Contributors

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

BEST OF 2009

Once again, another great year for films, television, and music. We might be in a craptacular economy but the entertainment industry is still churning out irresistible stuff. Here are my picks for 2009.

BEST FILM

Not even a contest this year. Most of you who know me know that, really...I have been a total geek all my life. To say that I was excited for its May release was, without a doubt, the understatement of the millennium. I was a little concerned when I saw the trailer and wondered if JJ Abrams was going to go the "Dawson's Creek" eye candy route but all of that was washed away in the first three minutes of the film.

Star Trek was fucking spectacular.

I have been a Trek devotee since I was a child. I was happy to hear that Abrams was taking the mantle away from Rick Berman (barf) who had run the franchise into the ground. I knew there would be plenty of action and great special effects but had no idea the plot would be so compelling. I don't want to give too much away but the way they rebooted the series was tragically brilliant. All of the actors were top notch and it was so fucking enjoyable that I have seen it three times and it hasn't lost it's magic.

It is now out on DVD. Go buy it.

BEST TELEVISION SHOW

Perhaps it was because everyone I know panned it and said it got all "science fictiony" but I loved Season 5 of Lost. I admit I am a sucker for time travel but it was so much more than that. Rousing action, red hot blast of a thousand suns romance, compelling (and always head scratching) writing and a massive WTF ending made it my favorite season and the best TV show of the year.

How in the heck are they going to end the series in 2010? I can't wait.

Buy Season 5 of the DVD here.



BEST ALBUM


It was a long four years since Doves released Some Cities. I think about what my life was like back when that came out...how wonderful it was in 2005....and then how equally amazing it is now in 2009 when they released Kingdom of Rust. It always blows me away that a band like Doves, whose music has terrifically depressing overtones, can manage to cheer me up. Perhaps it's because every time I listen to them I think about my friends George and Annette and how much I love them. Perhaps, too, it's because every track is mega.

From the opening chords of "Jetstream" (written as an alternative soundtrack to Blade Runner!) to the closing track "Lifelines" the album is a tome to why music is the healing elixir of the soul. "Outsiders" is just a flat out wonderful rocker... "10.03" is a heartfelt and beautiful ballad..."Winter Hill" is crush my heart wonderful for so many reasons.

Doves can wait 8 years to make another record. I don't care as long as they keep coming out as brilliant as this.

BEST TRACK
From the moment of its release in February of this year, I have had OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) about this track. I think I have played it every day of the year since that time. And from such an interesting band...

American Sam Spiegel (aka Squeak Spiegel) and Brazilian Ze Gonzales (aka Zegon) came together in 2007 to create a massively cool indie hip hop band called N.A.S.A. No, it’s not your father’s space agency but actually North America-South America…a sisterhood and brotherhood of unity that, quite frankly, our country could really use right now. All of their music reflects this mood quite wonderfully.

On February 17, 2009, the duo released The Spirit of Apollo. There are several great tracks on this record as well as a collection of guest stars like David Byrne, John Frusciante, Tom Waits, Santogold, George Clinton, and a wide variety of rappers and hip hop artists.

The track that officially became the OCD song #1 of 2009 is “Strange Enough”, featuring the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard (Wu Tang Clan), Fatlip, and the seriously stunning on several levels Karen O (lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). What an absolute fucking corker of a song!

Virtually everyone I have played it for has downloaded it. It’s rhythm is tight. The mood is intense and the lyrics are just plain cool. “Freak show pantie lover…but I’m getting too old for this like Danny Glover” or “Wild boy cowboy entertainer…insane…Purple Rainer” are just two examples of how much fun this song is.

And Karen O’s bit is mega fucking cool. Towards the end of her third rap in the tune, which is essentially the chorus of the song, she breaks down and giggles, asking Squeak and Zegon, who were presumably in the control room while she did her part…

“Something like that, right? Is that what you want?”

To which, the reply from Fatlip is:

“Perfect.”

Yes, "Strange Enough" sure is.

So, those are my picks. What are yours?

Monday, December 21, 2009

History Lesson

Rounding out my discussion of Iran, is this article from a recent issue of CSM. Neither the MSM or the base seem to want to talk about Iran pre-1979. It's not surprising. They make such great villains now...the evil Islamic terrorists with (perhaps) a nuclear bomb threatening the infidel.

