I'm finishing up a couple of book reviews that I'll have up after the new year starts, but I'm checking out for a few days until then, so happy New Year and let's keep rockin' in the free world ...
Guzzling Water From a Fish Tank
7 hours ago
I heard this not once but again and again in the fall of 2009, that Obama had a secret plan to confiscate guns or at least ammunition, that if he wasn't doing it in his first year in office then he was biding his time until after the 2010 election (which seemed just as silly than as it does now, knowing how the 2010 election actually turned out). Meanwhile, the fear of the coming Obama gun confiscation was having real-world effects. A rumor that Obama wanted to tax or seize people's ammo caused the price of bullets to skyrocket in 2009 way past what the government's ability to tax them would have been. Gun manufacturers -- who were supposedly going to be crushed by the Obama administration -- reported record profits. The worst impact was several lunatics whose mounting fear of the looming firearms crackdown caused them to go on shooting sprees -- most notably Pittsburgh's Richard Poplawski, who fatally gunned down three police officers.Big Lie doesn't quite cover what the conservative movement has done to American politics. It's not just that Big Lies work, but that we have a political faction with a hardcore base that lives in a hermetically sealed world of almost complete fiction, a land of the Perpetual Lie.
In the reality-based world, Obama is doing nothing and saying nothing about guns. It's been that way for a long time; in the 2008 campaign, when he had occasion to be pressed on the issue, he blandly noted that he supported the Second Amendment (PDF file) just as any elected official from a duck-hunting prairie state might do. What's happened with guns on the federal legislation since he became the 44th president in January 2009? Obama signed bills that made it easier -- that's right, easier -- to bring guns into national parks and even on board Amtrak trains. That's the Obama gun confiscation, folks.
It's Big Lie -- and the sad truth is that the Big Lie still works.
AMY GOODMAN: David Cay Johnston, when we’re watching television, tell us what are the bullet points to watch for of the misrepresentations or outright lies that the journalists continually reiterate when talking about this [Obama administration tax proposal].
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, failing to report that this is a tax increase on the bottom roughly 45 million households in America, close to 150 million people, that’s number one. This is a tax increase for those people. Secondly, that the more money you make, the bigger your tax cut under the Republican plan. Thirdly, that the estate tax reductions to 35 percent and a $5 million, or for a married couple $10 million, exemption involve money, in many cases, that has never been taxed. When very wealthy people die, the reason they’re wealthy is they’ve reported, legally, less income than they made on an economic basis, so they have lots of money that was never taxed. And now it will never be taxed, up to $5 or $10 million, because of these changes. And those are key things that I would watch for.
The other one is, we’re going to cut spending. Well, there are only four big areas of federal government spending: interest, which is low right now because interest rates are low, that will go back up; the military, the Republicans are not exactly known for wanting to restrain military spending; Medicare, Medicaid, that is, government-provided healthcare for the elderly, the disabled and the poor; and then Social Security, which people paid into and expect to collect in their old age. So what are they going to cut? Are they going to cut food safety inspection, which is a tiny, tiny fraction of a penny, and worsen a situation in which food-borne illness occurs in this country at something like—I think it’s 20 times the rate in France and seven times the rate in England? Are we going to further take away education from poor children? Are we going to raise the cost of a higher education, which reduces the value of the most valuable asset we have—young minds, that we should be training and developing so we have a prosperous future?
Glenn Beck has not even been encouraging his audiences to reread Robert Welch. No, he has been inciting them to read the work of W. Cleon Skousen, a man more insane and nasty than Welch and a figure so extreme that ultimately even the Birch-supporting leadership of the Mormon Church had to distance itself from him. It’s from Skousen’s demented screed The Five Thousand Year Leap (to a new edition of which Beck wrote a foreword, and which he shoved to the position of No. 1 on Amazon) that he takes all his fantasies about a divinely written Constitution, a conspiratorial secret government, and a future apocalypse. To give you a further idea of the man: Skousen’s posthumously published book on the “end times” and the coming day of rapture was charmingly called The Cleansing of America. A book of his with a less repulsive title, The Making of America, turned out to justify slavery and to refer to slave children as “pickaninnies.” And, writing at a time when the Mormon Church was under attack for denying full membership to black people, Skousen defended it from what he described as this “Communist” assault.
