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November 10, 2005 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Welcome to Idiot America: "The America of Franklin and Edison, of Fulton and Ford, of the Manhattan project and the Apollo program, the America of which Einstein wanted to be a part, seems to be enveloping itself in a curious fog behind which it's tying itself in knots over evolution, for pity's sake, and over the relative humanity of blastocysts versus the victims of Parkinson's disease."
posted by bitmage (57 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
What about the America where if someone wanted to believe something really stupid, we let them?
posted by freebird at 10:44 AM on November 10, 2005


Religion + Terror is political subterfuge, allowing Wall Street to take over the federal government, while most Americans are talking about Kansas or homosexuals.

Just like a suicide bomber, it only takes one idiot to stir up a lot of news, creating a fog under which the government is looted by 21st century robber barons.

The GOP is just the trademark for the robbery.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 10:55 AM on November 10, 2005


They're free to believe whatever they want. When they start legislating those beliefs, then we have a problem.
posted by Justinian at 10:56 AM on November 10, 2005


It became the America where if someone wanted to believe something really stupid, we let them set public policy, freebird.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:56 AM on November 10, 2005


The Jesse Helms writes "allowing Wall Street to take over the federal government"

Why would Wall Street have to do it again?
posted by nkyad at 11:01 AM on November 10, 2005


Why would Wall Street have to do it again?

cuz the 1930s-1960s were where the middle-class took over the reins of government.

Truman actually campaigned against Alcoa, believe it or not.

And for the history-challenged among you, Alcoa was Andrew Mellon's baby, the same Mellon that formed the Mellon-Scaife fortune that is now funding the Heritage Foundation and zillions of other "Greed is Good" front organizations.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:11 AM on November 10, 2005


It's ironic that one of bush's harshest critics (Paul O'neil) was a former Alcoa CEO.
posted by delmoi at 11:14 AM on November 10, 2005


There have always been stupid people in America. It just used to be that your leaders, republicrats and demicons, were clever enough to fool most people into thinking they had some good intentions. Now they are just good intentionators who only fool you into not getting fooled again.
posted by srboisvert at 11:16 AM on November 10, 2005


Yeah. Americans are stupid. I heard they are fat too.
posted by dios at 11:28 AM on November 10, 2005


Pat Buchanan isn't real happy with the way things are going these days, either. It's kind of eerie how much of what he writes echoes the general sentiments of many MeFi'ers, even if the reasons behind his disenchantment are different.
posted by you just lost the game at 11:31 AM on November 10, 2005


Martin Amis did it better in The Moronic Inferno. But I enjoyed reading this as well.
posted by bardic at 11:34 AM on November 10, 2005


They're free to believe whatever they want. When they start legislating those beliefs, then we have a problem.

Can't argue with that. Firmly opposed to legislating beliefs about anything.

It became the America where if someone wanted to believe something really stupid, we let them set public policy

Not so convinced on this one. Our leaders have always believed some pretty stupid things, and I'm really unconvinced they're much stupider or more evil than in times past. Do you really think we haven't had creationist presidents in the past? I believe we've had seances in the white house, astrologers, all manner of stupid crap.
posted by freebird at 11:47 AM on November 10, 2005


Don't forget plo chops.
posted by bardic at 11:52 AM on November 10, 2005


The left is just as guilty of obsessing over there little unimportant issues, while the big issues sink the country deeper in shit.
Does it really matter if the Pledge of Allegiance or the currency contains the word "God"? Does it really matter if some courthouse in Buttfuck, Georgia has a Ten Commandments plaque? Every time the left raises these petty issues, the religious groups feel attacked, and they mobilize and consolidate in response. This makes them stronger, politically. The preachers use these attacks on their faith to rally the congregations into donating and voting Republican. If the Democrats and the rest of the left, and even the centrists (if there are any still around) would chill out and let these people believe what they want to believe, and let them have their "God" text here and there, and their statues and plaques, they wouldn't be the huge voting block they are now, and wouldn't be running the country.
posted by rocket88 at 11:53 AM on November 10, 2005


Rocket88, principally, what you are claiming is that by fighting with the right on every single wedge issue they bring to the fore, it is only making them stronger. But somehow, by rolling over on issues like religious symbols in the public square, teaching "ID" in schools, and advocating for school prayer, this will make the religious right less strong? That's not logical.

Any free thinking person has a moral obligation to make the right feel uncomfortable (to say the least) about trying to impose the religious views (and iconography) on everyone.

