Cocking A Snook Too!

Independent, Irreverent Unschoolers – or at least one – Take On the Universe

Couple Things August 12, 2008

Filed under: Calvin,Criticism of the Stupid,Funnies,Politics — Meredith @ 9:05 pm

In any relationship, it’s important to spend time together doing things you both enjoy – “Couple Things,” if you will.

Calvin and I like to paint Warhammer figurines, watch The West Wing, and yell at people on the internet.

Warhammer, for the uninitiated, is an addictive and expensive hobby which involves the acquisition and painting of small plastic and metal creatures which are totally awesome. These creatures are then assembled into armies of different point values which can square off against each other in accordance with very complicated rules which I do not understand at all (I just like the painting part).

This is the first guy I painted - a Wood Elf riding a War Hawk

This is the first guy I painted - a Wood Elf riding a War Hawk

The story of how I began painting “mens” as Calvin calls them, is a stereotypical one: Boy becomes mildly obsessed with something, girl, noting that boy is increasingly absorbed by said thing, begins to participate, if only to interact with him more. So now at least half of our date nights are spent sitting very happily on the floor, giving color to increasingly detailed models. The whole thing is incredibly geeky.

I will sprinkle pictures of some dudes Calvin and I painted throughout the post. They took lots of manhours, but it’s some fantastic work, well worth it.

While we paint, we like to watch the West Wing, for simple, easy-to-understand reasons:

1) It is the best show ever

2) We really, really wish that President Bartlett were the real president

3) It is the best show ever

The show follows the staff of a fictitious White House during a thoughtful, intelligent, democratic administration which, in a cruel twist of irony, mirrors the chronology of Dubya’s. Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue is without peer, witty and sparkling, and the material dealt with is more intelligent than in any other show, before or since.

There’s one episode in the third season, entitled “The U.S. Poet Laureate,” in which Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman discovers a website dedicated to him, “LemonLymon.com.” He attempts to post to the message board to straighten out some misconceptions, and is immediately swarmed upon with the internet’s usual interest in minutia, inflammatory ideas, and anti-intellectualism. This includes, as Josh says, “a page and a half of posts discussing whether or not I was mocking Egyptians by referencing Sanskrit.”

Press Secretary C.J. Cregg is eventually called upon to get Josh to stop posting on the site.

The cast of "The West Wing"

The cast of "The West Wing"

“C.J., it’s a crazy place,” Josh tries to explain. “There’s this dictatorial leader, who I’m sure wears a muumuu and chain-smokes Parliaments…”

“Lemmie explain something to you, this is sort of my field,” C.J. barks.

“The people on these sites? They’re the cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The mumu wearing chainsmoker? That’s Nurse Ratched. When Nurse Ratched is unhappy, the patients are unhappy. You? You’re McMurphy, you swoop in there with your card games and your fishing tricks…”

“I didn’t swoop in, I came in the same way everybody else did.”

“Well, now I’m telling you to open the ward window and climb out of there before they give you a pre-frontal lobotomy and I have to come in and smother you with a pillow.”

This is a lesson which Calvin and I have recently learned in our internet travels. It started out innocently enough, when I discovered a conservative homeschooler blog comparing The Honorable Mr. Obama to Adolf Hitler.

This may sound like an absolutely preposterous allegation, but it’s one that gets bandied around a lot more than you’d think. The conventional wisdom amongst the cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest seems to be as follows:

1) Lots of people liked Hitler. Lots of people like Obama. Suspicious, anyone?

2) Hitler was elected in a Germany that was economically depressed. America is economically depressed. How long can you stay blind, America?

3) Hitler gave a good speech. Obama gives a good speech. Would you condemn your children to such a future? What kind of American are you?

I quote the blog in question:

“Like Hitler, Obama uses simple messages to win over people.
Like Hitler, Obama seeks to disband freedoms.
Like Hitler, Obama supporters faint and cry when he speaks.
Like Hitler, Obama campaigns on hope.
Like Hitler, Obama speaks of change.
Like Hitler, Obama campaigns on unity.
Like Hitler, Obama is popular in a time of economic weakness.
Like Hitler, Obama has an emblem/seal.
Like Hitler, Obama targets youth.”

Perhaps Obama doesn’t seek to exterminate anyone – but who is he really?

