Friday, November 21, 2014

Quote of the day: Moses

I've made it through the first chapter of Rick Perlstein's The Invisible Bridge, the third of his four-book history of the modern conservative movement. (The first two were Before the Storm and Nixonland.) I'm already amazed at how much I had forgotten about what an evil, manipulative, sadistic bastard Nixon was.

As someone said, in a quote from an article about Nixon's funeral that I still can't find, even in death, Nixon brings out the worst in us.
General Taylor had once been a favorite general of Kennedy-era liberals. Robert F. Kennedy had called him "relentless in his determination to get at the truth," and name one of his sons after him. Now Maxwell Taylor was a tribune of the other tribe, the one that found another lesson to be self-evident: never break faith with God's chosen nation, especially in time of war – truth be damned.

This was Richard Nixon's tribe. The one that, by Election Day 1980, would end up prevailing in the presidential election. Though Richard Nixon, like Moses, would not be the one who led them to the promised land.

And the amazing thing is, Nixon scarcely appears in that chapter. But his influence – the politics of resentment that he created and perfected – was lasting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Not perish

Was it really only 151 years ago today that Abraham Lincoln spoke at the dedication of that cemetary, honoring the fallen soldiers who died in a war to keep in the Union a collection of states whose leaders committed treason in the name of states' rights as a political ideal and human slavery as an economic model? Time does fly.

Traditionally, we mark this day at p3 by noting that Lincoln used those 267 words to redefine a nation "conceived in liberty" (and the fetishization of states' rights) as instead one that's also "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal" (and not just the white, propertied, and connected ones). Of course, it took another 50 years to work out that "men" included "women," and by that time slavery had been replaced by the American apartheid of Jim Crow (old times there are not forgotten – did you know that?), which took another 50 years to correct.

And now, in the age of the Roberts Court, Citizens United, and Mitt Romney (tanned, rested, and ready for 2016), that famous final line seems more often honored in the breach: The Congress that will be sworn in next January seems more aptly described as a government of Exxon, by Comcast, for JPMorgan Chase. And that's the same Roberts Court, by the way, that decided that the Voting Rights Act no longer needs an enforcement mechanism because racism is over and Republican-controlled states would never spend the next two years finding ways to legally suppress black (and brown, and senior, and student) votes.

Well, if nothing else, it is a beautifully crafted little piece, hearkening back to a day when when the rhetorical models were Homer and the King James Bible, rather than the bumper sticker.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

The bottomless pit of awkwardness

And here we are again (remember this the next time you pick up the phone to order a Domino's pizza):

The Thomas More Law Center just filed an amicus brief with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Louisiana same-sex marriage case. The brief is purportedly on behalf of the National Coalition of Black Pastors and Christian Leaders, which the brief curiously claims represents "the interests of over 25,000 Ministries/Churches that include over 3 million laity in the United States," despite seeming to have no separate Internet presence or website. [...]

Among the ridiculous claims the Thomas More Law Center makes are that same-sex marriage is a slippery slope to men marrying animals – the infamous man-dog marriages the religious right always claims will happen without one single instance of it ever having happened.

"If 'marriage' means fulfilling one’s personal choices regarding intimacy," the brief states, "it is difficult to see how States could regulate marriage on any basis. If personal autonomy is the essence of marriage, then not only gender, but also number, familial relationship, and even species are insupportable limits on that principle and they all will fall. This is not just a slippery slope on which the Appellants wish to set us, it is a bottomless pit into which they desire to throw us."
And so, once again, we're forced to ask the p3 awkward questions:

Why is it that this is the first place their minds go?

Can you really be this worried about stopping something that you haven't already been thinking about – a lot?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Presented for your consideration

I'm delighted to see that this horrible excuse for a human being is getting his brush with justice.
More than four years after an underground explosion killed 29 mine workers, a federal grand jury Thursday indicted the top executive of the West Virginia coal company that ran the mine, charging him with fraud and conspiracy to violate safety laws.

