Raising the Star Wars Stakes

A bit of housekeeping – those of you who weren’t directed here via the Deseret News ought to know that I’ve got a column over there that’s being published on a semi-regular basis. I’ve praised Skyfall before I’d actually seen it, beaten up on The Star Wars Holiday Special, and, as of yesterday, excoriated bad Christmas music. If you want to see if there’s a column you’ve missed, here’s my Table of Contents, or whatever they call it in this hip Internet age.

This post is a follow-up to my November 1 column entitled “Who should be the bad guy in the next Star Wars movie?” In that piece, if you’re too lazy to read it, I point out that the biggest challenge facing a continuation of the Star Wars narrative is the absence of any credible villain. J.K. Rowling has repeatedly noted that the reason she can’t keep writing Harry Potter books is that no bad guy could top Voldemort. So the Star Wars folks are intent on bringing back Luke, Han, and Leia, but what baddie could hope to compete with Darth Vader, who is both dead and redeemed and therefore precluded from further midichlorianized mischief?

There is talk of resurrecting our friend Mr. Vader, but I doubt anything will come of it. There’s just no way to do that that wouldn’t be unforgivably stupid. Granted, George Lucas used up his fair share of unforgivable stupidity with just the first five minutes of Jar Jar Binks’ screen time, but the torch has thankfully been passed to actual writers who don’t think space operas should include romantic musings about the nature of sand.

So what to do? How do you go forward and create a conflict when you’ve already won?

You raise the stakes. There’s no other way to do it.

I’ve dabbled in some of the Expanded Universe offerings over the years, but none of them have held my interest. Most of them take place during the Clone Wars and don’t try to continue the story, while the few that do move beyond Return of the Jedi just don’t have enough at stake to be compelling. Lots of folks are clamoring for a new trilogy based on Timothy Zahn’s novels, where some dude named Grand Admiral Thrawn is doing all he can to take the Emperor’s place. Long ago, I tried to read the first one, and I put it down after just a couple of chapters. Honestly, who cares? Star Wars was a story of rebels fighting overwhelming odds, making it far more satisfying when the underdogs finally win. When the bad guys are the underdogs, it screws up the whole vibe. No, the only way to move forward is to make the good guys the underdogs, and do it in a credible way.

But how?

Well, one route is the Rocky V method – strip the good guy of his wins and humiliate him, putting him back at square one. Given that Rocky V sucks, it should have been enough of an object lesson to keep anyone else from doing the same thing. But this tends to be the way sequels work, as most sequels are just remakes of the first film. So through tortured writing and convoluted coincidences, protagonists find themselves in identical sitautions to what they’d faced previously, and you don’t care, because you saw it all the first time. So a new budding emperor can’t possibly be as threatening as the old emperor, so why bother?

Raise the stakes, and do it as follows:

The rebel alliance has already defeated the greatest galactic threat possible. So now they face some sort of INTERgalactic threat that isn’t goofy. It can be done, and here’s how you do it.

I never understood the idea of just two Siths at any given time. It just never seemed right, especially since there were so many Jedi. Doesn’t everyone want to see some kind of Justice League/Legion of Doom style battle with the Jedi and Sith evenly matched, or, even better, with the Jedi hopelessly outnumbered? Well, what if the Sith are extensions of an elemental part of a universal Force with thousands, perhaps millions, of them scattered throughout scads of galaxies? What if they swarm through galaxies and either dominate or devour them? What if the Emperor, as powerful as he was, was only one agent of the Sith, preparing his galaxy for the eventual assault of the numberless Sith hordes, only to be unexpectedly defeated by these cocky rebels, who have no idea what horrors await them when the Sith armies finally arrive?

