The Ledes

Friday, October 31, 2014.

Reuters: "The ringleader of a beating ritual that led to the death of a Florida college marching band member was convicted on Friday of manslaughter and felony hazing, the first case to go to trial in an incident that drew national attention to hazing abuses. A jury convicted percussionist Dante Martin, 27, for his role in a November 2011 ritual involving the Florida A&M University's celebrated 'Marching 100' band that led to the death of Robert Champion, a 26-year-old drum major." ...

... CW: Why are these college students so old?

Los Angeles Times: "Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, part of a commercial space venture founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, crashed during testing Friday, according to a Mojave Air and Space Port spokesperson and the FAA. At least one person was killed." MSNBC is saying two were injured as well.

New York Times: "Less than a day after restricting the movements of a nurse who treated Ebola victims in West Africa, a judge in Maine has lifted the measures, rejecting arguments by the State of Maine that a quarantine was necessary to protect the public. Within an hour of the decision, state troopers who had been parked outside the nurse’s house for days had left. The order, signed on Friday by Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere, the chief judge for the Maine District Courts who serves in Kennebec and Somerset counties, said the nurse, Kaci Hickox, 'currently does not show symptoms of Ebola and is therefore not infectious.' The order requires Ms. Hickox to submit to daily monitoring for symptoms, to coordinate her travel with state health officials, and to notify them immediately if symptoms appear. Ms. Hickox has agreed to follow the requirements.” Thanks to James S. for the link.

AP: "Eric Frein, 31, appeared gaunt and battered as he answered yes or no questions and listened as a judge read the criminal complaint detailing the Sept. 12 attack that killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson and critically wounded Trooper Alex Douglass."

Washington Post: "Russia agreed Thursday to resume selling natural gas to Ukraine, ending a cutoff.... The stopgap deal will secure critical energy supplies for Ukraine through March and will also help assure European countries that their own natural gas supply will not be disrupted during chilly winter months."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, October 30, 2014.

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Eric Frein, the suspected cop-killer who for six weeks has been the target of a Poconos manhunt involving more than 1,000 law-enforcement officers, surrendered Thursday without incident, officials said.Frein, accused of killing one trooper and wounding a second, was captured in an unused airplane hangar at the Pocono Mountains municipal airport just outside of Tannersville, two sources confirmed. He was unarmed and surrendered when confronted by a search team led by U.S. Marshals, the sources said."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annualized rate between July and September, the government said Thursday morning, providing fresh hope that a wobbly recovery could be gaining some stability. The latest gross domestic product figure, released by the Commerce Department, slightly exceeded analyst predictions and caps America’s strongest six-month period of expansion since 2003."

Boston Globe: "Thomas Michael Menino, who insisted a mayor doesn’t need a grand vision to lead, then went on to shepherd Boston’s economy and shape the skyline and the very identity of the city he loved through an unprecedented five consecutive terms in City Hall, died Thursday. He was 71 and was diagnosed with advanced cancer not long after leaving office at the beginning of this year."

New York Times: "The Israeli authorities closed off all access to a contested holy site in the Old City here on Thursday for the first time in years, a step that a Palestinian spokesman denounced as amounting to 'a declaration of war.' The action came after Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man who was suspected of involvement in an attempt on Wednesday to assassinate a leading agitator for more Jewish access to the site, which Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. The closure prevented Muslims from worshiping at Al Aksa mosque, one of the three holiest sites in Islam." ...

     ... UPDATE. New Lede: "Under heavy pressure and the threat of new Israeli-Palestinian strife, Israel announced on Thursday that it would reopen a contested holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem on Friday morning, a day after closing it for the first time in years."

Guardian: "Nato aircraft have been scrambled to shadow Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea and fighter planes over the Baltic in what the western alliance called an unusual burst of activity as tensions remain elevated because of the situation in Ukraine. In all, Nato said, its jets intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday and some were still on manoeuvres late on Wednesday afternoon. 'These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European air space,' the alliance said."

Sports Illustrated: The San Francisco Giants are once again the champions of baseball. On Wednesday night, the Giants downed the Royals, 3-2, in Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City to capture the team's third title since 2010."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 31

9:15 am ET: President Obama & Michelle Obama greet the kids for trick or treat (CW: looks like the time is wrong on this; the video has a countdown which shows the event won't occur for about 8 hours)

11:10 am ET: President Obama speaks about the economy

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

Rolling Stone: Jon Stewart that NBC News approached him about hosting "Meet the Press.": "My guess is they were casting as wide and as weird a net as they could. I'm sure part of them was thinking, 'Why don't we just make it a variety show?'"