Anyway, I told Calvin about this blog, run by a woman who is a genuine melt-all-your-gold-lock-yourself-in-the-basement-educate-your-own-children-in-knot-tying-and-
the-finer-points-of-squirrel-cuisine-because-the-Red-Dawn-Sarah-Connor-apocalypse-is-nigh-
Ron-Paul-devotee. Calvin, who is seasoned and practiced in internet arguing, posted a neat little comment in response:

“Like Hitler, Jesus uses simple messages to win over people.
Like Hitler, Jesus seeks to disband freedoms.
Like Hitler, Jesus supporters faint and cry when he speaks.
Like Hitler, Jesus campaigns on hope.
Like Hitler, Jesus speaks of change.
Like Hitler, Jesus campaigns on unity.
Like Hitler, Jesus is popular in a time of economic weakness.
Like Hitler, Jesus has an emblem/seal.
Like Hitler, Jesus targets youth.”

Fixed for pointing out how many straws you’re grasping at.

Good day.

Bet she's voting McCain

Bet she's voting McCain

I was delighted by this, and told him so. We reveled for awhile in this total ownage, just as Josh did, but then Nurse Ratched fired up her inmates.

The arguments ranged from the completely un-thought-out and grammar confused (“Jesus was sincere and was about love. Those surrounding Hitler and Obama were about hate”) to the clueless, poor analogies (“I was thinking this week how much this European tour reminded me of Eva Peron and her tour of Europe in ‘Evita'”) to total missing of the point (“Jesus was not a politician. Far from it!”) to the inexplicable (“Yes, there are many similarities. And they are not to be dismissed lightly. Because, after all, Hitler was a major PR campaign. And if you think that PR campaigns don’t work, ask CocaCola”).

One or two cited books such as The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich as historical treatises which bore out their anti-Honorable Mr. Obama arguments. While I haven’t read this particular book, I did go through a WWII phase when I was a college freshman, and I read many books on the Nazi administration, politics, and history. One of the most interesting things I learned was that Heinrich Himmler was obsessed with movie adaptation of Gone With the Wind, and took his cues from Hollywood when choreographing the Nazis’ theatrical, dramatic spectacles of rallies.

This is a small piece of a work-in-progress

This is a small piece of a work-in-progress

Therefore, I think we should raise the alarm if any of the presidential candidates express a positive opinion of the movie.

But back to the discussion of the blog – this is where I leapt into the fray. My comment, considerably less measured than Calvin’s, was intended to stir everyone up with a well-placed zinger, addressing several people who had referred to The Honorable Mr. Obama as a “socialist” or “communist.”

I had prepared a much longer comment, one I intended to cut through all of the hyperbole and utter preposterousness above.
But my response to your comment alone scaled several pages, and I eventually came to feel that devoting so much text and time to refuting immature and ill-formed logic was both pointless and stressful.
So I’ll mention only one thing – your characterization of Obama as a “Socialist.”
How is he both a socialist and Hitler? As I recall, Hitler was a fascist, and foamed at the mouth about how those dirty reds were destroying Germany.
But, of course, they both end in “ist,” so I can see your confusion.
Perhaps a freshman civics class would be advisable before you try to talk politics with the grownups.

On his end, however, Calvin continued to be reasonable, saying:

“If you think that drawing crowds, appealing to young people and talking about hope were what made Hitler bad for the world, you don’t know enough about Hitler.
Hitler was bad because he suspended civil liberties and killed Jews. If you have some actual evidence that Obama will literally do that, then we can talk, but all you have is a similarity between their campaigns.
Sorry, but talking about hope and change to large crowds does not alone a fascist make.”

This a Vampire Lord, complete with demon

This a Vampire Lord, complete with demon

But the best part, which I haven’t even mentioned yet, are the responses from Nurse Ratched herself. She is highly entertaining because she has a tenuous grasp on both politics and logic.

“Hitler wooed the masses just like Obama is doing,” She asserts. “The methods being used are the same. You can disagree.”

Um. OK. I don’t disagree. But I would argue that those “methods” which Hitler and Obama share are also shared by pretty much every politician ever, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and, hmm, Ron Paul. Now, I know what you’re going to say – “But PenguinDust, The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ron Paul are about love, and Hitler and Obama are about hate!!!111!”