I agree that there are much bigger fish to fry, but ceding ground, to fanatics like these on symbolic issues will allow the left to be more marginalized than it already is. Never underestimate the power of symbols.
posted by psmealey at 12:00 PM on November 10, 2005


America is destroying itself. Over the last three decades, real wages are stagnant. Wealth concentration has not only continued over that time, it has accelerated. A vibrant middle class is responsible for Americas great power over the last decades -- we are in the process of dismantling that middle class.

1/5 of all American research has been chilled by a patent. Patent and copyright now act as a drain on the American brain, rather than the incentives they were meant to be. This is very frightening when you consider that American intellectual innovation has been the driving factor behind our economy for the last 5 decades.

We are no longer reigning supreme in education, as we once did. Our public schools are not world class. Our higher ed. is better, but it's declining. In the face of serious budgetary problems created by massive tax cuts for the very well off, higher education is always one of the first things to go. America is very much behind Asia in graduating science and math students in higher ed. That just happens to be the key sector of knowledge for our modern economy.

Our economy now produces very little. What it does produce and export is largely ntangible (entertainment and great science ideas). Both of these fields are seriously threatened by US IP law.

Our economic situation is precarious. Our government is accumulating debt quickly enough that a melt down is not out of the question. Tax cuts have broken the bank -- America either dismantles those New Deal institutions that make a modern democracy all that it is, or we raise taxes on the wealthy. No one wants to talk about this.

The party in charge not only ignores these problems, they actively make them worse. They focus on gays getting mairred. They want to teach Intelligent Design to our kids, further destroying our scientific ability. They want to fight pointless, aimless wars with Arab "bogey men" to make themselves feel better. Americans still vote for them.

You're goddamn right America has gotten a serious case of the stupids.
posted by teece at 12:07 PM on November 10, 2005 [1 favorite]


Pat Buchanan isn't real happy with the way things are going these days, either. It's kind of eerie how much of what he writes echoes the general sentiments of many MeFi'ers, even if the reasons behind his disenchantment are different.

It's not eerie, he just hates neocons. Unless you believe that your enemy's enemy is necessarily your friend, there's no reason to start thinking he's anything special.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:16 PM on November 10, 2005


Teece is right. This time the sky really is falling.
posted by dios at 12:17 PM on November 10, 2005


psmealy: As an example, I give you Canada. There are many Christians in Canada, albeit not as many fundamentalists. Canadian Christians vote Conservative, Liberal, and even socialist NDP. As a block, I don't think they lean one way or the other. If the ruling Liberals decided to create a purely secular society, and made motions to remove the word "God" from the National Anthem (yes, it's in there now), I would expect to see a significant number of moderate Christians switch their voting allegiance to the right-wing Conservatives, in order to counter this attack on their faith. By leaving the "God" reference in there, Christians aren't motivated by their faith when voting, and can focus on more important issues, like protecting our medicare system.
posted by rocket88 at 12:18 PM on November 10, 2005


It's the economy, stupid?

I'm pretty sure it was Benjamin Friedman on NPR today pleading that it's actually for the moral betterment of everyone that we increase living conditions across the board. He argued that greater choice, rather than greater materialism, is the key feature of the delivery of economic surplus to the people. I just didn't catch his name... The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth
posted by nervousfritz at 12:20 PM on November 10, 2005


Good intentionators? With strategery?
posted by Gator at 12:21 PM on November 10, 2005


"Does it really matter if the Pledge of Allegiance or the currency contains the word "God"? Does it really matter if some courthouse in Buttfuck, Georgia has a Ten Commandments plaque?"

Yes. Yes it does.

We have laws in this country. If Buttfuck, Georgia wants to ignore those laws then they can choose to no longer be a part of this country and secede.

We promise not to start a war over it, this time.
posted by bshort at 12:25 PM on November 10, 2005


> there's no reason to start thinking he's anything special.

Oh, I don't. But I would never have thought, back when he ran for President in '96, he'd ever come across as the comparative voice of reason within the Republican party. Interesting times....*sigh*
posted by you just lost the game at 12:30 PM on November 10, 2005



A "politically savvy challenge to evolution" is as self-evidently ridiculous as an agriculturally savvy challenge to euclidean geometry would be.


BOOYAH!
posted by iamck at 12:41 PM on November 10, 2005


It's not that America can't put up with diverse views and beliefs, it's that when the fringe organize and begin to set policy we have to protect ourselves from the widescale impact of mass psychosis.
posted by gallois at 12:48 PM on November 10, 2005


If the Democrats and the rest of the left, and even the centrists (if there are any still around) would chill out and let these people believe what they want to believe, and let them have their "God" text here and there, and their statues and plaques, they wouldn't be the huge voting block they are now, and wouldn't be running the country.

