Monday, October 05, 2015

Was it just a coincidence that John Oliver dealt with Jason Chaffetz right after a fine segment dealing with mental illness in America?


"I don't know what's worse here, the fact that the Secret Service is so petty that they broke the law to embarrass Jason Chaffetz, or the fact that they're so stupid, they didn't realize, if you want to embarrass Jason Chaffetz, just wait, he will do it for you." Watch our Jason have fun with charts! And later show his, er, gentle side as he breaks down at thought of, um, the death of President Lincoln? (Had he maybe just heard the news?)

by Ken

And you thought that with "Sunny John" Boehner we had just about scraped the bottom of the barrel as regards speaker-of-the-House material? Have you seen what's crawling out of the woodwork looking to replace the Sunnyman? Howie has been chronicling this grimy contest for us, and I don't envy him the muck-wallowing that's called for on the new-speaker-selection beat. But now, with several of these unclassifiable zoological anomalies on public display (and who knows how many more standing ready to sully the public consciousness?), the sight is hideous beyond imagining. Until now, "hideous beyond imagining" is the overall descriptive term I would have applied to the assortment of creeps and thugs who constitute the "2016 GOP presidential field."

Not that my estimation of that pack of low-life degenerates has risen in any way. It just hits home now that apparently they really and truly are the party's "A list" after all. The mind reels.

Take the latest announced candidate for the speakership, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Please! Yes, by all that's sane and decent, take him! Far, far away from civilization.

In case you hadn't heard, it appears that person or persons unknown with access to the files of the U.S. Secret Service has/have been very naughty, making public our Jason's once-upon-a-time rejected application to the agency. Of which, we must remember, he has made himself perhaps the leading scourge. This has not put the service in a positive light, it's safe to say. And up top you can see John Oliver's take from last night's Last Week Tonight. I'll have a tiny bit more to say about this in a moment, but for now, I think John's got it covered. It would be only logical to expect that, now that the nation has been shown the episode of the bogus "chart" Jason as a committee chairman had the unmitigated stupidity and even more unmitigated gall to present as some imagined kind of "evidence" against Planned Parenthood, word would be discreetly passed to him that he would do well to leave his resignations -- from his committee chairmanship, from the House of Representatives, and ideally from the human race -- on his desk before turning off his office lights to leave the building.


Specifically, last night's feature segment, about the way we Americans face, or rather don't face, the problems of mental health in the country today. It was another really great piece on a subject that's all but buried from public discussion. This:

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" John asks of Dr. Phil after watching a clip in which the good "doctor" demonstrates his professional expertise with a diagnosis of insanity.

It's a fact that becomes glaringly obvious once it's pointed out, but that I hadn't really thought about: that the only time we have any public discussion of the subject of mental health is after our latest orgy of gun violence, when fans of gun massacres trot it out as a means of changing the subject, thereby forestalling any possibility of public discussion of the issue of gun violence and what we can do to curb it. This subject, as we know, is not allowed to be discussed publicly. You know, the way we saw the little trick being played in the clip by GOP presidential candidates The Donald, Dr. Ben Carson, and "Minister Mike" Hucksterbee. In the clip, John is ungracious enough to point out that back in the day when Minister Mike was the governor of Arkansas, his state was graded D-minus for its mental-health policies. John seems to think this disqualifies a person from lecturing other persons about, you know, mental-health policy.

It is, as John points out, a disgrace, the way we care for Americans with genuine mental-health problems. And those problems have little if anything to do with our frequent orgies of gun violence. The mentally ill, John points out, far from being perpetrators of violence, are much likelier to be victims of it. And in any case, the crucial fact is that none of the gun-violence-loving right-wingers who mouth pieties about mental health at times like this can demonstrate any actual interest in the subject, and not a single blessed thing has been done to improve mental-health care as a result of any of these phony-baloney outbursts of concern designed to mask the real problem of gun violence. The only contribution the gun-violence-loving demagogues make is to further stigmatize people with mental-health problems.

Now John didn't attempt to make any kind of connection between the two segments, the disgrace of our handling of the mental-health issue and the disgrace that is Jason Chaffetz, a man who could conceivably be chosen to run the U.S. House of Representatives. But how is a viewer supposed to not see a connection? Here we've got a large chunk of the House majority, undoubtedly reflecting a large chunk of the U.S. electorate, has formally rejected all claims made on them by the bounds of sanity.


Precisely because the guy has made himself a scourge of the service. He might have gotten away with this if, at some point "back when," he had disclosed the fact himself, in the vein of: "You know, somebody is bound to dig up this bit of ancient history, so I want to get it out myself, just so everyone is clear that it has nothing to do with the deficiencies and depredations I've identified in the workings of the Secret Service. If anything, I like to think it shows the abiding respect I have for the institution."

I don't know that anyone would have bought it, but at least he might have taken a shot at making the case. Whereas now, I don't see how any reasonable person could take seriously anything the whiny rejectee might say about it. When it comes to "disclosure," I suspect you're worlds better off if you do the disclosing yourself.

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