Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Displays of Degradation I

I haven't mentioned yet that I got a fairly good response from the University of Pennsylvania Press about my book proposal. They didn't give me a contract, but they did tell me that they would send a full manuscript out to readers when I submit one.

So, now I'm working on completing a full manuscript and one of my jobs is to write a chapter on blackface minstrelsy in Philadelphia during the 1840's.

Toward that end, I'm reading William J. Maher's, Behind the Burnt Cork Mask. In the intro and first chapter, Maher's core argument is that blackface minstrelsy was more about establishing a particularly American form of popular culture than it was about African-American cultural forms or racism more generally.

Although it's a very good book, I'm not convinced.

In the first chapter, Maher convincingly argues that performers like the Christy minstrels focused more on burlesquing European imports like Italian opera than satirizing plantation life or northern black Dandies. I'm not very familiar with the operation of Italian opera in 19th century America, but I'm not very surprised that blackface minstrel performers were working with a variety of "white sources." The African-American references in the minstrel songs of the 1840's often look rather token. White performers are talking primarily about themes from white life.

But that doesn't change the fact that minstrel performers were dressing up as black men and women and that they were using European sources to portray blacks as buffoonish, lazy, dependent, and sentimentally attached to slavery. If anything, working with the European sources gives the racial imagery of blackface minstrelsy a new flexibility as white performers learned how to articulate their images of blackness through different kinds of materials.

That still leaves the question of why white performers found blackface such a compelling medium for the presentation of their own concerns about romance, family, politics, race, and masculinity. So far, Maher hasn't addressed that question.

Limbaugh in Hawaiian Hospital

Talking Points Memo is carrying an item about Rush Limbaugh being taken to a Honolulu hospital in "serious condition" with "chest pains."

I hope he's okay.

And I mean it. When Limbaugh was in rehab for his drug addiction, I posted on Slate's Fray that people on the left should respect Limbaugh as a formidable adversary and have the same kind of sympathy for him in adversity that we have for our own friends and allies. That doesn't mean that we should be "soft" on Limbaugh. We should be hitting Limbaugh hard for his conservative positions, showing disgust for his racism, homophobia, and warmongering, and ridiculing him for his pseudo-macho buffoonery.

But people on the left should also extend Limbaugh the same basic human compassion we extend to other people.

Maybe Limbaugh wouldn't have that kind of compassion for someone like me.

But that doesn't make it any less appropriate to have compassion for him.

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's Over Joseph-Beth

When I moved to Morehead in 1990, Joseph-Beth bookstore in Lexington, KY was the place to go for the intellectual glitterati at Morehead State University. The chair of the search committee even took me there during my job interview even though the store was 60 miles away in Lexington.

And then, the owners made Joseph-Beth even better with a dramatic expansion.

But Joseph-Beth gradually got less interesting.

They started focusing more on bestsellers, name-brand authors, and trinkets for the post-hippy set, less on materials that were intellectually interesting. Once upon a time, I could go into the philosophy and history sections at Joseph-Beth and come upon great books and authors I'd never heard of.

Not any more.

The philosophy section at Joseph-Beth has shrunk from a wall to two shelves and the history section looks like its declined as well--too much Civil War and Kentucky history stuff, not enough effort to connect with the history of the rest of the world. It wasn't like there was nothing there. I found a decent looking book about the Romans and Barbarians and bought a couple of other books as well. Joseph-Beth's is not BAD. It's just not all that good.

If I did a survey of my professor friends, I think most of them would still say that they think Joseph-Beth is the best book store in Lexington. But I now like the Barnes and Noble in Hamburg Place better.

Next year, everybody should send me gift cards from Barnes and Nobles.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pope Robbie I--Robert George Takes Charge of American Catholicism

The New York Times has an interesting article on the influence of Princeton scholar Robert George on American Catholicism. The core of Robert --or "Robbie" as he's affectionately known among conservative circles--George's position is that Catholics should abolish any kind of social justice agenda and focus entirely on sexual issues like abortion, gay marriage, and embryo research.
Last spring, George was invited to address an audience that included many bishops at a conference in Washington. He told them with typical bluntness that they should stop talking so much about the many policy issues they have taken up in the name of social justice. They should concentrate their authority on “the moral social” issues like abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and same-sex marriage, where, he argued, the natural law and Gospel principles were clear.

Actually, "Robbie" is right about the clarity of the "Gospel" on the issues of abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage. In fact, the Gospels say absolutely nothing about any of these issues. There can be no clearer statement about the lack of significance of these issues for Jesus than that. Actually, Jesus might have had suspicions of same-sex marriage, but such suspicions would have been derived from his scepticism about marriage and family in general rather than his views on homosexuality. Jesus most clearly formulates his scepticism about marriage in Luke 14:26 where he states that "If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Obviously, this passage is not the "politically correct" Jesus of the Good Samaritan story, but it clearly expresses the persistent suspicion Jesus had about the likelihood of family bonds competing with the attachment of potential disciples to Him. In the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life, Jesus himself did not marry or form heterosexual attachments with any of his female followers. Jesus also chose other males as his chief confidantes and apostles for his message. And according to Catholic orthodoxy, it is very important that he did so.

Jesus doesn't address homosexuality anywhere in the Gospels. Perhaps Jesus didn't view himself as competing against homosexuality in the same way that he viewed himself as competing against heterosexual marriage. But Jesus does enunciate principles that apply to many if not most gay people. In the opening passage of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus gives a set of blessings that have become known as "The Beatitudes." By defining the first of those blessings as "blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," Jesus gives the first (and foremost) of his blessings to people like suicidal gay teens, the thousands of gay people who suffered and died at the height of the aids epidemic and the millions of gay people who feel themselves excluded the mainstream of American society because they are not allowed to get married like "normal" people. Much as Jesus valued tax collectors, lepers, "fallen women," and the outcasts of ancient Israel, he would value contemporary outcasts from social respectability like gay people, drug addicts, alcoholics, and the homeless. According to the Beatitudes, "theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

The NY Times article gives the impression that Robert George has gained influence among the Catholic bishops because of his emphasis on the justification for his social conservatism in the "natural law" ideas of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas rather than divine revelation. For better or worse (worse in my view), that's made opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights into the guiding principles of American Catholicism and Robert George into the real Pope for American Catholics.

All hail Pope Robbie I.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Joey Lieberman Doesn't Like Anything

It looks like Joe Lieberman might be able to unravel health reform. He won't support a robust public option, won't support a public option opt out, won't support a public option trigger, and won't the medicare opt in that he supported last week.

Lieberman and Ben Nelson of Nebraska are the last of the 1980's DLC dinosaurs. The DLC (Democratic Leadership Council) rose as a corporate-funded trojan horse in the Democratic Party to ensure that the Democrats became less of a reform party. It's primary object was to defeat liberals within the Democratic Party and make the Democrats more friendly to a corporate agenda.

But the DLC idea of treating progressive Democrats as their worst enemies lost steam in the face of the surge of progressive surge in response to George Bush. There are still lots of moderate and conservative Democrats, but Lieberman and Nelson are the last of the Democratic senators who make it a personal point to oppose progressive agendas at every turn. In Lieberman's case, there's a huge element of spite toward progressives as well. Anti-war sentiment ensured that Lieberman's 2004 presidential campaign went nowhere. Even worse, Connecticut progressives beat Lieberman in a 2006 primary and forced him to win re-election as an independent.

Now, its payback time for Lieberman and he's using his leverage as the 60th vote to do his best to either force progressives to give up everything they value about health reform or ensure that the whole effort fails.

Let's see how Harry Reid and the White House respond.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Harry Potter the VI on the Small Screen

I started watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at home tonight and fell asleep twice. Hopefully, it was more compelling on the big screens.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Taxing Financial Transactions--Not exactly the Heart of the Matter

Paul Krugman proposes a tax on financial transactions as a way to discourage the day to day churning of accounts on Wall Street.

Tobin’s idea went nowhere at the time. Later, much to his dismay, it became a favorite hobbyhorse of the anti-globalization left. But the Turner-Brown proposal, which would apply a “Tobin tax” to all financial transactions — not just those involving foreign currency — is very much in Tobin’s spirit. It would be a trivial expense for long-term investors, but it would deter much of the churning that now takes place in our hyperactive financial markets.

This would be a bad thing if financial hyperactivity were productive. But after the debacle of the past two years, there’s broad agreement — I’m tempted to say, agreement on the part of almost everyone not on the financial industry’s payroll — with Mr. Turner’s assertion that a lot of what Wall Street and the City do is “socially useless.” And a transactions tax could generate substantial revenue, helping alleviate fears about government deficits. What’s not to like?


I don't have anything against raising money by taxing Wall Street, but a transactions tax doesn't get to the heart of the matter with the American financial system. The financial system was driven by the high profits from the derivatives markets, but that the derivatives markets were so speculative and unstable that they almost brought down the whole world economy. I haven't seen any proposal that either liberates the financial system from dependence on the derivatives markets or regulates the derivative markets in ways that makes them more stable. The problem is that whatever stability the current financial system affords might be completely contingent on the high profit margins of derivative transactions. The derivative markets might themselves by highly unstable, but any regulation effort that reduced derivative profits might also be de-stabilizing.

