Friday, September 30, 2011




Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!



But that's no surprise because the notion that business "uncertainty" about taxes and regulation is keeping growth down comes from Republicans, who often just make shit up about economics.

From the New York Times, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman on the "uncertainty" principle:

Phony Fear Factor

Still, isn’t there something odd about the fact that businesses are making large profits and sitting on a lot of cash but aren’t spending that cash to expand capacity and employment? No.

After all, why should businesses expand when they’re not using the capacity they already have? The bursting of the housing bubble and the overhang of household debt have left consumer spending depressed and many businesses with more capacity than they need and no reason to add more. Business investment always responds strongly to the state of the economy, and given how weak our economy remains you shouldn’t be surprised if investment remains low. If anything, business spending has been stronger than one might have predicted given slow growth and high unemployment.

But aren’t business people complaining about the burden of taxes and regulations? Yes, but no more than usual. Mr. Mishel points out that the National Federation of Independent Business has been surveying small businesses for almost 40 years, asking them to name their most important problem. Taxes and regulations always rank high on the list, but what stands out now is a surge in the number of businesses citing poor sales — which strongly suggests that lack of demand, not fear of government, is holding business back.

So Republican assertions about what ails the economy are pure fantasy, at odds with all the evidence. Should we be surprised?

More here.

Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels is supposedly the person who said, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." There is apparently some controversy over whether or not Goebbels ever actually made such a statement, but it's a good enough observation one way or the other: say something enough and it is perceived as reality, whether it's true or not. The difference here between modern Republicans and the Nazis is that the GOP tends to believe its own lies. That is, even though this "uncertainty" nonsense is a demonstrable lie, you can bet your sweet booty that most Republicans take it as gospel, the same way they believe Jesus and Reagan won World War II and defeated communism by playing chess against Death.

But no matter. The point is that the Republicans have all decided that they're going to spew this bullshit over and over until nobody can hear anything but the "fact" that business aren't creating jobs because they're worried that Obama might raise taxes or force them to clean the E. coli out of the hamburgers they sell. The corporate news media, as usual, are currently and gleefully aiding in this venture, often running Republican talking points on the issue without questioning them.

What really gets me about this is that it's such a stupid fucking lie. I mean, as Krugman observes, when haven't businesses bitched about taxes and regulation? Why are taxes and regulation so suddenly such a blanket issue? If you really take the "uncertainty" principle seriously, our economy should have sputtered to a standstill generations ago. At face value, it just makes no sense. I mean, I've thought for years that the notion that tax cuts somehow create higher tax revenues is freaking retarded, but the "uncertainty" principle just takes the cake. And here we have it on the verge of becoming conventional wisdom within the establishment.

I mean, even Obama's in on the act, too, which, at this point shouldn't surprise anyone: his decision to rein in the deficit, even though a very solid majority of economists were telling anyone who would listen that we need stimulus out the butt, and that cutting spending would do nothing but make the economy worse, is strong evidence that he's been drinking the kool-aid. It's good to hear that he's all about jobs now, but I'll be really impressed when he pairs his words with some actual action. Of course, that's not going to happen. He's already painted himself into a corner, and quite willingly, I might add.

My god, can anything stem the tide here?


Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Something Has Started": Michael Moore on the Occupy Wall St. Protests That Could Spark a Movement

From Democracy Now:

AMY GOODMAN: Well we’ve put out to the world that you’re coming in today. Of course, the questions came in on Facebook. We tweeted this and people can tweet back right now. But, when we posted the question on Facebook, "What do you want to ask Michael Moore?", Tausif Khan wrote, "What do you think is the next step the protesters need to take to get Washington and Wall Street to listen and to make real change?"

MICHAEL MOORE: They don’t need to worry about a next step. It’s already happening. This is something that has, sort of, sprung up. There’s no group, organized group, no dues-paying, members only organization behind this. This is literally an uprising of people who have had it. And It has already started to spread across the country in other cities. It will continue to spread. It has to start somewhere. It started here with a few hundred. It will grow, and really already has grown here to a few thousand. And will be tens of thousands and then hundreds of thousands of people because, what I was in them other night, the great thing about what they are doing, and great in the sense that their work ahead is not as difficult as other movements in the past; when the Women’s Liberation Movement began, when people began protesting against the Vietnam War, civil-rights movement. At the beginning of those movements, the majority of the country was not with them, did not believe the basic principles of any of those philosophies. That’s not true right now. The majority of Americans are really upset at Wall Street. Millions of Americans have lost their homes or are facing foreclosure right now. Fifty Million do not have health insurance. Fourteen Million officially are unemployed, and it’s probably well up into the 20 million-plus people that are actually unemployed. So you’ve already got an army of Americans who are just waiting for somebody to do something, and the something has started.

Watch, read, or listen to the rest here.

Well, my feelings about the Occupy Wall Street movement are, shall we say, much more tentative than what Michael Moore is expressing in the excerpt above. I mean, I participated in anti-war demonstrations on the eve of the Iraq invasion, and then watched as the movement shrank to a small fraction of what it had been as soon as the bombs started dropping. And then I watched as it all but disappeared once Obama took office. That is, I've experienced that 60s feeling before, but it turned out to be a bust.

But Moore is absolutely right to note that this does appear to be different. It really does seem to resemble some of the "Arab Spring" uprisings in that there appear to be no top-down attempts at organizing. This is grass roots; it's from the bottom up. People just showing up at the world's center of power, which is no longer in Washington DC, and protesting.

And it's getting bigger. There's a facebook page for potential demonstrators here in NOLA. Indeed, I'm hearing that there are solidarity demonstrations springing up in major cities across the country. Like I said, I've seen this shit fizzle out before, but this looks like it's got a nice head of steam, one that's driven not by yuppie liberals on the East coast, but by pissed off rank-and-file Americans. We'll see where this goes, but for now I've got my fingers crossed. This could be big.

Here's some appropriate music. Actually, it's very appropriate if you listen to the lyrics:


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

GOP Debate Audiences Becoming a Nightmare for the Party

From AlterNet:

But even that was nothing like what happened during the Tea Party/CNN debate the evening of September 12, when the topic of discussion was who would pay to keep a 30-year-old alive who lacked health insurance and had been in a terrible motorcycle accident. As Congressman Ron Paul was busy equating the death of this hypothetical easy rider with the "freedom" enjoyed by Americans, the crowd began to lustily cheer and yell "yeah" to the question of whether this accident victim should be allowed to die.

Think about that for a second. Weren't these the guys and gals who blew a gasket over the prospect of allowing the severely brain-damaged Terry Schiavo to rest in peace a few years back, and attacked her husband as some sort of ghoul for wanting his wife to die with dignity? Yet, somehow these days, bringing a little more Torquemada to their decision-making regarding who lives and who dies, seems to hae become the new-new-conservatism.


