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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Most Excellent, Sir...

In a recent thread over at TSM, a commenter named Mastiff left this most excellent post.

A primer in the proper relationship between intellect and emotion, according to Jewish mysticism.

You can imagine the human mind as being made of two components: the rational mind, and the emotional mind.

The rational mind can reason, but cannot impel action. In this model, it takes emotion to do that. A person totally devoid of emotion would starve to death.

If you decide on a course of action with the rational mind, and then lend motive force to your decisions with the emotional mind, then you are doing things the right way. For example, considering the phenomenon of slavery with the rational mind, you conclude that it is a gross offense against humanity. Then, your emotional mind conveys the full force of what that means, driving you with anger and righteous fury to do something about it.

If you decide on a course of action with your emotional mind, and then let your rational mind justify a decision already made (i.e. engage in "rationalization"), you are doing things the wrong way. For example, you want to have sex with a drunk girl. Therefore, you direct your rational mind to justify the decision to have sex ("she knew what could happen, she clearly wants it, she won't remember anyway," etc.), so that your conscience does not interfere with the pleasure of the act. Or less so, anyway.

As we watch President Obama's prime time address tomorrow night regarding his plan for Afghanistan, pay attention to the reaction. Who are the ones that "let their rational minds justify a decision already made?"

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about the classic "liberals lead with their feelings, conservatives lead with thinking" meme. I believe it was Last in Line that first uttered that little ditty on here way back in the day. I think I've heard it said...oh...A BAZILLION TIMES....since then by pretty much every conservative I know.

In fact, it was recently repeated at the gym by an airport policeman I have become friendly with of late. He went on to say that's why most women are liberal because they lead more with their feelings. Of course, right after he said this a woman walked up to him and told him she was conservative and he was full of shit which I found amusing.

I then proceeded to ask both of them who they thought kept the country safer...Dick Cheney or Barack Obama? They both chuckled and said "Dick Cheney, of course!!" When I asked them what their basis for this was, they gave me several "thinking" (not "feeling") gems such as "Obama's weak...he talks to our enemies" and "Cheney's not afraid to do what it takes to win...like put the screws to the terrorists." When they asked me who I thought was a better leader, national security wise, I said President Obama. They laughed and wondered why.

I said that, unlike Bush and Cheney, President Obama is actually going to increase the troop levels significantly in Afghanistan. In fact, he'll have done it twice. I told them that it's been over 8 years and we still haven't caught or killed Osama bin Laden or Ayman Al Zawahari...the two men who lead Al Qaeda...who were responsible for the worst attack in our country's history....an attack which occurred on the watch of Dick Cheney. Naturally, they proceeded to blame Bill Clinton and said I was being "mean" to Dick. After reading them Mastiff's 5th paragraph above and perfectly illustrating how they were the living embodiment of it (as is the majority of the GOP base these days), they then became furious and the woman called me a traitor...walking away saying she couldn't talk to me because I "hated America."

Eh, well...as long as they say "I think you are a traitor" instead of "I feel you are a traitor." That makes it all OK.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Oh Yeah?

Hey, Dick...I have two words for and your dithering ass...

Fuck (and) Off.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for the Truth

For those of you who want to know what ACTUALLY happened on the first Thanksgiving, check this out.

Origin myths do not come cheaply. To glorify the Pilgrims is dangerous. The genial omissions and false details our texts use to retail the Pilgrim legend promote Anglocentrism, which only handicaps us when dealing with all those whose culture is not Anglo. Surely, in history, "truth should be held sacred, at whatever cost."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Simply Beautiful

They had SEVEN YEARS to get Afghanistan right, and now they accuse Obama of "dithering."

---blk in comments.

Remember, they can make believe anything they want:)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Attack! Kill! Now!

