Two days ago, Kevin Drum over at Mother Jones made a prediction on Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) probable reaction to President Barack Obama’s policy approach on the unfolding situation in the Ukraine:
“John McCain will appear on a bunch of Sunday chat shows to bemoan the fact that Obama is weak and no one fears America anymore.” (Emphasis added)
Two days later, like clockwork, John McCain, as reported by The Washington Post:
Sen. John McCain sharply condemned President Obama on Monday, blasting the administration’s foreign policy as “feckless” and partially responsible for the mounting crisis over the advance of Russian forces into Ukraine. […]“Why do we care? Because this is the ultimate result of a feckless foreign policy in which nobody believes in America’s strength anymore,” McCain said to the annual gathering of Jewish leaders in Washington. (Emphasis added)
As the saying goes: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”Read More
I did not watch the Oscars last night. Which is something of a rarity. Rather, I spoke on the phone with an old friend who rang me up out of the blue. We talked through nearly the entire show. And, I can say that I did not miss the award show one bit.
As most of my friends who call or speak with me on the phone know, I love to talk, at length, about anything and everything – from politics to personal life – and some conversations are marathons.
Because of that, I have a good number of old and new friends who seek me out for just that: long, very specific, multiple-topic, gregarious, nostalgic, personal, emotional, intellectual, political, spiritual, goofy conversations, and / or just plain old chat-chat.
Our long conversations are a throwback to the days when we’d meet at the pub, sit down over a pint (or two or three) and eat some food and just talk about our lives, the world in general, politics, music, cinema.
Today, the 138 year-old phone allows us to have those conversations when we live variously in NY and Fort Collins, or in different boroughs of the city, or upstate and the city or NYC and Omaha. We do “talk” regularly via social media, but it’s just not the same. It is sorely lacking.
It occurred to me how under-appreciated the phone is these days. It really is superior to all the social media. As fun and great looking and immediate as social media is, it lacks something integral and very important. Conversations on the telephone function as a true dialectic. The written word of social media is inferior to speaking when creating a dialectic, because writing interferes with the back-and-forth, as emotional context, and intellectual context are removed with the use of the written word.
For example, how many times have you misread someone’s intent as being serious when they were being sarcastic? It happens repeatedly in a written discussion, especially one that is online. It is why so many of the discussions on the internet bounce around in a pointless loop. It’s why “trolling” – the act of deliberately inserting emotional wedge issues and diversion into a conversation – is so popular and works so well on the web. If you were in a bar, and tried to “troll” a face-to-face conversation, you would more than likely get punched in the face.
The use of anonymity on the web also fosters a certain level of hubris. Even when people aren’t anonymous, they feel empowered to say things online that they would not actually speak aloud in person. Physical presence and an actual dialectic have a strong role to play in our lives. The emotional and intellectual impact within a conversation remain intact in a face-to-face or a phone conversation. Hubris and sarcasm and all the rest come into play, but it’s more directly understood and dealt with as such immediately. It trumps social media in that regard.
In the end, engaging a dialectic properly (and often), means that a conversation will yield ideas, and solutions. A deeper emotional connection between two (or more) people will develop. Some discussions are actually meant to last a life time. If we practice them properly.
To the ancient Greek Sophists, the dialectic, the discussion, was an art form. It was the practice they taught to achieve higher truths. And, through those higher truths, lay peace, happiness and community. It’s something we’ve lost along the way, and should endeavor to re-establish and nurture.
The lesson for me is that, like my friends, I have remembered that simply picking up the phone to talk is important and valuable. The telephone is old technology, but it’s still the best if you want to have a conversation that breathes, and grows and adds to your life.Read More
A bit of historical revisionism occurred recently. Dozens of news outlets, including Fox Nation, and dozens of conservative blogs were repeating the same inaccurate headline verbatim (or nearly): “Obama Administration to Ban Asthma Inhalers Over Environmental Concerns“. Little Green Footballs debunks the story handily. But, it’s emblematic of a larger problem, a culture of lying, and revising established fact-based history.