Don Blankenship, who was CEO of Massey Energy, becomes the highest-ranking executive to face charges in the deadly blast at the Upper Big Branch Mine, the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in 40 years.

Blankenship is charged with conspiring to commit and cause willful violations of federal mine safety and health standards at the mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia.

Federal prosecutors allege that Blankenship also conspired to hinder and impede federal mine safety inspections to conceal safety violations that were committed routinely at the mine.

He also is charged with making false statements about the company's safety practices to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the aftermath of the April 5, 2010 blast, and with securities fraud involving shares of Massey Energy.

According to the indictment, Blankenship knew there were hundreds of safety violations at the mine every year and could have stopped them: "Yet he fostered and participated in an understanding that perpetuated'' routine safety violations "in order to produce more coal, avoid the costs of following safety laws, and make more money."
Of course, it's 2014, which means that the more wealthy, powerful, and connected you are, the less likely you are ever to pay for your crimes, no matter how ugly they are.

Several people I know have suggested a proper disposition for this fellow's fate, all along similar lines. In one variation or another, it involves him getting the Rod Serling treatment.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Quote of the day: Special

“I don’t think of myself as inferior to men, but it makes me feel special to think that most women are and I’m the exception to the rule.”
- Amanda Marcotte, and one of the several rationales she offers to explain why people – women in particular – claim to support everything on the feminist policy agenda but don't like to be associated with the word "feminism."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday morning toons: Non-crimes and plain old demeanors

So here's what we know:

If Obama takes legal, Constitutionally provided-for, unilateral action regarding immigration, against the will Congressional Republicans who swore in January 2009 to renounce him and all his satanic works whatever they might be, even if they were essentially the same actions once taken by St. Reagan the Beloved and Dubya the Forgotten Poppy the Unforgiven, he'll likely be impeached by the House.

If Obama prevents the big Internet providers from slowing down selected parts of our access to the web (ask Netflix about that one) as a matter of profit-seeking, or ideological preference, or both, that's an affront to the free market. Just like Obamacare, which affronted the free market by leaving health care for all Americans who aren't on Medicare or Medicaid in the hands of the for-profit insurance companies – one of the most hated sectors of the economy. So yeah, that's probably an impeachable offense, too. (Our ace in the hole here may be that the red states where online porn viewing is most prevalent will wake up some day soon and realize that ending net neutrality will slow down their streaming porn.)

And if, heaven forfend, he struck a non-binding accord that doesn't require Senate ratification with China that might have the result of dialing down carbon emissions for both countries by 2020, and even if it doesn't will certainly leave us no worse – well, yeah, that's probably going to strike the Republican climate change deniers who will shortly chair key committees on science, on technology, and on the environment as ipso facto a high crime or misdemeanor too.

Funny that the current difference between a "moderate" Congressional Republican and a "fringe" Congressional Republican is that, while the former would dearly love to impeach the Kenyan Socialist Fascist Pretender Obama for something as much as the latter, the "moderates" are holding back because they remember how badly the last pointless impeachment trial went.

Oh, yeah. And most Americans probably don't realize that landing the probe on the comet wasn't done by us, because America – hell yeah! America! – doesn't do that stuff anymore. Can we impeach Obama for that, too?

Today's toons were selected by people who are no scientists from the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons,, The Nib, and other fine sources of toony goodness.

p3 Best of Show: Matt Davies.

p3 Legion of Merit: Tim Eagan.

p3 Croix de Guerre (with six-hour wait for service calls): Jim Morin.

p3 "Attaboy" Certificate of Recognition for Monetizing the Internet While Apparently Not Understanding How It Works: Chip Bok, Ken Catalino, and Dana Summers.

p3 Certificate for Harmonic Toon Convergence: Chris Britt, Jack Ohman, and Paul Szep.

p3 Award for Best Adaptation from Another Medium: Clay Bennett.

p3 World Toon Review: Kevin Kallaugher (England) and Tom Janssen (Netherlands).

