Archive for January, 2011

grammar control?

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

The killer’s political bent is about what you would expect: deeper on the “Nuts” end of the “Nuts” / “Sane” axis than any “right” / “left” axis.  No, he is not a “Tea Party” participant — falling outside even the “Nuts / Tea Party” axis of, for instance, some guy I saw on youtube in a “Pass the Bullhorn” session going off on 9/11.  The effect of our politicized culture is that we see stammerings of misinformation — a fake facebook page to tie him in as supporting Obama or quickly and easily verified as false ties to such and such an anti-government right-wing Extremist group.  (The latter is the product of our media culture demand for immediate gratification, the former a product of political defensiveness.)

It is possible to track a lot of his “politics”, such as they are, and they lead out from points from which the Tea Party (such as it is) have drawn.  The influences are re-assembled in a mad pastiche from out of the nation’s broader protest (sure, the tone set by it as well) for a man not in control of his life and painfully aware of that.  Sure, it is political by definition — he shot a politician — and the concerns expressed to the politician were reflections of his existential crisis:

 ”He told me that she opened up the floor for questions and he asked a question. The question was, ‘What is government if words have no meaning?’”  Giffords’ answer, whatever it was, didn’t satisfy Loughner. “He said, ‘Can you believe it, they wouldn’t answer my question,’ and I told him, ‘Dude, no one’s going to answer that,’” Tierney recalls.

From here is the one that puzzles me.  A lot of his pastiche of politics are easily recognized — monetary theories spouted by Congressman Ron Paul (who is a sane man, by the way), conspiracy theories of the Fall of the Nation’s constitutional bearings coming from opponents of the 14th Amendment.  But from “What is government if words have no meaning”, we drip down into:

You don’t allow the government to control grmmar structure.

Where did this one come from?
Well, David Wayne Miller will now enjoy his 15 minutes of fame.
… Even if the young man who attempted to assassinate Gabrielle Giffords probably added his own twist (and I don’t think his proposed educational system would hold up all that well).

National Review versus New Republic versus Weekly Standard versus American Spectator versus Reason

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

National Review 12-31-2010:
Thomas Acquinas College “Summer Great Books Program for High School Students”
Great Courses: Ancient Warfare lecture Series
Bose Radio
Young America’s Foundation Reagan Ranch High School Conference  “Celebrate Reagan’s 100th Birthday”
Stauer Diamonds
Jitterbug Cell Phone
H Uppman Cigars (connected with National Review Cruise)
American Silver and Gold
Union University

New Republic 12-30-2010
Association of Private Sector College and Universities
Harvard University Press
Mortgage Bankers Association (lobbying for mortage interest deduction)
CTIA Wireless Conpanies Association
NOVA David Progue “Making Stuff” 4 Part PBS Series

Weekly Standard 1-3-11
Creat Courses Lecture Series: Lifelong Health
Obama Stress Head (1/2 page)
Nationwide Coin and Bunyon Reserve
US Chamber of Commerce (1/2 page, “Open Letter”)
HQ Global Education “One of China’s Fastest Growing Vocational Vocational Training Schools”
(1/2 page)
HQ Global Education “One of China’s Fastest Growing Vocational Vocational Training Schools”
(1/2 page, same ad again)
Weekly Standard Cruise pull-out back-cover

American Spectator Dec/Jan 2010 / 2011
Valentine One Radar Detector
Benedict XVI subject book “Light of the World” Ignatius Books
Stauer Diamonds
1/2 page Saving Leonardo book “On destructive impact of Secularism”
Jitterbug Cell Phone
FLAME “Facts and Logic About Middle East”
Stauer Diamonds
Neutronic Ear hearing aid
Sarkes Tarzian television (logo only)
Stauer Diamonds

Reason February 2011
Great Courses:  Churchill
Oxford Reference Book Series
CATO (drug legalization related books)
FreedomFest 2011
Siteworks fireplaces (1/3 page)
2 page: Reason Cruise
National Interest Magazine
Fantagraphics Peter Bagge cartoon collection
Atari Terminator 3: The Redemption video game dvd Drew Carey “Saves Cleveland”
Institute for Justice 1st Amendment litigation “I Am IJ”