Oliver Willis catches one conservative trying to backtrack without admitting the error and calls it as he sees it:Read More
The jobs problem in the USA is one of our most pressing issues, it affects us all very deeply, and President Obama’s speech on the issue was one of the most important of his presidency. Here’s Dana Milbank in his article titled “The Irrelevancy of the Obama Presidency” in the Washington Post today:Read More
Did you know the shining glass encased skyscraper rising from the ashes of ground zero is filled with American made green technology? Well, it is. According to the Port Authority website, 1 World Trade Center will be rather impressive in that regard:Read More
“Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t know that the evening news was funded primarily by Big Pharma. You would actually believe the stuff that they’re saying. You might even think those are the stories that matter. ” – Douglas Rushkoff (Source)
Once upon a time, political observers fretted that the free press, the government and the democratic process itself were under threat of being overwhelmedRead More
It’s been difficult for the Tea Party faithful to simply admit that yes, they do have racists among them. Every party does, why should they be any different? It obviously doesn’t mean they are all racist any more than it means that Democrats or Republicans are all racist because they have racists in their ranks. It does though raise important questions that American’s have to weigh when looking at the party, or any party for that matter. There are racists in all parties. Even the Tea Party. But, for some reason, they resist it. My intuition tells me this is because they are hiding the ugly fact that for some one of their primary motivations against Obama is racism. It wouldn’t be new in the annals of American conservative extremism and nativism. So, along comes confirmation of my intuition.
Apparently, my post last year on Glenn Beck’s pleading to the Tea Party to leave their signs at home for the “Restoring Honor” rally struck a cord. Here’s a comment made in, of all places, a fishing forum. (Which popped up in my trackbacks.)
It’s rather revelatory, because it pretty much dances over the blatant racism in the signs I use as examples in my post. Either the author – who not surprisingly uses the anonymous moniker “Detbuch”- doesn’t see the racism, or thinks it’s not important. Either way, he pretty much proves my point.
The anonymous “Detbuch” opens up with a basic logical fallacy, using a straw man argument to essentially say: “Some great American’s were racist, should we have not listened to them?” Which misses the point entirely. He adds to it with more apologizing for racism via the “we’re all racists” approach. He goes after me a little, not realizing that I didn’t have a problem with the stated point of the Beck rally, I was though making it clear that it was obvious why Beck was asking attendees not to bring signs, because he was afraid there would be racist signs. (As it turned out, that was the least of his worries.) Then in the middle, he gets to doing a “critique” of the photos in my post, in a rather pathetic attempt to prove the signs are not racist.
The problem with personal/anecdotal accounts is that they are all only tiny slices of reality, or versions of reality. Living in Detroit, most of my acquaintances are black. In private situiations, they are all overtly racist–unabashedly and proudly so. They are all Democrats. Is that a reason to not associate with Democrats? FDR, Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Margaret Sanger (founder of planned parenthood), the founders of this nation, were all racists. I suppose they should not have been associated with. Maybe most, if not all of us, are or have some degree of racism, and we should all become hermits. Can’t we, even with racist tendencies, still have salutary ideas and solutions to political and economic problems? Can’t we even be constitutionalists?
As for Twang’s thang re Beck’s restoring honor rally–just another biased hit piece–and one before the rally even occurred. Speaking of some previous rally, he, as is the common practice, cherry picks a few signs that he considers racist or having racist themes, totally ignoring the host of other signs such as one minutely seen in a background–“congress works for us not the other way around”–which is the predominant animus for the tea party movement. Even most of those he chooses, though rude and crude, are not racist. One refers to religion not race. Another reversed the slavery cliche. Two compared Obamacare to voodoo, another referred to his supposed connection to Islam (Hussein), the Dixie Chicks, and his supposed non-citizenship (Kenya). Another slammed cap and trade and played on the word “trade”–to “trade” him back to his supposed lack of citizenship (Kenya). The last one actually had a racist, mispelled pejorative “niggar.” Twang totally spins and paints Glen Beck’s positive attempt to unify Americans with, at the time, an upcoming rally, into Twang’s misconceived, hateful version–“Beck’s decision to blatantly ride on the coat of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement is nothing except a badly orchestrated and cynical effort to coopt the gravitas of MLK and the Rights Movement in order to replace the glaring lack of it in the Tea Party movement.” Twang’s own lack of “gravitas” is evident in his myopic, slanted, name-calling (teabaggers, tea bag party) and too easy and uncritical accusation that the tea party is a platformless group of know nothings. The actual Restoring Honor rally was of a different philosophical “color” than that which Twang tried to paint it.
