Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Monday, September 6, 2010 8:03 pm


Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 8:03 pm

I wasn’t gonna write anything about the Glenn Beck Jaysus Fest, because, c’mon, Biblically speaking, my life is two-thirds over and why waste the time, you know? But Dennis G. at Balloon Juice has the best take I’ve seen so far on this event and the epiphenomenon that led to it, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share:

In 1922 Hiram Evans became the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He led a movement that would see more than 6 million Americans join the KKK. In August (of course) of 1925 more than 40,000 Klansmen marched through the streets of Washington, DC. While hatred of black folks was (and is) a strong motivator for the Klan and other neo-Confederate movements (like the Teabaggers) that is not a very great organizing tool. What worked for the Klan in the Twenties was fear of foreigners, immigrants and their weird Religions that were out to conquer and subjugate the United States.

Back then the main threat was from Catholics, then Jews, foreigners and (as always) African Americans. This passage from Wikipedia describing the 1920s Klan could be about the Teabaggers, Fox, Beck and most of the current GOP if you replaced Catholic with Islamic:

The Klan’s Teabagger’s primary enemies were Catholics Muslims who the Klan Teabaggers feared were behind secret plots to overthrow the government and exterminate Protestants. Another important enemy was people of foreign birth, especially those from Catholic Islamic countries. A third, and lesser enemy, were blacks.

It was Evans who hit upon the bright idea to wrap the Klan in the American Flag and Jesus and market the group as a grassroots movement firmly rooted in traditional American values. Mobilizing around hate and efforts to restrict liberty are always easier when you evoke the blessings of a divine power and magical ancestors like Founding Fathers. It worked for the Confederacy, it worked for the Klan and it works for Beck.

Of course the comparison of Beck to Evans isn’t really fair — to Evans. Beck is really just a common grifter. A better comparison from the second Klan era to the Teabagger era might be between Beck and D.C. Stephens, who — back in the day — was the Grand Dragon of the Indiana KKK. Stephens was a real grifter. He backed Evans in a power play to take control of the Klan and was rewarded with control of Indiana and 22 other states. It was a money making operation. Stephens took a cut of every dollar paid for hoods, robes and other tools of the Klan trade. In no time at all he was a millionaire and he used his influence with the gullible rubes flocking to join the KKK fad to elect certain candidates to office — candidates who would do his bidding. By the mid-Twenties almost all of the elected officials in Indiana owed their office to Stephens and the Klan.

Like Beck, D.C. Stephens was very powerful with the wingnuts of his era. And then he fell. Turns out that Stephens kidnapped and repeatedly raped a young women who then ate (or was fed) poison. As she got sick, Stephens refused to release her. After a few days he finally sent her home, but by then she only had days to live. Before she died she told her story and Stephens was arrested for murder. He thought his political pals would get his back, but instead they let him go down. Once in prison, Stephens spilled the beans on the grifters he helped to elect and they followed him to ruin. On the way down, he also helped to end the KKK fad of the Twenties. So at least he did some good.

It would be nice to think that Beck will do this country some good before he goes to prison. But then, it also would be nice to think that Santa Claus is real, and I don’t waste much time on that, either.

Sunday, September 5, 2010 11:29 pm

Matt Yglesias is a very smart guy …

… but he can be remarkably naive and/or oblivious sometimes:

I don’t see any evidence that the particular apocalyptic “my enemies are totalitarian madmen” strain of Birch/Beck/Goldberg conservatism has helped anyone win any elections.

To which Tristero responds, in effect, Yo, dude, do the names Bachmann and Coburn and Tancredo and DeLay ring a bell?

Let’s ignore all the obvious contradictory examples … and  — solely for the sake of argument — go so far as to entirely concede Matt’s point: no one gets elected by being a rightwing loon. That doesn’t mean that lunacy has no palpable effect on the public discourse, or on policies that national-level politicians deem to be politically acceptable. In fact, the effect of extremist rhetoric within mainstream discourse is very well known and lunatic ideas are clearly being employed by the right in precisely this fashion: To shift the palette of acceptable ideas further and further to the right.

Yup. In 1988, everyone thought it was insane that Newt Gingrich was arguing for privatizing Social Security. But by 2005, that was the primary plank in the GOP’s domestic agenda. Only an inspired effort by the liberal blogosphere, led by Josh Marshall and Talking Points Memo, prevented that disaster from being foisted on the country — and just imagine how much worse we’d be screwed today if more of people’s retirements had been in private investments, as Gingrich and his ilk wanted.

Yglesias goes on:

But there’s no real upside in lying to the choir. Political movements need to adapt to the actual situation, and that means having an accurate understanding of your foes. You need to see them as they actually are so that you know the right way to respond.

And there he goes again, being all liberal and rational. Unlike, that is to say, the people he’s writing about, who, it is obvious to pretty much everyone but Washington media, are neither.

No real upside? Horseshit. Lying to the choir has an enormous upside. It’s worth tens of millions a year to Beck alone. You play to people’s fears and resentments, you tell ’em somebody else — ideally, someone not like them, someone brown and/or foreign and/or of a different religion and/or someone who is better educated than they — is to blame for their troubles. And then you ride those folks’ votes into office, turn right around and screw ’em out of every last dime they have, and then lie some more when/if you get caught.

Because for the last 40-plus years, that is exactly how it has worked.

Tristero takes it home:

Matt makes some seriously faulty assumptions here. The most egregious is that he mistakes playing a lunatic in public with actually being a lunatic. He assumes that [Glenn] Beck really believes what he says, the way a good liberal might, rather than accept the far more likely possibility that Beck simply doesn’t care what he says, as long as it helps his career. No doubt, Beck is a deeply disturbed man, but the fact that he said Obama is a racist doesn’t necessarily mean he’s crazy enough actually to believe it to be true.

What Beck does understand, and understands with complete accuracy, is that calling Obama a racist will infuriate liberals and help sow doubt about Obama among his listeners. That is precisely what a sane opportunist in Beck’s position would want to do. (FWIW, it’s just the same trick all over again now that Beck has decided that Obama is “practicing” liberation theology: whether it’s true or not isn’t the point. It makes us angry, it feeds his flock and it sets up a dichotomy that establishes fundamentalism as the norm and any other religious interpretation a perversion.)

Matt here also lumps people like [Jonah] Goldberg in with Republicans who don’t act as crazy (usually) and yet benefit enormously because they come off as “men of reason, Republicans you can talk to” — e.g., [Sen. Roger] Grassley — in comparison. Rest assured that people like Grassley have a deeply accurate picture of who their Democratic opponents are. And Grassley well understands the usefulness of portraying them, as Grassley did during health care, in a manner as reality-challenged as Goldberg did to liberals.

Despite what Matt says, the right wing has quite an accurate picture of what liberals and Democrats are likely to believe, and how they are likely to behave. They have played us like a virtuosic, if thoroughly demented, violinist. One of the most useful techniques in the right wing repertoire is The Crazy Lie. And we still haven’t found any effective riposte to it — or at least, any effective rhetorical counter-strategy that mainstream politicians would be willing to use. Matt’s failure to understand how incredibly effective this tactic has been for illiberals, and how debilitating it has been for liberals, is simply astonishing. …

This ain’t no serious effort to persuade based on the truth. This is, as far as the right is concerned, about getting power, holding on to power, and extending power.

It is more than a little surreal to see that Yglesias, who gets so much right on health care and other issues, so completely misses this when it’s all going on right in front of his face.

Dick Armey disregards well-meaning advice and takes the brown acid …

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 10:38 pm
Tags: , ,

… and out comes stuff like this:

One of the things that we see as we look at Glenn Beck’s work that’s been fascinating to me, is we see a more true and accurate history of the United States, and we see it documented at levels of rigor that, in fact, one would expect out of Ph.D. dissertations — it is serious, scholarly work….[Liberal critics] don’t have to argue with Glenn Beck. They have to argue with his documentation and they can’t match that level of rigor.

Of course, this becomes slightly more understandable when one learns that Armey has a Ph.D. himself … from the University of Oklahoma.

Sunday, August 29, 2010 10:08 pm

… and no sense, either.

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 10:08 pm
Tags: , ,

Fox News’ Chris Wallace urged Fox talk-show host Glenn Beck this morning to run for president.

I think that tells you almost everything you need to know about Chris Wallace, Fox News and Glenn Beck. As for the rest, Steve Benen sums up why it’s hard to take Beck’s movement seriously: It is ideologically incoherent, the intellectual/political equivalent of the guy in shabby clothes on the street corner mumbling to himself and urinating in his pants.

Sunday, August 22, 2010 11:35 pm

Catchin’ up on stuff; or, Odds and ends for Aug. 22

  • Questions more people need to be asking about the deficit, answered.
  • Why, if I lived near DC, I might be tempted to burn a Confederate flag at Glenn Beck’s upcoming rally.
  • I think the F-bomb has become a highly convenient excuse to keep adolescents from seeing a movie that shows how the American government screwed over an American hero and lied to his family.
  • Apparently it’s OK for American journalists to write highly inaccurate articles as long as they do so in the right (pun intended) way. Relatedly, these days, a DC journalist, given the choice between giving a deserved screwing to a colleague and giving an undeserved screwing to the American people in general, will screw the American people every time.
  • Governmental foot-dragging has its intended effect: Tom DeLay walks free. There are no consequences. There is no accountability. Rule of law? Ha.
  • The Internet will be the death of the music bidness as we’ve known it. Of course, no one who has known it will shed a tear, but that doesn’t mean the bidness is going down without a fight. Now they’re partnering with the National Association of Broadcasters, another powerful lobby, to try to get the government to mandate the inclusion of FM radio in future cell phones. Good luck with that. Oh, and die already.
  • The question isn’t why “Dr.” Laura Schlessinger “quit” her radio show after dropping about 11 N-bombs. The question is why any responsible broadcaster ever allowed someone with such obvious mental problems on the air dispensing advice in the first place.
  • Despite rising wheat prices caused by Russia’s drought-driven ban on exports, U.S. wheat farmers aren’t sure they should plant more wheat. Why? They’re pretty sure the wheat market is rigged, just as it was a few years ago. Now someone explain to me again what social utility investment bankers serve. Relatedly, Harper’s makes the case that they’re just playing games with the world’s food supply.
  • August: Stupid American Month.
  • If The New York Times or CNN had contributed $1 million to the Democratic Governors Association, do you think the country would have responded with such a yawn? Me, neither.
  • So will all the Wikileaks critics shut up now that the Pentagon’s own evidence shows Wikileaks tried to work with the Pentagon to redact sensitive information but was rebuffed? Yeah. I thought not.
  • The oil from BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster? Government reports to the contrary, it’s mostly still out there.
  • When it comes to protecting our rights and our privacy, those commies in Europe are eating The Land of the Free’s lunch.
  • You know how the government has always claimed Guantanamo detainees are “the worst of the worst”? In fact, the government lacks enough evidence to charge 3/4 of them with any crime at all.
  • The $75 billion Home Affordable Mortgage Protection Act is a bust … because Congress, after approving the money, did nothing to ensure that bankruptcy judges would use so-called “cramdown” provisions to make sure the money would do what it was supposed to do. What has happened instead has left a lot of homeowners even worse off than if the government had done nothing and has hampered the recovery of the housing market. And the administration hasn’t bothered to try to get Congress to do the right thing. Heckuva job all the way around.
  • Memo to Army Maj. Gen. Charles E. Chambers: Your punishing soldiers who opted not to attend a concert by an evangelical Christian rock band should carry punishment of its own: loss of your stars and your pension. You violated your oath to protect the Constitution, General, plain and simple.
  • Robert Frank has an interesting proposal that could help both government and consumers: The government should buy up consumer debt, on which consumers are paying 20% and up, and charge consumers 8%. This would put more disposable income in consumers’ hands and give the government a substantially better return on its investment than the 2.8% or so that 10-year bills currently are paying. It makes so much sense that there’s zero chance Congress will pass it because it would hurt deny banks their current flow of blood money.
  • Shorter Paul Volcker: Lending deregulation was bad because allowing higher interest payments on risky sub-prime loans encouraged banks to make more risky loans.
  • Barry Ritholtz: We’re good at saying “What if we had done nothing?” about the bailout, but an even better question is, “What if we had done the right thing?”
  • COOL (as it were): Scientists are working on a way to use carbon dixoide and certain kinds of bacteria to convert crude oil into cleaner-burning methane — while the oil is still in the ground. A separate effort is working on using solar power to convert CO2 to carbon, or carbon monoxide to, in turn, synthesize hydrocarbon fuels.
  • I have found my Official Anthem for the Summer of 2010. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too R-rated to link to, but I’ll give you a hint: It’s by Cee-Lo, from his forthcoming album.
  • Colombian Supreme Court to U.S. military: Don’t let the sun set on you in Bogota. Oops.
  • Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas?, leaves the Wall Street Journal and tears U.S. news media several new orifices on the way out the door (whether he also grabbed a beer is not clear).
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has apologized for a blog post suggesting that the male-female wage gap and the glass ceiling aren’t real problems, which might actually mean something if it would apologize for everything else it has said and done in that same vein for the past several decades. But it won’t, so it doesn’t.
  • The American Family Association apparently believes our soldiers in Iraq died for nothing. Actually, so do I, inasmuch as that war was illegal from the git. But you know why the AFA believes it? Because Iraq is not a Christian nation.
  • Would someone who considers him/herself a deficit hawk and supports extending George Bush’s tax cuts for millionaires please explain to me how we can afford to do that but cannot afford to put people to work?
  • And, finally, this week’s tasteless joke, from D. Aristophanes at Sadly, No!:

A priest, a rabbi and an imam walk into an Islamic center two blocks from Ground Zero. The bartender says, ‘What’re you drinking?’ and the imam orders him beheaded because sharia law dhimmitude Allahu Akbar alalalalalalalalala flabberty jabberty jabber etc. etc.*

You’ve been a great crowd! We’re here all week!

*Also the priest molests the bartender’s kids and the rabbi drinks their blood.

Monday, July 19, 2010 8:52 pm

Glenn Beck pwned by social-justice Christian

I know and love many ministers, but just for today, my favorite is Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary in New York. I am drinking so much WIN out of her piece on Glenn Beck, Christianity and social justice that I do not own a beer stein capable of holding it all. At my age, I’m running out of things I haven’t seen yet, but until today I had never seen someone turn the other cheek and still leave a mark — and Glenn, buddy, all the pancake in the world ain’t gonna cover that bruise.

Friday, June 25, 2010 8:40 pm

Metaphor the win

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:40 pm
Tags: , ,

I don’t know who Jay B. is, other than that he’s one of several folks filling in for TBogg at the moment. But his characterization of Glenn Beck as a “moral vuvuzela” just immediately made him one of my favorite writers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 8:51 pm

Who is this guy, and what has he done with Glenn Beck?

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns!,Weird — Lex @ 8:51 pm
Tags: , ,

If you put Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Fox News talk-show host Glenn Beck in a room, who do you think will sound the most reasonable?

The answer might surprise you:

The morning after the arrest of 30-year-old Faisal Shahzad at John F. Kennedy airport on Monday evening, the usual suspects in the GOP took to print and the airwaves to whack away at the president and his top lawyer. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) mocked the idea that Attorney General Eric Holder might read the suspect [in this past weekend’s failed Times Square car-bombing attempt] his Miranda rights or consider trying him in a civilian court.

“I hope that Holder did discuss this with the intelligence community. If they believe they got enough from him, how much more should they get? Did they Mirandize him? I know he’s an American citizen but still,” King said.

Notorious for jumping into the political fray in the wake of attempted or successful terrorist acts, King was quickly joined in the ring by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who called the idea of reading Miranda rights a “serious mistake.” …

[But] the two lawmakers found themselves on the opposite end of the argument from no less a conservative voice than Beck.

“He is a citizen of the United States, so I say we uphold the laws and the Constitution on citizens,” the bombastic Fox News host said to the stunned co-hosts of “Fox and Friends”. “If you are a citizen, you obey the law and follow the Constitution. [Shahzad] has all the rights under the Constitution.”

“We don’t shred the Constitution when it is popular,” Beck added. “We do the right thing.”

Now, as it happens, the Constitution applies to citizens and noncitizens alike domestically. At least, the courts have said it is supposed to. But here are King and McCain, who consider themselves America-loving, pro-Constitution kinds of guys, being dopeslapped by Glenn Beck on a matter of constitutional law. Either we’re all the way through the looking glass, or King and McCain should just go crawl under a rock and hide in shame.

Thought for the day

… from the, frankly, not-always-so-sensible Peter Beinart:

For a year now, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and their minions have been warning that America is morphing into a police state. … So where are Palin and Beck, those latter-day Paul Reveres, now that Governor Jan Brewer is doing to the southwest what President Barack Obama supposedly hopes to do to the nation?

Monday, March 8, 2010 9:37 pm

Shorter Glenn Beck: Jesus sucks!

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns!,Religion — Lex @ 9:37 pm

Yeah, pretty much:

On his daily radio and television shows last week, Fox News personality Glenn Beck set out to convince his audience that “social justice,” the term many Christian churches use to describe their efforts to address poverty and human rights, is a “code word” for communism and Nazism. Beck urged Christians to discuss the term with their priests and to leave their churches if leaders would not reconsider their emphasis on social justice.

“I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!”

Uh, dude, that “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of Heaven” that Jesus was talking about? He was talking about Heaven, all right, but he also was talking about our duty to others here on Earth, and he made that clear time and time again.

UPDATED to add “Shorter” to the title and remove the quotation marks, inasmuch as some readers are not familiar with the Internet “shorter” convention, invented by Daniel Davies and perfected by Elton Beard. Some people are aware of all Internet traditions, but I realize that neither my readers nor I am among them.

UPDATE: One of my Facebook friends’ commenters adds, “Is there a SMITE button?”

Friday, January 22, 2010 8:21 pm

Odds and ends for 1/22

Double dip: There were 482,000 new unemployment claims for the week ending 1/16, which was 36,000 more than the previous week and 42,000 more than expected. Worse, new emergency unemployment claims, for those who’ve exhausted regular benefits, were up 652,364 to 5,654,544. If this is a green shoot, it’s the kind of green you see when things are rotting.

Theft of a lifetime: The chief strategist for a major international bank accuses the U.S. and U.K. central banks of conspiring to steal wealth from their respective countries’ middle classes. It’s actually a little more complicated than that, but only a little.

Risky business: President Obama has proposed ending proprietary trading by bank holding companies to reduce the level of risk in the market and, therefore, the risk that taxpayers will have to bail out more banks, something Paul Volcker supports. Banks have protested that this is unnecessary on the grounds that prop trading really isn’t a big part of their business (Goldman Sachs puts its prop-trade revenue at 10% of the total). However, observes Zero Hedge with a nice little chart, “the market begs to differ.” Goldman’s own analysis suggests that while prop trading accounts for perhaps 10% of Bank of America’s revenues, because of prop trading’s high margins it accounts for up to 45% of BAC’s earnings. If that’s true, BAC stock, which is supposed to double in price by the end of 2011, could fall 50% instead.

Related: Real conservatives like Obama’s proposal. American “conservatives,” however, not so much.

So, will Goldman Sachs stop being a bank holding company so that it can continue its proprietary trading?: Probably, although it’s kind of in a pickle because currently it has almost 21 billion reasons not to.

Best health-care reform political analysis. Ever: I don’t think it’s correct on the substance, but whether it is or not, I just love the pretty words: “The only path to national health care reform is to pass the Senate bill. Unless Nancy Pelosi and the House leadership can herd three distinct groups of cats — the Blue Dogs, the Stupak coat-hanger crowd and the progressives — HCR is going down in flames, quite possibly for another generation. This is where we’re at. It sucks. It also blows, a seemingly self-canceling phenomenon that is only witnessed in the rarest, most [rear-end]-tasting conditions. And we are witnessing such conditions this very day — a perfect storm of sucking and blowing. That said, if passing the Senate bill verbatim is a once-in-a-lifetime Suckicane meeting a Category 5 Blowphoon head-on, then NOT PASSING ANYTHING AT ALL takes us into the Bruckheimer-Emmerich territory of summer blockbuster-class suckstinction-level blowvents.”

Quote of the day, from Matt Taibbi, on the prop-trading restrictions: “Obviously this is good news, but what I find irritating about it is that the government only starts listening to its voters once the more corrupt option turns out to be untenable.” Yo, Matt, that ain’t true only about banking, either.

The New York Fed and AIG: A timeline, by Bloomberg. Nice.

People thought Rupert Murdoch wouldn’t ruin the Wall Street Journal. People were wrong, although the author concedes the problem is a bit more nuanced than he first claimed.

So if Glenn Beck isn’t talking about going after progressives through the political process, then what’s he talking about? Because when you say you’re going after your political opponents like the Israelis went after Eichmann, you probably know your audience understands that what awaited Eichmann was a gallows.

Barney Frank may actually have a good idea: Blowing up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and creating a new system of housing finance. F&F didn’t cause as much of the current housing-bubble crisis as most of their critics claim, but they did contribute, oh, yes, they did.

And they say this like it’s a bad thing: ABC thinks there may not be enough votes in Congress to reconfirm Ben Bernanke. Let’s hope they’re right. Bernanke is a big reason we’re in as much trouble as we are right now.

They’re the Christian Taliban, they’re stone (no pun intended) killers, and they’re based in Newark: Yeah, that’s right: Read about the connections between the PrayforNewark social-action group, the bill in Uganda to execute gays, and the Dominionist movement in the U.S. These are scary people.

If this had been my daughter, the lawsuit would’ve been filed before the sun went down: TSA employee plants bag of white powder in college student’s carry-on luggage. Plenty of witnesses — who were afraid to speak up. Excellent! Just what you want when you’re trying to prevent terrorism — people who see something hinky but are afraid to speak up for fear of being arrested!

Apparently they can use lasers to zap away fat!: Which sounds cool, and I am so on board (assuming I can find the money) … just as soon as they figure out where the fat goes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010 9:57 pm

Odds and ends for 1/14

First, the important stuff: Links where you can contribute to Haiti earthquake relief:

American Red Cross
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders

As in most other major disasters, the main thing these organizations need right now is money.* Their experts will know how best to spend it, what’s needed where, etc. In other words, right at the moment, rounding up clothing or canned food or bandages or what-have-you, although certainly well-intentioned, is less helpful than giving these groups the resources to do what they know best how to do. As they identify particular needs, they’ll publicize them.

Anything you can give will help. And please give something. The suffering there is already horrendous, and it will quickly get even worse than most of us can possibly imagine.

*Unless you have a helicopter.

OK, then …

HUNGRY vampire squid: Goldman Sachs didn’t get just 100 cents on the dollar on its exposure to AIG, courtesy of the taxpayers. No, by reselling its AIG credit-default obligations while knowing the taxpayers were going to bail out AIG, but before that info became public, it effectively got more. About $1.2 billion more.

Which is a big part of the problem: Pat Robertson is far more important than you will ever be.

Remember, she reads every newspaper, too: Glenn Beck: Who’s your favorite Founding Father? Sarah Palin: All of ’em.

Which dinosaur?: A shark described as “dinosaur-sized” attacked and apparently ate a swimmer Tuesday off Cape Town, South Africa. But they didn’t say whether they meant this dinosaur or this one.

Lighter backpacks: Obviously, colleges are going to switch to electronic textbooks to save students money. That move now has a deadline in California: 2020, which seems a bit far off considering that almost two-thirds of the roughly 13,000 textbook titles published by the six largest U.S. publishers already are available electronically.

“If you are watching this video, then I have been murdered by the president of Guatemala hit men I hired myself”: A UN commission concludes that the “assassination” of a lawyer, alleged in a posthumous video to have been ordered by Guatemala’s president, actually was arranged by the lawyer himself in an attempt to destabilize the government. Dude, if you wanted him out, why not just run against him?

You know that scene in “Waterworld” where Kevin Costner drinks his own pee?: The astronauts are feeling his pain.

China vs. Google: Is it really China vs. the U.S.? And was this hack attack, if not a cyber-Pearl Harbor, at the least a dangerous breach of national security?

Senate health-care bill: “A teacher tax, not a Cadillac tax.”

Related: Who needs Republicans when the unions are just as willing to screw the middle class?

Um, ‘cuz they’re, I don’t know, WHORES?!?: Retiring Republican Rep. John Shadegg, asked whether he supports a public option: “Well, you could better defend a public option than you could defend compelling me to buy a product from the people that have created the problem. America’s health insurance industry has wanted this bill and the individual mandate from the get go. That’s their idea. Their idea is, ‘Look, our product is so lousy that lots of people don’t buy it. So we need the government to force people to buy our product.’ And stunningly, that’s what the Congress appears to be going along with. Why would they do that?”

Except it wasn’t hindsight, jackass: I could’ve told you this on Jan. 20 and saved everyone a lot of time: Harry Reid has just now figured out that Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, was never going to vote for health-care reform.

AIG tick-tock: Firedoglake, which has published valuable analysis on such issues as torture and the Scooter Libby case by means of creating documented timelines, applies the technique to the federal government’s bailout of AIG (and its use of AIG to indirectly bail out Goldman Sachs), working with a cache of e-mails obtained and posted online by The New York Times. FDL cautions that it ain’t complete, and I haven’t even begun reading it yet, but if you’re interested in the subject, this is sure to be a valuable resource.

Speaking of torture: The brother of the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates is caught on videotape torturing and attempting to murder a guy he thought had screwed him in a business deal, but the court let him off anyway after he claimed he was too whacked on medication to know what he was doing. I’ll just say he must have been pretty damn whacked to run over a guy repeatedly without actually quite managing to, you know, kill him.

SCOTUS vs. the U.S.: As I suggested on Monday, the Supreme Court isn’t going to sign off on anything that could be a basis for its having to allow itself to be televised someday. Jackasses. Go ahead and keep talking about how this court’s majority is so strict-constructionist and all, but speak up: I’m going to have trouble hearing you over my own laughter.

Allegany County, Maryland, needs more alligators: Andy says so, and he’s there so he should know.

The Internet — the greatest collection of knowledge in history: How can I make my chicken taste just like the junk they serve at school?

Rupert Murdoch: plagiarist.

Teddy Pendergrass: RIP.

Saturday, December 19, 2009 3:19 pm

Odds and ends for 12/19

The GOP’s 2010 narrative, courtesy of non-GOP Eli at Firedoglake: “Look, we were the ones who voted against giving Wall Street hundreds of billions of dollars, who voted against that tool at the Fed who doesn’t care about your job, who voted against forcing you to spend your hard-earned money on junk insurance you can’t afford to use.  Obama and the Democrats are screwing you over to funnel money to corporate fatcats, and we’re trying to stop them.” I bet it works, too.

Global-warming conspiracy theoristsat the Pentagon.

The health of the commercial banking industry, as summarized by Peterr: If you’re the FDIC putting your budget together for 2010, “you don’t double your receivership budget if you think bank failures are slowing down.” Fun fact: The figure being doubled was itself almost doubled in mid-year 2009 from what it was set at at the beginning of the year, because of the growth in bank failures.

Glenn Beck, cracked: When I was a kid, Cracked was the less nuanced competitor to Mad magazine. But in the Internet age, Cracked has found its footing. Consider this unpacking of the Glenn Beck phenomenon, which includes this gem: “The difference between a Glenn Beck conspiracy and the coronation scene in Carrie is Carrie didn’t overreact as hysterically.”

Different standards: Can you imagine the media hissy fit if Democrats were to try to filibuster an Iraq-Afghanistan spending bill just to delay some other legislation that was part of the GOP agenda? But when Republicans do it to try to delay health-care legislation, it’s perfectly OK, or at least unremarkable.

Blech: I started off my Christmas break with sinuses stuffy AND running AND hurting, and a lot of chest congestion. I’ve hit the Neilmed bottle twice, and it has helped a little but not as much as I had hoped.  Rather than playing in the snow with Hooper and Victoria, which is what I wanted to do, I’ve spent most of the day in bed. On the bright side, the streets appear navigable, so I should be able to run to the store tomorrow for the appropriate junk food to consume during Panthers/Vikings.

Speaking of which, I am probably deriving far more amusement than I should from the thought that the teams will be playing tomorrow night on the frozen tundra of Bank of America Stadium because the Vikes are now an indoor team. But I’m not under any illusions about who’s going to win, just as I hope John Fox is not under any illusions that Jerry Richardson is going to keep him on.

Friday, December 11, 2009 6:21 pm

Odds and ends for 12/11

Memo to Rick Warren has not “done the right thing.” Rick Warren has merely done the only thing that might stave off a PR disaster for himself and what he laughably passes off as a “ministry.” There’s a difference. “Doing the right thing” would have required Ranger Rick to immediately, loudly and repeatedly denounce state-sanctioned murder of gays (and imprisonment of their families/friends for not reporting them). Now study up; this will be on the final.

Why don’t we have a health-care bill yet? Here’s one reason.

Success! Because why in the world would we want to regulate the financial instrument that almost destroyed the global economy?

Aetna’s solution to Robert Steinback’s health-insurance needs: “Die, Mr. Steinback.” As the brother of two guys with Type 1 diabetes, I feel his pain, and I’m still waiting for someone to explain credibly to me why we don’t need at the least a national, robust public option, if not single-payer.

Not exactly giving us what we like: The Senate health-care proposal is less popular than the public option. How much less popular? Seventeen percentage points. That’s huge.

You want death panels? You can’t handle death panels!

And speaking of panels: Digby has a name for the panel Pete Peterson is proposing to figure out a way to balance the budget: the Bipartisan Committee To Destroy Social Security and Medicare So Wealthy People Don’t Ever Have To Pay Higher Taxes. Prolix but accurate.

Facts matter. So take that, Glenn Beck supporters.

The party of responsibility and accountability, which controls the S.C. legislature, has declined to impeach Gov. Mark Sanford.

Another way to get by without health insurance: Yitzhak Ganon just didn’t go see the doctor. For sixty-five years.

We’ve killed al-Qaeda’s No. 3 guy. Again.

The grownups of fact-checking take on “Climategate.” Their findings will surprise no one and enrage denialists.

Shorter Sarah Palin: “Correcting my (many) factual mistakes = making the issue something it’s not.”

Does Fox News want to make us laugh, or is it simply trying to bankrupt Rupert Murdoch?: Even by the rug-burn standards of online polling, this question is so loaded it is leaving big cracks in the digital asphalt.

Green? Shoot!: The number of people shifting to emergency unemployment insurance because their regular coverage had run out topped 379,000 last week, bringing the overall total to a record 4.2 million. At the current rate of increase, the number of people getting emergency payments will top the people getting regular payments (5.5 million) within a month.

Green? Shoot!, the sequel: Independent financial analyst David Rosenberg (via ZeroHedge) says that 1) because of contracting credit and asset deflation, we’re not in a recession, we’re in a depression; 2) the 20% deflation of household assets in the past 18 months — a loss of $12 trillion in value — is “a degree of trauma we have never seen before”, 3) … aw, hell, just go read the whole thing. It’s orders of magnitude more depressing than anything on CNBC, but also appears orders of magnitude more fact-based, unfortunately.

Green? Shoot! Reloaded: Paul Krugman offers some objective criteria by which we might determine exactly what constitutes “good news on the job front.”  Just remember, we’ve got to make up lost ground. A lot of lost ground.

Public pants-wetting: Why do Reps. Trent Franks, Steve King and Sue Myrick hate America?

In news that will surprise exactly zero parents, scientists now say 98% of children under the age of 10 are sociopaths.

And, finally, some good news (h/t: Fred), or, When the Germans say “Prost!”, they mean it: Beer could fight prostate cancer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 6:02 am

Marvin Gaye fired as head of Fox News

New memo to Fox News employees: “It is more important to get it right, than it is to get it on.”

Yeah, I’m sure they’re gonna get right on that. I notice that Beck, O’Reilly and Hannity still have jobs, so apparently it’s only the unintentional errors that can land you in hot water. This is, after all, the network that basically claims it has a constitutional right to lie to its viewers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009 9:47 pm

Odds and ends for 11/19

Good news, bad news: The good news: The S&P 500 is sitting on a ton of cash. The bad news: The cash came from being overleveraged and from failure to invest in existing business and/or growth, which will lead to bad future news on both revenues and employment.

It’s OK if you’re a Republican: The Obama White House gets criticized for attempting to manage the news cycle … by Karl Rove.

Shorter Peter Wehner: Sarah Palin hasn’t an idea in her head, but just because she’s both stupid and a whiner is no reason to criticize her. (No, I’m not making this up. Even better: I’m linking to Commentary.)

Why competence matters: New Orleans flooded after Hurricane Katrina because the Army Corps of Engineers messed up, a federal judge rules. Cue the lawsuits, and this is one case in which I don’t want to hear any whining about tort reform.

If you want to make an omelette heal a soccer player, you have to break a few eggs birth a few horses: This is the kind of alternative medical treatment for which I might well look for an alternative … any alternative. (h/t: friend and former co-worker Christie on Facebook)

Texas declares war on marriage: Does mathematics’ reflexive property of equality (a = a) apply to Texas family law? If so, then in banning gay marriage, the state might have outsmarted itself and banned all marriage when it added this phrase to its constitution: “This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.” And one of the legal statuses identical to marriage is, well, marriage. At least, so says the Democratic candidate for attorney general.

If you’re going to hire a hack, at least hire a talented hack: President Obama has named former Bush White House spokesbot Dana Perino to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees civilian U.S. government broadcasts. I’m trying to decide whether to be outraged or to conclude that it’s a good idea to have a propagandist in charge of propaganda. Or to conclude that it’s a good idea to have a propagandist in charge of propaganda but wish for a GOOD propagandist rather than Perino.

North Carolina’s Mel Watt is on the side of the demons in the audit-the-Fed debate. Those of you in the 12th District, which includes many of us right here in fair Greensboro, need to get in his face about this. Whether you’re in NC-12 or elsewhere, you can petition the appropriate committee leaders here. More background here.

Because Goldman Sachs didn’t have enough people qualifying for big, taxpayer-financed bonuses already: The vampire squid is promoting 272 people to managing director.

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Banksters. (Bonus: background info on how U.S. credit card fees paid by merchants and passed on to consumers, are some of the world’s highest.) Memo to the Democrats, which will cost them far less than the advice they get from professional consultants: When your political opponent starts gouging the public, during the holidays, in the middle of a recession — when he basically hands you a chair and says “Hit me over the head with this!” — if you want to win elections, you hit him over the head with it. (Key phrase there being, “If you want to win elections …”)

“Nothing bespeaks personal character like the volatile use of violence on your opponents”: Chuck Norris confesses that anger-management issues rule out a political career for him. Hey, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Why does Glenn Beck hate America? No, really.

Remember: Conservativism cannot fail, it can only be failed: Bonus fun: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting is a “registered hate group.” Where do you register as a hate group? How much does it cost? How often does the magazine come? Do you get movie passes?

And, finally …

Today’s Quote of the Day, on how conservatives are blaming all electoral ills, including legitimate Republican losses, on ACORN, from Hullabaloo commenter “Pseudonymous in NC” (and, no, that’s not me; I only wish I had thought of this): “For wingnuts, ‘ACORN’ rhymes with ‘trigger’. That’s what this poll tells you.”


Friday, November 6, 2009 8:51 pm

“Isn’t it fascinating …?”

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns!,Fun — Lex @ 8:51 pm
Tags: , ,

Jon Stewart goes all Glenn Beck on … Glenn Beck:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Video: The 11/3 Project | The Daily S…“, posted with vodpod


Monday, October 5, 2009 10:51 pm

Now the whole world knows that Glenn Beck is an idiot … and an agency thereof has dopeslapped him accordingly.

I mentioned a while ago the fantabulous Web site “Glenn Beck Raped and Murdered a Young Girl in 1990,” which parodies Beck’s rhetorical style of asserting fatuously wrong things in part by claiming, sometimes even accurately, that there is no evidence these fatuously wrong things are NOT true. So, you know, there’s no evidence that Glenn Beck DIDN’T rape and murder a young girl in 1990, so ….

This kind of satire is comprehensible to anyone who was awake and alert in high-school English, a group that apparently excluded Mike J. Baron. Irony-impaired is no way to go through life, son.

Interestingly, Beck himself appears to understand that satire — even hyperbolic, over-the-top satire, as this definitely is — is constitutionally protected and not defamatory. So he is taking a different tack, claiming that the domain name for the Web site is itself sorta defamatory but mainly a trademark violation.

The “defamatory” claim will get just as far as a straight defamation claim would, i.e., nowhere. But the trademark violation is just as lame. Such claims typically are made on the basis of the possibility that an unwary Web surfer might mistake the satire site for a site by the person actually named. Let us ask ourselves: What is the likelihood that an unwary Web surfer might mistake the site for an actual Glenn Beck site?

Well, according to the lawyer for the Web site’s owner, that likelihood is damn small:

There is no indication that the Respondent has intentionally attempted to confuse anyone searching for Mr. Beck’s own website, nor that anyone was unintentionally confused – even initially. Only an abject imbecile could believe that the domain name would have any connection to the Complainant.

The lawyer then goes on to the heart of the matter, which is that this “trademark violation” claim is just a back-door attempt, and not even a particularly new or original one, to win a libel suit without actually, you know, alleging libel:

We are not here because the domain name could cause confusion. We do not have a declaration from the president of the international association of imbeciles that his members are blankly staring at the Respondent’s website wondering “where did all the race baiting content go?” We are here because Mr. Beck wants Respondent’s website shut down. He wants it shut down because Respondent’s website makes a poignant and accurate satirical critique of Mr. Beck by parodying Beck’s very rhetorical style. Beck’s skin is too thin to take the criticism, so he wants the site down. Beck is represented by a learned and respected legal team. Accordingly, it is beyond doubt that his counsel advised him that under the First Amendment to the United States’ Constitution, no action in a U.S. Court would be successful. See, e.g., Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988). (Link added — Lex)

This is not the awesomest court document I have ever seen filed. The federal judge’s order further ordering both parties to “lighten up” (which I could’ve sworn I blogged but now cannot find) probably was the awesomest, not least because it came from a judge and not a lawyer.

But this response, incorporating as it does not only the phrase “abject imbecile” (see, a less talented writer would have left us with the generic variety of imbecile) but also the “president of the international association of imbeciles” and the deft sideswipe about the race-baiting content — because, gawd, if Glenn Beck does nothing else but bawl on the air, he sure baits him some race — mark it as Awesome Indeed, Full of Win and a first-class exhibit to be studied enthusiastically by (God help us) generations of future lawyers.

(h/t: jane)

Saturday, September 12, 2009 11:04 pm

More proof, were more needed, that Glenn Beck has the brains of a laminate countertop

Fox News has this show host named Glenn Beck who is very popular right now. Glenn Beck hates so many things I can’t even keep track of them, and he hates them with such blazing passion that it’s kind of surprising a young intern or production assistant doesn’t have to walk on camera during his shows to wipe the spittle from his chin and the camera lens. His primary action in furtherance of these hatreds is uttering a fact-free kind of rhetoric that implies far, far more than the truth can actually support. (Not all the time. But, most of the time, yeah.)

So these guys decided to parody Beck’s approach by applying it to him. They created a Web site called, and I am not making this title up, “Glenn Beck Raped and Murdered a Young Girl in 1990.” In effect, the site’s creators say, “DID Glenn Beck rape and murder a young girl in 1990? We have no evidence that he did, but then why hasn’t he denied it?”

In other words, they’re not seriously claiming Beck is a rapist and murderer, they’re parodying his rhetorical style.

I am not a lawyer, but parody in this country has had a long history of being pretty much legally bulletproof. That fact, of course, has not stopped Beck from suing the site’s creators, thereby ensuring that many, many more people will see the site, thus making his PR problem far bigger than it already is. (And since you ask, why, yes, my blogging about this is my small contribution to that initiative.)

If we had the kind of sanctions on people who file frivolous lawsuits that a lot of legal reformers say we need, Glenn Beck would be writing a rather large check for some folks’ legal expenses right about now. Just sayin’.

I think “Element 61,” whoever he/she is, says it best: “Who could have predicted that his dangerous and extremist fear-mongering would lead to people returning the favor?”

Quasi-relatedly, fellow Fox liar Sean Hannity gets called an idiot on his own show for trying to perpetuate a variation on the “death panels” meme.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 8:21 pm

OTOH, this is what “unpatriotic” and “objectively pro-terrorist” look like

Shorter Michael F. Scheuer: A nuclear attack by Osama bin Laden is the only thing that will save the U.S.

I am absolutely not making this up. See for yourself.

And it ain’t coincidence that this guy’s views are being aired by Glenn Beck, who really, really needs to be whacked up with about 300 ccs of Thorazine.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 10:19 pm

Be afraid

Filed under: Y'all go read this — Lex @ 10:19 pm
Tags: , , ,

Eric Boehlert connects some extremely disturbing dots. I’ll quickly concede that proving cause and effect, as opposed to mere correlation, is next to impossible in these cases. But it’s also worth remembering that the last time we went through a period of such overheated radical-right rhetoric, we got Tim McVeigh and Eric Rudolph out of it.

Relatedly, David Neiwert, whose Orcinus blog has long patrolled the shadowy frontier between the far right and the bat-feces-insane right, has a new book out, “The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right.” I’m looking forward to reading it, although I don’t think I’ll enjoy it.

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