It's a nasty conundrum that isn't addressed by a financial transactions tax.

To his credit, Krugman admits this.

What about the claim that a financial transactions tax doesn’t address the real problem? It’s true that a transactions tax wouldn’t have stopped lenders from making bad loans, or gullible investors from buying toxic waste backed by those loans.

But bad investments aren’t the whole story of the crisis . . . As Gary Gorton and Andrew Metrick of Yale have shown, by 2007 the United States banking system had become crucially dependent on “repo” transactions, in which financial institutions sell assets to investors while promising to buy them back after a short period — often a single day. Losses in subprime and other assets triggered a banking crisis because they undermined this system — there was a “run on repo.”


In other words, bad derivative investments ("toxic waste") still triggered the financial crisis. They just did so "indirectly" by undermining the system of short-term transactions (churning) on which the banking system was dependent.

So, sure--put a tax on financial transactions as a way to discourage churning and reduce the crush of pointless trading.

But other measures are going to be needed to prevent the next big meltdown.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Health Reform--Out of Harry Reid's Office

A Health Reform bill finally got out of Harry Reid's office today. I still think it will be passed with a public option--probably a public option with an opt out clause.

But it looks like conservative Dems are going to take out every last pound of flesh they can.

Conservatives think that health reform is a kind of Rubicon and that America will be a different kind of society if Congress passes a public option.

Maybe that's the case.

But, really, the Rubicon was crossed when Barack Obama was elected president. The question is whether Obama is going to maintain his position on the new side of the river.

The Sexist Depth of the Sarah Palin Cover

This week's edition of Newsweek arrived a day after the controversy over the magazine's Sarah Palin cover emerged.

Is the cover sexist? You betcha!

And it's worse than Palin or other media critics think.

The main criticism of the Newsweek cover is that it shows Palin in short runner's shorts and reveals a lot of leg. Her top is also zipped down in a mildly suggestive manner. What's sexist about this is that the political magazine is focusing on Palin's sexual attractiveness as a woman rather than her significance as a cultural and political figure. Media Matters for America is also right to call attention to the demeaning girlishness of the Sound of Music reference in the title "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah."

But it's worse.

The Palin picture was originally taken for a running magazine, but Newsweek editors must have known that whole thing has a luridly pornographic effect when put into the context of political news. Take Palin's legs for example. There's a sense in which her legs aren't really "showing" because she's pictured as being so tanned that it looks like she's wearing panty hose. The extremely minimal "concealment" effect of the tan actually enhances the erotic effect of showing her legs in a stripper/porn manner.

The same thing is true of the flag and the Blackberries. On the cover of Newsweek, they look more like stripper props than anything else. Palin is involved in a lot of business and likes to portray herself as a flag-waving patriot. But the Newsweek cover makes her look like someone who uses the American flag and business items to enhance her "sexy" mystique.

Ditto her trademark glasses and hair and the whole pornographic effect is enhanced by the bright and crowded redness of the Palin's top, the flag, and the Newsweek banner.

I imagine that Newsweek could defend itself by arguing that the cover was trying to say something about the luridness of Sarah Palin's appeal. But achingly conventional articles by Evan Thomas and the execrable Christopher Hitchens don't justify any defense of the sort.

Newsweek would have done better if they hadn't covered Palin at all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Carrie Prejean Chronicles

I have to admit. I gave into temptation when I saw an item on "more Carrie Prejean sex tapes" and clicked onto a Joy Behar segment on Prejean.

What a mistake!

All the reasons for not watching television were on full view. Joining Joy Behar in the discussion were the kind of vapidly handsome figures typical of the "entertainment news" media--Spencer Pratt, Heidi Montague, and gossip-monger Perez Hilton. I have some suspicion that the whole setup was designed to make Joy Behar look weighty. Where her guests looked like they'd just been stamped out by a plastic factory, Behar looked like a real person. Likewise, Behar's may not be a news heavyweight, but she looked like a combination of Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow in comparison to her guests.

Not that the discussion was very interesting. The panel talked in vaguely "racy" ways about the possibility of seven Carrie Prejean sex tapes emerging into the public domain, Prejean making a sex tape all by herself, and whether or not Prejean is a "hypocrite" for identifying with the Christian right at the same time she was engaged in topless modeling, making sex tapes, and the like.

But I think that's the wrong way to think of Prejean.

What's interesting about Prejean is her audacious effort to leverage her Miss USA notoriety for rejecting gay marriage into an enduring status as a celebrity of the Christian right.

With the emergence of her sex tapes, it's clear that Prejean's gambit isn't going to work. But that doesn't mean that it's not interesting. Did Prejean view her post-pageant conservative proslytizing as simply pursuing a business opportunity? Or was it something she found appealing for other reasons? When I think about Prejean's manuevers, I wonder about just how desperate women in the netherworld of fairly low-level modeling, acting, and beauty pageants might be to make something out of their life-long commitment. As Prejean's breast implants, topless modeling, and sex-tape(s) indicate, it can all be extremely degrading. Maybe Prejean's eager grasp at Christian conservative celebrity was an attempt to remain in the celebrity world of vapid beauty while being somehow more substantial. As Prejean's case indicates, the celebrity media views opposition to gay marriage as "politically incorrect" or bigoted, but beauty pageants and modeling are still highly conservative cultural institutions that promote traditional images of female beauty and sexuality. And as the Southern fascination for beauty pageants indicates, cultural conservatives are especially drawn to the ideas of "innocent sexiness" that are embodied in beauty pageants.

One additional point. Critical commentary on flawed Christian conservatives like Carrie Prejean is usually totally lacking in any kind of human sympathy. But I'm beginning to think that it's an important point for progressive politics to wish people well, even our most determined opponents. Certainly, I'd like to see Carrie Prejean out something viable.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The O'Reilly Boycott Begins Now!

In the biggest media surprise of the week, Bill O'Reilly appears to have given up on the right-wing dream of killing every last one of the world's Muslims.
Barack Obama wants to win hearts and minds in the Middle East, in the Muslim world, which is a good thing and you know that. As a soldier, we can't kill all the Muslims. So we wanna win as many hearts and minds of good moderate Muslims
as we can.
I don't know why O'Reilly's going soft like this. Hasn't he heard of the "MuslimDetection" programs being developed by Blackwater or whatever they're called now. What's O'Reilly going to give up on next--missile defense, torture, the "Crucifix in the Classroom" program?

Pretty soon O' Reilly's going to start sending fruit baskets to bin Laden.

That's enough.

The O'Reilly boycott begins now.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Presidential Obama--Channeling the Nation's Grief and Outrage

It appears that President Obama is also very successful at leading the nation in grief and outrage over the shootings at Fort Hood. This is from Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic Online:

Today, at Ft. Hood. I guarantee: they'll be teaching this one in rhetoric classes. It was that good. My gloss won't do it justice. Yes, I'm having a Chris Matthews-chill-running-up-my-leg moment, but sometimes, the man, the moment and the words come together and meet the challenge. Obama had to lead a nation's grieving; he had to try and address the thorny issues of Islam and terrorism; to be firm; to express the spirit of America, using familiar, comforting tropes in a way that didn't sound trite.

An excerpt from the elegiac address, below, and the full text, after the jump.

It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy. But this much we do know - no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice - in this world, and the next.

These are trying times for our country. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the same extremists who killed nearly 3,000 Americans continue to endanger America, our allies, and innocent Afghans and Pakistanis. In Iraq, we are working to bring a war to a successful end, as there are still those who would deny the Iraqi people the future that Americans and Iraqis have sacrificed so much for.

As we face these challenges, the stories of those at Fort Hood reaffirm the core values that we are fighting for, and the strength that we must draw upon. Theirs are tales of American men and women answering an extraordinary call - the call to serve their comrades, their communities, and their country. In an age of selfishness, they embody responsibility. In an era of division, they call upon us to come together. In a
time of cynicism, they remind us of who we are as Americans.

We are a nation that endures because of the courage of those who defend it. We saw that valor in those who braved bullets here at Fort Hood, just as surely as we see it in those who signed up knowing that they would serve in harm's way.

We are a nation of laws whose commitment to justice is so enduring that we would treat a gunman and give him due process, just as surely as we will see that he pays for his crimes. We are a nation that guarantees the freedom to worship as one chooses. And instead of claiming God for our side, we remember Lincoln's words, and always pray to be on the side of God.


That must be a big disappointment to a lot of people.

Why Does Anyone Need the Washington Times?

There seems to be a great deal of conflict among Sun Myung Moon's sons over the fate of the money losing Washington Times. I'm not sure why. Now that the Washington Post has become an outlet for neo-conservatism, it's hard to see what function the Washington Times serves at all.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

TPM has Dems at 218

One monumental hurdle has been cleared. Health Care legislation has passed the House of Representatives. The Democrats now have 218 votes. The legislation still has a long way to go and many hurdles to be cleared before it's enacted.

But I think I'll have a beer to celebrate anyway.

It appears that the final vote is 220-215.