Each sign that I highlighted in the post has a unique view that is blatantly racist. It’s not difficult to figure out. But “Detbuch” glosses over it with the nonchalance of one completely desensitized to racist jargon and imagery.
Let’s go over each photo with “Detbuch’s comments and see what’s what.
“Even most of those he chooses, though rude and crude, are not racist. One refers to religion not race.”
“Detbuch” misses the obvious racism here which is implied. Comparing the Christian and the Kenyan with a final “That explains a lot about you.” is a basic eliminationist tactic. It’s implying that being Christian is good and that being Kenyan is a threat in some way, or that is means something bad. It’s hard to think of any of reason why someone would think that being from Kenya is bad other than the fact that Kenyan’s are dark colored. What other reason can you think of?
“Another reversed the slavery cliche.”
Clearly, “Detbuch” is simply not honest enough to see that implying that Obama is a “massa” is using racist loaded imagery and words to make it’s point. And, of course, the idea that a black man in power would be compared to a white man in power in this regard is using racist ideas to make it’s point. “Detbuch” chooses to gloss over it.
“Two compared Obamacare to voodoo…”
Racism is always about demeaning the person. This is an attempt to present Obama as a primitive, an ignorant “witch doctor”. The term “bone in the nose” was often used – and still is – as a racist insult. Pretty cut and dry, wouldn’t you think? I suspect that “Detbuch” lacks essential compassion for blacks, so he simply can’t see the racism that is blatantly clear here. It’s meant to demean Obama and lower him. Perhaps “Detbuch” doesn’t understand the actual definition of racism?
“…another referred to his supposed connection to Islam (Hussein), the Dixie Chicks, and his supposed non-citizenship (Kenya)”
Notice how “Detbuch” glosses over the “go back to Kenya” slight. To him, it’s just a reference to Obama’s “supposed non-citizenship”. When actually, such references have a long racist history. Telling people to go back to their native land is a long time cry of Nativists and racists. “Go back to Africa” for example. You’d think he’d brush up this stuff wouldn’t you?
“Another slammed cap and trade and played on the word “trade”–to “trade” him back to his supposed lack of citizenship (Kenya).” Here’s the photo:
Once again, “Detbuch” misses the racism here. This one is so obvious, it’s just like the prior one. I wonder why Detuch doesn’t see it? Probably because he focuses on the “cap and trade” but not the actual racist part that says: “go back to Kenya!”. Odd that. Maybe he didn’t read it all?
The last part by “Detbuch” I won’t even go into since Detbuch simply tries to turn the tables on me, and he does such a bad job of it I’d be wasting my time. And, the term “Tea Baggers”, and “Tea Party” are commonly used on Tea Party sites to refer to themselves. Interesting how he thinks my using the term is some type of insult. Who knew. I’d suspect like most Tea Partiers, he was completely unaware of the double meaning, of the former and was not happy. That’s what you get for stealing something rather than inventing your own name.
Finally, it’s telling that “Detbuch” apparently has no idea that the Know Nothings were a real conservative political movement and that the reference to them was not a slight as in “know nothings” but a historical fact that the modern Tea Party are the philosophical and political heir to the Know Nothing party of the 1800s.
Isn’t it odd that “Detuch” doesn’t know his own political ancestry?Read More
Running Scared has an item speculating that the “Mission Accomplished” banner will be on display at the George W. Bush Presidential Library. I think it’s a good idea. It really encapsulates Bush’s presidency, it’s a moment in history. It got me thinking.
Here’s my list of things that should also go into Bush’s Presidential Library:
The Presidential Briefing that warned that an attack was “imminent”.
The dress that this little girl was wearing.