And who on earth would want to talk about how British Petroleum and the United States government conspired to overthrow the democratically elected leader of Iran in 1953?

The article in CSM is quite illuminating. It sums up the US involvement in Iran's nuclear program over the years. I highly recommend checking it out if you want the full story on how we got to this point. From the article.

Ironically, the United States was Iran's first major supplier of nuclear technology. Washington signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with the shah – a staunch American ally – in 1957, under President Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" program. Construction of a US-supplied research reactor began in the Tehran suburbs in 1960 and went critical, with US-supplied highly enriched uranium as fuel, in 1967.

But the shah wanted more than a nuclear toy. He had grandiose plans for a network of 23 nuclear power reactors by the 1990s, with much of the equipment purchased from US suppliers. And as recently declassified documents make clear, the course of nuclear negotiations between the shah and an array of US officials was far from smooth.

I'm curious what we sold them exactly and what they are using today. A recently declassified Defense Department memo is quite ominous.

"An aggressive successor to the Shah might consider nuclear weapons the final item needed to establish Iran's complete military dominance of the region," noted the memo.

Amazingly on target and yet we still sold them the material and helped them with their program.

As is often the case with US history and how it shapes our world today, when bad things happen or there are mistakes made, it's no one's fault. It was just an unfortunate occurrence for which no one is to blame. Be the one to dare say that the US had a hand in helping Iran's nuclear program (as I am here), and be prepared to incur the wrath of the base with their usual uni-brow commentary (America hater! Terrorist Sympathizer! Commie!).

Facts are facts, though. In addition to fomenting the seeds of hatred with the coup in 1953, we were a catalyst for Iran's nuclear program. So, the question is will we act responsibly and learn from history?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Really Missing The Point

Take a look at this cartoon at the left. Now, look at it again within the context of the articles regarding the current state of affairs in Iran.

Finally, imagine the mind of the person who finds this funny and thinks it represents reality.

Do you understand why I can never be a member of the base?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Slipping Away

Even before the stolen election earlier this year, I have wondered how long Iran, in its current state, would last. Ahmadinejad has literally driven his country into the economic ground. The people hate him and are tired of their totalitarian theocracy. Apparently, too, are many in the Arab World.

Take a look at the cover story from the CSM two weeks ago.

Beset in recent months by the bloody spectacle of regime enforcers stamping out pro-democracy protests, and by dozens of deaths, torture, and allegations of rape in secret prisons, Iran is losing influence among some of its friends in the region and stiffening opposition among foes.

Exactly right. Much of the attention in the US is on Iran's nuclear program. The rest of the world, however, and particularly the Arab world is wondering what happened to its once staunch defender. I mean, Iran is literally destroying its own people. How cool is that?

"I think we have seen the peak of the Islamic Republic's power in its current configuration," says Ali Ansari, director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at St. Andrews University in Scotland. Iran's influence has "slipped very badly," says Mr. Ansari. "Arab states have been lapping it up.... It has had tremendously damaging consequences for [Iran]. In the Persian Gulf, people were genuinely shocked – they never thought that the Iranian regime would treat its own people this way. They thought their governments [would] do that, but this is a revolutionary government. They suddenly realized it is no different."

Interesting. The peak? That sure doesn't jibe with conservatives are saying in this country. If you talk to them, Iran is about to attack New York. In fact, though...

"Iran's supporters in the region were wagering before and during the elections that the Islamic state would teach the world a lesson in democracy and present a model of Islamist rule," wrote the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat newspaper. "They have lost their wager, and certainly Islamists in Arab countries who aspire to participate in the political game and come to power have lost the most."

Another Al-Hayat story was equally blunt: "The truth of the matter is that revolutionary movements that establish a new legitimacy from illegitimacy carry early on fertile seeds for its demise."

Yep, pretty much.

Tehran's "influence must be waning, because Iran is more and more viewed as quite a fundamentalist, authoritarian Islamic regime, and not [one] that wants to protect the rights of Muslims," says Massoumeh Torfeh, an Iran expert at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. "After all, the people who are suffering in the prisons in Iran are also Muslims. The people who were killed in the demonstrations were also Muslim ... so I think their reputation is somewhat tarnished."

