Archive for May, 2013

the problem of Michelle Bachmann

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Overheard conversation between two people — clearly liberal in the politic, one reasonably flamboyantly gay and the other– I’m not really in the interest of trying for “gaydar” crap — during the 2012 Presidential election Primary (which is to say in 2011)

“God, I would want to switch parties to Republican just to vote for Michele Bachmann.”
“For the entertainment value.  Crazy as a loon.”
“And you know… get a load of her husband.  Total Fag!”

It is a conversation like this, that gave me a gut feeling… Bachmann won’t last.  Not saying as a “Presidential Nominee Front-runner” — that was a given.  But Bachmann will either  lose an upcoming  election or come close enough that she won’t want to run the next time out, or the ethics charges would undo her.  At any rate, the “flash in the pan” is at work yet again.  And this does beg an interesting question…

What is the “it” quality for longevity?  We won’t have Michele Bachmann to kick around anymore.  Historically speaking, some lightning storms came and went — oh, Joseph McCarthy — but we had to endure Strom Thurmond for ages…

… One was Wisconsin and the other South Carolina.  Heh.

Is Ted Cruz going to stick around?  That’s the question I have to ask.  (Jim Demint decided to skip to the bottom line of “Think Tank” land — why wait to cash out?)

And what Michele Bachmann turned out to be good for — a sort of weekly “Wow.  She said that” — turns to other people.  Basically that space that once fell to Michele Bachmann in filling liberal blogs can filter through with just slide in with this cast of characters.

Why “Maggots”, Rob Ford, Why “Maggots”?

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

All right.  Everyone’s favorite mayor of the moment, the esteemed mayor of Toronto who is enjoying a 15 minutes of fame (outside his locale of Toronto)… and something I’m pondering with this one

Mayor Rob Ford unequivocally says there is no video that shows him using crack cocaine.
That’s the background for the next bit…

Councillor Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother and co-host, said 80 per cent of journalists are “nasty son-of-a-guns.” Rob Ford interjected: “Bunch of maggots.” After a brief pause, he added, “Sorry, maybe I shouldn’t have said that.”

Here’s some interesting thoughts on Doug Ford..

But I’m a bit curious on the word “maggot”.  An odd choice of insults.  It hearkens to military drill sergeant terminology, so far as I can remember from various pop culture scenes, though to get to that definition in the online urban dictionary you have to get to its apparent use as term of endearment in Slipknot fandom.

Also apparently an Australian word for wasted and inebriated… odd coincidence.

Mayor Rob Ford was asked to leave a gala event celebrating the Canadian armed forces last month, because organizers were concerned he was impaired. 
The request to leave the Toronto Garrison Ball came two weeks before Sarah Thomson, a Toronto businesswoman and former mayoral candidate, created a media storm when she accused Ford of groping her while acting “out of it” at a Jewish political group’s event. 
It’s an open secret at city hall that the mayor has battled alcohol abuse. Those closest to him are concerned for his health and the impact it has on his job as mayor of Canada’s largest city. Current and former staff have told the Star of repeated attempts to persuade the mayor to get help for more than two years and as recently as November. All attempts have been rebuffed.

And of course it rhymes with a word that begins with “f”.  Which is probably the elan that propels it above any other insects to the forefront of insults thrown out by drill sergeants.

You know… Theodore Roosevelt actually coined a term to deride the press — “muckraker” — which dovetails into maggots (rolling around in the filth).  Of course the problem when you do that is they’ll take the term and make it a positive.  So I guess it is best to just throw out different nasty creatures.  On that score, Rob Ford beats Theodore Roosevelt.

In partial defense of Glenn Beck

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Y’know… this isn’t all that bad a speculation.

During Wednesday’s radio show, Beck asserted that Blitzer’s question was “peculiar in the way that it was stated.”

“I think he was fed some information about the guest he had on beforehand — that’s what producers do — given some questions that he should ask, etc., etc.,” Beck explained. “Some producer, who is sympathetic to the atheist plight or just doesn’t like Christians or whatever it is, thought it was important to point out that, in the middle of the heartland in American where most people are God fearing, there are atheists there too.”

Though it wouldn’t so much be the “atheists producer wanting to point to atheists in the heartland”, so much as just the drive to create a “compelling moment”.  It’s the world of 24 Hour news coverage, after all.

And no, I don’t believe it.  The real answer on why Wolf Blitzer would ask about “thanking god” is “he’s in the Christian Bible Belt Heartland”.  I have heard many a time that travelling into or through Oklahoma, people will ask you as a matter of course “What church do you attend?”, and Wolf Blitzer is just picking up that as cultural touchstone.  I’m just leaving aside the “humanizing atheists” contraption of Beck’s speculation, it’s not terribly ridiculous…

… Until we get to the next part.

