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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.

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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.

 

 

The Sun and the Wind

Stephen Colbert testified before Congress regarding migrant labor protection and reports that “most soil is at ground level”:

Blowhard Beck’s blog says that “Colbert makes a complete mockery of Congress”.

Ayup, no irony there.

Too funny.

Hillary says proposed Koran burning is a “disgraceful act”

Decent people don’t need Hillary to tell them this.  From the Telegraph, Hillary Clinton commented on the planned burning of the Koran by a minister in Florida:

Clinton condemned the threat to burn the Quran during her remarks at a State Department dinner she hosted in observance of Iftar, the breaking of the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths,” Clinton said.

This post is for all of our former friends who were Clintonistas in 2008 but somehow let their anger lead them in a different direction.

I know how pissed you were at the way your vote was taken away from you in 2008.  I know you feel disenfranchised by the one party you thought you could rely on.  You’ve been the invisible ones during this mother of all recessions.  You have lost your jobs or your family has.  You have seen government not working for you anymore where once it had.  You saw people come into office in 2008 promising change and then watched as they crumbled under the slightest wind of opposition.  They let you down, they’ve deprived you of a retirement free from worry and destitution.  They have been completely deaf to your pleas.

But don’t take it out on Muslim Americans.

The people who are channeling your rage towards Muslims are the very same people who are responsible for the mess you’re in now.  They are providing you with a distraction and an easy scapegoat.  They are pointing your rage towards destruction.  It is unproductive and won’t save your job, pay your mortgage or help you retire with dignity.  It simply takes your soul towards a dark place without the tempering spirits of civil behavior.

And men like Glenn Beck have been around for thousands of years.  They pop up whenever economic disasters lead to a power vacuum and a confused and leaderless people.  They talk about a return to “honor” and morality.  They proclaim “No to decadence and moral corruption!” and “Yes to decency and morality in family and state!”  Those last two quotes were from Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, just before he consigned the works of Jewish authors to the flames at a massive book burning in 1933.

We all know better than to behave like this.  We were brought up better than this.  We’ve had our mouths washed out with soap for saying bigoted things when we were children.  That’s because our parents or grandparents saw the little indignities of segregation or the slow intensification of anger and hostility that lead to the holocaust agains the Jews in Nazi Germany.  And they wanted us to learn and become better people and “to not judge a book by its cover”.  I would hate to think that there are mothers and other members of our own family out there who taught us better who are now falling back into this backwards and ignorant behavior and are being taken in by false prophets like Beck.

Those Jews saw themselves as German citizens just as Muslim Americans see themselves as American citizens.  They expected the law to protect their rights, persons and property and instead, they saw ruthless, unscrupulous men take advantage of the despair and anger of a downtrodden nation.  Those men, those forerunners of Glenn Beck, unleashed that anger against their own fellow citizens.

In the aftermath of 9/11, we came together as a nation and for the most part did not give in to retribution against our Muslim American population.  Yes, there was a lot of hostility and anger and some innocent people were hurt.  But we held back because most of us knew that the attack on the World Trade Center was designed to undermine the legal barriers against our baser instincts.  It was an act of extremism, not an act of a foreign god.  Then we got to work rebuilding.

So, you should ask yourself why, after nearly 10 years, we are dredging up this old anger, refreshing it and placing the blame for a heinous act on innocent Muslim Americans who had nothing to do with it.  Does it really have anything to do with 9/11 or is it something much more sinister?  Is Glenn Beck’s call to restoring honor genuine or is it the tried and true formula of finding a scapegoat for people to beat up on while the bad guys continue to loot the country and cement their power in place?

Back then, a German citizen might have gleefully burned the books of Einstein and Freud thinking, “Oh, they are only Jews”

Today, do we follow in their footsteps and burn the Koran because it is only the Muslims?

If we do, then we have learned nothing from witch burning, segregation, the Holocaust or history in general.  We should be ashamed of ourselves.  It is disgraceful.

And for a nation that knows better, it is dangerous.  People like Beck are redefining decency.  He thinks you are weak and easily lead.  Beck is playing you for a fool.

Are you?

