Monday, October 31, 2011

Et tu, NPR


Really, that's it. No more contributions. Sorry. You cannot give the Right Wing your very balls and still be NPR. It's a bummer.

In other news, Martinsville Fall 2011 edition was excellent, not quite as cold as the March '09 event plus we wore better layers and some good winter socks. Kyle had a good race but was entangled in a wreck not of his doing late. Jimmy Johnson, Libby's fave, could well have won. And in the end, it was the grizzled old warhorse, Tommy O's own Tony Stewart, who finds himself only eight points back of a guy who looks a little too much like Eddie Haskel. I'm hanging a number 14 up on a tree till it's over later this month. Tony deserves another Championship.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

He Thanks I'm Stoopid


It's not too hard
to remember back when I thought each election was a kind of clean slate, with the various candidates for each office all being at least genuine, earnest citizens who, at least in their own minds and perspectives, really believed that whatever they were offering as a way forward was indeed the best way for all of us. There was, that is to say, a bond of shared citizenship. And the differences were a matter of reflection--because the world was big and complex and of course one guy or gal could see things different from another. And sometime or other way back then I ran into a cynic at a party (I think it was back when people drank martinis--I have a vivid picture of this guy with a martini in his hand, the olive bouncing around down at the bottom as he gestured, the clear liquid sliding around the edge of the glass like oil--I probably had a beer in my hand). This guy was older than me by about a generation, and had been in Korea, and had come back to the States to start a little newspaper. He rode an old BMW, and had a '55 Porsche in his yard that hadn't run in six years. This was just before Vietnam really got going, but after Kennedy had been shot.

So, he says to me, you have to understand that the Republicans do not care about anybody but the very rich. That's who they are working tirelessly for, 24/7. That's the only way to understand who they are, what they say and do. And... He took a drink and put his empty glass on a glass table that stood nearby... They very well know that they cannot operate on such a program openly and honestly, because no one would vote for them.

Well, I was kinda shocked at this Yankee attitude. (This guy was from New York, and I'd played poker with him once, and he'd won all the money simply by raising the ante until no one else had any courage left to play their hands.) I'd grown up a nice Methodist in Raleigh, NC. We believed in giving everyone an even-steven chance.

But then along comes the rest of my life. And now, day before yesterday, the one Republican candidate who is allegedly living in the actual real world says on the Hannity radio show (I heard this myself), "I'm troubled by the fact that this President has run our economy into the ground." That's simply a lie. That Mr. Romney says it in the reasonable tones of a guy at the Club doesn't make it less a lie. It's been only three years since Mr. Obama inherited an economy that was cratering, and we can all go look at the stats, month by month, from say mid-'08 to now, and see that everything was falling when Mr. Obama can in, and that mostly things are significantly better today.

Then Mr. Perry, the other supposedly serious candidate, comes out with this "flat tax" plan yesterday. His big selling point is that it's "easy." You can keep your lawyers and accountants and keep using the old system, or you can just send in your taxes with a post card. Take your pick. And that's an even bigger lie. It takes only seconds to figure out that the flat tax is simply a big tax break for the very rich, and a big tax increase for the rest of us. And perhaps it takes a whole minute to realize that there ain't no way a government is going to keep parallel tax systems in place for long, because it would be a huge waste of money. And it might take three whole minutes to get the picture that with such a huge revenue drop as this new flat tax plan would initiate, the Republican congress would be sure to make up the deficit by huge cuts to so-called "entitlement" programs such as social security and medicare.

In other words, Mr. Perry is simply and obviously flimflamming the people he's asking to vote for him. He's simply lying to them, offering to trade them a post card of convenience for their social security checks, and not even bothering to mention that people who are out of work, because for example they've simply aged out of the work force, ain't gonna need to be worrying about paying taxes anyways, whether it's on a post card or a regular sized piece of paper.

How can they think we're so stupid? I really don't know. I asked Libby last night, because this just boggles the mind. She said, well, they've been acting like this--brazen you might say--ever since the Tea Party showed them that they'll respond to anything. Then she mentioned a couple of things: "death panels," "Kenyan Marxist," "Sharia Law."

