position on marriage equality. If she'd turned out to be a pro-equality liberal, and Sean Hannity had launched a disgusting attack on her, I suspect most here would be condemning him and defending her.

              •  I can agree with this point (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Bill W

                Let's face it, the only reason that so many here are applauding these attacks on her is that we don't like her position on marriage equality.

                Plus I hate defending Musto, he is always over the top for my tastes. I do think this woman is in a shaky place in terms of ethics, but two wrongs don't make a right.

                You do have to expect some mocking when you are a public figure of any kind.

                Getting Dems together and keeping them that way is like trying to herd cats, hopped up on crank, through LA, during an earthquake, in the rain. -6.25, -6.10

                by Something the Dog Said on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:22:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, of course. (5+ / 0-)

        Vapid, artificially enhanced beauty queens are THE civil rights cause of the 21st century. Making jokes about her melons is exactly the same as pasting watermelons in front of the White House. That was the first thing that occurred to me.

        / snark

        "Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole. Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole."

        by homogenius on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:07:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have no argument (0+ / 0-)

          Note I have no argument with breast implant jokes per se, but only as a tool of humiliation in a political argument.  

          I've lost my faith in nihilism

          by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:12:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's not just humiliation. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chrome327

            It's relevant to the whole situation. She is spouting off about what's "natural". This goes to hypocrisy.

            She is working in an industry heavily run by gay men. Her pageant director is gay. I have an acquaintance who is a local pageant director in another state and whatever he doesn't raise in sponsorship he pays out of his own pocket. His local winner won the state pageant and went on to Miss America. He spent thousands of dollars on getting her there--gowns, grooming, etc.

            Prejean was all too willing to accept the support and guidance of her gay pageant director, including her breast implants (and it's rumored her teeth, as well). Mocking her "unnatural breasts" is fair game, AFAIC.

            She picked this fight. She attacked my civil rights. She has chosen to divert her activities from the designated platform of her reign as Miss California. She may even be in breach of contract.

            In short, those puppies are fair game.

            "Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole. Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole."

            by homogenius on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:26:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Personally (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PaintyKat

              I think the problem is treating her position on this issue as being of unusual or special significance.   It's Joe the Plumber all over again.  If I do consider what these people say, I'll give that position a fair hearing. When I do, the supposed connection between her views on cosmetic surgery and gay marriage I'll treat as simply rhetoric. It's just wordplay, and not particularly clever wordplay.

              Now, bringing up her position on gay marriage vs. her dependence upon and use of gay men for her career advantage is an entirely different matter than breasts, and well worth discussing, assuming we ought to give special consideration to her opinions on gay marriage.

              I've lost my faith in nihilism

              by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:38:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Most joking matters have a serious issue (2+ / 0-)

      at their core, and this one is no exception. I thought it was an interesting and subtle meditation on the "joke".

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:54:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sometimes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PaintyKat

      more justification is less.

      The issue here is a subtle one.  Ordinary animal vitality by itself justifies sexual humor.  It is when off color humor  becomes a tool of politics that it leaves the curtilage of good taste.  

      I've lost my faith in nihilism

      by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:01:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Whose arbitration of taste? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Loquatrix, cybrestrike, chrome327

        It seems your definition and mine vary in significant degrees. Is one to be preferred over the other by the virtue of you being the diarist and I being the commenter?

        You have offered your loquacious meditation on this and I responded with what seems to me to be the appropriate standard. It is not in any sense required of either of us that we come to an agreement. This is one of the foundational pillars of this particular means of communication.

        Cheers,

        Getting Dems together and keeping them that way is like trying to herd cats, hopped up on crank, through LA, during an earthquake, in the rain. -6.25, -6.10

        by Something the Dog Said on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:07:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But (0+ / 0-)

          you did not respond to my point, which it is one thing to engage in crude humor, and another to use that humor to humiliate somebody for political ends.

          I would say that is  a substantive argument.

          I've lost my faith in nihilism

          by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:14:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Okay, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            grumpynerd, cybrestrike, chrome327

            The fact that she would use breast implants to gain an advantage and thus showing her level of hypocrisy, and by extension showing she could not be trusted to offer a balanced view because of it is perfectly acceptable.