Recently, Dick Cheney accused President Obama of "dithering" on Afghanistan. As expected, the right has pounced on this and fallen back into the "Obama is weak, they's a comin', he'll encourage terrorists to attack us" meme. Many have said that the president should listen to Generals MacChyrstal and Patraeus and approve the troop surge immediately.

The only problem with this opinion is that's not what General Patraeus has said. From the Defense Department web site.

n Iraq, getting the right strategy was just as important as the surge in personnel, the general said. “The real key in Iraq was the surge of ideas, not just the surge of troops,” Petraeus said. “Yes, the 30,000 additional troops that ended up being deployed during the surge enabled us to … implement time-honored counterinsurgency concepts more effectively and more rapidly than we could have.”

Multinational forces began living in the communities. They began protecting the people and securing their neighborhoods. “You cannot commute to the fight,” Petraeus said, and the command built 77 stations for coalition forces in Baghdad alone.

As attention shifts to Afghanistan, Petraeus said, people must remember that Afghanistan is not Iraq.

“All counterinsurgencies are local,” he explained. “You have to recognize the need for a truly nuanced and granular appreciation for local circumstances.”

Americans going to the country must understand the local customs and culture and the local power structures. “We are trying to help Afghanistan re-establish traditional ruling structures: the traditional [religious leaders], the traditional tribal leaders, who in many areas have been pushed aside, or killed, or run off by the Taliban or the more extreme leaders,” he said.

Wait, what? General Patraeus has said that it's a good thing to wait and get it right? Hmm, I wonder how long it will take for the base to call him General "Betray Us."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Corporate Abuse

Recently, I was asked in comments

What specific power has a corporation used to abuse you?"

Setting aside the fact that only an ostrich with his head buried quite deeply in the sand couldn't see how corporations of this country abuse and essentially enslave us, I do actually have a specific example.

Take a look at this postcard (left) I received in the mail from Center Point Energy, a private corporation.

If you do not call immediately, Centerpoint Energy will be required to take appropriate legal action to obtain access.

This is not the federal government trying to beat down my door. This is a PRIVATE company.

The only mention of the government in all of this is a federal statue that says that this private company can invade my home any time they want to and if I don't let them, then they can...what exactly? Sue me? Send Blackwater agents into my house to subdue my family and inspect the meter?

What's funny is that it's not even Center Point that does the inspections. It's a sub contractor. I did call and have someone come to my home. This company, RMR services, caught blazing hellfire for this card from Centerpoint customers...which is pretty much anyone with a furnace in my area. In fact, they are the only choice I have for gas in my area. So much for free will. Oh wait. That's right. I can burn a pile of wood in my front room. Great.

Someone care to explain to me how the "gubmint" is running the show here? It seems to me that Centerpoint greased the politicians to essentially have an organized monopoly and uses them if they need a tool to get into my home. Wooo-wee...them Feds have got me a quakin' now!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

They's A Comin'

Talking Points Memo has an excellent piece today on the silly arguments about bringing the Gitmo detainees here to the continental US. There are many points made in the article that are quite accurate but my favorite is this one regarding the wetting of the pants by the right by what hirabis might say in court.

I cannot imagine anything KSM or his confederates would say that would diminish America or damage us in any way. Are we really so worried that what we represent is so questionable or our identity so brittle?

Yes, it is. Or, more specifically, their faith is weak. And by "they" you know who I am talking about. In essence, the central and motivating factor for the behavior of the right is that they really aren't very secure in their beliefs. It's why they accuse the left of going more with their "feelings" than their reason...ludicrous because, in addition to being the WORST fucking example of giving in to emotion, we are human beings who (gasp!) do have emotion. It's also ludicrous considering fear is all they really know.

It's why they have to have more people believe as they do otherwise there's a chance they might be wrong because less do. So, it's either you're with us or agin' us. Things have to be simple because complexity leads to doubt. And there can be no doubt. It's why they can't admit fault because their insecurity is so great that to do so would mean the end times.