Yesterday listening to NPR report on Mr. Perry's Amazing Post Card, I was close to wrecking the pickup when the closing paragraph of their story asserted that, "actually," there's little difference in the Perry Post Card and our current tax system for "most" people.

Oh really. If NPR is saying it, and Perry is saying it, what are even reasonably intelligent people to think. I mean if they don't want to be bothered to just. Errrrrrrrr. THINK. I don't know. I know NPR has gotten my last nickle. That's a start. And as for Perry and Romney--I sure don't think I'll be voting for any bold-faced liar anytime soon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

World Series Starts Tonight


Well lets start with this little bit of information:

Ok, back? Now the other day Libby took her dad to Duke Hospital for some consultation, and she was sitting in the waiting room there and of course there was a nice color teevee the Hospital provides to help families pass the time while they wait, and on the teevee was Fox News. There was no way to change the channel either. The same experience awaits you at the airport, and at your McDonald's or Bo Jangles, although now and then you might see CNN or the Weather Channel. According to Cole's observation (based on media analysis), Mr. Obama and the government generally is framed in a certain negative way, while the framing of private endeavor is framed in a more positive way. Same with the ongoing and currently simmering political campaign for President, 2012, where, for example, only MSNBC takes note of the rather obvious fact that the GOP is putting forward candidates who are either craven or entirely muddled, and that no GOP candidate would make a competent President unless by President you mean (as perhaps the GOP does mean), a mouthpiece for hidden power who will never take the power of the office into his own hands. That is, one simple step back from even George W. Bush's view of the Presidency--that it comes down to a simple bi-pole light switch, On/Off--"I am the Decider." That is, one would still think, viewing the possibilities of a Republican President as the "clown car" stops in your living room each week, that none of these people would actually be President if elected. Rather, they would be the spokesman (...errrr... spokesperson) for the United States, reading the country's position on various issues from a script cobbled together the previous evening by skilled analysts and advisors. This sort of President, more and more the GOP definition of the office, never has to deal with anything in "real time." (Thus, that lurid few hours when W. Bush found himself flying hither and yon whilst the country seemed under attack.)

But, meanwhile, the World Series starts tonight. And it starts on Fox Sports, which will also carry the NFL on Sunday. And as the American people live their lives, teevees murmuring mostly in the background, it is reassuring that Fox, which brings them the National Passtime's season-crowning conclusion, and the fall/winter background of professional football, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Day, and then the start of NASCAR, Daytona 2012--well of course it's reassuring to know what Fox thinks about economic and political events and just plain old-fashioned news--such as the big blizzard/heatwave, or the psycho in Des Moines, or the plane that barely lands safely or doesn't, while the spaghetti sauce simmers and the kids do their homework, and dad gets home from work if he still has a job, or cracks a beer if he doesn't.

Also, October is Five Dollar Footlong Month. So did Subway steal this from Mr. Cain, or visa-versa? Perhaps Fox will tell us next Sunday, in the voice of George Will, who loves him some baesbol.

Meanwhile, the real world does its thang. For example:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pink Hats

You will have noted
that sports has decided over the past few years to take note of the fact of life that is breast cancer by wearing pink in different ways at different events. NFL players sport pink pumps some random Sunday. Basketball players wear pink sneakers or pink uniforms. Last night at the Nationwide NASCAR event in Charlotte there was a big pink logo on the infield grass, and some drivers had pink in their race car color schemes, and there was even mention of breast cancer in the prayer before the race.

Certainly it's a good thing to so mention this terrible disease, which kills and ravages far far too many people. But I did find the dissonance a bit unnerving. NASCAR, after all, is about as conservative (or "conservative" to be more accurate) as it gets. NASCAR is the sport of official Country Music, its renditions of the National Anthem mostly the music run through the Dolly Parton Method, its religion as Southern Baptist as you can get, its audience and participants as white as a Republican Convention. Every event features more military than even the NFL--with flyovers that in aggregate would rival a May Day Parade in Kremlin Square.

