Monday, January 17, 2011

Quote for the Day

The world is no place of rest. I repeat, it is no place of rest but for effort. Steady, continuous undeviating effort. Our work should never be done and it is the daydream of ignorance to look forward to that as a happy time, when we shall wish for nothing more, and have nothing more to accomplish. -- Thomas Dent MΓΌtter, 1847

h/t Andrew Sullivan

The Real Citizens Council

Andrew Sullivan excerpts a post from Sue Fishkoff at the Jewish Telegraph Agency about an encounter between Martin Luther King, Jr. and a Rabbi in Georgia in 1962. In the excerpt, the rabbi recalls being trapped in a house in Atlanta surrounded by "hundreds of members of the local White Citizens Council."

Recall my post last month about Haley Barbour's fond recollection of the very same organization in Mississippi as one that enabled a peaceful integration of his hometown's schools.

Which one do you think is the real WCC?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Bob Cesca thanks Senator McCain for the gift of Sarah Palin as he highlights the contrasting tones in their respective speeches Wednesday.
You know, it's very likely that by elevating Palin to national prominence, John McCain will have helped Barack Obama win both the 2008 election and the 2012 election. Good job, McCain!
Y'know, on of my previous posts come to mind: Post Turtle.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Krauthammer 1, Limbaugh 0

Exchange between Limbaugh and Fox News panelists, which included Krauthammer, over Obama's speech in Tucson this week:

LIMBAUGH: They were slobbering over it for the predictable reasons. It was smart, it was articulate, it was oratorical. It was, it was all the things the educated, ruling class wants their members to be and sound like.

KRAUTHAMMER: As one of the three slobberers...I find it interesting that only the ruling class wants a president who is smart articulate and oratorical in delivering a funeral oration. It's an odd and rather condescending view of what the rest of America is looking for in their president.

So when, I ask, are other members of the Republican establishment, both in politics and media, going to stop genuflecting towards this bile-filled asshat?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Blood Libel"

Sarah Palin's invocation of the monstrously anti-Semitic "blood libel" that suggested Jews were responsible for kidnapping Christian children and killed them in rituals, which served as justification for the pogroms in Russia, ended whatever slim viability she might have possessed to be president.

Did she make some points in this speech? Yes, mainly that there was no explicit or implicit connection between her rhetoric and the actions of Jared Loughner in Tucson. Did she recognize, however, that heated rhetoric, heard by the wrong ears, could conceivably be twisted by some into violent action? Not even a little. Did she acknowledge that using the image of cross hairs of a rifle's scope as a way to identify a Democratic member of Congress who could be vulnerable to a challenge by a Republican was, at best, indelicate? Hah!

"Don't retreat. RELOAD."

Never apologize, never admit wrongdoing, never reach a hand across the aisle with humility (unless there's a great big hunting knife in your other hand which is hidden behind you).

"Some Revelation Is At Hand"

Best essay I've seen so far about the Tucscon shootings. Money quote:

Sober news people will soberly shrug their shoulders and whisper into microphones about the mysteries of the human heart. It will be as if there was no motive for the crime, as if the murderer were a machine that malfunctioned rather than an American who mistook sadism for an expression of his beliefs.

The more hysterical reactions will come from those who feel themselves implicated, who fear the great con of their professions exposed. They will react with absurd rituals of denial, as if, after all their violent agitation, they are the ones being fired upon, the victims of some vast and unending conspiracy.

This operatic indignation is what I meant
when I spoke, a few months ago, about the American descent into a shame culture.

It has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the capacity for moral self-reflection. What happens when a large and well-armed portion of our citizenry can no longer apologize? When humility becomes another form of humiliation? Their heroes exhort them: Never retreat. Reload.

The act of humility is the most Christian thing a person can do. How sad that some "Christians" cannot emulate their deity, but instead remake him in their own image.

A Real Deep Thought for Today

If, as Palin states, crimes "begin and end with the criminals who commit them," then we shouldn't hold New York City's Muslim community responsible for the crimes of the 9/11 hijackers, should we? In that case, Sarah, I think you just endorsed the building of a mosque near Ground Zero.

Epic Sucking Up

I honestly thought Andrew's post "Deep Thought of the Day" was a joke. Then I clicked on the link and was astonished to see that the congressman was being sincere.

Follow the money.

A Predictable Failure

At a time when grace is needed by our country's leaders, at a time when we are still reeling from the unbelievable horror that happened in Tucson, Sarah Palin, as if on cue, trots out her persecution complex and actually ignores the unfortunate coincidence of her target map and the shooting of Gabby Giffords. In her feeble mind, there is absolutely no connection whatsoever between the two. In fact, she actually thinks that the connection has been "manufactured" by the media.

I will partially concede the point she reiterates that was made by Ronald Reagan years ago, that criminal acts "begin and end with the criminals who commit them." I say "partially," because I believe that a larger context always exists. I believe that Jeffrey Dahmer was a product of his society and his culture, but that responsibility for his unfathomably evil crimes rests with him. Same with Jared Loughner. His parents are flummoxed as to how this all happened, but in reality they failed to do enough to keep him from becoming a danger to others by ignoring him enough.

Palin had the chance to appear presidential, to transcend the awfulness of the situation and find some deeper meaning. Instead, she was as small-minded as we all know her to be. I invite my readers who are no fans of Barack Obama to watch Palin's speech, then his speech tonight about this tragedy. You will see the difference between a real American, and a pseudo-Patriot whose entire life strategy is based on a sense of entitlement.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Shooting in Tucson

"Sarah Palin ought to be shot." Many times, I've uttered or heard someone else utter those words. I regret saying them, obviously; I have never sincerely wished for someone to be murdered/killed just for being who they are.

