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      Ian described the proposed EU sanctions on Russia as “not shabby”, but while they are somewhat more serious sanctions than heretofore it’s only somewhat. The most serious ones are the ones on Russia’s financial institutions. Yes it’ll raise costs but will hurt London and Frankfurt including reputationally. It will also have the effect of encouraging [...] […]
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You make it sound like a *bad* thing, Glenn

Glenn Beck embellishes his persecution complex with fantasies that the government (the FCC) and the media are going to shut him up.

Oh, if only.  It would be every liberal’s wet dream to shut up charlatans, liars and bullies like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.  If only liberals had the market share that those two manipulative con artists had.  What we need is a little muscular liberalism to poke these guys in the eyes and dare them to retaliate.  Alas, we are only now beginning to get angry at all the crap they’ve pulled in the last couple of decades.

Butcha know, we’re the kind of people who believe you should be able to say whatever you want except “fire!” in a crowded theater.  In my humble opinion, the right wing nutjobs like Glenn have been doing just that, inducing fear and panic in average people with their irrationality and lies.

I’d be happy if the FCC cited and fined him for lying all the time.  Surely Glenn could get onboard with that, right?  Why don’t we ask him?  Is it OK to lie to people in order to get them to feel anxious, fearful and willing to do just about anything to protect themselves from non-existent threats?

Glenn can relax.  Congress and this White House are incapable of making him honest.

Got an assault rifle? How about homeowner’s insurance?

Newtown apparently LOVES guns.  Yep.  It’s a lovely bucolic setting with lots of 4000 sq ft McMansions set back in the trees.  It sounds a lot like Bernardsville, NJ.  Let me guess, there are probably a lot of corporate executive types out there.  Probably a lot of Libertarians and Republican members of the NRA too.  The New York Times reports that the sound of guns, rifles and assault weapons is a common thing in Newtown and all efforts to curtail it just to make it safe to walk in the woods, have met with stiff resistance.

It must be a great place to live where your neighbor is allowed to shoot his gun 20 feet from your house and you have no right to protect yourself.  Where are the homeowner’s insurance companies?

When I moved into this modest little townhouse, I couldn’t get homeowner’s insurance.  Was there a major safety problem?  Gas leak?  No, there was a crack in the pavement around the municipal access cover that was buried in the apron of my driveway.  Let me be clear, the crack wasn’t ON my driveway.  It was located on a piece of pavement that was owned by the municipality. It wasn’t a deep crack or a wide crack.  But because it was elevated by about half an inch and someone might trip on it in front of my house, my homeowner’s insurance company wouldn’t write a policy.  The crack had to be fixed first.  That proved to be a problem because it was owned by the township and I wasn’t allowed to touch it.  Eventually, the township did fix it but for a couple of weeks there, no policy for love or money.

Over a crack.

So, verily I say to the state of Connecticut, the solution to this problem seems pretty easy to me.  If you have more than one gun or an assault weapon in your home, no homeowner’s insurance.  Just try to get that 4000 square foot monstrosity with the nice granite countertops and the finished basement covered.  Go on.  The owners will have to stash their guns somewhere else away from the property.  That should keep them away from the young male hotheads in the family. A gun is much more lethal than a pavement defect.

Money changes everything.

****************************

Commenter John R. posted a link to a DailyMail article that says that Nancy Lanza was a survivalist in the Glenn Beck mode. In any case, Beck and his ilk have been predicting catastrophe for a couple of years now from the collision with Nibiru, a wayward planet/dwarf star thingy that doesn’t exist,  or some other catastrophic event.  Ex Jehovah’s Witness kids have been through this crap before and know a scam when they see one but the people who buy into this nonsense keep getting sucked in by every new scenario. I knew people who quit school and bunkered down leading up to 1975.  Many more quit their jobs to pioneer for the Watchtower full time. If you live with people who are into eschatological fantasies, the world can start to look a little nutz. It’s a bit like child abuse to be terrorized all day, all year for years on end by an eschatological parent. For all we know, Adam Lanza might have thought he was doing those kids a favor by killing them before the end of the world as they knew it.

Yes, it’s insane.  But what’s more insane is that we allow people like Glenn Beck to promote these doomsday scenarios without any accountability whatsoever.  It’s like shouting Fire in a theater.  Glenn Beck-why am I not surprised.  His shadow has been lurking behind so many violent events in the past couple of years.  But you want to know how to tell that Glenn Beck and his end-of-the-world fantasies aren’t serious?  How many times lately has he talked and fretted about the “Fiscal Cliff”?  People who expect to be fighting for their lives in the next week and have reserved space in long term survivalist residences don’t have time to be worried about losing their Bush Tax cuts.  If he is, that’s because come January 1, 2013, he expects to be sitting behind his microphone in a nice safe location spewing nonsense to the gullible and he’s probably got tickets to the Superbowl.

For all we know, there will be more violent incidences this week.  Some people don’t know when they’ve been taken for suckers.  They really take this seriously.

The spit in Glenn Beck’s tea

Those of you who have been following this blog for awhile know that I hate to clean my house.  Some people are positively orgasmic about clean houses and waste take a lot of time getting everything perfect and perfectly dirt free.  These people are a mystery to me and anyway, perfection is unattainable. (I keep telling myself this.) Recognizing the deficiency of clean genes in my genotype, I have to resort to trickery.  In other words, I download a book from audible and go to town on my floor or stove, distracting myself from whatever mind numbing chore there is to do.  Jo Nesbo has been my recent author du jour when I have to whip out the sponges and Comet.  But yesterday, when my audible credits renewed, I decided to take a look around for some different entertainment.  That’s when I saw this blurb for Glenn Beck’s newest “novel”, Agenda 21:

Just a generation ago this place was called America. Now, after the worldwide implementation of UN-lead program called Agenda 21, it’s simply known as the ‘Republic’. There is no president. No congress. No Supreme Court. No freedom.

