Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Idaho State Representative Pete Nielsen (R-Mountain Home)

Now, do I think Pete doesn't look too bright only because I know he isn't too bright? I think so...

Now, do I think Pete doesn’t look too bright only because I know he isn’t too bright? I think so…

There are two reasons to deride Rep. Nielsen. First, by his own words he is marked as an idiot unworthy not only off high office but of public trust, and second, he either has  been paying no attention to epic, infamous, well-publicized catastrophes in his own party, or doesn’t have a brain pan of sufficient depth to comprehend them.

Surely you remember Todd Akin, the Missouri GOP Senate candidate in 2012, who blew his party’s chances of taking a eminently winnable seat from the horrible Claire McCaskill by uttering this nonsense on the issue of whether rape-caused pregnancies should be an exception to abortion restrictions:

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down…”

He was ridiculed, he was attacked, he was mocked, and from all parties and ideologies, for his magical theory that a woman’s body knows the difference between “legitimate rape” and the nice kind of sexual intercourse. (Oddly, none of those “doctors” ever came forward, perhaps because they were wearing diapers and had turnips sticking out of their ears. Somehow, Pete Nielsen missed all of that, and so during a debate in the Idaho Legislature on bill that would require women seeking abortions to be given a list of providers of free ultrasounds, when it was noted that the measure makes no exception for victims of rape or incest, he piped up with this:

“Now, I’m of the understanding that in many cases of rape it does not involve any pregnancy because of the trauma of the incident. That may be true with incest a little bit.”

Now, if he had been immediately pelted with wadded up papers, soda cans and other things by his  horrified colleagues, may be would have had the sense to stop digging, but, being an idiot, he didn’t. Asked how he knew this absolute non-medical non-fact as reliable as the theory that you can catch AIDS from a toilet seat, Nielsen said, “That’s information that I’ve had through the years. Whether it’s totally accurate or not, I don’t know. “I read a lot of information. I have read it several times. … Being a father of five girls, I’ve explored this a lot.”

Wait, what? Never mind, I don’t want to think about that last part. Continue reading

Morning After Report: Six Steps Forward and Seven Back In The Quest For A Trustworthy Congress

We’ll never get a trustworthy Congress this way.

So much for “the wisdom of crowds.” Last night, knowing (theoretically, at least) that the one completely irrational choice for the nation at this critical juncture in its history is more gridlock born of ideological intransigence, voters sent a dysfunctional Congress back to Washington, opting for a radical conservative House and a radical liberal Senate despite telling pollsters that this was the least trusted Congress in history. Just to make sure compromise and movement would be as difficult as possible, the public also re-elected a President who, whatever his other virtues, has shown neither the ability nor the inclination to engage in effective negotiation with his political adversaries on the Hill. There were plenty of more responsible options available to voters:

  • Commit to the President, and give his party majorities in both Houses of Congress so he could get his policies implemented, for better or worse,
  • Give the Senate back to the GOP, so some of the bills the House has passed can be sent to the President’s desk
  • Sweep everybody out and try a new team to see if it can do any better.

But no. The American public, in its infinite wisdom, opted for nearly the exact toxic partisan mix that has served the nation so miserably for the past two years. Unquestionably, the biggest ethics failure on election night was this one.

Yet there was progress, as voters rejected some of the more unethical officials offering their services. Unfortunately, these wise and ethical choices were greatly diluted by other unforgivable ones. On the plus side: Continue reading

Conservatives Take Note: Media Bias Doesn’t Explain Everything

Rep. Akin and his fans.

Pervasive media bias against them has the added affect of making Republicans and conservatives both paranoid and less likely to perceive their own flaws. In this it is like racism: that black Americans know that elements of society refuse to treat them fairly makes it difficult for them to assess their own accountability when they fail. Given the opportunity to blame failure on ourselves or others, most of us are inclined to choose the latter: psychologists call it the fundamental attribution error. That tendency, however, undermines our ability to evaluate areas where we need to improve, and to improve them.

The news media’s leftward bias warps public opinion, tilts elections and distorts public policy. A few candid  journalists acknowledge this, like ABC’s Jake Tapper, who opined to Laura Ingraham yesterday that the media “helped tilt the scales” against Hillary and John McCain in 2008, saying that “Sometimes I saw with story selection, magazine covers, photos picked, [the] campaign narrative, that it wasn’t always the fairest coverage.” Weasel words for unethical media bias, true, but for a member in good standing of the liberal Beltway media like Tapper, an admirable confession. This is justly frustrating to conservatives, but they can’t let it drive them stupid, for this is the Catch 22 of all pervasive bias. If a group blames everything on bias, it begins to make the bias look justified.

Hypervocal, a snazzy blog that delves into such matters and much else, has an excellent analysis of a current example of this phenomenon, as conservatives complain that the news media is ignoring a juicy Minnesota scandal involving a gay Democrat while overplaying Rep. Todd Akin’s self-outing as an ignorant fool regarding rape, abortion, and female biology. This is such a regular refrain now any time an embarrassing event occurs involving a Republican that it is both predictable and laughable, and it is always unseemly. Continue reading

The Akin Affair: A Brief Note on Being Fair To Idiots

A Baby Fairy (from the Todd Akin collection)

Todd Akin, as I discussed in the recent post, is too dumb to serve in high elected office, and his refusal (at least so far) to give up his nomination for the U.S. Senate after proving it marks him as unethical as well.

Nonetheless, an astounding number of pundits, Democrats and social media users are making fools of themselves and missing the fish in the barrel by concentrating their fire on Akin’s use of the phrase “legitimate rape.” Many of them apparently never read his quote, and really think the poor, silly man said that rape could be “legitimate”, as in “legal, just, valid or proper,” which is what the word really means. He didn’t say that, and he didn’t mean that. He obviously didn’t mean that, and it is unfair and misleading to condemn him on the basis of what he didn’t say.

Here is his quote again, speaking of women getting pregnant after being raped: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)…Plus Some Clarifications

Apparently Prissy told Todd Akin’s family all about the Baby Faries…

To clarify, Rep. Todd Akin, the GOP’s candidate for the U.S. Senate in opposition to Sen. Claire McCaskill, is not an Ethics Dunce because he said, in a recent TV interview, this, in response to whether it should be illegal for a woman impregnated by a rapist to get an abortion:

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

No, that statement just proves that he’s an idiot. Continue reading