Saturday, July 28, 2012


It really is depressing hearing public sector workers with job benefits resulting from a union in my community explain that Fox News demonstrated how liberal it is getting by its firing Glenn Beck (you know, Glenn Beck, renowned champion of unions) for truth telling. And that Glenn Beck should be president.

Never mind that Beck is transparently stupid and possibly mentally unbalanced - what is disheartening is how he manages to find fans in people whose lives would be measurably worse if Beck's political views were put into to practice.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Quote of the day

"I remain convinced that American conservative thought is now not a philosophy but, rather, a book of spells, a series of conjuring words that have meaning only to the initiates." - Charles Pierce, commenting on the vacuousness of S.E. Cupp

Friday, July 20, 2012

Why do people persist in treating Rush Limbaugh as if he isn't a dishonest fool?

Several days ago Rush Limbaugh uncovered another liberal conspiracy (transcript via Media Matters, bold emphasis mine)

RUSH LIMBAUGH: Have you heard, this new movie, the Batman movie -- what is it, the Dark Knight Lights Up or something? Whatever the name of it is. That's right, Dark Knight Rises, Lights Up, same thing. Do you know the name of the villain in this movie? Bane. The villain in the Dark Knight Rises is named Bane. B-A-N-E. What is the name of the venture capital firm that Romney ran, and around which there's now this make-believe controversy? Bain. The movie has been in the works for a long time, the release date's been known, summer 2012 for a long time. Do you think that it is accidental, that the name of the really vicious, fire-breathing, four-eyed, whatever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bane?


LIMBAUGH: Anyway, so this evil villain in the new Batman movie is named Bane. And there's now discussion out there as to whether or not this was purposeful, and whether or not it will influence voters. It's going to have a lot of people. This movie, the audience is going to be huge, lot of people are going to see the movie. And it's a lot of brain-dead people, entertainment, the pop culture crowd. And they're going to hear "Bane" in the movie, and they are going to associate Bain. And the thought is that when they start paying attention to the campaign later in the year, and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, not Bain Capital, but Bain, Romney and Bain, that these people will think back to the Batman movie --"Oh yeah, I know who that is." There are some people who think it will work. There are some people think it will work. Others think -- "You're really underestimating the American people who think that will work."
Limbaugh concluded by saying that, "I'm just telling you this is the kind of stuff the Obama team is lining up."

Ok, this is moronic on multiple levels. First, please note the juvenile attempt to demean the film by pretending he doesn't know what the proper name of it is ("Dark Knight Lights Up or something?"); the sort of put-down you might expect to hear from some adolescent middle school student, but not the favorite adult voice of a political movement.

Secondly, please note that, as is routinely the case, Limbaugh is ignorant about the subject matter he is pontificating about. Bane, the comic villain, was created in 1993 by conservative writer Chuck Dixon who considers him to be "an Occupy Wall Street type." Although Bane is not as iconic a Batman nemesis as the likes of the Penguin, Riddler, or Joker (neither was Ra's al Ghul from the first film) he is perhaps the most significant Batman villain of recent times in that he is the only one to have literally broken the Batman and ended his career. Director Christopher Nolan, drawing on the darker and better elements of  the Batman books, would find in the Bane-unleashes-havoc-on-Gotham storyline a very obvious way to bookend his Batman trilogy.

Again, you have the juvenile attempt to demean the character by describing him as a "fire-breathing, four-eyed, whatever-it-is villain." Limbaugh proudly wears his ignorance on his sleeve. He doesn't know who or what Bane is (Bane in the film doesn't wear a mask with eye-slits as he does in the comic, so where in the world does the "four-eyed" insult come from?).

