Saturday, June 11, 2005

Bible Study for Republicans 

Wish I'd thought of this:

Bush is my shepherd; I dwell in want.
He maketh logs to be cut down in national forests.
He leadeth trucks into the still wilderness.
He restoreth my fears.
He leadeth me in the paths of international disgrace for his ego's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of pollution and war, I will find no exit, for thou art in office.
Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy media control, they discount me.
Thou preparest an agenda of deception in the presence of thy religion.
Thou anointest my head with foreign oil.
My health insurance runneth out.
Surely megalomania and false patriotism shall follow me all the days of thy term,
And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.
(via UFOH1 at Kos)

Republicans trying to claw back New York's 9/11 money 

Of course, Bush promised New York $20 billion in recovery money, so we should have seen this coming:

The feds are expected today to take back $169 million in misused and unspent 9/11 relief money meant for victims of the terror attack, congressional officials said.
(via NY Daily News)

Oh, wait, that sounds reasonable. The money was "misused." And what was the mis-use?

Read on. Seven paragraphs down, here it comes:

A Government Accountability Office report found that $44 million was improperly spent by New York bureaucrats who failed to follow guidelines, sources said.

The money was meant to be used for administrative costs, but much of it ended up compensating victims instead.

I'm speechless.

NOTE Thanks to alert reader grannyinsanity.

Rich Fucks: Don't want people walking on the beach in front of your house? Bulldoze the beach! 

The world is their gated community, and you don't get to live there:

It is a perennial conundrum for any self-respecting Malibu millionaire: how to stop the public from unrolling their gaudy towels on the beach in front of your house and cluttering up the view of the ocean from the infinity pool.

The answer this year, it seems, is as simple as it is drastic. The association representing owners of the 108 palatial homes that front Broad Beach - one of Malibu's most exclusive locations, where the residents include Goldie Hawn, Steven Spielberg, Dustin Hoffman and Danny DeVito - has caused uproar by using bulldozers to remove the beach.

Tonnes of wet sand were pushed from the publicly owned area up to the high tide mark, creating a huge barrier.
(via Guardian)

And, naturally, Rich Fucks lie without shame about what they're doing, and why:

Marshall Grossman, a Broad Beach homeowner and lawyer, told the newspaper that the intent was not to block public access, but to restore the sandy dunes in front of the homes that were eroded during storms last winter. "When that happens, homeowners bring their own sand back to the dunes, or bring in replacement sand from outside. It doesn't interfere with public access, because the dunes are simply restored to what they were."


Oh, wait. The Richness of Rich Fucks is ordained by God, so nothing they do can be Fucked. I know, because James Dobson told me so. But I forgot. I'm so sorry. I take it all back.

Give 'em hell, Howard! 

Sure hope Pelosi and Biden ("D"-MBNA) don't trash Dean on Press the Meat tomorrow:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Howard Dean said Saturday that positive responses from supporters have reinforced his determination to keep talking tough despite suggestions from some congressional Democrats that the party chairman should tone down his rhetoric.

``People want us to fight,'' Dean told the national party's executive committee. ``We are here to fight.''

Damn straight. Especially since being bend-over, nice-guy stooges (back) hasn't served the Beltway Dems real well.

Over the past week, Dean described Republicans as ``pretty much a white, Christian party'' and said many in the GOP ``never made an honest living.''

Dean's only mistake? He didn't go far enough. If Dean weren't so damn polite and mild-mannered, he would have said "so-called Christian," and would have said "never made an honest living, and a lot of them make dishonest ones. Take Tom DeLay—please!"

Several Democratic lawmakers distanced themselves from their chairman.

When will they figure out that if they don't do that, there's no story? The Republicans are masters at playing "Let's You and Him Fight," and the Beltway Dems, like the stooges they are, fall for it over and over again. Even Donnie Fowler gets that:

One of Dean's predecessors at the DNC, Don Fowler said, ``The controversy over this statement or that statement is a blip and only a blip.'' But Fowler complained about leading Democrats who aired their gripes last week. ``Even if they don't like it, they should have enough sense not to make those comments,'' Fowler said.

Oh no! Howard Dean is telling the truth again!

At the session in a downtown hotel, Dean accused Republicans of trying to suppress the vote, selling access to the White House for lobbyists and basically being dishonest with the public.

Move along people, move along, there's no story here!

``The reason the Republicans are in trouble is because there are so many cases where they say one thing and do something else,'' Dean said.

And the bottom line:

On political fundraising, the DNC trails the Republican Party by more than 2-to-1 despite Dean's reputation as a potent fundraiser. The Democrats have raised almost $19 million so far this year.

Dean said he is bringing in $1 million weekly. Records show the DNC took in $13.8 million over the first three months of 2005, compared with $8.4 million during the same period in 2003, the last year without a federal election. Terry McAuliffe was party chairman then.

Nice little slant with that "despite," eh? The relevant comparison is not Dean to Republicans—the Republicans, as the party of Rich Fucks, will always do better at raising money than Democrats. The relevant comparison is in the next paragraph, where Dean is trouncing the competition, Beltway-beloved Terry McAuliffe.

Dean has given more than $1 million from the DNC to state parties. He said the DNC plans to share some of the money Dean raises for the national party when he is in a state. Both of these moves are winning him support from state party leaders.

A 50 state campaign. Builds for the future, instead of letting consultants figure out which swing states to try to win.

But when a DNC member joked that the best way to get the chairman's attention was to ``jump up and down,'' a grinning Dean fired back: ``That's my job.''

The crowd of Democratic activists burst into applause.
(AP via Guardian)

When you know you're under the Republican boot, you scream. If you're not screaming, you're not paying attention.


Mimus Pauly (A Mockingbird's Medley) tagged me on another one of these tag-game things and so I feel obliged to respond. This particular tag-it round is kind of like a marketing survey and is pretty long so I'm not going to answer many of the questions because, well, I don't want to, and because I don't answer marketing surveys if I can help it. And because I don't think anyone really cares - for instance - what my three favorite hobbies are (I don't even care what they are) or what my three "everyday essentials" (whatever that means) might consist of. And for the most part this tag-it match has little or nothing to do with with the usual roll and reel of socio-political harangue we normally escape to here.

So, not to be a complete no-show on this one, I plucked five questions from the list and answered those, hopefully, for the benefit of your amusement. What the hell, it's just the weekend. Begin the silliness:

Three things you are wearing right now:
1: snowmobile boots 2: performance enhancing visionwear 3: my cowboy lesbian Texas jockstrap holster with 1858 New Army Nickel Gold Engraved .44 caliber pistols.

Three favorite songs:
1: songs of innocence 2: songs of experience 3: songbirds

Three things that scare you:
1: The Angel of Death. 2: Nancy Grace 3: The possibility that 1 and 2 may be the same thing.

Three careers you have considered/are considering:
1: Selling nylon hosiery door to door. 2: Make BIG $$$$ selling hamsters! The new wonder animal from Syria. 3: Playing the Hawaiian guitar on the radio.

Three places you want to go on vacation:
1: Ireland 2: Europe 3: That place in Arkansas, I think it's in Arkansas, where some guy is entombed inside the thumb of the big giant fiberglass Jesus.

There ya have it. What did you expect me to be wearing? You can read more on this topic, browse the complete list of questions, or learn what others are wearing by visiting MP at A Mockingbird's Medley.


Run, Do Not Walk 

I've been off-line for most of the week, so everyone but me may already know about this one.

But if you haven't visited The Poor Man recently, make haste.

Among the kittens and an essential piece of analysis by The Medium Lobster, you will find one of the most brilliant, enlightening pieces of both parody and satire it has been my pleasure to read in lo those many years since I first understood that little boys were different from little girls, surely the essential basis for irony. (Or not; have to think about that one.)

The editors' focus here is on "The Corner," that gathering place for the brightest minds of that Olympian virtual publication, National Review online, and the The Poor Man's editors have looked into that heart of darkness so that you don't have to. This is the essential "Corner," for smarties. (Don't pass up the internal links, either.)

And at the end of a week of many seminal revelations about the Bush regime, if you're asking yourself why I'm pointing you toward humor, it is a well-known fact that laughter is energizing, angst enervating.

Go forth and be renewed. (And don't miss the featured posts by Julia and Ted Barlow.

PS: Has anyone figured out how you get back to The Poor Man's Home page, once you follow the permanent link to a particular post? If so, please advise in comments.

I'm just wild about Harry 

More from The Department of Red Meat:

[Harry] Reid has apologized for calling Bush a "loser," but in Rolling Stone, when the magazine interviewer noted the apology, the senator emphasized, "But never for the 'liar,' have I?"
(via Oxford Press)

Now there's a Dem who knows how apologize! Are you listening, Joe Biden (D-MBNA?)

Look! Over there! Howard Dean told the truth again!