“It’s important because it informs others what they are being taught about atheists from atheism and the bully pulpit and other sources of bias that is not a correct reflection of reality in plain view,” he continued. “We are not fighting against flesh and bone, we are fighting the forces of spiritual darkness. And it doesn’t matter what people’s intent are, but I will tell you that, that was there for a reason.”

Here we jump from an Atheist plot for Atheist Awareness to… Satan guided the Atheist plot for Atheist Awareness.  Damned it all — Glenn Beck — and here I was all set to defend your much mocked commentary.  Sheesh.

Stephen King’s JFK assassination book

Friday, May 24th, 2013

It wouldn’t be a spoiler to say that the main character in Stephen King’s JFK book, 11/22/63, successfully prevents Kennedy’s assassination — this is revealed on the second cover, as King didn’t really want that to be a driving thought the reader has in reading it.  It is a spoiler to say what the result is for the future — though, maybe not the biggest spoiler possible (again, not a major driving force in the book, and sort of something you’d suspect), so skip this next paragraph or post or don’t care one way or the other.

It’s all pretty well sketchy anyway, as it’s something the character needs to take in very quickly.  And there’s a supernatural component that I don’t really like tossed in to “straighten” the histories — the Watts Riots happen immediately following the attempted Kennedy assassination because of earthquakes caused by the rupture of changing history trying to resort it.  And the earthquakes eventually lead Maine to secede to Canada.

But those things gotten out of the way…

As per suggestions of Doris and Dick Goodwin in discussing worst case scenarios of Kennedy surviving the assassination…

He is re-elected, but by a frighteningly narrow margin, against Goldwater.  This, at least, has some historical backing to it.  He limits Vietnam, and throws a lot of money at it.  He can’t get his Civil Rights measures through Congress.  And this next one is a little difficult to decide if it’s actually plausible.
George Wallace is elected President.
Hm.  I don’t know.  I’d have to think long and hard and about that.  I know what the historic forces at work that would bring about such a thing, but I’m doubtful.  Anyway, he drops the atomic bomb on Hanoi — or Vice President Curtis LeMay personally directs it.  (This is poetic sense, of course.)  A bit more implausible still, Arthur Beemer assassinates Wallace.  This is implausible — the historical record has Beemer seeking for months to assassinate President Nixon and falling back on his attempt on Wallace because he can’t get close to enough to Nixon — I’m not sure he’d have gotten close enough to a President Wallace.
It doesn’t mention that this would lead to a half a year interval of a LeMay Presidency, leading to the Hubert Humphrey Presidency — who then  loses to Reagan in a landslide.  And now we have the Iranian Hostage Crisis, which plays off with troop deployment and the launching of al Qaeda, though it’s referred to in this time stream by the English name “The Base” — and … Oddly my thought that a one term Humphrey Presidency would be followed by a Reagan Presidency is something I’ve already stamped out on this blog, so do with that you may.
Mostly I’m just pondering the Wallace Presidency and Beemer assassination, and not seeing it.

Well, clearly King had fun with this thought experiment, even if it’s something of a quick sketch.

I like this study guide question  — I’m sure it’ll be picked up by high school English teachers in the years ahead:

7.  Jake (or rather George) has to spend a lot of time in Dallas, which he experiences as a malevolent place.  Jodie, on the other hand, is everything an idyllic small town should be.  Do you believe that certain places are evil at certain times?

I don’t know how I’d answer that one.

I also note one small historical anachronism or inaccuracy, of sorts.  Kind of.  Entering a motel in Maine in 1958…
There were three stations.  The NBC affiliate was too snowy to watch no matter how much I fiddled with the rabbits, as on CBS the picture was rolled; adjusting the vertical hold had no effect.  ABC, which came in clear as a bell, was showing The Life and Lesson of Wyatt Earp [and from here we get an emphasis on the omnipresence of smoking in the past]
I suppose this is possible, but it wouldn’t be typical.  ABC was the lagging third network, and would not achieve parity with the other two until the late 1960s.  Indeed, when speaking of there being three networks, it would be said with an asterisk as with “two and a half networks”.  I don’t know if I care, and — again — “might be an exceptional place in the country” — and surely there’s more important historic anachronisms which would crop up for anyone paying attention and with a better head on the details of the years 1958 through 1963.

New Statesman article on Russia Today worth a look-see

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

I’m not sure why it would be called the “anti-Fox”.  It’s a similar propaganda bent.  The only thing I might surmise is the current issue with the Obama Administration and Fox News would not exist with Vladimir Putin and Russia Today.