RSI's Epic Defeat at Root-A-Baker's

Yeah, today I broke down and bought a cake at Root-A-Baker's for an office celebration on Monday. Curse their cakes anyway! But there wasn't much choice. Right-wing wackos or not, Root-A-Baker's is the only first-rate bakery in town and the alternative was to ask Mrs. RSI to spend time baking when she needed to work on her classes.

I'll do better with my next boycott.

Health Care: The Debate is on in the House

The House is debating the health care bill. The Dems are confident of passage.

Sex with Neanderthals?

MSN has an article on the possibility of mating between modern human and Neanderthal populations.
"Would they have recognized each other as possible mates?" Harvati asked. "We know when closely related primate species meet, they sometimes interbreed in nature, not just in zoos, and this is something we see not just in primates, but with other closely related species among mammals."

That the least of it. Human beings have been known to have sex with just about anything animal, vegetable, and mineral. Some human beings like corpses while others prefer cows, goats, or dogs. The producers of one popular movie were so proud of the sex Jason Biggs had with an round-shaped apple dessert that they named the movie American Pie.

If homo sapiens lived at the same time as Neanderthals, there can't be much doubt that there was a fair amount of sex between members of the two groups. The only real question is whether the sex could have resulted in pregnancy.
At an October conference in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, Pääbo — a
geneticist of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany — said the two species had sex, but it remained an open question as to
whether children resulted and left a legacy in our genomes.

A very open question.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Maybe That William Ayers Wrote Obama's Book!

The White House released a partial list of the people visiting the White House in the ten months of the Obama presidency. Some famous names made the list.
Given that up to 100,000 people visit the White House each month, the names published Friday included people with some very familiar names -- including William Ayers, Michael Jordan, Michael Moore, Jeremiah Wright and R. Kelly

But the guy named Michael Jordan was not THE Michael Jordan. None of these famous names were connected to famous people.
"The well-known individuals with those names never actually came to the White House . . ."
But maybe THAT William Ayers was the one who wrote Obama's book rather than the 60's radical.

The Joe Lieberman Conundrum

There are times when I think the progressive media is just as committed as the mainstream media to avoiding any kind of policy debate concerning health reform.

Talking Points Memo and HuffPost have little discussion of either Democratic proposals or health policy more generally. Progressive media sources actually do very little in the way of promoting any Democratic ideas on health reform. Likewise, they have little information on how the current financing of the health system works, why it costs so much, and why our results on life-span, infant mortality, and other measures of health are so poor compared to other countries. A number of stories about the inhumanity of health insurance companies to their policy-holders have been published by HuffPost. But I'm aware of no reporting on how the corporate strategies of the health insurance companies reinforce their drive to reject legitimate claims from sick individuals.

Instead of discussing health policy, the progressive media focuses on three themes--dissecting the political process, publicizing to right-wing "outrages," and vilifying Democratic "traitors." For most of this week, the focus has been on the Joe Lieberman's "treason." Just as McCain stole the thunder from Obama's convention speech by announcing his nomination of Sarah Palin, Lieberman undercut the progressive euphoria over Harry Reid's support for a public option by declaring the next day that he would filibuster any bill including a public option. Since then, the progressive media has been obsessing about Lieberman's desertion of the Democrats. Why, the progressive media asks, would Lieberman oppose a public option now when he embraced the public option during his 2004 presidential campaign? Why is Lieberman so eager to filibuster now when he's always been suspicious of filibustering in the past? In a way, this is all a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lieberman's "treason" toward the Democratic Party has been a major theme in the progressive media ever since the first emergence of the left blogosphere. But this is Lieberman's most important treason to date. Lieberman's sabotaging the legislative agenda of a Democratic president who's gone out of his way to to be nice to him. Why would he do that?

Glenn Greenwald, Rachel Maddow, and Joe Conason argue that Lieberman opposes health reform for corrupt reasons, either because his wife works for health lobbyists or because the health insurance companies have contributed huge money to his re-election campaigns. Here's Joe Conason:
The Lieberman family's financial ties to the health industry are no secret, yet their full extent remains unknown. During her husband's 2006 reelection campaign, Hadassah Lieberman's employment as a "senior counselor" to Hill & Knowlton, one of the world’s biggest lobbying firms, briefly erupted as an issue, especially because the clients she served were in the controversial pharmaceutical and insurance sectors. Exactly what she did for those clients has never been disclosed.
Also, here's Glenn Greenwald on the Rachel Maddow show discussing Lieberman's ties to the health industry.

But I don't think that Joe Lieberman's ties to the health industry are the issue. The main problem with Lieberman is his bitterness over the re-emergence of an energized Democratic left during the Bush years. I imagine that Lieberman initially thought he had a good shot at the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004. Lieberman had been the vice-presidential nominee in 2000, he was well-known as a result of his gazillion television appearances, and he had paid his dues. Maybe, Lieberman thought, his time had arrived and he would be able to mount a moderate to conservative challenge to George W.

But it wasn't close. The Iraq War which Lieberman supported was already a failure in early 2004 and the left blogosphere had become the focal point of opposition to the war within the Democratic Party and liberal/left constituencies. Lieberman may have been a long-time Senator from the nearby state of Connecticut, but he didn't even get 9% of the vote in the New Hampshire primary and he had become the butt of constant ridicule from people on the left (including me). Lieberman began turning away from the Democratic Party in his heart when Ned Lamont launched a successful primary challenge in 2006. Barack Obama and the rest of the establishment Democrats might have campaigned for Lieberman but that didn't make any difference. For Lieberman, the Democrats were now the party of Daily Kos, Ned Lamont, and Amy Goodman rather than the party of Al Frum, the DLC, and neo-liberalism. As he showed during the 2008 presidential campaign, Lieberman was quite willing to turn against the Democratic Party establishment that had sought to save him. But it was only because the establishment was heading up a popular political party that he now hated.

The progressive media needs to understand how satisfying the idea of filibustering the public option probably is to Joe Lieberman. Progressives humiliated Joe Lieberman in 2004 and humiliated him again in 2008. Joining with the Republicans to filibuster the progressive highlight of the health reform package is probably the most bitterly satisfying thing that Joe Lieberman has done in the last ten years. Because of the rise of the progressive movement, Joe Lieberman went from respected insider to punching bag overnight.

And now the punching bag is punching back--where it really hurts by the way.

But that's the way it goes. If Lieberman sinks the current legislation, we'll just have to find another way. Bitter guys like Lieberman almost always lose in the end.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

White House Declares Victory Over Fox--Sends Troops Home

The Politico has a report of a "truce meeting" between Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs and a Fox executive.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Michael Clemente, Fox News' senior
vice president for news, met at the White House for about 20 minutes on Wednesday morning, sources said.

The contents of the meeting remain private. A Fox source said that the marching orders are to “continue doing what we’re doing – reporting the news, asking tough questions and providing analysis/opinion on shows like O’Reilly, Beck and Hannity.”
I image that the Obama administration refers to Clemente as the "senior vice-president for propoganda outreach" at Fox. The Obama/Fox war has been a complete victory for the Obama administration. Jake Tapper of ABC might have been sympathetic with Fox, but the fact is that the Obama people were able to take Fox out of the health care debate at the key moment when legislation was bubbling up toward the floor. Instead of spending September and October making up new lies about "death panels" and comparing health reform to the rape of the Sabine women, Fox executives and news personalities had to devote themselves to defending their claims to journalistic integrity and whining about "censorship."

Now that Fox, the Republicans, and conservatives in general are on the outside of the health care debate, it looks like Robert Gibbs has decided to declare victory and offer a temporary truce to his defeated opponents in the right-wing media.

That's certainly magnanimous of him.

But Fox has already promised to "continue doing what we're doing" and the Obama administration certainly won't hesitate to attack them again.

Peace between Obama and Fox? More like a pause.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another Post Bites the Dust

I was going to write a hard-hitting post about Antonin Scalia's statement that he would have dissented against Brown v Board of Education. But it turns out that he didn't make that statement after all. So, Scalia's reputation lives another day.

If only Scalia could find better hunting partners.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Clippers Curse

Ouch! The Clippers curse strikes again. Blake Griffin is out six weeks with a stress fracture in his kneecap. General Manager Mike Dunleavy made several good moves during the off-season, winning the draft lottery, picking Griffin, and bringing in a stronger set of reserves in Sebastian Telfair, Rasual Butler, and Craig Smith. Eric Gordon is excellent and hope remains for Baron Davis and Al Thornton. But a major injury to Griffin takes a lot of the air out of the Clippers balloon. And then there's the problem of Coach Dunleavy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

George Will Puffs and Puffs

George Will has a bad puff piece on Michelle Bachmann in the Washington Post. I imagine Will's trying to get back in the good graces of the right after "going soft" on Afghanistan. But Will can't do feature writing to save his life and the whole thing falls flat.

I especially like it when Will refers to Bachmann as a "burr in the side" of the left. Who's Will kidding. Bachmann's great for the left and everybody on the left knows it. A quick comparison with Ann Coulter wmakes the point. Like Ann Coulter, Bachmann says a lot of sensational and offensive things that make the Republicans look bad. But Bachmann's not smart enough or knowledgeable enough to make liberals uncomfortable in the way Coulter used to. That makes Bachmann the perfect foil for the progressive media and TPM and HuffPost cover Bachmann with the same manic obsessiveness as the tabs cover Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The left can't imagine a world without Michelle Bachmann any more than the right can get along without Bill Ayers. After all, who can really be sure that Michelle Bachmann didn't write Palin's Going Rogue? I'm not.