So then. How come somebody or other didn't at least note that this week in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, the Republicans passed a bill which makes emergency health care for women an optional requirement of American hospitals, a sort of Libertarianism of gender rights which flies in the face of the plain fact (which would in other contexts be an Ace of Spades trump) that women have the Constitutional Right to an abortion. I mean, given all that pink, couldn't Mrs. Harvick have had a word to say about this remarkable Congressional travesty? Or what about Kyle Busch, who has built his whole public persona on being outspoken? I noticed that he wasn't even interviewed after the race last night (and he finished 2nd)--I'd like to hope that he was going to dip his toe in these waters, and that that was cause to shut him up. But I doubt it.

Republican millionaires pretty much run NASCAR, as they do Nashville, as they do the Republican Party and a significant part of the Democratic Party as well. In NASCAR they do not like dissent, but they can deal ok with dissonance. This is quite in keeping with the nature of the NASCAR fan. And so the little ladies can be acknowledged for their courage in the face of breast cancer (and the medical industry can keep a woman's public visage palatable even in the face of a double mastectomy, dissonance held safely at bay), and ain't nobody going to say one single word about that pretty in pink young lady bleeding to death as she is Federally required to drive from one Emergency Room to the next in the hope of finding just one, somewhere, somehow, willing to perform a life-saving abortion before she dies in the backseat of the cab.

Gentlemen, start your engines. If you want to look a little deeper into the unexamined, you could read this a few times:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What Civil Rights Voting Act?

The digby piece is reportage. It's what's happening in Alabama right now. There's also a fine New Yorker piece by Jane Mayer just out on my state's own Art Pope, a multimillionaire who is funding the state-by-state counter revolution which is likely to end in a Republican President in 2013. As someone on the teevee asked the other night, "Do you think Mr. Obama is going to win North Carolina or Virginia this time around?" It might have been the same show, but on Chris Matthews they were speculating on whether Mr. Obama might just, like Lyndon Johnson, resign, or choose not to run.

Money is power, always has been. The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling has unleashed unlimited monetary power on a voting public which in the main doesn't have the time or interest to really pay attention, but instead allows itself to be whipsawed by 30-second sound bites which are primarily lies and distortions. Some people with lots of money believe that poor people shouldn't even be allowed to vote, since they will only vote for people who will take money away from the people who "earned" it. (You think that proposition is absurd--well I do too, but it is being argued by highly skilled professional rhetoricians on our so-called public airways every single day.)

At any rate, one would hope that people who spend so much of their time obsessing about the civil rights of zygotes will spare a few seconds to consider what's happening to the children of Hispanics in Alabama, even if Mr. Sessoms just brushes all that aside as "collateral damage." A lot of those children are American citizens, after all. And the ones that are not are still just CHILDREN.

(I hope Digby will forgive me using the photo from her piece, in the interest of furthering her message.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In the Streets


I'm watching the "Occupy..." Movement grow from NYC to many cities around the US. As a witness to both the Civil Rights struggles and the efforts to stop Vietnam, there are somewhat predictable arcs. The Right has begun it's public counterattack via Limbaugh. Surely in one city or another there will be efforts to smear the movement with acts which are actually carried out by persons aiming to defend the status quo at any cost. (See, e.g., the first ten minutes of Battle of Algiers.) One thing that concerns me, just watching the media coverage of Wall Street, is the fact that signage expresses outrage at just about everything under the sun. There is a muddled, 'whadaya got' quality to that impression which will disturb the already fearful. Massaged by the Limbaughs they get all their "facts" from, the fearful will provide a base for all sorts of draconian counter actions, should there be any sort of provocation. It won't take much either.

Given those obvious concerns, then, here's a good link to beginning to understand what's happening:

Be sure to read the post as well--the author is thoughtful, and he's been to the protests and talked to a number protesters. I have heard over the past two years quite a few people wondering why there isn't more street action viz our terrible economy, and in particular about the loss of jobs in the United States. Well... this is the street action, and the center of the issue. As long as the Right Wing Pundits aren't allowed to reframe this (and they'll try mightily), there are very large majorities in the US who are surely on board. Who knows--we might actually witness something positive coming out of this. For starters, it's a fact (supported by many polls) that a majority of Americans of all political affiliations support higher taxes on the very rich. That's very heartening, because it only makes sense. Governance which makes no sense--what we're witnessing in Congress, and particularly the House--cannot stand forever. The question is, what comes after the country realizes where the radical House is trying to take us.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hank Jr. on Fox

(Hank Williams, Jr.)