Yes, yes, I know it’s difficult to imagine that Herr Obama has anything in common with Saint Paul, but think for just a moment:

Like Obama, Ron Paul uses simple messages to win over people.
Like Obama, Ron Paul campaigns on hope.
Like Obama, Ron Paul speaks of change.
Like Obama, Ron Paul campaigns on unity.
Like Obama, Ron Paul is popular in a time of economic weakness.
Like Obama, Ron Paul has an emblem/seal.
Like Obama, Ron Paul targets youth.

By now, I imagine you are stunned. “Why PenguinDust!” you are probably now saying, “I never considered such similarities between these two politicians!” Yes. I know you did not. Which is why I am here. However, Nurse Ratched remained unconvinced.
She goes on to deny that Godwin’s Law is valid, saying “Nah – I don’t think that is true, and I don’t accept ‘Godwin’s Law’ as gospel either.”

I have three problems with this statement:

1) Contrary to popular belief, Godwin’s Law does not judge the appropriateness of the Hitler reference, it only acknowledges the increasing probability of it occurring.

2) As people continue to use the internet, the data seems to have borne out Godwin’s 1990 assertion.

3) To quote my beloved Strunk and White: “If you use a colloquialism or a slang word or phrase, simply use it; do not draw attention to it by enclosing it in quotation marks. To do so is to put on airs, as

This is my most recent project, an Ork (with a Rokkit Launcher)

This is my most recent project, an Ork (with a Rokkit Launcher)

though you were inviting the reader to join you in a select society of those who know better.”

She violated the colloquium rule a second time in a snippy, whiny response to my comment.

“Your comments were incredibly rude and uncalled for and certainly does not exhibit any measure of “grown-up” discourse. Perhaps you should visit a grade school and learn some manners.
Furthermore, rude posts will be deleted.
It is fine if you disagree – but please you need not be rude or condescending.”

When I saw this, I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. The subject-verb disagreement in the first sentence, the previously mentioned colloquial violation (although I suppose one could argue she was quoting me), and the massive flaws in logic? The thing is freaking hilarious.

First, it blows my mind that anyone would suggest that my comment – trust me, I could have gone much, much ruder had I chosen to – was ruder than comparing anyone to the most antisemitic, racist, genocidal, dictatorial, fascist, mentally disturbed, inbred, intolerant, evil individual in modern history.

As Jon Stewart once said of those who make Hitler comparisons: “You know who was like Hitler? Hitler.”

Second, I find it hilarious that a self-professed homeschooling mom who seems to think public schools want to indoctrinate her children with anti-Ron Paul lies would tell me to “go to grade school and learn some manners.”

Pray, tell me, Nurse Ratched, is grade school the only place one can learn manners? What did I, a child homeschooled from kindergarten through high school, who enrolled in community college at the age of fifteen, made straight As, and is now in the process of transferring to a major university (where I intend to complete my master’s and doctoral work) miss in a public grade school?

Ah. Manners. The same thing her kids presumably missed, being homeschooled, and everything. I’ve got it now.

She then gathered her wits and responded to a post in which Calvin posited that one of Hitler’s defining characteristics was rabid nationalism, and that “Obama certainly doesn’t seem to be furthering any amero-centric nationalism, unless I missed that speech.” She put her sterling wit on display once again.

“Yes…it’s a pity that Obama is not pro-America. His wife certainly isn’t, nor are some of the people he associates with.”

This is a badass guy in a monacle riding a mechanical horse

This is a guy in a monacle riding a mechanical horse

To quote Calvin – “Wait, what?”

But my man rallied, and posted something which was so articulate and well-reasoned that we decided it would be our final salvo, our cue to climb out the ward window before anyone had to get smothered with a pillow. More policy geniuses have posted since (notably someone who said, “Once again, shame on you…you know in your heart that you should indeed be ashamed for trivializing the Holocaust in order to gain cheap political points,” and was criticized for “hiding behind anonymity,”) but for us, the argument is over.

I leave you with Calvin’s argumentative brilliance, and instruct you forward: to read the full Saga of PenguinDust and Calvin Take on the Cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, click through to Nurse Ratched’s blog here. Prepare to be taken aback, if only by her extremely lame comeback to what is reproduced below.

“You seem to have confused patriotism and nationalism in my comments. I assure you I meant the latter.