What? You mean torture doesn't work and makes one look bad in the eyes of the world? But here's my favorite bit from the whole piece.

"After 30 years, [the Islamic system] is losing, it's getting tired, it's getting old. It no longer has any new ideas, any new strategy to offer. It's just fundamentalist heated speech, and nothing more than that," says Mr. Torfeh. "Khomeini was very creative in his own way, in the way he presented Islam to the world. But this is now just the right- wing end of a movement, the fundamentalist end. I think these are the final stages; it's going more and more to the right, as if it was exiting that way."

If only that were true in our own country....(sigh)

The fact is, folks, that Iran is not nearly as much of a threat as certain people in this country make them out to be. In fact, those same people need Iran to be a big threat otherwise the weakness of their ideology will be exposed. We have much bigger problems to deal with at the present time. Pakistan has nuclear weapons and is a base for Al Qaeda. Afghanistan is a giant mess. Saudi Arabia is still cranking out hirabis like a cookie factory in their hate filled madrasahs. The last thing we need to be doing is provoking them into a war that will unite their country.

The best thing we could do right now is bring tougher sanctions, gather support and watch events play out in a country that is clearly falling apart.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Iran Redux

For the next few days (barring some large news event), I'm going to be taking a look at Iran and the changing dynamics in that country. There have been a flurry of interesting articles out about Iran and it is quite clear that the country is going through some major changes.

We begin with this article from last Friday's New York Times. I had actually heard about this from Pastor Eric at the gym well before the article came out. Eric, if you don't know, has become a dear friend over the last few years and is, without a doubt, the most conservative person I have ever met. Surprisingly, we agree on many things and have much fun debating politics and religion on a regular basis.

I didn't get around to reading the article until the evening and was quite shocked that most of what Eric had told me was true. The people of Iran are fucking pissed off and they're not going to take it anymore. At a demonstration, last Monday in Tehran things became very interesting.

During Monday’s demonstrations, the civil tone of many earlier rallies was noticeably absent...

Instead, the protesters, most of them young people, took direct aim at Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei, chanting, “Khamenei knows his time is up!” They held up flags from which the “Allah” symbol — added after Iran’s 1979 revolution — had been removed. Most shocking of all, some burned an image of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of the revolution.

I read this and I couldn't believe it. It's clear to me that many people in Iran are willing to risk their lives for a new revolution. The old one, as most totalitarian theocracies tend to do, did not deliver. The question is this: what should the US do?

One thing we shouldn't do is increase the threat of military action. The people of Iran are ready for change and the last thing to do is find a cause to unite them again. They need to remain fractured and unstable. Of course, this is especially tricky given the information out today about Iran possibly working on a neutron trigger which I will be talking about later in the week.

Just because we shouldn't increase the threat of military action doesn't mean that Israel shouldn't ratchet up their dialogue. Considering that some Iranians are nauseated by Ahmadinejad's "wipe Israel off the map" comment, I think Israel should run some extra military preparedness exercises.

Given this new information regarding the state of the protests, we have to do everything we can to encourage this disunity...even if that means doing nothing save for the little diplomacy dance we do with the current government. There are going to be tougher sanctions and, since we gave up the missile defense shield over Europe, the Russians are on board. How do we get the Chinese on board, though? That's another question.

The next few weeks are going to be very interesting, folks and I would be interested in your thoughts. Tomorrow, I will be looking at the fall off of support for Iran in the Muslim world.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yep

I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism -- it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions -- not just treaties and declarations -- that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest -- because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace.

--President Barack Obama, Dec 10, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Really?

Before I get into some choice quotes from my guy's speech in Copenhagen, I had a brief conversation at the gym yesterday that led me on a hilarious journey (yet again) into the mind of a member of the base.

This gal I know (who happens to be very, very conservative) happened by me and I asked her what she thought of Newt Gingrich's favorable view of President Obama's speech. She is a big fan of our former Speaker of the House and wants him to run for president in 2012 so I was interested in her thoughts.

She wondered where I had heard what Newt said and I told her it was in the paper (the Minneapolis Star and Tribune). She gave me the standard line about how she doesn't read the "Star and Sickle." I reminded her that the paper is now owned by an oil company and endorsed Norm Coleman last year. It's still a commie rag, she informed me quite seriously. And she wasn't going to give President Obama's speech any thought until she read about it on townhall.com

I had never heard of townhall.com so I went to check it out. On the surface, it looks like a typical conservative leaning news site with contributors like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. Fair enough. But click on a story (as I did) and you get what essentially amounts to a Sesame Street version of events. Take a look at this story.