We're Fairly Wonderful, and the Boss Sucks. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill & John Cook: "Matt Taibbi, who joined First Look Media just seven months ago, left the company on Tuesday. His departure ... was the culmination of months of contentious disputes with First Look founder Pierre Omidyar, chief operating officer Randy Ching, and president John Temple over the structure and management of Racket, the digital magazine Taibbi was hired to create. Those disputes were exacerbated by a recent complaint from a Racket employee about Taibbi’s behavior as a manager." ...

... CW: This article is an extraordinary exercise in using a publication's content to bitch about the publication's financial backer. Let's see if Omidyar just takes his own money & runs.

He Took the Money & Ran. New York Times: When Credit Suisse erroneously dropped $1.5MM in the business account of hedge-fund manager Joseph Galbraith, Galbraith kept the money & has moved to parts unknown. He has not completely disappeared as he's had contact with the New York Times (directly or indirectly): in an e-mail he called Credit Suisse's suit against him “ridiculous, bordering on laughable.”

Andrew Rice of New York: "Matt Taibbi, the star magazine writer hired earlier this year to start a satirical website for billionaire Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, is on a leave of absence from the company after disagreements with higher-ups inside Omidyar's organization, a source close to First Look confirmed today. Taibbi's abrupt disappearance from the company's Fifth Avenue headquarters has cast doubt on the fate of his highly anticipated digital publication, reportedly to be called Racket, which First Look executives had previously said would launch sometime this autumn." CW: Ah, "creative differences." ...

     ... "UPDATE: Taibbi has left the company."

Ancient Grains! Jeez, people will buy anything. CW PS: Unless you're a scientist with specific knowledge about the benefits of ancient grains as opposed to say, oats, don't write in & bitch about my ignorance. We all have our pet peeves, rational & irrational. Fad foods -- in fact, fads in general -- are one of mine.

Washington Post: A "virtual autopsy" of King Tut suggests the boy king had "buck teeth, club foot and a pronounced overbite."

Stephen Colbert describes his workday:


No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story. ...

... UPDATE. Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

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Thursday
May032012

The Commentariat -- May 4, 2012

I'll be away for several days. I'll try to post from time to time, but I don't know what kind of Internet connection I'll have where I'm going, so at best posting will be sporadic. -- Marie

Gene Robinson: "Does anybody really understand the U.S. policy in Afghanistan? The president’s televised address from Bagram air base raised more questions than it answered."

** Sara Robinson of AlterNet, in Salon, on the myth of the self-made man.

In the Daily Beast, Stephen King advocates for raising the top income tax rate to 50 percent. BTW, King would pay at the 50-percent rate. "The majority would rather douse their dicks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing 'Disco Inferno' than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar." Thanks to my very first boyfriend ever, David B. for the link. (He was the most adorable third-grader you ever saw.)

Paul Krugman on the correlation between income inequality & recession/ depression. "Many pundits assert that the U.S. economy has big structural problems that will prevent any quick recovery. All the evidence, however, points to a simple lack of demand, which could and should be cured very quickly through a combination of fiscal and monetary stimulus. No, the real structural problem is in our political system, which has been warped and paralyzed by the power of a small, wealthy minority. And the key to economic recovery lies in finding a way to get past that minority's malign influence."

Floyd Norris of the New York Times on why the U.S. economy has fared better than European economies. His analysis includes this remark: "There is nothing more grating than an ungrateful welfare recipient riding around in a chauffeured Mercedes complaining that he is not being treated fairly."

** Sabotage! Andrew Leonard of Salon: "Machiavelli would applaud. Republicans may have lost the 2008 presidential election, but their insurgency-style guerrilla tactics ever since have ensured that the war is far from over. In 2012, the politics of sabotage rule Washington." Leonard looks at critical elements of Paul Ryan's latest effort to destroy the government.

Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post: "The wages of austerity don’t stop with continental recession. They include, in some nations, the revival of the kind of political extremes not seen in Europe since World War II.... The United States has austerity demons of its own, of course. While the private sector has rebounded somewhat from the 2008-09 collapse, creating 4 million jobs since the turnaround began in 2010, state and local governments have shed 611,000 employees -- including 196,000 teachers -- since President Obama took office...."