The new film should begin with a galaxy at peace. Luke is the new Yoda, and Leia has finally been elected the Chancellor. She divorced Han long ago, and the poor guy now runs some seedy backwater bar someplace, grumbling at anyone who recognizes him as the great General Solo from the days when the Empire was overthrown. (Maybe he’s running Mos Eisley, although that might be just a tad too cute.) Yet it’s on Han’s world that the swarm of Sith make their grand entrance into the galaxy, and Han is the only one on the planet who escapes alive. He flees to safety with the Skywalkers, but Leia won’t see him. Luke will, though, and with his help, he enlists Leia and the fledgling strength of the new Republic against an enemy that cannot be defeated. How can the forces of good hope to counter infinite darkness?

And off we go.

So potential screenwriters, feel free to use any and all of this proposal, as well as to send me any number of royalty checks. Anything less than this just won’t work. Indeed, Star Wars hasn’t really worked as a concept since The Empire Strikes Back. The only way to keep moving forward is to have an enemy that is bigger and better than what has gone before, kind of like me and Languatron.

And with any mention of Langy, I know it’s time to stop.

Legal Notice

In accordance with the Parnassus Ordinance (SK 8675309) forged immaculately via the Upper Volta Protocols circa 1856 and subsequently sullied with retroactive lucidity fostered by Stallioncornell.com’s estuary settlements, I hereby decree thus that all sets, essences, collateral, debutations, cranials, laps, wanderances, spores, heftiancies, carts, intriguiaries, terpsichores, correlations/coronations both implicit and supplied that are duly registered with the First Iggy Council Chunk 13 shall parenthetically assuage and/or prelate said misnumberances predated post sapphire regiment, irrespective of saturation either piled or replied, with the ipso facto proviso of the uvular considerations of that which negation declares or defrauds, capped upon the white snowy crags of the jugular pension fund, subsidiaries both withstanding and notwithstanding, see if I don’t.

Whereas and such as, let the word go forth, therefore, that supplemental defenestration of both the corporeal and the corrupt shall not reflate according to particulates regardless or eerie guardless until such momentism pregranulates ab initio, a fortiori, and a la carte. Scapular renegades unwilling to comply with such prestidigitation may find themselves, as they say in French, “एक चप्पू बिना गंदगी क्रीक,” which translates into German as “до дерьмо ручей без весла.” Likewise, corneal expectorations shall not hamper, impede, implode, effluviate, spindle, crump, fester, ingroove, fromage, coagulate, mince, spoof, finagle, or jazzercise without express or ineffable authorization via carrier pigeon, which went extinct, so, you know, good luck with that, sucker.

Pursuant to the tertiary muse, pendular carcasses and/or cacophanies shall not be allowed to preen that which pervades to the penultimate septuagints, provided, of course, reef spork six grove big rock. Eligible tribbles who find themselves voluntarily deflowered vis a vis calcifications unnurtured through no fault of their own may not only refenestrate that which survives, they may also diddle same with impunity as long as there’s nobody watching. Seen and unseen, corked and uncorked, crocked via pot or unpotted, dessert remains operative only upon espresso salad, albeit a herd without a home is still a herd. Modular functionalization is no longer operative unless contingencified, no matter who your daddy is.

Again, appeals on tabular premonitions are not soluble. Should functional parallels attempt mobilization of conceptual analysis, prepare to, as they say in today’s legal vernacular, “heave the slap onion,” if you know what I mean. Vehicular parsing shall effectively be rendered and recreaved sooner than anyone has the right to expect, yet reciprocal pedantry will not be exacerbated under any circumstances except three. Corresponding calumny without credit cannot condone corollary Clytemnestraic craptasm via excessive alliteration, no matter how clever. (Now would be a good time to mention this.) Likewise, Larrak, the sample death’s chosen character, has the following statistics when wielding his +1 greatsword:=Atk +16 melee (2d6+11/19–20) and Full Atk +16/+11 melee (2d6+11/19–20). Skeletal bosoms may change a creature’s oozing or unoozing tendrils as follows: we’ll get there when we get there, so stop with the whining already. Blasphemy without a spigot doesn’t have the same weight.