There are only the Authorities.

Citizens have two primary goals in the new Republic: to create clean energy and to create new human life.

Those who cannot do either are of no use to society.

This bleak and barren existence is all that 18-year-old Emmeline has ever known. She dutifully walks her energy board daily and accepts all male pairings assigned to her by the Authorities. Like most citizens, she keeps her head down and her eyes closed.

Until the day they came for her mother.

Woken up to the harsh reality of her life and her family’s future inside the Republic, Emmeline begins to search for the truth. Why are all citizens confined to ubiquitous concrete living spaces? Why are Compounds guarded by Gatekeepers who track all movements? Why are food, water and energy rationed so strictly? And, most important, why are babies taken from their mothers at birth?

As Emmeline begins to understand the true objectives of Agenda 21, she realizes that she is up against far more than she ever thought. With the Authorities closing in, and nowhere to run, Emmeline embarks on an audacious plan to save her family and expose the Republic – but is she already too late?

:-^

I like the term “UN-lead”.  Is that Simon and Schuster’s subtle way of saying that it secretly thinks we should use unleaded gasoline or a punny commentary on the unenforceability of the agenda or are those ironic interpretations just artifacts of the non-conspiratorialist’s rational mind? Or is it like the word “unionize”?  To a bunch of Walmart workers, it means solidarity for better wages and working conditions.  To the chemist it means neutralizing a substance.  But I’m getting off track here.

I didn’t know anything about the real Agenda 21 initiative, which the US is a major signatory to.  So I looked it up.  It’s a voluntary initiative by the UN to promote sustainable development with the goal of reducing the impact of human activity on biodiversity and climate.  Oh, and also there’s some stuff in there about making sure women and other diverse populations don’t get stomped on by the white male affirmative action plan that’s been going on for the last 10,000 years or so.  Not only is it voluntary and a set of proposed standards, but since it’s not a treaty, the Senate hasn’t even taken up discussion of it in Congress.  This is the big threat to the nation.

Obviously, it’s a socialist plot, according to Beck.  Capitalism is apparently incapable of pulling off greater equality between the genders or decreasing dependence on a finite resource like petroleum so the socialists have to do it and conscript the unwilling American population into its wicked program for less pollution and more fairness.  The point of this book appears to be to argue that leaving things just the way they are with more and more people taking a back seat to oil money and power while keeping their place in the natural order of things, as miserable as that might be, is better than evolving.  It’s a little like trying to take the pro side of the debate on venereal disease at the High School Forensics Club meeting.

Glenn Beck is a brave man.  Cunning, manipulative, reckless and willfully ignorant, but brave. Or maybe he’s just enough of a big name that any stupid nonsense he writes will guarantee an audience to a major publisher.  Where is the UN-lead initiative for equalizing the playing field with regard to getting published?  Now *that’s* the kind of agenda that would give Beck the willies for sure.

While I was going through the spam filter last night, I ran across a link from a site that doesn’t deserve any additional attention that asked whether I was a secret Tea Party person because I questioned why the people of New Jersey should only get back $.60 for every dollar we send to Washington.  I think the site manager misunderstands my comment about taxes, deliberately, so as to mislead his merry band of Tea Party followers.

I don’t mind paying my taxes.  What I object to is a bunch of red states or red mentalities constantly interfering in our ability as a nation to evolve.  Not only do they interfere, they seem to take perverse pleasure in keeping the nation in an arrested state of development.  It’s a power trip without any purpose whatsoever.  That’s what I object to.  I object to Alabama taking our money and then spitting in our face and telling us that government is no good.  I object to the south not taxing its own people effectively while at the same time making sure that the underpaid in their states are treated as persons deserving neither respect nor dignity and then exporting that attitude to the rest of the country.

The Tea Party is notorious for collecting followers that express a wide variety of  miserable, hard hearted, nasty, unkind, selfish greedy behaviors towards their fellow Americans.  My anger is fairly typical of people in the coastal populations, rich in diversity and probably better educated, who can see that the country is being left behind by the actions of a mindless mob of mean spirited, religious, conformists who let people like Glenn Beck interfere with their thinking processes.

If they’re so worried about the horrors of Agenda 21, just let them leave already.  No, seriously.  I think the rest of us have had enough. Emigrate to Iraq or Russia or some other place where there are no rules or regulations to prevent testosterone poisoned capitalists from doing whatever the hell they want.  Let them see how natural law operates when there are no better angels to restrain it. It’s time that liberals toughened up and stopped being so damned accommodating or apologizing for our rational desire for regulation and restraint on the turbo charged financiers.

The Tea Partiers don’t want to live in one nation. (And no, that is no tribute to Barack Obama who wouldn’t know a sincere sentiment if it hit him in the face)  They want to continue on with a perpetual war against reality and modernity because they can’t see the iron fist of the uber wealthy pulling their strings.  Their power is going to wane anyway but not before they cause irreparable harm to the country they claim to love.  I challenge that assumption.  I don’t think they love this country.  They are in love with their power.  If they don’t like taxes or government, let them give back the $.40 per dollar that New Jersey sends to them.  We’ve got a bill for Sandy that’s going to run about $30,000,000,000.  We don’t have time for tribulationalist fantasies about voluntary UN initiatives that propose to make the world cleaner, more energy efficient or fairer to most of its people.  Only people like Glenn Beck would see that kind of society as some kind of dystopia.

