Top 10 Idiocies of the General Election ... So Far

1. The Surge: Working Overtime
"The surge is working." It's an incessant mantra, forever on the lips of politicians and "journalists" these days. It's as if they can simply will it into truth. Yes, there has been a reduction in violence in Iraq, if the statistics are to be believed. But it's a mistake to think that's primarily due to an increase in troop strength. What is working in Iraq is the Awakening, a movement of Sunni tribes against al Qaeda in Iraq (which, while a franchisee of the al Qaeda trademark, is really an entirely separate group). Essentially what has happened is that the Sunni Arabs have grown weary of al Qaeda's tendency to wantonly murder their own people, and to start civil wars and stuff like that. So they've started taking money from the Pentagon instead of bin Laden, and things have quieted down somewhat. This change was bound to occur, and preceded the surge. In fact, if Bush had eschewed the surge, and instead sent the equivalent amount of money for bribes and salaries, it would have been much more effective.

What seems long forgotten is the original rationale for the surge, which was not simply to quell violence but to establish Iraq's ability to govern itself, setting the stage for American withdrawal. That would constitute true "success," although leaving has already been designated "surrender" by both Bush and McCain. But the real reason for the surge has always been to indefinitely prolong the conversation about withdrawal that was made inevitable by the 2006 elections. And in that sense, the surge has been an unparalleled success.

2. Shilling and Drilling
It's amazing what the PR industry can do to divert an issue. While the truth that carbon emissions are going to alter our planet in unpleasant ways in the near future is more and more well established, somehow the topic has been changed from reducing the use of fossil fuels to "independence from foreign oil." So now, after a few-week push, Americans are ready to start drilling offshore and in Alaska. You've gotta hand it to the oil industry leaders: Only they could take multiple crises for which they are responsible and turn them into a win for their agenda. Never mind that it will take years to have what will ultimately be a negligible effect on the price of oil. Gas is expensive, and people are easy to fool, especially if you play to their moronic fears of all things foreign. Meanwhile, it turns out that American oil burns just as dirty as it does anywhere else, and no meaningful emissions regulation is on the horizon. Get yourself some flood insurance.

3. Gramm: Crackers?
Comments by John McCain's recently fired principal economic adviser, Phil Gramm, about America being a "nation of whiners" in a "mental recession" are worthy of forced drowning. This golden asshole, drafter of the Enron loophole, vice president at the disgraced and near-defunct Swiss bank UBS, and emitter of similarly foul, wealth-arrogant quotations about not feeling sorry for destitute 80-year-olds ("Most people don't have the luxury of living to be 80 years old, so it's hard for me to feel sorry for them"), thinks the economic downturn is all in your head and has nothing to do with the collapse of the mortgage and credit industries or the unsound practices that were encouraged by an anarchist regulatory philosophy of which Gramm himself is a huge proponent. McCain and Gramm have been tight for years, and although he had no choice but to dump Gramm for the duration of the campaign, fellow money-saturated dickhead Steve Forbes assures us Gramm will be back, to help combat the whining poor and their paranoid delusions about hunger and homelessness.

4. We're Winning What Now?
McCain and Bush continually iterate their will to "win" in Iraq. But what is winning in this context? After all, we are not looking to colonize Iraq, at least not officially. In other words, there is no winning or losing in Iraq -- only staying or leaving. Neither constitutes victory, but one is a hell of a lot cheaper.

5. Penniless Elitists
A common complaint among Democrats is that it makes no sense to label Obama (or whatever politician is the target du jour) an "elitist," since so many Republicans, including McCain and Bush, are children of wealth and power and have considerably more money than Obama, while both Obama and his wife come from humble origins and attained their status through their own hard work. On the surface, this seems to make sense, but it's a misapprehension of what the elitist label has truly come to signify: education and intellect. McCain and Bush may be of the upper crust, but it's clear to all who observe them that they're not very bright. Obama, on the other hand, clearly was paying attention at Harvard. That's why the label sticks to him. Excessive intelligence is a liability in American political campaigns; there can be no doubt of that, and when people speak of Obama as "not one of us," that is, at least in part, what they're talking about. It's anti-intellectualism that brought us eight years of Bush, as well as eight years of Reagan. Americans love a simple-talkin' good ol' boy, even if he does lower their wages and spend their retirement. Luckily for Obama, McCain is such a stiff that this factor will be somewhat mitigated.

6. Soundbitten
Take a moment to recall Wesley Clark's supposed slander against McCain's military service from last month. Here's how the exchange went on "Face the Nation":

Read More Show less
ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up