By way of analogy, think of a horn. Once granted, heave said horn away upon your winged thoughts athwart the sea. Recalling the precedent of Absalom Absalom v. Salmon Abs, turpitude of this magnitude yields decrepitude with an attitude, until the two Tudors tutu the voodoo that you do so well. Cramp not thy style, O wax scallion! Should one henceforth engineer heterogenous relevance, another attempt to facilitate entity-relationship portals may query usable corpora and deliver ubiquitous archives with the je ne sais quoi of I don’t know what.

Finally, a thorned flower may be distinguishable by its crimson hue, while a more subtle variation of a similar non-weedlike garden entity may bear a chromatic distinction more akin to the cerulean than the sanguine. Therefore, sucrose retains a lack of astringency reminiscent of qualities similar to those of the plaintiff in the aforementioned doggerel.

Look! An eagle!

Krugman’s Morality

Today, New York Times columnist/Nobel Prize winner/hardcore partisan hack Paul Krugman, the man who Ann Coulter rightly labeled as the “only known economist who despises the free market,” wrote a column that, even in my post-election anti-political stupor, still managed to enrage me.

Keep in mind that I’m coming to accept the fact that America has decided it wants to join Europe in inevitable economic decline and destitution, that the fight for America’s future is over, and that Krugman and his ideological ilk have won. That means the country at large has about ten years or so before we go the way of Greece and California, and I have only a short time to make the most of what little economic potential we have left. So why should I waste it worrying about what a clueless hack like Krugman has to say?

Nevertheless…

Krugman begins his editorial atrocity by pointing out that we survived a 91% income rate in the 1950s, so it’s time we gave in brought back the good ol’ days. No surprises there. This last election confirmed the idea that higher taxes somehow create prosperity, despite the plethora of historical evidence and common sense that says otherwise. No, it’s not Krugman’s smug stupidity that is galling, but rather his snide assessment of Republican motives and his breathtakingly presumptuous invocation of morality.

Here’s the paragraph that had me coughing up my Crunch Berries…

There are, let’s face it, some people in our political life who pine for the days when minorities and women knew their place, gays stayed firmly in the closet and congressmen asked, “Are you now or have you ever been?” The rest of us, however, are very glad those days are gone. We are, morally, a much better nation than we were. Oh, and the food has improved a lot, too.

Can’t speak for the food – he may be right there – but the rest of this is, to invoke Joe Biden, malarkey. Literally malarkey.

“Some people” pine for a more oppressive society based on race, gender, and sexual orientation? Just who are these “some people?” Which politicians are calling for the oppression of women and minorities and gays? I’ve also searched in vain for any Republican proposal to recreate the House Un-American Activities Committee. But Krugman insists that such people, “let’s face it,” are front and center in our political life. If it’s that blindingly obvious that even a cretin like Krugman can see it, then what am I missing?

This time around, the Republican Convention had more women and minorities addressing delegates than did the DNC. Mitt Romney’s much-mocked phrase about “binders of women” was actually a ham-handed attempt by the former governor to indicate that he’d gone out of his way to give women prominent leadership positions in Massachusetts. Yet to the Krugmanites, all of that was simply a smokescreen to mask a legacy of permanent, insoluble racism and sexism and homophobia that, according to projecting bigots like Krugman, is the only reason why anyone could possibly be a conservative.

Then Krugman concludes with this money quote, which is stunning in its intellectual dishonesty: “We are,” he says,” morally, a much better nation than we were.” [Emphasis mine.]

What on earth is this bearded clown talking about?

When a statist like Krugman invokes morality, you have to ask: which morality? Morality isn’t like fashion sense, where anyone’s taste is as valid as anyone else’s. An appeal to morality requires objective and unalterable standards of right and wrong. Such standards cannot be legitimately created by the state, nor can they be altered by means of legislation or shifting societal mores. We are a nation that was founded on the ideal that all of us are “endowed by our Creator” with “certain unalienable rights.” Rights and morality are inextricably linked, and therefore, all morality originates with God, not with government.