John Cassidy of the New Yorker calls the upcoming presidential election in France the "austerity election." CW: It appears that's what the British municipal elections were, too.

Novelists Margaret Atwood, Edgar Doctorow & Martin Amis discuss the U.S.'s place in the world with New York Times film critic A. O. Scott:

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "The details of Bin Laden’s thoughts and frustrations while hiding in the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, emerge from a sheaf of letters released on Thursday that provide a sort of anthropology of a terror network."

Jonathan Cohn & David Strauss in Bloomberg News: "A decision to uphold the health-insurance mandate would be a powerful defense of liberty in the modern age."

John Dunbar & Michael Beckel of the Center for Public Integrity: "What the Citizens United decision and a lower court ruling have done is make household names out of a bunch of relatively unknown, very wealthy conservatives. Of the top 10 donors to super PACs so far in the 2012 election cycle, seven are individuals -- not corporations -- and four of those individuals are billionaires. The top 10 contributors gave more than a third, or $68 million of the nearly $202 million reported by the outside spending groups this election...."

Presidential Race

William Saletan of Slate: "Elections can change history. But mostly, they decide which party will pretend that the president changed history for the better, and which party will pretend that he changed it for the worse."

Jonathan Bernstein, in the Washington Post, on right-wing -- and mainstreamish -- hyperventilation about David Maraniss's biography of Obama: "There's a Republican-driven idea out there, one Sarah Palin is big on repeating, that Barack Obama wasn't fully vetted by the press in 2008. It's preposterous. The truth is that Obama has been the mainstream Democrat he ran as, and I'd guess that it's very difficult to tie whatever idiosyncrasies he's had within that to anything in particular about his personal history, and certainly not anything we didn't know about in November 2008."

David Corn asks economists to analyze Romney's claim that when ObamaCare kicks in, the government will control 50 percent of GDP; e.g., "Bruce Bartlett, who served as a senior economist in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations...: 'This analysis is so stupid it is hard to know where to begin.'"

Considering the Source.... Elicia Dover of ABC OTUS News: "Shown a new ad from the Obama campaign during an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer Thursday -- a clip reel of Gingrich's slams on Romney during the primary season -- [Newt] Gingrich laughed and said, 'You have a rough-and-tumble primary season and you'll get words like that.' He was asked if he still believes Romney is a liar. 'I still believe the Romney campaign said things that weren't true,' Gingrich said. 'I also believe that compared to Barack Obama, I would trust Mitt Romney 100 times over.'" Here's the ad:

MaddowBlog readers helped Newt write his concession speech.

Outsourcing. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times: "The Republican National Committee on Thursday stepped up its assault on President Barack Obama in advance of his campaign formal kick off Saturday in Ohio and Virginia -- hitting him on 'high unemployment' in the U.S. as the RNC used a firm located in the Philippines to set up the 'messaging' call."

Alex Pareene of Salon: "Americans Elect is a weird experiment in applying a lot of money and time and resources into proving a common elite myth: That Americans as a whole are crying out for 'bold,' nonpartisan political leadership, and that their strong desire for moderate, independent solutions is stifled by the two-party system. So far, the organization has managed to win presidential ballot access in 26 states, which is a remarkable achievement. The only problem is, it has no candidate. And the process it developed to select a candidate is turning out to be a big, hilarious mess." CW: But, hey, it has the support of Tom Friedman!

Right Wing World *

Tim Egan: "The House run by John Boehner is stuffed with zealots and intellectual dead-enders who think compromise is a synonym for treason."

Steve Benen: "As part of his ongoing fascination with the 'Fast and Furious' controversy, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released a draft memo yesterday, making the case for holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.... The worst case scenario: the House holds Holder in contempt and instructs the House sergeant at arms to try to arrest the Attorney General, creating a bizarre constitutional crisis. That's an exceedingly unlikely scenario, though."

* Where sunrise is just a theory. -- Akhilleus

Local News

Charles Pierce: "Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to run their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, sat down with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel to chat things over, and the talk was portentous on a couple of different levels." CW: sorry, can't find the original interview. ...

... Save the Caucasians! AND here, Charles Pierce keeps us abreast of developments in other laboratories of democracy.

News Ledes

Raleigh News & Observer: "A Raleigh lawyer who represented John Edwards before he was charged with violating campaign finance laws told an attorney for the Virginia philanthropist at the center of the case that Edwards had benefited from the payments funneled to his former political campaign aide."