So, Beck’s “9/12 Project” is canalizing old racist and clerical toxic-waste material that a healthy society had mostly flushed out of its system more than a generation ago, and injecting it right back in again. Things that had hidden under stones are being dug up and re-released. And why? So as to teach us anew about the dangers of “spending and deficits”? It’s enough to make a cat laugh. No, a whole new audience has been created, including many impressionable young people, for ideas that are viciously anti-democratic and ahistorical. The full effect of this will be felt farther down the road, where we will need it even less.
The Mars Exploration Rovers each carry an identical sundial, approximately three inches square. Space artist Jon Lomberg (a Planetary Society Advisor) designed the face of the MarsDial, and Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society, coined the MarsDial's motto: Two Worlds, One Sun. Their primary function is as calibration targets for the high-resolution Panoramic Cameras aboard each rover, so they are imaged frequently over the course of the mission. But these thousands of images of the MarsDials with their moving shadows calso serve to remind the public that Mars and Earth truly are two worlds with one Sun.
The idea of using the calibration target as a Martian sundial was a brainstorm of Bill Nye the Science Guy, then a Planetary Society board member.
[Palin] sets earlier feminist heroines, who she seems to imagine were a lot like Sarah Palin. “What is hardest to take about liberals calling the emerging conservative feminist identity anti-feminist or even anti-woman is that this new crop of female leaders represents a return to what the women’s movement originally was,” she writes.
The historical revisionism here recalls that of Christian conservatives who try to paint our deistic Founding Fathers as devout evangelicals. At one point, Palin refers to Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “Declaration of Sentiments,” which came out of the historic 1848 women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York. Stanton deliberately echoed the language of the Declaration of Independence, referring to the rights that women are entitled to “by the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” To Palin, this mention of God proves that Stanton shared her faith: “Can you imagine a contemporary feminist invoking ‘the laws of nature and of nature’s God?’ These courageous women spoke of our God-given rights because they believed they were given equally, by God, to men and women.”
Not really. Stanton was a famous freethinker, eventually shunned by more conservative elements of the women’s movement for her attacks on religion. In one 1885 speech, she declared, “You may go over the world and you will find that every form of religion which has breathed upon this earth has degraded women.” Ten years later, she published the first volume of The Woman’s Bible, her mammoth dissection of biblical misogyny. Stanton was particularly scathing on the notion of the virgin birth: “Out of this doctrine, and that which is akin to it, have sprung all the monasteries and nunneries of the world, which have disgraced and distorted and demoralized manhood and womanhood for a thousand years.”
The War Room Hack Thirty is a list of our least favorite political commentators, newspaper columnists and constant cable news presences, ranked roughly (but only roughly) in order of awfulness and then described rudely. Criteria for inclusion included writing the same column every week for 30 years, warmongering, joyless repetition of conventional wisdom, and making bad puns.And as Eric Boehlert noted on his twitter feed, the list marks a good point to remember his chapter on The Note from Lapdogs.
Which brings us back to Guantanamo. While the U.S. preaches to Cuba about its lack of democracy, maintaining an embargo against the country for decades, you would think it would set up a model of democracy on the piece of Cuba that the U.S. controls. Instead, it has formed a globally reviled concentration camp there, a Kafkaesque land beyond the reach of law. About 180 men are now interned at Guantanamo Bay, with diminishing prospects of a day in any real court, for years subjected to interrogations and to extended isolation that is both legally and actually torture. President Obama promised to close the prison camp. Congress now is unlikely to fund any Guantanamo shutdown and prisoner transfer, leaving the president shackled to Guantanamo, consigning the prisoners there to indefinite detention and despair, and deepening the disgust with which many in the world view the U.S.