This is pretty funny in many ways. Of course it's funny at one level that Fox News actually got upset because Hank Williams, Jr. trashed Mr. Obama. Must be the nuance meter was set on 7 and Hank ran it up to 13 or something. It's not like Fox News doesn't insinuate that Obama is Hitler, Stalin, Jomo Kenyata, et al., every day. It's not like Fox News didn't carry the Glenn Beck show until fairly recently. Where's Claude Rains when we need him.

On the other hand, Mr. Amato's piece in crooksandliars is pretty pathetic too. Who cares if Hank, Jr. was drunk? It's part of his public persona. The shades? He always wears shades, always. He has since he was in a bad accident which disfigured his face. And ESPN jumping on board and kicking Hank off Monday Night Football? Exactly why? "All my rowdy friends are coming over tonight." That's the Monday Night Football theme song fer christs sake. One of Junior's biggest hits, now decades old, featured a chronicling of the Williams' family traditions (that was the name of the song I think), including using drugs and alcohol to excess. And really--Hank Williams himself died in his twenties from a drug overdose while riding in the back of a Cadillac in West Virginia on the way to a New Years Day gig. At least back then Country Music was about real things--that's what Hank wrote about, over and over again. So yes, ESPN should have some principles, and yes, while Hank, Jr. always represented the Copperhead Road side of country, he hadn't come right out and screamed it, or at least not on the teevee. Maybe ESPN should have at least made a bargain of some sort: if SC removes the stars and bars from its state flag, we'll drop Junior. That'd work.

Liberals don't need to be nambypamby about country culture. It is what it is. Mr. Amato and his commenters ought to give a listen to James McMurtry's "Choctaw Bingo" some time. That's where Hank, Jr. is coming from. It doesn't have to be laced with political genius. In fact, the trouble with political genius is, it comes often packaged in Rush Limbaugh, who knows how to stay perfectly on the razor's edge of whatever line the long-term crafters of our fascist future are walking at the moment. While Amato was wringing his hands about something as predictable as Hank Williams Jr.'s political views on President Obama, Limbaugh managed to get Herman Cain to walk back his mild-mannered objection to Gov. Perry's having a hunting ranch called "Niggerhead." And if Mr. Cain can't say Fuck You to Rush Limbaugh on that topic, he's as weak a plank of "presidential timber" as John McCain was for selecting Ms Palin for Veep.

Hank III already said all that needs to be said about his uncle Hank's generation of Country Stars. "If Toby Keith's country," Hank III said, "then fuck country."
Hank III might have said that around the fire at Uncle Slayton's big birthday party in Oklahoma. At least Hank Jr. wears his gun outside of his pants, for all the honest world to feel.

Look, this is country, courtesy of McMurtry. Read 'em and weep. That's the point:

Strap them kids in
Give 'em a little bit of vodka in a cherry coke
We're going to Oklahoma to the family reunion for the first time in years
It's up at uncle Slayton's cause he's getting on in years
You know he no longer travels but he's still pretty spry
He's not much on talking and he's just too mean to die
And they'll be comin' down from Kansas
and from west Arkansas
It'll be one great big old party like you never saw
Uncle Slayton's got his Texan pride
Back in the thickets with his Asian bride
He's got a Airstream trailer and a Holstein cow
He still makes whiskey 'cause he still knows how
He plays that Choctaw bingo every Friday night
You know he had to leave Texas but he won't say why
He owns a quarter section up by Lake Eufala
Caught a great big ol' blue cat on a driftin' jug line
Sells his hardwood timber to the chipping mill
Cooks that crystal meth because the shine don't sell
He cooks that crystal meth because the shine don't sell
You know he likes his money he don't mind the smell....

You can have the saccarine part or you can have the shine, with the good bead. In country, the ladies make the men go out to the car to drink amongst themselves. When they stagger back inside, cheeks flushed and eyes flashing, the ladies don't notice a thing, but exchange glances. This is how it works in the GOP, and mostly on teevee generally. Over on Jon Stewart's show they pointed out that there are old racist names all over the map of the US of A, and they sang a fine alternative verse to America the Beautiful. That's one way to actually see both sides of the coin at the same time. It's dizzying, but it's real.