Houston voters may elect openly gay mayor
Voters are deciding Saturday whether Houston will become the largest U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor.

The runoff election pits City Controller Annise Parker against former city attorney Gene Locke.

Parker is a lesbian who has never made a secret or an issue of her sexual orientation.

But in recent weeks, anti-gay activists and conservative religious groups have endorsed the 61-year-old Locke and sent out mailers condemning Parker's "homosexual behavior."

Meanwhile, gay and lesbian political organizations around the country have rallied to support the 53-year-old Parker.

That's it. That's the whole story. There are several other stories that are presented in the same way...3-5 paragraphs...1-2 sentences in each paragraph and that's all there is. It's basically the news (anger, hate and rage version) in an easy to swallow caplet. Even the font is larger for crying out loud!

Is this how the right gets the news that "speaks to them?" Compare their coverage of the unbelievable events in Iran to the Times' coverage.

Really?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Credit Where It's Due

"I liked what he said...I'd like to see President Obama follow more closely in the footsteps of George Bush and his passion for keeping the homeland safe"

---Sarah Palin, on her reaction to President Obama's acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize

"I thought the speech was actually very good. And he clearly understood that he had been given the prize prematurely, but he used it as an occasion to remind people, first of all, as he said, that there is evil in the world."

---Newt Gingrich, on his reaction to President Obama's acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize

Thanks folks. It's nice to see a recognition from two mammoth figures on the right that my guy hit a home run.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sounds About Right

Well, let's see. Harry (about as exciting as a 4 hour lecture on the benefits of warm milk) Reid and the other "liberals" in the Senate have effectively jettisoned the public option from the health care bill (angering progressives everywhere) and continue to fellate the insurance industry...complete with gentle ball cupping.

And the folks who are still fighting the Revolutionary War remain in a hyper paranoid anger and hate rage--yelling that if the plan passes, even without the public option, that the government is going to force their unplugged-from-the-machine- grandma into a FEMA death camp without her full compliment of assault rifles. Oh, and Barack Obama has unleashed robots that are going to seize their luggage.

Ah, America in the year 2009. What a fucking pathetic place.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Anger, Hate,and Fear Part Three (The Fringe)

For the past couple days, I have looked at the Anti Defamation League's report on the growing hate, anger, and fear in the conservative base of this country. The second part of the report deals with the fringe elements of the base and how they are feeding into the mainstream in an increasing fashion.

Here are some prime cuts from this portion of the report.

Unfortunately, though many anti-government conspiracy theories are wild and unfounded, people may act on this information as if it were accurate. One incident caught an Iowa National Guard unit by surprise in February 2009 after it announced a four-day training exercise in the towns of Carroll and Arcadia.

Extremists and conspiracy theorists were outraged; to them, these exercises were clearly not intended for operations in Iraq, but rather for operations in the United States. The military, they claimed, was being trained to disarm American citizens, as part of Obama’s sinister plan to institute gun confiscation.

Some people merely criticized or protested the planned operation, while others, according to a local newspaper, threatened to show up at Arcadia with weapons or even set booby traps to injure the soldiers.

The sudden and unanticipated angry protest had its effect. Within days, the Iowa National Guard decided to cancel the urban training.

Well, that's great. So now the base is PREVENTING our troops from doing their job? Because they are worried about having their guns taken away? Good Lord....

In late July 2009, a 53-year-old mother of three from Long Island, Nancy Genovese, was arrested for allegedly trespassing on a nearby Air National Guard base. Since the election of Obama, Genovese had become increasingly anti-government and fearful of President Obama. A fan of both Glenn Beck and Alex Jones, Genovese had become transfixed with conspiracy theories about one world government, FEMA, and more.

In February 2009, Genovese learned of the planned Iowa National Guard exercise in Arcadia. “This is the beginning of the end,” she posted to one Web site. “They will do this in some other town, but it’s just the beginning. Tell me how do I buy a gun? Do I buy a rifle or shotgun?” In the end, Genovese bought both, purchasing a shotgun and an XM-15 assault rifle.