The Republic under the Republicans 


Pulling the plug on the mikes during a hearing? WTF?

NOTE Image in the public domain from Adrian Pingstone at Wikipedia.

Now, let's watch that darn liberal media downplay Sensenbrenner's abuse of power 

Piggy-backing on Riggsveda's post (below), the story is that a Republican committee chair repeatedly cut off Democratic witnesses, turned off the mikes, and stormed out of the hearing, gavel in hand.

So, how does Pravda on the Potomac cover the story?

Here's the headline on page 1: "Patriot Act Meeting Disrupted". Not a breath, not hint of the idea that the Republican chair of the meeting was doing the disruption! [UPDATE: Izvestia on the Hudson does the exact same thing: "Hearing on Patriot Act Ends in an Angry Uproar" But why? Gosh, what a setup for a "he said/she said"!]

And here's WaPo's headline on the inside (page A04, not too bad): "Panel chairman leaves hearing. Still nothing unusual, right? I mean, if the panel chair didn't leave the meeting, it would go on forever, right? [UPDATE The Times re-uses the leaving-reader-clueless "Angry Uproar" headline on the inside.]

And now the story. To his credit, Mike Allen gets the story into the lead:

After repeated criticism of the Bush administration, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday gaveled a hearing to a close and walked out while Democrats continued to testify -- but with their microphones shut off.

As [Banana Republican] Sensenbrenner left, [Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)] continued talking and was applauded after saying that "part of the problem is that we have not had the opportunity to have hearings on all these other administration policies that have led to abuses."

"The other thing that I wanted to say -- and that I will say at this point, even though the chairman is not going to listen," Nadler said.

Then his voice faded out. "I notice that my mike was turned off," Nadler said, speaking up, "but I can be heard anyway."
(via Wapo)


UPDATE And David Kirkpatrick the Times reporter, again, actually gets the story into the lead:

A hearing on the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act degenerated into chaos on Friday, as Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. called Democrats "irresponsible," gaveled the session to a premature close and stormed out of the room.
(via Times)

So, again, "premature" would imply that the "uproar" was the responsibility, well, of the ruling Partei, eh? Not a hint of that in the headlines from The World's Greatest Newspaper (not!)

Of course we, as Democratic (though unrepresented) taxpayers, paid for that microphone.

So in what sense is pulling the plug on the Dems and walking out "leaving" a meeting, as the story headline has it? Doesn't that headline obscure, rather than summarize the story? And doesn't A1's passive "Disruption" obscure the essential point that the chair of the heading was the one doing the disruption?

It's almost like there's a defense in depth against covering anything the Dems might do, isn't there? If a reporter actaully writes the story, the editors, if they don't spike it, obscure the point with headlines (which the reporters don't write, remember). And the editors are the managers, so if the paper systematically screws up, it's down to them, not the reporters. The reporters will be working stiffs, soon enough, when the corporations finish gutting the newsrooms...

UPDATE WaPo's reasonable ombudsman, Michael Getler, is here. Barney Calame, the untested Times ombudsman—though how could he possible be worse than the foppish elegant Little Danny Okrent—is here.

Watch Your Right To Representation Grab The Gavel And Walk Out The Door 

Piggy-backing on Lambert's two previous posts regarding the Sensenbrenner "Fuck you and the representative horse you rode in on" outrage, here is a link to two clips at Dem Bloggers so you can actually witness this political travesty. Click both clips for the full monty. Traffic may be heavy, so you may have to wait after clicking for them to start, or you may need to goose them along as they buffer by hitting the play button a few times. Well worth it, though.

Thanks to the ever-vigilant eRobin at Fact-esque for the heads up.

Friday, June 10, 2005

This picture needs a caption! 


[For background, back]

NOTE These contests seem to draw a good response. I think I'm going to have to invent The Department of Red Meat...

The Corrente Writer Formerly Known as farmer 

The traditionally heroic Corrente writer formerly known as farmer has been reading too much—or just enough—Lynn Cheney, and now insists (back) on being addressed as "the lesbian cowboy."

So, in honor of TCWFKf's, um, emergence, I'd like to reprint the following lines from Gertrude Stein's great poem, Lifting Belly (A tip of the Ol' Corrente Hat to, yet again, The New Yorker. Janet Malcolm's terrific, revelatory article on Gertrude Stein is not online, so reward good behavior at your local newsstand.)

But herewith:

Lifting belly what is earnest. Expecting an arena to be monumental.
Lifting belly is recognized to be the only spectacle present. Do you mean that.
Lifting belly is a language. It says island. Island a strata. Lifting belly is a repetition.

I want to tell about fire. Fire is that which we have when we have olive. Olive is a wood. We like linen. Linen is ordered. We are going to order linen.
All belly belly well.
Bed of coals made out of wood.
I think this one may be an expression. We can understand heating and burning composition. Heating with wood.

I say that I need protection.
You shall have it.
After that what do you wish.
I want you to mean a great deal to me.
And then.
And then blandishment.
(via Tyke O'Brien dissertation)

But does this mean no more Mr. P-Niss blogging?

NOTE I can't find the full text online. Alert readers?

We paid for this microphone, Rep(rehensible) Sensenbrenner! 

Yet again the Republicans demonstrate that they'll do anything to deny the 50% of Americans who don't vote for them any voice (though we do get to pay our taxes for the privilege of having them silence and abuse us):

The Republican chairman walked off with the gavel, leaving Democrats shouting into turned-off microphones at a raucous hearing Friday on the Patriot Act.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the panel, abruptly gaveled the meeting to an end and walked out, followed by other Republicans. Sensenbrenner declared that much of the testimony, which veered into debate over the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, was irrelevant.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., protested, raising his voice as his microphone went off, came back on, and went off again.

"We are not besmirching the honor of the United States, we are trying to uphold it," he said.
(via AP)

Damn straight.

And the way the Republicans rushed out, you'd think they have guilty consciences, or something. Oh, wait, they're wingers....

Hey, but let's look at the bright side! At least Sensenbrenner didn't try to bring the new civility to Washington, DC by have the Dems arrested, the way Bill "Fruitcake" Thomas did...

UPDATE Thanks to alert reader tommywonk for correcting "Senator" to "Representative", or "Rep." Let me clarify the all this by adding a usage example: "Rep. Sensenbrenner, R-Rich Fucks."

Baghdad George 

Remember our old pal Baghdad Bob? You know, the Iraqi Information Minister? We used to make fun of him, for being a Little Detached from Reality and also Just Making Shit Up.

He's got competition, as Juan Cole points out in his elegantly understated style. Yeah, it's at Salon; sit through the damn ad, it won't kill you and at least it ain't registration. From P. 2:
As journalist Sarah Whalen pointed out in the Arab News, the increasingly effective guerrilla war has vindicated Baghdad Bob. "Baghdad Bob" (his real name was Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf) was the spokesman for the Iraqi regime who issued an endless stream of ludicrous pronouncements about how the mighty Iraq army was turning Baghdad into a mass grave for Americans, and so on. Today, many of his predictions, such as the one that the Iraqis would hurl "bullets and shoes" at the invading U.S. military, not bouquets of roses, have come true. But if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Sahhaf has been honored on a higher plane. His rhetorical strategy, of simply denying reality, has now been taken over by his arch-nemesis, George W. Bush.
BTW, this would be a good weekend to remember the old line "Keep Watching the Skies!" You got the White Girl du Jour still missing in Aruba, Jacko's jury still out (with, I hear, 2200 reporters standing out in the heat to cover it), and a friggin' tropical storm getting ready to hit the Gulf and connected inland regions including me. Count on a Friday/Saturday Data Dump of massive proportions, although what could be a whole lot worse than the shit that's already out there is enough to inspire early drinking.

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Stick It To The Kids 

tvsmash The Washington Post reports that yesterday the House Subcommittee on labor, health and human services, and "education", expressed its dedication to early learning and equal educational access for all economic classes by voting to slash 25% of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's budget, a quarter of which will be aimed at children's educational programming, like Sesame Street and that Margaret Spelling bete noire, Postcards From Buster. As WaPo says, this will be the most drastic cut in the CPB budget since it was created by Congress in 1967. It could result in the death of the programs many of us grew up with, and learned from. Even Nixon couldn't kill it. But Nixon was no 2005 Republican yahoo with control of all 3 branches of government and a propaganda arm any totalitarian regime would die for. But not to worry. It should only affect liberals, minorities, the rural, and the poor:
"Small public radio stations, particularly those in rural areas and those serving minority audiences, may be the most vulnerable to federal cuts because they currently operate on shoestring budgets.
"This could literally put us out of business," said Paul Stankavich, president and general manager of the Alaska Public Radio Network, an alliance of 26 stations in the state that create and share news programming. "Almost all of us are down to the bone right now. If we lost 5 or 10 percent of our budgets in one fell swoop, we could end up being just a repeater service" for national news, with no funds to produce local content.
Stankavich, who also runs a public radio and TV station in Anchorage, said public radio is "an important source of news in urban areas, but it's life-critical in rural areas," especially in far-flung parts of Alaska unserved by any other broadcast medium."
No, this has nothing at all to do with Republican hatchetman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, who has been making murderous noises about the agency put under his watchful eye. Nothing to do with a bloated budget that can make room for a bridge in Alaska to nowhere that no one will use, but needs to hack kids' programs that help them learn to read.

"Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), the subcommittee's chairman, said the cuts had nothing to do with dissatisfaction over public radio or TV programs. "It's pretty simple," he said in an interview. "The thinking was, there's not enough money for everything. There are 'must-do,' 'need-to-do' and 'nice-to-do' programs that we have to pay for. [Public broadcasting] is somewhere between a 'need-to-do' and a 'nice-to-do.'
The subcommittee had to decide, he said, on cutting money for public broadcasting or cutting college grants, special education, worker retraining and health care programs. "No one's out to get" public broadcasting, Regula said. "It's not punitive in any way."
But college grants WERE cut. Oh, I forgot. After all that money they lost in Iraq, it has to be made up somewhere, doesn't it? And kids don't need to read in order to shoulder a gun and kill someone, when all is said and done.

And While We're Talking About "The West" And "The Skinny, Silent Spines of Books" 

A story torn from the headlines....

...well, the headlines at Common Dreams, anyway. But it is an inspiring story, one that reminds us that there is no one narrative of "the West." And it comes from my most favorite cowgirl, broadly defined, a true daughter of the West, Anne Lamott.

If there is one institution in the life of the nation that has consistently functioned as an avenue of opportunity open to all, a great equalizer, if you will, in the sense that its rewards are bestowed almost exclusively on the basis of the merits of one's own efforts, is there anyone who would dare deny that institution is the public library? I think we can all agree about that, even, or maybe especially, our red-state brothers and sisters. (I exempt from this formulation those paid and unpaid propagandists who proudly hail themselves the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy.)

On the other hand, the triumph of the spirit of Proposition 13 and Ronald Reagan's philosophy of government - that government is the problem, not the solution - had the effect of curtailing state and local revenues, even as more and more unfunded mandates were piled onto their shoulders in the name of Federalism, one of which results was the closing of public libraries all over America, along with the curtailing of what hours the remaining libraries were open, as well as all kinds of library programs. Here in Los Angeles, where oddly enough, the libraries most likely to be closed were in poorer and minority neighborhoods, the result could be seen in the long lines of young folks waiting to use the computers at our splendid downtown library, now their only access to a resource most middle class students take for granted, after they'd made a long, expensive trip to get there on LA's truly terrible public transportation system.

During our recent recession, and even now that it is supossedly over, George W. Bush has done even more than his hero, Reagan, managed to do, to tax the strength of state and local government, and painful cuts in vital programs are still being made all across America.

This year, that baneful need, to find some way to cut a budget that would otherwise outstrip tax receipts, came to Steinbeck country, i.e., Salinas, California, where the powers-that-be, in their desperation, I assume, decided to shut down all of their public libraries, the first community anywhere in America to take such a decision. Until, that is, "the word went out," as Anne Lamott describes it:
This is how many tribal stories begin: Word goes out to the people of a community that there is a great danger or wrong being committed. This is how I first found out that Salinas was going to be the first city in America to close its libraries because of budget cuts.

Without getting into any mudslinging about whether or not our leaders are clueless, bullying, nonreading numbskulls, let me just say that when word went out that the city's three libraries were scheduled for closure -- the John Steinbeck, the Cesar Chavez, and the El Galiban --a whole lot of people rose up as one to say this does not work for us.
And who didn't this work for? Well, in case you've never been through central California:
Salinas is one of the poorest communities in the state, within one of the richest counties in the country, the locale of so many of Steinbeck's great novels: Think farm workers, fields of artichokes, garlic, faded stucco houses stained with dirt, ticky-tacky housing tracts, John Ford, James Dean's face in ''East of Eden," strawberry fields, and old gas stations.

Now think about closing the libraries there, closing the buildings that hold the town's books, all those bound stories about people and wisdom and justice and life and silliness and laborers bending low to pick the strawberries. You'd have to be crazy to bring such obvious karmic repercussions down on yourself. So in early April, a group of writers and actors fought back, showing up in Salinas for a 24-hour ''emergency read-in."

My sad '60s heart soared like an eagle at the very name: an emergency read-in. George W. Bush and John Ashcroft tried for three years to create a country that the East Germans could only dream about, empowering the government to keep track of the books we checked out or bought, all in the name of national security. But they hadn't counted on how passionately we writers feel about saving the world, or at any rate, the worlds contained in the skinny, silent spines of books.

The whole article is similarly wonderful, and I'll provide you with the link momentarily. Before I do, I just want to quote one or two more of Lamott's paragraphs, so that Corrente will be ennobled by their presence in our midst:
We came together because we started out as children who were saved by stories, stories read to us at night when we were little, stories we read by ourselves, in which we could get lost, and thereby, found. Some of us had grown to become people with loud voices, which the farm workers and their children of this community all of a sudden needed. And we were mad. Show a bunch of writers a sealed library, and they see red. Perhaps they are a little sensitive, or overwrought, but they see a one-way tunnel into the dark. They see the beginnings of fascism.

A free public library is a revolutionary notion, and when people don't have free access to books, then communities are like radios without batteries. The entire flow of communication is bricked off. You cut people off from incredible sources of information -- mythical, practical, linguistic, or political -- and you break them. You render them helpless in the face of political oppression. We were not going to let this happen.

Okay, here's the link, now go and read the whole thing and be inspired.

If any of our alert readers have similar stories about the closing down of local cultural institutions, please tell us in comments, or in an email. And let us know about any local newspapers we should be surveying in trying to get a solid picture of what is happening on the ground, locally and specifically, which is where and how most of us live our various American experiences.

When Myth and Education Become One 

As farmer points up in his earlier post, Lynne Cheney links the ideas of patriotism and right-thinking (“moral values”) with uncritical approval of the state and glossing over the more embarrassing aspects of our history. And she has the pull to make changes that impact the educational system and affect how our kids apprehend that history. Instead of growing up to understand the complex dynamics that collided over the centuries to create what the US has become, and maybe being able to correct problems where they find them, Lynne would rather they become good little mommies and daddies who mind their own business, maintain the economy with plenty of consumption, and stay the hell out of the business of governing the nation. Which makes her somewhat the philosophical sister of the man who helped engineer the current educational system, Alexander Inglis, discussed in my own post below.

There is nothing new about wanting to show your country or its deeds in the best possible light, but the whitewashing of one’s history usually runs in harness with the creation of an alternate image, founded in myth, spread by clichés and buzzwords, and buttressed against erosion by the demonization of those who may disagree. In his wonderful book, “Death Sentences (How Clichés, Weasel Words, and Management-Speak Are Strangling Public Language)", Australian satirist and former speechwriter Don Watson took on this issue when he noted how the German government of the Nazi era crafted how the Germans were to see themselves, as a people (all italics are Watson's):
“To establish as fact the myth of German superiority, the Third Reich’s propagandists pursued two mutually reinforcing themes: the inferiority of certain others, and the delightfulness of themselves.”
He goes on to highlight some of the common phrases they used to that end: peace loving, fun loving, young, with an irrepressible will in direct opposition to the elites. “The phrase as a people might not be a lie”, he says, “but it smells like one”. Here’s the good stuff, 2 pages later:
“Propaganda, as the Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul says, is ‘the negation of language. It destroys memory and therefore removes any sense of reality.’ Abuse the language and you abuse the polity. If you construct a collective character and a mythic history and paint over them with invented virtues, you also abuse the people: you demean them and deny them their own history.
Myths are tempting to those who are in a position to manipulate their fellow human beings, because a myth is sacred, and what is sacred cannot be questioned. That’s where their power comes from. They simplify and provide meaning without the need for reason. They stifle doubt and provide relaxation and comfort. It is about here that they meet clichés, which are myths of language…
The Americans saying they lost their innocence on September 11, 2001, is a myth, and also a cliché. As Philip Roth said, the Al Qaeda attack produced an orgy of narcissism. Narcissism naturally spawns myths, myths of character and history, of good and evil. September 11 produced a torrent of American myths. The United States innocent? After slavery? After a Civil War? After the Puritans? After four hundred years, they’re still innocent?
It can only be fantasy, ignorance, or mischief—or a cliché that has lost its meaning through overuse and can be anything you want to make of it. It’s one of those clichés that might as well be called a lie. It contradicts what is known and what ought to be known; it does not help us understand a tragedy but rather diminishes it. It insults our intelligence. We may as well claim descent from Teutonic knights as claim to be innocent. As public language, it is the equivalent of airbrushing.”
It doesn't help us to rob our kids of their history, Lynne. But it does keep them docile and malleable, preventing them from serving their country by improving it while prepping them as cannon fodder.

