Archive for March 12, 2011

The Duke and the Dauphin

This week Chris Matthews called Gin­grich and Huck­abee the “Duke and the Dauphin” and said they were “work­ing the back coun­try like the char­la­tans on the riverboats.”

The Duke and the Dauphin (with Huck in the background)

He was refer­ring, of course, to the two unsa­vory low-​​lifes in Adven­tures of Huck­le­berry Finn who earned their liv­ing by con­ning the coun­try bump­kins. (It would have been great if this had been the ori­gin of the word “huck­ster,” but the word came by way of the Dutch, not the Finn.)

Matthews was jok­ing, but his anger was real. His ref­er­ence was to the delib­er­ate, cal­cu­lated way the GOP 2012 hope­fuls are once again sell­ing their snake oil of birtherism to the gullible and the hate­ful. Newt talks about Obama’s “Kenyan roots” and colo­nial angst. Huck­abee is going even fur­ther, invok­ing Obama’s “child­hood in Kenya” with pointed allu­sions to the Mau Mau Upris­ing, which stirs every white southerner’s deeply ingrained fears of slave revolt, upris­ings of angry black men, and white peo­ple being hacked to death in their beds.

And then of course we have Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Pete King (R-​​NY) hold­ing Con­gres­sional hear­ings about America’s “rad­i­cal­ized Mus­lim churches.”

Yes indeed…the cra­zies are stealth­ily creep­ing out of their under­ground hidey-​​holes and begin­ning to sun them­selves on the rocks. It can only mean one thing…GOP pri­mary sea­son will soon be upon us!

Is It Appropriate?

Rep. Gabrielle Gif­fords. Source: gif​fords​.house​.gov

On Jan­u­ary 8, 2011, U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gabrielle Gif­fords (D-​​AZ) was shot in the head by alleged gun­man Jared Laughner.

For our quick-​​cut Sat­ur­day pieces, one of the other mod­er­a­tors asked me (quite rea­son­ably) to write a few words about her recov­ery, since I am a brain sci­en­tist by trade.

I was ini­tially very reluc­tant to do so, because I am afraid of cross­ing a line into pruri­ent inter­est. I would sub­mit that when she sus­tained a mas­sive brain injury from a gunman’s bul­let, she vacated the realm of a pub­lic fig­ure whose life should be laid bare because of a “right to know.”

Now I believe she has become a pri­vate per­son who, like the 360,000 brave sol­diers who sus­tained brain injuries in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan or the esti­mated five mil­lion Amer­i­cans who have suf­fered head injuries from falls, auto­mo­bile acci­dents, or sports, deserve their pri­vacy as they begin the long and dif­fi­cult jour­ney into the light.

So, I’m kick­ing off a meta-​​discussion. We may get around to the details (at least, what is known) about her recov­ery, but before we do that: should we be dis­cussing this at all?

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