Just for the sake of variety, instead of cheering for death at the most recent GOP debate on Fox, the crowd decide to shake things up--get jiggy with it, if you will--and move on from cheering death to booing those risking their lives in Iraq in our military. In this case it was a gay soldier, which is going to make it really difficult when they have to redo the magnets on the back of their mini-vans to say "Support Our Troops..You Know, If Their Dating Preference Happens To Be Those Of The Opposite Sex."

I think the Republicans have a word for Democrats who would boo our soldiers serving abroad--hmm, I can't seem to recall exactly what it is, but I think it starts with a "t" and rhymes with "season."

More here.

Here's why I think Obama is going to be reelected, and it has absolutely nothing to do with his god-awful record.

In order to get the GOP nomination, every single one of the candidates has to prove somehow some way to the most psychotic rank-and-file of the Republican Party that he or she is one of them. Each candidate has to assert that tax cuts, and tax cuts alone, are the way to economic prosperity. Each candidate has to favor cutting the fuck out of massively popular social programs. Each candidate has to champion ignorance, while denigrating science, by expressing his belief that evolution is not a fact, and that global warming isn't really happening. Each candidate has to gleefully embrace lots of people dying, be they the uninsured, people convicted of capital crimes, or innocent Muslims abroad in our "War on Terror." Each candidate has to show that he's willing to burn government to the ground in order to save it. They've all got to talk like the most dangerous lunatics in the country if they want to get the nomination, and any weakness in this area is immediately pounced upon by other candidates, the press, and Republican voters. And that's what we're seeing right now out on the campaign trail. Ten or so prominent Republicans all in lockstep saying "I'm the biggest crackpot asshole in the field; elect me."

Of course, once a nominee is eventually named, he or she will then have to turn around, face the rest of the country and somehow convince us that all the loony shit he or she was embracing during the primary season wasn't for real. Either way, the eventual GOP nominee is fucked. He's either a liar or totally insane. Or both. The President will actually look good in comparison.

It will be amazing. Obama will be reelected with the worst economic record of any president in history. And it will all be because the Republicans have become utterly bat-shit crazy. Talk about stumbling your way into history.


Monday, September 26, 2011


Texas didn't play last weekend, but LSU sure did.

From the AP via ESPN:

Jarrett Lee tosses 3 TDs as LSU makes case for No. 1 with drubbing of WVU

Jarrett Lee had another solid performance with three touchdown passes, Michael Ford ran for two scores and LSU beat No. 16 West Virginia 47-21 Saturday night.


The Tigers (4-0) converted two of the four turnovers they created into scores, built a big early lead and withstood West Virginia's strong comeback for its third win over a ranked opponent this season, with all of three coming away from home. Every win so far has been by double digits.


Pinned deep by superb punting from Brad Wing, who averaged 49 yards on six kicks, West Virginia time after time stared at needing to drive the length of the field. The Mountaineers started six possessions inside their 15.

More here.

Here's a useful phrase for understanding what I'm seeing from the Tigers this season, "full spectrum dominance." From Wikipedia:

Full-spectrum dominance is a military concept whereby a joint military structure achieves control over all elements of the battlespace using land, air, maritime and space based assets.

Full spectrum dominance includes the physical battlespace; air, surface and sub-surface as well as the electromagnetic spectrum and information space. Control implies that freedom of opposition force assets to exploit the battlespace is wholly constrained.
Sure, it's military terminology, but then, military terminology has a long association with the game of football, so it's time we entered this one into the sport's lexicon. Because, you know, it's appropriate in this case. Generally, football observers are very centered on the quarterback. Of course, it's more complicated than this - there are miles and miles of recorded discussions about all facets of the game - but because the QB is the most complex of all positions, and having a great or lousy player taking the snaps can make or break a team (just compare last year's Auburn to the one playing this year), most of the discussion is about the quarterback. But lemme tell ya, LSU this year is decidedly not all about the quarterback.

I mean, Jarrett Lee is good, no doubt about that, and he has greatly improved since we first saw him throwing the ball to the other team again and again a couple of years ago, but he's not the guy making the Tigers destroy great opponents on the road this year. No, this is a team effort, and that's something of an understatement. LSU has so many fucking great players, that their quarterback doesn't have to be brilliant--he just has to be pretty good. We have great receivers. We're running the ball extraordinarily well not only because we have great backs, but we also have a brutal offensive line. We have fantastic special teams. And everybody's been raving about the defense all season long. Most of this squad will get to play on Sunday when it's time.

The Tigers this year have accomplished full spectrum dominance. If you've got a great passing game, fine, you'll get some yards, but you won't win. Run it well? That's cool too, but your offensive line will be so tired by the fourth quarter that most of your plays will end in the backfield. We'll fuck you up on punts and kickoffs. We'll run the ball up your gut, and once you've adjusted, we'll throw down field and pick up forty yards.

I don't think anyone right now can stop 'em. And they just keep getting better Saturday after Saturday. Oh, and guess what? They're ranked number one now. This is already shaping up to be a marvelous season.

Geaux Tigers!

Tyrann Mathieu #7 of the Louisiana State University Tigers attempts to run by
Lavar Edwards #89 of the West Virginia Mountaineers after recovering a fumble
in the first half during the game on September 24, 2011 at Mountaineer Field in
Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)


Study Shows More Mental Illness, but Decline in Getting Help

From ABC News courtesy of the Huffington Post news wire:

Dr. Ramin Mojtabai, the study's author, said it's unclear whether the findings tell a sad story of greater psychological distress in recent times or point to a victory for public education about the importance of acknowledging and evaluating mental illness.

"It is possible that people are perceiving the effects of mental illness more acutely now than before," he said. "People could be becoming more aware."

Mojtabai said it's also possible that a number of factors could be taking a toll on the population's mental well-being. High unemployment, economic hardships and a growing sense of isolation could be putting greater stress on Americans.

More here.

You can put me firmly in the camp that believes there is much more depression and anxiety, rather than the appearance of more due to increased self-reporting. I mean, I'm sure greater public awareness of mental illness is definitely playing a role, but I'm also pretty sure the culture in which we now live, relative to all of human history, is far more likely to induce mental illness than cultures from bygone eras.

As Noam Chomsky has observed, when comparing poverty in the third world to poverty in the United States, the level of despair here is just off the charts--even though the poor elsewhere have hope for a better tomorrow, the poor here have no hope at all. But it's not just the poor. The whole damned culture has become toxic. Those of us lucky enough to have jobs tend to work so much that they have absolutely no time, or energy for that matter, to spend with their families, or as active participants in their communities. By making commerce the sole concern of the overall society, we have essentially destroyed the civil society.

Indeed, the entire notion of "community" has become something of a relic in the US: if the guy in the apartment upstairs or the house next door has a heart attack, it's not your problem. Homeless people aren't fellow citizens who are suffering; they're a nuisance. The early promise of internet substitutions for real world social contact turned out to be a bust; we may be in "contact" with our fellow Americans online, but while we're doing that, we're alone at home on our computers. We are continually bombarded with advertising and entertainment messages asserting that satisfaction comes from buying things we don't really need, but that's gotten us into heavy debt, and all that bullshit we bought, no surprise, did not satisfy us.