There is a bit of a lull for the number of ads in National Review and New Republic, end of year I suspect.  Curiously, despite its usual trend — with corporate groups feeling the need to cover both of these bases, there is no overlap between the two magazines.   National Review is notable in having two different places for high school students to go this summer to get their movement conservative tips — one celebrating Reagan’s 100th birthday. 
The Weekly Standard’s “US Chamber of Commerce” ad was predictable, but what am I to make of One of China’s Fastest Growing Vocational Vocational Training Schools” — and twice?
FLAME usually makes the rounds in New Republic and National Review, but for whatever reason it only tapped the American Spectator.  I do not know what prompted Sarkes Tarzian to pay for a full page logo. 
The American Spectator and Reason share an “AlphaPub” ad, which discourses on the need for God to be firmly placed in any Libertarian or Conservative governance, all while not saying the word “God” or “Jesus”.  I imagine Reason readers less likely than National Review or American Spectator readers to have no use for a physical collection of reference books — in the same way that it is the only magazine here that could run an ad for a Terminator 3 video game. 
Make of it what you will how the Great Courses lecture series divvies up its subjects — at random, perhaps?

The first news of Speaker John Boehner’s reign

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

There is symbolic significance to this ceremonial choice.
I certainly wasn’t the the only one to notice how big John Boehner’s gavel was. Even Nancy Pelosi, who became minority leader, made a quip when she handed the gavel to the newly minted speaker of the house.

She said: “I now pass this gavel — which is larger than most gavels here, but the gavel of choice of Mr… speaker Boehner. I now pass this gavel and the sacred trust that goes with it to the new speaker.”

It is the gavel that John Beohner insisted on.  The obvious significance is to suggest a lot of power, and as this npr article goes on to note Pelosi used a big prop gavel with respect to Health Care Reform.  Significant here, possibly, is that the first item on the new House Republican Majority agenda was a Health Care Reform Repeal Act — the prop nature of which is told in the name given to it — the Republicans look to insert the phrase “job killing” wherever they can, and thus this measure was the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act”.

The need for the gavel is shown, perhaps, in this conversation with Brian Williams:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: When you go home next, is there a sidewalk, a place, a person that’s kind of a talisman to grab onto? Again, talkin’ about strength and the new job?
JOHN BOEHNER: Well, I get strength every day just uh, going to my Facebook site.

Facebook, really?  Is it just for building strength and getting that well of emotional support?  Did he neglect to use it to alert Representative Sessions to the Swearing in Ceremony.

and one more thing

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Okay.  One more thing about this Beck book before I trash it into the mental junk heap.  I had a surprising “AHA” moment of “I know that one” insight.

I almost hate to mention her, because there’s nothing all that much to begrudge with her, and its a long ways from that time, and also I think some of my siblings had a reasonably good relation with her.  What you need to know about my high school Health teacher is shown in part from this inspirational cartoon and message that was plastered to her desk — the cartoon kid coming from roughly the same school of cartoons as the “Love Is” monstrosities of the 1970s — with the message “God Ain’t Made No Trash”.  Thematically this ties in with the item of “I know that one” perfectly, but in general it also offers something I always thought of her: the proscription against prayer in the public school was made for her, and that left to her duthers she would have been leading the class with the Lord’s Prayer at the start of each class.

I tend to think that there were too many videos shown through my K-12 years anyways.  I guess this comes off of two theories: one, kids learn in different manners and you have to have a panoply of techniques to reach them.  Two:  a good portion of the kids are illiterate.  (I’ll pause to allow any consideration of any possible interplay between these two concepts.)  A third works especially well for the Elementary years, which is that Elementary school teachers are in large part functioning baby sitters.

The sex education program was interesting.  That was, so far as I remember, a week of videos such that the teacher did not say anything to the class herself.  This after having our parents sign a clearance for the Sex Ed.  These classes tended to end with regular end of class apologies over inappropriate material she’ll have to screen out in the future.
One video jumped out at me as it seemed to be nothing but a sly and relatively subtle anti-abortion video — a long focus on an ultra-sound emphatically emphasizing the life of the fetus.  While overall it seemed that she was shifting through a back-catalouge of thinly disguised religious films, the sex week ended with what struck me as a “Very Special” episode of “Sweet Valley High” centered around the virtues of chasity — I base that on seeing an episode of this teenage show a year later and making such a connection, but I have never been able to verify whether I am right on that one.
I don’t really remember if there was more to this lesson plan than these stupdifying videos.  There may even have been a reasonaly legitimate second week of work-sheets.  In the end, she talked thoughtfully on the meeting with some parents over the sex ed program and their airing of concerns, which I assume may have taken place but have a hard time imagining anything substantial.