Where does that leave Krugman?

When the state is the center of your moral universe, then morality, like everything else, is solely about economics. But if that’s the case, how do you justify the fact that more people live in poverty in the United States today than ever before? If morality is about the economic conditions of minorities and women, why are we more moral now that 72% of black children are born into families without a father, which all but guarantees that they’ll be locked into a multi-generational cycle of poverty? Indeed, a little more of that traditional, God-given morality about waiting until you’re married to start making babies might help clean up this mess. But sexual behavior generally has no moral implications for the left, unless it’s the moral right to free contraception or the right to kill a gestating infant at any time and for any reason.

Up is down; day is night.

Many things have improved over these past few decades, but, overall, I don’t think the nation’s moral condition is one of them. It doesn’t matter what I think, though. I’ve lost. We now live in Krugman’s moral universe.

Heaven help us all.

Carter on Reagan

It’s been suggested by many that Barack Obama is simply filling out Jimmy Carter’s second term. If that’s the case, it’d be nice if he were term-limited, but, alas, the Constitution is silent on the election eligibility of ideological soulmates. Can the nation survive three terms of Carter/Obamism? We’re about to find out.

I met Jimmy Carter in 2010, in a manner of speaking. Three days before George W. Bush had a gargantuan line snaking around my local Costco filled with people waiting for him to sign his book Decision Points, Carter came to the King’s English bookstore in Salt Lake City to sign copies of his newly released White House Diary.

Unlike the Bush signing, where the only people who got their books autographed were those who had camped out the night before, it took about five minutes to get from the end of the Carter line to the front. Even so, security was ridiculously tight. We weren’t actually allowed to speak to Pres. Carter, shake his hand, or even look at him. No, that’s not true. We were allowed to gaze upon him from a safe distance while he signed our books in silence. We got about five seconds of gawking time before his goons herded us out the door. All I have to show for it is an illegible scrawl and a really bad book.

Carter is revered by many for being “the best ex-president in history,” and even those who disagree with his politics often praise his character and integrity. I used to be one of those. After reading this book, I’m not so sure anymore.

I’ve written extensively about how liberals go out of their way to label conservatives as imbeciles, while overlooking the plentiful stupidity in their own ranks. I think they may have learned this particular trick during the Carter years. At every opportunity, Carter makes churlish, peevish remarks about conservatives he considers his intellectual inferiors, reserving his heaviest disdain for the man who cleaned up after him, Ronald Reagan.

When Reagan rhetorically pounded the stuffing out of Carter in their debate, Carter chalked it up to the fact that Reagan “has his memorized tapes. He pushes a button, and they come out.” Reagan, according to Carter, apparently wasn’t intelligent enough to formulate arguments on his own; hence his need to “memorize” the programming that is given to him by smart people. His contempt for Reagan oozes out of every mention of the man.

Consider his observations of Reagan’s inauguration, as the defeated president and the president-elect drive in a limousine to the capitol steps.  Reagan tries to make engage in light conversation, and Carter snidely notes that his “anecdotes… were remarkably pointless.” He sums up his condescension of his vastly superior successor thusly: “I consider him to be affable and a decent man, remarkably old in his attitudes. His life seems to be governed by a few anecdotes and vignettes he has memorized. He doesn’t seem to listen when anybody talks to him.”

That’s unlike Carter, you know, who is so ideologically malleable as he steps on the foreign policy of every president that has come after him.

(In case you didn’t notice, I was being sarcastic.)

So Carter thinks Reagan was a pleasant-but-mindless automaton, yet somehow that tape-recorded, senile blockhead managed to reenergize the economy and win the Cold War. Go figure. Ol’ “Jimmah” must be pleased that today, somebody almost smart as he thinks himself to be has arrived to finish the job of institutionalizing the national malaise that is the hallmark of the Carter legacy, along with a collapsing Middle East and breathtaking economic incompetence.

Heaven help us all.