Reuters: "Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law a bill banning abortion providers like Planned Parenthood from receiving money through the state, her office said in a statement."

ABC News: "President Obama highlighted the 'good news' in the latest jobs report today, but, speaking in the battleground state of Virginia, stressed 'we've got to do more to boost the economy, including freezing low interest rates for student loans."

Bloomberg News: "Employers in the U.S. added fewer workers than forecast in April and the jobless rate unexpectedly declined as people left the labor force, underscoring concern the world's largest economy may be losing speed. Payrolls climbed 115,000, the smallest gain in six months, after a revised 154,000 rise in March that was more than initially estimated...."

New York Times: "China's Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the dissident Chen Guangcheng can apply to study outside China in the same manner as more than 300,000 Chinese students already abroad, signaling a possible breakthrough in a diplomatic crisis that has deeply embarrassed the White House and threatens to sour relations with Beijing."

Washington Post: "Five men accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks, including the self-proclaimed mastermind, are headed back to a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay on Saturday, more than three years after President Barack Obama put the case on hold in a failed effort to move the proceedings to a civilian court and close the prison at the U.S. base in Cuba. This time the defendants may put up a fight."

AP: "From tasteless photos to urinating on dead insurgents, bad behavior by U.S. troops in Afghanistan has hampered America's war effort over the past year, triggering a broad new campaign by defense leaders to improve discipline in the ranks. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in his first personal appeal to troops on the issue, is expected Friday to remind U.S. forces that they are representing the American people and they must behave up to military standards."

New York Times: "At a time of deepening austerity, social cutbacks and political fallout from the long-running phone hacking scandal, Britons seemed to have turned against their national leaders in bellwether mayoral and local council elections claimed as a resounding triumph by the opposition Labour party, according to partial results on Friday." Guardian story here with related links.

Washington Post: "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday pulled a $5,000 solicitation for a magician to motivate employees at a leadership training event, weeks after a mindreader hired by the General Services Administration became an embarrassing symbol of a Las Vegas spending spree." CW: they just keep on keepin' on, don't they?

Winnipeg Free Press: "The last Canadian penny will be manufactured today."

 

 

 

 

Reader Comments (4)

Why tolerance and moderation are such dirty words on the Right.

The Alternet piece (see the link above) about the Myth of the Self-made Man (what, no Self-made Women? Perhaps women are not quite so narcissistic as to insist on describing themselves as such, or maybe the Right simply doesn’t think women deserve to be so considered) indicates one of the tipping points of right-wing ideology.

The Right is constantly referring to slippery slopes.

The idea is that there is no possibility of a middle, or even slightly moderated position. In fact, tolerating different points of view is not only anathema to right-wing dogma, it is seen as the road to hell.

That’s why the NRA will never abide even the most reasonable forms of gun control. It’s a slippery slope that will lead to NO GUNS! Gays in the military is a slippery slope as well. In fact, gays being allowed to serve in the military means that the military—according to some on the Right—has now authorized, condoned, and RECOMMENDED bestiality (I’m not making this up).

A couple of years ago the Air Force, reacting, with moderation and tolerance (Go Air Force!), responded to requests from certain uniformed personnel at the academy who are practicing Wiccans, to have a place to conduct their services. So the Air Force built a rock circle on a hillside. This simple (and incredibly inexpensive) act of religious pluralism was met with howls of hatred and intolerance from the Christian right. “It’s a slippery slope!” The Wiccan outdoor rock circle was described as a cathedral to Satan (hey, get a grip people, it’s a pile of fucking rocks. No electricity, no heat, no rent, no nothing. Rocks. That’s it) a church for witches, and every other damned ignorant, childish description you can dream up.

Predictably, the Right responded in, apparently, the only way they know how when everyone else does not give in to their every ludicrous demand. They desecrated the space, tried to destroy it. Dragged giant crosses to the spot to demonstrate that this country is ONLY a Christian one, and to reinforce their connection with the martyred Christ dramatizing how (yet again) it was they who were the ones being tortured by intolerance.

Say what? That’s just a new low in stupid.

No tolerance for the concept of human influenced climate change. Another slippery slope. No agreement on reasonable tax laws that ask all Americans to pay a fair share. Un-unh. ‘nother slippery slope. (You can go on and on with this. Just pick a topic.)
Why all the slipperiness? Because by the feeble light of the Right, any accommodation of views other than those they have certified as proper and just means that they might not be completely correct in all their views all the time. So what to do? A reasonable, intelligent and thoughtful person might be confident enough in themselves and their views to make room for ideas that might allow them to increase their understanding of the world. But for the Right, that would be bad. Very bad.

