Archive for November 7th, 2010

November 7, 2010

American Hubris / Nostalgia of the Day

by Vince

Thank you, Toby Keith, for showing that America must stay as a Christian, Red neck nation in your eyes.

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November 7, 2010

The GOPs Fiscal Fradulance

by Vince

Time after time after time, I have listened to little Reps such as Marsha Blackburn and even big pols such as John Boehner attempt to explain their plans for GOP cuts. None have given any plans that are 1) clear 2) rational 3) beyond polemic rants against “government spending / waste” or 4) practical. I am sorry if you voted for this fiscal fraud party last week.

On a similar note, Andrew Sullivan notes that largely this entire midterm election season was about reigning in government spending when the GOP in fact promised to spend more!

November 7, 2010

Irrationality: As American as Apple Pie

by Vince

Michael Kinsley questions the core ideology within our American textbooks:

A recent Yahoo poll (and I resist the obvious joke here) found that 75 percent of Americans believe that the United States is “the greatest country in the world.” Does any other electorate demand such constant reassurance about how wonderful it is — and how wise?

But my colleague Joe Scarborough got it right in these pages last week when he argued that the 2010 elections, for all their passion and vitriol, are basically irrelevant. Some people are voting Tuesday for calorie-free chocolate cake, and some are voting for fat-free ice cream. Neither option is actually available. Neither party’s candidates seriously addressed the national debt, except with proposals to make it even worse. Scarborough might have added that neither party’s candidates had much to say about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (except that they “support our troops,” a flabby formulation that leaves Americans killing and dying in faraway wars that politicians won’t defend explicitly). Politicians are silent on both these issues for the same reason: There is no solution that American voters will tolerate. Why can’t we have calorie-free chocolate cake? We’re Americans!

So you are a politician and want to tell your electorate that the wars in the Middle East are long, messy processes? They won’t want to hear it. You want to make hard choices in budget cuts? You will be demonized for doing too much or not doing enough. This is the life of an American politician and we as Americans have created this faux reality that we are holier than thou, God’s last great hope on earth, and is below no one, inferior to no other, and almost invincible. Our textbooks, propaganda in the form of excessive American flag memorabilia (divine gear?), and artificially created American history built by oppression, stealing, and suppression but credited to the white guys can be thanked for this. John B. Judis ponders how we will come out of this economic mess:

What this election suggests to me is that the United States may have finally lost its ability to adapt politically to the systemic crises that it has periodically faced. America emerged from the Civil War, the depression of the 1890s, World War I, and the Great Depression and World War II stronger than ever—with a more buoyant economy and greater international standing. A large part of the reason was the political system’s ability to provide the leadership the country needed. But what this election suggests to me is that this may no longer be the case.

November 7, 2010

“Momma Grizzlies Are Goin’ Ta Washington”

by Vince

Here is a load of Sarah Palin reportings for those who care or want to learn about her.

Tina Fey dusted off her old impersonation of SP, some wonder if she will ever talk to rest of the media world (labeled lamestream media) outside of Fox News, and Sarah tipped her hat to Ann Coulters new “church“.

What else is there to say to this sign but wow?

November 7, 2010

Moving Past Tea Party Myths

by Vince

John B. Judis, one of my favorite contemporary writers, banishes a few myths related to the Tea Party:

In both cases, the author is imposing abstract definitions that are rooted in European, not American, history. What I would say about the Tea Party is that like the European fascism between the world wars, it is a deeply reactionary movement. People often look backwards for solutions when faced with adversity. In continental Europe, that meant looking back to an authoritarian past—in the case of Italy, all the way to the days of the Roman Empire. In the U.S. it has meant looking back to an anti-statist past, when liberty was defined in opposition to government. That’s how the Tea Party movement sees it. It’s our American version of political backwardness, not of fascism.

A longer, related piece by Sean Wilentz is here.

November 7, 2010

The Thing About Arrogance and Progress

by michaelrdrane

I liked Vince’s thoughts on the elitism so often found in patriotism. Some similar ideas that have been floating around in my head:

There’s something about arrogance. We’re all guilty of it, yet it’s so easy to see in the people around us (particularly the “other” or “opponent”) and so hard to see in ourselves. There’s something about “progress”. It’s definition can be extremely subjective and often directly at odds with the definition of the aforementioned “other”.