I spit in Glenn Beck’s Tea.

Beatitudes that Ayn Rand and Glenn Beck could love

Check these out.  Doesn’t this sound like Paul Ryan and Wall Street’s favorite sayings?  Couldn’t you see a Tea Party conservative adopting these as their creed to condemn the parasites?

  • Blessed are the strong, for they shall possess the earth. Cursed are the weak, for they shall inherit the yoke!
  • Blessed are the powerful, for they shall be reverenced among men. Cursed are the feeble, for they shall be blotted out!
  • Blessed are the bold, for they shall be masters of the world. Cursed are the righteously humble, for they shall be trodden under cloven hoofs!
  • Blessed are the victorious, for victory is the basis of right. Cursed are the vanquished, for they shall be vassals forever!
  • Blessed are the iron-handed, for the unfit shall flee before them. Cursed are the poor in spirit, for they shall be spat upon!

These “beatitudes” are from…

wait for it

you’re going to love this…

The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey.

Whoo Hoo!  Satan worshipping conservatives!  You gotta love it.  That last beatitude must have been intended for the authoritarian types who can’t wait to beat the shit out of the Occupy movement for making noise and causing a disturbance.

Ok, the truth is that the LeVeyian’s don’t really worship a being called Satan (or so they say). But they do live by those beatitudes.

It makes you wonder how many Satanists are lurking in political party leadership, doesn’t it?

Glenn Beck’s head on a pike?

Oops!  I meant Lloyd Blankfein’s effigy of a head on a pike, not the actual, you know, *head*.  Because that would be wrong.

So, recently Glenn Beck got all hysterical and hid under the bed because a bunch of regular Americans (who probably don’t listen to Glenn Beck) decided to occupywallstreet and speak their minds.  He and his doofus side kick (who bears an uncanny resemblance to my brother) made fun of the way Zuccotti park occupiers have to repeat what their speakers say.  He didn’t bother to explain that voice amplification is not allowed in Zuccotti park or just about any other space in Manhattan because his guffawing audience might stop and think, “WTF??  You mean even Tea Partiers couldn’t amplify themselves in Zuccotti park?”  That’s right, but I encourage interested Tea Partiers and Glenn Beck fans to check it out for yourselves.  No, really, take a bullhorn to Zuccotti and see what happens.  Report back to us here, after you post bail.

Glenn says that the occupiers are a bunch of pissed off marxists who are now going to kill all the capitalists.

Beck then made the first of his dark analogies. Saying that the only thing that could control the movement would be a forceful crushing from “the top,” he added, “It will be the Night of Long Knives. It will be a purging of this country.” This was a seeming reference to the political murders carried out by the Nazis in 1934.

Beck then turned to “capitalists,” and here his warning was even starker and more graphic:

“Capitalists, if you think that you can play footsies with these people, you’re wrong. They will come for you and drag you into the streets and kill you…they’re Marxist radicals…these guys are worse than Robespierre from the French Revolution…they’ll kill everybody.”

Gosh, why did the commies wait so long?  A lot of people are losing their houses.  They’ve had three years to hatch their diabolical plan and all they can come up with is a mass movement using a democratic, open source process to work their way through the problem while using militant non-violence to assemble and protest peacefully?  Betcha Glenn couldn’t start a nationwide movement without a bullhorn, his own media and a posse of mean spirited, bullying senior citizens who deliberately refuse to evolve.  These occupiers are blood thirsty fiends with their cardboard signs and their sharpies, using the power of the word to cut through all of the right wing nastiness.

Oh, wait, Glenn is one of those nasty right wingers.  So, what we have here is a genuine uprising that is threatening the astroturfed Tea Party movement and Glenn’s moment of glory.  It’s tapping into the zeitgeist of a very dispirited and angry middle class.  It’s non-partisan, a-religious, doesn’t endorse any political candidates and doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings except the bankers (poor widdle guys).  In short, it’s anti-Beck, the little, greedy, mean, libertarian, uber conservative, anti-gay, anti-feminist Mormon man.

Oh My God!  What is happening??  Americans don’t seem to be afraid of their own mortality or intimidated by Beck and his selfish, cranky and para military fantasist  followers.  How can that be after all of the money that has been pouring into the GlennBeckian wet dream network?  It’s the end of the world.  Before you know it there will be earthquakes and floods, dogs and cats living together.  Good thing Beck has an underground fallout shelter where he can hide from the pacifist hordes who are about to force a vegan diet on him.  (Ok, the occupiers do go a little overboard on the crunchy granola. It is a little frightening.)  If this movement is not stopped, before you know it you’ll have capitalists operating under more strict regulations, unable to gamble away your retirement money at the global craps table, forced to pay taxes or pass their workers’ productivity gains back to them, working on an increasingly non-carbon based infrastructure and encouraging Americans to take mass transit and work from home.  Oh, the humanity!

Calm down, Glenn.  They’re not coming to take your head and parade it around on a pike.  They just want to shove your malicious rhetoric down your gullet – metaphorically.   You can come out from under the bed now.

Oh, and about the “acres of trash” that are supposedly accumulating in Zuccotti park?  Well, I was there last week during their third week of occupation and the only thing that I smelled were the street vendors peddling falafel and halal kebabs.  The park was spotless and the garbage cans were empty, not overflowing.

