Elliot: Appropriate, polite science


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The gov’t — the abbreviation seems appropriate — shutdown has shut down (well, that’s what shutdowns do, surprise, surprise) the American scientific research at the U.S. station in Antarctica.

(No, Virginia, gov’t is not an acronym. Acronyms are a very special sort of abbreviation, which hasn’t prevented an acronym such as NASA from getting shut down. Its next Mars mission is in danger, for instance, at least according to NPR.)

Republicans have rejoiced at shutting down research, any research, because most of them don’t believe in real science, thinking it’s some sort of liberal plot to allow an invasion of the United States from Mars. Or maybe it’s Jupiter. Who can keep track of all these damn planets, anyway?

And whatever happened to Neptune? Or was it Pluto?

So many questions. So many gov’t continuing resolutions (the ones that continue gov’t funding, to employ some shorthand) — 21, by my count, since 2001. And, since 1976, 18 gov’t shutdowns, according to Bloomberg. They all, of course, ended the United States once and for all as we knew it, and now we live in the Soviet Union.

Which is curious, to use a polite word, because the Soviet Union basically went out of business in 1991. If you can call what the Soviet Union was doing was “doing business.”

I mean, you have to wonder what’s going on when your best gov’t operating entity is the KGB. On the other hand, you also have to wonder what’s going on when your best gov’t operating entity is the NSA.


It’ all the fault of Obamacare, of course. Problems with gov’t computers? It’s Obamacare’s fault. Problems with your computer? Obamacare. The civil war in Syria? Obamacare. The Iranian nuclear program? Obamacare. Broke up with your boyfriend/girlfriend? Obamacare.

Not that we seem to know what Obamacare is.

A DI colleague noted last week that Jimmy Kimmel had done one of those person-in-the-street interviews, which are so popular when nothing else is going on, and discovered that Americans on the street (well, technically, on the sidewalk, because it can be dangerous to be ambling about in the street — there are all these rabid bicyclists and, yeah, a few low-key motorists) anyway, the people he interviewed seemed to believe there was a difference between the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare.

Um, huh?

CNBC in September polled Americans, which is presumably more scientific than Kimmel’s work (really? — there could be something more scientific than Jimmy Kimmel?); it found that there was rather big difference in health-care responses, depending on word usage: 46 percent of Americans were opposed to “Obamacare”; only 37 percent opposed the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act and Obamacare are, of course, the same thing.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” as Willie the Shake (to use Joni Mitchell’s phrase) once wrote.

Then there are many Republicans, including some running for Sen. Tom Harkin’s soon-to-be-open seat, who contend that Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, has cost 1 million American jobs.

That’s curious, to use that polite word again, because the Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare, hasn’t truly gone into effect yet.

That’s a damn powerful law that can affect American jobs without going into effect. I mean, we’ve never seen a law that powerful before.

So maybe if we had an American jobs law, but then didn’t put it into effect, we could create millions upon millions of American jobs.

That’s pretty much Republican science in a nutshell.

Which is pretty much the appropriate word.

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