            It is, in fact, the preferred method. That her hypocrisy is bound up with her looks and secondary sexual attributes seems to be what you are objecting too. I have to ask why that should be off limits, if it is the primary example you can use to impeach her credibility? That it is ridiculous enough to make people laugh is hardly Musto or Olbermans fault.

            Getting Dems together and keeping them that way is like trying to herd cats, hopped up on crank, through LA, during an earthquake, in the rain. -6.25, -6.10

            by Something the Dog Said on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:10:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Fair enough (2+ / 0-)

              I'm not sure that using breast implants is "unfair" in a pageant, or a sign of hypocrisy.

              I don't think her secondary sexual attributes are off limits with respect to discussing her participation in the pageant, or pageants per se.  But that's not what has brought her her fifteen minute of fame has it?     She got blindsided with a gay marriage question and gave an answer which was a little inarticulate, has in fact been lost in the dust up on both sides.

              Isn't the real absurdity asking a beauty pageant participant her opinion of major social issues?

              It is one thing to humiliate somebody for her behavior. It is another thing to use her behavior to humiliate her for other reasons.

              I've lost my faith in nihilism

              by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:18:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  But they did not do it until it became her issue (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cybrestrike, chrome327

                When she made a point of joining NOM she opened her self up on again on the question of full civil rights for citizens, gay or otherwise.

                If she had not, she would not have been outed by the Miss CA pageant. She would have faded away like the young woman that made the map mistake. It was only after she doubled down and became a anti-civil right spokes person that KO brought her up on his show.

                At this point her credibility is very much an issue, and on the same day it is revealed that she tried to give her self a cosmetic edge which looks hypocritical, whether it is cheating or not has no bearing on that.

                The facts of her hyprocrisy were so silly as to be thought to be in the lighter side of the news, hence her placement in the show.

                All of this seems perfectly acceptable to me. Do you object to the mocking of Bill O'Rielly about lufa's  and felafel? This is just as sexual, so I am at a loss to see the difference if you find one.

                Getting Dems together and keeping them that way is like trying to herd cats, hopped up on crank, through LA, during an earthquake, in the rain. -6.25, -6.10

                by Something the Dog Said on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:31:28 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Re Bill O'Reilley (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Something the Dog Said

                  Yes, because he's a writer, he's open to having his writing mocked.

                  Also, Ms. Prejean is open to having her looks mocked as a contestant  

                  It is not appropriate to bring them into discussions of her religious or political views, unless we think that is generally acceptable.

                  I've lost my faith in nihilism

                  by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:42:34 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  But she is more than that. (0+ / 0-)

                    She is a spokes person who used her answer to a question to leverage a job with an anti-civil rights group. Plus they are not mocking her looks as much as the actions she took to get those looks.

                    If she had an unsightly nose and they made fun of that, yes, that is out of bounds, but to making fun of wanting to have bigger breasts to be a more competitive pageant contestant? That seems within the bounds of taste.

                    In any case, I don't think you are I are going to agree here, but that is okay, we don't have to do so! Thanks for the back and forth, it was fun.

                    Getting Dems together and keeping them that way is like trying to herd cats, hopped up on crank, through LA, during an earthquake, in the rain. -6.25, -6.10

                    by Something the Dog Said on Tue May 05, 2009 at 01:00:56 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Politics is a blood sport (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cybrestrike

            and it is won by those of us who battle it out in the ring not by high minded observers up in the box seats.

            •  "blood sport"? That reminds me of (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PaintyKat

              "the war on terror".

              Be careful of metaphors.  It is not literally true that politics is a blood sport, but if we must talk in such metaphors remember that we can wound ourselves as well.

              I've lost my faith in nihilism

              by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:19:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Considering (5+ / 0-)

    a the word, sommelier, means wine steward and came into being in 1829, I would've substituted the word, overseer which better encompasses what I think holds the meaning you're striving for and came into being in 1523.

    However that's neither here nor there . . . back to your question.  I think the point isn't whether or not Messrs. Olbermann and Musto chose their words correctly, but more that they shared their opinions on Miss California's opinion.

    Clearly opinions can be neither correct nor incorrect as it's nothing more than a belief, which may or may not be factual in nature.

    Good debate - no winners, though.  Opinions are just that.  

    Hell the The Flat Earth Society still exists . . .