Get a life, Glenn.  Or a night light.

One more thing:  I noticed that the GBTV crew went to an occupation and found some occupiers who were definitely not your suburban soccer mom types.  But what he didn’t show his audience was who is really in the crowd down there.  So, I will.  This is a replay of the pre-march gathering at Zuccotti Park from last week.  Those radical marxists are cleverly disguising themselves as normal looking Americans of all ages and descriptions.  It’s scary.:

Malignant Christianity

Yesterday, Fresh Air with Terry Gross featured an interview with Rachel Tabachnik who recently wrote a post at Alternet about a new religious movement called the New Apostolic Reformation. Paul Rosenberg wrote a followup post titled “The Biggest Religious Movement You Never Heard of: Nine Things You Need to Know About Rick Perry’s Prayer Event“.  I highly recommend these pieces to those of you who are not familiar with this new cult of evangelicals who are planning to conduct spiritual warfare on an institution or religious affiliation near you.

I don’t know what effect they will have on the political system if they ever get a politician in the White House but if we give them some rope, they just might hang themselves.  I call them malignant because they really don’t care what sect of Christianity *you* believe.  There is only one truth according to them and it is the one they define.  They have absolutely no respect for your religious beliefs.  They don’t believe in tolerance.  They’re cultlike in that they have cultivated a mindset and thought stopping ideas and it is impossible to argue with them.  You can’t reason with people whose minds exist in a parallel universe.  They are end timers who put their faith only in God.  They are waiting for a critical mass of Jews to accept Christ before the end.  Unlike some evangelicals, they don’t necessarily believe in the Rapture.  They expect that they will have to go through the tribulations on earth before Jesus comes.

In many respects, they are indistinguishable from Jehovah’s Witnesses.  This is pretty surprising.  When I was a kid, Jehovah’s Witnesses were thought of as eyes-glazed-over zealots with no sense of humor and a stubborn streak of anti-intellectualism.  Now, a whole new generation of evangelicals has adopted their theology lock, stock and barrel and probably don’t even know it.

These new apostles claim they don’t belong to any church.  They belong to a movement.  Their movement is obsessed with the idea of demons everywhere, another feature of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Yep, if you are a freemason in the Midwest, you just might find a bunch of these people standing on the lawn to your temple, driving a stake in the grass and praying fervently to drive the demons out.  In most other respects, they are like the religious right.  Adamantly anti-abortion, they also think that homosexuality is perverted.  It’s not just that they think it’s immoral, the very thought of gay sex is mentally and emotionally revolting to them.  I find this aspect really weird but it does tell you something about the age of some of these participants.  Bedroom practices for gay and straight couples don’t really differ a lot these days but you don’t hear the religious right spazzing out about married heterosexuals performing oral or anal sex.  If it’s immoral to use the wrong orifice, it’s wrong for anyone who does it.  Consistency, people.  It would make you a whole lot more credible.

They also seem to think that the government has too much of a safety net and that the responsibility for helping people in need belongs to the church.  This is really strange because these people don’t belong to physical churches and they detest the mainstream religious institutions so who’s supposed to be doing this stuff for the poor?  And what do the poor have to give up in exchange?  It’s funny how these people think the unemployed are parasites after people such as myself paid more in taxes in a year than some of them made in salary.  We’re out of work but we still pay taxes on severance benefits (if we’re lucky enough to get them) and our unemployment checks.  But when the severance is gone, so are the taxes.  You’d think that the New Apostolic Reformation would be banging down the doors of Congress to get politicians to focus on unemployment but you would be wrong.  Because these new apostles don’t believe in the government of man.  They’re waiting for the end time to come.  Any effort towards solving the economic crisis would be a waste of time and besides, that would deprive them of their ability to look down on anyone not like them.

I call it malignant.  It spreads and it causes great harm to the body without providing any positive benefits.  Tabachnik says it’s gaining in popularity but I would hazard a guess that it will become a lot less popular after 2012 when the obsession with Mayan numerology takes its course and we’re all still here in January 2013. Or when Glenn Beck exhausts his good will among the survivalists.  Or when Rupert Murdoch finally has to explain himself before a Congressional committee.

But keep the malignancy aspect in the forefront of your mind.  The New Apostolic Reformation has nothing to offer this country or the world or you personally.  The politicians who pander to it probably don’t either.

Tuesday: Hack this

Would you sell an American citizenship to this man?

The phone hacking scandal in Britain is getting pretty hairy.  It turns out that investigators for Scotland Yard who were looking into reports of phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp outlets were in turn phone hacked (NYTimes, limited free articles):

The disclosure, based on interviews with current and former officials, raises the question of whether senior investigators feared that if they aggressively investigated, The News of the World would punish them with splashy articles about their private lives. Some of their secrets, tabloid-ready, eventually emerged in other news outlets.

Those damaging allegations, about two of the senior officers’ private lives, involved charges that one had padded his expense reports and was involved in extramarital affairs and that the other used frequent flier miles accrued on the job for personal vacations.

“If it is true that police officers knew their phones had been hacked, it is a serious matter that requires immediate investigation,” said John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, which investigated phone hacking. “It would be shocking.”

The lead police investigator on the phone-hacking case, Andy Hayman, left the Metropolitan Police in December 2007 after questions were raised in the news media about business expenses he had filed and the nature of his relationship with a woman who worked for theIndependent Police Complaints Commission.

At the time, Channel 4 News reported details of 400 text messages and phone calls that Mr. Hayman had sent to her.