Taken alone, this incident can firmly reside in the "kook" file. But juxtapose it with all of the tea parties and health care reform protests. Does it look so isolated now?

Definitely not when we see the story of Richard Poplawski

Poplawski was a budding white supremacist who became angry after the election of Obama. Like Nancy Genovese, a New York woman whose conspiratorial beliefs led to her arrest for trespassing on an Air National Guard base, Poplawski paid attention to Alex Jones and other conspiracy theorists. He, like Genovese, became concerned about issues like gun confiscation, the military being used against citizens, and FEMA concentration camps. And, like her, he also purchased an assault rifle.

Dick then decided it would be cool to surveil the Pittsburgh Police's crowd control techniques. When his mother called the police, he suited up and killed three of them as they were trying to apprehend him.

Poplawski later wrote that he imagined government buses transporting people to FEMA facilities.

Again, taken alone, no big deal. Combine it with Genovese, the Tea Parties, Michelle Bachmann, Glenn Beck etc and how does it look now?

In September 2009, John L. Perry, a columnist for the right-wing news Web site Newsmax even postulated a military coup that would limit Obama to “ceremonial speech-making.” “A coup is not an ideal option,” he wrote, “but Obama’s radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.” After readers complained, Newsmax removed Perry’s column.

So here we have a news source calling for a coup d'etat. Imagine yourself as a Poplawski or a Genovese. Or even as a protester at a health care reform event. What do you suppose their reaction would be?

Significantly, many of these groups have appropriated an idealized version of Revolutionary War history for their own purposes, stressing the armed resistance of the American colonists to British “tyranny” and suggesting, in varying degrees of openness, that Americans today should act as their revolutionary forebears did and throw off the perceived shackles of the allegedly tyrannical government.

One need look no further than a blog like The Smallest Minority to see this example in stark reality. I want to make something very clear, as I know that commenters from that site post here as well: I want to be wrong about this. If it turns out that I am, thank God. I respect Kevin and have enjoyed the debates over there on a number of levels. I am quite fond of juris, Grumpy Old Fart, and Mastiff. They have made very good points over the years that have altered my way of thinking forever.

It saddens me, however, that the description above seems to prove more and more valid when it comes to the overall tenor of the site. Lines like "We are passed the point of reasoned discourse" are cheered and that troubles me very, very deeply. Thus, I am afraid this report includes them. Worse still, is the fact that I know how Kevin and many of the regulars at TSM are staunch supporters (as am I) of the defense of Jewish people and Israel against the clear aggression of most of the world. Yet they seem to embody much of the sentiment of this ADL report. And, stranger still, accuse the left of being the intolerant "fascists."

There is nothing that anyone can point to that occurs on the left that is even remotely close to this. If you equate animal rights groups or tree huggers whose membership rates at about a handful to the millions of people who feel this way in the base, then you are worse at math than I am.

Take a look at all the evidence I have presented in the last three days. Ask yourselves, is this something I am a part of? If you are a member of the GOP, do you honestly think this is a direction you'd like to go? We have a multitude of problems in this country right now and how exactly is any of this helping?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Anger, Hate,and Fear Part Two (Larger In Number, More Organized, and Well Armed)

The first section of the Anti Defamation League Report is entitled "Anger In the Mainstream" and is divided into five subsections. They are: The Tea Parties, The Town Hall Disruptions, A Building Anger, The Birther Movement, and the influence of the Mainstream Media.

From the first section:

During the April 15 protests, signs depicting President Obama as Hitler began to appear as some protesters equated his bailout plan with socialism or Nazism. Some speakers claimed that Obama was intent on taking away civil liberties by destroying the Constitution or the American way of life. According to one report on a rally in Beacon, South Carolina, various speakers talked about “taking back the nation.” A local Republican Party chairwoman at the event described participants as “people standing up for their Constitution…They’re ready to fight for their country. Socialism is being pushed and we don’t want any part of it.” At a rally in Madison, Wisconsin, one woman reportedly even had a sign comparing President Obama to the anti-Christ.