    "Ancora Imparo." ("I am still learning.") - Michelangelo, Age 87

    by Dreaming of Better Days on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:50:19 AM PDT

    •  The Word Sommelier's normal office (4+ / 0-)

      is not to regulate language.  For example, he does not condemn neologisms and such. Rather his office is to offer better word choices.

      However, part of that office is establishing the bounds of feasibility. Just as a wine sommelier might recommend Perrier to accompany salad with vinaigrette, the Word Sommelier might recommend a refreshing course of soap and water for certain words.

      It is the position of the Word Sommelier that some beliefs are better supported than others, both cognitively and expressively.

      I've lost my faith in nihilism

      by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:54:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Opinions and beliefs ARE subject to being (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dreaming of Better Days

      "correct" or "incorrect" where they assert that certain matters are factual or counterfactual.  Your assertion as to the status of opinions is better suited to matters of taste, such as whether one flavor is "better" than another.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:57:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree, lgmcp. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp, chrome327

        Wholeheartedly.  

        That said, one would think that Miss California's thoughts on anything other than the realm of competing in beauty/talent contests could open any given can of worms, as (I would suspect) her opinions on chaos and string theories.

        "Ancora Imparo." ("I am still learning.") - Michelangelo, Age 87

        by Dreaming of Better Days on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:11:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Many People Completely Miss KO's point! (4+ / 0-)

    KO lambasting her has NOTHING to do with the objectification of woman.  This was about her hypocracy in speaking out against gay marriage...calling it "unnatural" yet she goes and spends thousands of dollars on breast implants so she can win the Miss USA pageant.

    In being so publicly against gay marriage has she has, she implicately is saying that she represents all that is wholesome, pure, good, Christian and true.  KO's lampooning and criticism of her is about undermining that image and and her credibility in making arguments against same sex marriage.

    AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED, SHE DESERVES EVERY BIT IF KO's CRITICISM!

    •  Unfortunately (2+ / 0-)

      the point consist of rhetoric.  We must not mistake clever rhetorical parallels for the force of reason.

      The reason this argument has no force of logic is that a man does not marry a woman's breasts.

      In being so publicly against gay marriage has she has, she implicately is saying that she represents all that is wholesome, pure, good, Christian and true

      This assertion cannot be  negated, therefore it has no logical force.

      I've lost my faith in nihilism

      by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:07:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  PRESERVE TRADITIONAL BREASTS!!! (6+ / 0-)

      If it was natural, then you'd see animals augmenting their breasts! If gawd intended her to have silicone in her breasts, she would have been born with them!

      "Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole. Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole."

      by homogenius on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:10:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I too expect more of Mr. Olbermann (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PaintyKat

    I don't care how shallow Ms. Prejean is. Her shallowness is not the point. Had she not gotten implants to win a competition, would her comments have been any less offensive?

    Likewise, the intelligence or possible lack thereof of Ms. Prejean is irrelevant to the validity of her views. There are many bigots whose bigotry is not somehow redeemed by the fact that their minds are otherwise in good working order. Contrariwise, there are liberals with an inherent feel for fairness and equality who can't spell or point to Afghanistan on a map or perform higher math.

    What would be more relevant than Ms. Prejean's depth or intelligence is whether or not she exposed an inner ugliness at odds with the purpose of a pageant (whatever we may think of beauty pageants in general). I think that incongruency would have been appropriate for Olbermann and Musto to point out. The comments actually made should have been beneath them.

    Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under. -- H. L. Mencken

    by leftist vegetarian patriot on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:06:06 AM PDT

  •  To me, the real issue (3+ / 0-)

    I don't agree with Ms. Prejean's opinion (however awkwardly expressed) on gay marriage, but it seems to me that her opinion on that topic is totally unrelated and irrelevant to her having implants, or the fact that the Miss California pageant paid for them.  

    What I do find rather... disappointing... and just a tad surreal.. is that according to Keith's source, it's quite COMMON for beauty pageant contestants to have such surgical "enhancements" prior to national competitions. To which I say WTF? We have rules and strict regulations (and testing) on professional athletes to forbid and prevent the use of artificial performance-enhancing drugs, so that what their performance is being judged on is limited (at least in theory) to their own skills and natural abilities.

    But if surgical enhancements are common -- even considered necessary -- for young women to compete in these pageants -- what is that really saying about them, or our society's concepts of beauty? These contestants are held up as "models" of some ideal of feminine beauty -- seen by younger girls across the country -- and their figures aren't even natural to begin with? What message DOES that carry out there?
     