And that's really what it's all about, isn't it?

The Creation of A Gamma Class Redux, or, Friday Pink Floyd Blogging 

John Taylor Gatto, people!

Since this seems to be shaping up as Corrente's special week-long education edition, let's think about the great meat-grinder, as Pink Floyd envisioned it, that has utterly masticated the public mind and pushed us all out into the same big bowl where we lie suitably stupefied, awaiting our rescue at the hands of the most recent politico-media creation, who will lie to our faces while convincing us of our duty to approve his theft of the last of our nation's principles. Or, as the Heads asked, "My God, how did I get here?"

I beg your indulgence as I cross-post this piece I did at my own site, and which only a couple days ago I linked to in comments. Not everyone has seen it, and it still has relevance, and not just because the state has begun choking off education funds to poor and middle-income people. What's more important, it introduces John Taylor Gatto and Alexander Inglis, both of whom you should get to know in order to understand what education is in this country and how it became what it is. Follow the link to read the piece discussed, and to get to more of his writing. Here it is:


In a December 23, 2004 NYTimes article,"Students to Bear More of the Cost of College" Greg Winter notes that, thanks to George Bush's compassionate conservatism, at least 1.3 million recipients of Pell Grants, the fed's main low-income college scholarship, will be getting less money next year, and almost 90,000 will get nothing at all. Now, this is a grant of about $4000 a year, max, and is often given in lesser amounts. Given the average cost of college, ($12,841 for public and $27,677 for private facilities,) even the maximum Pell isn't going to go too far. And this at a time when education costs have become so overwhelming that current graduates will be living with a crushing and almost life-long debt, a problem that The Village Voice examined in a series of articles last week.
The "domino effect", Winter predicts, will render grants and loans from states and institutions even more difficult to obtain. This means there is a greater ikelihood of personal loans being taken out for college, and we all know what has happened to the banking and loan industries in the tender years since Reagan released the sharks to do their worst on the poor of America.

What happens when education is no longer within reach of the poor, or even the middle-class? Why, you get Coolie America, a ready-made serving class without recourse or hope, glad to get what ill-paid, benefitless work it can, dulled by exhaustion and lack of opportunity, and clueless as to what the world may offer beyond one's day-to-day experiences. How perfect for the growing retail/service economy that relies increasingly on the availability of employees who will accept the bare minimum of workplace amenities, and will place no burdens on their management, no inconvenient unions, no fair labor demands! How else to compete with the sweatshops of the world but to create sweatshops of our own, and an uneducated gamma class to toil in them?

But you don't have to go as far as denying higher education to people in order to soften them up for cooliehood. We've got the American education system for that, and it's had scores of decades to dumb down the children it absorbs. We've seen the result coming to full fruition the last 30 years, and nowhere in the developed world do you find the hatred and fear of intellect and learning that you do in the United States. Book-bannings and -burnings, accusations of "elitism" hurled against political candidates who make the mistake of speaking a foreign language or having a liberal education, knowledge held in suspicion by people who are proud of their benightedness both in the countryside, where it becomes painted as "city liberal", and in the inner city, where it is labeled "acting white".

Into all this comes John Taylor Gatto, a firebrand trouble-making radical, whose writings on education are informed with years of teaching experience, and inspired by a great anger at the results of a system he believes has been created specifically to dumb down and pacify its millions of participants. His "AGAINST SCHOOL: How Public Education Cripples Our Kids, and Why", was published in Harper's in 2001, and he makes the point that historically, dating as far back as the beginning of the 20th century, public education was conceived as a way to induce in students conformity and an acceptance of a pre-disposed role in society, and to isolate and nurture those few identified as the elite, whose education would be higher, and who would become the future "caretakers" of the rest of their poor befuddled contemporaries. In fact, the author he cites as one of the architects of the American education philosophy, Alexander Inglis, could have been the very inspiration for Huxley's Brave New World:
"Inglis breaks down the purpose - the actual purpose - of modem schooling into six basic functions, any one of which is enough to curl the hair of those innocent enough to believe the three traditional goals listed earlier:
1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority. This, of course, precludes critical judgment completely. It also pretty much destroys the idea that useful or interesting material should be taught, because you can't test for reflexive obedience until you know whether you can make kids learn, and do, foolish and boring things.
2) The integrating function. This might well be called "the conformity function," because its intention is to make children as alike as possible. People who conform are predictable, and this is of great use to those who wish to harness and manipulate a large labor force.
3) The diagnostic and directive function. School is meant to determine each student's proper social role. This is done by logging evidence mathematically and anecdotally on cumulative records. As in "your permanent record." Yes, you do have one.
4) The differentiating function. Once their social role has been "diagnosed," children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits - and not one step further. So much for making kids their personal best.
5) The selective function. This refers not to human choice at all but to Darwin's theory of natural selection as applied to what he called "the favored races." In short, the idea is to help things along by consciously attempting to improve the breeding stock. Schools are meant to tag the unfit - with poor grades, remedial placement, and other punishments - clearly enough that their peers will accept them as inferior and effectively bar them from the reproductive sweepstakes. That's what all those little humiliations from first grade onward were intended to do: wash the dirt down the drain.
6) The propaedeutic function. The societal system implied by these rules will require an elite group of caretakers. To that end, a small fraction of the kids will quietly be taught how to manage this continuing project, how to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed in order that government might proceed unchallenged and corporations might never want for obedient labor."
Eliminate meaningful education, eliminate the means to get one, and remove the books and other human communications that could enable one to get an education on one's own. Demonize the mere idea of being educated, and the people themselves will do the rest. The fat cats can sit back and let the money roll in, while the endless supply of coolies keep coming down the pipeline.

And so it goes, as Vonnegut used to say.

Lynne Cheney's magical history tour... 

or westward ho the civilization!

"STORIES." Via FOX News (where else):

Transcript: Lynne Cheney on American History | Sunday, December 26, 2004

Transcript: Cardinal McCarrick on Christ
WASHINGTON — The following is a transcribed excerpt from 'FOX News Sunday,' December 26, 2004.

WALLACE: Let's talk about family values, which played a big role in this campaign. In the exit poll on Election Day, people were asked, what's the single biggest issue in how you decided your vote? And 22 percent of Americans said moral values.

It was a big surprise to a lot of us in the punditocracy, as they say. Twenty-two percent said moral values, more than chose the war on terrorism, Iraq, the economy, health care. What do you think those people were saying?

CHENEY: Well, I think it's something very, very broad. I got a wonderful letter from Bea Himmelfarb (search). I think of Bill Kristol as her son. This is a wonderful, scholarly woman. She wrote me about my book, "Washington Crossing the Delaware," and said, you know, I think when people were talking about moral values they were talking about patriotism, they were talking about love of country.

I think, to put it even more generally, they were talking about an uncynical approach to our nation and to our national story. There is in the mainstream media -- there has been, I think, in our political life, a real corrosive kind of cynicism, a notion that anytime anything goes right you have to sort of turn your nose up at it and say, "Well, it really wasn't all that great," a kind of undercutting cynicism.

And I think part of that moral-values question related to that, related to the idea that we ought to be able to say, this is a great country. We have made amazing progress in achieving human freedom for ourselves and for people around the world.

Recently I listened to Lynne Cheney (author of wild west lesbian cowboy stories) explain further this corrosive cynicism. In this instance Lady Cheney was cooing and burbling forth on the earlier noted "amazing progress in achieving human freedom for ourselves and for people around the world.", but mostly for ourselves, whoever ourselves is, Lynne Cheney didn't get into specifics. And who needs bother with cranky specifics when you're spilling historical ambrosia all over the dashboard. Not Lynne Cheney, she writes bodice rippers and used to work in a traditional woman's senior fellow shelter at the American Enterprise Institute. God bless you Mrs. Cheney.

By the way, nick, if you're reading this, I am not suggesting that all cowboys are lesbians. Oh hahaha, hell, yes I am. In fact, I myself am a lesbian cowboy. From now on I insist that you all stop calling me "the farmer" and address me henceforth as "the lesbian cowboy." Ok then, now that we've settled that, lets move along.

What was I talking about here? Oh yeah... In this or that case recently Lynne Cheney was reminding listeners that the progress of civil rights - "freedom for ourselves and for people around the world." - etc... and all that. Which in Lynne Cheney's pitch was a good thang, and deserved further emphasis as a condition of a good history education, dontcha know, and who can argue with that.