Eighty years ago, George Soros was born. Little did the world know then, economies would collapse, currencies would become worthless, elections would be stolen, regimes would fall. And one billionaire would find himself coincidentally at the center of it all.Richard Hofstadter in "The Paranoid Style"
The enemy is clearly delineated: he is a perfect model of malice, a kind of amoral superman—sinister, ubiquitous, powerful, cruel, sensual, luxury-loving. Unlike the rest of us, the enemy is not caught in the toils of the vast mechanism of history, himself a victim of his past, his desires, his limitations. He wills, indeed he manufactures, the mechanism of history, or tries to deflect the normal course of history in an evil way. He makes crises, starts runs on banks, causes depressions, manufactures disasters, and then enjoys and profits from the misery he has produced. The paranoid’s interpretation of history is distinctly personal: decisive events are not taken as part of the stream of history, but as the consequences of someone’s will. Very often the enemy is held to possess some especially effective source of power: he controls the press; he has unlimited funds; he has a new secret for influencing the mind (brainwashing); he has a special technique for seduction (the Catholic confessional).Never mind that part of the supposed sinister plot ("regimes would fall") happened to be funding democratic organizations that helped to accelerate the fall of communism. Only in Idiot America can such be sold by a charlatan to a credulous audience as a global communist conspiracy against the United States.
The American left is a phantom. It is conjured up by the right wing to tag Barack Obama as a socialist and used by the liberal class to justify its complacency and lethargy. It diverts attention from corporate power. It perpetuates the myth of a democratic system that is influenced by the votes of citizens, political platforms and the work of legislators. It keeps the world neatly divided into a left and a right. The phantom left functions as a convenient scapegoat. The right wing blames it for moral degeneration and fiscal chaos. The liberal class uses it to call for “moderation.” And while we waste our time talking nonsense, the engines of corporate power—masked, ruthless and unexamined—happily devour the state.Hedges goes on to excoriate Stewart for attempting to equate those who are outraged by the damage being done to democracy with shrill extremists, without acknowledging the very real grievances that they have.
The Rally to Restore Sanity, held in Washington’s National Mall, was yet another sad footnote to the death of the liberal class. It was as innocuous as a Boy Scout jamboree. It ridiculed followers of the tea party without acknowledging that the pain and suffering expressed by many who support the movement are not only real but legitimate. It made fun of the buffoons who are rising up out of moral swamps to take over the Republican Party without accepting that their supporters were sold out by a liberal class, and especially a Democratic Party, which turned its back on the working class for corporate money.
Fox News’ Beck and his allies on the far right can use hatred as a mobilizing force because there are tens of millions of Americans who have very good reason to hate. They have been betrayed by the elite who run the corporate state, by the two main political parties and by the liberal apologists, including those given public platforms on television, who keep counseling moderation as jobs disappear, wages drop and unemployment insurance runs out. As long as the liberal class speaks in the dead voice of moderation it will continue to fuel the right-wing backlash. Only when it appropriates this rage as its own, only when it stands up to established systems of power, including the Democratic Party, will we have any hope of holding off the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party.
Ann Coulter has a new book out:Now
Guilty: Jewish "Victims" and Their Assault on Germanyoops! I mean: Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America.
While out promoting this book she advocated "strong Republican men" punch non-violent (though disruptive) 99 pound female anti-war protesters in the face when they get the chance.
As far-right ophthalmologist Rand Paul (R) arrived for the candidates' final debate, Lauren Valle of MoveOn.org tried to give him a satirical "employee of the month award" from Republicorp, a pseudo-entity created by MoveOn to draw attention to the merger of the GOP and corporate interests.But remember - only shrill, leftwing partisans see any connection between violence directed at "liberals" and the obsessive, totalistic and categorical demonization of "liberals" as evil enemies of America by leading mainstream figures within the conservative movement.
But before Valle could reach the candidate, Paul supporters grabbed her, forced her to the ground, and at one point, literally stomped on her head as she lay helpless on the curb.
How long might it be before we see the results of the seed of hate that is being planted by the people who "joke" about the elimination of liberals?It appears we already are - and have.