Most of this is similar to what went on when George Bush was president. Certainly there were posters depicting him as a Nazi. And he was criticized for taking away civil liberties. He was not accused of being a socialist, though, so that is new. Invariably, there is something about the mention of socialism that seems to bring out the crazy in more crazies. But by itself, I don't think there is anything particularly dangerous about the Tea Parties although I do find it amusing that they had no idea what "tea bagging" was and what it entailed.

From the next section:

At a town hall meeting in Washington State, a member of the audience informed Representative Brian Beard that he was a Marine Corps veteran who had taken an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. He angrily accused Beard of trying to “indoctrinate” his children and shouted, “Stay away from my kids.” He then stated that the Nazis took over finance, the car industry and health care, in an apparent comparison to the actions of the Obama administration. The man then demanded of Beard, “I’ve kept my oath. Do you ever intend to keep yours?”

There are many other examples listed of the fervor at the Town Hall meetings. Read them. Combining these with the Tea Parties, one can begin to see what how the ADL can reach this conclusion.

In these Nazi analogies, Obama and his supporters are being cast as opponents to be destroyed rather than fellow citizens with whom dialogue, debate, and compromise are possible. The ready use of such propaganda is symptomatic of the radicalization of some segments of the American populace, and contributes to a self-perpetuating cycle of radicalization, in which ever more extreme ideas seem plausible or acceptable.

I completely agree. Again we see Frank's Wrecking Crew in action.

From the third section:

Racist imagery: A number of people carried signs depicting President Obama as an African witch doctor. One woman held a sign that read, “The Zoo Has An African And The White House Has a Lyin’ African.” Another person held a sign that read, “Somewhere in Kenya a Village is Missing an Idiot.” One individual’s sign, alluding to a time when blacks were slaves in America, depicted a hand with the middle finger held up, which read, “My New Presidential Salute! Kumbaya My A--! Obama—Your Massa On His New Plantation!”

The picture at left was offered as an example. Taken alone, it's offensive but not a serious concern. There are plenty of racists left in this country but we certainly have come a long way. But combine this with all of the rest of the information I have laid out so far and one can clearly see that this is NOT a few isolated lunatics. It feeds the perception that President Obama is "the other" and not a "real American."

The report lists many more examples of this building anger including this gem:

At another, similar rally held in Little Rock, Arkansas, the same day, Deborah Johns, a leader with the conservative organization Our Country Deserves Better, told a crowd that “Our men and women took an oath when they put on the uniform to defend and protect this country from enemies both foreign and domestic. I think we’ve got some domestic enemies in the White House.” A few minutes later, she called President Obama a Communist.

So they view President Obama as a domestic enemy who must be destroyed. I don't recall ANY prominent liberal leaders advocating a coup d'etat so openly. Here's another one that I didn't know about.

Just two weeks after the September 12, 2009 D.C. rally, a number of conservatives held a “How to Take Back America” conference in St. Louis, Missouri on September 25-26. One of the speakers, Kitty Werthmann, the South Dakota representative of the Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, reportedly made various statements comparing President Obama to Hitler. According to one account of the event, when an attendee asked her what she suggested people do if asked to give up their guns, Werthmann allegedly replied, “Don’t you dare give up your guns! Never, never, never!” Another attendee reportedly said, “Give them back one bullet at a time!."

Again, show me an elected Democrat who said something similar about George Bush.

The next section is about the birther conspiracy. I'm not quite sure what to say about these people except that they simply add to the ever growing anger, hate, and fear that the report discusses.

Finally, we have the last section...the Influence of the Mainstream Media. The base, in their eternal derangement, thinks that all of the MSM is liberally biased. Not so, according to the facts presented by the ADL. They examine one of the most popular members of the MSM, Glenn Beck.

In March 2009, as a guest on another FOX News show, Beck also promoted an anti-government conspiracy theory popular among right-wing extremists—that FEMA is building concentration camps to house “dissidents.” Beck declared that he could not debunk the theory. Before introducing the topic of FEMA camps on that show, Beck claimed that the United States was “headed towards socialism, totalitarianism beyond your wildest imagination.” Later, he also promoted the FEMA camps conspiracy theory on his own show. After much controversy, Beck later backed away from the FEMA camps theory. The FEMA episode, however, is a good example of Beck’s key role as a “fearmonger-in-chief,” using constant laments such as “I fear for my country” to create a sense of anxiety about and hostility towards the government in his audience.