The fact is that there is nothing the Kalid Sheik Mohammed could say that would change America. We are a country based on freedom and peace. He is a mass murderer who believes in putting the world in chains. The more he rants, the better it is for the world to see how much more integrity we have.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Quaking With Fear

I've had a few debates here and more than several over at TSM regarding government power. My friends on the right are convinced that government has more power than ever before. I contend that the real power lies within the private sector and the people that run our government are simply stoolies for the corporations of this country. I have pointed to K street and the massive growth of lobbyists as evidence but conservatives will not budge. The "Gubmint" is threatening me with a gun, they cry. Corporations are not.

Yet, an article in today's New York Times seems to suggest otherwise. Genentech, a bioengineering company, sent several talking points, through emails from lobbyists, to members of both parties. These talking points, in some cases the same language, were used in speeches on the floor of Congress during the debate over the health care bill. Essentially, we have a private company shaping policy and directing communication over a public issue: health care. I suspect that this will not be the only example to come to light.

Wow, folks. I'm quaking with fear at the awesome power of our "gubmint" who can now plainly be seen as nothing but over glorified middle men pretending to serve the public. Let's just dispense with the pretense (and the waste of tax payer money) and have the corporations of this country appoint a CEO of America INC.

Barf.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Back to the Bill

If I could pick one complaint about the House version of the health bill, I would say it really does seem to give insurance companies a break. A few of the Democrats that voted against the bill, including Dennis Kucinich, did so because of the mandate that decrees that everyone must have health insurance. If you can't afford it, the federal government would provide subsidies to insurance companies so that you can have insurance.

My question is how is this any different than bailing out AIG?

To me, this part of the new bill is reminiscent of Massachusetts universal care which vastly benefits the private sector. One way or another, the Man is getting his third vacation home with our money.

Of course, I can bitch about this all I want but I don't really see another alternative. Corporations of this country are so powerful that there will NEVER be a system like there is in Canada or Great Britain. And, with at least 30 million people believing that any government run system is going to cause our country to become EXACTLY like the Soviet Union in the year 1955, our plutonomy is going to roll merrily along.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Honor Them.

Find a veteran today, touch them on the arm, look in their eyes, and say thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Restroom Urinal at the Train Station

Bill Maher is right. The "public option" does indeed sound like the urinal at the train station. Who would want the public option? It just sounds gross. You can almost smell how disgusting it is.

The Congressional Budget Office, however, seems to think that the public option is no big deal. In fact, in a letter sent to the House, the CBO estimates that the public option portion of the bill will only attract about 6 million enrollees. They estimate that most Americans will stay with their private plans. They also estimate that the bill will reduce the deficit by 104 billion dollars over 10 years.

The CBO goes on to say that the public option would likely charge higher premiums than private insurers. This is due to their estimate that the people who would seek the public option would be higher risk patients and the fact that the public option would “engage in less management of utilization." So, the contention that the public option would drive private insurance out of business is not accurate.

Here is the CBO's breakdown of both the House bill and the Senate Bill.

CBO Score Of House Bill CBO Score Of Baucus Bill
Costs Reduce deficits: $104B/10yrs
Cost: $894B/10yrs
Spends on subsidies: $605B/10yrs
On Medicaid/CHIP: $425B/10yrs
On Small Employer Credit: $25B/10yrs
Reduce deficits: $81B/10yrs
Cost: $829B/10yrs
Spends on subsidies: $461B/10yrs
On Medicaid/CHIP: $345B/10yrs
On Small Employer Credit: $23B/10yrs
Insured Uninsured reduced by: 36M
Uninsured in 2019: 18M
In Exchanges: 30M | Public Plan: 6M
In Medicaid: 15M
Uninsured reduced by: 29M
Uninsured in 2019: 25M
In Exchanges: 23M
In Medicaid: 14M
Revenue Mandate penalty: $33B/10yrs
Pay-Play penalty: $135B/10yrs
New taxes: $572B/10yrs
Mandate penalty: $4B/10yrs
Free rider penalty: $23B/10yrs
New taxes: $196B/10yrs
Medicare
and
Medicaid
Total savings: 426B/10yrs
Medicare Advantage: $170B/10yrs
Total savings: 404B/10yrs
Medicare Advantage: $117B/10yrs

Now, the CBO has been touted by those who are against this bill as being sound financially. One would think this would be good news for them. In addition, if only six million people are going to use the program, that isn't exactly a "Soviet style takeover."