Mark Fiore muses on the gap between what people believe and who/what they vote for.

Tom Tomorrow looks at what we got for the most expensive midterm election in human history.

Keith Knight gets an unfortunate surprise, but learns an important fact.

Tom the Dancing Bug frets that even Lucky Ducky, the poor little duck who's rich in luck, isn't feeling so lucky these days.

Red Meat's Milkman Dan gets called into the office, just for showing some initiative.

The Comic Strip Curmudgeon looks sadly at some profoundly depressing existential ennui. And this from a comic strip that long ago stopped calling Thurston, the alcoholic neighbor, "Thirsty."

Comic Strip of the Day has a fascinating 75-years-ago post that explains riddles you didn't even know were riddles. The more you know!

Whaddya know! Anudder customer! "Jerky Turkey" is a minor holiday classic directed in 1945 by Tex Avery, of the p3 pantheon of gods, during his MGM years. Uncredited voice work by voiceover legend Daws Butler as the Durante-esque turkey, and Bill Thompson (who did a lot of work for Disney over the years) as the hunter. As usual for Avery, sight gags abound – it barely makes it ten seconds at a time without throwing in something like The House of Seven Gobbles (well, where would a turkey hang out?) – as well as topical references like cigarette rationing and gas rationing (the C sticker on the Mayflower).

The Big, And Getting Bigger Since We Threw Out The Rulebook and Welcomed Back The Departed, Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman offers birthday wishes to an American institution.

Hypothetically Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen salutes the Fitzgeraldian first-rate mind of the American low-information voter.

Jesse Springer offers some suggestions for further food labeling. (And again, for the record, I think the important issue with GMOs has less to do with food consumption than with the consequences for subsistance and organic farmers of treating genetic information as intellectual property. But maybe that's just me.)

Test your toon captioning kung fu at The New Yorker's weekly caption-the-cartoon contest. (Rules here.) And you can browse The New Yorker's cartoon gallery here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday morning tunes: I ain't no senator's son

Via Roy Edroso and many others comes the story of rightwing bloggers, most of whom came of age after the Vietnam War ended the second time, and after the military draft, who were deeply, deeply offended that Bruce Springsteen, David Grohl, Zac Brown, and other musicians used the Veterans Day concert on the National Mall – called Concert for Valor so that no one would mistake it for a mattress sale event – to perform the CCR classic "Fortunate Son."

Contrary to their fervid belief, the song "Fortunate Son" was not written to disrespect veterans, nor was it written in opposition to war, strictly speaking. It was written in opposition to the cheap tub-thumpers for war who remain secure in the knowledge that neither they nor their children will ever have to go anywhere near a war zone. 

People like this:

And this:

And, of course, this:

Oh, and definitely this:

You want to see some serious vet disrespecting, start there.

In the little Indiana town where I grew up during the Vietnam era, there were families with connections at the county seat (where the draft board sat) whose sons never saw military service, let alone went into harm's way. It was a source of genuine irritation to my father, not so much for my sake, I think, as for the daily indignation of a being Democrat in a Republican county. As it turned out, I didn't serve either, although that was far more a matter of dumbass luck than anything remotely resembling political connections.

Part of the current problem, of course, is that Republicans have a long history of appropriating rock songs they haven't listened to all the way through. And that's what's happening here; ask John.

So here's the original:

Oh, and by the way:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Quote of the day: 100% punchline-free

Public education cannot be profit-driven because the desire for profits -- and, in the case of charter schools, the easy availability of free public money -- will reliably outweigh the educational mission of the schools.
- Charlie Pierce, explaining in a mere 35 words why the charter school movement might survive, but doesn't deserve to.

It really is that simple. Same with toll roads, health care, Social Security, and just about every other public good that conservatives want to auction off.