Monday, January 30, 2012

Allen West's eliminationist message

Via Hullabaloo

This is a battlefield that we must stand upon and we need to let president Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and my dear friend, the chairman of the Democrat National Committee, we need to let them know that Florida ain't on the table. Take your message of equality of achievement, take your message of economic dependency, and take your message of enslaving the entrepreneurial will and spirit of the American people somewhere else. You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America.
What really demonstrates just how demented the Republican party has become is that this belief in how un-American the Obama administration and Democrats is is a reaction to a Democratic party which has implemented what a few decades ago were Republican ideas (e.g. a health care plan which was previously advocated by the conservative Heritage Foundation.)

Don't mess with the Muppets

Via Media Matters

Friday, January 27, 2012


A couple of days ago the manager of one of the local tv news stations gave an editorial (he's the only one who ever gives editorials, almost always some rant derivative from the bowels of AM radio) excusing marines urinating on dead corpses, saying that they deserve a slap on the wrist at best and that everyone who hasn't fought in a war needs to shut up about it.

It really pains me that this is what is being broadcast to my community as news - and I just haven't felt like blogging much lately.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Excerpt of the day

From Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges

"The opponents of the New Deal, backed and funded by the business elite, announced that President Roosevelt had permitted communists to infiltrate the government and government-funded programs, such as the Federal Theatre Project. And that project was the first target of the Dies Committee, led by Texas Democrat Martin Dies. The theatre project was denounced in a series of hearings in August and November 1938. The Dies committee eventually became HUAC. [Hallie] Flanagan [head of the Federal Theatre Project] was asked about an article she had written titled "A Theatre is Born," in which she described the enthusiasm of the federal theaters as having "a certain Marlowesque madness."

"You are quoting from this Marlowe," observed Alabama representative Joseph Starnes from the committee. "Is he a Communist?"

The room rocked with laughter, but I did not laugh," Flanagan remembered. "Eight thousand people might lose their jobs because a Congressional Committee had so prejudged us that even the classics were 'communistic.' I said, 'I was quoting from Christopher Marlowe.'"

"Tell us who this Marlowe is, so we can get the proper references, because that is all we want to do," Starnes said.

"Put in the record that he was the greatest dramatist in the period of Shakespeare, immediately preceding Shakespeare," Flanagan answered.

By 1939 the theatre project was killed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Republican audience boos the Golden Rule

During a Republican presidential candidate debate last night in South Carolina, Ron Paul (R-Texas) got boos from the audience when he suggested that the United States should apply the Golden Rule to its foreign policy.

The Guardian provides fuller context with an extended clip and notes that this comment from Paul was a follow-up to his belief that the U.S. could have (and should have if possible) captured Osama bin Laden rather than assassinate him.

Ron Paul was also booed when he attempted to explain why the US did not need secretly to enter Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden. Paul pointed out that the US had managed to capture Saddam Hussein alive, and that the Iraqi government had put him on trial. The line did not go down well with the audience or his Republican rivals.

Here's the transcript of Ron Paul's comments, after being asked about his opposition to the US assassination of Osama bin Laden:

There is proper procedures rather than digging bigger holes for ourselves. That's what we have been doing in the Middle East, digging bigger and bigger holes for ourselves and it's so hard for us to get out of that mess. And we have a long ways to go. We are still in Iraq and that's getting worse and we are not leaving Afghanistan and the American people are sick and tired of it, 80% of the American people want us out of there. I am just suggesting that we work within the rule of law. Like only going to war when you declare the law.
Given the probability that many of those Republican voters who booed identify themselves as Christians, one might wonder if they experience any cognitive dissonance at booing what is supposed to be one of their bedrock moral precepts.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Three hours with Chris Hedges

Pulitzer prise winning journalist Chris Hedges has become one of the most acute critics of America's corporate and imperial state, writing fiery and blistering columns that express the indignation and outrage at the dismantlement of our democratic institutions that is almost entirely absent from mainstream media discourse.