George Will's pretty useless as a writer, but he would be less useless if he understood that the left has a big stake in Michelle Bachmann as well as the right.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Health Reform Has Crossed the Crossroads

There's so many stories coming out about health reform that the relentless spinning is making everybody's head spin. My own sense continues to be that the Obama administration and the Congressional Democrats are going to pass health reform legislation with a public option this year. I don't know whether Arlen Specter is right in claiming that there are 60 votes to bring a public option plan to a vote if the GOP throws up a filibuster. But I wouldn't be surprised if he was. I also don't know if it's going to be a straight public option, a public option with a mechanism allowing red states to opt out, or a public option with a trigger to go in effect if the health insurance companies continue to conduct their business in a predatory manner. Today's flavor is a public option with an opt out for the benefit of moderate and conservative Democrats who want to hide behind the idea of "choice." However, momentum can shift quickly and I think there's a slightly better chance that the final legislation will contain a straight public option.

My own preference is that the public option be adopted as national legislation. The weakness of the "opt out" is that the states likely to take it are states like Texas and South Carolina that have large minority populations and even larger white populations determined to screw minorities as much as possible. Allowing these states to opt out of the pulbic option is monumentally unfair to large group of working poor among the Hispanic and African-American population. It's unfair to the working white people who can't afford health insurance as well. The politics of a nullification state like South Carolina might militate against accepting a public option, but that doesn't mean that the higher numbers of working poor people in these states should not get the same benefits as people in a wealthy state like Connecticut or Illinois.

But if the public option with opt out is adopted, I believe that it would be politically beneficial to the Democrats. The reason for this is that the acceptance or rejection of the public option would be a powerful wedge dividing the Republicans. This could be seen with the fate of the stimulus package in South Carolina and Alaska. Teaparty governors like Mark Sanford and Sarah Palin wanted to reject stimulus money but this led to howls of outrage among orthodox Republicans in state legislators who wanted the money and were willing to fight their governors over the issue. Health reform is even more unpopular with the teaparty folks and the conflicts among Republicans over opting out would be even nastier. As the fight over Dede Scozzafava in New York's 23rd District shows, the teaparty faction is determined to eliminate moderates from the Republican Party. If a public option "opt out" passes, the teaparty folks are going to start going after "sissy conservatives" as well.

Teaparty activism is part of the dynamic among the Democrats as well. That sound everyone hears in Washington these days is Democratic backbones snapping into place. No one would know this from reading the "progressive media" which over-dramatizes every twist and turn from potential "turncoats" like Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and Mary Landrieu. But the Democratic and membership in the Senate and House have responded to the Teaparty Movement by tuning out the right-wing. Ben Nelson desperately wants to vote for something Olympia Snowe can support, but Snowe and Susan Collins have become practically the only Republicans on the Democratic radar. When Republican senators like Charles Grassley started going along with the "death panel" lie, the Democrats began to ignore them. People like Nelson and Kent Conrad still have loyalties to the insurance companies, but the Republicans haven't given them anything credible to consider and Democrats in general have closed ranks with the intent of negotiating something among themselves.

The teaparty movement has bee successful in generating grass-roots conservative opposition to health reform, but disgust over tea-party rhetoric among the Democrats has solidified support for large-scale health reform and guaranteed that the public option is going to be passed in some form. America owes the teabaggers a big thank you. As a result of revulsion over the teaparty movement, health reform has "crossed the crossroads" and is on its way to approval.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ann Coulter on Obama/Fox

Something is wrong with Ann Coulter. Today, she has an op-ed on the Obama/Fox controversy entitled "The Grating Communicator." But there's hardly anything about Obama in the piece and the overall effect is so flat she might as well serve it as a pancake. As a writer, Coulter's been so far off her game that she hasn't had any impact on the health care debate at all.

I guess this is the point where a leftist like myself should be gloating over Coulter's prospective decline and fall. But I think I'll pass on that particular temptation and try to look on her more as a human being.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"We are the Sultans"

Maybe the godawful Washington Redskins would have better karma if they finally changed their racist nickname. I like the "Washington Sultans." Not only does "Sultans" have a nice Ottoman ring to it, but the team song is so-o-o obvious.

Take it away Mark Knopfler. "We are the Sultans/We are the Sultans of Swing."

A Few Words on the Obama Feud with Fox

I'm glad to see the White House punching at Fox. Most importantly, they're right. Fox News is a joke as a news organization. Why can't the White House say it just as much as HuffPost? Doesn't the Obama administration have freedom of speech?

The second thing is that it's important for the White House to not be a day in, day out punching bag for the conservative movement. Obama has always shown that he's capable of effective counter-punching and that's what he's doing now, some nasty counter-punching against Fox News. Good for Obama.

The New York Times wants the Obama administration to be above tangling with the "cable shouters:"

Tactics aside, something more fundamental is at risk. Even the president’s most avid critics admit he exudes a certain cool confidence. The public impression of him is that if anyone were to, say, talk trash on the basketball court with Mr. Obama, he would not find much space for rent in Mr. Obama’s head. ...

People who work in political communications have pointed out that it is a principle of
power dynamics to “punch up “ — that is, to take on bigger foes, not smaller ones. A blog on the White House Web site that uses a “truth-o-meter” against a particular cable news network would not seem to qualify. As it is, Reality Check sounds a bit like the blog of some unemployed guy living in his parents’ basement, not an official communiqué from Pennsylvania Avenue.

The American presidency was conceived as a corrective to the royals, but trading punches with cable shouters seems a bit too common. Perhaps it’s time to restore a little imperiousness to the relationship.


As usual, the NY Times has their heads up their butts. The Times itself is losing ground to the guys and women blogging from "their parents basements." Why shouldn't the Obama administration get in on the action before they start losing ground?

By attacking Fox News, the Obama administration has signaled that it's willing to mix it up in its efforts to get health reform and cap and trade passed.

That's as good as news can get right now.

On another note. Personally, I like what Fox is doing in the sense that Fox has blazing a trail as a television network of political opposition. Unlike the other networks, Fox is an independent entity that is not beholden to the government for stories. When networks with more liberal political agendas start following Fox's example, the world will be a better place.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Worries About Glenn Beck

Thinking about Glenn Beck, I'm worried that he's going to start running out of Obama/Nazi analogies. What's he going to do then? How is Glenn Beck going to bring the truth of the Obama administration to the American public if he can't compare Obama to Hitler and Goebbels? Beck can't allow the well to run dry.

But there's hope America.

First, Glenn Beck should start using images of himself being tortured.

Here's a couple of examples.

There's waterboarding: "these attacks on Fox News make me f -e-e-l like I'm being thrown into the water . . . and it's getting into my lungs . . . and I'm coughing uncontrollably."

Having his testicles sliced open like a former terrorism suspect: "these thugs from Chicago want to make it impossible for someone like me to be a man anymore. There, they're slicing open my testicles and the pain is excruciating. But I'm willing to go through this in order to show the world what Barack Obama . . . is . . . doing . . . to . . . America."

More torture and animal rights comparisons tomorrow.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Al From: Right-Wing Infiltrator

Al From was the founder of the Democratic Leadership Council, the organization that ostensibly tried to lead the Democratic Party in a more conservative, business-friendly direction. But From always served primarily as an agent of the right-wing, a thought confirmed by From's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing for Obama to give up on the public option. It would be better if From, Mickey Kaus, Peter Beinart, and people like them just moved out of the Democratic Party and joined the Republicans.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Glenn Beck Cries for a Return to the 70's?

I only watched this once, but Glenn Beck seems to be crying for a return to the 1970's. Beck refers to the seventies as a simpler time and I guess he was right.


Just like George W., Richard Nixon committed a number of crimes as he sought to concentrate power. But the seventies was a simpler time and Nixon was removed from office.


Just as people opposed the Iraq War, they opposed the Vietnam War. But the seventies was a simpler time and the United States just withdrew from Vietnam.


But Glenn Beck doesn't want to go back to the real 1970's.


That's when the forces of socialism were really gaining strength in the U. S.


I should know. I was trying to help them.


What Beck wants instead is the iconic commercials of the 1970's like that Joe Green Coke commercial or the Paul Anka Kodak commercial.


Of course, the 70's was much like the 60's in that teenagers like me were telling their parents that the wisdom of the Depression and WWII no longer applied to the prosperous consumer society of the post WWII era.


Beck refers to that as America as disobeying its parents and going to the "wrong kind of party." Maybe he should have thrown in a couple of lyrics from "American Pie" on "the devil's only friend" about the Stones and "the Sergeants refuse to yield" about the Beatles.


"Do you recall what was revealed/the day the music died?"


Well, I joined millions of other Americans in disobeying my parents and going to plenty of the wrong kinds of parties with the wrong kinds of people and listening to the wrong kinds of music.


God, it was great.