Straw Men

Some lefty dude named Rudolf Rocker has taken a rather marked interest in this blog over the past few days, and he’s also complained that I have refused to engage with him. He is entirely correct on that score. Yet after Hank replied to Mr. Rocker in an intelligent and reasonable way, I thought it might be wise if I noted why I am so reticent to waste my time responding to a guy like Rudolf with any degree of seriousness.

Rudolf, apparently, is far more interested in attacking straw men than debating actual conservative positions.

You’re familiar with the concept of the straw man. According to Wikipedia, fount of all wisdom:

To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and to refute it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

Consider the four following egregiously-asinine statements by Straw Man Rocker, highlighted in communist red:

1. “So your argument is that in the name of energy independence we should destroy the environment completely? That is insanity.”

2. “I know that you believe in global warming about as much as you believe in the tooth fairy…”

3. “Romney’s message was unappealing to women because he put on his ticket a wack-a-do that at one point thought Rape well that is just an unfortunate means to conception and all conception is good (perhaps even divinely decreed?)– so what are you going to do…”

4. “For example the continued [Republican] attacks on Social Security are going to need to go. So are anti-medicare and medicaid policies.”

Those basic premises, among others, inform much of what he has written on this blog, and to respond to him without mocking them would require me to at least tacitly accept the stupidity he offers as somehow representative of what I actually think.

For example, consider Red Commie Item #1. For anyone to claim that support for increased shale oil production is a call to arms to “completely destroy” the environment, they would have to be a moron. Seriously. A major league, pinheaded moron. It is self-evident that increased oil production is not, in fact, a mobilization of efforts aimed at the utter destruction of the entirety of livable habitat for humans, animals, and bugs and such. To assume otherwise is to be as dumb as a bag of hammers and/or a sack of hair.

Red Commie Item #2: I apparently put as much faith in global warming science as I do the “tooth fairy.” Rudolf “knows” this. Perhaps, in my public admissions on this blog that the earth has warmed and that humanity has been a contributing factor, Rudolf has found coded messages where I equate those realities with phantom sprites that collect discarded childhood molars in the night. True, I do question the wisdom of so-called “solutions” to global warming that do nothing but increase poverty without decreasing global temperatures, and I also question the extent to which humanity is at fault, the extent to which the problem can be mitigated, and the extent to which the problem continues unabated, given the fact that global temperatures have plateaued since 1997. Those are thoughtful question posed by a real person, not the childish rantings of tooth fairy champions made out of the dried stalks of cereal plants.

Red Commie Item #3: I’m trying to remember when Paul Ryan said conception by means of rape is good and divinely decreed. Maybe it’s the fact that he never said this that’s giving me pause. Why should anyone debate someone who puts words in people’s mouths and then expects others to accept those fictions as an acceptable representation of a real position?

Red Commie Item #4: I agree with our pal Rudy that Republican attacks on Social Security, as well anti-Medicare and Medicaid policies, have “got to go.” Wait, there aren’t any Republican attacks on Social Security or anti-Medicare or Medicaid policies, at least not by any credible Republicans and certainly not from the Romney/Ryan ticket. So Rudolf Rocker says they’ve got to go, and they’re gone! Wow! That must make Rudy one very happy sack of hair.

And on it goes.

I am happy to engage with anyone on this blog offering up real positions, even if they’re positions with which I passionately disagree. I do not, however, have any interest in wasting any more time with people who tell me they know better than I do what I really think as they proceed to pound the stuffing out of a Stallion made of straw, all the while bemoaning the real Stallion’s unwillingness to get involved.

Why should I step into the middle of something like that, Rudolf Rocker? You and that scarecrow guy are getting along quite nicely without me.

Oh, now HERE’S a good plan.

Remember how only rich guys were the only ones going to get their taxes raised? It’s a really good thing that only rich people use energy, then, because now the president is planning to inflict a massive carbon tax on energy producers to “help close the deficit.”