What you need to know in the quasi- “Age of Austerity”, or where taxpayer financing of media outlets are always circulating about (see Public Broadcasting in the states; BBC in Britain):
In October last year, Putin personally intervened to block a finance ministry proposal to cut RT’s funding. The channel will receive more than £250m this year, approximately the same sum as the BBC World Service received from the British government in 2011- 2012. And where the World Service will lose its direct government funding from 2014 and be paid from the licence fee instead, thus squeezing its budget, Putin will keep RT healthily supplied with cash.

This next sentence is pretty interesting, and needs a bit more elucidation, ie: What is the actual editorial policy?  Surely it can’t be “pretty much anyone on air?”… may be more likely with a fervent belief in getting, quote-in-quote “voices marginalized in the Western Media’s corporate interests” or something.

Through an editorial policy of letting pretty much anyone on air and with cash backing from the Kremlin, it has become a televisual home for disaffected viewers in the west, a refuge for the Occupy and hacktivist generation, which believes that its own countries’ TV stations are in the pocket of corporate interests. Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief, is even prepared to call it the “anti-Fox News”.

And, this next one brings to mind the other big youtube sensation of media — Taiwan’ “Next Media Animation“.

Its strand The Truth Seeker – presented by Daniel Bushell, a posh Brit whose on-screen style appears to owe a significant debt to Brass Eye’s Chris Morris – reported on Barack Obama’s re-election last November, as all channels did. RT put in for an interview and, as expected, its request was refused. Its next step was less orthodox. The Truth Seeker created Legobama, a Lego figure of Darth Vader whose head had been replaced with that of a black Lego character. RT jerkily stopmotion- animated it and made it answer questions on drone strikes in a poor imitation of the president’s accent.

Max Keiser’s weekly Keiser Report specialises in lambasting the western banking system, often describing government responses to the financial crisis as “genocide”. Following the British government’s decision to remove child benefit from higher-rate taxpayers, Keiser commented that George Osborne would “sacrifice his child . . . throw the child into a volcano if it meant getting a good deal on a derivative”.

In comparison, the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who last year hosted a series of interviews on the channel with global rebels, including the Hezbollah leader, Hasan Nasrallah, came across as rather conventional. His interviewing style was gently probing, if not quite hardball.

And this may just be taking the basic inanity of the MacLoughlin Group or Crossfire and moving it beyond the Donkey v Elephant game and letting conspiracy theories circulate about.  Given the sometimes pointless nature of those “talking heads” programs, I wonder if we might as well, and lose the pretensions that there’s any redeemable civic value with the programming.

For the more extreme end of inter – rogation, viewers should seek out Peter Lavelle’s CrossTalk, where the guests are encouraged to “jump in any time you want” and do, often making the discussion degrade into barely comprehensible shouting. Producers slyly undermine their guests with banner headlines contradicting whatever they are saying, and Lavelle throws in hand grenades of controversy if things are going too smoothly.

The right-wing British commentator Douglas Murray was unprepared for Lavelle’s approach when he appeared as a guest in 2010 to discuss France’s burqa ban. Visibly baffled throughout the programme, he lost his temper when Lavelle dropped in an offhand remark about the 11 September 2001 hijackers not being fundamentalists.

RT has long specialised in publicising alternative “truther” interpretations of the 9/11 attacks and even ran a lengthy investigation called “911 reasons why 9/11 was (probably) an inside job”, but Murray appears not to have known this and wrote of his confusion for the Daily Telegraph. “I leave it to readers to work out why the Russians would want to be pumping this kind of filth around,” he concluded. It is a good question.

And your bottom line…

“My guess – or interpretation, really – is that they were getting pissed off with the bad publicity that Putin had already attracted and decided, in time-worn Soviet style, to ‘combat’ it with a channel of their own,” he told me. “That fits certainly with the impression I gained working with them that they wrongly believed the ‘message’ could be improved without changing the reality.”

And into its appeal here in the states…

RT does not lie, but it is selective about what facts it uses. Indeed, from its coverage of US politics, you might gain the impression that the only thing saving the Obama administration from collapse is police oppression of dissidents. “Several well-respected individuals have recently warned on the possibility of a severe social crisis erupting in the United States,” RT warned on 21 January, basing its conclusion on quotes sometimes more than six years old. Its relentless focus on Washington’s opponents has, however, won the channel their gratitude.