Wanted: A Rand Paul supporter with a bad back to stand on a Media Matters staffer's head for a while
6,000 BC: God creates entire planet just for America.and
27 BC: Caesar Augustus becomes first person to employ the Obama Doctrine.
1 AD: First Founding Father born.
1981: Ronald Reagan cuts taxes 23 percent, revenues increase 4 billion percent.On a more serious note, historian Sean Wilentz has written a lengthy article about how Beck's psuedo-historicism is mainstreaming 50 year old extremist conspircy theory. The difference being that Beck has a megaphone in Fox News that his predecessors could only dream of and exists in a vacuum of public intellectual leadership.
1983: Federal spending as percentage of GDP hits unsustainable 23 percent. No historical record exists of who was president at the time.
Beck’s readings of Progressive-era politics are nearly as bizarre. Whatever can be said about Theodore Roosevelt, he was not a crypto-radical. It was Roosevelt who coined the term “lunatic fringe” to describe the extreme leftists of his day, and his concept of New Nationalism—in which an activist government built a vibrant capitalism, partly by regulating big business—looked back to Alexander Hamilton, not Karl Marx. Nor was Wilson a Bolshevik; in fact, in 1917 he sent American troops to Russia to support the anti-Bolshevik White Army. At home, his reforms sought to break up monopolies in order to restore competition among small companies. “If America is not to have free enterprise,” Wilson declared, “then she can have no freedom of any sort whatever.”
It seems increasingly that the Obama White House is using the al-Awlaki case to establish a new principle: the president’s power to order extrajudicial executions of American citizens.As with Glenn Greenwald, I find it remarkable that there is a need to argue that the president should not be able order a citizen (or for that matter - any person) to be killed outside of any legal process and far from any battlefield at his fiat.
In our frustration with law, we forget too easily that law is all we have between us and tyranny. Aesop has a fable to illustrate the point. Long ago, the frogs lived without any form of government. Feeling the need for some sort of authority, they prayed to Zeus and asked for a king. He sent them a piece of wood. To understand the story, you need to know that ancient Greek laws were written on wooden tablets, set up for all to see. The frogs were illiterate, of course, and missed the point:Since we seem so keen on a return to Nixon era corruption, often in the name of "liberty," perhaps this might be helpful to remember.The frogs were unhappy with the anarchy in which they lived, so they sent representatives to Zeus asking him to provide them with a king. He saw how simple they were and set up a piece of wood in their pond. At first the frogs were frightened by the noise Zeus had made, and they hid themselves in the depths of the pond; but later, since the wood did not move, they came up and were so contemptous of it that they climbed up on it and sat there. Feeling that they did not deserve such a king, they went to Zeus a second time and insisted that he give them a different ruler, as the first one was too lazy. This made Zeus angry, and he sent them a water-snake who caught and ate them up.And so it was - and still is - when people are frustrated with the law's stupidities or delays or inconveniences. If they wish for a ruler who will rise above the law, they are offering themselves to be devoured.
In the two decades that followed, the conflict [between Richard Nixon and syndicated columnist Jack Anderson] became so ferocious, Feldstein says, that Nixon ordered CIA surveillance of Anderson and his family — and White House operatives seriously considered assassinating the journalist.
"They actually conducted surveillance. They followed him from his work to his house," Feldstein says. "They staked out his house. They looked at it for vulnerabilities ... [and discussed] how they could plant poison in his aspirin bottle. They talked about how they could spike his drink and they talked about smearing LSD on his steering wheel so that he would absorb it through his skin and die in a hallucination-crazed auto crash."
The plot was ultimately called off, Feldstein says, because Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt, the two men who were supposed to assassinate Anderson, were instead tapped to break into Watergate.
In this year’s midterm elections, there is no talk of satchels of cash from donors. Nor is there any hint of illegal actions reaching Watergate-like proportions. But the fund-raising practices that earned people convictions in Watergate — giving direct corporate money to a campaign and doing so secretly — are back in a different form in 2010.
This time around, the corporations are still giving secretly, but legally. In 1907, direct corporate donations to candidates were legally barred in a campaign finance reform push by President Theodore Roosevelt. But that law and others — the foundation for many Watergate convictions — are all but obsolete. This is why many supporters of strict campaign finance laws are wringing their hands.