Should we let them outlaw abortion too? Euthanasia? Equal rights for homosexual relationships? All these issues are related to the whole "God" thing, dontcha think? So what are the important issues again?

It's generally accepted that the American government supports monotheism. Most people will agree that it should, like the Founding Fathers intended. One god. You don't think that has colored policy considerably in the past 50 years?

I'm pretty sure it was Benjamin Friedman on NPR today pleading that it's actually for the moral betterment of everyone that we increase living conditions across the board. He argued that greater choice, rather than greater materialism, is the key feature of the delivery of economic surplus to the people.

Duh. When everyone does better, everyone does better. What's do hard to understand about that? Materialism is the greatest scourge of the entire human age.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:59 PM on November 10, 2005


In case you missed it, they threw the bums out in Dover. There's hope for this country yet.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:08 PM on November 10, 2005



Irony: posting interrupting non sequiturs in a thread about the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good and obviously not reading the piece.

Seriously. How friggin’ stupid ARE some of you?
And I don’t mean ignorance, because I expect you to know what I mean by ‘non sequitur’, I mean willfully contrarian. Particularly on an issue like this.

There’s lots to mull here. I think Pierce’s descriptions are more illustrative of the point than his assertions. Bit didactic and he goes far afeild. Nevertheless his point on the war on expertise is perfectly cogent.
It’s continually validated on television and elsewhere - intellect is sublimated to feeling to favor the shill.
Housewives have shuddering orgasms over a new brand of dish soap with lemon, kids erupt with joy over some singing sun delivering a vaguely orangish overpriced acidic swill, and so forth.
But it’s not just the commercialism, teece raises some excellent points on education.

Why is it wrong when ‘welfare queens’ have six Cadillacs (or whatever that myth states) but it’s completely valid to have an intellectual welfare state?

Someone who thinks that Noah had Brachiosaurs on his Ark is not fit to compete someone like me in the real world, and if someone like that was not being subsidized they would starve to death waiting for manna.

It’s not only morally wrong to have an uneducated underclass simply because you can fool them into thinking crap and giving you money, it’s contrary to basic survival values.

But yeah, whatever; why think ahead? Why work for something better?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:34 PM on November 10, 2005


Perhaps I'm dense but: What was up with *chocolate* appearing throughout?
posted by Shutter at 1:49 PM on November 10, 2005


Save us, Flying Spaghetti Monster! Ramen!
posted by swerdloff at 2:02 PM on November 10, 2005


rocket88 writes "Does it really matter if the Pledge of Allegiance or the currency contains the word 'God'? Does it really matter if some courthouse in Buttfuck, Georgia has a Ten Commandments plaque? "

Yes, because actually both are examples of ways in which there is actually an attempt to seep religion more firmly into everyday life until we don't notice it anymore. That's part of what the article was saying.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:10 PM on November 10, 2005


Smedleyman, I think you underestimate the ability of batshit crazy people to make it in the real world. Economic survival is not tied very closely to enlightenment, perhaps especially in our society.
posted by es_de_bah at 2:19 PM on November 10, 2005


Yea, I'm echoing Shutter's question about the *chocolate* in this article, what's the deal?
posted by splatta at 2:31 PM on November 10, 2005


My grandmother, an Irish Catholic, was raised to believe that Protestants had cloven hooves and tails. She believed that the world was created in six days, roughly six thousand years ago. She was TAUGHT this, in SCHOOL. Many people today still believe the latter, but not the former. Believe it or not, that's progress. We're talking about steering a mass of societal beliefs, superstitions and misconceptions with an enormous amount of inertia. It's going to take centuries of patient effort.
posted by slatternus at 2:41 PM on November 10, 2005


Economic survival is not tied very closely to enlightenment, perhaps especially in our society. - posted by es_de_bah
Too true. Should be tho. Hence my point on intellectual welfare. At some point pi = 3.1415 - etc. not 3 or you die out. The noise to signal ratio gets too high and no one can figure anything out or make any progress.

Perhaps I'm dense but: What was up with *chocolate* appearing throughout? - posted by Shutter
Mmmm....dense *chocolate*
posted by Smedleyman at 2:54 PM on November 10, 2005


These people are still upset about the Copernican revolution, right?
posted by dreamsign at 2:57 PM on November 10, 2005


The problem about the article is that no one who believes in creationist tripe could possibly understand logic and big words it contains.
posted by iamck at 3:07 PM on November 10, 2005


Most of the comments are about the intrusion of religion into the public sphere. For me the scarier part is how education is being undermined.