However, L. Cheney, (praise be unto God) then went on to explain that such, any such, naysayer negativity talk on behalf of (well, you know who) with respect to (well, you know what) was a corrosive and cynicism-like thang --- like you know that part where Big Time Dick (who is Lynne's lesbian chow wagon lover) just so happened to turn up his nose at such corrosions and cynical manipulations as extending the Civil Rights Act and springing Nelson Mandella from the cooler --- both clearly designed by (well, you know who) to defeat the moral and patriotic resolve of your average everyday history customer and ultimately, no doubt, destroy Western Civilization itself. What will we tell the children?

Well, we won't tell them jack shit about why there was a civil-rights movement in the first place apparently. Because that would be corrosive and nose turning. And we won't tell them that a whole lot of Lady Lynne's friends and trail buddies were the reason why America had a civil-rights movement in the first place. Which of course, if you remember the civil-rights movement, was a reaction against a decades old ingrained strain of bigotry sunk deep like a screw worm into the cultural body politic of particular mysterious segments of the nation and those mysterious segments of the right-wing of the Republican party and their poker buddies in the Dixiecrat Dem lost cause ward. Please don't ask me to explain that crap any further...

Just forget that, because, as my new internets pen-pal nick reminds me in comments, unraveling such ugly historical roots (despite being "deceptively easy", apparently) will prove "ultimately fruitless."

"Patriotically embarrassing episodes" will not be televised:
Ten years ago–October 20, 1994 to be exact–brought a screaming headline to the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal. Under the title “The End of History,” Lynne Cheney, former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, maligned the National History Standards that she had funded (along with the Department of Education) as a “grim and gloomy” monument to political correctness. She pronounced the standards project a disaster for giving insufficient attention to Robert E. Lee and the Wright brothers and far too much to obscure figures (such as Harriet Tubman) or patriotically embarrassing episodes (such as the Ku Klux Klan and McCarthyism).

Ms. Cheney, it will be remembered, asked the National Center for History in the Schools at UCLA to coordinate the writing of the standards that Congress had mandated in 1992. The standards were developed over thirty-two months in Los Angeles and Washington with teacher task forces working with academic historians, school administrators, and other history educators. Though approved by a national council, half of whose members were her appointees and endorsed by thirty major professional and public interest organizations, the standards were dismissed by Ms. Cheney as having no redeeming value. Her attack sparked a fierce media debate as the nation prepared for the November 1994 election. ~ Read more: Lynne Cheney's Attack on the History Standards, 10 Years Later (HNN) - By Gary B. Nash - Mr. Nash is Professor Emeritus, UCLA.

Of course the Ku Klux Klan is a rather embarrasing patriotically charged episodic American anomaly. It's a good thing it only lasted ten or fifteen years or who the heck knows it may have had some impact on that civil-rights movement stuff down through the years. And really, do we need to waste valuable quality time explaining an embarrasing chapter like the KKK to America's bright eyed and bushy tailed future generations of go-getters yearing to breath free-booter laissez faire economic quackeries in cheesy repeat after me business schools. I don't think so! Robert E. Lee freed the slaves! And don't you forget it neither.
"in every part of the country, school children are dancing and jumping rope, activities that do not involve competition, instead of playing games like dodgeball, from which a winner emerges."

That of course marked Lynne Cheney's famous Dodgeball Emancipation Movement. Which of course (God willing) will go down in the history books right next to the civil-rights movement and the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment as another one of the greatest accomplishments of modern enlightened man. The Equal Rights Amendment, if you recall, had it passed, would have required proud patriotic American uber-man to shake dry his large grisly wiener over a urinal while cowboy lesbians giggled like ninnies from the adjacent stalls. You remember the ERA debate right? Of course you do. It's a good thang that the ERA didn't pass because the last thing I want is some cowboy lesbian or Susan Sarandon standing beside me eyeballing my patriotic steely resolve leathernecked wiener while I pee into a porcelain enamel tank. But wait!, I am a cowboy lesbian myself! Which is why....when this blogging crap becomes pretty gawd-awful boring (like right now especially) I think it would be cool to be playing dodgeball with a half dozen scantily clad lesbians all shaking their balls at me. And then after we were done running around and taking cheap shots at each other with each others balls we would drive to Philadelphia and kill some pathetic loser ice cream vendor while quoting from Focault's Madness and Civilization and after that go to a hotel room and shower and play some other games like that dancing game Lynne Cheney mentioned and that smoking ro..., I mean jumping!, heh, I mean jumping rope game, too, yeah, sure... and then...and then, they (the competitive lesbians that is) would feed me quaaludes and we would all drink whiskey sours and watch a winner emerge. Or whatever. But of course that really has nothing at all to do with American history does it? I din't think so. And I trust that none of you will repeat this in front of your civilized western children (even if they are cowboy western lesbian children).

Having put up half the money, she believed she was entitled to the history standards she wanted, guidelines that would exalt traditional heroes, put a happy face on the American past, and broadcast the triumph of western civilization. As Steven J. Ross, chairman of the Department of History at the University of Southern California put it in an op-ed essay in the LA Times on October 13, "Destroying books that disagree with one's vision of history will never take us closer to truth and freedom." John Hergesheimer, a much honored teacher in Whittier, California, took up pen in a letter to the editor of the LA Times to express his dismay “that the routine update of a useful and positive United States government handbook for parents could be hijacked and turned into the personal vehicle for the right-wing views of one person–even if she is the wife of the vice-president.” ~ HNN

Hey, while we're on the subject of the traditional heroes... uhmm... didn't Ronald Reagan and Col. Rhett Ralston liberate Onofre Beach during WW2? I think they did. I heard about it from Andrew Sullivan. Who is not a lesbian or even a cowboy as far as I know but rather a kinda pudgy balding loafer-light bloke from England. So who would know better than he about important Anglo Saxon-like traditional historical heroes? And why isn't Ronald Reagan's liberation of Onofre Beach being taught in 3rd grade western civ history lessons? It's an outrage! Someone get me Lady Cheney on the phone! Right now, BIG TIME!

You there! Gail. Unhand that unbroached maiden and drop the Colt 44 engraved Navy replicas and fetch me the cordless 2.4 gig Uniden and another whiskey sour from the minibar!


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Rapture Index Up 2, on New Paul Anka Album 

Roll over, Will Shatner, and tell Pat Boone the news: Paul Anka covers "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on his new album, "Rock Swings."

Snippet here (iTunes required).

We now return to our regularly scheduled Bush bashing.

(And fixed embarrassing screwup of Shatner's name.)


Brief items this a.m. because time is tight and I truly don't want to detract from farmer's fascinating post previous.

Michael Jackson gets the vapors over the impending verdict to be delivered by his jury. Is there any better evidence that the rich in this country are funneled through one legal system while the poor get another? Can you imagine Joe Schmoe from E. 115th St. being allowed the perks and special consideration Jackson has gotten all through this trial? Hell, no, he'd be waiting in Rykers, fending off a cellmate named Feemo.

Elsewhere, Howard Dean defends himself yet again from charges that he's being outrageous, after having made the absurd comment that the Republican party is primarily white and Christian. Well, of course it's not, Howard. Anyone with eyes to see could tell that by watching the footage of the RNC last year. Personally, when I hear the letters GOP, I invariably think: black Muslims.

In Africa, women are being asked to wear a Rube Goldberg-like variation of the vagina dentata, not so much to prevent rape as to mark the rapist after the attack. Somewhat like those paint capsules that explode all over a bank robber's clothes for easy identification, only just on the penis. And with claws. Seems rather lacking on the preventative aspect side, to me.

Ah, the Human Comedy.

Fractured Fairytales 

The Lost Cause will rise again or The Great Revival of Southern Attitudes.

Quick post. I haven't been posting much myself because I'm pretty much in the same muddy situation RDF is in at this point. It's just that time of year and tomorrow I will be thrashing about in the sun erecting Agribon/AG19 floating party tents over my eggplants and Ancho/Poblano chile peppers. Because everyone loves eggplants gone wild! And ancho peppers love a hot sweaty party tent! And... ya know. Just thought I'd share that sexy agricultural catering tip with ya. Especially if you're trying to grow eggplants north of the Mason Dixon line.

Among other things. But, aside from all that I'd just like to throw this post up as quickly as possible...

Anyway, what follows are excerpts from W.J. Cash's original American Mercury essay published October 1929 (HL Mencken editor). Tom's post below: Why not now?, as well as kelley b's regionally topical comment to Tom's post reminded me of it. And in part as a respone to Tom's question below: "So why the disconnect between historical reality and what I had to slog through every day at the reading?" And in part as a response to the historical tendency of too many American's to disappear under the amber waves of sop-bath historical narrative and self aggrandizing patriotic foam.

THE MIND OF THE SOUTH ~ BY W. J. CASH - The American Mercury October, 1929.