The Drug and Alcohol Awareness section of Health class was… well, there was a video about popular music references.  It was over a decade out of date.  It touched briefly on “backward masking”, but I think this was a matter of her letting the video run longer than intended, wanting to clip it down to the multitude of drug references in popular music as opposed to where Satan rears his head.  This was quite a revelation:  You know the Eric Clapton song “Cocaine”?  It’s actually about Cocaine.  Talk about a double entendre!  [pause]

We were all familar with that song as it played five times a day on the classic rock radio station.  “Slow Hands”, right?

So, from Alexander Zaitchik’s Beck book, page 208:

The web site of the church owned Deseret Book Company describes The Christmas Sweater as a “warm and poignant tale of family, faith, and forgiveness.”  This faint praise is the same cookie-cutter judgment Deseret’s in-house critics pass on every work of Mormon popular fiction to meet the genre’s rote requirements.  There are simply no subjects in this blank-eyed literary canon beyond the church approved troika of family, faith, and forgiveness.
LDS Church produced films offer more of the same.  All follow the same trajectory of cartoon tragedy to bright-light redemption with pummeling predictability.  Consider the plots of Mormonism’s most famous “fim classics”, as described in the BYU Creative Works catalouge.

The second item he lists, and “I Know that one!”

Cipher in the Snow:  When a teenage boy dies unexpectedly his math teacher is asked to notify the parents and write the obituary.  Although he was the boy’s favorite teacher, he hardly knew him.  Shy and ostracized, the boy was considered a “cipher” — an unknown number in a class roll book.  As the teacher unravels the mystery of what led to the boy’s death, he commits himself to not letting others suffer the same fate.

Adding to my original mystery about my Health teacher’s showing of this film is a second one:  I always understood her to be combing through some religious themed tracts — though this one didn’t hit me as religious in nature.  But she was Catholic.  What was she doing plucking something out of the Mormon canon?  Is there some sort of vast Ecumenical cataglouge of this type of materials?

My bigger question, and the one I had a hard time with at the time, can be fit in more current logoism:  WTF?  What — Huh — Why — Why did she show that to us?  It was a hokey Emotional Snuff film.  The kid drops dead in the opening scene as the school bus drives up, prompting the other kids to gasp “Oh My Gosh.  I think he’s dead!”  The teacher investigates and finds neglectful parents.  I don’t understand the value of a film like that.  Surely there’s a better way to approach the concerns of Depression and having a hard time getting going with school?

I can say one thing — something relatively interesting within the generally bored arena of high school which is never felt in quite the same way at any other point in life in this culture — (or maybe it is, but I’m just not really aware in elementary school).  The Culture War gets played out in some very peculiar ways, with broad attempts to hide its presence.  There was a Science teacher who gave a few out of the blue lectures / speeches which seemed to be thinly disguised slams at religious fundamentalist PTA-ers he had to deal with — but I think I may have been the only student who caught it like that.

now here are the connections you need to make

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Continuing on with the next ingredient in Beck’s make-up.

I don’t find the geneology of his history of conspiracism entirely convincing.  I’m not widely and systematically read on the subject, as much as I’m scatterdly so — the basic thrust needs a little tweaking.  It may be just that the antecedents exist such that trends in development never come out of whole cloth and are just re-tapped or re-emphasized, or re-discovered.

The lien goes that the major reference point for “The Enemy” in right-wing circles shifted from Moscow to a Western axis of Major Capitalist centers with Carroll Quigley’s 1966 book “Tragedy and Hope”.  Or more to the point, the 1970 Cleon Skousen book riffing off of Qugley, “The Naked Capitalist” — named after his 1958 “The Naked Communist”, and Gary Allen’s 1970 “None Dare Call it Conspiracy” — named after John Stormer’s 1964 “None Dare Call It Treason”.  But, the perfididy of The Rockefellar Clan and concerns were targetted a long time back, percolating about through various channels.  Maybe The Far Left (good and bad) fed into the Far Right through the 1960s the evils of the Institutes (leading up to Glenn Beck’s famous piece of Art Criticism.)

A fun little game to play.  Okay, one of a multitude of fun new “America Fallen from Its Limted Government foundings” — a check-list bullet-point list of secrets the liberals / socialist culture are keeping from you as they try to implant “Progressivism”.  You think it all started with the 14th Amendment or Woodrow Wilson, the Federal Progressive Income Tax, the Fed?  HA!  Shows what you know!
Martin Van Buren has a nightmare and big government is born– in the 1820s!
He did keep us out of War Against Britain, along the Canadian Border while the border hawks were clamoring for blood.  He deserves credit for that, doesn’t he?  (Or maybe he doesn’t, depending on which slice of Ron Paul you feel a kinship toward.)