Monday, November 09, 2009

So, the bill...

Late Saturday night, the United States House of Representatives passed landmark health care legislation by a vote of 220-215. Over the next few days, we'll be taking a look at what's in the bill and what it means for you. Rather than tackle everything at once, I thought I would focus on one part per day (and perhaps the strands that trail out from that) and discuss it.

Many of you have asked me why I support a bill like this even though there are items in it that I would not find agreeable. For the first couple of days, I'm going to talk why I supported this bill singling out those specific points which I think have merit. The first one is the ejection from the capsule of pre-existing conditions. Thank God.

Under this new bill, a person can't be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Not only do I support this from the point of view of a human being but it also makes sound financial sense. If someone is denied coverage but ends up in the ER or in ICU, the rest of us will still end up paying for it through higher premiums. Without this regulation in place, less and less people will be able to afford health care because insurance companies will simply raise their rates. Has anyone ever seen them go down?

Of course, the argument could be made that we could just let these people die but I think we are a better country than that. Somehow, their care is going to have to be paid for and whether it's through the government or private insurance, we will be the ones to pay. The insurance industry has shown that it has done a poor job regulating itself. Even with their higher premiums, they still needed to be bailed out by Uncle Sam (AIG etc) and then used that money for lavish vacation retreats (see: US plutonomy).

The government certainly isn't the perfect mechanism for this but what is the alternative?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

220-215

The House passed its version of the health care bill last night in a vote of 220 to 215. Interestingly, one Republican, Joseph Cao from Louisiana, voted for the bill. "I have always said that I would put aside partisan wrangling to do the business of the people. My vote tonight was based on my priority of doing what is best for my constituents," Cao said. Maybe there is some hope for the Republican Party after all.

I was also interested at the bipartisan press conference after the signing in which both sides claimed victory and said they were happy (??) with the bill. For the Republicans, this was largely due to the Stupak amendment that bans federal money for abortions.

So my initial thoughts are fairly positive. In listening to Michelle Bachmann, it sounded like we were all going to be thrown into a boiling pit of sewage. I also thought the partisanship would turn even more acrimonious. Tomorrow, I'll start putting up some of the finer points of the bill and we can talk about them.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Reaching Out

We've been talking about "reaching out" to the right in comments lately so I thought I would share a recent Facebook status update of a friend of mine whom I call John Smith.

JOHN SMITH is going to grill meat and use lots of coals to emit as much carbon as possible and piss of the global warming nut jobs.

So, my question is this...how do I reach out to John, hmm?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Without Comment

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Yep, pretty much.

Recovering conservative, Frank Schaeffer has had quite a bit to say these days about his former party. Schaeffer, whose father was close to President Reagan, President Bush (41), President Ford and Jack Kemp, has a new book out entitled Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism) and has been ripping out some zingers on his tour hawking it. Here are a few choice ones with which I happen to agree.

Combined with the fact that we began to lose parts of the culture war, when it came to other Americans beginning to recognize gay rights, expanding women's rights, abortion rights and such, the Religious Right and the Republican Party infected gun-toting America with a chip on its shoulder about a mile wide. This led to the myth that "they" (fill in the blank, gays, Jews, blacks, liberals --- whatever) are "taking away our country from 'us'"...

This would be the fear of the "other" that I have been talking about lately.

Conservative" means that you believe it's right to legalize torture, but reject health care for all.