    I found Musto offensive (not my favorite of Keith's sometime comic guests), and the whole story annoying (in part because Keith kept harping on it, dropping hints during the rest of the show). And while I normally love Keith, this was a segment I could have done without.  And again, there's simply no RELEVANCE between her enhancements and her becoming a spokesperson for MoM. She already made a fool of herself at the pageant by that barely coherent answer -- no need to go after her for the implants, that's quite a different issue.  

    •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leftist vegetarian patriot

      It's a sad case of gilding the lily.  The contestants are so obsessively groomed that they lose their individuality.

      These are valid topics for discussion, but we have to keep each discussion separate: Ms. Prejean's participation in the pageant phenomenon, and her personal opinions on gay marriage.  To use one as punishment for the other is not justified.

      I've lost my faith in nihilism

      by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:16:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Breast enhancements are fairly common in (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bouwerie Boy

      the general population so what message is that sending to daughters, sisters, etc?

      I don't understand what difference the breast enhancement makes to any of us or the most important political issue of equality.

      Maybe Ms Prejean believes women are all entitled to equality in breast size.  

      But there really is no justification of objectifying Ms Prejean as a means of political positions.

      The discussion is then spread to breasts instead of focusing on the real importance of her position on marriage equality.

      From my position it looks like the moment speakers start to objectify her they lose all points in the discussion.  It isn't necessary and it isn't a winning position.

      My granddaughters don't watch beauty pageants or choose beauty pageant contestants as role models so I think folks are putting far too much focus on this silly pageant.  It would be largely ignored if there were such outrage putting it in the forefront of the discussion.

      Some girls participate in pageants as a means of paying for school in our general area and some are young women I advised in academics.  They are bright young women who would know how to avoid such a situation.

      Looks pretty harmless to me.  I didn't understand until I got to know one particular young woman quite well.

      PaintyKat

      WWYTR? Voting, contributing, supporting, and electing Democrats

      by PaintyKat on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:50:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  that's channel 30 in albuquerque (0+ / 0-)

    The Word Sommelier judges Mr. Olbermann's remarks as unsuited to his station.

    Have you hugged a torturing CIA thug today?

    by memofromturner on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:28:07 AM PDT

  •  All I can say is that you must be extremely bored (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loquatrix, Dems 2008, cybrestrike

    "Your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore" John Prine

    by rustbelt on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:30:19 AM PDT

  •  I voted "Admirable" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loquatrix, papercut, cybrestrike

    Ms Prejean is running for Miss America. Not Miss Heterosexual Marriage Only America. She should be representative of our best ideals, not our lowest. The judges made it clear that she disqualified herself by way of her remarks that indicate how she would like to see us divided.

    Pageant queens are eminently mockable and it takes a real measure of verve to dignify what is, in essence, a livestock show. The best ones manage the task and win the crown. The worst get caught on camera boozing it up in some dingy nightclub.

    A good diary on a linguistic nuance, a "false pair" as we say in the biz. Didn't need to take a whack at Olbermann to make case, not when you have politicians like Gonzales arguing for torture that are much easier to cite. That, I would contend, is the very picture of indecency.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Tue May 05, 2009 at 11:53:05 AM PDT

    •  Thank you. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PaintyKat, The Raven

      Personally, I don't take the idea that Miss America (or in this case Miss California) is any kind of representative for our ideals. Not until I get a vote, at least.

      Let me clarify I don't object to mocking pageant queens as pageant queens.   I object to bringing the pageant queen part into a discussion of their other views.  That actually gives false credence to the idea that the pageant is an important American political institution.

      Your point about torture is an excellent one, and right to the heart of the matter.   However, there is no point in adding another anti-Gonzales diatribe to the site.  Since we have addressed the log in our neighbor's eye, the speck in our own is worth considering.

      I've lost my faith in nihilism

      by grumpynerd on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:12:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Reminds me of an old joke (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dems 2008, cybrestrike

        Q: Do you like bathing beauties?
        A: I don't know. I've never bathed one.

        Ferrevin's sake - I haven't watched a beauty pageant since childhood. Life is too short. My remarks about ideals and representation were to be taken as boilerplate text.

        Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

        by The Raven on Tue May 05, 2009 at 12:22:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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