This is but one example of the fear and hate he spews on a daily basis. His radio show and TV show on Fox have millions of listeners. Recall the video of the town hall last summer with Rep Bob Ingliss, a Republican, when he asked his constituents to turn off Glenn Beck. He was loudly booed. They don't want the facts. They want to hear what their anger, hate, and fear are driving them to feel.

Take a look at this comment from yesterday's post, left by Kevin S.

Plenty of political violence on the Left. PETA, ELF, ALF, Ayers, Dohrn, Black Panthers, etc, etc, etc. When Jeremiah Wright stood up and screamed "God Damn America!" was that a message of love or hate? Get over yourself.

First of all, PETA? Do you seriously expect me to equate PETA with the millions of supporters of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck?

The ELF and ALF are such a threat to our culture right now that...I haven't even heard of them. Nor have I heard of Dohrn. By all means, enlighten me. And then show me, using facts and logic, how their numbers and political strength compares to the base. The same holds true for the Black Panthers (um, dude? It's 2009, not 40 years ago) and a buffoonish has beens like Jeremiah Wright, currently auditioning for a role on Dancing With The Stars. While you are at it, explain to me how Bill Ayers, a guy who was a radical for a few years, saw the futility in it, reformed, and become Chicago's Citizen of the Year in 1997, compares with the 20+ years of anger, hate and fear of Rush Limbaugh.

If you can demonstrate to me that this list of yours above compares in number, organization, and armament to the ADL report, then I will gladly stipulate that there is just as much problem on the right. Until then, it seems to me that you can't see this because you are, in fact, a part of it.

I hope I'm wrong and would be happy to be so as always...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Anger, Hate,and Fear Part One (An Introduction)

Recently it came out that Bill Sparkman, the Kentucky census worker who was found hanging dead from a tree with the word "FED" scrawled across his chest, killed himself. I had written a column a while back that insinuated that he was killed by a right wing zealot. Thankfully, I was wrong.

It may come as a surprise to most of you but I really was happy to be wrong. The last thing this country needs is another threat. I don't want to see the base rise up and start a second civil war. We have enough problems to deal with right now. Unfortunately, my admission of being wrong in this particular case does not mean that the problem has gone away.

Last October, I wrote a column which explored this problem on a local level. In it, I mentioned the Southern Poverty Law Center report on the threat from various right wing hate groups. This report has since been used as an example, by the base, as to how they are being victimized by...well...all the people and groups that are always out to get them. Again, I will admit that this report certainly does have bias in it and standing on its own should not constitute much concern. Combined with the DHS report on right wing hate groups should cause some, but not monumental, concern. Combine both of these with the new report from the Anti Defamation League and I think it's clear that there is most assuredly a problem. Is it a threat, though?

One thing is clear. The next time someone from the base tries to tell you that there is just as much intolerance on the left, show them this report and ask them to produce a similar one on left wing groups. It doesn't exist. Why? Because, as was written in the first comment on Amazon.com regarding Thomas Frank's The Wrecking Crew, "one side of the battle continues to play the game as politics, as elections won or lost and citizens swayed or not, while the other side approaches it as an act of war, a no-holds-barred contest in which the only goal is the complete and utter destruction of the other side.

The report that the ADL has published is a very detailed summation of what has been going on in our country since Barack Obama was elected. If you look at their mission, one can see why they came out with this document.

From the ADL web site.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all." Now the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.

A leader in the development of materials, programs and services, ADL builds bridges of communication, understanding and respect among diverse groups, carrying out its mission through a network of 30 Regional and Satellite Offices in the United States and abroad.


Before all of you in the base haul off and call this a liberal-faggot operation who wants to take away my guns and Bible, bear in mind that most of the ADL criticisms come from people like Noam Chomsky, CAIR, and the Nation of Islam. The latter are not surprising but the first certainly is and Chomsky's not the only liberal who rips the ADL on a regular basis. Essentially, the ADL get shit from everyone which means, in my opinion, they are probably doing something right.

For the entire week (unless something major happens), I will be examining this report and urge all of you to do the same. It will completely lay to rest any sort of notion that the left has as much anger, hate and fear as the current form of the base does. It will also show that right, sadly, sees people on the left within the confined context that they see themselves and the world around them. Their frame of reference is so skewed that they can't possibly begin to grasp that a) what they are espousing is terribly destructive and b) their "opponents" don't operate as they do.