Yes, in the midst of cripplingly chronic unemployment, our brave president has decided that a hefty new regressive tax which will be passed on in the form of higher rates to people who use energy, which certainly wouldn’t include any poor or middle class people, is the key to cutting our trillion dollar plus deficits down to size. Why, according to the article, this tax could raise $154 billion by 2021, which would slash the deficit by an average of a staggering .014% per year in the meantime!

Such paltry savings will surely be worth the very real human misery they will inflict, especially considering the completely non-existent effect such a tax will have on global temperatures. I mean, a symbolic gesture that accomplishes nothing is worth $154 billion wasted dollars, right? What would those poor and middle-class people do with all that money if the government weren’t yanking it out of their hands? Probably just throw it away on food or clothing or some other plebeian nonsense.

The bottom line, of course, is that our four year economic nightmare was all set in motion by George W. Bush, and Obama has simply been an innocent bystander. His new taxes on the poor and middle class have nothing to do with our economic conditions, and his refusal to address our mounting debt has been extraordinarily helpful in the fight to bring prosperity to all. Shrinking the incomes only of people who use some form of transportation or heat their homes in the winter will somehow spur increased economic activity, even though such a thing has never, ever done so in the history of humankind.

It’s morning in America, people! (The morning after, that is.)

Great, Great News.

Turns out the Obama administration, now that the election is over, has decided to shut down 1.6 million acres of federal land here in the West that was slated for oil shale development. As part of his so-called “all of the above” energy policy, he’s decided that “all of the above” energy means “all of the above except energy that’s cheap, efficient, and creates actual jobs that aren’t funded by taxpayers.”

Personally, I think this is fabulous news. Just like he did when he scrapped the Keystone Pipeline, which would have created tens of thousands of jobs in the midst of the most pathetic economic recovery in living memory, Obama has decided that the livelihood of thousands of westerners and the insatiable energy demands of a nation buckling under the financial and national security pressures of foreign oil procured in large measure from governments that fund terrorism aren’t nearly as important as protecting the pristine scrub pit that is the desolate Eastern Utah desert, which legend tells us is where the ancient Native American gods used to deposit their divine turds in the form of tumbleweeds and sludge.

Global warming is a concern, too. Producing actual energy increases carbon emissions, doncha know. So why not sacrifice employment paying a living wage to thousands of real people on the altar of political correctness to fulfill an entirely symbolic policy which 100% of scientists grudgingly admit will have no measurable effect on the climate whatsoever? Throwing eastern Utah and similar oil-producing locales into an even deeper depression is a small price to pay for an empty, expensive gesture that accomplishes nothing in the pursuit of its ostensible goal but does manage to kick the local economies of four states squarely in the gut.

This is the America you voted for, fellow citizens: crushing fuel prices, decisions that deliberately increase unemployment, and growing dependence on the good will of Middle Eastern thugs to keep our cars running, all in order to protect the sanctity of some godforsaken wasteland with oil that could fuel our nation for generations that will instead be placed off limits forever so that our children and grandchildren will have the opportunity to stare out over a muddy, lifeless horizon and know our bankrupting them with a mountain of unnecessary debt gave them a chance to see the same weeds and mud their ancestors saw.

But don’t worry! Whether or not you have them, your lady parts are safe, at least for the next five years until the health care system collapses when it can’t pay its bills. Where you gonna get your contraception then, Little Ms. Fluke? You won’t find it in the barren desert that the government loves more than letting people make a living, that’s for sure.

Still pretty depressed, folks. This is just the beginning – It’s all downhill from here.

Sleep tight.

Fiscal Collapse Knows No Gender

“Vote like your lady parts depend on it.”

That was one of President Obama’s charming campaign slogans that many women took to heart. Asinine Tea Partiers who decided that the law should force women to carry the child of their rapists gave the impression that a Romney administration would be just a knife’s edge away from a theocracy. Wave goodbye to your contraception, ladies! One-piece burqas are all the rage this year. Mitt’s a Mormon, you know. Surely arranged polygamist marriages, probably with Orrin Hatch, will be the first thing on the agenda if the GOP seizes power again.

