Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pyjamas in the Snow

I'm starting to think Minnesota's the strangest state in the country. Not just because of its professional wrestler former governor, or the fact that it produced Prince and Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Not just because of a neverending election battle where the comedian has clearly won. Not just because it's the home of Congresswoman Michele Bachman, who's scraping skull now in her ongoing self-administered lobotomy.

I guess it's a combination of all these things, and probably also the movie Fargo, which, despite its title, largely takes place in Minnesota. But I probably don't think it's a strange place for its current Republican governor, who, in this interview with Rachel Maddow from a couple days ago, rather cogently laid out the path of reasoning most Republicans subscribe to in order to make themselves believe they're not being grotesquely counterproductive by blocking federal aid to states.

The idea that stimulus is okay in this case because Minnesota has paid its taxes is bizarre when you consider that government funds are generally taxpayer money in any case. That Minnesota may have gotten along okay without the stimulus because Pawlenty had understated the budget is also bizarre--it's not as though programmes are going to cost less because there's less money, it's not like there are fewer government employees to pay.

The ideological breakdown has long been that the left believes everyone deserves assistance if they need it, and the right believes people need to stand on their own. But that's only good to a point--it requires a delusional faith in the majority of individuals that has never been supported by history. A good illustration of this philosophy is seen in this blog entry by Jim Emerson about how the right wing movie review group, Movie Guide, is praising The Dark Knight and Iron Man for supporting the right wing philosophy of individual entrepreneurs creating a better country on their own initiative. What the Movie Guide folks miss in both these movies is the implicit message that both Batman and Iron Man are very unusual people. In both cases, there's no-one else doing what these men are doing, and, in fact, they seem like very strange people.

Somehow, Republicans are clinging to the idea that the very rare exceptions should still make the rule. Pride is the motivation here, of course--the possibility of wounded pride is frightening enough to make someone grasp onto any alternative belief. Unless you're some kind of dark knight.

I watched episode eight of Battlestar Galactica's third season last night, which was a real game changer, I guess, or at least it tried to be. There was a point where Lee really ought to have said to his father something like, "Er, one little ship in the Neutral Zone across the Armistice Line hardly justifies the Cylons trying to wipe out the human race."

It was nice to see the colonel actually be sort of right about something for once. I guess I like underdogs. The only other time I can remember him being right was when he knew there'd be a Raptor posted to receive messages from the New Caprican colonists, so this was a big deal for him.

I was sorry there wasn't more of Baltar in the episode, but I was amused one of the two glimpses we had of him revealed that he was now sleeping with both of the women who'd been torturing him when last we saw him. Such a cad. I wanted him at least to exclaim, "What an incredible adventure I'm having!"

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