From 1946 to 1948, American public health doctors deliberately infected nearly 700 Guatemalans — prison inmates, mental patients and soldiers — with venereal diseases in what was meant as an effort to test the effectiveness of penicillin.A doctor quoted in the article notes the irony that this occurred at the same time that the United States was prosecuting Nazi medical experimenters for crimes against humanity at Nuremberg.
American tax dollars, through theNational Institutes of Health, even paid for syphilis-infected prostitutes to sleep with prisoners, since Guatemalan prisons allowed such visits. When the prostitutes did not succeed in infecting the men, some prisoners had the bacteria poured onto scrapes made on their penises, faces or arms, and in some cases it was injected by spinal puncture.
If the subjects contracted the disease, they were given antibiotics.
“However, whether everyone was then cured is not clear,” said Susan M. Reverby, the professor at Wellesley College who brought the experiments to light in a research paperthat prompted American health officials to investigate.
So, when bioethicists talk about why we have regulations in place now, part of it is, of course, there’s these revelations of these kinds of what we now think of as illegal, but horrific studies, that when you think about it, go back for a second and think about it, with all of the revelations of what the Japanese were doing during the war, and particularly what Mengele was doing, you get the Nuremberg Code right after the war, which says doing this kind of research on people who cannot give informed consent is immoral and a crime against humanity. The problem is that Americans treated those crimes by the Nazis and the lesser-known ones by the Japanese as something done, as the bioethicist Jay Katz so brilliantly put it, as a code for barbarians. So if you think that they were Nazi doctors, you don’t think that you, a good researcher here, could possibly do anything like that.
I think the most chilling, actually, in the clip that you just played, is Jim Jones, the historian's retelling of what Rod Heller said to him, which is it’s just—when Heller said to him, "But they were Nazis." So I think that’s the point I was making earlier, that it’s just too easy to assume that it’s only monsters.This sort of rationalization, where actions are viewed as right or wrong depending on who does them, has been the central justification - as Orwell noted - for just about any type of wrong that can be imagined. It is the same underlying thought process that was employed to rationalize the Bush administration's torture regime and it is the same as the rationalizations that are being put forth by apologists for the Obama administration's claim to possess the tyrannical power to assassinate citizens by fiat in secret with no due process.
This is a re-imagined Donald Duck cartoon remix constructed from dozens of classic Walt Disney cartoons from the 1930s to 1960s. Donald’s life is turned upside-down by the current economic crisis and he finds himself unemployed and falling behind on his house payments. As his frustration turns into despair Donald discovers a seemingly sympathetic voice coming from his radio named Glenn Beck.
Will Donald’s feelings of disenfranchisement lead him to be persuaded by his radio’s increasingly paranoid and xenophobic rhetoric? Or will our favorite Disney duck decide that this voice is not actually on his side after all? Watch and find out!
The oddest thing to me about Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's "I Was A Teenage Witch" claims is that so much of the reaction has accepted her claim that such a thing might be possible.
It is not. Her claims of "dabbling" in what she called "witchcraft" are not true. The supposed witchcraft she describes is not something that exists. Such stories of bloody altars and Satanic covens are common and they are false. All of them. That is a matter of established fact.
The supposed witchery O'Donnell describes is simply the stuff of Satanic panic urban legends. Her descriptions come straight out of the fabrications of proven liar and con-man Mike Warnke. He made this stuff up. Her claims are about as credible as if she had said that she once conjured Bloody Mary by repeating her name three times in the bathroom mirror.
I cannot share the hopes of the Bolsheviks any more than those of our Egyptian anchorites; I regard both as tragic delusions, destined to bring upon the world centuries of darkness and futile violence. The principles of the Sermon on the Mount are admirable, but their effect upon average human nature was very different from what was intended.Those who followed Christ did not learn to love their enemies or to turn the other cheek. They learned instead to use the Inquisition and the stake, to subject the human intellect to the yoke of an ignorant priesthood, to degrade art and extinguish science for a thousand years. These were the inevitable results, not of the teaching, but of fanatical belief in the teaching. The hopes which inspire Communism are, in the main, as admirable as those instilled by the Sermon on the Mount, but they are held as fanatically, and are likely to do much harm.
By a religion I mean a set of beliefs held as dogmas, dominating the conduct of life, going beyond or contrary to evidence, and inculcated by methods which are emotional or authoritarian, not intellectual. By this definition, Bolshevism is a religion: that its dogmas go beyond or contrary to evidence, I shall try to prove in what follows. those who accept Bolshevism become impervious to scientific evidence, and commit intellectual suicide. Even if all the doctrines of Bolshevism were true, this would still be the case, since no unbiased examination of them is tolerated. One who believes, as I do, that the free intellect is the chief engine of human progress, cannot but be fundamentally opposed to Bolshevism, as much as to the Church of Rome.It is impressive that Russell was able to realize this well before many other liberal and progressive thinkers (like, say, Albert Einstein.) There is also here a demonstrated nuance that is absent from much of what now passes for political discourse; simple minds might easily dismiss Russell as a "Communist," but Russell is both a critic of capitalism and of communism as he saw them practiced.
If Bolshevism remains the only vigorous and effective competitor of capitalism, I believe that no form of Socialism will be realized, but only chaos and destruction. This belief, for which I shall give reasons later, is one of the grounds upon which I oppose Bolshevism.Or
I believe that while some forms of Socialism are immeasurably better than capitalism, others are even worse. Among those that are worse I reckon the form which is being achieved in Russia, not only in itself, but as a more insuperable barrier to further progress.Russell makes a prediction which reminds one of the conclusion of Animal Farm, where the pigs had monopolized power and reestablished Manor Farm, based on George Orwell's own observations of practiced communism twenty plus years later.
This is what I believe to be likely to happen in Russia: the establishment of a bureaucratic aristocracy, concentrating authority in its own hands, and creating a regime just as oppressive and cruel as that of capitalism.Here are a few more quotable gems from Russell:
Bestsellers have been with us for more than a century, ever since the first bestseller list appeared in 1895. But they have received surprisingly little attention from critics. What kind of books become bestsellers? Why do people read them? Do they have literary value or are they merely the literary equivalent of crossword puzzles?I have just begun reading this and Joshi has pretty much the same impression of these authors that I have.
S. T. Joshi, a leading critic of horror, fantasy, and mystery fiction, devotes his attention to these and other issues, showing that bestsellers emerged only with the advent of near-universal literacy and the increased leisure time among the masses. Joshi is also aware that most bestsellers fall into the categories of genre fiction: romance (Danielle Steel, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Nora Roberts); mystery (Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, Patricia Cornwell); suspense (James Patterson, Nelson DeMille); espionage (Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler); horror (Stephen King, Dean Koontz); and so forth.
Joshi provides detailed examinations of books by these authors, as well as of such recent bestsellers as Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and such bygone titles as Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls, in a wide-ranging discussion of both the virtues and the failings of popular literature. Joshi’s study, written in a witty, accessible style, is must-reading for anyone interested in the literary and cultural phenomenon of the bestseller.
Ludwig Wittgenstein is one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, and regarded by some as the most important since Immanuel Kant. His early work was influenced by that of Arthur Schopenhauer and, especially, by his teacher Bertrand Russell and by Gottlob Frege, who became something of a friend. This work culminated in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, the only philosophy book that Wittgenstein published during his lifetime. It claimed to solve all the major problems of philosophy and was held in especially high esteem by the anti-metaphysical logical positivists. The Tractatus is based on the idea that philosophical problems arise from misunderstandings of the logic of language, and it tries to show what this logic is. Wittgenstein’s later work, principally his Philosophical Investigations, shares this concern with logic and language, but takes a different, less technical, approach to philosophical problems. This book helped to inspire so-called ordinary language philosophy. This style of doing philosophy has fallen somewhat out of favor, but Wittgenstein’s work on rule-following and private language is still considered important, and his later philosophy is influential in a growing number of fields outside philosophy.Thanks to my recently developed twitter habit, I came across a website that had a pretty neat idea for a twitter account.