Which I why I would recommend taking advantage of the opportunity presented by C-Span2's BookTV to watch and listen to his three hour discussion of his books for In Depth, which can be viewed online at the link.

[Blogger's Note: I haven't gotten far enough into the video to see what Hedges has to say about his book I Don't Believe in Atheists, but would note that I had some issues with that particular work.]

Say what?

"I don’t get involved in politics." - Glenn Beck

Heard this self-delusional statement today while listening to Thomas Frank talk to Amy Goodman for Democracy Now. The following exchange takes place after Goodman plays audio of Beck saying he's not into politics, into endorsing candidates, but that Rick Santorum may be the next George Washington and will be able to resist the great urge to become a dictator. An urge, apparently, that only Santorum can resist.

AMY GOODMAN: And that is Glenn Beck. Talk about the significance of Glenn Beck, forced off of Fox. You’re talking about the comeback of the right and the significance of the role he plays, the role the Koch brothers play.

THOMAS FRANK: Well, those are some of the biggest actors in what I’m talking about here. But I just wanted—I was struck by what Glenn Beck was saying there, that whenever you listen to him, even if it’s a short snippet like that, there’s always this incredible sense of dread that hangs over every sentence he utters. He said that, you know, the temptation for the next president to not turn over the reins of power back to the public is going to be great? What is he talking about? Dictatorship? That’s like—that’s—and Santorum is the one guy in America that can resist the urge to become a dictator? I don’t—I don’t get things like that. I mean, I do get it. I just finished writing a whole book about it.

There is a way that Glenn Beck really caught the cultural sensibility of 2009 and 2010, you know, this very unlikely—the first time I ever tuned him in, in 2008, he was on CNN at the time, and I was—you know, I had the same reaction to him that I just had when you brought up Rick Santorum. It’s like, how could this be? You know? Who would hire this man to be on television? It just seemed preposterous to me. And he really caught the wave in 2009, that when the—after the thing that really—you know, the economy fell apart in 2008, and you had the government stepping in with the enormous bailouts, you know, this completely unaccountable just spending of taxpayers’ money to get their Wall Street buddies off the hook, you know, stand the banks back up and let them go back to their—and this was—this was a shocking moment. You know, it’s the kind—I say in the book that it was the sort of moment that crushes the faith of a nation, you know? And Glenn Beck was there with this very dark vision that he has where things are always, you know, we’re on the verge of tyranny, there’s conspiracies everywhere. And there he was with this trademark vision of his, and it really seemed to catch the public mood in those days. And so, in my mind, he was one of the most important figures in the comeback of the right, because he really gave the—you know, if you would go to Tea Party rallies in those days, and I went to a bunch of them in order to write the book, the language you would always hear from the podium and the theories you would hear from the podium, the peculiar ideas, the visions of history that you would hear from the podium, were all recycled stuff from the Glenn Beck program. He was really the—he was really the one with the ideas.
Will Bunch noticed the same thing, with Beck being the backbone of the conservative backlash, in his own book on the subject.

Indeed, if you've read Beck books, listened to his radio show and watched his tv show the last couple of years, you'll know that he's dedicated his media fiefdom to being a political activist with the dedicated goal of mainstreaming the fringes of American paranoia. Presumably, if you're a critic of Beck and have followed him you're aware of that; if you're a fan then you apparently have a tremendous capacity to compartmentalize: to take him seriously when he says he's not involved in politics yet to show up at his 9/12 rallies with the plan of taking back your country from "them."

To think of Beck as someone who doesn't get involved in politics requires to forget the role he has played in politics the last couple of years.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Baleful quote of the day

"We live in a country where law professors advocate torturing and murdering people ... people are then duly tortured and murdered per their official and unofficial recommendations, and there are no subsequent legal or even professional consequences to anyone involved in any aspect of these proceedings." - Paul Campos

Monday, January 09, 2012

Remember the good old days of wage slavery?

