Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Unmasked: The Disturbing Blending of Christian Fundamentalism and Politics

""Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother." -- Recently-elected Governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley

Of course, he instantly apologized for the remark; but I can't help but ponder the implications of what this means in a democracy rooted in equality. There is a mindset of inequality in this line of thinking. As I see it, it is just another manifestion of the belief that there is a "real" America, and a "lesser" America. I don't like it one bit. When I hear stuff like this emanating from the mouth of a Conservative Republican state governor, I would consider any argument that the Conservative movement and Republican Party doesn't have a basic and pervasive problem with an intolterant religious fundamentalism pushing through the thin veneer of the secular democracy upon which our government was formed and emerging as a governing philosophy itself to be a flimsy and half-baked argument indeed.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Right Wing's Anti-Elite Elitism Exposed

Charles Krauthammer, no Obamaphile by any stretch of the imagination, exposes Rush Limbaugh for the Anti-Elite Elitist that he is:

I've said it before in different contexts and in different ways, but I'll say it again now: certain anti-elite demagogues of the Rightwing, of which Limbaugh is one, point to intelligence, statesmanship, competence, and gravitas in a liberal President as if it were somehow a bad thing. It is quite telling of the partisan hack and fraud that he is that Limbaugh demeans what are essentially admirable qualities by calling it a kind of hallmark of "elitism" -- which in Palinite code is a bad word akin to a profanity. When this branch of conservatives claims that it prefers that its President NOT demonstrate such "elitist" characteristics, it is essentially embracing the idea that it prefers the opposite for its leader: ignorance, un-statesmanship, incompetence, and unseriousness. And it links this kind of unflattering and ordinary mediocrity in its leaders to what it considers to be the solid, average, "real" American. They would like their President to be, for lack of a better way to describe it, nothing better than the average Joe. I am always baffled by this. Why would any American not want his President, the leader of the free world, to be an extraordinary person? I don't know about you, but I'd rather my President not be just "average." I don't want my President to be like my mother. God bless her sweet soul, but my mother, as magnificent and wonderful as she is in so many ways, has no business being President. Why is having a President who is exceptional in intelligence, leadership, creativity, oratory, persuasiveness, etc., always suspect to such people? Maybe conservatives don't think Obama rises to this level, but Limbaugh's comment exposes the reality that it's not really Obama that is the issue, but rather the whole idea of what they think defines an "elite." George W. Bush had to "dumb himself down" to win the accolades of the "average Joe" wing of the conservative movement. In their effort to counteract a notion of "elitism" as arrogance coupled with an unwarranted claim of privilege, they also abandon the notion of elite as special, unrivalled excellence. When we speak of the Green Berets as an "elite" unit within the armed forces, isn't that something we admire and take pride in? When we speak of Peyton Manning as being among the "elite" of NFL quarterbacks, aren't we talking about something positive? So, for Obama to act Presidential as we would want any President to act, for him to deliver a truly elite performance in terms of quality and excellence, that demonstration of excellence becomes for folks like Limbaugh nothing more than an expression of "elitism" worthy of scorn and derision. Krauthammer just nails Limbaugh on this point and exposes him for the partisan hack and fraud that he is. In fact, I'd say Krauthammer's point is a veiled dig at Limbaugh, a dig which hints subtly at a kind of small-minded, unpatriotic, anti-American attitude festering in the soul of Talk Radio's most notorious grinch. Interesting also that this is all coming from within the ranks of the conservative movement itself.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

A Preface: I just can't seem to get motivated to work myself up enough to put posts on this blog more regularly. Maybe I need to go back to my blogging self-nudge; but right now I think my heart is just not in it like it has been and could be. Maybe that will change. We shall see. In any case, I'll blog when I can rouse myself to do so. Right now, I'm moved enough to post a couple of my New Year's Resolutions. And they are ...

1. Write two books (one fiction and one non-fiction) by the end of the year.
2. Submit a couple of articles for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals.
3. Save my heated political commentary for my blog and reserve the use of Facebook for non-political stuff. (Although I had basically decided on this weeks ago, the recent tragedy in Tuscon has strengthened my resolve in this direction even more.)
4. Read the following books: (A) The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck); (B) The Federalist Papers (in their entirety); (C) I, The Supreme (Roa Bastos); (D) Absalom, Absalom (Faulkner); and (E) The Adolescent (Dostoevsky)
5. Finish what I'm calling the "Display Room" (for my B-2/3's pottery) in the "Basement."