ONE hears much in these days of the New South. The land of the storied rebel becomes industrialized; it casts up a new aristocracy of money-bags which in turn spawns a new noblesse; scoriac ferments spout and thunder toward an upheaval and overturn of all the old social, political, and intellectual values and an outgushing of divine fire in the arts—these are the things one hears about. There is a new South, to be sure. It is a chicken-pox of factories on the Watch-Us-Grow maps; it is a kaleidoscopic chromo of stacks and chimneys on the club-car window as the train rolls southward from Washington to New Orleans.

But I question that it is much more. For the mind of that heroic region, I opine, is still basically and essentially the mind of the Old South. It is a mind, that is to say, of the soil rather than of the mills—a mind, indeed, which, as yet, is almost wholly unadjusted to the new industry.

Its salient characteristic is a magnificent incapacity for the real, a Brobdingnagian talent for the fantastic. The very legend of the Old South, for example, is warp and woof of the Southern mind. The "plantation" which prevailed outside the tidewater and delta regions was actually no more than a farm; its owner was, properly, neither a planter nor an aristocrat, but a backwoods farmer; yet the pretension to aristocracy was universal. Every farmhouse became a Big House, every farm a baronial estate, every master of scant red acres and a few mangy blacks a feudal lord. The haughty pride of these one-gallus squires of the uplands was scarcely matched by that of the F. F. V’s of the estuary of the James. Their pride and their legend, handed down to their descendants, are today the basis of all social life in the South.

Such romancing was a natural outgrowth of the old Southern life. Harsh contact with toil was almost wholly lacking, as well for the poor whites as for the grand dukes. The growing of cotton involves only two or three months of labor a year, so even the slaves spent most of their lives on their backsides, as their progeny do to this day. The paternal care accorded the blacks and the white trash insured them against want. Leisure conspired with the languorous climate to the spinning of dreams. Unpleasant realities were singularly rare, and those which existed, as, for example, slavery, lent themselves to pleasant glorification. Thus fact gave way to amiable fiction.

It is not without a certain aptness, then, that the Southerner’s chosen drink is called moonshine. Everywhere he turns away from reality to a gaudy world of his own making. He declines to conceive of himself as the mad king’s "poor, bare, forked animal"; in his own eyes, he is eternally a noble and heroic fellow. He has always displayed a passion for going to war. He pants after Causes and ravening monsters— witness his perpetual sweat about the nigger. (No matter whether the black boy is or is not a menace, he serves admirably as a dragon for the Southerner to belabor with all the showiness of a paladin out of a novel by Dr. Thomas Dixon. The lyncher, in his own sight, is a Roland or an Oliver, magnificently hurling down the glove in behalf of embattled Chastity.)

Even Rotary flourishes primarily as a Cause, as another opportunity for the Southerner to puff and prance and be a noble hotspur. His political heroes are, typically, florid magnificoes, with great manes and clownish ways—the Bleases and the Heflins. (It is said sometimes, I know, that they are exalted only by the rascals and the dolts, but, on a basis of observation, I make bold to believe that, while all decent Southerners vote against them, most do so with secret regret and only for the same reason that they condemn lynching, to wit: that they are self-conscious before the frown of the world, that they are patriots to the South.)


How this characteristic reacts with industrialism is strikingly shown by the case of the cotton-mill strikes in the Carolinas. Of the dozen-odd strikes which flared up a few months ago, not one now remains. All failed. New ones, to be sure, are springing up as a result of the unionization campaign which Thomas F. McMahon, president of the United Textile Workers of America, is waging in the region. But the U. T. W. A. failed in similar campaigns in 1920 and in 1923 and, in the light of recent history, I see no reason to believe that the present drive is likely to be any more successful.

Yet the peons of the mills unquestionably have genuine grievances, in the absolute. Wages rarely top $20. The average is from $11 to $14, with the minimum as low as $6. The ten-hour or eleven-hour day reigns. It is true that, as most of the mills own their own villages, houses are furnished the workers at nominal rentals. But, save in the cases of Cramerton, N. C., the Cone villages at Greensboro, and a few other such model communities, the houses afforded are hardly more than pig-sties. The squalid, the ugly, and the drab are the hallmarks of the Southern mill town. Emaciated men and women and stunted children are everywhere in evidence.

But the Southerner sees and understands nothing of this. Force his attention to the facts and he will, to be sure, appear for the nonce to take cognizance of them, will even be troubled, for he is not inhumane. But seek to remind him tomorrow of the things you have shown him today and you will discover no evidence that he recalls them at all; his talk will be entirely of the Cone villages and Cramerton and he will assume in all discussions of the merits of the case that these model kraals are typical of the estate of the mill-billy. The whole cast of his mind inhibits retention and contemplation of the hard facts, and he honestly believes that Cramerton is typical, that the top wage is the average wage. That is to say, he can honestly see only the pleasant thing. That is why, quite apart from antinomian considerations, the Southern newspapers almost unanimously denounced the accurate stories of the strikes printed by the New York World and the Baltimore Sun as baseless fabrications, inspired purely by sectional malice.


Moreover, the mind of the Southerner is an intensely individualistic mind. There again, it strikes back to the Old South, to the soil. The South is the historic champion of States’ Rights. It holds Locke’s "indefeasibility of private rights" as axiomatic. Its economic philosophy is that of Adam Smith, recognizing no limitations on the pursuit of self-interest by the individual, and counting unbridled private enterprise as not only the natural order but also the source of all public good. Laissez-faire is its watchword.

The Southerner is without inkling of the fact that, admirably adapted as such a philosophy was to the simple, agricultural society of the Jeffersonian era, it is inadequate for dealing with the industrial problems of today. He has never heard of the doctrine of the social function of industry and would not understand it if he had. He cannot see that industrialism inevitably consolidates power into the hands of a steadily decreasing few, and enables them, if unchecked, to grab the lion’s share of the product of other men’s labor; he cannot see that the worker in a machine age is not an individual at all but an atom among atoms—that he is no longer, and cannot possibly be, a free agent. Under the Southern view, even a cotton-mill is an individual. If a peon cares to work for the wage it chooses to pay, very well; if he doesn’t, let him exercise a freeman’s privilege and quit. But for him to combine with his fellows and seek to tie up the operation of the mill until his wages are raised—that, as the South sees it, is exactly as if a lone farm-hand, displeased with his pay, took post with a shotgun to bar his employer from tilling his fields.

The lint-head of the mills, indeed, is the best individualist of them all, and for this there is excellent reason. Often enough he owns a farm, his ancestral portion in the hills— rocks, pinebrush, and abrupt slopes, but still a farm, well adapted to moonshining. If he is landless, there are hundreds of proprietors eager to secure him as a tenant, an estate in which he will not have to work more than three months out of twelve. As a result, there is a constant flow back and forth between the soil and the mills. Thus the Southern peon is not, in fact, and as an individual, as irrevocably bound to the wheel of industry as his Northern brother, since he may always escape to churldom. The equally valid fact that, because only a handful can escape at any given time, the mass of his fellows are held irretrievably in bondage is lost upon him. He is always, in his own eyes, a man apart. He exhibits the grasping jealousy for petty personal advantage, the refusal to yield one jot or tittle for the common good, characteristic of the peasant. If, by a miracle, he is ambitious, his aspirations run, not to improving his own status by improving that of the class to which, in reality, he is bound, but to gaudy visions of himself as a member of the master class, as superintendent or even president of the mills. His fellows may be damned.


Whichever party best combines causes and monsters and clinches its claim to the banner of God will win. Party labels may or may not be changed. In any case, I believe, the mind of the South will remain the same. [excerpts above - WJ Cash / The American Mercury, October, 1929]

Sound familiar? Twelve years later Cash would publish TMS (based on the original AM contribution) in book form (Alfred F. Knoft, 1941 - 429 pages). Cash deals extensively with the South's capacity for fabulous romanticized historical narrative, but, I think, the characteristics and examples Cash gives in 1929 and later in 1941 can safely be applied to a great extent even today.

The Mind of the South will rise again.

The Mind of the South is still in print and you can get your hooks on a copy via the usual outlets. I reccomend reading the book as opposed to just the original essay since Cash articulates his points to a far greater degree in the book than in the original essay. Cash also takes his swings at the greedy northeastern moneybags who exploit the South for its self deluded cheap labor plantation economics. So pick up a copy from your local bookstore, or wherever you buy books,... etc... etc...

The Mind of the South

More on WJ Cash (including the original TMS 1929 American Mercury manuscript) here: WJ Cash.org


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Why not now? 

I haven't mentioned it before but I've spent the last week grading Advanced Placement U.S. History exams on the campus of my alma mater, Trinity University in San Antonio.

I've been grading a Document-Based-Question (DBQ for short) for the last three days that deals with the Revolution and its immediate aftermath.