And lastly, the parts I've bolded where Limbaugh clearly asks his audience to consider that Bane was chosen deliberately so that the Obama campaign team could negatively associate the movie villain with Mitt Romney's history at Bain Capital. Right, so several years ago, when Nolan and producers, and Warner Brothers were deciding what villain to use in the film, they knew that Mitt Romney would win the Republican presidential nomination and would make Bain Capital a centerpiece of his campaign, so they chose a villain who has nothing to do with venture capitalism so that the Obama campaign would be able to compare Bain Capital to the Batman villain Bane because the names are homophones. As one commenter I saw on the internet noted (I can't recall where), Limbaugh might next accuse the dictionary of being a liberal conspiracy planned in advance, since it defines "bane" to be something that destroys or brings harm and misery.

But as ridiculous as this all is, it's not where Limbaugh hits bottom. No. He hits bottom when after he was called on his idiocy, he denied saying what he said.

Everybody’s out there running around saying I got this giant conspiracy theory that the Batman people, the creators, the comic book creators, created this thing to campaign against Romney. I never said that. I didn’t say there was a conspiracy. I said the Democrats were going to use it, which they are.
Rush Limbaugh asked his audience, rhetorically, if they thought it was an accident that the character was named Bane and that the movie's release date had been scheduled for summer 2012. When commenters pointed out Limbaugh's ignorance by noting that the character was created and named in 1993, he lies and asserts that  he was only saying that "Democrats were going to use it." But Limbuagh, pathologically dishonest idiot that he is, can't even keep that lie coherent within a single broadcast, as later in the transcript he says

I was talking about Hollywood, the people who market the movie, who determine when it's gonna be released. So you've got the villain named Bane. We know that Obama is doing everything he can to discredit Bain.
And this is the same level of maturity and dishonesty and ignorance and incoherence that Limbaugh brings to bear on virtually every single subject that he talks about. As when he maliciously attacked Sandra Fluke, lied about her testimony and demonstrated a complete ignorance of how birth control works.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A deficit of moral imagination

On the same day that I inadvertently quoted Percy Bysshe Shelley for the second time expressing his belief that moral behavior requires an ability to imagine oneself in the place of another, Glenn Greenwald wrote a blog post that demonstrates this point quite succinctly.

[Morning Joe] devoted a six-minute segment to Esquire‘s Tom Junod, who — as I noted earlier today — has just published a worthwhile and heartfelt article entitled “The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama,” which examines in depth the multiple ways the President has seized the power to kill; in one section, Junod reports on the U.S. killing of 16-year-old Abdulrahman Awlaki in Yemen, and Esquire has published that section separately under this headline: “Obama’s Administration Killed a 16-Year-Old American and Didn’t Say Anything About It. This Is Justice?” In the Morning Joe segment, Junod repeatedly documented the numerous innocent Muslims — including children — that are continuously killed by Obama’s attacks, such as the 16-year-old Denver-born son of the Islamic preacher, a mere two weeks after his father was killed.

You just have to watch the reaction of [Harold] Ford, neocon Dan Senor, and Mike Barnacle to appreciate the soulless rot that leads people so cavalierly to defend and dismiss the continuous killing of innocent Muslims by the U.S. But it’s Ford’s smirking, self-satisfied, effete ignorance — from a warmonger whose delicately manicured hands have never been and will never be near any of the carnage he reflexively defends — that is particularly nauseating. Like most mindless defenders of U.S. violence, Ford just repeatedly utters the word “Terrorist” over and over like a hypnotic mantra.

Even after Junod describes the heinous death of the indisputably innocent American teeanger, Ford just smirks and pronounces that it’s better to Kill The Terrorists than to capture them.
It really is remarkable watching that clip, as everyone except Junod seems incapable or unwilling to acknowledge and recognize that a 16 year old American citizen accused of no crime was killed by his own government without any explanation.

As a nation, we lack the moral imagination to confront such deaths, it appears.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Quote of the day

"The great secret of morals is love; or a going out of our nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own. A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasure of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination..." - Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defense of Poetry"

Update: Just remembered that I have already quoted this before. I'm also partial to Robert Green Ingersoll's expression of a nearly identical sentiment.