In looking at the introduction, A Year of Growing Animosity, a few things jump out at me.

What characterizes this anti-government hostility is a shared belief that Obama and his administration actually pose a threat to the future of the United States. Some accuse Obama of plotting to bring socialism to the United States, while others claim he will bring about Nazism or fascism. All believe that Obama and his administration will trample on individual freedoms and civil liberties, due to some sinister agenda, and they see his economic and social policies as manifestations of this agenda. In particular anti-government activists used the issue of health-care reform as a rallying point, accusing Obama and his administration of dark designs ranging from “socialized medicine” to “death panels,” even when the Obama administration had not come out with a specific health care reform plan. Some even compared the Obama administration’s intentions to Nazi eugenics programs.

Essentially, what they are saying here is that these groups operate solely on the emotions of anger, hate and fear. There is no logic whatsoever to these central points mentioned above.

At rallies and public events around the country, as well as across the Internet, President Obama is being painted as someone intent on destroying American culture and values. He is portrayed as “the other,” a dangerous foreign element in the United States.

Ironic, that is actually them that seems to be intent on doing so. Worse still, is the "left" in this country doesn't seem to get how serious they are about their feelings hence the reason why everyone should read The Wrecking Crew.

The anti-government anger encompasses a large portion of the right side of the political spectrum. It emanates from mainstream groups and politicians, but also from undeniably extreme groups and individuals, such as the suddenly resurgent militia movement. Together these individuals and groups form a continuum of anti-government fervor, with few sharp divisions or distinctions.

Basically, what I have been saying all along.

This hostile wave of anti-Obama anger and paranoid anti-government conspiracy theories goes well beyond mere transgressions of civil political discourse. Anti-government agitators launch many attacks that do not merely disagree with government policies or positions, but rather attempt to delegitimize the government itself. Indeed, an increasing number of anti-government activists are convincing themselves, or have already done so, that the government is illegitimate.

Yep. And I still think it's going to get worse. Wait until the health care bill passes. Even though it will be terribly watered down and one giant blow job to the insurance industry, the emotional minds of the base will convince their "rational" minds that our country has turned into the former Soviet Union.

These growing beliefs threaten to create a large pool of people more susceptible to extreme anti-government conspiracy theories and even calls to resistance on the part of extremist groups and movements, such as the militia movement, which may grow as a result.

Grow into what, though?

Some of these notions have even percolated beyond extremist groups and movements into the mainstream. One example is the Appleseed Project (also known as the Revolutionary War Veterans Association), a marksmanship program that combines firearms training with historical/political lectures on the battles of Lexington and Concord in the Revolutionary War. Trainees are taught not only marksmanship but the idea that they are equivalent to the Revolutionary War patriots and might have to fight for their liberty in the near future.

Great. So in addition to being a communist, a socialist, a Marxist, and a fascist, President Obama is now King George.

And isn't it funny that these same people who claim to know the "real" meaning of the Constitution also know the "real" meaning of the Bible? I don't think it's a coincidence that the base is largely made up of people who FEEL this way.

Now that we have defined the general issue, in part two of this series I will be taking a look at the next how this anger, hate and fear has become specifically mainstream.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Serendipity

Given the recent line of comments in various threads and what we here daily from the GOP, I thought this quote would very appropriate today.

What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists, is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.
--Robert Kennedy

Friday, December 04, 2009

Just...wow...

Even I didn't see this one coming.

Amazing.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Last Night

I was looking for one thing in last night's speech by President Obama regarding our country's new direction in AfPak. This was it.

In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over. Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interests, mutual respect, and mutual trust. We will strengthen Pakistan's capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe-haven for terrorists whose location is known, and whose intentions are clear. America is also providing substantial resources to support Pakistan's democracy and development. We are the largest international supporter for those Pakistanis displaced by the fighting. And going forward, the Pakistani people must know: America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan's security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.

My chief complaint thus far regarding President Obama's policy in AfPak has been relying to heavily on the weak government of Pakistan to go after Al Qaeda. It appears "those days are over. " I fully support the President in this endeavor and think that we will be, by and large, successful now that a more thorough plan for AfPak has been created.