That would mean that all those groups they so despise might have a point now and then, and those points should be considered since we’re living in a pluralistic society (conservatives get stuck on the “unum”; they conveniently forget the “pluribus”) and we really do all have to live together.

But that would be a slippery slope. So what do we have?

Gun Control=Government Stealing Their Guns.
Gays in the military=Government sanctioned Bestiality
Taxation=Government theft of rightful riches
Public Education=Government handouts to the undeserving poor
Religious Tolerance=Government sponsored Cathedrals to Satan
Global Warming=Government conspiracy to attack corporations.

And not giving the Self-made Man myth full and complete support might mean that they would have to acknowledge the role of government, regulation, taxes, low cost public education, and toleration for all the great unwashed whose efforts every day make this a better place to live and start a business, and perhaps some consideration for them as more than just peons to do their dry cleaning and clean their toilets.

It’s a weird, whack-job pathology, but it’s theirs. No tolerance. No moderation. They distrust their own ideology so much that they feel, subconsciously, at least, that it would crumble under its own internal contradictions if they made the tiniest nod to other points of view.

Call me if that’s about to happen. I want front row seats.

May 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: Yes, stupid--that bad word my six year old grandchild says I shouldn't use--plays a large part in insulating the Right from reality. After all, if you can't see it--now we're talking a three year old's hands over the eyes trick--it's not there, no boogyman, no threat; and phew! you're still comfortable and safe. With a nod to that grandson, maybe childish is a better word.

But I keep coming back to the concept of control and the mythology surrounding our often unwarranted celebration of the individual. We've developed a social/commercial culture wherein we pretend the individual reigns supreme. Hence all the cant about individual responsibility. We make our own decisions, we're told; our fate is in our hands. "Blame yourself," as some instantly forgettable person was fond of saying.

But what if what happens in our lives is not entirely up to us, as you say, and as it surely is not? What if we don't choose our own parents? What if we're a crack baby? What if our schooling sucks? What if the only job we can find pays a mere minimum wage. What if a random gamma ray zaps a cell deep within our body and we die of cancer? What if we're one of the millions to whom these "if's" happen every day?

It's the accidental nature of so much of our lives that the Right can't stand because it undercuts their faux superiority, their essential belief that whatever success they've had, usually defined by money, they've done it on their own. Above all, it's this certain sense of their own worth they need, heightened by an implied contrast with the losers around them. That's why everything is a slippery slope to these folks; anything that even intimates there's another or additional explanation for what they become is automatic anathema.

I one called religions short cuts to superiority. Examined, so are the right wing's positions and habits of mind you mention. Their pathology lies in their childish urge to control all aspects of a world they are not mature enough to understand, like True Believers everywhere.

May 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Good afternoon. So here is all you need to know about the American mind. A recent poll found that one in ten accepted the Mayan myth that the world will end in 2012 and one in seven believes the world will end in there lifetime. These folks can vote. To bad they can't think.

May 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Ken,

Can we say "childish" AND "stupid"?

I'd do an "LOL" but neither are very funny given the stakes.

You do raise a very interesting point about individualism. The very idea of the individual is the cornerstone of many philosophies including liberalism, libertarianism, existentialism, and even anarchism. Each school of thought applies different measurements to their approach to the individual. Conservatives often castigate liberal approaches to the individual as being too permissive. But classical liberalism as preached by someone like John Locke indicates that the moral worth of the individual is important but so also is their responsibilities to society. Conservative philosophy, especially the modern neo-con school overshadows responsibility with rights. This is why the gun crowd screams bloody murder about their rights but gives little consideration to the responsibilities incumbent upon the manufacturers, dealers, and owners of deadly weapons.

Here again, a more useful approach to the idea of the individual can be balanced by the role of that individual in a social setting. None of us exist in a vacuum so thinking about the individual as solitary actor from whom nothing should be demanded but their own personal pursuit of riches, fame, fortune, happiness, etc., is intellectual wanking at best.

Of course it helps to have short cuts to superiority, as you put it, in order to help one avoid any messy discussions about what one is expected to do in return for all that happiness and wealth. What? Tax me? Why? I don't need the government for anything. I made all this money by myself. Now go away.

May 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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