The aim of Wittgenstein Tweets is to introduce the entire life of Ludwig Wittgenstein in around 500 tweets over 6 months. Yes, a silly project, and one which Wittgenstein himself would have almost certainly loathed.I am doing it purely because I find Ray Monk’s biography (1990) of Wittgenstein so captivating and hilarious that I want more people to get to know him. No love for or knowledge of Wittgenstein is necessary.Wittgenstein Tweets is a fun and easy way to digest the life of one of the 20th century's most influential philosophers. Today's tweets about Wittgenstein wanting to build an airplaine (but settling for a kite) have already reminded me that I've got Wittgenstein Flies a Kite waiting for me in a stack of yet unread books.
This is economic madness. It is policy divorced from empirical evidence. It is insanity because the policies are illusory and delusional. The evidence is in, and it shows beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts failed to achieve the promised goals.Awesome. More media Johnstons, please.
So why in the world is anyone giving any credence to the insistence by Republican leaders that tax cuts, more tax cuts, and deeper tax cuts are the remedy to our economic woes? Why are they not laughingstocks? It is one thing for Fox News to treat these policies as successful, but what of the rest of what Sarah Palin calls with some justification the "lamestream media," who treat these policies as worthy ideas?
The Republican leadership is like the doctors who believed bleeding cured the sick. When physicians bled George Washington, he got worse, so they increased the treatment until they bled him to death. Our government, the basis of our freedoms, is spewing red ink, and the Republican solution is to spill ever more.
Those who ignore evidence and pledge blind faith in policy based on ideological fantasy are little different from the clerics who made Galileo Galilei confess that the sun revolves around the earth. The Capitol Hill and media Republicans differ only in not threatening death to those who deny their dogma.
At 1:03 in the video, one of the panelists on the show criticizes O’Donnell for criticizing Halloween — “Wait a minute, I love this, you’re a witch, you go ‘Halloween is bad,’ I’m not the witch, I mean wait a minute.” She responds by explaining that she opposes witchcraft because she has had first-hand experience with what they do.What Malkin's ignorant little mind is unable to grasp is that people who intellectually inhabit this century are not criticizing O'Donnell for a youthful indiscretion from which she learned a valuable life lesson, they are criticizing her for an obviously bullshit story about Satanic witches that only exist in the imagination of (some) Christian fundamentalists.
So, she tried it. She rejected it. And she learned from it.
If a Democrat becomes president expect to have our public discourse overtaken and overwhelmed with the most extreme, insane, and rotten attacks and smears from the conservative movement that you can possibly imagine.The Backlash presents author Will Bunch's first hand experience of that very rage and paranoia that was unleashed by the election of a Democrat, with the author traveling the country attempting to understand the fury of a right-wing populism which has pretty much made such predictions a reality. The book covers many of the same incidents that have been covered here on this blog, but with Bunch actually tracking down the involved parties and speaking with them. While Bunch provides humanizing portraits of such individuals, he also manages to provide sharp criticism of the predators who have preyed upon economic insecurity and cultural fears to fan the flames of hysteria for profit (both political and economic).
If either Obama or Clinton becomes president look for a resurgence in the patriot movement, with these folks going off into the woods, stockpiling weapons, and preparing to wage war with the anti-Christ.
But excluding some sort of national catastrophe, the real threat is not going to be them. (Although the families of those killed by Timothy McVeigh might beg to differ.) The bigger threat is the one Hofstadter recognized, that this kind of endless mindless drivel that comes from the Drudge-Hannity-Limbaugh axis of misinformation will create a political climate in which rational pursuit of our well-being and safety is impossible.
Republicans were asking the forty-fourth president of the United States the same question they were asking Mexicans with a busted taillight: "Your papers, please."What's more
To modern conservatives, the elevation of a Democrat who was black and a product of the nation's most elite law school at Harvard was not just a political event; it represented the destruction of their elaborate if cheaply constructed conservative temple of belief. The only answer that made any sense to the true believers was total denial.And here I pause the review to take a moment and note my own previous musing on the backlash, reality denial, and the paranoid style as I cannot resist the urge to add my own two cents:
It's difficult to understand how just 6 months into the presidency of Barack Obama, so many self-described "conservatives" have managed to work themselves into an hysterical furor and fear about living under an oppressive, American Nazi regime of Obama. But as I've said many times now on this blog, if you understand the core of these individuals and pundits as being authoritarians with a black/white Manichean world view, it becomes easier to make sense of their behavior.Bunch notes that paranoid, conspiratorial beliefs and smears (e.g. that Obama is not a citizen, that Obama is going to confiscate guns, that FEMA concentration camps are being built, that Obama is a socialist, etc.) that once would have been obscure, fringe crank literature distributed locally as pamphlets now circulates widely on the internet, through the airwaves of talk radio and into the mainstream discourse almost effortlessly and instantly. (See here for an example of this idiot process in action.)