But who really wants to go back? The fact is that the 70's was followed by almost 30 years of greed, corruption, and stupidity of the right. Democrats and liberals participated, but the period from the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 to the election of Barack Obama in 2008 was dominated by the party at the house of Ronaldus Magnus.


And now we've got to figure a way to get out of it.

Hopefully, we won't be as dumb as they were.

The Limbaugh Farce

Jason Whitlock is right that the whole Rush Limbaugh trying to buy the NFL's St. Louis Rams idea was just a publicity stunt. Everybody involved--Limbaugh himself, projected major partner Dave Checketts, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell--all know that Rush Limbaugh could never be part of an NFL ownership group. As his brief career as a MNF broadcaster made clear, Limbaugh's racial obsessions would generate enormous bad publicity, cost the NFL much of its good will, and drive down TV ratings and attendance.

Who knows why former NBA executive Dave Checketts agreed to be part of this farce? Maybe he's a really good friend of Limbaugh's. Maybe he was using the "Limbaugh controversy" to attract another deep-pockets partner for his proposal. Perhaps nobody will ever know. But it should be clear that Limbaugh himself joined the proposal so he could leak his participation to the media, start a controversy, and bump up his ratings. Limbaugh has a hard-core fan base, but casual listening to his program is driven by his notoriety and a good chunk of that notoriety is rooted in his reputation for racism. Teasing the idea of NFL ownership (and that's all it ever was--a tease) was a good way for Limbaugh to publicize his Today interview, smoke out a response from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and draw comments from black athletes like Donovan McNabb. That's the kind of thing that drives ratings and justifies Limbaugh's $400 million contract.

And the "controversy" was a total win for Rush Limbaugh.

Limbaugh got his name out in the mainstream media, the ensuing "controversy" drew the attention from non-conservatives, and Limbaugh's core audience was once again entertained by the "outrage" of blacks and liberals.

It's a tried and true formula, Limbaugh's done it a million times, and it worked yet again. Last week was yet another great week to be Rush Limbaugh.

The rest of the media got some crumbs too. CNN's got to fill up 24 hours of news and the Limbaugh "controversy" handed them at least one "Breaking News" item. That gave HuffPost reporter Jason Linkins an opportunity to file a "we're offended" post when Wolf Blitzer cut off some Ariana Huffington commentary to announce that Limbaugh had been dropped from the Checketts proposal. Jason Whitlock got a great article out of the issue as well.

See, everybody wins. Of course, Limbaugh was dropped from the proposal, but that was always beside the point.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

bell hooks in Morehead

African-American feminist author bell hooks is speaking at Morehead State University in Morehead, KY. Some quick notes to put hooks in context.

1. The period from the end of WWII to the present has been one of the most exciting periods of world intellectual history--every bit the equal of Classical Greece, the first bloom of modernism, and the "long Victorian century" from the 1840's to Moses and Monotheism. One of the privileges of my life was growing up intellectually in an era when such fundamental things were being done.

2. Much like Freud can be seen as the last intellectual giant of the Victorian century, bell hooks can be seen as one of the last of the great pioneering figures of the post WWII era. Claude Levi-Strauss still lives, but bell hooks is one of the last figures from that era who is still creating at a high level. Born in 1952, hooks started publishing in the late 1970's and has relentlessly pushed forward. Lacan, Foucault, and Baudrillard all died. Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva couldn't sustain their initial bursts of creativity. However, the fire in bell hooks kept burning and has gotten brighter over time.

4. African-American thought has had universal significance at least since the slave narratives of Olaudah Equiano and hooks has built on African-American traditions of thinking about love, redemption, and transformation in profound ways. Her The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love is a fundamentally important in her sympathetic critique of patriarchy and her books on love serve as a standing refutation to Plato's warnings about love in the Republic. Her rejection of Plato is just as decisive as the rejection of Plato in Machiavelli. In addition, her rejection of Machiavellian virtu is just as important as Machiavelli's isolation of masculinity as a foundational concept in The Prince.

5. W. E. B. DuBois wrote that he sits "with Shakespeare and he winces not." Of course, that comment was always overdrawn in a way. I'm sure Shakespeare sat in London taverns with any number of farmers, tradesmen, and small-time actors and didn't wince any more than Karl Marx. Still, it will be good to hear a talk by someone who's in the same league as DuBois and Shakespeare--bell hooks.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I wrote Dreams of My Father

Conservative blogs have gone back to flogging the idea that Bill Ayers wrote Barack Obama's Dreams of My Father. Today's angle is that some right-wing blogger caught up with Ayers in an airport and he "confessed" to the dirty deed.

But they're wrong, wrong, wrong.

Bill Ayers didn't write Obama's books. Bill Ayers didn't even write his own book.

I did.

That's right. I wrote Dreams of My Father.

I also wrote The Audacity of Hope, the Philadelphia speech on race, the big speech in Germany, and the acceptance speech at the Democratic convention. The inauguration speech--mine. So was the heart-melting proposal speech Barack gave Michelle when he asked her to marry him. You should have seen his teleprompter work for that one. All those responsibility speeches Barack gives his cute kids--I wrote those too.

Being the genius behind Barack Obama has been tough. Sure, the royalty checks are unbelievably large and I get to live on one of those island paradises. In fact, I live right next to Dan Brown of Da Vinci Code fame.

And yes, I really like those fruity drinks.

But money isn't everything. Pleasure isn't everything either.

I want fame too.

I want everybody to know what a genius I am.

I want paparazzi outside my door. I want my washboard abs in all the tabs. I want my divorce lawyer to be a household name and I want my own cute kids on the cover of People when they go into rehab.

I want it all and I want it now. I want to be Brad, Angelina, and Oprah Winfrey all rolled into one.
And this is how I'm going to do it.

My work on Barack's third book, Born in Qom Not Kenya, is going to be the ultimate reality television show. I'll be broadcasting everything I draft, write, or scribble while I'm in the bathroom. All the exultation, all the pain, all the brillians will be live for everybody to see. Every nonsense phrase, doodle, rejected sentence--every effort I make to maximize the importance of each momentous word--will be available to the public "in real time." The public wants to see genius at work. I'll be working on Obama's next book 24/7 and it will all be brought to you live.

It will be the biggest thing ever--bigger than the Bible, bigger than Jesus, bigger even than the Beatles.

And everybody will know that the real brains behind Barack Obama is not Bill Ayers--it's me.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Fiery Bloom of Autumn

The weather is starting to cool and the green in the trees seems to be growing lighter in color as the leaves prepare to change. Around Morehead, the leaves usually turn into a burnt orange or a fiery red. The burnt orange calls to mind the University of Texas Longhorns but it's the red that reminds me more of my favorite UT graduate, the late Nancy Peterson. The red leaves seem to glow with a special intensity before they fall off. In the same way, Nancy had a special energy, an especially ferocious grip on life, during the years she had cancer. I miss a lot of things about Nancy, but I especially miss the fiery red glow of her last years.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

That "Jesus Left Christianity" Post

On TPM, there's a post on Jesus leaving Christianity that was written by William K. Wolfrum during the 2008 election campaign.
. . . [I]n an announcement that has left his followers shaken, the Christ himself has come forward to announce that he is leaving Christianity, effective immediately. The reasoning: The 2008 Republican Platform. Reached for comment at a West Hollywood coffee shop, Christ said that he couldn't deal with a world that so misinterpreted his words and actions.
I should emphasize that I'm not myself a Christian, a follower of Jesus, or someone who's very enthusiastic about Jesus in any way, shape, or form. Many of the ideas in the New Testament are worthy of respect and the texts have a great deal of moral depth. But the doctrine is so bizarrely self-abnegating that it can't really be taken seriously. People can complain about "actually existing" Christians not really following Jesus, but seeing salvation in such enormities of suffering as the story of Lazarus or the invocation to "turn the other cheek" is too much for any society like our own that does not have a primary commitment to inflicting and suffering pain. Nobody with half their sanity could believe in the Jesus of the New Testament. So, "Christians" have softened his edges, forgotten his crazed disgust for most of what's human, and made Jesus seem more "normal" according to our visions of normality. The only way anybody could be a Christian is to follow "our" version of Jesus and that's just as true on the left as the right.

With these things in mind, it should be clear that Jesus wouldn't be caught in a West Hollywood coffeeshop any more than he would have taken in a corporate junket to Barbados or run for president as a Democrat. Who would Jesus have preferred in this world? The same people he preferred in the ancient Jewish territories--the absolute bottom of society. Jesus would have identified with dying Aids patients covered with lesions, the gay kids being kicked out of their families and beaten by their peers, psychotic homeless people shuffling from grate to grate, the inmates at all our super-max prisons, and all the desperate crack, heroin, and OxyContin addicts. These are the people Jesus viewed as blessed. These are the people Jesus viewed as models for his own suffering and self-sacrifice. These are the people Jesus wanted his disciples to emulate. Everyone else was damned.

It's not Jesus wouldn't have come to America, but he would have found his home in all of the "Other Americas" that dot our landscape. The people in the West Hollywood coffee shops are just as much strangers to those Other Americas as Rush Limbaugh. Jesus would have damned them just as much as he would damn Dick Cheney. The only difference is that Dick Cheney knows he would have been damned and is probably glad there's no god to hold him accountable.