400 text messages.  Holy Hemiola.  Someone must have been bored out of their gourd sifting through all that minutiae:

Him: Where R U?

Her: At Macy’s

Him: I can’t find the remote

Her: It’s on top of the bookcase

Him: My wife is out for the afternoon.  Where should I meet you?

Her: Ahem, I’ve decided NOT to go out this afternoon.  How about we meet in the kitchen -over my knife?

Remember when we thought that someone had the goods on the Democrats in the past 11 years?  Maybe we weren’t just imagining it.

Meanwhile, Murdoch’s deal to buy up the controlling shares in BSkyB has been put on hold for a few months and his shareholders are shocked, SHOCKED that such shenanigans could be happening right underneath Rupert’s nose.  They’re filing a lawsuit to get to the bottom of it:

Among the lawsuit’s complaints: the company’s purchase of Elisabeth Murodoch’s Shine Group has harmed the shareholder value; the board as it is comprised has numerous conflicts of interest; and the phone-hacking scandal has hurt the company’s reputation and investor value.

{{snort!}}

You’ve GOT to be kidding.  When Fox was bailing out Bill O’Reilly because he was phone sexing one of his producers and Glenn Beck became a raving lunatic, the shareholders were pretty OK with the company’s reputation.  Fox News has made a name for itself as being fast and loose with the truth (perfectly legal, so saith the courts) and fellating Bush administration officials on a regular basis.  So, why the big deal NO

There’s more stunning hypocrisy:

The egregious conduct triggering this stunning turn of events was not limited to reporters.  Former News Of The World employees involved in the phone hacking have indicated that at least two editors-in-chief of the paper were aware of and condoned the hacking in order to obtain news stories that would  drive readership.

Rebekah Brooks (“Brooks”), a very close friend of Murdoch and his family who has repeatedly been promoted by Murdoch (most recently to the position of Chief Executive Officer of News International), and Andy Coulson (“Coulson”), a Murdoch political ally and a close friend of Brooks who became an aide to British Prime Minister David Cameron, both were editor-in chief of the paper while the illegal hacking was on-going and have been linked to explicit knowledge of the practice.  Coulson, in fact, has been arrested on suspicion of phone hacking and making payments to police and faces criminal indictment for his conduct.

These revelations should not have taken years to uncover and stop. These revelations show a culture run amuck within News Corp and a Board that provides no effective review or oversight.

Oh, I don’t know, Fox has been extremely effective in undermining the social safety net and standard of living of hundreds of millions of people in North America, Britain and Iraq.  Chaos and lack of oversight appear to be key factors in the success of News Corps winning management style.  Let’s not forget it owns the Wall Street Journal and it’s compassionately conservative editorial page.

And what kind of culture has been damaged?  The kind that stops at nothing to ram ultra conservative ideology and farfetched conspiracy theories down the throats of unsuspecting senior citizens and treats the working class like a bunch of parasites?  Or is it the culture that hour after hour, day after day, terrifies its viewers with stories of abductions and child abuse and murders of innocent young white girls to the point where every adult, male or female, is a potential pedophile?  Or is News Corps culture the kind that stampedes the governments of two nations into a stupid and costly war in Iraq?  Where were the shareholders back then?  Having their pedicures in the back of the limo on the tedious drive to Hamptons?

Rupert Murdoch sounds like an authoritarian sociopath to me and from what I can tell, he’s been one for a long time.  I’m guessing that the shareholders *liked* the ruthless bastard just as he was as long as the stock prices of insurance companies, the security industry, armaments dealers and mercenary merchants were increasing. It’s only now that Britain is turning on him that the shareholders find his company distasteful and his culture uncouth.  What I want to know is who these snobs are that brought us to the brink of global economic catastrophe over the financial system deregulation and the ongoing debt ceiling debacle and now think they can slither away unscathed.  Names, I want names.

I predict this scandal is going to spread and have already cornered the market in popcorn.  Where, Oh, Where, will the Republicans go for sympathetic, soft ball interviews?  Ok, I mean *other* than the rest of the American news media?  And can we get a list of the politicians that have shown up on Fox the most?  Or is this just a ruse by the shareholders to ditch Murdoch, make it look like the cesspool is being cleaned up and then party on under new management?

Butter, please.  Lots of it.

failure to discriminate

In case anyone has forgotten, there are still people out of work

Tucson.  I hope this is the last day we beat this dead horse.

In the past week, I have stayed away from TV and radio and most blog sites.  At first it was because I was tied up with something else that needed my full attention.  But as a the week wore on, I deliberately stayed away and only read an occasional piece in the NYTimes regarding the progress of Giffords’ recovery.  And here is the result of my deliberate isolation from the media frenzy:

  • We will probably never know the true extent of the poisonous atmosphere of Arizona politics on the shooter’s state of mind.
  • Regardless of what anyone says to the contrary, the poisonous atmosphere of Arizona politics and general right wing media craziness can not be ruled out as a contributing factor.  The little I know about the shooter’s word salad indicates that *something* had seeped in.
  • Gabrielle Giffords is a politician and she is a Democrat.  To suggest that politics had NOTHING to do with it is absurd.
  • Regardless of whether or not the infamous Palin map had anything at all to do with the shooting, vandalism, red faced furious constituents getting in Giffords’ face during meetups or the general fear of being labeled a liberal or a Democrat in Arizona, the fact that the map was connected with her website as part of a campaign to “target” supporters of the healthcare reform bill is unbecoming and irresponsible for any politician on either side of the aisle.  There is no excuse for that map.  Oh, I can see a lot of people twisting themselves into pretzels trying to come up with one but give it up already.  Have some standards.
  • I don’t care if the left is going nuts on TV.  I don’t watch TV news specifically because there’s too much histrionics.  I don’t want my emotions to be manipulated.  I advise readers here to turn the gasbags off.
  • I’ve been critical of the way Obama’s campaign organization treated half his party during the 2008 campaign.  I hated the way the media and DNC went along with it.  It wasn’t enough that I was a liberal.  No, I had to be called old, uneducated, a racist and then treated as if my vote didn’t count because I was a woman and I’d get with the program in the end anyway.  His campaign tactics were an indication of the way he was to govern.  He doesn’t care what voters really think and he feels comfortable ignoring us.  That’s why I will NEVER vote for Barack Obama.  I advise others to reject him as well.  If you feel you have no other option, you don’t have a very high opinion of yourself.
  • Sarah Palin doesn’t need our protection or support.  She made that perfectly clear in her video.  She has thrown her lot in with Glenn Beck.  GLENN BECK, people.  That’s who she gets her spiritual and  political advice from these days.  In case some of you have forgotten, it was Glenn and Rush and the whole Fox News establishment who has been pounding on liberals for the past 20 years to make sure we are afraid to say what we believe.  The right is going to continue to pound on us because that is what they do.  They hate us and want to make sure we don’t ever have a voice.  I’m not going to hand Sarah a mallet.  She is not our friend.  She is what she is.  That doesn’t make her a monster.

If the left wants to make it worse for itself, there’s not a whole lot I can do to stop it.  I can’t control other people’s behavior, I can only control my own.  I’m not joining on either bandwagon.  I’ve had enough.  I’m sick of being treated like an outcast by both parties.

If the right is so determined to exonerate Palin or the right wing media from the vitriol, they owe it to the rest of us to present evidence and a detailed study proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that their over the top, angry, irrational demonization of liberalism is not now or ever has been responsible for the intimidation of a group they have been trained to hate.  Otherwise, I’m going to look at the fact that the right has cornered the media market in many states, including Arizona, and conclude that the hatred of liberals is correlated to that market share.

I’ve never seen so much denial in my life.  The right was happy as all get out to stomp all over us before this shooting.  If it really had nothing to do with it, and I’m not saying it did, why not just admit that it was fun while it lasted?  Sarah and Glenn aren’t apologizing.  Take credit for the poison.  You deserve it!

But if you’re tired of it, like I am, turn off the TV and the radio.  Step away from the fight.  If you are an FDR type Democrat in Exile like me, this doesn’t have anything to do with you anyway.  It’s just two anachronistic, legacy parties going at each other.  It has very little to do with how people are living today.  It won’t get more people employed, fix our crumbling infrastructure, punish the bankers or end a war.  It is a major distraction.

Enough.

WWHD?

I should have written a post about this earlier because I really don’t like the meme “politicizing a tragedy” and you won’t hear me using it. The reason you won’t hear me using it is because words like “politicizing” are cooked up by operatives at the speed of light and are used to short circuit the thought process. They provide a sort of cheap grace as a substitute for thinking the problem out. Same for words like corporatist and triangulate. But that subject deserves it’s own post and is not the subject of this one

I’m going to try to summarize some of the thoughts I had in myiq’s thread from yesterday. My wifi connection in this hotel isn’t the best, I’m typing on an ipad in a WordPress app and I’ve already lost one post on the subject.

There seem to be tow major camps regarding this tragedy: Sarah Palin is a monster and the Tea Partiers must be blamed. Or, Sarah Palin is the scapegoat and her picture had nothing to do with this tragic incident.

I prefer the third way. In this respect, I must dissent from myiq. On this site, we allow dissent and that is significant because dissent is something that neither party holds as a cherished right.

In the past 18 years, starting with the advent of Rush Limbaugh, we saw a ratcheting up of right wing extremism. Notably in Rush’s case, he started to push the envelope as to what was considered socially acceptable norms of behavior. By this, I don’t mean to say that he shouldn’t have the right to believe what he believes or proclaim any dumb ass right wing policy he wants. That’s his choice. And if he wants to throw in a few expletive deleteds for emphasis, go for it. I do the same all the time. No, what I’m referring to is the subtle and not so subtle breakdown of the barriers we out up between our darkest inner thoughts and our tongues. Take for instance the word “feminazi” for example. There are other examples, some of which are documented in Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot written by none other than my personal favorite, Al Franken.

We put up barriers to these inner thoughts in the 60s and 70s because society thought it was wrong to treat African Americans unfairly and it was wrong to treat women like second class citizens and it was wrong to deprive hippies of the right to grow up to be liberals if that’s what they wanted. The right called it political correctness and while it’s true that some people take the concept too far, it is NOT true that these new societal norms were unnecessary. Seriously, does anyone want to go back to the days of segregation or sexual harassment or, more relevantly now, the days of laissez faire capitalism where the average American was vulnerable to the dips and swings of the market without any stability or insurance against risk? No. Most people don’t.

But there are some segments of society that do want to go back or don’t see what the big deal is if they step on some heads to get to the top. The right wing tapped into that sentiment. They did it by breaking down the barriers and by making it acceptable to unleash that hatred of groups we had decided to protect and assist so they could fully participate in the American dream. They did it by making Rush popular, by buying up radio stations and by giving him a pass when he said indiscreet, intemperate and socially unacceptable things. It became ok to hate these groups again.