Wow. I've never heard it put so succinctly before but yes, that is what it means to be conservative.

These days to be a conservative means that you hate the United States government elected by the people and believe that if millions of citizens are out of work that it's their own fault and that the rest of the community should not help them by spending tax dollars.

Yep.

To be a conservative means you believe that healthcare reform will lead to "death panels"; that the president of the United States is not a "real American"; that a university education is a dangerous thing; that Americans who live in big cities are less American than those who live in small towns; that brown people, blacks, progressive whites, gays, public school teachers, Hispanics, immigrants, are somehow conspiring to subvert the "real America" with a "gay agenda" or a "Muslim agenda" or at least the browning of "our" white America.

Oh no he di-int! The right is not racist!!! THE RIGHT IS NOT RACIST!!! THE RIGHT IS NOT RACIST!!! THE RIGHT IS NOT RACIST!!! THE RIGHT IS NOT RACIST!!! THE RIGHT IS NOT RACIST!!! THE RIGHT IS NOT RACIST!!!

(keep chanting this and maybe someday it will be true)

And now, the coup de grace.

In other words to be a conservative today is to be an anti-American, nihilistic libertarian know-nothing who believes in unregulated consumerism and the theology of dominion. It is in fact what conservatives of the 60s said the hippies were: selfish brats with no sense of responsibility to anyone. It's also a party of armed revolution not so subtly egging on its lunatic fringe to commit violence. It applauds white rubes who show up at public meetings carrying loaded assault weapons "to make a point" and signs reminiscent of Timothy McVeigh and his famous T-shirt; "the tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants" and the like are held up by Murdoch/Beck/Fox and company --- those profiteers off the unregulated market --- as paragons of good sense and free enterprise and gun rights.

My question for conservatives who post here...how is he wrong? Virtually everything I have seen over the years on this blog and in discussions with the right adheres to the paragraph above. And it's getting worse every day.

Of course, it's not enough just to rip the psychotics who run the GOP now. What should they actually be?

An actual conservative believes in community and accountability to a moral tradition that puts the greater good of others ahead of oneself. Take a look at the way the very conservative communities of New England's Puritan towns were arranged around the village green known as "the commons."

Shared public spaces were owned by the community, for instance grazing land, and town meetinghouses. People were obliged to show up and participate in the fledgling democracy and vote. Taxes were dispensed by committees for charitable purposes. A duty to government and obligations placed on citizens by other citizens --- when it came to putting the life of the community ahead of the self --- were the norm. The free-market and individual enterprise were strictly curtailed based on not just the needs of the community but, when it came to things like banking and lending, the Old Testament teachings that frowned on "usury" --- in other words banks making more money than they should from ordinary people-- were upheld.

And the line that is sure to explode heads...

President Obama is a conservative. He believes in the brotherhood of all people. He believes in the freedom of the individual to make moral decisions. He believes that sexuality, religion and skin color should not define us but the content of our characters should define us. He believes that we are our brother's keeper. He believes in loyalty to community and country --- in other words patriotism, whether that's the honor of serving in the military or the honor of paying taxes to support not just national defense but how we treat what the Bible calls the least amongst us.

I agree completely. And I think many on the right know this which is why they have become hyper ragers right now. How dare President Obama try to out conservative the conservatives! Let's paint a Hitler moustache on him and scare some people. Yeah, that'll work!

Mr. Schaeffer's right, dudes. What the fuck happened to your party?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Liberal Media Watch

The media is all liberally biased, right?

"GOP hopes rekindled" (headline from MSNBC)

"Blow to Obama" (headline from MSNBC)

"GOP Scores Big on Election Night" (headline from CNN)

"GOP Rules Election Night" (headline from CNN)

"Setback to Obama" (NY Times headline)

"Victories seen as a sharp blow to Democrats and showed the limits of President Obama's political clout." (Comcast News headline)

Hmm...I thought the media were in the tank for President Obama. It couldn't possibly be they just want to SELL something...anything....no matter who their audience is, now could it?