Conservatives Beware on Polanski

Two agreements with conservatives on Roman Polanski.

First, Polanski needs to be brought back to the United States to face sentencing on the watered down charges in relation to his rape of a 13 year old girl and be prosecuted for his flight from justice.

Second, Hollywood and the arts community are profoundly wrong in defending Polanski. People like Whoopi Goldberg make themselves look like the world's biggest hypocrites for their mealy-mouthed rationalizations for not treating Polanski as the rapist he is.

But conservatives also have a problem in their attacks on Polanski. If Roman Polanski is not too important to escape justice, why do they keep arguing that George Bush, Dick Cheney, and their accomplices are so important that they shouldn't be investigated let alone indicted, tried, and forced to spend the rest of their miserable lives paying for their crimes against humanity.

Ok, maybe I was getting a little overly enthusiastic there. But the world won't come to an end if Dick Cheney pays for his crimes any more than it will come to an end if Roman Polanski pays for his.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Sure Michael Moore is an annoying blowhard

But who cares. His documentary films have a lot of great material and present a left perspective that's censored from the mainstream media. That's what matters.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Finished Grant Application

with at least 20 minutes to spare. Another application due in 12 days.

Grant Application Due Today

Can't blog much. Have to finish off grant application.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Sparkman Murder: Riehl World Smearing

With the rise of DailyKos and contemporary progressivism, being tough-minded has become just as big among the left as the rest of American society. We might prefer Clint Eastwood or The Wire, but we like violent authority just as much as our friends on the right.

Of course, if anybody still had inclinations toward soft utopianism, they would be disabused by familiarity with the right-wing smear machine. Much as the left unselfconsciously embraces authoritarian violence, the right has shown itself to be fundamentally Godless. Nothing is sacred for the right-wing smear machine. Kids, war heroes, troops in Iraq, marriage, religious figures, mom--it's all been subject to vicious smears. If Michelle Malkin thought smearing apple pie would advance the conservative cause, she'd do it in a heartbeat. Rosy red carcinogens anyone? The "Obama Joker" poster was a big moment of conservative triumph because the right had finally broken the "racism taboo" and brought a racist image of Obama before the public. One of the right-wing commenters on this blog was so happy about this that he or she wanted "Obama/Joker" made into a postage stamp.

And now it's starting with Bill Sparkman, the part-time census worker who was murdered in Clay County, KY this week. Dan Riehl of the Riehl World View blog is floating the idea that Sparkman was a child sex predator and that he was somehow murdered in revenge for something linked to pedophilia. Riehl's evidence for that nasty little affront to the dead man's memory--exactly none. But who on the right really cares? Given that Sparkman's murder might become a cause celebre on the left, the right had to take him down one way or another. So Riehl puts out the idea that Sparkman could have been a "child sex predator" as a way to suggest that the lynching of Sparkman might somehow have been a "justified homicide."

I have to admit to being initially shocked by the nasty of Riehl's little smear campaign. Maybe I'm not as tough-minded as I think I am. In the final analysis, Riehl's trying to finish off the murder of Bill Sparkman by lynching his public reputation just as much as Sparkman's murderers lynched his living body.

Shouldn't be any surprise there. Lynching is as a conservative tradition as mom, apple pie, and church on Sunday.

Update: I see that responses to the Dan Riehl smear have appeared on Daily Kos. Good for them.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Iran, Sex, and the Weenie Conservative

Talking Points Media has a story on Republican Senators Kit Bond of Missouri and Jon Kyle of Arizona calling for "regime change" in Iran.

Of course, they don't actually want anything of the sort.

What the American right wants with Iran is a new round of tense brinksmanship. They want fierce denunciations of Iranian president Ahmadinejad, 24/7 chest-beating about the "Persian threat," and opportunities to snear at Iranian wimpiness. The right also wants an opportunity to talk about smart bombs, drones, and battlefield technology, use "bunker-busting" field nukes on Iranian facilities, and speculate about the inevitable Israeli attack.

For the weenies on the American right, all of this is about sex and the sexual satisfaction they derive from the denunciations, chest-beating, and weapons talk. In other words, talking about Iran has the same value for the guys on the right as porn or pro-wrestling (are they really that different?). Feminist legal scholar Catherine MacKinnon defines pornography as the "eroticizing of domination" and that's precisly what the right does with Iran. It eroticizes the specter of its own domination over the Iranians. If we ever did bomb the Iranians, millions of guys on the right would sigh happily and light up a cigarette in triumph.

But what would the right do after we bombed the Iranians. Kim Jong-Il is sick and I'm not sure Hugo Chavez would provide the same satisfaction.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Murder of Bill Sparkman: We'll All Be Found Guilty


The man pictured above, Bill Sparkman, was the part-time Census worker who was murdered in Clay County, KY, a couple of weeks ago. Although he resided in Prestonsburg, Sparkman looks very familiar to me and Mrs. RSI and we may have seen him several times around Morehead. Sparkman's body was found nearly naked (except for socks) in a cemetery. He was bound up with duct tape and left hanging by a rope with "fed" written across his chest and his Census identification "duct-taped to the side of his neck, on the right side, almost on his right shoulder."
--
According to the coroner, Sparkman died from asphyxiation, but it hasn't been determined yet whether Sparkman died from hanging in that particular spot or whether he was killed and then moved to the cemetery to be displayed. Either way, the killing was designed to evoke memories of lynching. Either Sparkman was lynched with a great deal of terrifying ceremony of being stripped, bound, trussed, and hanged or his body was staged to imitate a lynching. Every killing is barbaric--even when it has military justification. But lynching is a particularly sick form of killing that functions as a kind of "terrorist ceremonial" designed to intimidate some sort of target population.
--
But who is being targeted in Sparkman's case. Does the lynching and the scrawling of "fed" across Sparkman's chest mean that the lynching was motivated by the anti-government sentiment associated with Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachmann? Or was the murder motivated by a more diffuse anti-government or anti-Obama sentiment? After the election, there was lots of chatter about assassinating Obama in this part of Kentucky. It's conceivable that someone decided to go after a much easier target in Bill Sparkman. Perhaps the murder of Bill Sparkman had something to do with the marijuana or meth business instead. At this point, there isn't enough information to come to a conclusion.
--
One thing that seems certain though is that the murder of Bill Sparkman is going to produce another spasm of Appalachian stereotyping. Here's Richard M. Benjamin of HuffPost:
Is Sparkman, the late cancer survivor and single dad, the human victim of this deep anti-government sentiment pulsing in America? Or a working-class casualty in a sordid, pedestrian crime in Methland, USA?
Meth and OxyContin are just as pervasive in this area as cocain and crack are in other parts of the country. My kids know meth and pill addicts among their classmates and at least a couple of teachers have been arrested for drug offenses over the last five years. The stereotyping means that nobody in Eastern Kentucky or any part of Appalachia is able to escape the stain of these addication no matter how uninvolved they are with the drugs or how much they accomplish in their lives. It's like my students, my kids, and their friends have a "Methland" tattoo inked into their skins whether they like it or not. The stereotyping of Appalachians is not as pervasive or damaging as the stereotyping of African-Americans, and therefore not as much of a burden. But people feel the stereotyping all the same and it makes everything more difficult.
--
I doubt that anyone in this area is going to escape the stain associated with the murder of Bill Sparkman.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wishing the U. S. Was More Normal

Matthew Yglesias writes from Germany that "one of the oddest things about being in Germany during an election campaign is that I’m pretty sure I have right-of-center views relative to German politics."

But we're the weird ones, not the Germans.

Matthew Yglesias is a liberal blogger who counts as part of the left-wing of the Democratic Party in the U. S. As a blogger for ThinkProgress and journalist for several left-wing news outlets, Yglesias is as wired into the left-wing media establishment as he can be. But Yglesias would still be a conservative in Germany. Probably in France, Britain, Italy, Spain, and the Scandanavian countries as well.

That means the U. S. has a conservative left, a very conservative middle, and an ultra-conservative right.

Really, we could stand to be more like the rest of the advanced industrial world.

Support for ObamaCare Up

The teabaggers peaked too early. According to an CBS/NY Times poll, support for the public option is up 5 points since the end of August and stands at 65%. That's formidable. Conversely, opposition to the public option is down 8 points.

Obama/Ayers Rears It's Papier-Mache Head

One of the great signs that progressives are winning the health care battle is that Ron Radosh of Pajamas Media has an item on the old "Bill Ayers wrote Obama's book" idea. Radosh works his way through "exciting new analogies" between the Obama and Joe Klein's Primary Colors and "wonderful new revelations" from a book by one Christopher Anderson.

And it all adds up to . . . well, nothing.

Dreams of My Father is in fact a powerful memoir and there is no evidence that Bill Ayers ever wrote anything as interesting as Dreams of My Father himself, let alone ghost-write it for Obama. If somebody was a ghostwriter at all, it would be much more likely that Obama would have ghost-written Ayers' books rather than the other way around.

Maybe Barack Obama is the "real author" behind all those books by Glenn Beck as well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Conservative Gulags: A Response to the Crisis

I've been thinking about all the poor conservatives who think that Barack Obama is a Stalinist, that Obama's going to set up "re-education" camps, or that he's taking "away" American freedoms by talking about "doing the right-thing" on health care.