Today’s scary paranoid statement. Proof positive that fear propaganda works. And, works quite well:
“This whole TSA terrorism is nothing more than obama getting back at the American people for his “shellacking” at the polls…”
It must be utterly exhausting to contain so many bloated, incorrect and downright insipid conspiracy theories inside such a wee little brain.Read More
Glenn Beck is one cynical and desperate dude. The upcoming “Restoring Honor” rally at Lincoln Memorial is meant to re-brand the sullied and racist image of the Tea Party into the rainbow coalition just in time for the fall election. But, Beck’s decision to blatantly ride on the coat tails of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement is nothing except a badly orchestrated and cynical effort to co-opt the gravitas of MLK and the rights movement in order to replace the glaring lack of it in the Tea Party movement. They are that desperate.
It gets even better though. From the Atlanta Constitution-Journal:
On the air, Beck has asked attendees not to bring signs or come in anger, but to come in a peaceful spirit akin to the one espoused by King. “Don’t bring your signs,” he said on TV. “Bring your hearts … bring your open minds.”
Not bring signs? It’s a rally! Of course you bring signs! But, Beck is obviously concerned. It’s an admission that something went astray last time. He’s worried the same thing may occur this time. The Tea Party 9/12 rally last year was a smörgåsbord of racism and allusions to racist themes. Some examples for historical context:
The Tea Bag Party faithful brushed the documented claims of racism off as untrue, even in the face of the photographic and video evidence. Perhaps they simply can not see the racism. Perhaps they don’t want to see it. But, America knows what it saw.
To be clear, I’m not saying all Tea Baggers are racist. Yet, it can’t be denied that there is a strong racist element within the Tea Party ranks, and that a great deal of the motivation behind the entire platform (such as is is) is of a nativist, racist, hateful and eliminationist nature. Historically, fear, hate and racism have been great allies. And, they continue to be such. The Tea Party is the current day Nativist party, a modern version of the Know-Nothings. The platforms and ideas espoused are practically identical. No one disuptes that the Know-Nothings were a racist and eliminationist movement. The question remains who will claim the mantle of leadership of the Tea Party. Who will speak out against the racism?
The signs above tell the story. Will it happen again? Time will tell.Read More
Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania has gone after President Obama for deciding to appear on the daytime talk show “The View”:
I think there’s got to be a little bit of dignity to the presidency. […] I think there are some shows. I wouldn’t put him on “Jerry Springer,” too, right? … I think the president of the United States has to go on serious shows. And “The View” is, you can make a case that it’s a serious show, but it also rocks and rolls a little bit. I’m not sure he has to go on “The View” to be open to questions.
Right-wing Extremists have picked this up and run with it of course. But, they and Rendell miss the Big Picture. They don’t get it.
Back in 1993, President Clinton was heavily criticized for deciding to appear on MTV. It too was seen as “unpresidential”. But, at the time, and in retrospect, it was a brilliant stroke of media genius. And, through an entirely unscripted moment of unexpected “intimacy”, a new media world was born. Love it, hate it, it’s here. And, it’s important to remember, Obama is working in that world. The Museum of Television has this to say about that past media moment for Clinton, snd how it changed politics and the Presidency:
April 20, 1993 — Bill Clinton’s MTV Appearance
Not a historic date, perhaps, but a suggestive one. It was on this date that Bill Clinton discussed his underwear with the American people (briefs, not boxers, as it turned out). Why would the leader of the free world unburden himself like this? Why not? In television’s increasingly postmodern world, all texts–serious and sophomoric–swirl together in the same discontinuous field of experience. To be sure, Mr. Clinton made his disclosure because he had been asked to do so by a member of the MTV generation, not because he felt a sudden need to purge himself. But in doing so Clinton exposed several rules connected to the new phenomenology of politics: (1) because of television’s celebrity system, presidents are losing their distinctiveness as social actors and hence are often judged by standards formerly used to assess rock singers and movie stars; (2) because of television’s sense of intimacy, the American people feel they know their presidents as persons and hence no longer feel the need for party guidance; (3) because of the medium’s archly cynical worldview, those who watch politics on television are increasingly turning away from the policy sphere, years of hyper-familiarity having finally bred contempt for politics itself. For good and ill, then, presidential television grew apace between 1952 and the present. It began as a little-used, somewhat feared, medium of exchange and transformed itself into a central aspect of American political culture. In doing so, television changed almost everything about life in the White House. It changed what presidents do and how they do it. (Emphasis added)
Rendell doesn’t get it. The View is the perfect venue for Obama to communicate and reach out to the audience.