This same "liberal media" has also buried the story of the loss by the Republicans in NY-23. Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck all got behind the "real" conservative, Doug Hoffman. It was quite a scene of GOP infighting which resulted in the election of a Democrat, Bill Owens -- the first Democratic congressman from that region since Ulysses S Grant was president. In fact, the "fake" Republican, Dede Scozzafava, that was forced to drop out of the race by the psychotics that are currently running the GOP ended up backing Owens. Huh. Isn't that interesting? Perhaps there aren't as many "real" Republicans out there as Rush, Glenn, and Sara would like to think. How sad...

Anyway, I don't buy into the media's "The GOP Are Back!!!" meme. If they were, NY -23 would be in Hoffman's hands. As it stands, a very conservative state (VA) voted for a Republican (gosh, what a shock) and New Jersey voted out the guy who was up to his eyeballs in Goldman Sachs kickbacks. Whoopity Doo!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Wow



I share that fear, and I believe they should be fearful. And I believe the greatest fear that we all should have to our freedom comes from this room, this very room. And what may happen later this week, in terms of a tax increase bill masquerading as a health care bill. I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.

It makes my heart all warm and fuzzy to know that the right at least aren't trying to hide it anymore. How many times did she use the word "fear?"

Ah well, as long as they are being rational about it and grounding their assertions in facts and logic while strictly adhering to the scientific method.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chest Thumping

In what was quite possibly one of the most amusing screeds by the right in the last few years, Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism failed (see: completely) to address the issue of nationalism. You can't complain about a group of individuals (liberals) and label them America "haters" while, at the same time, calling them fascists. It's akin to criticizing a political party or a country of too little government control and then walking away, screaming, "Commies!"

A key tenet of fascism is a fierce sense of nationalism. A recent article by Neal Gabler illustrates the fact that the right are the ones that have this key ingredient of fascism.

There is nothing wrong with self-satisfaction or national pride. But the incessant trumpeting of our national superiority to every other country in the world is more than just off-putting and insulting. It is infantile, like the vaunting of a schoolyard bully that his Dad is better than your Dad. It is wrong. And it might be dangerous both to ourselves and to the rest of the world.

It also doesn't work. We live in a global economy now and it is simply good business to understand and get along with other cultures. Wait. Sorry. I just realized that the words "understand" and "get along with" when used in conjunction with the right can probably only exist on one place in the world.

Fantasy Island.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just....Wow.

Take a look at this picture I received in an email forward recently. Click on it for a bigger image.

Really?

FUCKING REALLY????!!!????

Setting aside the obvious offense to women everywhere, it is yet another nauseating example of male stereotyping which will sadly lead to more men thinking this is "cool."

Every fucking day I turn on the TV and all I see are commercials which portray men as essentially enjoying four things: eating, sleeping, watching TV, and playing video games. Each ad somehow manages to make them look moronic doing each of them. I am sick and tired of it.

Men are NOT simple creatures. We have just as many complex emotions as women do. The main reason why men are so fucked up in our culture is that their sociocultural context has told them that this fucking TV remote pictured above is the ideal. Never has their been a larger or smellier load of shit.

To say that I loathe this picture is the understatement of...forever. In fact, add up my dislike of Michelle Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Malkin and it is still but a thimble full of hatred compared to the above image of the "Male" in the year 2009. But that's not even the worst part.

The fact is that this stereotype comes from somewhere as all stereotypes do. There ARE guys like this and some who probably find it funny. More than likely, they are beyond hope. But this certainly doesn't help the ones that aren't. So, shit like this pushes the ones that don't think this is funny into going with the flow and the cycle of the "Buffoon Man" continues.

What a giant load of diarrhea.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blow Away, Dudes

Check out this article from the New York Times regarding the Department of Justice's decision to cease pursuing medical marijuana stores in various states where it is legal across the country. Honestly, I never thought I would see it happen but it's finally up to the states now.

