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It's really all one can do.  Bizarre weather crops up all over the country.  Washington, D.C. gets more snow than ever before while Vancouver, B.C., trying to host the winter Olympics has temperatures in the 40s and too little snow.  Before you can consider whether this is just some aberrational thing, or an indication that we are already seeing irreversible signs of the consequences of the climate change often called "global warming," an assortment of idiots pop up on television to argue a third, completely absurd possibility---that this is proof that there is no climate change issue---and fixated on the word "warming" this foolishness enters the political mainstream.

Then there is Sarah Palin, though almost certainly unelectable, being presented as if she could be president, with a quarter of our fellow voters seeing nothing wrong with that. Then there is the state in which your correspondent resides, New York, which Gail Collins tells us only runs second to Illinois in uselessness.

Screaming seems the least one could do.

That Sarah Palin is quite unlikely to become president is reassuring, but barely so.  The screaming comes from the fact that a  country which allowed George W. Bush to be its president and re-elected him not despite the fact that his stupidity, foolishness, and lack of interest in the country he was supposed to serve all but certainly was a factor in the horrendous attack of September 11, but because of it, harbors at least a fifth of an electorate that would prefer Sarah Palin over President Obama in the White House.

Yes, we have survived "know nothingism" before and the self proclaimed righteous among us gave us prohibition and then retarded our ability to defend Europe and ultimately and our own nation from when Nazism threatened to overtake us, but we made it through those times, too.  But there is something profoundly wrong when the question of whether we should administer the recitation of constitutional rights to someone who tried, but failed, to blow up an airplane is permitted to raise questions about the competency of the president, while the announcement to a CIA briefer that Osama bin Laden was gearing up for an attack on our country that he had adequately "covered his ass" a month before the attack actually took place, is brushed aside as one of those things.  

We cannot continue to be Proudly Stupid in a world galloping past us, unencumbered by the noise and greed that sets us back on every front, from finding better ways to power our homes, our businesses and our vehicles, to making it possible for everyone to have the same access to the new means of communication.

Lies are just uttered and the people who call them that told to be quiet, as discussed all over the place yesterday.  And some woman who does not know that Africa is a continent and not a country, and does not know why there is a North Korea and a South Korea, is lauded because she is just like us and hence, since "we" could do as good a job as anyone, qualified to be president.  After all,Ronald Reagan was a great president, wasn't he?

On the issue of the weird weather, the scientifically challenged among us, including the fool writing this, need to rely on others.  By others, I do not mean Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh or Senator James Inhofe, but rather scientists.

In this cable television world we now inhabit, it is hard to tell whether this winter is truly record setting in its weirdness, or that television has to breathlessly cover everything which enters its viewfinder and goes for the superlatives the same way the rest of us drink a glass of water.  The sight of newscasters standing in the middle of a storm, lest we not believe them has always seemed funny.  Even Brian Williams felt it necessary to broadcast part of Nightly News from above the Rockefeller Center skating rink---the idea that Chet Huntley would do that makes a person wince.  Yet, it does seem that things are a bit goofier than normal this year.  Scientists will have to explain if this is so---and they rarely allow a few weeks of strange events to influence their thinking, but to hear people announce that these events are proof of exactly the opposite of what it means if it means anything, makes a person want to scream.

Those who did not spend their youth buried in comic books may not make the connection, but the rest of us often recall the familiar story of the eminent scientist, Jor-El, who tried to warn the rest of his planet that forces within it seemed likely to cause a catastrophic explosion that would destroy their world, necessitating a crash campaign to build rockets to transport the entire population elsewhere.  He was, we are told, ridiculed by both scientific and political communities which decided not to heed his extreme advice. When, however, the explosion Jor-El forecast was clearly about to happen, the only survivor would be Jor-El's infant son who was sent into space in a small prototype of the rocketship Jor-El asked his fellow citizens to build.

It may come to that here, too.  Gail Collins tells that Illinois has sprinted past New York as the state with the poorest government and now she is even putting California in this toxic mix. It is not something to be parochial about, but the state from which these babblings are transmitted, should not be so easily dismissed for the lessons in dysfunction it has taught our nation.

Way before Congress discovered earmarks, indeed, New York had invented government by what it calls "member items."  A distinguished and well respected former boss once explained that member items were necessary because the government would not do what it was supposed to without them and while that may be true, their use to allow legislators a decent outside income was something New York need not have exported to the rest of the country.

Sometime in the late 1980s, the New York Legislature ceased to function at all.  This was not something that happened suddenly, but after one New York politician killed himself, a few others went to prison and the Speaker of the Assembly (the state version of the House of Representatives) and the Senate minority leader were indicted, it was decided that each house would be controlled by a different party, would pass "one house bills" and go home without enacting many laws, while blaming "the other side" for the dysfunction.  Oh, U.S. Congress, you could do that, too.

But New York saw the Illinois and California messes and stepped up its dysfunction.  Hoping that this does not offend Gov Palin, the state now has managed to get a blind Governor who has never bothered to learn braille and makes out of touch seem to be an aspiration.  The once dysfunctional two party Legislature now has one of its houses paralyzed because the Democratic Party now has a control based on a margin of one Senator.  Maybe.

This week it finally got around to expelling a Senator, nominally part of that majority, though he spent a week or so in the summer trying to put the Republicans back in charge.  This Senator attacked his girlfriend with a piece of glass and then pulled her out of their building to take her to a hospital far enough away that he would not be recognized. No doubt aware that a jury taken from members of the borough within New York City where he lives, Queens, might not look to kindly on this, he placed his fate in a judge who tried to, ummm, "split the baby" and found him guilty only of a misdemeanor assault, based on the dragging out of the building part of the case.  That meant that he did not face the automatic expulsion that a felony conviction would impose (although at least one of his predecessors contested that, too.)

Hence, after "investigating" the whole thing, by a committee which could not actually bring itself to recommend any specific action the Senate might take, the Senate finally voted to expel him the other day, a day which was spent for the most part debating a resolution to ask the President of the United States not to have the "KSM trial" their state since that was not their responsibility and hence, an easier subject to to discuss than the one for which they had been convened.  

Unable to decide this issue in public, the supposed majority party (they are called "Democrats" but there is little to compare them to the national party which uses the same name  and it is a mistake for outsiders to evaluate New York politics by applying these national labels) decided to adjourn behind closed doors.  A good thing that was because they apparently could not decide the issue there, and were deadlocked by an even split vote followed by several male Senators threatening to beat up a female Senator for noting that a majority for expulsion could include members of the other party.

Wait until this stuff gets to Washington.  New Yorkers may not be as proud of their exports then.  We are headed for the shoals, and we can't figure out how to steer this ship.

Well the Jor-El story came out all right, so maybe we will, too.  The rocket he was able to send into space with his infant son eventually landed in Kansas, where the apparent sole survivor of the planet Krypton was found and eventually adopted by the "kindly" couple of Martha and Jonathan Kent who named him Clark using Martha's pre-marital surname as their son's first name.   He grew up to be Clark Kent Irvin, the first inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security and now at the Aspen Institute.  That last sentence may be wrong, and the other Clark Kent may have become a newspaper reporter, but that would cause us to scream, too.

Have a nice day.

Originally posted to Barth on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 09:12 AM PST.

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