Monday Morning News

Summer Tanager (male)

Good Morning Conflucians!!

I’m “back home again in Indiana,” visiting my mom. This afternoon we saw a beautiful bird–a Summer Tanager. It was bright red all over and gorgeous. I never even knew they existed. The females are beautiful too. They look something like a goldfinch, only they are olive green.

Summer Tanager (female)

It’s little moments like these that remind me that life is worth living even while the world economy is crumbling, the Gulf Coast may become a permanent dead zone, and we still have an incurious, uncaring, narcissistic President, even though George W. Bush has left the public stage for now.

As for the news, you’ve probably heard that BP finally managed to get their 100-mile-long siphon into the Deepwater Horizon gusher, but government officials say this is “not a solution.”

“This technique is not a solution to the problem, and it is not yet clear how successful it may be,” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a joint statement.

“I don’t think we should get our hopes up until we know for sure that all of the oil is staying down,” said Edward Markey, a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts.

“With reports of miles-long undersea clouds of oil floating around the Gulf of Mexico, and the very real possibility that more oil has been spilled than previously estimated, this crisis is far from over,” he said.

According to BBC News, the chemicals that BP has been using to break up the oil may be causing the huge oil slicks that are building up down below the surface of the water.

Researchers from the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology said they had detected the slicks lurking just beneath the surface of the sea and at depths of 4,000ft (1,200m).

Samantha Joye, a marine science professor at the University of Georgia, said: “It could take years, possibly decades, for the system to recover from an infusion of this quantity of oil and gas.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s impossible to fathom the impact.”

MSNBC reports that BP rig inspections were fewer than advertised

The federal agency responsible for ensuring that the Deepwater Horizon was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that the rig be inspected at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.

In fact, the agency’s inspection frequency on the Deepwater Horizon fell dramatically over the past five years, according to federal Minerals Management Service records….Since January 2005, inspectors issued just one minor infraction for the rig. That strong track record led the agency last year to herald the Deepwater Horizon as an industry model for safety.

And did you hear that Brit Hume thinks the BP oil spill is no big deal? Here, from Think Progress, is an exchange that took place on Fox News this morning between Hume and Juan Williams:

WILLIAMS: First of all, don’t you think, this spill now is going to be in excess of what happened with Exxon Valdez.

HUME: Let’s see if that happens. There’s a good question today if you are standing on the Gulf, and that is: Where is the oil?

WILLIAMS: “Where is the oil?”

HUME: It’s not on — except for little of chunks of it, you’re not even seeing it on the shore yet.

WILLIAMS: But I think it will damage the environment in the gulf and damage tourism and damage fishing. I don’t think there’s any question this is in excess of anything we’ve previously asked the ocean to absorb.

HUME: We’ll see if it is. We’ll see if it is. The ocean absorbs a lot, Juan, an awful lot. The ocean absorbs a lot.

Here’s the video:

The Washington Post says that Obama is about to have another legislative victory–a financial “reform” bill.

Administration officials, along with Dodd and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), have walked a fine line: fending off most conservative efforts to scale back core elements of the legislation while resisting most liberal attempts at harsher regulations, including strict caps on the size of big banks. Senate Democrats also have courted key Republicans, including Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, by accepting some of their recommendations, including adding rules tying capital requirements to risk and clarifying which businesses would be covered by the new consumer agency.

Something tells me this bill is going to hand over a lot more money to banks and their lobbyists. I hope I’m wrong.

In other news, Glenn Beck gave the commencement address yesterday at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and received an honorary degree. Beck told the graduates that he

…never graduated from college but spent one semester at Yale University when he was 30…leaving because he could not afford the tuition.

Beck, who is Mormon, delivered a speech that emphasized the power of faith in righting a country that he said has gone off track.“I look at the things that are facing you today: the worst economy in generations, the euro on the road to collapse, we’re spending ourselves into oblivion…” he said. “We live in a time where you must have great courage; you must have great faith. We live in a time where it seems truth is on the run.”

His message to the graduates was peppered with tears, humor and even some offbeat wisdom, such as “cabs smell worse in the summer” and “labels are meaningless, but Louis Vuitton shoes are really the best.”