According to Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner:

History - and the words of progressives themselves - suggest not long. Consider New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's telling admiration for the communist thugs who run the Chinese government:

"One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonabley enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century."

That in a nutshell is the totalitarian temptation that plagues all who would use the power of the state to impose their vision of the good society on the rest of us.

It's the ever-present Stalin whispering in the progressive ear: "Ignore those reactionary, loud-mouthed, ignorant Tea Party protesters and decree Obamacare, Waxman-Markey, and all the rest of it. Do it now while you have the power!"

There are certain problems with Tapscott's argument--for instance, the idea that Thomas Friedman is a "progressive." Most of the big-name progressive bloggers like Glenn Greenwald and Digby have more respect for Rush Limbaugh than they have for Friedman. They might limit themselves to slapping Friedman around for a little light work before they move on to something important, but they essentially view Friedman as a punching bag. The way that Friedman constantly urged the American people to give the Bush administration six more months in Iraq became such a joke that progressives derisively refer to six-month time periods as "Friedman units." And then there was the "suck on this" episode in which Friedman tried to sound "Dick Cheney tough" but came off as super-pathetic instead of super-macho.

It's also hard to understand what Tapscott sees as Stalinist in "ignore those reactionary, loud-mouthed, ignorant Tea Party protesters and decree Obamacare, Waxman-Markey, and all the rest of it." Is Tapscott saying that "voting" on these bills in democratically-elected representative bodies is an exercise in "Stalinism?" I didn't know that Uncle Joe was that excited about representative bodies like the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Still, I feel the pain of people like Tapscott, Michael Ledeen, Mark Levin, and all the other conservatives who view Barack Obama as a "clear and present" danger to the freedoms of Americans. Political life has been so unfair to conservatives. George Bush was a boob, the Iraq War was a dud, all those blow-dried Republican politicians had scandals and now the "crisis" of conservatism has arrived. Obama is president and the Democrats have big majorities in the House and the Senate. They're proposing a lot of far-reaching legislation. What's a serious conservative to do to meet the seriousness of the moment? How can they symbolize the imminent danger they feel for the Republic? Of course, the tea-parties have been effective and Chuck Norris' idea for "Tea-Party" American flags is pure genius. But the crisis is upon us. So conservatives need to do something more.

And I think I've hit on it.

Conservatives should create their own "gulags" to symbolize the future they believe that Obama and the Democrats are moving us toward. There's plenty of places where this could be done. There's still a lot of wide open space in the interior of Alaska. Wealthy patrons on the right (you know who you are) could create a camp with primitive barracks, armed guards, barbed wire, forced labor factories, and the rest of the paraphernalia of a concentration camp. So what if it gets to 80 or 90 below with the wind chill in interior Alaska, conservatives are tough. They also could get tips from Lena Wertmuller's Seven Beauties on how to set up a proper camp.

Then prominent conservatives could move to the camp in a dramatic representation of what's going to happen to them under the Obama administration. Given that the camp would have no internet, no laptops, no Blackberry's, and no personal electonic devices in general, conservative writers wouldn't be able to write anything. But what "real conservative" wouldn't sacrifice their writing careers for the sake of manifesting the "real truth" about Obama administration tyranny? Likewise, what conservative wouldn't be willing to give up their high-paid, cushy lives in liberal bastions like New York or Washington for a more authentic stint as a political prisoner? Conservatives want something more authentic anyway. They're tired of living the sham life of democracy in Obama's America. Setting up an elaborate prison system for themselves would be the best way for prominent figures on the right to "keep it real."

Ok! There are some conservatives who would not be into the "roughing it" part of a concentration camp. Given the racial purity of Rush Limbaugh's white heritage, he has very sensitive skin. So Limbaugh wouldn't want to do this kind of thing. But I'm sure Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, and Michael Ledeen would be all for it. Maybe Chuck Norris could serve as commanding officer for their barracks.

It would be like Hogan's Heroes.

Of course, Alaska isn't the only place where conservatives could confine themselves to concentration camps. Idaho and Montana are excellent locations. Likewise, there's no reason why conservatives couldn't suffer political persecution out in the Mojave Desert. Maybe conservatives could increase their sense of authenticity by imprisoning themselves on one of the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River during the winter and then "summer" in a desert facility. The right could even set up a chain of prison camps where Tea Party activists could spend some hard time preparing for the hard times to come.

I think Henry David Thoreau (almost a Founding Father!) wrote someplace that jail was the only place for a free man. Conservatives can bring that fundamental truth to life by creating conservative political prisons and volunteering to serve some hard time behind the walls.

The Brave Geese of Morehead

Once again, I hear the brave geese of Morehead, flying north for the winter. Of course, it just might be that the geese know something about global warming.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Miss Tween Takes a Break

Miss Tween RSI and I had an almost serious talk about her love life today. Having gone through three boyfriends in the last week, Miss Teen thought it would be a good idea if she was grounded from "dating" for awhile.

I couldn't have agreed more.

Anyway, Miss Teen's original idea was to be banned until the end of October, but I talked her into extending the ban until the end of the year.

She seemed relieved.

Monday, September 21, 2009

More Cops Having Fun with Tasers

I'm starting with a long quote from Digby about a tasing incident in Merced, California:

"This is appalling:
The Merced Police Department's Internal Affairs Division is investigating whether an officer twice used a Taser on an unarmed, wheelchair-bound man with no legs.The man who was Tasered, Gregory Williams, 40, a double-leg amputee, spent six days in jail on suspicion of domestic violence and resisting arrest, but the Merced County District Attorney's office hasn't filed any charges.

Clearly, he didn't understand the new unspoken "common sense" federal law which says that when in the presence of a police officer, you stop in your tracks, hold your head down, answer every question with a quick "yes sir" and do not move until they give you instructions, lest you get electrocuted on the spot. It has nothing to do with whether or not you present a danger to anyone --- it has to do with whether or not the police officer is satisfied with your response, so best be very, very very obsequious and docile whenever you are in the presence of authorities, no matter what the circumstances. Otherwise, this country won't be free. There is video at the link.

A handful of residents in Williams' apartment complex said they witnessed the incident and supported Williams' charges. A short video clip, shot by a neighbor and obtained by the Sun-Star, shows Williams sitting on the pavement with his pants down, his hands cuffed behind his back.[...]Between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sept. 11, Williams said, he and his wife, 28-year-old Demetrice Shaunte Phifer, were arguing when a marked Merced Police Department patrol car arrived at the couple's studio apartment.While one officer spoke with his wife, Williams said, another officer arrived and ordered him, "Go back to your house!"Williams, who had his 2-year-old daughter Ginni in his lap, said he rolled his wheelchair back to his apartment.The officer, who's identified in the police report as John Pinnegar, approached him in the doorway of his apartment. Pinnegar said that his wife had accused him of striking her, which Williams denied.

Shortly afterward, police Sgt. Rodney Court and a worker with Merced County Child Protective Services entered the room, Williams said. "I'm trying to tell him nothing happened. We were just having an argument," he said.

Pinnegar grabbed William's 2-year-old daughter from his lap, handing her to the CPS worker. "I said, 'What are you doing? I haven't done anything!' " Williams said.Williams said Pinnegar unholstered his Taser, jammed it into his rib cage and shocked him twice. Williams said he fell from his chair onto his stomach on the ground outside his doorway.While he was down, Williams said, Court put his knee on his neck, and one of the officers then cuffed both of his wrists. At some point after he fell out of his chair, Williams said, his shorts slid down his legs.

With his hands cuffed behind his back, Williams said, he was unable to pull his pants up. He said police left him for five to 10 minutes in that position on the pavement, with his private parts showing as neighbors and onlookers watched.Williams, a lifelong Merced resident who's married with three children, said that both his legs were amputated in 2004 after he was diagnosed with deep-vein thrombosis that led to gangrene in both legs.

Doctors amputated both his legs below the knees when he was 34. Now only withered stumps of skin hang where his lower legs once were. He lost his job as a truck driver and now supports himself and his family from a Social Security disability allotment of $1,004 a month.

Obviously they had no choice but to shoot the man full of electricity. Otherwise, he might have kept on showing disrespect for the officers by protesting his innocence and we can't have that or the whole system will fall apart. *Obviously, I have no idea if the man hit his wife and if so, it was obviously wrong. But two wrongs don't make a right --- and tasering an unarmed man in a wheelchair is completely unnecessary in order to take him into custody. And, by the way, the man spent six days in jail before they released him without filing charges. .digby"

Digby thinks that Gregory Williams was tased because he wasn't "obsequious enough" to the white police officers in charge. I think it's more the case that the police officers just didn't like him. So they found an excuse to tase him. It's as simple as it is disgusting. The officers have the tasers, are looking for opportunities to use them, and decided to have some fun and games by legally torturing Gregory Williams. It's

Sunday, September 20, 2009

bell hooks Coming to Morehead

Exciting News! The outstanding African-American feminist bell hooks is coming to Morehead State University for a talk on Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 7pm in Button Hall. Originally, Gloria Watkins from Bowling Green KY, bell hooks is one of the great writers of our time, one of the few writers who combines a razor-sharp critical edge with helpful perspectives on how people can address the difficult conundrums of living in American society. Her work on white supremacy, love, and masculinity is all great stuff. She also seems like a decent person from the two times I've heard her speak. Can't wait.

Obama Day on the Sunday News Shows

Barack Obama was all over the Sunday news shows today. The account at TPM makes Obama sound like he was so moderate that he lost all of the fire from his speech to a joint session of Congress. It would be better if he was fighting.

Down with a Cold

My inner blogger is stuff up with a cold. Hope it isn't one of those two month things.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

How Creepy is John Edwards?

I didn't like John Edwards but I didn't think he was creepy enough to do this.
According to the newspaper . . . Edwards once told Hunter they would wed after Ddwards' wife, who has cancer, died. Edwards told Hunter that the ceremony would be held on a rooftop in New York and the Dave Matthews Bands would make an appearance, the newspaper said, citing its examination of the book proposal.
Of course, I also have a hard time believing anyone would fall for a line like that.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Talking Points Memo Makes Me Want

to tear out what's left of my hair. They front paged a speech by former Bush administration official Ellen Sauerbrey at a Maryland Republican dinner saying that Obama was like Hitler and Juan Peron.
Sauerbrey said that President Obama was surrounded by a cult-like following, edging towards that of Juan Peron or Adolf Hitler. She told the paper that she was not making a comparison between Obama and Hitler, but instead saying that the conditions in this country were such that a dictator could usurp the rights of citizens.
Why? Why? Why? Ellen Sauerbrey was a nobody Assistant Secretary of State for a Neglected Function in the Bush administration. And there's no good reason why she shouldn't continue to be a nobody. However, Talking Points Memo (TPM), a progressive media outlet, is giving Sauerbrey her shot at becoming a somebody because they're giving Sauerbrey's little speech national play. Given that TPM has become a source of stories for the mainstream media, Sauerbrey's views could be all over television by the end of the week and she could start getting invited to the Sunday talk shows.

Talking Points Memo and HuffPost should seriously think about their role in communicating and amplifying the right-wing message.

Hey, That's Me


There's my picture for a story on my brilliant career as a blogger from the Morehead State University newspaper, The Trail Blazer. I've never really liked having my picture taken and I like it even less the older I get.
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But I guess we all have to make sacrifices. There it is.
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Here's the article in my college newspaper, The Trail Blazer below. It does take some of my flamboyant statements out of the context in which I wrote them and therefore makes them appear more unreasonable than they really are. One thing that I like, though, is that is that my writing and thinking about politics looks like its "quotable." That distinctiveness is part of what I'm aiming for.
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While focusing on Red State Impressions, I should mention that I put up my 2,000th post for this blog a couple of days ago. Not bad for three years work.

"Blue Blogger in Red State"

The words used to write about Democratic Senator Max Baucus's health care bill were frank: "Now, I know why Baucus shouldn't get any credit. It's because he's stupid."

These words do not stem from a right-wing blog or Sarah Palin's Facebook profile; they are written by Ric Caric, an outspoken MSU government professor, on his blog Red State Impressions (http://red-state.blogspot.com/), which offers a left perspective on American politics.

Although Caric writes from the left and has been critical of Republicans, especially the Bush administrations, he has recently also criticized some Democrats including Baucus in yesterday's blog spot.

"I've been more critical of progressives for focusing so much on the media," Caric said. "They are also not very inclusive, of the labor unions, of minorities. I'd like progressives to be more open."

But conservatives are still his favorite target. On Tuesday he commented on Linda McMahon, the CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, gearing up to run for the Republicans in a Connecticut Senate race.

He writes "Linda McMahon is the perfect Republican politician for these times. Actually, I'm rather surprised that the WWE has not run its executives, wrestlers, managers, and divas all over the country as Republican candidates. It's been known for a long time that politics is show business and the WWE puts on the kind of show that Republicans like to see. It's a natural fit."

Caric said he first started writing online on a daily basis shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks, concentrating on the possibility of a war against Iraq, which later would come true.

"I was convinced within days of the attack that the Bush administration was gearing up to invade Iraq," he said.

Caric first wrote in chat rooms of the online magazine Slate using various user names such as "riccaric", "keepacleareye" or "pinkroom."

"I'm the kind of person who gets bored with myself very easily," he said.

In 2004, he moved from the chat rooms to his own blog, and since 2006 he writes under the blog title "Red State Impressions." Caric averages about 10 posts a week updating the site sometimes multiple times per day.

"I have excess opinion that I want to write about beyond teaching or academic writing," he said.

Caric said the blog allows students to know about his political thoughts without injecting them into his regular teaching. In the classroom he takes various points of views to orchestrate discussion; on his blog his personal view of politics becomes clear.

Jordan Maynard, one of his students and a self-identified conservative, said he appreciates professors writing about their political opinions, even if he disagrees. "I think anytime a university professor expresses their views outside of the classroom, it is helpful to the learning process," he said. "It's actually problematic that more conservative thinkers do not blog on the college front."

Caric said writing a blog post every day has helped him with his academic writing by formulating new opinions and ideas.

"I've always struggled with my academic writing – writer's block and writer's anxiety--but writing every day has made it easier," he said.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Painful Stupidity of Max Baucus

Max Baucus finally unveiled the "Baucus Bill" on health care today and I was prepared to give Baucus credit for all of the work he and his staff did on the legislation. I'm for the public option, but I thought Baucus get credit for a sincere effort to craft a bi-partisan bill. Certainly, the effort to put together bi-partisan legislation took hundreds of hours or negotiation and writing. Why, I thought, shouldn't Baucus be congratulated for his hard work even though he had little chance of success?

Now, I know why Baucus shouldn't get any credit.

It's because he's stupid.

One of the Baucus' major strategies for paying for universal health care is to put an additional tax on high end health insurance plans. That doesn't sound like a bad idea in itself, but it turns out that Maine has the fourth highest number of high end insurance plans in the country.

Obama and Baucus have suggested paying for a big chunk of reform by levying new taxes on high-cost insurance plans. Specifically, Baucus has suggested a 35 percent excise tax on insurance plans that cost single individuals more than $8,000 a year and cost families more than $21,000.

Snowe’s problem with that plan is that it could impose a heavy tax burden on Maine, which has one of the highest average health insurance premiums in the country. A July study by Harvard economist David Cutler found that Maine, on average, has the fourth-most costly insurance premiums in the country, trailing only Connecticut, Delaware and New Hampshire.

That's the state of Maine that is represented in the Senate by Olympia Snowe, the Senator who was the Republican most likely to support health reform. Maine is also represented in the Senate by Republican moderate Susan Collins. The Democrats would like to get support from Collins whenever they can get it as well.

In other words, proposing a tax that would negatively impact Maine is an incredibly stupid idea. Max Baucus and his staff have to be incredibly stupid people to even propose that kind of idea.

If Obama supported this idea, he's stupid too.

Talk about painful stupidity, Baucus might have as well have proposed a tax surcharge on lobsters.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dan Riehl: Racist Weenie Boy

I haven't done a weenie boy post on right-wing masculinity for awhile. But I couldn't resist posting this statement from Dan Riehl, a conservative blogger and teabagger who attended the Washington protest on Sept. 12.

Michelle has a disturbing video posted. It's of several black students beating a white student on a school bus in St. Louis. Here's the deal. I haven't mentioned it before.

Riding out of DC on the Metro, 9/12, there were some folks from South Dakota and also another Mid-West state I can't recall in the same Metro car. We were talking, nothing special, really - politics, of course.

In the back were maybe ten or so black kids taking up that section of the car. There was no confrontation, just one or two of them talking loudly enough to make sure they'd be heard.

Without resorting to the poor diction it was along the lines of, these are the people who think Obama is the anti-Christ. That McCain he wasn't chit. Obama's going to be president as long as he wants, so these people better get used to it, etc. It went on but not really to a level that was so loud, or so confrontational that it needed to be addressed.

We just ignored them without much trouble at all.

Yeah, they were technically thugs. But the reality was they were still wannabes really, pretty young, not that big, or many. And if the several adults there for 9/12 actually needed to do something about it, the kids wouldn't have lasted very long. Maybe if they were bigger, or more numerous, it might have been worse. Or it may not have happened at all. Who knows?

But what's unfortunately becoming increasingly clear is that, for the people who thought Obama's election would make America post-racial? I'm afraid you're wrong. Some of the potential racial narratives that may still play out during his presidency
might not be that pretty at all.

I can't say as I'm not concerned that America might not end up more racially divided than we've been in 30 years. And that burden is as much, if not more Obama's to carry as it is anyone else's. Whether he's up to that along with everything else, we'll have to wait and see.

I can't think of any better way to exemplify weeniness than stereotyping some little African-American guys as "thugs" and then fantasizing about beating the snot out of them. A "small man" in every sense of the word, Riehl dreams the racist dream making himself into a big man by beating up some black kids.

We should probably thank Riehl for being so honest in his blog. Too bad it's likely that that kind of weenie racist dreaming is so prevalent among the tea-baggers.