Its coverage of Britain is similarly slanted towards marginal voices. Ukip’s Nigel Farage is a regular guest, as is George Galloway of Respect. In a recent edition of The Truth Seeker Galloway was described simply as “a UK member of parliament who’s raised millions for victims of war”. Neither Farage nor Galloway responded to my request to comment, but Loz Kaye, the leader of the UK Pirate Party and another occasional guest on the channel, was more forthcoming.

Where else am I to turn to hear from the Pirate Party?

And the basic problem.  Good for the marginal voices of the West.  What of Russia?:

And yet, RT campaigns on all these issues in other countries. This is not to say it does not cover dissent in Russia. It reported on the Moscow protests in the winter of 2011-2012 – but Simonyan tweeted that the organizers would “burn in hell” and the reports lacked the detail of its work on Occupy. That is a pattern that holds true for almost all matters that affect both Russia and the west.

And your bottom line is the very bottom of this article.

“I understand that you work for the Los Angeles Times, and not for Pravda or Izvestia, and that you have to take a certain position,” Putin said, revealing himself – at least when it comes to propaganda – to be the unreconstructed KGB agent that his enemies always say he is. That is where to look for an expla – nation of RT. Deep into his 14th year in power, the president appears to have given up on improving Russia. Instead, he funds RT to persuade everyone else that their own countries are no better.

Looking through the comments section is curious.  We get the idea from people that to even publish an article on the subject of RT is to “give it free publicity”.  Beyond that, some predictable “equivalency*” arguments, an example of the exception that proves the rule with respect to Assange on Pussy Riot, and the most compelling part of the comments section is the reference to Russia merely being “conservative” and someplace most Americans wouldn’t be ready to live in with further suggestion that oddly American conservatives would love to implement some of Putin’s agenda (immigration and whatnot).  Interesting.

* The problem of the equivalency  argument in media was always on display when Fox News would go ahead and hold CNN as the spawn of liberal media.  The one good thing about MSNBC becoming the outlet of opinion shows devoted to the agenda of the Democratic Party is that there is at least now an equivalency for Fox News to counter-weight.  I suppose we’re back to the Cold War with the Voice of America beeming out over Eastern Europe… or something like that.

Portland will not be fluoridated

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Fluoridation in the Air
Fluroridation Everywhere
Fluroide swimming in the water
Where you know it really oughta
We’re gonna shove it in your face
All to save the Human Race
Fluoridate the Water now.
Water Fluoridation …. WOW!

Oh Sam I am, said some guy named Sam
I will not fall for this Fluoride Scam
I’ve traced the path from mouth through bladder
I Only Want Water in my Water

Oh Saum you are, You are a turd
That’s the lamest slogan that I’ve ever heard
And that must be why on all the placards
A Nine Year old’s holding that daft prattle.
But I’ll march off to the Water Treatment Facility
Demand no Chemicals; I want my Right to Death by Dysentery
Let’s Party like the Oregon Trail
This or Death by Snow and Hail.

Fluoridation in the Air
Fluoridation Everywhere
Leaping from the Periodic Table
The Wonder Element of Song and Fable
Kicking Chlorine in the Ass
You know Team Boron has no Chance
Fluoridate the Water Now
Water Flurodiation …. WOW!

Sam, you may say this is just some cheap trick
But I really gotta reference Stanley Kubrick.
Oh Sam, I ask because I want to know
Have the Commies shifted your bodily fluids flow?

Oh Can it with your Cold War Drivel.
This ain’t Dr Strangelove; I am quite liberal.”
You can’t just call us all right wing freaks
Not in this city of communist hipster geeks.

Ok Fine then, Sam, you left wing nut.
I’ll drop that angle with one big but.
The saying goes you know em by the company they keep.
Well you know who else has marched and squashed this fluoridation creep?
Yes it is the Land of Blah
Every corner of the State of Utah.

Fluoridation in the Air
Fluoridation Everywhere
Punch the Fluoride in your teeth
We won’t stop until it bleeds
Let’s go fluoridate the sky
Fluoridation My Oh My!
Fluoridate the water now.
Water Fluoridation WOW!

Oh Sam I Am, have you read my spam?
I’ve got a ton of youtube clips
They really expose the Establishments’ myths
This was all a plot to dump their nuclear waste
Into our water; dipped in our toothpaste
And watch this doctor say it’s murderous mace.

Oh Sam I admit I deleted your spam
You seemed to be typing with a really loud inflection
But if I may offer just one modest suggestion
For the love of God … Remove your Caps Lock!

Fluoridation in the Air
Fluoridation Everywhere
Fluoride swimming in the water
Where you know it really oughta
We’re gonna shove it in your face
All to save the Human Race
Fluoridate the Water now.
Water Fluoridation …. WOW!