We don't have access to health care. All the good jobs are gone. The next generation will be less prosperous than this one. Actually, my generation already is less prosperous than our parents' generation was at the same point in their lives. Politics, on both sides of the aisle, is all about fear mongering. Global warming is destroying the planet. There is absolutely nothing on the horizon that could make us imagine that things might improve in the future.

Is it any wonder that we are seeing increased rates of depression and anxiety? Fear and sadness are extraordinarily reasonable reactions under the circumstances. What really sucks is that, instead of treating the cause, a sick and dehumanizing social situation, we're treating the symptoms, Americans who have been sickened and dehumanized. Of course, it's an economic boon for the therapy and pharmaceutical industries, but it's no cure. The only cure is to create a society where we put human beings first. Not profits.

It makes me more sad and afraid to know that this will probably never happen.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Right Wingers Want to Turn Back the Clock to 1900

From AlterNet:

And Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), assuming the vanguard of Tea Party reactionaries, deemed a FEMA response unnecessary, remarking, “We should be like 1900… I live on the Gulf Coast; we deal with hurricanes all the time. Galveston is in my district.”

There it is: the GOP fantasy laid bare. Return the United States to the way it was in 1900. In the grotesque flight of fancy occupying the minds of ultraconservative politicians and activists, 1900 was a simpler time, a time when Uncle Sam wasn’t always busy poking his nose into everyone’s affairs, a time when anyone could start a business and make a good living if he worked hard enough, a time when America respected her Christian roots and everything went like it came. But this 1900 is a myth; the disparity between it and actual history is enormous.


The problem facing the right wing is that it is difficult to cherry-pick which features of modernity to do away with and which to retain. After all, a government incapable of protecting its citizenry from harmful toxins and poisons (that is, one without an EPA and an FDA) is precisely the type of government that is incapable of breaking the Ku Klux Klan’s stranglehold on the legal, social, economic and political affairs of the South. A government so limited that it cannot provide disaster relief (as it could not without FEMA), is precisely the type of government so limited that it cannot protect 10 year olds from the horrors of the unregulated meatpacking industry. Perhaps conservatives find it lamentable, but the expansive view of the commerce clause that came into fashion during the Great Depression (and the progressive view of government of which it is emblematic) has been the precondition for much of the freedom from horrific exploitation and terrifying danger Americans enjoy today. By dogmatically clinging to the supposition that the only type of freedom that matters is freedom from the government (since that’s who has the guns), conservatives deprive themselves of a suitably fulsome regard for freedom. They ignore the horrors to which 1900 subjected America without the government protections that have arisen in the intervening 111 years.

More here.

You gotta hand it to all those conservative libertarian types vis a vis the Democrats: the libertarians offer us theory and thought, while the Democrats offer policy and legislation. And, unfortunately for the Democrats, theory and thought provide an intellectual framework for making sense of the world--policy and legislation, in stark contrast, tend to make people's eyes glaze over. So the libertarians have managed to capture just enough of the nation's political imagination to cause havoc in Washington.

Unfortunately for all of us, libertarian theory and thought are bullshit. Seriously, their ideas are dead-on-arrival once they hit reality. I'm really starting to believe that, as intelligent as many of these libertarian types seem, they just have absolutely no understanding of the vast complexity of the modern world.

Now I'm not talking about the corporations and the vastly wealthy here. The whole "small government" schtick directly benefits them in terms of low or no taxes and allowing capitalism to run wild. The plutocracy stands to become all the more wealthy the more libertarian our society becomes. Instead, I'm talking about the rank-and-file, the people who honestly believe that "government is the problem," the people who honestly believe their lives would be greatly enhanced if the government would just get out of business's way, the people who think freedom for corporations is exactly the same thing as freedom for individual citizens. They're the people who don't get how complex planet Earth has become in the 21st century--the vastly wealthy, on the other hand, fully understand modern complexities; they just don't give a fuck if Americans end up living on dirt floors with no running water, constantly on the verge of sickness and starvation, as long as they're making money.

What the rank-and-file libertarians don't get is that there are historical reasons why we currently have what they like to denounce as "big government." That for countless laws and regulations there are antecedents that made passing them seem to be an extraordinarily good idea at the time. That without such laws or regulations, there is absolutely nothing standing in the way of these antecedents becoming huge enormous problems once again. That capitalism is a force like fire, which when safely and constructively used can create great things, but when used haphazardly can destroy everything. They naively and without good reason believe that the burning and desperate greed-force that exists within humanity is essentially benevolent, and will help far more people than it will hurt, even though history is full of examples that prove such childlike notions to be fantasy. In short, libertarians base their thoughts and theories on assumptions which are demonstrably wrong. And when your foundational assumptions are wrong, your entire theoretical framework collapses on itself.

Or, to put it another way, we live in a big world, with countless big businesses always trying to make more money in whatever possible way they can manage, good or bad. We work and consume and do business in a big economy, with big huge enormous cash flows. We live under the threat of big dangers, like natural disaster, or capitalist man-made disasters, or war, or riots. In the modern world, everything is fucking BIG. But we're small. So we're total fools if we don't have "big government" in order to deal with all these millions of big issues.

Libertarians just don't get that. They foolishly imagine that we live in the relatively small world of 1900, which, even then, was still pretty big. All their fancy rhetoric and theorizing utterly ignores how vast everything is. Consequently, all their fancy rhetoric and theorizing is simply so many words. To take them seriously is to court disaster.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Another Canine Edition!


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!



We're talking about the wildly popular entertainer and producer Tyler Perry here, but first, a little background.

From NewsOne:

Spike Lee Compares Tyler Perry To Amos and Andy

“Each artist should be allowed to pursue their artistic endeavors, but I still think there is a lot of stuff out today that is coonery and buffoonery. I know it’s making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better. … I am a huge basketball fan, and when I watch the games on TNT, I see these two ads for these two shows (Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne”), and I am scratching my head. We got a black president, and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep ‘n’ Eat?

A bit more here.

So anybody who really knows me or has read some of my stuff here at Real Art can probably guess that I'm very inclined to agree with Lee's analysis of Perry's work. Indeed, it seems pretty open-and-shut to me: Perry uses broad black stereotypes, virtually always, that hearken back to the overtly racist minstrel shows of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. And nobody really questions this, at least, not seriously.

But it's more complicated than this, as racial issues often are in America. It would be one thing if Perry's black buffoonery was directed at a mainstream white audience, but it's not. Perry's amazing success comes, by and large, from black audiences. And his fans are fiercely devoted to him. As an African-American buddy of mine recently put it, can it be so bad if Perry's making so many people laugh and have a good time? Okay, that's a good point. Perry's not satirizing black people so that white people can feel better about themselves: rather, he's lampooning the black experience for black people, who fucking love it.

As a white man who has studied film, it becomes difficult for me to really wade into this discussion simply because I don't have an African-American point of view. Culture isn't so cut-and-dry that it always means the same thing in all circumstances at all points in history to all people. That is, this is quite a slippery, but damned interesting, debate.

And my old pal Reuben's packaged for us on his blog a nice little video exchange on the subject between culture critic Toure', whose comment on Perry serves as the title to this post, and some other guy I've never heard of, but who makes a good case for the man who plays Madea.

So go check it out. And while you're there, check out the rest of Reuben's blog; it's good stuff.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

REPORT: Economists Shut Out Of Debt-Ceiling Debate

From Media Matters for America courtesy of Eschaton:

During the 2011 debt-ceiling debate, hundreds of non-economists appeared on cable news. Some suggested that fiscal austerity would somehow create jobs and spur economic growth. While criticizing Speaker of the House John Boehner on the July 12 edition of MSNBC Live, Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips said: "I'd like to see him do the job that the American people actually put him in that office to do -- cut spending, cut taxes, stimulate the economy. Get us out of the Obama depression." On the July 14 episode of On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Republican Representative Paul Ryan proposed to "cut more than a dollar's worth of spending" for "every dollar you want to raise the debt limit." Ryan added, "The debt is hurting the economy today. It's hurting job creation today."

This misdirection apparently had consequences. An August Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 49 percent of respondents supported cutting government spending as a means to stimulate the economy -- far more than those who supported actual stimulative policies like extending unemployment benefits and extending the payroll tax cut.

On the rare occasions when the media gave credible economists a voice in the debate, the public heard a very different analysis. Asked about the effects of spending cuts on the U.S. economy, PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian (who holds a Ph. D. in economics) said on the July 31 broadcast of ABC's This Week, "We have a very weak economy, so withdrawing more spending at this stage will make it even weaker." Two days later on CNN, El-Erian provided a grim assessment of the final debt deal: "We're worse off in terms of economic outlook. Growth will be lower. Unemployment will be higher. And ironically, we're worse off in terms of medium term fiscal solvency because we haven't done much to the debt but we're undermining our ability to grow out of the debt."

More here.

This explains why the overall debate was so fucking retarded.

I could go in a lot of directions with this one. I could point out how television news is simply an organ of the big businesses which together comprise what we call the mass media, and therefore necessarily replicate the big business point of view, which just loves the notion of tax and spending cuts because big business stands to benefit from that more than any other sector of the economy. I could point out how conservatives have so incessantly "worked the refs," that is, complained chronically and usually incorrectly that the news media have a liberal bias, for so many years, that anything that might even seem to favor liberal positions, like facts or science, is simply ignored for fear of the right-wing flak machine. I could point out how television, as a medium, which includes news programming as well as shows like American Idol, tends to gravitate toward brutish confrontation and spectacle, rather than cooperation and intellectual contemplation, simply because opposition is more entertaining, and therefore attracts more viewers, which generates higher profits by way of advertising.

I could write about all those notions, for pages and pages. But for fear of losing the forest for the trees, I think I'll just make one simple statement: if I had the power to make one single change to our society for the purpose strengthening and expanding our fragile democracy, I would utterly eradicate television from the face of the earth.

Seriously, the founding fathers never in their wildest dreams imagined how the institution of television would warp and demean the public discourse, and therefore the republic itself. The US Constitution has absolutely no provision for television and its mind-numbing power. I'm really starting to believe that television is destroying everything we hold dear.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Really, it's about how you and your fb friends use it. In the last six months or so, I've been carefully putting my toes into the facebook waters in terms of mixing it up on politics. I've got to be careful, of course. Lots of my fb connections are people I knew in high school, and many of them still think it's "morning in America." And there's also my older far right-wing brother. I don't want to offend people, certainly not my friends. At least, not unnecessarily. So I rarely use the bombastic rhetoric that's common here at Real Art, but I have had some fun and enlightening discussions, the likes of which most of us avoid out in the real world, if only because things get so confrontational so quickly these days.

Case in point. I got a chance a couple of days ago to state the case that liberalism, as a political force, is dead in America. There weren't any conservatives writing on the thread, but there were some mainstream liberals, exactly the kind of people who need to hear what I'm saying.

So I'm going to try to reproduce that thread here as well as possible. I started with a simple link to a conversation Democracy Now's Amy Goodman had recently with Noam Chomsky:


Of course, this is obvious to rational people, but it's always nice to hear Dr. Chomsky chime in:

Noam Chomsky: 2012 GOP Candidates Views are "Off the International Spectrum of Sane Behavior"

MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky discusses the position of the Republican presidential candidates on issues such as climate change and calls them "utterly outlandish." "I'm not a great enthusiast for Obama, as you know, from way back, but at least he's somewhere in the real world," Chomsky says. .....

David ‎"There's no such thing as a sanity clause" - Chico Marx

Whitney You can say that again. Michelle Bachmann continues to amaze me with her insanity.

Ronald For Dave:

Groucho And Chico Contract Scene From A Night At The Opera.

Minerva Chomsky for President :-)

Jay Obama for President, folks! Otherwise, what you have is ... well, "Off the International Spectrum of Sane Behavior" - please don't lose focus on that fact. Obama not your favorite? Who F'n cares when the alternative is what it is?

Jay No slight intended, Minerva ... really!

Ronald Jay, if we continue voting for Democrats, then we continue voting for a slow-but-sure slide into right-wing insanity. Haven't you noticed that today's Democrats are much much more conservative than the Democrats back when we were in high school? When we vote for them, we bless and approve that rightward drift. Nothing has stopped it in thirty years. If we vote for Obama, we're actually voting to continue right-wing control of the US. It's got to stop somewhere, and I say it should start with the citizens.

Minerva Just no tea baggers, I mean tea partiers! Freudian ;-)

Stephany what is the alternative Ron? just curious? Ron Paul? like him enough...but he's got some off kilter ideas too.

James The best thing right-wingers could hope for is liberals disillusioned with Obama and not voting for him this time around. That will assure a Republican victory.

Ronald ‎@Stephany: there is no alternative. The liberals are out. They have absolutely no dog in the race anymore. Vote Republican, it doesn't matter. Vote Democrat, it doesn't matter. Either way, the plutocracy wins. Now you can make an argument that the Democrat version of corporatocracy is kinder and gentler than the Republican version, which is true. But that kinder gentler version still means rising health care costs, global warming, continuing the race to the bottom in terms of wages and benefits, continued erosion of civil rights under the national security state, continued aggressive war, continued torture of POWs, continued right-wing dominance of the federal courts, erosion of abortion rights, continued emasculation of the labor unions, and on and on. All the Democrats can run on these days is "not as bad as the Republicans." But, that's virtually an admission that they're bad, too. MORE...

Ronald So there is no longer a political party that reflects liberal values. Continuing to support the Democrats does nothing but aid the right wing. We have to pull out completely and start preaching on the street, to anybody who will listen. We've got to invest our own personal dollars in liberal think tanks and other organizations that have pledged to operate, for now, outside the political system. Public pressure is now the only avenue available to liberals, and that's where we've got to go. One hopes that this will cause long term cultural change such that people eventually are able to seize the political apparatus back from the wealthy corporate forces that now dominate it. MORE...

Ronald But the bottom line is that corporate America's three decade plan to usurp our republic has succeeded. The liberals lost. And the first thing we have to do is admit that we've been defeated.

Ronald ‎@Jimmy: see my response to Stephany.
So there you have it. I don't know that I actually persuaded anybody to see things the way I do, but I know that all these people will read my words carefully and consider them. I'm also pretty sure that none of them have heard this point of view before, the Chris Hedges assertion that liberalism is effectively dead in the US. But now they have. And it happened through facebook.

Imagine that.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Parents Fight Over Pledging Allegiance In Schools

From NPR's All Things Considered:

Brookline parent Martin Rosenthal says he is very patriotic. He proudly put his hand on his heart and pledged allegiance to the flag at a recent community event. But, he says, the pledge has no place in the classroom.

"You're asking kids in school to take a loyalty oath in front of their classmates," he says. "I just don't think that's right."

Rosenthal says the pledge has no educational value and even flies in the face of the kind of critical thinking schools should be teaching. But, he says, he's most bothered by the peer pressure students may feel to recite it.

"It's like if you don't agree with the group, we're gonna ostracize you," he says. "If you don't swear allegiance, you're considered disloyal. That's what I'm getting."

Since he filed his proposal, Rosenthal says he's been assaulted by calls and emails that prove his point — messages like "Go f - - - yourself you socialist pig," and "You liberal a - - - - - - - are ruining this country."

Read or listen to the rest here.

Some observations.

The pledge is, indeed, a loyalty oath, but that doesn't mean it has no place in the classroom. Which is to say, if this American ritual is to have any meaning later in life, it needs to be studied and practiced in school. Now, having said that, what exists in virtually all American classrooms isn't much more than an empty recitation, the likes of which in the Catholic Church have been criticized by Protestants since the Reformation. So because the pledge in actual practice is simply a meaningless piece of mandated behavior, I can see where this guy is coming from. As traditionally constituted, this recitation is an exercise in obedience, which runs counter to both democracy and the free thought supposedly taught in school.

That is, the pledge, without deep meditation on its component ideas, is the opposite of what we say we want from American citizens.

And this peer pressure thing is definitely worth noting. I don't think it's as direct as Rosenthal is making it out to be, but it exists, nonetheless. American schools are, in the most important ways, about indoctrinating children into a culture of obedience and authority--I've explored this concept in great depth elsewhere, but suffice it to say for now that the entire apparatus of what we call school is so consumed by procedure and discipline that such concerns easily dwarf education's ostensible purpose, learning; in short, bureaucracy and rules are far more important than thought, and that's the real lesson kids take away from their k-12 experience. So the schools are about following rules and pleasing authority figures. It is in this context that children say the pledge. Opting out of a classroom activity in which everybody else is participating, which is apparently allowed in Massachusetts schools, is downright weird given the overall cultural context. Making a conscientious stand is decidedly inappropriate for the school environment, and that's essentially what such peer pressure is all about.

Really, the problem isn't so much the pledge itself, which I personally love despite my deep misgivings about the "under God" clause and its ill ramifications for the notion of the separation of church and state. Rather, it's about how and where the pledge is administered. That is, we try to teach democracy within the confines of an authoritarian classroom, and if that's not cutting off your nose to spite your face, I don't know what is.



From the AP via ESPN:

Case McCoy tosses two TDs, leads Texas past UCLA

With a new McCoy thriving in a familiar old setting, these Texas Longhorns showed they've come an awfully long way in the year since they lost to UCLA.

Case McCoy passed for 168 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start, D.J. Grant made his first three career touchdown catches, and the 23rd-ranked Longhorns avenged last season's stunning home loss to the Bruins with a 49-20 victory on Saturday.

McCoy hadn't been to the Rose Bowl since he watched his older brother, Colt, get injured during Texas' loss to Alabama in the BCS title game 20 months ago. The Longhorns have been rebuilding ever since, but they might have found their next quarterback: McCoy was a model of efficiency, going 12 for 15 without a turnover or a sack as Texas systematically shredded the Bruins for 488 total yards.

More here.

Again from the AP via ESPN:

No. 3 LSU's solid defense shuts down No. 25 Mississippi State

LSU's Jarrett Lee stepped back in the pocket, surveyed the field and let a pass fly. It was a beautifully thrown fade route to Rueben Randle, who beat two Mississippi State defenders to the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown.

Everyone already knew LSU had a great running game and defense. Now the Tigers might be developing a quarterback to match.

"Rueben made a great route -- it was just a matter of putting it out there for him," Lee said. "I feel like I'm becoming a more mature player. Really developing."

The senior quarterback, filling in for suspended Jordan Jefferson, completed 21 of 27 passes for 213 yards and the touchdown and No. 3 LSU defeated No. 25 Mississippi State 19-6 on Thursday night.


Lee's success is quickly making LSU fans forget about Jefferson, the expected starter who has been suspended all season after being arrested for his alleged role in a bar fight in August. Lee wasn't necessarily spectacular, but he didn't have to be, calmly managing the game and hitting open receivers when opportunities arose.

It's a stark contrast from his freshman season in 2008, when Lee threw 16 interceptions, including seven that were returned for touchdowns. Since those tough days he's spent most of the time on the bench. Now with a new opportunity, he's taking full advantage.

More here.

Okay, I'm really liking what I'm seeing from both teams.

Texas hasn't really been tested yet, of course, but after last year's dismal season, solid play with a running game the likes of which I haven't seen out of Texas since the 90s is as good as beating a ranked team. To me, anyway, and, rest assured, ranked opponents will come soon enough. I'm especially digging that Case McCoy is shaping up to be as exciting of a QB as his brother was, and then there's that Shipley kid. Did I mention how good the Longhorn ground game appears to be? I think Mac's got his groove back. Actually, the 'Horns could end up even better than they were with Colt and Vince Young.

An old pal of mine from our days at UT now lives in Los Angeles and went to the game. A couple of hours after it was over, he sent me some cell phone footage of Texas fans singing "The Eyes of Texas" at what they were calling "Vince Young Field." Works for me. Two of our greatest recent victories were at the Rose Bowl, against Michigan in 2005, and against USC in 2006. "Vince Young Field." Has a nice ring to it.

And LSU is looking pretty good, too. Much better, actually, in that they've already been tested and now they're ranked number two behind the Land Thieves. I had to work during the game so I caught it online at ESPN in HD after I got home. The one thing that came through with the HD was just how fucking talented the Tigers are. It really doesn't matter if Jarrett Lee isn't the greatest quarterback ever: all he has to do is competently manage the game and not fuck up, and he appears to be doing that just fine; let their massive roster of football talent win the games and he can just kind of stand in the middle of it all.

UCLA defensive linemen Damien Holmes and Seali'i Epenesa pressure Texas
quarterback Cae McCoy (6) in the third quarter on Saturday, September 17, 2011,
at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Texas defeated UCLA, 49-20.
(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee (12) passes the ball for a 7-yard
gain as Mississippi State linebacker Cameron Lawrence (10)
watches during the first half of an NCAA college football
game in Starkville, Miss., Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011.
(AP Photo/Kerry Smith)


Sunday, September 18, 2011


From CounterPunch:

The Sotheby’s Economy

Such is the case with Sotheby’s, the famous art auction house in Manhattan, New York, which reported $680 million in gross profits last year, its largest take in its history. And the company’s assault on the very workers who make it what it is represents one of the darkest aspects of America’s jobless economic recovery.

Sotheby’s abruptly cut off contract negotiations with Teamsters Local 814, which represents its 43 art handlers, demanding that they accept a 10 percent wage cut, caps on overtime and an end to their retirement benefits. The workers have been locked out without pay since August 1. To add insult to injury, the company two days later announced that its net income for the last quarter was up 48 percent from the previous year–the “best quarter in Sotheby’s history,” bragged company president Bill Ruprecht.

“They want to bring in low wage non-union laborers to contribute: no benefits, low wages, no rights on the job, that whole package, and not necessarily people who have art handling experience,” said union president Jason Ide, a former art handler. “We think it’s a risk to put masterpieces in the hands of these replacement laborers.”

More here.

And that pretty much encapsulates the capitalist attitude toward labor: if we can get away with it, we will turn your good job into a low-wage no-benefit shitty service sector job. It doesn't matter if we're enjoying record profits. We will screw you.

Seriously. Your skills don't matter. Your education doesn't matter. All your hard work and experience don't matter. You don't matter. Indeed, if business could get away without paying for labor at all, they'd do it, like with my job, restaurant server: I never see a paycheck at all because the $2.13/hour I make is eaten up by taxes; I completely rely on the customer handouts dubiously euphemized as "tips" in order to pay my rent and bills, but for some reason I'm considered an employee of the people who don't pay me.

So this is a fact. Business does everything it can to minimize labor costs. There is no morality. There is no consideration of the fact that your work very definitely is an enormous part of how business creates wealth for itself. There is no fairness. It's all about maximizing shareholder profit, and fuck you.

Consequently, the only two factors that keeps wages and benefits fair and reasonable, and working conditions safe, are organized labor and the government. Every protection that we enjoy today as workers, the pay we receive, the minimum wage itself, and on and on, came from a combination of organized labor and the government's response to its pressure. But because big business continues to enjoy great success in its multi-decade project to control the government, many of those benefits and protections are being erased. It's pretty much now all about organized labor.

I hope the country begins to understand this, begins to realize that fair compensation is something for which we must fight. Otherwise, we really are screwed.


Friday, September 16, 2011




Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


One Word Turns the Tea Party Around

From the Weekly Sift courtesy of a facebook friend:

This last year or two I’ve been feeling that way about the Tea Party — not the corporate lobbyists who run the organizations or the billionaires who fund them, but the rank-and-file types who wave signs and bring their babies to rallies. A few are the stereotypic gun-toting racists, but a lot of others are low-to-middle-class folks who have figured a few things out:

•Honest, hard-working Americans are seeing their opportunities dry up.
•The country is dominated by a small self-serving elite.
•Our democracy is threatened.
•The public is told a lot of lies.
•People need to stand up and make their voices heard.
•If we stand together, we’re not as helpless as we seem.

I could go on, but you get the idea. They’re on to something. The country needs people like this carrying the ball, if only they weren’t running the wrong way.

How they should turn around is pretty easy to describe. Tea Partiers think:

The threat to our way of life comes from government, and the solution is to shrink government while freeing corporations from government control.

Just flip government and corporations in that sentence:

The threat to our way of life comes from corporations, and the solution is to shrink corporations while freeing government from corporate control.

Perfect. Now you can explain things like too-big-to-fail banks gambling trillions on the unregulated credit-default-swap market, sinking the economy, and then getting the taxpayers to cover their losses.

More here.

This is a pretty brilliant rhetorical tactic in its simplicity. Indeed, what's so appealing about it is that it doesn't really change much of the existing rhetoric; it just nudges it a bit. So you don't really have to go back to the very beginning. You don't have to risk eyes glazing over as you recite the history of worker/capitalist relations. You don't have to get bogged down by various niggling bogus criticisms. You hit the ground running, which allows slashing at the jugular in quick order.

What's most important to understand here is that, as observed in the excerpt above, Tea Party activism, while wildly misguided, is motivated by very real social grievances, the kind of stuff that has, historically, been the meat and potatoes of the Democratic Party. Amazingly, though, the Republicans are apparently the only ones who actually know how to talk to these people, and are filling their minds full of toxic lies and bullshit. That is, the Tea Party really ought to be a Democratic phenomenon, but it's not. I mean, it would be if the Democrats offered a coherent narrative about the way the world works, but they've been too bought off by corporate influence to speak anything but gibberish these days. But it's so amazingly simple: the Tea Party take on the American decline is essentially correct except for one freakin' word!

I'd call on the Democrats to embrace this simple wisdom, but I know it would never happen. We really are all going to Hell.


Thursday, September 15, 2011


From the Houston Chronicle's Sports Update blog:

Report: Sarah Palin had fling with ex-Rocket Glen Rice

The National Enquirer is reporting that former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, a former high school basketball standout herself, hooked up with former Houston Rocket Glen Rice in 1987.

The dalliance occurred when he was in Anchorage, Alaska, for a basketball tournament with the Michigan Wolverines.


In the book, Rice confirmed to McGinniss it was a one-night stand.

A bit more here.

Okay, a sexual indiscretion when she was young, sure, that's going to lose a few Republican voters here and there. I mean, after all, the Republican Party is, and has been for a long time, America's conservative party, and many conservatives continue to fight a losing battle in the long-concluded sexual revolution. But it is the twenty first century; most people at this point don't give a shit if you hooked up with someone when you were in your twenties, and that includes most Republicans. If this was just a hookup, she'd probably be able to weather any bad press and come out smelling like a rose.

But this wasn't just any old hookup. And in order to understand why this is oh-so devastating to her prospects for getting the GOP nomination, you have to see what her lover looks like:

Glen Rice

Yeah, that's right: Glen Rice is an African-American. A black man. And good for Sarah, I say. Unfortunately for her, this is the kind of thing that sinks you in Southern Republican primaries.

No really. Remember this blast from the past? From Wikipedia:

During the 2000 Republican presidential primary, Senator John McCain was the target of a whisper campaign implying that he had fathered a black child out of wedlock. (McCain's adopted daughter is a dark-skinned child from Bangladesh). Voters in South Carolina were reportedly asked, "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain if you knew that he fathered an illegitimate black child?". McCain would later lose the South Carolina primary, and the nomination, to George W. Bush.

In addition, on the week of the nomination vote, dozens of radio stations were called on the same day asking talk show hosts what they thought of McCain's fathering of a black child out of wedlock.
So McCain lost the South Carolina Republican presidential primary because voters had been led to believe that he had fathered a black love child. And that wasn't too terribly long ago. The racists who comprise a big chunk of the Southern Republican base will not be pleased by this: once their deepest racial fear, the notion of a good white woman willingly falling into the embrace of a strapping testosterone-dripping Mandingo man, becomes associated with Palin, her national political aspirations are toast.

I mean, this is some sick and twisted shit, and I utterly condemn these vile racist attitudes. But it does mean that there is now no chance in hell that Palin will ever become president. Sometimes there really are silver linings.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011


...Kirk and Chekov!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Does anybody even seriously believe that anymore?

From Firedoglake via AlterNet:

WikiLeaks Cable: Iraqi Interrogators Rape Juveniles to Get Confessions

A US State Embassy cable marked “confidential” and published by WikiLeaks reveals details on the detention of juveniles held in “Site 4″ in a Iraq Interior Ministry (MOI) detention complex. The juveniles allege sexual abuse by Iraqi interrogators, specifically that rapes were being used in the prison to induce confessions. The discovery of widespread abuse and torture, according to the diplomat who wrote the cable, is the worst since the infamous Jadriyah “Bunker” facility was discovered in 2005.

On May 30, 2006, a “joint US-Iraqi inspection” of the detention facility took place. The facility, located in central Baghdad, was found to have 1,400 detainees. They were in “two separate facilities” and “held in squalid, cramped conditions not uncommon in MOI (Ministry of Interior) Commando detention facilities.” Inspectors interviewed forty-one detainees, who had “bruising and lash-marks consistent with violent physical abuse.” And, thirty-seven juveniles, who had been “illegally detained,” were found in the facility, “many alleging sexual abuse.”

More here.

Really, the Iraq war was the reason I started blogging. I needed to vent about it all, and felt like doing so in my capacity as a high school teacher would get me fired, given the way the popular consensus was that you were filthy anti-American trash if you opposed the invasion. So I started blogging. My opposition was based on the fact that it appeared to be an extraordinarily bad idea at the time--I mean, if Islamic terrorism is tied with an anti-American ideology roused by US economic exploitation of Islamic nations and our support for brutal despots in the region, then killing masses of Muslims seemed, and still seems, amazingly counterproductive. That, and the justifications offered by the Bush administration were demonstrably untrue, which you knew if you were reading anything beyond the mainstream corporate produced US press. So it was a stupid idea that had absolutely no good rationale.

Little did I know how badly the Bush administration would botch the occupation.

Despite my extreme skepticism, I didn't really doubt that there was a chance that something good might come out of the invasion. Get rid of a dictator; have free elections. Okay sure. That might be a good thing. If it happens. I just assumed that the problem was that the American establishment was totally hankering for war. I never thought in any to way factor in extreme incompetence on the part of Bush and his cadre. I figured that they knew what they were doing. I figured that they were straight-up lying about weapons of mass destruction, instead of believing in spite of the evidence, which now appears is what happened. I figured we would win and the Republicans would have a shiny new toy in the Middle East to play with.

Boy was I wrong.

We now know that the hawks were wrong about everything. Okay, they were right about how easily we would take down Saddam Hussein's army, but that's only one of many factors in winning a war. Sure, it's probably the most important factor, but it's not the only one. Creating stability, installing the institutions necessary for having a civil society, finding capable and ethical men to run those institutions, getting the people on board for it all, these are the kind of things that the US occupation not only failed to do, but simply didn't even try to do. Rank incompetence, pure and simple.

The US public eventually figured it out in the days and weeks after Katrina devastated New Orleans. But up until that point, Bush was still getting the benefit of the doubt. Now days, however, people just don't even think about Iraq. The mainstream media barely even cover it, and when they do, it's not part of an ongoing narrative that would provide some sort of understanding of what's going on over there. Out of sight, out of mind. Our biggest national fuck up, and we don't even talk about it.

And it continues to be our biggest national fuck up. These rape chambers are only part of the picture. The big picture is arguably worse. Indeed, it's safe to say at this point that the Iraqi people had it better under Saddam Hussein. I mean, it wasn't Nirvana or anything, but it was better. We blew it big time. It's just fucking horrible in Iraq, and it's all our fault. And now it's a bipartisan disaster.

Hopey-Changey ain't doing nothing to fix it. Will we ever acknowledge our shame? Probably not.


Sunday, September 11, 2011


From the AP via ESPN:

Backup QBs help Texas edge BYU after Garrett Gilbert pulled

From 2006-2009 it was Colt McCoy, who won an NCAA record 45 games. On Saturday night, it was Colt's younger brother Case coming off the bench to help spark the No. 24 Longhorns to a 17-16 win over BYU.

Texas (2-0) pulled ineffective starter Garrett Gilbert in the second quarter and handed the offense to sophomore McCoy and freshman quarterback David Ash in a rotation that flipped a game the Cougars (1-1) were dominating.

McCoy and Ash combined to hit 9 of 11 passes for 92 yards and Ash also rushed for 39 yards. McCoy carried the load on Texas' winning drive, twice connecting with Jaxon Shipley for big gains before Cody Johnson punched in his second touchdown for the lead with 8:46 to play.

"When Case came in, he played a real leadership role for us," said Shipley, a freshman who is the younger brother of Texas' career receptions leader Jordan Shipley.

More here.

And again from the AP via ESPN:

Spencer Ware, Michael Ford combine for 4 TDs as LSU romps

The LSU coach demanded that his team take Northwestern State seriously and hoped they'd win impressively enough that he could rest starters who will be playing a tougher opponent in less than a week.

The second-ranked Tigers didn't disappoint him, rolling to a 49-3 victory on Saturday night that included two touchdowns apiece by Michael Ford and Spencer Ware.

"I like how our team approached this game," Miles said. "It's nice. It means that your starters were not taxed. It means you should be fresh, and as we go into a short week, that's key."

LSU (2-0) led 28-3 by halftime, allowing Miles to give a number of starters some rest in advance of the Tigers' Southeastern Conference opener at Mississippi State on Thursday night.

Junior college transfer quarterback Zach Mettenberger made his debut in relief of LSU starter Jarrett Lee to open the second half.

More here.

So, of course, I didn't watch the LSU game because, as far as I can tell, it wasn't televised. I mean, duh. Who really wanted to watch a big time national championship contender beat up on what is, relatively speaking, a high school freshman b team? Not me. I didn't even track the stats on ESPN. This one was in the bag the moment the schedule was announced. Nonetheless, after watching the highlights and reading the article, I saw a couple of things I liked: Lee continued his solid work, no interceptions; and this new backup guy Mettenberger seems very promising, indeed. Fuck Jordan Jefferson--he's a criminal. Who needs him?

The Texas game I did watch, and for so many reasons it was a thing of beauty. Obviously, the first half was no fun. Texas couldn't do shit, and Gilbert was looking like it was last season all over. The Mormons were having their way with the Longhorns and it just sucked--I think I even posted on facebook that the Law and Order marathon was preferable, not that there was a Law and Order marathon, mind you, just that it would be preferable. And then they pulled Gilbert, which was when the fun started. I guess "you've got to go through hell before you get to heaven"--all apologies to Texan rocker Steve Miller for stealing one of his best lines. But that's kind of what happened on the field, stealing lines from great songs of yore, especially that utterly fantastic moment when Colt McCoy's younger brother hooked up with Jordan Shipley's younger brother for a big yardage gain. It really did look like the glory days of just a couple of years ago.

I mean, Texas looked like a totally different team in the second half. They looked like, well, Texas. God I love it. Personally, I'm done with Gilbert, and I hope Coach Brown is, too. We're keeping the more talented QBs on the sidelines and we need to get them out there on the field.

This might be a really good season for Texas. Keeping my fingers crossed.

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: Backup quarterback Case McCoy #6 of the Texas
Longhorns signals victory over BYU Cougars as time runs out on September 10, 2011 at
Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. Texas defeated BYU 17-16.
Photo: Getty, Erich Schlegel / 2011 Getty Images

LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham (33) breaks a tackle by Northwestern
State linebacker Derek Rose (56) during the second half of an NCAA college
football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011. LSU won 49-3.
Photo: Gerald Herbert / AP



...or dead.

That's the lesson we should have learned. I don't really think we did.


Friday, September 09, 2011




Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Cheering death: A pathetic new low in American politics

From the Philadelphia Daily News courtesy of Eschaton:

I watched all of last night's rather predictable and not particularly game changing GOP presidential last night. As the dust settles, I honestly couldn't tell you who the "winner" was. I can tell you who lost, though:

Basic human decency. Not to mention America's reputation as a nation built on virtues like justice and fairness.

This shocking new low came near the end of the debate when moderator Brian Williams of NBC News asked Texas Gov. Rick Perry to defend his record of executions -- 234, more than any other governor in modern history -- during his tenure in Austin.

The mere mention that Perry had made what was once considered a solemn decision to sign off on the state-sanction deaths of 234 human beings caused the audience to break into sustained applause. Just watch the video below.

It was utterly sickening to watch. When Perry -- who recently vetoed a bill that would halt the execution of the mentally ill -- told the audience that anyone convicted of murder in the Lone Star State faces "the ultimate justice," the applause grew even louder.

More here.

It is sickening.

I touched on this a couple of weeks ago, on how the state kills in the name of the people, and just how awful that is. This essay is a bit different: it opines on what I believe is a minority, people who don't simply support the death penalty out of a sense of justice, but rather people who cheer it on, people who fucking love it when the state kills in their name.

And I just don't get it. I mean, I understand the deterrence argument, that capital punishment makes potential murderers think twice before taking another person's life, and while I disagree, I think there is, at least, some logic behind it. But what's with all the Nancy Grace style hate, the Nuremberg style glorification of, the hootin' and hollerin' for, state sanctioned killing? I mean, shouldn't taking a human life in the name of the people always be a solemn occasion? It is, after all, murder, even if it's legal. I mean, you know, "Thou shalt not kill."

These people who fucking love the death penalty, who have no problem with killing children, with killing the mentally ill, with killing those who are innocent in spite of their conviction status, are sick, sick, sick fucks. And it just so happens that these people are all die-hard members of the GOP.

I've been calling Republicans psychopaths for years. I haven't been joking or exaggerating.


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Right-Wing Media Advise Obama To Use Jobs Speech To Resign

From Media Matters for America courtesy of Eschaton:

Rush Limbaugh: "The Only Thing Obama Could Do That Would Be Convincing" During His Jobs Speech "Is To Resign." From Limbaugh's radio show:

LIMBAUGH: I think the only thing that Obama could do -- speaking now to Frank Rich -- Frank, the only Obama could do that would be convincing -- that big speech next week -- is to resign. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/2/11]

Newsmax's Root: "Only Two Words Need To Be Uttered By President Obama's Lips: 'I Resign.'" From Wayne Allyn Root's Newsmax column, headlined "Obama's Two-Word Speech That Would Save America":
President Barack Obama has the most important speech of his presidency on Thursday. A speech built around creating jobs and inspiring economic recovery. You want an economic recovery? You want jobs? Two magical words are needed to change the course of history.

Two words change the future for millions of desperate unemployed Americans. Two words transform a depression into a boom. Two words motivate and inspire every business owner in America to create jobs. Two words free the U.S. economy from the current doom, despair, debt, depression, misery, and malaise.

Only two words need to be uttered by President Obama's lips: "I resign."

Imagine an Obama-Free America.

Overnight 2 1/2 years of pain are erased. Trillions of dollars and millions of jobs are brought back into the USA. Millions of business owners breathe a sigh of relief and begin to plan their recovery. Investors begin investing again, unleashing a torrent of buying and business expansion. [Newsmax, 9/7/11]
More here.

So about a week ago I posted an excerpt from a Paul Krugman essay on how the GOP has become anti-science, and therefore insanely unreasonable. My reaction was something along the lines of this: the Republicans are essentially destroying the public discourse, and the only sane reaction is to call them out on it; don't "debate" that which cannot be debated: instead, tell them to go fuck themselves.

This bizarre slew of right-wing pundits asserting that the only way the President can create jobs is to resign is in the same category. That is, it doesn't have anything at all to do with creating jobs. I mean, they're full of shit, of course, but there are definitely stock answers most conservatives can give you for what they believe is the best way to create jobs, you know, cut more taxes, deregulation, small government, yadda yadda. But saying job creation is about Obama stepping down is like answering "piano" when somebody asks you how old you are. It's not just bullshit, either. It is a deliberate attempt to destroy the national conversation on the topic. Confuse and misinform, that's conservative rhetorical strategy these days.

And the Democrats are fools for not saying anything but "God damn you lying assholes. Fuck off and die. When you act like this all you're doing is exposing the fact that you have absolutely no answers at all. You're a bunch of fucking asshole retards who shouldn't even be in the room, let alone have a place at the table. Sick fucks. Go to hell."

I have no idea why the Democrats tolerate this. You'd think they'd call bullshit on this crap if only to preserve their self-respect. But I guess you can't preserve something you don't have in the first place.