The Ungodly Godly

In the batter’s circle: Nehemiah Scudder

February 23rd 2012

 In 2004 the renowned British political documentarian Adam Curtis did a three-part series entitled “The Power of Nightmares.” In it, he pointed out that the group known as the neo-cons greatly resembled their counterparts amongst the radicalized population of the Middle East, al Qaida in particular. Both sides are deeply mistrustful of individual freedom and liberties, and are intent on using authoritarian methods of containing such. Both sides used fear, if in different ways. Islamic radicals used terrorism, whereas neo-cons used fear-mongering. Each side found in the other a useful bogeyman.

The neo-cons lost power and influence in America (and the power and influence of al Qaida in the Middle East had always been vastly overstated), and withdrew from mainstream political discourse as the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan bogged down and eventually failed.

But another group stepped in to replace the neo-cons in American right-wing political circles, and I tend to think of them as the ‘anti-Soviets.’ They saw their role in America as being similar to the role of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union: a sort of shadow government without accountability, and with vast influence in the workings of the actual government. They were the “financial sector.”

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SOTU 2012

It left a lot to be desired

January 24th 2012

 As SOTUs go, this one was, at best, so-so. Give it a “C”. Obama needed to soar. Instead, he flapped.

In the gallery with Michelle, military uniforms were front and center. That is usually a sign that the SOTU is going to strike a bellicose note. I bet we get at least one direct threat against Iran.

Gabby Giffords, in her last appearance in this Congress, looked animated and happy. Well, she’s leaving this frustrating pit; that might explain it.

Interesting glitch: Boehner’s mike appears to be dead. He tried announce Obama, and I heard Biden say “Did anybody hear him?” At least the House did, and applauded. Well, the Dems did. So anyone who was listening, no, Boehner didn’t snub Obama.

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The South Carolina primary

Nuts don’t fall far from the palmetto tree

January 22nd 2012

 I’m grinning in delighted disbelief at the returns from the South Carolina primary. Newt 40.5%, Romney 27%, Santorum 17.4%, and Ron Paul 13.4%. The remaining 1.5% presumably looked at the choices on their ballots and cut their own throats instead.

This happened at a time where rumors are flying around the web that Joe Paterno was dead. Some are saying he was, and some are saying he warn’t. Or maybe that’s Mitt Romney they’re talking about. It’s getting harder to tell them apart. And now we have a final on the Paterno race: he -is- dead, and so is now mildly unlikely to be the GOP nominee for president in 2012.

South Carolina voted for Newt instead, which may have been a mistake. At least Paterno had a winning record.

Not that the voters of SC were given much in the way of appealing alternatives: a vapid plutocrat, a crabby old Randroid, and a religious nutcase. The only one who wouldn’t have delighted Democrats, moderates and liberals, none of whom want a Republican president next year, would have been Mittens, and that only because Mittens would have the most Citizens United money behind him.

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Are They Serious?

Laughter at the GOP trails off to stunned silence

January 6th 2012

 Santorum and Romney effectively finished in a dead tie in the meaningless Iowa caucuses this week, which means that People are taking Santorum Seriously.

This isn’t entirely a surprise. Every other candidate for the GOP except Huntsman and Johnson enjoyed similar surges at one point or another. Given the quality of the GOP field, it became a joke. No candidate was too stupid or too crazy to be dismissed by frantic GOP voters. In fact, the only ones who were dismissed were the ones who were too sane or too intelligent.

But Santorum’s sudden lurch to the top brought about a couple of interesting things this week that show that the people are getting tired of this.

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Trumping the Newt

Nyuk nyuk nyuk

December 12th 2011

 I watched Mitt Romney offer a bet of $10,000 that he wasn’t out of touch with the common man, while the Republican crowd cheered the idea of child labor, and I reflected for about the thousandth time that the GOP debates were probably the best thing Obama could have hoped for for the 2012 campaign.

I’m not quite sure what the people who came up with the idea were striving for. Obviously, they wanted to publicize the policies of the people running for office, and those of the GOP as a whole. The trouble is they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. The debates have done a spectacular job of publicizing the views of the candidates and the reactions of the Republicans watching the debates, and it’s safe to say that at this point, there’s more gleeful Democrats watching the debates than there are Republicans.

Having your front runner come out and double down on the crazy by imploring the country to replace union janitors with five year old children is pretty bad. Hand a typical five year old a bottle of bleach and a bottle of ammonia and tell him to go clean the floor, and pretty soon you’re going to end up with a dead five year old, and worse, the floor will still be dirty. But you will save money.

I don’t guess I even have to say who came up with that one.

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Water Wars

Alabama has a new crop of blind boys

October 8th 2011

 The California economy is still in the crapper, thanks partly to the ongoing world crisis in capitalism and thanks partly to thirty years of Republican insistence that taxpayers not be forced to pay for the items they wanted. As a result, California put a lot of needed growth items on credit in the form of state bonds, and because a lot of them were via the state initiative process – best described as brain surgery with a sledge hammer – it took an already bad economic situation and made it far worse.

