Monday, 16 July 2012

Every fancy must one day run amok. If you know any conservatives, you've likely come across this "witticism" recently: The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever. Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us to 'Please Do Not Feed the Animals.' Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves. This ends today’s lesson. It originated, as best as I can tell, as a letter sent by Billy Fleming to the Miller County Liberal on 13 June 2012, but in the three weeks since it's been shared over 29,000 times and extensively cited with praise by conservative bloggers. I'm not going to link to the sites individually because the appeal of Bill Fleming's logic is obvious: it validates the belief that people who find it difficult to feed themselves during one of the worst economic downturns in American history are no better than wild animals. If poor people are like wild animals, this argument insists, they deserve none of the sympathy reserved for the suffering of human beings, nor do they deserve succor from the taxed income of upstanding citizens like Bill Fleming. So instead of thinking along the lines of the Biblical injunction to be stewards of the planet, upstanding citizens like Bill Fleming conclude that the poor, like wild animals, should learn to fend for themselves. Moreover, they should do so just like wild animals do, under the auspices of the National Parks system, which is funded by the taxed income of upstanding citizens like Bill Fleming. But unless upstanding citizens like Bill Fleming are able to transform their analogical dehumanization of the poor into a legal reality, the poor inhabiting the National Parks will not be wild animals playing parts in the Darwinian daydreams of upstanding citizens like Bill Fleming. They will be displaced citizens with the right to petition the government for temporary housing and access to potable water and edible food. Instead of being minimally dependent on the federal government for meager food subsidies, the displaced poor would be maximally dependent on the federal government for all the necessities of life. Schools would have to be built. Police departments would have to be formed. Sanitation departments would have to be funded. Roads and bridges would have to be improved. The entire infrastructure of modern American society would have to be recreated in what had been the wilds of the National Parks. This means that the tax burden the poor place on upstanding citizens like Bill Fleming would actually increase if upstanding citizens like Bill Fleming had their druthers. The only way to prevent this from occuring would be declare that poor people are not like wild animals, but that they are wild animals. In which case, upstanding citizens like Bill Fleming are simply terrible people who barely merit membership in the...
Why Bane? No, why Bain? By now, you’ve already heard too much about this ridiculous story: Have you heard this new movie, the Batman movie, what is it, The Dark Knight Lights Up or whatever the name is. That’s right, Dark Knight Rises. Lights Up, same thing. Do you know the name of the villain in this movie? Bane. The villain in The Dark Knight Rises is named Bane, B-a-n-e. What is the name of the venture capital firm that Romney ran and around which there’s now this make-believe controversy? Bain. The movie has been in the works for a long time. The release date’s been known, summer 2012 for a long time. Do you think that it is accidental that the name of the really vicious fire breathing four eyed whatever it is villain in this movie is named Bane? To answer the question that’s asked, it’s no coincidence at all, because of this: But that’s beside the point. The real question—the one that no one seems to be asking—is why Bain? I know the real reason is ego cheap and clean, but it boggles the mind that these titans of industry decided that their public face should be the homonym of a word which means, according to my Oxford English Dictionary, 1. A slayer or murderer; one who causes the death or destruction of another. 2. a. That which causes death, or destroys life. b. Poison. Also in comb. in names of of poisonous plants or substances, as in Dogbane, Henbame, Leopard’s Bane, Rat’s Bane, Wolf’s Bane, etc. 3. Murder, death, destruction. 4. That which causes ruin, or is pernicious to well-being: the agent or instrument of ruin or woe, the ‘curse.’ 5. Fatal mischief: woeful or hapless fate. 6. A disease in sheep, the ‘rot.’ Which means that a group of seemingly intelligent people—at least as judged by their inherited wealth—sat around in a board room one day and decided to christen their corporation with a name whose most positive association is “[a] disease in sheep, the ‘rot.’” The fact that any of their failures could be accurately described as having been “the agent or instrument of ruin or woe, the ‘curse’” never seems to have passed their respective minds. It’s the equivalent of opening a company called We Exploit Child Labor for Great Profit, then wondering why no one seems to want to buy your jeans. And yet one of the minds responsible for this feels himself qualified to serve as the Executive Brand of the United States of America? He’ll homonously be the bane of America as much as he and his party literally are.

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