Here's the text of the question:

To what extent did the American Revolution fundamentally change American society? In your answer be sure to address the political, social, and economic effects of the Revolution in the period from 1775 to 1800.
Following the question are several different documents from the period and the student is to construct an answer using those documents and their knowledge of the subject.

What I've found fascinating is what the students have been saying in their responses. The overwhelming majority (80% at least) of the essays contend that the Revolution led to "major" (or "fundamental" or "big" or "enormous" or "wonderful") positive changes politically, socially, and economically. Reading these essays has been like a lesson in American triumphalism and historical wishful thinking.

The students tell me the political system after the revolution was great! The society was immediately improved by the Revolution! Everyone could vote! Women's lives improved! Taxes dropped! And that, of course, led to incredible economic growth that made America a world economic power overnight!

In short, what we're getting from the best high school students in America is the usual mythological meta-narrative about the Revolution. It's the historical version of the arrogance Americans still have about their country today. These students argue that America is the best country in the world and always has been. The American success story started immediately after the Revolution. America was the best place to live ever since 1776, as soon as we broke away from those nasty Brits! It was always sunny and warm and wonderful and bountiful from that point onward.

As you can imagine, all 950 of us historians and A.P. teachers at the reading are pretty aghast at the gushing spasms of historical sweetness we've been reading.

The reality, however, for Americans from 1775 to 1800 was actually quite different. The students are even provided with hand-picked documents that make just that sort of case quite convincingly.

What was it really like? Well, when the Revolution ended, the American economy went into a tailspin that was quite an awful thing to behold. Trade dried up for quite some time (several years), there was a shortage of currency, and things were not at all wonderful for people who made their living off of trading or growing or making anything.

America's problems were compounded by the fact that, in the wake of the Revolution, states quickly raised taxes incredibly in an attempt to pay off the states' rather considerable war debts. They raised taxes so high that most of their citizens simply could not pay them, not that they had the currency to do so anyway. Taxes most certainly did not drop, quite the contrary thing happened. In contrast to the students' triumphal meta-narrative, Americans after the Revolution paid much higher taxes than they would have if they had stayed in the British empire.

In fact, in some states like Massachusetts farmers even began losing their farms to foreclosure proceedings because they couldn't pay these taxes. The situation in Massachusetts was the cause of Shays' Rebellion, the precipitating event that led to the writing of the U.S. Constitution.

So, as far as the economy is concerned, the Revolution led to big change all right -- and about all of it was for the worse.

Okay, so was there any political and social change? Well, not really. The country was still run, through property qualifications for voting and officeholding, by the same small bunch of elites that had run it during the colonial era. (This wouldn't change for most Americans until the 1820s and 1830s.) These elites made quite sure that number one was taken care of first. This was not a wonderful time to be a woman or a slave or any sort of poor person in America.

For at least three decades, Americans openly questioned whether the Revolution was the right move to have made and a large portion of a generation passed on to the Great Beyond thinking it may have been a big mistake.

So why the disconnect between historical reality and what I had to slog through every day at the reading?

I don't know that I have some simple or easy answer to that. It's not the teachers' fault, folks. The teachers have tried their best to teach their students the proper and correct history. Worse yet, I see the same phenomenon in my own classes. I teach them about how difficult the Revolutionary War and its aftermath was -- and I get the same sort of triumphant narrative in my essay exam responses as well.

Is it just that Americans don't like to entertain any sort of doubts about their leaders -- past or present? Are these students and their parents just that subservient to their leaders? To the rich and powerful in general? Can they not begin to make themselves believe that people could doubt the wisdom of the great Founding Fathers?

We've certainly seen this sort of phenomenon in American society lately. How long did it take for Americans to wake up and see the great disaster in Iraq unfolding right before their eyes? How long before they do something about it? Does American culture nowadays just teach blind subservience to wealth and power -- until the situation gets so obviously horrible that you can't draw another conclusion except that it's a disaster?

A couple of centuries ago Americans really were quite willing to be critical of their government and to wonder aloud about whether their leaders were doing the right thing.

Why can't Americans do that now?

What changed?

You can't trust the Republicans with your money! 

They just keep losing—or should that be "losing"—your dollars.

More stench rising from the Republican one-Partei state in Ohio:

Columbus - A politically connected investment firm lost $215 million in Bureau of Workers' Compensation money, triggering an agency shake-up, a wide-ranging criminal investigation and calls by Democrats for Gov. Bob Taft's recall.

Losses by the Pittsburgh-based MDL Capital Management dwarf the estimated $10 million to $13 million missing from BWC's rare-coin investments and raise new questions about the abilities of former bureau administrator Jim Conrad, who initially soft-pedaled information that surfaced about the losing investments.
(via Plain Dealer)

Say, what about that $8 billion the Republicans "lost" in Whack? (back) The $8 billion they're killing your kids to get their hands on?

And, oh yeah, I'm sure anxious to turn my guaranteed Social Security check over to these guys. I can hardly wait....

R.I.P. Science (Truth We Buried A Long Time Ago) 

What were we saying about the Bush regime's manipulation of scientific evidence? Oh, yes, the Union of Concerned Scientists had a problem with the rigorousness of their scientific method. You can imagine, then, how they must feel about this latest revelation:
"A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.
In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports.
The dozens of changes, while sometimes as subtle as the insertion of the phrase "significant and fundamental" before the word "uncertainties," tend to produce an air of doubt about findings that most climate experts say are robust.
Mr. Cooney is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the office that helps devise and promote administration policies on environmental issues.
Before going to the White House in 2001, he was the "climate team leader" and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics, he has no scientific training."
Nor would he need any, in a political climate as fogged by ambition, greed, and lies as this one.


The Conscience Claws Rip Into Your Grocery Bag, Courtesy of James Dobson 

Jeralyn at TalkLeft reports the recent development at your local Acme/Albertson's/SaveOn (where I happen to shop):
wolverine2 "Albertsons Corporation agreed to accommodate its pharmacists' right to refuse to fill prescriptions that violate their religious or moral beliefs. The accommodation came on the heels of a lawsuit filed by attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and the Christian Legal Society (CLS) against Albertsons and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on behalf of pharmacist David Scimio.
Blagojevich imposed an "emergency rule" stating that a pharmacist "must dispense ...without delay" contraceptives, including so-called emergency contraceptives such as the "morning after" pill, despite the state's right-of-conscience act.
Steven H. Aden, chief litigation counsel of CLS's Center for Law and Religious Freedom, said the right of conscience is an important component of religious liberty. "Pharmacists should not be forced to fill prescriptions for the 'morning after' abortion pill," he said, "if it violates their conscience."
Shortly after ADF and CLS filed suit, Albertsons distributed a memo to all its Illinois pharmacists stating it would accommodate their right of conscience by permitting them to refer prescriptions to which they conscientiously object to another Albertsons pharmacist orto a competitor."
Among the ADF's "ministerial allies" is the mighty dachshund harrower James Dobson's Focus on the Family (big surprise there).

Jeralyn notes the implications of allowing clerks to decide who they will serve in quoting from a letter to the editor of the Salt Lake City Tribune, whose author cautions that she was denied service by an Albertson's pharmacist simply for trying to get a an anti-alcoholism drug prescription filled:
"As I handed my prescription for antabuse and naltrexone (anti-craving drug) to the pharmacist, I saw his face change and harden. He informed me that he didn't carry that drug (never looking me in the face) and that I needed to go somewhere else as he tossed the prescriptions back at my pathetic self. I will never forget how I felt that day or how I almost let a self-righteous, judgmental pharmacist change my life. I can't imagine what he would do if someone wanted the Plan B pill. Pharmacists fill prescriptions, they are not a customer's moral conscience. If they can't take the heat, they should get out of the pharmacy."
Yes, that's what you want, isn't it, you craven hypocritical "fishers of men"?

Well, you know the whole world has gone topsy-turvy when you can quote Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit because he gets it, too:
"Over at The Corner we're seeing a rather large number of abortion-related posts today. In this one (which really goes beyond the abortion issue) Kathryn Jean Lopez decries a poll showing that 80% of Americans think that pharmacists ought to have to fill prescriptions for contraceptives even if they're personally opposed to birth control.
Of course, this only matters because pharmacists enjoy a government-created monopoly on the dispensing of prescription drugs. Just take that away, and the problem disappears, too. In the meantime, like others who enjoy government monopolies, they are forced to make some concessions to public convenience. That doesn't strike me as an overwhelming imposition, but if the pharmacy profession feels otherwise, I'll be the first to support a move to eliminate its privileged position."
Yes, indeed. Give those scripts to someone who'll be happy to have a paying job, and watch them get filled.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Bush denies the Downing Street Memo 

He denies it, the Red King said. Leave out that part. Yeah, sure.

At last! (Kos, which has links to the nightly news videos).

You remember the Downing Street Memo? The one that documents how "the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy"?

Apparently Bush is looking blotchy again. I wonder why?



Here's Bush answering a question (fancy that!) about the Downing Street Memo. Any experts here in primate facial expressions? Bush doesn't look like a happy camper to me.

RDF Update, for Courtesy's Sake 

If there’s light posting from me for awhile, it’s not because I don’t have anything to say, I’m just suffering from a bad case of having to get these veggies coming up out of the ground. Nothing personal. Onward to a great garden in the fall of ’05 and a sweep of both houses in ’06. Until then…

Saving The People From Themselves 

Bush's war on the old, the sick and the weak continues apace, assisted by those activist liberal judges on the Supreme Court:
"Federal authorities may prosecute sick people whose doctors prescribe marijuana to ease pain, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, concluding that state laws don't protect users from a federal ban on the drug.
The decision is a stinging defeat for marijuana advocates who had successfully pushed 10 states to allow the drug's use to treat various illnesses.
Justice John Paul Stevens, writing the 6-3 decision, said that Congress could change the law to allow medical use of marijuana."
science Like that's going to happen. Right off, there was this from John "Correct Thought" Walters, Minister of Propaganda for National Drug Control Policy, who said:
"Our national medical system relies on proven scientific research, not popular opinion. To date, science and research have not determined that smoking marijuana is safe or effective."
As opposed to, say, ingesting Vioxx? Remember, this is the administration whose political manipulation of and quashing of scientific data for its own ends became so intolerable that the Union of Concerned Scientists had to register a formal protest. The people who put a faith healer in charge of women's health policy. Yes, I'm sure that concern for the scientific method is exactly what motivates these fine folks.

But let me not to the inconsistency of true hypocrisy admit impediments. There's also this gem from Stevens, writing for the majority:
"Our cases have taught us that there are some unscrupulous physicians who overprescribe when it is sufficiently profitable to do so."
Indeed. Based on this criterion, I suggest we immediately suspend all prescription-writing, until such time as exacting scientific methodology and research can guarantee that no such slovenly overprescribing will continue.

But what's odd about the dissenting votes is who is behind them: Rehnquist, who got his start intimidating black voters away from the polls, in bed with Clarence "Lumpy" Thomas, who never heard of discrimination. O'Connor brings up the rear guard, as befits a woman in the brave new world of progressive conservatism, making little token mewling sounds about states' rights that you and I know she has never really believed, at least not since she sided against them on behalf of her boy Bushie in election year 2000.

Round and round we spin, lovin' the spin we're in, under that old black magic that's turning our country into a vat of fools and curs. Or is it curds and whey?

It's all so confusing.

(Cross-posted from yesterday's piece on my own site.)

Monday, June 06, 2005

Joe Biden (D-Passive Voice) 

This drives me nuts. Biden on Gitmo:

"This has become the greatest propaganda tool that exists for recruiting of terrorists around the world. And it is unnecessary to be in that position," said Joseph Biden (D-Del.).
(via AP)

As a policy proposition, Biden is right, of course.

But look at the language: "This has become..." It's the passive voice! And in the passive voice, there's no accountability! How did it "become"? Why? Who is responsible? Was it magic? Did it just happen?

C'mon, Senator! Use the active voice! Assign some blame! Let me try:
Bush's torture policies have backfired. Bush has turned Guantanomo into the greatest propaganda tool that exists for recruiting of terrorists around the world.

See how easy it is?

As Hillary says:

"I mean, c'mon, toughen up, guys, it's only our Constitution and country at stake," she said. "Let's get some spine."
(via Times)

Start showing some spine by using the active voice!

Our delusional Preznit 

Lizzie "Fluffer" Bumiller, Girl Reporter, is at it again. She lets the following pass without comment:

"The idea of people expressing themselves in opposition in government, then getting a beating, is not our view of how a democracy ought to work," Mr. Bush said. "It's not the way that you have free elections."
(via NY Times)

Oh my. "Free elections," from the Chief Weasel who stole Election 2000. But let that pass. After all, I've gotten over that a long time ago.

What really spiked my B.S.S. was this: "The idea of people expressing themselves in opposition in government, then getting a beating, is not our view of how a democracy ought to work."

As usual, Bush insults as by assuming we have no memory at all. Remember people getting beaten up at Republican rallies during election 2004? Of course you do. (And if you don't, see especially here, for the smirk, but also here, and here. Then, of course, there are the people the Republicans get fired from their jobs. Or google "MBF watch" in the search box above.) Do you remember Bush saying one single word condeming his thugs? Of course not. And silence means consent. Bush sees it, and says nothing. That means he want it to happen.

The question I keep asking myself is this: Is Bush a liar, or has he gone so far beyond lying that He actually believes what he says?

NOTE We'll give Bush a free pass on His use of The Royal We ("not our view"), too.

Wile E. Coyote Conservatives 

Has David Bossie rented himself out to the Canadians? Or is doctoring tapes just a part of the Conservative DNA? Just when the Liberals seemed headed for a no-confidence vote in the midst of the so-called "sponsorship scandal" (no cutesy "-gate" suffixes here), the Conservatives seem to have overreached, first by releasing a tape showing one of their own apparently chatting about favors in exchange for going over to the Liberal party, and now with the revelation that the tapes themselves appear to have been altered:

The Tories released the recordings to bolster their claims that the Liberals had offered Mr. Grewal and his MP wife, Nina Grewal, government appointments if they agreed to switch sides in the crucial May 19 confidence vote in which the government survived by one vote....

Yesterday, Jack Mitchell, a U.S. forensic audio expert who conducted a preliminary review of portions of the originally released recordings, said they had been altered. He said he did not believe the changes occurred in the digital-copying process.

"These tapes have been edited. This is not a maybe. This is not something that's unexplained. This is not, 'Oh, this is odd.' This is a definitive statement. The tapes have been edited," Mr. Mitchell said.

He said he could not say with certainty how the alterations occurred, or conclude definitely that it was done intentionally.

However, Mr. Mitchell said that he not only found instances of possible edits, including sections where it appeared that phrases had been added to the recordings, but also a telltale repeat of a brief snippet of conversation that was repeated exactly.

"The entire thing repeats exactly. It's not the speaker repeating his phrase. This repeats exactly in the same way, with the same rhythm, with the same timing, with the same noise signatures. This is impossible," he said.

(via Globe and Mail)

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. In my mother country, doctoring evidence of malfeasance is no barrier to career advancement, just so long as long as you pick on Democrats. Hell, you can even be a member of the MSM.

A Reasonable Question 

Reader Mrs. T (love your pierogies!) asks a reasonable question in the comments at the last post:
"What do you guys think of the idea that people that don't have school age children shouldn't have to pay for public schools? Or the idea that you could choose how to use your tax money and have the ability to put it toward a private school, which would make it MUCH more affordable for single moms/dads etc?"
I think this is an important question, and how we view education in this country depends on what we do with it in the next couple generations. More than that, the kind of work force we will have, and the quality and amount of innovation, creative endeavor, and scientific breakthrough we can expect from those who come after us will absolutely reflect how we answer this question, and how we back up that answer with our money and public will.

My personal feeling is that kids are a national resource, just as much as minerals, timber, and a clean environment. We are all affected for better or worse by the legacy we leave our children. The poorly educated may become a drain on the national economy because they can't afford health insurance or to maintain the neighborhoods in which they live. They may fall into crime, costing money for their upkeep after they are imprisoned, or they may be unable to buy many of the things our consumer economy depends on the marketing of. Their need to take bottom-level jobs drags down the general standard of living and the incentive for employers to pay more throughout the economy.

Because the maintenance of a national resource is the responsibility of everyone who benefits from or is affected by it, the education of citizens is the duty of a decent government and of the individuals from whom that government derives its authority. (Laughable words during the reign of the Dauphin, I know.) That's a public duty, and it means public education. When public education is abandoned, which is what Grover Norquist has in mind, only the rich will be able to afford a decent education. Right now, conservatives are playing with the concept that public education is no longer a right of US citizens. Perhaps life or liberty may be on the chopping block next, if we wait long enough.

And if you think your tax money, diverted from your paycheck into a private account for private education, will suffice to buy one, you're sadly delusional. Private schools, even parochial schools, are vastly more expensive than the average percentage of tax one pays toward education, on local, state and federal levels combined. I know, because once upon a time I cherished the idea of getting my kid out of public school, and found it far beyond my means.

Add to this the further elimination of financial aid sources, and it will become even more important to have a healthy income to get an education. When we are talking about a need so fundamental to life--the access to a decent education--we are talking about a right so basic that to abandon our responsibility as citizens to provide it is just the first step toward the utter abdication of any sense of community whatever.

But that's my opinion. What's yours?

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