The other week I listened to some supposed “Christian” AM radio, and heard that whole line about the Freemasons on the founding of this nation, symbols abounding everywhere — the all seeing eye on the dollar with the pyramid.  This show was immediately followed by a standard for this station items from American History — a highly selective quotation from a Founding Father to show this country was born a Christian Nation.  I guess you can give it up to this “Religious” station for airing a diversity of opinion, though they tend to exist in the same mind interchangably on whatever is needed at the time.  (Months back I heard on this station that Rockefellar was behind the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a means of putting Rockefellar on the Nazi Path I gather over the Nazis, you see.  Things make more sense and gain more context as I read a bit of bathroom graffiti alerting me to the story of IBM and —??? — letting WWII run its course for profit.  I’ll have to run an ametuer investigation on whether whoever wrote this bathroom graffiti is behind a scribbled note on a one dollar bill that circulated into and out of my hands — “alex jones THE TRUTH”.

each new ingredient in the production of Glenn Beck

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

     When I first heard Glenn Beck in 2002, I knew instantly that he came from this particular radio world.  The effect was Limbaugh on ADD. 

It strikes me that this is the first of several components in the shaping of Beck’s persona, and this book suggests that you can follow the path of his radio ratings and career advancment on how he shaped himself.  Personal problems and issues aside, I can actually take the career move from Morning Zoo to Talk radio as a rather straight-forward desire to change career projections — he started in radio playing for Top 40 radio something like Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” and finished by playing Britney Spears — you understand how you can become sick of moving with a trend-line marked by a particular age group you lose more connection to with each passing minute.

But it is curious to learn how close Beck’s launch-pad into national talk fame came to failure.  As it says in Beck’s promotional material — he landed in Tampa Bay in 1999 and quickly grabbed the #1 rated local talk radio show.  And as those in the know can tell you, there is a punchline there in its concealment, something pierced with the simple question “And who was #2?”  Media deregulation and corporate consolidation worked its way in a very acute way in Tampa — Clear Channell acquired another major radio ownership corporation, and these two companies happend to together have owned several more stations than legally allowed by one corporation.  So Clear Channel sold excess stations in such a way as to avoid direct competition — Tampa has itself a new Spanish language station! — and liquidated some local talk radio talents to go with the cheap flow of national syndication.  Glenn Beck was number one by default, which wasn’t to say he didnt’ — until the end — struggle commercially at the number one slot.

The first transformation in his persona came as he moved from a generally conservative and obviously Republican voting record host with a bent more toward some morning zoo pack of stunts over to your rigid partisan warrior.  Beck had replaced a local liberal radio host with a long time devoted following, and the thing that the local Clear Channel executives could tell their disappointed listeners was to give the new guy a chance, assuring them he wouldn’t be a cookie-cutter clone of the ditto-head dominated AM Dial.  It is interesting to see that I actually remember reading about an act he did at the time  (though I don’t think the piece referenced Beck) at the time in a “Death of Radio and New Lows in Radio Culture” themed piece.  He would alert the audience that he would, in a future segment, come out on a preposterous and outrage provoking position, and have callers chime in agreeing with him — for purpose of fake debate with outraged listeners not in on the joke.  This is an area in radio trends that belong more to a variety of pranksters than your Hannity — though I guess I have to say it is not too different in theme to a favorite of mine, Phil Hendrie, so maybe I’m a hypocrite is offering that this sounds stupid.
Near the end of the road, knowing he had to find a ratings boost to keep his career alive, he kept in mind advice from a consultant to jump full frotal on the next local news story of national resonance.  The 2000 election came, and with it the Recount.  It was this story that Beck projected himself into the limelight, and also garnered a local audience by becoming a Partisan Warrior — fighting and exposing the treachery of Team Gore.  24 News Channels having 24 hours to fill, it seems you could grap a seat at the table by being a media personality in one of the three key spots in Florida, and so it was with Beck.
He followed down the new found Partisan Warrior in championing Terri Schiavo — noteworthy in that he did a 180 in his opinion, noteworthy too in that in both instances the opinions were rather tastelessly expressed.
The next media news event, and the one that bolted him onto national radio, was 9/11.  In the immediate post-fully news coverage period of 9/11, Clear Channel had a need to provide feed for their host of stations with (Republican conservative) generally political topic talk radio station, all beating their chests for God Country and War on Terror, but with shows on the schedule such as Dr. Laura.  So, under the umbrella of “America Under Attack”, they gave the nation Glenn Beck as a temporary stop-gap.  This sampler served beneficial for his more proper syndication launch.