When I saw the news reports, and then read the blogs and other online sources, about this tragedy, I knew immediately that the media would not be satisfied with the story that Jared Lee Loughner was a deranged kid who had wacky theories about a government conspiracy to brainwash Americans, exercise mind control, etc. Google him, and you'll see his MySpace page where he lists among his favorite books Mein Kampf, Animal Farm, and The Communist Manifesto. You'll see his incoherent YouTube videos where he claims that the government is destroying the English language, is brainwashing him, etc. Classic signs of paranoid schizophrenia with delusions of persecution thrown in.

No. Because this kid shot a sitting Congresswoman and killed a federal judge who had a prominent role in curtailing the implementation of the Arizona immigration law, this was a politically-motivated act. It had implications for how the right and left speak to and about each other in political debate. It prompted calls for us to "tone it down." Even Fox News head Roger Ailes directed his on-air talent to "make your argument intellectually."

Predictably, some of our more prominent right-wing media personalities have doubled down. Rush Limbaugh:

"They're shutting down any opposition and criminalizing it. They've had a plan filed away in a drawer to take away as many of our political freedoms as they can. The Democrats just lost an election, and now the only other thing they can try to do is silence the opposition."

The progressive climate of hate: A comprehensive illustrated primer in 8

V. LEFT-WING MOB HATE — campus, anti-war radicals, ACORN, eco-extremists, & unions
VIII. HATE: CRIMES — the ever-growing Unhinged Mugshot Collection

Malkin's post does illustrate that there are unhinged and completely intemperate voices on the left using violent imagery. However, there's a HUGE difference between "Don't retreat -- instead, RELOAD!" (Palin, counseling Dr. Laura Schlesinger who was fired from her terrestrial radio gig for her anti-gay remarks) and "I wanna know whose ass to kick." (President Obama, who was fired up because of perceived slowness and disorganization around the Gulf Oil spill). I mean, name just ONE leading voice (or just someone close enough to a microphone) on the left who called for "second-amendment remedies" to solve their perceived problems with George W Bush's corrupt administration. Name just ONE leading voice on the left who used the airwaves or internet to call for Americans to "take out" George W Bush or Dick Cheney. Go ahead, knock yourselves out. Spend all day googling "take out George W Bush" or "shoot Dick Cheney in the face." You won't find anything. I don't count; I am not a leading voice on the left. The whole idea that both sides employ rhetoric that leads to violent acts by followers of that rhetoric is absurd IN THE EXTREME.

That said, I do not believe that Jared Lee Loughner's acts were motivated by anything that resembled legitimate political debate. Whatever thoughts passed through his head, however intelligently they may have been expressed (and that is debatable), illustrate perfectly that he had taken leave of his mental faculties and resided in a dark world of his own twisted imagination.

Sadly, the process of spinning this act into whatever will suit the agenda of the spinner will not stop. I only urge my faithful readers to remember that this boy is ill, ill, ill. And while the rhetoric of Sarah Palin and other right wingers is intemperate, I see no connection between it and this kid's actions.

Finally, I think it's entirely appropriate for us all to reflect on how shrieky we've all become when it comes to our political debate. When the talking points on both sides can successfully enter our living rooms and create such rancor among family members and close friend alike, then something is wrong. I never saw a video of Bill Buckley losing his temper with a guest. I never saw Ed Murrow do anything more than refuse to yield to interview subjects who ducked his questions. And I never saw a former political candidate invoke so many violent images as a way to fire up the base to eliminate the opposition. Now is as good a time as any to embrace civility and emotional control.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"Religious, not political"

Andrew laments Israel's decline:
Fundamentalism is inhaling the fumes of collapsed traditional faiths that have yet to find the intellectual and spiritual courage to recover themselves. That's why, in my view, the deepest struggle of our time is religious, not political. No one is immune - and if Western democracies like Israel or the US think they are, their complacency is their biggest vulnerability.

I agree. Whenever we hear about the great political struggles of our time in America, it's always couched in the rhetoric of "preserving American values," which is code for religious (read, Christian) fundamentalism. In Israel, the Orthodox likely trumpet the same line, which would be odd since their values come straight out of the shtetls of eastern Europe. Israeli secularism (based in the early communal ideas from the late 1940s and 1950s) was the norm. It was only when thousands of Hasids emigrated from New York and elsewhere and brought hard-core hatred of Arabs with them. It reminds me of the hatred and fear of blacks (schwartzes) that I used to hear in my grandparents' neighborhood in Brooklyn.

It's still going to get worse, I'm afraid, until the U.S. stands up to Bibi, Lieberman, and the whole Likudnik movement and puts some teeth in their attempt to halt additional settlement construction. Without pressure put on Israel, their future as an apartheid state is nearly assured.

American Tea, destroyed

Christopher Hitchens, a Brit, has a primer on how to prepare tea properly (as in the British way) which includes withering description of American tea and how it is served:
It is already virtually impossible in the United States, unless you undertake the job yourself, to get a cup or pot of tea that tastes remotely as it ought to. It's quite common to be served a cup or a pot of water, well off the boil, with the tea bags lying on an adjacent cold plate. Then comes the ridiculous business of pouring the tepid water, dunking the bag until some change in color occurs, and eventually finding some way of disposing of the resulting and dispiriting tampon surrogate. The drink itself is then best thrown away, though if swallowed, it will have about the same effect on morale as a reading of the memoirs of President James Earl Carter.

My emphasis. Ouch.