Intelligent design cannot be reconciled with an empirically consistent system of science. And if people insist that the Bible presents a literal account of the creation, it's damn near impossible to teach ordinary high school geology, biology, or physics. So will be the future doctors, scientists, and engineers in America?

Without these sources of ingenuity, of people who drive the information society, the American economy will become a shambles. The great university culture of America will flee overseas, to cultures (especially China) where intellectual ingenuity is a source of respect and prestige.
posted by Scooter at 3:11 PM on November 10, 2005


Well, then it's cultural selection in action.

The Netherlands had its gold age once, where tolerance and intellectual freedom attracted the elite. America had that, too, for awhile.
posted by dreamsign at 3:34 PM on November 10, 2005


I'm for teaching whatever the hell it was Heaven's Gate folks were learning. More people with mutilated genitalia killing themselves to get on the magic space comet kinda crazy is what this country needs.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:02 PM on November 10, 2005


freebird writes "What about the America where if someone wanted to believe something really stupid, we let them?"

I don't see anyone standing in a way of the idiots' right to believe whatever they want... just like no one's standing in our way of calling them idiots for believing it.
posted by clevershark at 4:03 PM on November 10, 2005


Speaking of idiots ...
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:42 PM on November 10, 2005


"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city."

Fair enough. Hail Satan!
posted by mrgrimm at 5:09 PM on November 10, 2005


This article was a good read. Clear articulation of many of my own poorly-articulated thoughts, and some biting wit to boot. Thanks, bitmage. If Esquire has a lot of stories like this, I'll have to start reading.

How can the followers of Pat Roberts not see the inherent anti-Christianity in a statement like "don't turn to God, you just rejected him?" If Christianity is all about love, forgiveness, and redemption, where does that leave someone like Robertson? Is he a Satanist?
posted by Western Infidels at 5:31 PM on November 10, 2005


And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city.

Hey! Here's someone else who doesn't understand the scientific method. This is clearly an unfalsifiable hypothesis.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:49 PM on November 10, 2005


Maybe someone should "take out" Pat Robertson.
posted by papakwanz at 7:15 PM on November 10, 2005


Of course, by that I didn't mean assassinate! I mean take him out... to lunch. Or something.
posted by papakwanz at 7:16 PM on November 10, 2005


Robertson is one of many christians that are really more "old testament" (with the wrath, and the smiting, glavin).

True christians wouldn't stand for this, they are followers of a forgiving, loving, nurturing god. I like the later better, myself.

Hell, even The Vatican isn't for ID.
posted by splatta at 7:24 PM on November 10, 2005


any insight into the "*chocolate*" question?

more specifically: "Why does the article have "*chocolate*" interspersed?"
posted by splatta at 7:25 PM on November 10, 2005


any insight into the "*chocolate*" question?


I think it's his 'insert expletive of choice here' marker. But it is a little odd...
posted by bitmage at 7:36 PM on November 10, 2005


"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city."

and i'd like to say to pat robertson: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to president bush or your other political croneys because you've already seen what a massive clusterfuck they made out of new orleans

but that's just one of those things you render to caesar because it's his, just like school board elections and stupid wars ... i read that somewhere ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:19 PM on November 10, 2005


If *chocolate* is just a placeholder for an explitive, it's poorly chosen. Am I the only one who immediately thinks it's a substitute for a racial slur?
posted by Shutter at 10:32 PM on November 10, 2005


We're talking about steering a mass of societal beliefs, superstitions and misconceptions with an enormous amount of inertia. It's going to take centuries of patient effort.

Or nuclear holocaust.

The former option has lots to commend it, but the latter will also solve the overpopulation problem.
posted by spazzm at 3:54 AM on November 11, 2005


I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city.

The real question here is which one of the eight ousted school board members Pat thinks is God. And what was He doing in a school board election in the middle of Pennsylvania.
posted by nkyad at 7:14 AM on November 11, 2005


I have no idea what that story description meant.
posted by jmccorm at 7:20 AM on November 11, 2005


It's fairly clear that this was posted to some site that didn't allow expletives and I think it's clear from context that *chocolate* replaced "shit."
posted by lackutrol at 2:22 PM on November 11, 2005


OK, maybe that's a stretch but it seems the most plausible single word to be replaced by "chocolate," in context.
posted by lackutrol at 2:27 PM on November 11, 2005


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