I recently read of this week’s electoral outcome described as progress for the American people. That’s an interesting word choice for a conservative shift. I think though, it’s a natural belief for anybody when their side wins.

Tim Keller teaches about the (sometimes paradoxical) relationship between arrogance and progress. There’s a temptation to look back on history and conclude that we, as a society, have made progress. A statement is contained there that says we have attained a moral high-ground over the people of the past. We have assented to the understanding that there is no God, (our understanding of) an old taboo has been conquered, we provide something that once did not exist. There’s an inherent arrogance that frequently exists in this desire for progress.

Reconstruction was a hated period in the south. It wasn’t like the folks in Dixie needing anything more to piss them off after having lost a war to the northern invader. Pile on top of that an occupying force that encourages newly freed slaves to exercise their freedom and you almost have a recipe more enraging than Sherman’s March to the Sea. It makes sense, then, that when Reconstruction came to its end, Jim Crow was enacted immediately, and hailed as progress throughout the south.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are some issues on which I won’t compromise. I guess my point is more of a question. How do we strive for progress without the arrogant attitude that we were foolish before, but NOW we know? Is it more in the attitude of our approach? Perhaps our capacity for cooperation with the “other” is the measure of our self-righteousness.

November 7, 2010

Talking Over Each Other

by Vince

A round up from Blogging Heads.

November 7, 2010

Denying To Take Up Populism

by Vince

Ta-Nehisi Coates says that taking up a populism mantle places America off the hook for its blemishes:

I think I’m deeply uncomfortable with any sort of populism. No matter the target–bankers or the poor–it seems to require its leaders to say, “There’s nothing wrong with you America.”

I was trying to get at some of this in the Jon Stewart thread, but the notion that Americans are pure, and what’s really wrong with this country, has everything to do with aliens–the media, the Muslim, the poor, the illegal, the rich, the elites–but nothing to do with the natives strikes me as comfort food.

It can seem to me that populism is almost right down the block from American exceptionalism. America has built itself to be a very mighty and strong nation. This has occurred over the course of a few centuries and was built up by slavery, slave owners who felt it was their duty to own slaves because the Bible says so, mass amounts of immigrants from all corners of the earth, raping the American land, killing those (Native American Indians) who taught us much of what we know, and many hard working belts of America who built our cars, our steel, our airplanes, housed our manufacturing plants, fields of corn, and nuclear waste under their mountains and in their deserts.

It just so happens to be patriotic to admit your wrongs, to admit your faults, and to admit your weaknesses. Patriotism was loosely formed long before George W. Bush or any Texas politician lived and was certainly not meant to be worshiped or bowed down to.

The dirt I see in politics is this: for politicians to enter the political arena, their religious story must be checked as OK and they must see it as direly necessary to compete and be the top nation in the world in everything. I believe Barack Obama has been cleared on both of the above and does have our nations interests in mind and heart. His timing may be on a longer scale than we may expect, but he is practical alright.

November 7, 2010

In Need of Autocorrect

by Vince

Ahhhh!

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November 7, 2010

Patriotism as a Form of Socialism

by Vince

I chucked a bit last night after reading this. I believe it has some truth to it.

You can think of patriotism as a kind of status socialism—a collectivization of the means of self-esteem production. You don’t have to graduate from an Ivy or make a lot of money to feel proud or special about being an American; you don’t have to do a damn thing but be born here. Cultural valorization of “American-ness” relative to other status markers, then, is a kind of redistribution of psychological capital to those who lack other sources of it.You can gin up bogus reasons why it might matter from a policy perspective when the president says something that can be construed as “apologizing for America,” or doesn’t engage in a lot of symbolism that’s supposed to signal commitment to “American values”—but none of them have ever made much sense. The conventional take is that it’s really about markers of tribal affinity, but we can go a step further: Maybe it’s more precisely that people want high-status figures to invest in building the brand of their shared identity—a sort of status redistribution as noblese oblige.