I wouldn’t say that violates any constitutional amendments. It just violates our sense of who we are as a nation and it undermines the cohesiveness that so many civil rights activists and union workers fought for over many decades. What distresses me most is that so many people, including some people in my own family, bought into it. It distresses me because we weren’t raised that way.

So, Rush may not have been the first but he was certainly the most effective at spreading the right wing vitriol. By the way, vitriol is an anachronistic word for a certain form of sulfuric acid that is particularly corrosive and dangerous. So, yeah, vitriol is an appropriate word. Vitriol corrodes. It’s not the same thing as violating civility, although it is connected. Incivility is necessary at times to express dissent. Vitriol corrodes the barriers we set up between expressing our darkest thoughts and acting on those thoughts. For example, if you were brought up to hate homosexuals, well, I feel sorry for you but I’m not going to tell you to stop believing it. What I will tell you to do is behave in a manner of good citizenship and do no violate the mental or physical integrity of a gay person and to respect the laws we set up that guarantee everyone’s civil rights. Keep your hatred to yourself.

Rush did away with all that. Now, suddenly, those throwbacks to a different era had a group to belong to. Those angry white men who failed to evolve were able to form a cohesive unit to turn back all the wrongs they think were done to them when they were forced to share the pie that they once had all to themselves. You can almost hear the far right wing Republicans cackling with joy, “Exxxxcellent!”

And so it went. The 90s were a nightmare as the right wingers continued to solidify their hold on the media, permeating virtually every media outlet and the virtual world itself. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that we saw the liberals, late to the party, take to the internet and try to push back. Some of them, particularly in 2008, attempted to use Limbaugh-esque tactics to suppress their own base. That’s because they discovered that ditching your principles to energize your base works and drives up ad revenue. It also leads to electing the least prepared and least liberal president the country has ever known during a period of time when preparation and liberal economic policies were desperately needed. But I digress.

So, the right wing has been perfecting their method for nearly two decades. What used to be outrageous and offensive, is now merely background noise. Women are uppity, they don’t spend enough time with their kids, they want abortions so they can go to the prom. Gays are recruiting young boys and they threaten the institution of marriage and if they allow gay marriage, married men will abandon their wives to dress in drag and march with their boyfriend(s) in gay pride parades. Muslims are evil. Christians, but only fundamentalist Christians, are good. Liberals want to steal your money. They will make out country vulnerable to attack. Health care reform is socialized medicine.

Finally, we have come to this point in time where if you are a liberal, you’re barely fit to live. You’re not really human. You’re no better than a parasite, a cockroach, a backstabber. Most liberals can’t even refer to themselves as liberals.

And it is into this environment that Sarah Palin steps as the champion of a new set of people. A group that even the right wing Republicans are afraid of. They resemble the John Burch Society and the old style, inside the beltway, refined Republicans don’t really approve. Funny, when Palin ran for VP in 2008, she gave little indication that she would take so well to the Glenn Beck style right wingery. I was surprised and dismayed, but the money must be good and why shouldn’t a conservative feminist cash in as well as the boys?

She got a little enthusiastic. She joined in with gusto. She turned her love of firearms and hunting into an asset. She put up a very thoughtless picture that, IMHO, demonstrated a cavalier and careless disregard for the personal safety of those people who she happened to disagree with politically and some of those people had liberal tendencies. Her audience doesn’t think it’s such a big deal. Heck, they HATE liberals with a white hot passion.

But what has happened to Gabrielle Giffords, while probably having nothing to do with Palin’s picture and more likely caused by the actions of a psychotic individual, was preceeded by death threats, vandalism and on more than one occasion people showing up to her rallies with guns and shouting in red faced fury into her face.

Did Sarah cause all the vitriol? No, she is just the last in a long line of opportunists. She shouldn’t bear the whole blame for what has happened in our country where it has become dangerous to openly confess to being a liberal.

But if she ever wants my respect, she will express genuine humility and contrition for helping to spread the vitriol. And that goes for Beck and Rush and Fox and all of their retainers. If Palin aspires to public office, where she represents and vows to protect and serve all Americans, she must set a higher standard for herself. She must adopt a set of principles of A good public servant, one who never elevates one set of citizens above others. She must continually strive to accentuate the positive and never stoop to cheap opportunism and easy politics of our baser instincts. She must become more like Hillary Clinton.

So, when it comes to Sarah and Beck and in the future Pawlenty or Mitt or Huckabee, or even Obama and his golden horde of asshole bloggers, we have to guard ourselves from being swayed by the crowd and ask, what would Hillary do?

Thursday Morning News: Reading the entrails

Brittany is still not over The Clintons

Hey, all you Glee fans, did you catch this gem on Tuesday night?

Artie: I thought I was over someone, but I still think I have feelings for them.

Brittany: The Clintons?

Yeah, you and half of the country.

So, sports fans, are you ready to dive right in?

Let’s start with the latest cave from the Obama administration.  The NYTimes reports today that Obama will allow insurance companies to charge more for families with sick children. like parents of juvenile cancer patients or chronic asthmatics don’t have enough to worry about:

The Obama administration, aiming to encouragehealth insurance companies to offer child-only policies, said Wednesday that they could charge higher premiums for coverage of children with serious medical problems, if state law allowed it.