A patriot may love their country and still have things they wish to change. The fact that you disagree on those points does not make them anti-American. It is very American to disagree and it is very American to be disagreed with and above all, it is very American to want what is best for your country. You and Obama have differing opinions on what needs to happen in America. That’s just fine, because simply having opinions about what’s best for America is what makes a patriot, not what those opinions are. It is the concern for and the love of country that makes the patriot.

This means that both yourself AND Mr. Obama are patriots, even though you disagree and that’s just fine and if I may say so myself, very American.

So by all means, have this discussion. Criticize Obama’s platform and views, free and open debate is pivotal to a healthy government of the people. But personally, I think it’s childish to compare someone to Hitler because they draw large crowds and use similar appeals, as I said before, it wasn’t Hitler’s crowds and appeals that spawned Godwin’s Law, it was the Holocaust.

Try to remember that Obama and his supporters are people just like you. They want what they want

Calvin painted this - it's a Tyranid, an insectoid creature which I call "icky" and Calvin says can "produce stabbity-stabbity death."

Calvin painted this - it's a Tyranid, an insectoid creature which I call "Icky" and he says can "produce stabbity-stabbity death."

because they love America and want to see it be the best it can be, just like you do. Try to think about where they’re coming from before you put them in the same boat as famous dictators. If you want to make comparisons, maybe try using more comparable figures. There are plenty of our past presidents and leaders with much more valid similarities to Obama, some of them good and some of them quite bad. 1930s Germany was a completely different country in a completely different time making it quite a bit more difficult to draw effective parallels and be taken seriously.

And from patriot to patriot, I want to tell you that your arguments in this posting, regardless of the merit you believe them to have, will be largely ignored in their current form simply because of Godwin. I strongly urge you to raise the level of the conversation above this sort of rhetoric.”

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7 Responses to “Couple Things”

  1. […] FavD’s um, education, is increasingly interconnected with the many stories of this presidentia…: Calvin and I like to paint Warhammer figurines, watch The West Wing, and yell at people on the […]

  2. […] this excellent post by JJ’s DD (Geez, JJ, she’s a terrific writer!), I learn that Judy Aron has finally, […]

  3. JJ Says:

    According to The NY Post, “Begala’s upcoming book, “Third Term,” has a chapter titled “Things John McCain is Older Than.” They include M&M’s (1941), penicillin (1942) and the atomic bomb (1945).”

    But — he’s NOT older than Ron Paul! SO a list of Things Ron Paul is Older Than would include all the same things, plus John McCain. 😉

    Thanks to this making me curious, I just learned (from the intertubes!) that great-grandparent Ron Paul is even older than Paris Hilton’s “that wrinkley white-haired guy used me” candidate. One year and nine days older. His 72-year-old wife Carol has a bad heart and is seriously ill this week, hospitalized for surgery in Houston.

    See their picture here, this aspiring president and first lady looking like the typical Depression and WWII survivors they actually are. Both my Depression-era parents have been gone for many years, passing away of natural causes before the turn of the last century, after full, reasonably long lives.

    And who knew Ron Paul’s grandfather was *German*?? — not me, but more to the point, apparently not his clueless supporters throwing Hitler comparisons around on his behalf.

    Oh, and Calvin will appreciate this one, FavD — more things Ron Paul and John McCain are older than: the 40-hour work week and Orson Welle’s tortured, dark, ancient classic movie Citizen Kane, uh, McCain, oh you know what I mean!

    At IMBD the film’s plot summary starts off sounding like it would fit them both:
    “. . .news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.. .”

  4. penguindust Says:

    Hey everybody: It occurred to me I have some other posts about the Honorable Mr. Obama, check them out.

    Obama, Superman, the F-Words and Bigotry

    A Brief Thought About the Honorable Mr. Obama

  5. JJ Says:

    I’d like to think your particular admiration of CJ Cregg stems from your mother, similarly and ridiculously tall and once a political press secretary in her own right —

  6. […] just don’t think anymore. If they thought ever. Check out this woman, who I’ve written about before. She’s the kind of American who made me want to tell foreigners I was Canadian during the […]

  7. […] for Lego Indiana Jones, I’m aware of that universe. Calvin also plays Magic and Warhammer (he paints all his own models exquisitely).”>he paints all his own models exquisitely).  He and I also read Watchmen together, way […]


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