The article didn’t say if Beck had been drinking heavily before his speech.

At Boston University a very special graduation ceremony was held today for the class of 1970.

The accouterment and spirit of their era still radiate from the class of 1970, despite the harsh and abrupt ending to their years at Boston University.

That spring was supposed to bring a flowery conclusion to their four years of academe. But President Richard M. Nixon had invaded Cambodia. National Guardsmen had gunned down students at Kent State, killing four and wounding nine. Young men still faced the draft. And this campus, like many across the country, was in turmoil, with strikes, sit-ins, building takeovers and fire-bombings.

The situation became so incendiary that, for safety’s sake, university officials called off final exams, canceled graduation and sent students packing.

This weekend, on what would have been the 40th anniversary of that ceremony, the university sought to make amends with a proper graduation.

What the heck is going at Ohio colleges these days? It’s a lot worse than anything in Animal House from the reports I’ve been reading.

Sorority at Miami University of Ohio accused of drunken debauchery at Underground Railroad museum

Members of the Alpha Xi Delta at Miami University and their dates are accused of a laundry list of bad behavior at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati during a spring formal, the Associated Press reported.

Accusations include smoking inside the museum, excessive trashing of the dance floor and bathrooms, vomiting in different places, leaving puddles of urine in the men’s bathroom, stealing bottles of booze from the bar and smuggling their own alcohol inside the museum in flasks and plastic bottles.

But that’s not even the worst of it. In a letter to Miami U. officials, event coordinator Rhonda Miller wrote that

…she followed a male partygoer who ducked under the stanchions around the Slave Pen exhibit, which was built in the early 1800s and was used by Kentucky slave trader, Capt. John W. Anderson.

“In catching up with him, I found him about to relieve himself on the corner of this priceless and sanctified artifact,” Miller wrote.

“I told him to get out of the closed off area and use the restroom on the main floor. A Bensons Catering employee later found the same boy attempting to relieve himself on the freight elevator where Bensons had stored their food.”

After a sorority member vomited at the dinner table about a half hour into the 7 p.m. event, Miller said “we realized that seemingly every single sorority sister had illegally brought alcohol into the building in plastic juice or soda bottles and flasks.”

Previously, the Pi Beta Phi sorority at Miami of Ohio had been suspended by the university for similar behavior at another event venue. The suspension came after

a lodge owner complained about damage and unruly behavior at a spring formal including guests urinating in sinks, men scrambling over the bar for drinks, and couples caught having sex.

And at the University of Dayton,

A third Ohio sorority is in trouble after a wild party that authorities said involved vandalism.

The University of Dayton’s Alpha Phi sorority faces a May 27 disciplinary hearing for a March gathering at the Top of the Market banquet hall in Dayton.

Authorities said students were accused of urinating and vomiting on carpet and alcohol theft. A men’s bathroom sink was ripped off the wall and mustard and ketchup was sprayed around the facility.

And Obama thinks this younger generation is going to clean up the mess we baby boomers supposedly made back in ’60s and ’70s?

Here’s a WTF story for you: Congress may override Gates’ plans to cut defense spending

Lawmakers from both parties are poised to override Gates and fund the C-17 cargo plane and an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — two weapons systems the defense secretary has been trying to cut from next year’s budget. They have also made clear they will ignore Gates’s pleas to hold the line on military pay raises and health-care costs, arguing that now is no time to skimp on pay and benefits for troops who have been fighting two drawn-out wars.

The competing agendas could lead to a major clash between Congress and the Obama administration this summer. Gates has repeatedly said he will urge President Obama to veto any defense spending bills that include money for the F-35’s extra engine or the C-17, both of which he tried unsuccessfully to eliminate last year.

Let’s all keep this in mind when Congress and the President try to take away our Social Security and Medicare. There’s always plenty of money for weapons and banks and nothing for the ordinary people who pay the bills with our taxes.

I’ll end with this old song about Indiana, sung a cappella by “Straight, No Chaser,” a choral group from Indiana University.

So what are you reading this morning? Got any good news? Any bird sightings or other nature stories to share? Post whatever stories you like in the comments, and have a marvelous Monday. Where there’s life there’s hope!