I have no doubt that my state will be the LAST one in the US to ease any sort of marijuana restrictions (see: 90 foot pole up ass on any sort of happy, fun time) but I am still quite pleased. It's insane that this drug is not legal. The illegality of it has caused our already over filled jails to be filled more and has fueled the Mexican drug cartels violence. States can now pursue sensible restrictions and penalties that don't send someone to jail for a minimum of 25 years.

And an extra stream of tax revenue will mean help for states like California who are having severe budget problems.

But the best part? Certain people have to now admit that the words "less federal government" and "the Obama administration" must be used in tandem. Hee Hee....

Monday, October 26, 2009

Quaking With Fear

It's quite an amusing thing to get into a discussion with a conservative these days. As the eyes turn wild with paranoia and fear, the mouth begins to froth. Screams of "statism" and "liberal fascists" begin to be heard as the explanation (fully based on logic and facts...not!) of how all liberals are on one giant power crab is heard at very loud tone.

"That bitch in the House!!!!"

was the first comment from my Uncle Bill when the subject of politics came up. Yeah, good thing the right doesn't lead with their feelings.

But the power grab thing has always cracked me up. Juxtapose what the right says about the twirling moustache liberals thirst for power with a recent statement from Harry "Milktoast" Reid.

We’re leaning towards talking about a public option.

Wow. I am overwhelmed by his Hitleresque statements and tactics. He's a comin' to git ya! Hide your guns and children...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A True Hero



I am here today because of a conversation I had last June when I was voting. A woman at my polling place asked me, "Do you believe in equal, equality for gay and lesbian people?" I was pretty surprised to be asked a question like that. It made no sense to me. Finally I asked her, "What do you think our boys fought for at Omaha Beach?" I haven't seen much, so much blood and guts, so much suffering, much sacrifice. For what? For freedom and equality. These are the values that give America a great nation, one worth dying for.




Amen, Phillip. Thank you for your service.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

File Under: No Shit

Apparently, the Secret Service is seeing an increased level of death threats against President Obama, more so than any other president.

Gee, I'm shocked.

For months we have been hearing much downplaying from the right about how "all presidents get threats" blah blah blah.

But the Boston Globe is now reporting that the Secret Service is not tasked to handle all of these new threats and may need to re-tool it's mission.

The unprecedented number of death threats against President Obama, a rise in racist hate groups, and a new wave of antigovernment fervor threaten to overwhelm the US Secret Service, according to government officials and reports, raising new questions about the 144-year-old agency’s overall mission.

Remember the Brooklyn Park incident from a while back? Check this out.

Two days before Obama’s appearance at San Francisco fund-raisers on Thursday, a 59-year-old Northern California man was indicted on charges of sending a racist, profanity-filled e-mail threatening to kill Obama and his family. The rambling e-mail included specific references to Michelle Obama and the phrase, “do it to his children and family first in front of him,’’ according to the indictment.

Yeah, BP was an "isolated" incident.

Oh, and it was nice to this "highly disputed" report again.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says that antigovernment militias and white supremacist groups have strengthened in recent years, responding to an increasingly diverse population and what they see as an expanding government.

A center study released in August found a nearly 35 percent growth in racially based domestic hate groups since 2000 - from 602 to 926. The center concluded that opposition to Obama’s election has only increased the phenomenon.

“A key difference this time is that the federal government - the entity that almost the entire radical right views as its primary enemy - is headed by a black man,’’ the report said. “One result has been a remarkable rash of domestic terror incidents since the presidential campaign, most of them related to anger over the election of Barack Obama.’’

They're just a bunch of leftists down there at the SPLC so I wouldn't pay them no never mind.

And it's a good thing that we have Rush, Glenn Beck, and a zillion other pundits encouraging so much love and affection for the president. I'm sure that their listeners can tell that they are only entertainers.