I had a wonderful discussion today with a good friend about McMurtry's Lonesome Dove and I promise I will be writing up at least a brief review of the book sometime soon on the blog.

That's it for now.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

A Second American Revolution??

There's a bumper sticker that is popular with many Beckian conservatives. It reads:

"2010: The Second American Revolution"

Let's remember that the First American Revolution was a bloody and violent armed struggle in the cause of freedom from oppression. In my mind, in comparing the First American Revolution with the current political situation, the subtext of hinting at a justifiable violence in the cause of freedom from oppression today (i.e. 2010) is crystal clear.

Frankly, I think Gabby Giffords is a casualty of this "Second American Revolution."

This narrative of political violence justified under the banner of patriotism has got to stop.

Assassination Attempt in Arizona

We've all by now heard much about the assassination attempt of a Democratic Congresswoman in Arizona earlier today. It's worth noting that this Congresswoman was one of 20 Congress people put in the gun sights of a Sarah Palin posting on one of her new media sites. Conservatives are now on the defensive trying to show how this assassination attempt was the work of a deranged, disturbed individual -- and that ideology has nothing to do with it. Well, perhaps.

But here's the thing conservatives need to know: when one of the 20 Congress people put in the gun sights of a Sarah Palin online media posting, or whatever it was, ends up the victim of a brutal assassination attempt, you have to expect that such connections between actual assassination attempts and the figurative calls for them are going to be drawn. The lesson is pure and simple: don't put people, figuratively or otherwise, in the gun sights. It just encourages the nuts. And that's why this narrative of Second Amendment remedies, spilling blood in the cause of freedom, "shooting down" your electoral opponents, etc., -- narratives that have come almost exclusively from the right wing in this country -- is just completely irresponsible. And it has nothing to do whether this guy was a loony or a Tea Partier or an anarchist or whatever. Hinting at armed violence as a means to resolve political disputes is just wrong. Period.

If there were nothing at all untoward in advancing such notions, even figuratively, why then are all such references being hastily taken down? Couldn't be some residual sense of guilt, could it? Couldn't be some nagging awareness that such inflammatory imagery and rhetoric of politically-motivated violence just might have encouraged this nut, could it?

I think people, deep down, understand this; and I think it took something like today for people who defended this use of inflammatory narratives and imagery of armed political violence as harmless expressions of free speech are only just now looking in the mirror and saying: "Oh, sh*t! We really have crossed the line!"

I've said it many times, both on this blog and in comment threads, criticizing the tolerance of such rhetoric on the right wing, that words and imagery of violence do have consequences and do encourage the behavior of others, especially those disturbed individuals prone to act out such narratives.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Well, Ain't This Grand

Just got wind of this.

At the very least, the University seems to be doing everything it can to handle the situation.

But what I want to know is what the hell was this information doing on a portable laptop in the first place; and, moreover, what the hell was this employee thinking to leave a laptop with so much critically sensitive information unmonitored in a car, on an out-of-town trip? I don't think this information should ever be placed on a laptop to begin with; but if it had to be, then the person responsible for it should have handcuffed the damn thing to his or her being.

I'd hate to be that person right now.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


I just love this one by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros:

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros "Home" from Edward Sharpe on Vimeo.

That's the "official" video; but I think even better, more energetic, and more magnetic is this live performance on Letterman:

But, being a daddy of two lovely young daughters, this rendition, God bless, just absolutely takes the cake:

Her arm resting on his while he plays. There is nothing more uplifting than this.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Back to Blogging

OK. Holidays over. Time to get back to the blog. I needed a bit of a break, I think. Some quick updates:

1. I finished McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove." I'll be writing a more detailed review; but the short of it is that I liked it very much. On the whole, a thumbs up, though I do have some criticisms. I've also watched the movie version and thought it was very good, too.

2. New Year's Resolutions coming soon in a separate follow-up posting.

3. Still proud of Barack Obama. If he gets serious about the debt situation, which I think he will (especially if he finds common ground on this issue with someone like Tom Coburn), he'll be in great shape for 2012.

4. The only disappointment I have with the 2008-2010 Congress is failure to pass the DREAM Act. My greatest joy about the 2008-2010 Congress is passage of the Health Care legislation and repeal of DADT.

5. The Saints are in the Playoffs and have a good, realistic chance of making it to the Superbowl again. Looking forward to the post-season run. I predict that the NFC Championship game will be in New Orleans, with the Saints hosting the Packers.

6. Finally, let's start the New Year with this bit of "Wow!" ...