You can spot the next crucial ingedient in Beck’s brand making as coming in part from having his network of stations leaning on small to medium sized markets, and not LA NY Chicago.  With this, he discovered the “Heartland”.  To a large degree, they all have this line, but he came to beat this one in a heavy handed manner.  The cover of his first book:
  — which strikes me as rather artificial and contrived.  (I note that the latest edition he has changed to having him hold out an apple pie — this suggests a note of self-awareness that he can’t get away with this.  Or perhaps a note of irony in that the tropes now have understood quotations around them.)
It is here that we see his particular synergy with a Sarah Palin and the nationalistic “Tea Party Express” strain of Tea Party-dom.  He built this brand with his “Rally for America” tour, at the time blasted as seemingly a Clear Channel — connected to Bush conspiracy of wartime propaganda.  These were at once war protest protests with glitzy country music performances (“Put a Boot in your Ass”, remember?).  It was also more to the point a Beck promotional tour, where he pounded away to his fans that he was, as they were, a “Real American” coming out of the “Real America”.  I am surprised that author Alexander Zaitchik didn not mention at this juncture a central irony in this construction — in setting off a designated “Real America” out in a fly-over country of rural and exurban lands, the inhabitants of New York City — scene of the tragedy which prodded and enforced the need to assert the dichotemy — falls into the “Phony American” category.

I can anticipate the next major transformational ingredient in Beck’s radio persona, though have not read far enough in the book to get to it.   I can provide the outline already, though, as this is where he came into his own.  It comes with Cleon Skousen.  The last major key in the shaping of Beck is the conspiratorial element — the shadowing into someone like Alex Jones.  I can suggest that part of this comes with the oppositional line that comes within the 2006 falling of public esteem of the party that he was partisan warrioring for — which was and is, after all, the Party of Real America.  It is this equivalent of pounding away at Vince Foster’s suicide in the 1990s.  The other part comes from the shock of the 2008 Fiscal Crisis and the campaign and election of that man — Barack Obama.  From his persona built around something to the effect of “I’m you” — just a guy trying to find answers in this crazy world of ours where something has gone off-base, he breathlessly lead his fans on a crash-course of studious discovery with a supposed “Great Books” program, learning alongside everyone else “what’s really going on out there”.

It is one paint job made over another — and each item is still there.  Just under his chalkboard filled with the name of the foundations secretly running the world is lurking him standing on a stage with a Jumbo-tron of video of George W Bush saluting the Troops.  Just under that is the PJ Barnum showsman searching for an angle, who knows how to work a crowd.  His core does make him distinct from someone like Hannity, but it somewhat bounds him.

So. How about them Seahawks?

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Following their victory over the Rams last night, Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst talked to the media wearing, what else? — the 2010 NFC West Division Champions cap!  I cannot quite tell if this shows a lack of pride and dignity, or a well of pride and dignity.

Go to the Seattle Seahawks website, and you will see that right there, the merchandise — the 2010 “NFC West Division Champion” material.

I trust that anyone who purchases such items will wear it ironically.  Perhaps alternate them with the “19-0” New England Patriots merchandise that never made it to market.  Or, the 2004 “Joe-Mentum” merchandise the Joseph Lieberman Presidential campaign offers for sale.
Really, these things would probably sell better if it had a little bit of insignia noting the story.  Something like, “7-9, BITCHES!” would work.  I guess, reading the press quotes — Coach Pete Carroll saying “Is this fun or what?”, and enter the references to “don’t give a crap” about the nay-sayers  — the team seems to be going full force with it.  Meantime, a fun little google search to go with is “Seahawks” and “Embarrassment”.

Nate Silver crunches the numbers for you. 

Okay, let’s pile on: I don’t think I have a trip to Seattle planned any time soon. According to Mr. Sagarin’s formula, the Seahawks would deserve to be favored by just 3 points against the 2008 Detroit Lions, who went 0-16.

And for me, the football season is now over — there is nothing left to cheer for – everything after this is an anti-climax.