The idea that a show isn’t “presidential” enough is a matter of how the president behaves on that show. And, while I’m not a fan of The View, it’s clearly not Jerry Springer. It’s a show for moms, young women and older women. And, it’s a casual venue. As the Clinton example shows, even something potentially unpresidential can become a historical moment of presidential restraint, humor and connectedness to the people. And, a casual venue is the way to go to bring Obama to the people, give him more humanity and appeal, which media exposure tends to eat away.
I’d expect that is what many Conservatives fear.Read More
President Obama is taking undeserved heat from the right for playing golf during a time of national crisis. So much so that the White House felt compelled to actually address the issue. If you’re feeling a bit struck by deja-vu on this matter, it’s because we’ve seen this divisive and silly meme before.
During the presidency of George W. Bush, there was a lot of melodramatic consternation on the left about Bush’s playing golf during a time of war and / or national criss. A lot of it was no doubt due to this unfortunate moment. There were even unfounded rumors of his playing golf during the Katrina disaster, as if taking personal time to golf during crisis were proof of incompetence. It was all rather silly for a number of reasons, the foremost being that living a life of constant crisis management like the presidency requires does not also require that life simply stop. Life goes on, even during wartime. Down time is important.
During World War II, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was a well known golf enthusiast, and took as much time as he could during the war to indulge his passion for the game.
From the section “Ike and Golf” at the Eisenhower Commission website:
His problem was, of course, how to fit golf into a very busy schedule. When he went to London in May of 1942 he picked living quarters some distance from the city so he could find some peace and quiet. The house he rented near Kingston was named Telegraph Cottage and the backyard fence luckily opened on the 13th hole at Coombe Hill Golf Club. During his stay in England Ike never played a full round at Coombe Hill, but he often played three or four holes before going to work in the morning. After the Allied invasion of Normandy, Ike placed his offices in a school house at Reims in the Champagne region of France – but he chose the Guex Golf Course clubhouse as his living quarters. Once again he had little time for golf, but he practiced through a few holes when he could.
Thus, it stands to reason that if it was okay for the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force – the man who planned D-Day – to golf during arguably the greatest crisis in modern history, then it’s probably okay for a president to golf during the “War on Terror” or to golf during the Gulf Spill Crisis and other presidential moments of crisis. Ike continued his love of playing golf during his presidency.Read More
Monday link dump…
- Cheney: Waterboarding should have been an option for underbomber – “I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques,” he said. Of course, for years the CIA has maintained that torture does not produce actionable intel. And, of course, the public practice of torture (they went public with this remember) is more PR than anything. I am of the opinion that Cheney understands that torture does not create actionable intel. But, the propaganda value is simply too great in his view. This is the discussion we should be having…
- Cheney Struggles To Explain Terror Contradictions – Dick Cheney has never been one for consistency of message, nor of adhering to the established facts. It’s unfortunate that he now feels comfortable undermining a sitting president (no matter his political affiliation) in order to secure his own personal legacy and save his ass.
- Biden: Cheney ‘not entitled to re-write history’ – See above.
- A Terrorist Tried In Federal Court: The Case Of Aafia Siddiqui – When we examine the facts, it becomes clear that the GOP is using terrorism as political fodder. So, facts such as this get brushed under the carpet. It’s bad for the coutnry and it’s bad politics. But, they are a party in decline after all…I am for trying terrorists in civilian courts. So is the Pentagon.
- Critical Mass: Dem Agenda Opens Right-Wing Doors – Mandatory reading…
Every week I receive about five to ten pieces of junk mail urging me to vote for Michael Bloomberg for Mayor of NYC. It’s symptomatic of his big money corporatist approach to everything. There is no reason that I should be receiving this much crap in my mailbox. And, in three different languages – English, Spanish and Chinese? It offends me on a number of levels: It’s ecologically abhorent, it’s complete overkill on a marketing level, and the content of the pieces are repeative and redundant to the point of idiocy. So, it’s bad business all around. The sample above is what came just today.