Patriotism relies on banding together, spreading the red, white, and blue goodness around and labeling anyone who questions it either a commie, terrorist sympathizer, or an antichrist. Sure, this form of socialism isn’t redistributing money and lead by a Soviet dictator, but I wouldn’t put Joseph Stalin on completely different planets as Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. When you have a Representative in the state of Minnesota saying that not all cultures are equal and further draws the line between American and foreign, clean and unclean in a sense, that takes anyone listening or riding that wave down a inhumane and perilous path to harming self, nation (so much for national security, eh?) and maybe most importantly: others!

November 7, 2010

Fainting Cats

by Vince

Sorry if this lags.

H/T: Buzzfeed

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November 7, 2010

Popping Corn

by Vince

Enjoy this brief delight.

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November 7, 2010

A 2012 Presidential Ad?

by Vince

Some think so. I don’t.

November 7, 2010

Song of the Day

by Vince

John Butler Trio – Zebra

November 7, 2010

Defense Spending Cuts

by Vince

“Republicans also should resist pressure to take all defense spending cuts off the table. Newly elected Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky had the courage to say he’d go after defense waste during his campaign, and I look forward to working with him. We should start by taking common sense steps like freezing defense spending until the Pentagon can pass an audit and remove all nondefense spending from the Pentagon’s budget.

Our nation’s military leaders understand the need to cut spending. As Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “Our national debt is our biggest national security threat.” History shows that every nation eventually adopts the foreign policy it can afford. Taking defense spending off the table is indefensible. We need to protect our nation, not the Pentagon’s sacred cows,” – Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).

Please let there be more rational Republican leaders out there!

November 7, 2010

The Party of NO

by Vince

“I’m going to ensure that Republicans come out of the gate and seize this moment, we’ve really been given a second chance at a first impression and I’m going to tell them that we have to rise to the challenge with principle and conviction and not with this attitude that you saw coming from the White House yesterday and from some other quarters on the establishment left in Washington which was that somehow the message of the election was that they want Democrats and Republicans to work better together, to get along — good heavens,” – Mike Pence.

“The pre-election NYT poll found that 78 percent want the Republicans to compromise with Obama rather than stick to their positions in the next two years; 76 percent want the Dems to do the same; and a slightly lower percentage, but still overwhelming, wants Obama to compromise too: 69 percent.”

For the sake of the common good, I believe it is important for our politicians to work together. Unfortunately, the religious and non-religious right, both of which I have talked to regarding this, see the possibility of compromising as watering down their agendas, a sign of weakness, and giving in to the “enemy”. If that is the mindset, we will continue to be gridlocked and tap dance around issues with high voltage quotes as seen above.

H/T: TDD

November 7, 2010

Unemployment News of the Day

by Vince

Some reactions to the above graph here and a money quote below:

“The real question from Tuesday night’s outcome is how long can the US government issue its own increasingly toxic sovereign debt into the global market at a rate twice as fast as underlying economic growth? The cynic might say: as long as the Fed can continue to monetize 100% of the new debt issue, as it promised in Wednesday’s $100 billion per month quantitative easing 2 (QE2) announcement. But it should be obvious to all except the insouciant boys and girls and robots of Wall Street that the world’s leading central bank is now dispensing pure monetary heroin. And, ironically, that’s likely to kill the patient before the fiscal question is even addressed,” – David Stockman.

H/T: TDD

November 7, 2010

Quotes of the Week

by Vince

“If you look at the U.S., you look at who we’re electing to Congress, to the Senate—they can’t read,” he said. “I’ll bet you a bunch of these people don’t have passports. We’re about to start a trade war with China if we’re not careful here, only because nobody knows where China is. Nobody knows what China is.” ~ Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg

“There are multiple people being paid by Fox News to essentially run for office as Republican candidates. If you count not just their hosts but their contributors, you’re looking at a significant portion of the entire Republican lineup of potential contenders for 2012. They can do that because there’s no rule against that at Fox. Their network is run as a political operation. Ours isn’t. Yeah, Keith’s a liberal, and so am I. But we’re not a political operation — Fox is. We’re a news operation. The rules around here are part of how you know that.” ~Rachel Maddow