Why Jerry Brown would even want to be governor again at a time like this is something of a mystery. As his predecessors discovered, governors don’t have much power to fix things, but they will get blamed for them in any event. Arnie could have been working on “Terminator 10” right now and getting compared to William Shatner. But no, he had to be a governor, and his reputation suffered as a result.

Brown is just as captured in that as Arnie was, but Brown at least brings a measure of idealism and humanity to the job that Arnie could do only sporadically. It was largely due to his pressure that he was able to shepherd California’s version of the “Dream Act” through the State Lege, and sign it today.

As the name suggests, it’s similar to the Dream Act George W. Bush proposed that would allow undocumented aliens residing in the region to be eligible for funding for college. One of the few good things Bush ever proposed, it tacitly recognized that America owed something to the people who come here and do the jobs most Americans won’t do, and that it was flat-out wrong to punish the children of these people by refusing them educational aid.

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Occupy Wall Street

Occupy America

October 6th 2011

 I’ve just come back from reading the responses of a group of right wingers who were discoursing – if that’s the word for it – on the #OccupyWallStreet movement. These same people, who loudly cheered the demonstrations by the so-called Tea Party in 2009, are now utterly furious that this motley collection of “grubby, out-of-work hippies” are doing much the same thing. One even compared the moral worth of the two groups by noting that a lot less Teabaggers got arrested, compared to the Occupiers. That sort of led to a discussion on what sorts of behavior warrant arrest, and if Teabaggers, with their guns and placards comparing Obama to Hitler or the Joker, were really much better a group of protesters than the Occupiers, who usually showed a higher ability to spell their messages correctly, if nothing else.

Of course, it overlooks the basic fact that whereas the Tea Party never was anything more than a phony grass roots ad campaign cooked up by the Koch Brothers and Faux News, the Occupiers, with their slogan “We are the 99%”, actually do represent a groundswell of sentiment in America.

And that has the Teabaggers, dupes of the wealthy elite the Occupiers oppose, very nervous and upset. How dare this rabble publicly disrespect the Masters?

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Teabags

No longer just under the eyes

September 19th 2011

 It was a sign of the times. Even as they ignored demonstrations in the Wall Street area of Manhattan, CNN breathlessly reported that in a totally meaningless straw poll in California, Ron Paul was the winner! Nearly 834 votes were cast (833, actually), and Paul got 44.9% of them, or 374 votes. Rick Perry was second with 29.3%, or 245 votes. Mittens was a distant third with 8.8%, or 73 votes. The poll didn’t break down the rest of the votes (141) but I would be very surprised if Jon Huntsman, the only other GOP candidate who isn’t a whirling loon, got ten votes. So, assuming that Mittens and Huntsman can qualify as sane, that means that out of 833 GOP delegates, 10% at most voted for candidates who are possibly sane.

Slow news day. No mechanical-orchestra type ‘debates’ from the GOP in flag-bedraped caverns that Jon Stewart memorably described as “looking like Betsy Ross’ vagina”. No Democratic politicians caught in minor sex scandals. And they didn’t care to discuss actual news stories, like the unfolding Greek debt crisis, or the UN vote on Palestine, or that Obama wants to tax capital gains like regular income.

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Firebaggin’ It

Did an Obama polical hack just give the left an identity?

August 19th 2011

Some guy named Ray Sandoval managed to do Obama more damage the other day then the efforts of the entire GOP over the previous three weeks.

An Obama campaign outrigger posted to New Mexico, Sandoval decided that now was a good time to attack the left for not supporting Obama in the manner to which Sandoval felt Obama was entitled.

He sent an email out defending Obama’s surrender on the debt deal, and condemning what he called the “Firebagger Lefty blogosphere.”

I’m pretty sure ‘firebagger’ isn’t a urban dictionary entry for any pornography terms (although the Internet being what it is, I’m sure we’ll have one in a week). Where the teabaggers screwed up was that none of the people at Faux News who were creating the astroturf movement knew that the term already existed, and had a rather unsavory connotation. It’s on Urban Dictionary if you don’t already know it.

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The New Stillson

A Stephen King nasty stalks the land

August 16th 2011

 Stephen King (the writer, and neither of the two demented right wing politicians of the same name) invented a character in the late 70s called Greg Stillson, in “The Dead Zone”. King already excelled at creating pleasant monsters, and Stillson was one of the most memorable. A fast-rising politician, our introduction to Stillson occurs when he deliberately and coldly kicks a dog to death. The dog, defeated and broken, lifts his head up to lick Stillson’s hand, a gesture of submission. Stillson laughs and resumes kicking. He then drives away, feeling mild guilt and sexual arousal.

The central character/narrator, and by extension the reader, immediately pick up on a sense of wrongness about Stillson, a sense that behind the blow-dried hair and the charming grin lives something truly vile.

He was played, somewhat ironically, by Martin Sheen, who went on to become America’s most beneficent and most-loved pseudo-politician, President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet. In the David Cronenberg movie of the same name Sheen played the personable creep, and was pretty damned scary.

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