Historian Rick Pearlstein noticed the other day Rick Santorum waxing nostalgic for those halcyon days when his own grandfather was a wage slave:

Rick Santorum got high marks for his near-victory speech in Iowa. In the Washington Post, E.J. Dionne called it "by far the best speech Tuesday night." Santorum's address impressed me, too, but for a different reason: his astonishing endorsement of feudalism, wrapped up in a soaring tribute to something he called "freedom." A sharper illustration of the bad faith of at the heart of conservative rhetoric I never have seen in all my life.

He began by doing what conservative presidential candidates always do in this season of economic privation: talked about his family's one-time economic privation. It wasn't off the cuff. "As you know," he said, "I do not speak from notes, but there's a couple of things I want to say that are a little more emotional, so I'm going to read them as I wrote them." And what were the words he so carefully wrote to read at this, his moment of triumph? That his grandfather came to the United States from Italy in 1925: "because Mussolini had been in power now three years, and he had figured out that fascism was something that would crush his spirit and freedom and give his children something less than he wanted for them." He came because—why else?—he loved freedom.


"He left to the coal fields of Southern Pennsylvania. He worked in the mine at a company town, got paid with coupons, he used to call them."

Let us dwell on that. Grandpa Santorum lived in a company town where he was paid in "scrip" in lieu of cash. That means what his grandson calls "freedom" was, well and truly, something more like slavery.
Pearlstein goes on to note the irony of Santorum relating a story of his grandfather becoming a wage slave in order to sell free market fundamentalism to voters when it was government regulation that did more to give workers like his grandfather freedom than the "free reign of property."

The key point, and one that is not likely to find an effective messenger in Democrats beholden to the same wealth that Republicans are, is "that sometimes—frequently—it takes government to establish liberty where none existed before."

Friday, January 06, 2012

Beck still has Nazi Tourette's

Yesterday I did a little intermural travel and visited AM radio world, particularly the Glenn Beck radio show. I was met by Beck informing me that President Obama is a dictator and is installing a dictatorship. Enough of that. I turned the radio off.

A hour or so later I tuned back in. Beck was describing his family Christmas in which he and family gave each other books about the Holocaust. Apparently, in the universe that Beck inhabits - some kind of Philip K. Dick if-he-was-a-member-of-the-John-Birch-Society type universe - reading books about what the Nazis did to Jews prepares one to understand what is currently happening in America because of progressives.

In fact, Beck was particularly enthusiastic about How Do You Kill a Million People? because it is "one of the best explanations of what we're facing right now in the country."

Beck then did his trademark incoherent denial of what he just said, claiming that he's not calling Obama a Nazi, just that progressivism is the disease and that Newt Gingrich is just as bad. (FYI, in Beck-world, Newt Gingrich is a leftist).

Whether or not Beck believes his own nonsense, I can not tell. But what I wonder is: does his audience have some sort of memory deficit? Surely I'm not the only one who can hear such a denial and recall, say, this

The "Final Chapter" of Glenn Beck's Fox News run kicked off Friday with Beck warning that a plot to "collapse the system," "redistribute the wealth," and create an Obama-centered empire was based on a willingness to kill "25 million Americans."
Like Lewis Black said, Beck has Nazi Tourette's.

Quote of the day

"I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things" - Ecclesiastes 7:25

This quote appears on the back cover of the hard cover edition of A.C. Grayling's The Reason of Things: Living With Philosophy.

Monday, January 02, 2012

How I'm starting 2012

[Blogger's Note: I posted this exact message last year, but I see no reason to change it.]

I took The Life You Can Save pledge to donate an appropriate amount - the site has a built in calculator that considers your income and provides you with a target figure - to charity.

I dare you to watch Peter Singer's lecture on his book The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty - and see if you can resist the urge to donate, too.

Here is a clip: