Month: March 2010

Thomas Frank: Conservatives And The Cult Of Victimhood

Thanks to Google News, we again smash through Rupert’s Wall Street Journal pay wall.

The political rhetoric of recent weeks has been much deplored for its excesses, but it is as the babbling of toddlers when compared to the masterpieces of the golden age of invective.

In 1876, for example, Colonel Robert Ingersoll urged the Republican convention to choose James G. Blaine as its presidential candidate because, in the course of his many skirmishes with the Democrats, Mr. Blaine had “torn from the throat of treason the tongue of slander” and had flung “his shining lance full and fair against the brazen forehead of the defamers of his country.”

Contrast that with the cravenness of so many of today’s conservatives, whose first rhetorical instinct is to seize the mantle of victimhood. This is how modern political genius expresses itself, with even the biggest bullies contorting themselves to claim injury and persecution. No longer do they boast of having speared their defamers; instead they instinctively depict themselves as the skewer-ee, their innocent foreheads wrongly and unfairly pierced.

Consider the GOP’s conduct during the long health-care fight. Outrageous accusations against Democrats became commonplace. Actual members of Congress cheered for “kill the bill” hecklers and encouraged end-of-the-world fears. The bill was voted through anyway and within a few days many of the Democrats who supported it reported incidents of vandalism and threats.

Then came House Republican whip Eric Cantor, himself a target of a widely reported threat, to turn the tables. What was “reckless,” he said in a press conference last week, was when Democrats told the world about the threats and the vandalism. This was “fanning the flames.” Even worse, Mr. Cantor continued, Democrats were using “threats as political weapons”: they were, in effect, assaulting Republicans with their victimhood, threatening conservatives by recounting how they themselves had been threatened.

In other words: How dare the Democrats use our signature rhetorical strategy against us!

Others chimed in. “It is reprehensible to try and create this dust-up for political gain,” said Michele Bachmann, a Republican representative from Minnesota beloved of the tea party.

“It’s almost like the left is trumping all this up just for the politics of it all,” was the verdict of Fox News host Glenn Beck.

Fox News host Sean Hannity went even further. “I think this is an attempt . . . to smear an entire movement—the tea party movement,” he intoned last week. Yes, agreed countless others in the days since then: The real victims of last week’s threat wave were the tea partiers, unfairly maligned as racists, name-callers and thugs.

To recapitulate: You start with that much-photographed brick, heaved through the glass door of Democratic Party offices in Rochester, N.Y., bearing a quotation from Barry Goldwater and an unmistakable political message.

And you end cursing those damned Democrats and weeping for the tea partiers, abused first by the big-spending tyrant in the White House and victimized yet again by unfair association with a wave of right-wing violence.

This line of reasoning carries a glaring moral hazard, of course: If political vandalism demonstrates the innocence and even the victimhood of the perpetrator’s allies, it obviously encourages more vandalism.

But the more important point is the political sanctity of victimhood itself, the desperation of certain conservatives to depict themselves as the aggrieved party in even the least likely circumstances. They imagine their movement as a great uprising of the common people against elitism, against the snobbery of big money, and against the arrogant power of the media. From Richard Nixon to Joe the Plumber, its heroes have always been victims.

Most revealing of all is Sarah Palin, whose suffering at the hands of the liberal elite has been the overriding motif of her career. She was able to keep up the martyrdom act last week even after she placed a map on her Web site in which rifle-scope crosshairs marked the congressional districts of Democrats who voted for the health-care bill. Many saw the map as an act of intimidation by itself, but Ms. Palin was able to flip the script at her speech in Searchlight, Nev., on Sunday, as a flag reading “SOS” flapped in the breeze beside her. “Media,” she said, addressing the villain by name, “you guys ginning up an issue like that, making it sound like it’s a crowd like this of patriotic Americans who are inciting violence, it’s a bunch of bunk, and we ask for some fair and some balanced reporting coming from you, please.”

But maybe these conservatives know something I don’t. They understand that things are often the very opposite of what they appear. They know that paying for a good time at a bondage-themed nightclub actually cements your family-values credentials. That cheering for hecklers in the House gallery merely demonstrates your dedication to decorum. And that bullying is actually the way of the martyr.

A Brief Note Explaining How the World Works….

— and, how as result, we’ve ended up where we’ve ended up.

In or about 1981, the mainstream press, fell in love with Ronald Reagan and, blindly in love, chucked objectivity, dispassion and professional and societal responsibility out the window.

The new paradigm was essentially to make no enemies, with the exception of Democrats when the party was out of power or when, as in the case of Clinton, the elite press’ sensibilities were offended.

As a result of this abrogation, for example, the press could not criticize Reagan’s sending a couple of finders Marines to Beirut for absolutely no good reason but to become a tempting target and who then get blown up, approximately 243. Our elite press simply could not criticize the utter stupidity of the deployment because Reagan was a friend and, especially, no Republican could be an enemy no matter what they do.

More recently, you get the build-up to the idiotic, pointless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. the elite press couldn’t explain the stupidity of the endeavors, the lack of any good reason for these wars because it would obviously involve criticizing their friends. no longer possible.

In 2000, Bush and Cheney call the Times’ Adam Clymer an asshole because he was acting like a real reporter. Uproar? None.

And a Republican equivalent of Clinton gets only gently slapped. Sarah Pslin offends the elite media but no matter how stupid and crazy she is, the criticism is gentle, muted, because you can criticize a friend just do much. If she gets elected president, just remember what a help the elite media’s silence was.

So here we are, with a generation of journalists who cannot report innanh meaningful way because that would involve explaining how and why things happen. That involves criticizing their friend which is to say it simply can’t happen.

So if this is the best the profession can do, who needs them? What good do they do for us?

No, good bye and good riddance. One hopes they will be replaced, but if nit, we can be no worse off.

We learn what’s going on despite the elite press, no longer because of it.

Enough.

It’s Not this Blog that’s NSFW, it’s the World

What’s the point of havin’ a rapier wit if I can’t use it to stab people? — Jeph Jacques

I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions. — Augusten Burroughs

Hello seeker! Now don’t feel alone here in the New Age, because there’s a seeker born every minute. — Firesign Theatre

Sanity and insanity overlap a fine grey line. /.

A very special seder:

)About the video here.)

If anyone really thinks the Teabaggers will, let alone can, do any good for this nation, you are, at the least, completely mistaken:

Good ole American Christofascist terrorists or, as I’m sure President Palin would refer to them, patriots:

(More about the scumbags here and here and here.)

(Bust Rupert’s paywall via Google News:) I just don’t understand this: You have essentially at best a punk, devastated housing market, with millions of people owning homes worth far less than what they owe or even paid for them. (Former is of course higher because of interest.) And these… people? inept journalists brainlessly parroting others’ self-serving lies? act like “modifying” loans so people pay more in the long term for a losing investment is somehow good for the homeowner? Read the crock of shit here.

There they go again, still lying about the recently-passed healthcare bill…. (Note the typo in the headline; clearly should be “Evil”, not “Vile”.)

Today’s GOP: Anti-gay, pro-lesbian.

Assholes: Sean Hannity and Oliver North, whether or not their charity’s essentially a criminal enterprise.

The Pentagon goes to war against Wikileaks.

Kassandra Krugman warns, preciently:

The only reason to doubt our ability to get things under control a decade from now is politics: if we’re still deadlocked, if sane Republicans are cowed by the Tea Party, then sure, we can have a fiscal crisis. And longer term, we’ll be in a mess unless we get health care costs under control — which is exactly what we’re trying to do, in the face of cries about death panels.

(And Professor K. joins me and endorses one of the Palins for president; can’t tell which but seems like only one.)

Chasing the Fox News viewer, CNN’s ratings fall. Nothing like crap journalism and increased bullshit to chase away viewers.

A minor defeat for the corporatist state.

What a nasty looking bunch of white people here….

Almost as creepy as a Palin:

And if case you want to stay on this page for a looong but not uninteresting time, watch this:

I Have Just Made Your Sunday!

Truth:

The secret of eternal youth is arrested development. — Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Palm Sunday special: Jew returns to Judaism after an unfulfilling sojurn worshipping Jesus. And the piece is not as stupid as you think. This is someone with actual beliefs, not a Kool-Aid drinker.

Iraq. Justified at last. Not. To paraphrase Ronnie Raygun, Iraqis, are you better off now than you were ten years ago?

Beneficiaries of the Socialist Welfare State: The hypocritical stooges of the corporatist leadership, the Teabaggers. Me, I’m sure fighting against the benefits you’re receiving and the nation and states that provide them, is a rock solid reason to cut off all benefits, starting with health insurance. I mean really, why should our tax dollars go to people trying to ruin our nation? Did I say they are proven sickos? And punk racists. And of course the rest of the Republicans are quite nearly as sick. Again, just about the whole party and all their enablers are sick. I’ll make it simpler: There is no excuse for any of this kind of behavior. None.

Lesson from George Walker Bush: After touching a Black person, one must wipe one’s hand:

(Thanks, General!)

One stop “shopping”: Just go here for a huge bunch of pieces about a bunch of nutjobs that make up our nation’s leadership; a shame. I just don’t have the energy to list them all… too much insanity…. Just remember, these aren’t jokes, they’re people actually ru[i]ning things….

Can Obama be doing something else right?

Watch President Palin heckled at McCain rally. I watched a little bit of it, without sound, and I must say she looks like an utter retard.

Bob Herbert explains to us dumbies what the Republicans have to offer this nation:

For decades the G.O.P. has been the party of fear, ignorance and divisiveness. All you have to do is look around to see what it has done to the country. The greatest economic inequality since the Gilded Age was followed by a near-total collapse of the overall economy. As a country, we have a monumental mess on our hands and still the Republicans have nothing to offer in the way of a remedy except more tax cuts for the rich.

This is the party of trickle down and weapons of mass destruction, the party of birthers and death-panel lunatics. This is the party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio, with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry.

It should not be news to those who watched the fucker’s career but the current pope was a professional scumbag while at the Vatican, if not longer (my recollection doesn’t go that far back), and, if I recall, an opportunistic little Nazi during WWII. His election to pope was something he worked for for years; simple politics successfully executed. So this is no surprise to those watching. And Matt Taibbi weighs in.

Asshole: New Hampshire State Rep. Nick Levasseur has apologized for saying, “Anime is a prime example of why two nukes just wasn’t enough,” on Facebook:

Who needs the old media if this is pretty much the level of crap they deliver? Meanwhile, bankruptcy courts give four publishers a little breathing room. All they need to do now is relearn what to publish to attract an audience back and, you know, become relevant.

Lordy, how quickly Rupert’s sending the Wall Street Journal down the toilet. Read about the latest here.

(More about the video here.)

(Read here why that video may be awesome.)

No Green Shoots Here (Even Though it’s Spring)

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it. — Flannery O’Connor

So much for presumed innocent and all that. Modern America: First the sentence, then the conviction.

Traitor!

I love how Republicans eat their own, cannibals like snakes….

Wasn’t it strange how Greenspan seemed to control the Fed so well? I mean, wouldn’t you think it a strange thing for an Objectivist (Ayn Rand’s personality cult-cum-philosophy/patholgy)? Well, looks like more like he wanted the financial markets to be plenty free to act all Galtian, even if that included fomenting a global economic crisis. It’s what Ayn would have wanted (after sex with a fawning cultist half her age). (Click on the image for the Master’s Great Fail.)

The Great Fail that is the recording industry: Sony sues superstar Beyonce. For posting her own videos (like of her own work) on the YouTube. Do something for the fans and to attract new fans? Get sued. Genius.

Idea! Let’s repeal Paul Ryan!

Asshole: Thomas Sowell, dishonest intellectual.

Going, going…. Global democracy, limited as it was, grows a little more limited, thanks to the global corporatists.

How they do it: Times takes just about all of the givebacks from the Boston Globe and spends same amount on bonuses for its top few execs. It seems that without the givebacks, there’d be no wealth for the execs?? Because they otherwise did such a bad job??

The good old days…: The phone companies used to be pro-privacy before they turned into snitches and rats…. Of course, now they’re also inept assholes.

Professor Krugman doesn’t realize we already pretty much have a one-party state.

How they fail: Johnny doesn’t fail, Johnny is failed. Sometimes, you have to think our schools work harder to make our kids stupid and ignorant than they do to, you know, make them smarter and know stuff….

How can anyone for put people like this in any position of power? Whose sicker? Them or their enablers?

Learn what history can teach us about financial reform.

Asshole: Eric Cantor.

Asshole: Scott Brown.

Mission accomplished: The failure of democracy in Iraq. I guess some retarded wingnut wants to claim eight years of occupation simply isn’t enough time for success. Another couple of decades is needed…. Or a Palin presidency….

Announced: The Palin 2012 platform: “Hell no!”

Tax cheat of the day: Micro$oft: It’s good to be able to corrupt pols….

And I can understand Micro$oft feeling a need to redo Windows Mobile but why this way? Because the Zune was so successful? Really.

It’s not just Evan Bayh; Indiana stinks.

So. You can catch STDs from Facebook?

Query: If this happened here, would the driver get busted for DWB?

Listen to this! Incredible!?

Listen to this. Maybe even more incredible?!

And listen to this! (More about that last track here.)

Awesome:

Warren Ellis, who has a lifetime of good karma from me for “Planetary”, loves this:

What we need and what will jump-start consumer spending.
MOMA's latest acquisition.
Me, explained, at last.