Matt Taibbi On Teabaggers

Rolling Stone:

It’s taken three trips to Kentucky, but I’m finally getting my Tea Party epiphany exactly where you’d expect: at a Sarah Palin rally. The red-hot mama of American exceptionalism has flown in to speak at something called the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, a gospel-music hoedown in a giant convention center filled with thousands of elderly white Southerners. Palin — who earlier this morning held a closed-door fundraiser for Rand Paul, the Tea Party champion running for the U.S. Senate — is railing against a GOP establishment that has just seen Tea Partiers oust entrenched Republican hacks in Delaware and New York. The dingbat revolution, it seems, is nigh.

“We’re shaking up the good ol’ boys,” Palin chortles, to the best applause her aging crowd can muster. She then issues an oft-repeated warning (her speeches are usually a tired succession of half-coherent one-liners dumped on ravenous audiences like chum to sharks) to Republican insiders who underestimated the power of the Tea Party Death Star. “Buck up,” she says, “or stay in the truck.”

Stay in what truck? I wonder. What the hell does that even mean?

Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn’t a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — “Government’s not the solution! Government’s the problem!” — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains.

“The scooters are because of Medicare,” he whispers helpfully. “They have these commercials down here: ‘You won’t even have to pay for your scooter! Medicare will pay!’ Practically everyone in Kentucky has one.”

A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can’t imagine it.

It Gets Better Project

From the NY Times Blog:

A new online video channel is reaching out to teenagers who are bullied at school for being gay. The message: life really does get better after high school.

The YouTube channel, called the “It Gets Better Project,” was created by the Seattle advice columnist and activist Dan Savage. Mr. Savage says he was moved by the suicide of Billy Lucas, a Greensburg, Ind., high school student who was the target of slurs and bullying. The channel promises to be a collection of videos from adults in the gay community who share their own stories of surviving school bullying and moving on to build successful careers and happy home lives. The first video shows Mr. Savage with his partner of 16 years, Terry. The men tell their own stories of being bullied, finding each other and becoming parents. This week I spoke with Mr. Savage about the new channel and why he decided to reach out to teenagers. Here’s our conversation.

Q.
Why did you decide to create a YouTube channel to talk to gay teenagers?

A.
There was another suicide of a teenager, a kid who was being harassed for being gay. I put up a link to the story, and someone said in a comment that they wished they could have talked to the kid for five minutes to tell him it gets better. That’s always been my reaction too. I realized that with things like YouTube and social media, we can talk directly to these kids. We can make an end run around the schools that don’t protect them, from parents who want to keep gay kids isolated and churches that tell them that they are sinful or disordered.

‘The Wire’ writer David Simon among MacArthur genius grant winners

From The Washington Post

David Simon bristled as he listened to the voice mail. A lawyer in Washington wanted to talk about a “personal matter.” Expecting a lawsuit or subpoena or worse, Simon dialed her back after a lunch in Baltimore two weeks ago.

“When I reached her, she said, ‘Are you alone?’ and I said, ‘Yes,’ and I was quite sure I was about to be given extremely bad news,” says Simon, the writer-producer of hour-long TV dramas “Homicide,” “The Wire” and “Treme.” “I was wondering, was it something about any book or show I’d written? Or had I run over someone’s dog and didn’t know it?”

Not quite. Simon had been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as a “genius grant,” also known as a $500,000 jackpot with no strings attached. He’s one of 23 fellows announced today by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which every year showers millions of dollars on a handful of creative and innovative people around the country, just so they can continue being creative and innovative without having to fret about funding or loans or paying their electric bills.

Simon felt honored and grateful. Then came the guilt.

Well, The Wire is just the best tv show of all time. Just mentioning it in a sentence wants me to go back and watch all FOUR seasons of it (That’s right. I said four). I haven’t seen Treme yet.

(via Gerry Canavan)

Atheists, agnostics most knowledgeable about religion, survey says

From the LA Times:

If you want to know about God, you might want to talk to an atheist.

Heresy? Perhaps. But a survey that measured Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. In fact, the gaps in knowledge among some of the faithful may give new meaning to the term “blind faith.”

A majority of Protestants, for instance, couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the driving force behind the Protestant Reformation, according to the survey, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Four in 10 Catholics misunderstood the meaning of their church’s central ritual, incorrectly saying that the bread and wine used in Holy Communion are intended to merely symbolize the body and blood of Christ, not actually become them.

Atheists and agnostics — those who believe there is no God or who aren’t sure — were more likely to answer the survey’s questions correctly. Jews and Mormons ranked just below them in the survey’s measurement of religious knowledge — so close as to be statistically tied.

So why would an atheist know more about religion than a Christian?

American atheists and agnostics tend to be people who grew up in a religious tradition and consciously gave it up, often after a great deal of reflection and study, said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum.

This isn’t really that surprising. I’ve said many times that I started thinking Christianity was complete bullshit after sitting down and reading the bible from cover to cover. And more than one Christian has thought that I was an atheist because I hadn’t been exposed to Christ and his teachings. No, no. I’ve had more than my fill of it thank you very much. Now off you go.