When they lose an election, that means that Evil has come to power. Satan is in control (Figuratively for some, literally for the Christian nationalists.) It is Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia ... 1984 come to life. This is why the movement's parallel reality seems to lag behind conservative ideology. Once the Other is in power, it is only a matter of time for the leaders of the movement to construct such a reality that fits to their preconceived notions of the evil characteristics of their eternal Enemy. (E.g. President Obama isn't even a citizen! says the Manichean minded psuedo-conservative.)
What is so destructive about this sort of mentality - and especially those who fuel the epistemic fire with non-stop paranoid propaganda - is that it is difficult for democracy to function if you have a core constituency of one of the two viable political parties in your nation which has the belief that either they win an election or it is time to wage a revolutionary war to win back their freedom. This is brand of "democracy" in which the only legitimate outcome is theirs; all of the rest of electorate cease to be Americans and fall into the category of the Other. This is why Glenn Beck can say in all sincerity (after pretending to be President Obama and then setting the American public on fire in effigy) that President Obama is not delivering the change that he and his 9/12 movement voted for, managing not to notice that there are millions of Americans who voted Obama and other Democrats into office precisely because they do want some public form of healthcare. The normal democratic process of election and policy making thus turn into the very definition of tyranny, and mobs of right-wing populist protesters, organized by conservative elites, show up to shut down the democractic process at town hall meetings. Borrowing the Adorno quote that Hofstadter used in his famous essay on the psuedo-conservative revolt, "The pseudo conservative is a man who, in the name of upholding traditional American values and institutions and defending them against more or less fictitious dangers, consciously or unconsciously aims at their abolition.”
Fear.Bunch's reporting took him across the country, from Delaware where he tracked down the "I want my country back!" Youtube birther sensation to Knob Creek where he witnessed first hand the bizarre phenomenon of people convinced that President Obama was going to confiscate their weapons and abridge their Second Amendment rights despite the reality that the president had relaxed gun restrictions with the trend across the nation towards making it easier to carry arms; from talks with devoted fans of Beck to a founder of the ultra-paranoid Oak Keepers; from rural Georgia where Congressman Paul Broun was able to rise from obscurity via extremist anti-Obama rhetoric to Pittburgh where Richard Poplawski, acting out on the conspiratorial, extremist rhetoric that has been normalized by the likes of Broun and Beck and others, killed three police officers out of fear that they were coming to take away his guns.
It was almost as if Beck was the bizarro-world version of Franklin Roosevelt, who in an earlier economic meltdown in 1933 had not only railed against "fear itself" but spoke of "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." But in 2010, Glenn Beck Incorporated thrived on "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror," regardless of whether it helped to drive the body politic in the opposite direction of where FDR guided the "Greatest Generation" ... Beck was constantly straining to find the outer limits, exploring both the inner terrors of his audience and their hopes for restoration and a common purpose. And then he was brazen in taking hold of his public and using it to sell them things, with little care over the side effects.
These [Repubican] representatives of 37 percent of teh country wielded unprecedented powers because of something the likes of which this nation had never seen before: their ability to stick together on every single issue with the sole purpose of obstructing Barack Obama and his Democratic allies. It was an "I Hope He Fails" strategy hatched in the ratings-driven studios of talk radio, but now rigid legislative fealty to the on-air musings of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck had ground Washington to a total halt.I must confess that my one disappointment with The Backlash is that Bunch did not manage to work the following Richard Hofstadter quote in, as it seems to describe the Tea Party, 9/12 Beck/Limbaugh backlash so perfectly.