Earlier this year, major insurers, faced with an unprofitable business, stopped issuing new child-only policies. They said that the Obama administration’s interpretation of the new health care law would allow families to buy such coverage at the last minute, when children became ill and were headed to the hospital…

“Unfortunately,” Ms. Sebelius said, “some insurers have decided to stop writing new business in the child-only insurance market, reneging on a previous commitment made in a March letter to ‘make pre-existing condition exclusions a thing of the past.’ ”

The White House has been tussling with insurers for months, trying to get them to provide coverage for children with cancerautism, heart defects and other conditions.

In a letter Wednesday to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Ms. Sebelius said the decision of some insurers to stop issuing child-only policies was “extremely disappointing.”

Yes, I have found that sternly worded letters are always effective at achieving what is, apparently, voluntary compliance with the law.  “I’m terribly disappointed.  No beets for you.”  Hmmm, let’s see, the Democrats have slashed food stamps during a recession and now they’re allowing insurance companies to suck the last penny from between the cushions of parents’ worn out couches.  I’m beginning to think they don’t like kids.  Well, it’s not like they vote or anything…

Next up, Obama apologizes for being a Democrat, er, as defined by Republicans? Peter Daou found this revealing insight into Obama’s brain in a review of a NYTimes magazine article:

[President Obama] reflects on what he called the “tactical lessons” of his first two years: He let himself look too much like “the same old tax-and-spend Democrat,” realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” [see reference to Hudson Tunnel project below] and perhaps should have “let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts” in the stimulus. He said he and his team took “a perverse pride” in focusing on policy while ignoring the need to sell it to the country and that he realizes now that “you can’t be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion.”

I’ll wait a minute for you to recover the jaw you just dropped.  That last sentence is really funny.  It’s almost like he was projecting or something.  Read Daou’s post.  There’s more where that came from.  Maybe Obama doesn’t understand how the game is played.  Or he *does* understand how the game is played and you are really not going to like the next two years as he takes the country down and tries to pin it on the Republicans.

Speaking of Republicans, some of you may be wondering what it’s like living under the regime of Chris Christie in NJ.  I am happy to report that property taxes are still as high as ever and he has made no attempt to reform the state funding system.  But wait!  There’s more.  Christie has been going gangbusters trying to bring the densest state in the union, in more ways than one, to heel.  He’s been having a blast taking on the teacher’s unions and slashing and burning through school district expenditures.  Take online books, for example.  My district could afford them last year.  This year, Brook’s slender frame is being permanently warped from schlepping 80 lbs of books back and forth to school each day.  We have already had one catastrophic book bag failure and the sucker didn’t even make it through September.  Here’s a sampling of our Governor’s education “policy”:

Students have less, parents pay more as new school year begins in N.J.

Ex-education chief Schundler openly blames Gov. Christie for Race to the Top loss

N.J. school funding scores high marks, but does not account for Christie’s $820M budget cuts

Gov. Christie reveals plans to limit N.J. superintendents’ salaries, base pay on merit

The last item is clearly  Christie pandering to the spoiled Republican suburbanites who sit on their fat asses all day, leave at 3:00pm in the afternoon and don’t do 1/10th the amount of work that I witnessed superintendents doing when I was a school board member.  Running a school district is like running a company with hundreds of employees.  It’s a tough, demanding job but some Republicans I know cannot imagine why we pay our superintendents $150K/year.  Our own superintendent quit this year and we have an interim superintendent.  In all likelihood, the good citizens of —–villeburg thought that the guy should eke out a living on 100K/year or less. In New Jersey??  That will get you a decent but unspectacular condo and a second hand car here.  Would YOU want to run a large company but live like a worker in communist East Germany?  Seriously.  $100K isn’t even the average salary in my township.  But leave it to the short sighted burghers here to turn their anger on the schools instead of the property tax inequities.  Thank God we have all the school buses we can eat.  We wouldn’t want to charge for courtesy bussing.  New Jerseyans have their priorities all screwed up.  But the budget cuts have an unexpected benefit.  Whenever you ask why the school district doesn’t do X when we had X last year, the person behind the desk smiles sweetly and says, “The budget didn’t pass.  This is what people wanted.”  Ergo…

Then there’s the tunnel under the Hudson that Christie wants to cancel.  The tunnel project is a no-brainer so we can safely assume that Christie has no brain.  Commuting to and from NYC from Jersey is time consuming and expensive.  The tunnel would have made it a less arduous ordeal.  But Republicans are not into infrastructure.  That’s long term thinking.  They don’t do long term.  So, the commuting ordeal will continue until the state thoroughly hates Republicans with a passion.  It may be happening sooner than they expected.

And finally, here is the Podcast of the Day:  Yesterday, Terry Gross interviewed Sean Wilentz from Princeton, just down the road a spell.  Wilentz talks about how Glenn Beck is channeling the John Birch society.  I’m not sure he completely nails the current national problem though.  He thinks the roots of Democratic failure is in the 60’s.  I think it faced its steepest decline in 2008 when the Democrats jettisoned the working class for snobby Obama and his droogs.  Some of the working class, in anger and confusion, allied themselves with the Becks and Tea Partiers.  Well, if the Democrats have the “We don’t need no stinkin’ working class” attitude, they shouldn’t be surprised at the consequences.  We don’t like Beck either but we aren’t calling the working class bitter, guntotin’, holy rollers.  They’re simply acquiring power in a way that will cause distaste for the genteel Democrats.  Or as Wilentz puts it, in GlennBeckistan, it will be a “dog eat dog world, mitigated by religious charity”.  Doesn’t that sound delightful?

Don’t you miss the Clintons?

Ok, Conflucians, I’m off!  There’s a hot Swedish colleague giving a seminar this morning and I don’t want to miss it.

 

 

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