Idiocy. Sheer idiocy.

In the first place, nothing that had anything to do with lady parts was at risk in this election. Nothing at all. Contraception will remain safe and legal and easy to obtain for now and forever, regardless of who wins the White House. As for abortion, Roe v. Wade lifted that debate entirely out of the legislative arena, which means no president or Congress can pass any laws to undermine it as long as that precedent stands.

Yes, Romney could have appointed Supreme Court justices that might overturn that precedent, although that’s extremely doubtful, given the current makeup of the court. Still, that unlikely event would have exactly the same legal impact as President Obama’s newfound support for gay marriage: i.e. none whatsoever. Congress has already codified the principles of Roe v. Wade into federal law, so the absence of a judicial ruling would have zero effect on practical abortion policy.

In order to change that federal law, the Republicans would have to control the White House, Congress, and 60 votes in the Senate, something that has never happened in the history of the republic. And even if they did have a filibuster-proof majority, not all Republicans are pro-life. So the odds, then, of sufficient congressional will to make the Todd Akin sick fantasy world of rape legitimacy a legislative reality are about the same as the odds of Joe Biden’s bald patch spontaneously erupting into an afro.

So no matter how you voted, female citizens, your lady parts did not depend on it.

You know what did depend on it? The fiscal solvency of your nation. We are less than a decade away from a Greece-style meltdown. (That’s like Gangham style, only much more sucky.) Call me out of touch; call me chauvinistic; call me unable to empathize with the great women of America. For the life of me, I cannot conceive of anyone of any gender voting to prevent a phantom, illusory threat to contraception and abortion rights instead of voting to ward off the very real and compelling prospect of irrecoverable economic disaster. And won’t the absence of a viable Medicare system have a deleterious effect on lady parts? That seems obvious to me, but what do I know? Maybe when I join the party of Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, John Edwards, and all other honorable champions of womanhood, I’ll understand.

As you can see, I’m still not particularly pleased with the election results.

The Media Bias Bet

So I suppose my promise to completely tune out was somewhat premature. For some reason, this time around, Christmas music just isn’t enough. I’m still not venturing on to Facebook, though. The gloating grates too much. I may not return until my contractual obligation to keep my embarrassing Limburger profile picture up finally lapses.

I have had, however, the misfortune of having real life conversations with Obama gloaters who mock me for insisting that lefty media bias played a huge role in supporting the president’s reelection efforts. Since Nate Silver turned out to be right, the story goes, that’s proof that media bias is a Tea Party bugaboo and nothing more, and the only media bias that’s out there is the conservative slant of FOX News, and everyone else plays it straight.

Alright, then. Here’s a hypothetical scenario that shows how ridiculous that premise really is.

Imagine a game show. Doesn’t matter who the host is or what the rules are. In fact, it’s a pretty simple and short little quiz. You’ll be asked one simple question, and if you answer it correctly, you win a million bucks.

Ready? Here we go.

Question: In the 2012 presidential election, for whom did NBC news anchor Brian Williams vote to be President of United States?

It doesn’t have to be Brian Williams. You can pull out his name and substitute Bob Schieffer or Katie Couric or Charlie Gibson or Matt Lauer or Diane Sawyer or George Stephanopoulos. Or head over to CNN. Who did Soledad O’Brien vote for? How about Erin Burnett? Anyone want to hazard a guess where Anderson Cooper or Wolf Blitzer’s political loyalties lie?

Unlike partisan commentators who label themselves as such, these television personalities have not seen fit to let us know conclusively which candidate got their vote. Remember, they’re billed as objective news anchors, professionals who would never dream of letting their personal political leanings affect their reporting.

Why is it, then, that I am supremely confident that, with a million bucks on the line, every person in America would answer my quiz show question by saying these people voted for Obama?

110 days into his first term, even the president, at a White House press corps dinner, announced, “I’m Barack Obama. Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me.”

And just how did he know that? If bias really is simply a phantom of a conservative’s fevered mind, shouldn’t there be at least a scintilla of doubt as to where these people’s electoral loyalties lie?

If there is someone reading this blog who genuinely would, in fact, risk a million dollars on the proposition that one of these people is a Republican, I would dearly love to hear your story.

I’m not saying I’m going to believe your story, mind you, but it would be very interesting to hear it.

Bleak Thoughts

Yeah, I know I said I was going to tune out. I’m still trying to do that. I’ve managed to stay off of Facebook, where my daughter Chloe is apparently getting into flame wars with friends who are gloating about last night’s debacle. I did get on long enough to post my obligatory new profile pic talking about how wrong I am and how I’m Limburger cheese, but I didn’t read the host of comments responding to my announcement of a Facebook vacation.

I’m just not ready for that yet.

Last night, unable to sleep, I wrote two proposed editorials for the Deseret News and finished off a potential column about James Bond movies. Christmas music has been unable to keep my mind from racing all day. Having lost elections before, I anticipated that this experience would be a similar sort of short-term funk. But this is much, much worse.

I cannot shake the feeling that the nation made a serious, perhaps irrevocable, mistake yesterday.

It’s one thing to elect a charismatic young leader campaigning on hope and change and filling that empty vessel with all of your own personal fantasies about how wonderful things will be after he waves his magic wand. It’s quite another to elect the same guy after four of the bleakest economic years in America’s historical memory with the assumption that four more years of the same policies somehow won’t produce four more years of the same results.

In a nation projected to run trillion dollar deficits for as far as the eye can see, it’s mind-boggling to me that anyone would cast their vote based on access to free contraception, or funding for public television, or disgust with the use of the phrase “binders of women.” With a massively high chronic unemployment rate for the entirety of Mr. Obama’s presidency, what kind of person would suddenly find that situation acceptable mainly because the president looked pretty cool in his bomber jacket while embracing Chris Christie? I do not get that at all.

Part of my unwavering confidence in Romney’s inevitable victory came from an assurance that as a country, we weren’t so far gone as to willingly walk into this scenario with our eyes wide open. And yet, that’s what we did last night. A majority of Americans decided that higher taxes, vastly increased government spending, and deliberate ignorance of the imminent financial collapse of our most vital social programs will somehow pave the road to a brighter future. That was, frankly, inconceivable to me.

And yet, here we are.

Part of my distress, too, comes with a knowledge of what a huge asset the country rejected yesterday. It’s not just that Obama is so bad; it’s that Romney would’ve been so good, for the nation and, yes, for the LDS Church. A credible Mormon president would have opened doors, built philosophical bridges, and dissipated misunderstandings and mistrust in a way that would have had a tremendously positive impact on the church’s fortunes. It is extremely unlikely that a member of my church will ever have their name on the top of a national ticket again. Again, I confess to confusion and bewilderment at the sight of my Mormon Democratic friends and family celebrating this utterly wasted, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I do think, however, that part of the problem is that Republicans, after their colossal repudiation four years ago, returned from the political wilderness in 2010 without fully learning the lessons they needed to learn about why they had been exiled in the first place. Republicans should have swept into the majority in the Senate last night, but they nominated Tea Party loons eager to shoot themselves in the foot with ridiculous stories of legitimate and God-sanctioned rape. Republicans will remain nationally unelectable until they can craft a platform that is not seen as hostile to the minority community. That means a major rethink of the GOP’s, and Governor Romney’s, hard-line immigration stance, particularly. And the GOP also needs to find a way to come to terms with, and financially stabilize, the unsustainable Obamacare system, which is never going away.

Oy.

I don’t foresee a happy ending. There is no silver lining. I’m just watching, helplessly, as over half my fellow citizens cheerfully whistle while marching like lemmings into the river to wash away the nation’s future in a flood of debt and economic decline.

Tuning out again. Have a nice day.