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June 6th, 2014

The Degeneration Of The Republican Party

In 2004 they swift boated a presidential candidate. In 2014 they’re swift boating a POW.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

May 28th, 2014

What Fear Steals From So Many

This came across my Twitter stream the other day…

@taramurtha: “It’s incredibly odd how rarely we discuss that women in the U.S. generally can’t feel safe walking alone at night.”

It was accompanied by a link to this…

Campus Killings Set Off Anguished Conversation About the Treatment of Women

ISLA VISTA, Calif. — A deadly attack by a gunman obsessed by grievances toward women near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, has touched off an anguished conversation here and on social media about the ways women are perceived sexually and the violence against them.

Years ago, when I was still making a living as a freelance architectural model maker, I worked often for a firm located in a business park located between Rockville and Gaithersburg, two big and growing suburban cities in the massive Montgomery County Maryland sprawl. I had no car at the time but the Metro subway had a stop I could get off at and walk to the firm’s offices easily, if I cut across the King Farm.

Anyone who grew up in the Rockville area in those days will remember the King Farm. Developers ate it some years ago and now it’s all ugly rowhouses, condos, parking decks and a faux town center. Back then it was this wonderful anomaly of wide open green space tucked between a growing busy sprawl. It was so huge that at night, it created its own dark sky. I used to love working late at the firm’s offices and then walking in the dead of night down a little access road that cut across the King Farm to the Metro on the other side of Route 355. There were little worker’s shacks off to one side of the road…four of them I think…and the main farm house and barns not too far from them. You could feel the history of the place. And the sky above was bright with all the stars you never saw at night in the city.

One day while working on a model, I was talking with the architect, a young Turkish woman who designed one of the most beautiful art deco buildings in Silver Spring. This one…

lee

She asked me how I managed to get around without a car and I told her how I did it, and then went off on a tangent about how beautiful the sky was at night over the King Farm, and how lovely it was to walk down that little road at night at the end of the day…just you and the stars and the quiet, peaceful night…

…and she looked at me sadly and said, “I could never do that.”

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

May 2nd, 2014

Sliding Into The Trench Of Republican Governance

Baltimore got a little rain earlier in the week. And by a little I mean about half a foot over a couple days. It was the same system that spawned tornadoes that killed a bunch of people in western south, and it seems generally part of the same disturbed weather patterns we’ve been having here in North America, thanks to the energy companies and republican reticence to do anything about preventing ecological catastrophe that might take money out of the pockets of needy billionaires.  But lurking in the weather that’s been pummeling us is something else besides the looming effects of global warming.  Ironically, the pulpit thumpers are right, our civilization is crumbling. Well…in a manner of speaking…

baltimore-sinkhole

I point my finger at two culprits, but maybe they’re both one and the same: That Randian-libertarian notion that taxation is theft, plus that government regulation of the marketplace is also a kind of theft and anyone who advocates it is a moocher who wants a free lunch. I swam in libertarian waters for most of my twenties, until Reagan cured me of it, and I’m here to tell you there are a lots of useful tools in that pool who really believe the invisible hand of the marketplace will create a Heaven on Earth if we would only let it. Well…right up there is your Heaven.

My little village made the network news about this one! It’s not like other parts of the city aren’t falling apart too, or for that matter other parts of other cities all over the country, but you can see how something like this unnerves even people who don’t live in the slums. Tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, my God those things can happen to the nice neighborhoods too.  What strikes you listening to the chatter is how the little details that make things make better sense go missing from the conversation of people you don’t live in the vicinity. I saw several people talking about how Baltimore streets are sinking.  Well, yes and no.

One thing to understand about Baltimore is it kinda straddles the boundary between the coastal plains and the Maryland piedmont…those lovely rolling hills of Maryland.  (Our oddly shaped little state is very diverse in its geography, and there is beauty everywhere) Parts of the city are actually way higher up than other parts but you don’t really notice how big the elevation changes are because they are gradual in most places, unlike say San Francisco, and you don’t see the grade change until you get somewhere you can look a distance. The streets and sidewalks gently slope up and down, up and down and the walk isn’t difficult and you look back and you notice the city core off in the distance is now almost entirely below you. The north-western part of the city is in the hills and the rest of it is on the coastal plains. That’s how my house can be something like 60 feet higher than the Jones Falls River even though on the map I look like I’m right next to it.

Which all means laying tracks for a railroad through all this can be a tad complicated, particularly when your running stock are steam engines which don’t do steep grades all that well.  A little history…

In the 1890s what was the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, the first common carrier railroad company in the U.S., dug a bunch of tunnels and trenches through the city including one really big tunnel going under Howard Street, to connect with points north from its Camden station because that was actually the less expensive way to do it, compared with a surface line through the center of the city or going around the city. This is why now you might be walking along a city street and suddenly there’s this deep trench on the other side of a cast iron fence and it’s not one of our little rivers down there, it’s a set of tracks coming out of a tunnel.

Building those tunnels and trenches bankrupted the company shortly after the lines opened up, and it was in receivership for about three years because the economy tanked and all their profit forecasts went down the tubes. It’s tough to run a railroad in bad economic times. It costs money to cut the grades a train can run, and lay some tracks down, let alone cut tunnels and dig trenches out of the middle of a large city. And then you have to maintain all that.

But money is tight these days…for some reason…and everyone in the city who was here when the Howard Street tunnel caught fire in July 2001 knows what is going to happen now.  People were complaining about the retaining wall that collapsed last Wednesday, years before this, and CSX kept telling them there was nothing to worry about.  If it was ever inspected at all in the past decade I’m guessing someone didn’t want to tell the board of directors their yearly bonuses would need to be spent shoring up a hundred plus year old stone wall. Now CSX is probably going to sue the city for damaging its tracks and the city will sue CSX back for damaging its street…and so on and so forth.  And none of it needed to happen. But it did, because what was fifty years ago a reasonable rate of return on investment is woefully inadequate today.  We want our double-digit returns and we want them now.

So the factories close and there is less for the rail companies to carry. So the businesses close because workers don’t make enough to buy things like they use to and there is even less for the rail companies to carry. So the economic heart of the cities shrivels, and with it, the city itself.

Maintenance is expensive. The city has a hard time keeping its infrastructure in good shape because it’s lost the massive industrial economic base it once had like a lot of old east coast cities did.  But look around…the problem is Everywhere…

(Reuters) – More than 63,000 bridges across the United States are in urgent need of repair, with most of the aging, structurally compromised structures part of the interstate highway system, an analysis of recent federal data has found.

Meanwhile the banks and Wall Street keep demanding instant and ever higher returns on investment, and Grover Norquist wants to shrink government to a small enough size he can drown it in a bathtub.  But government is a communal thing as in Community, and what is being whittled down to size is that sense of community, that we are all fellow Americans…neighbors.  It is America Norquist and his pals are drowning in that bathtub, so they can feast without being presented a bill.  And everyone is putting off maintenance because the money done all trickled up and the rising tide didn’t so much lift all the boats as sink the cars. And nature doesn’t care why you didn’t shore up the wall and improve drainage around it.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

February 25th, 2014

Subhuman

This came across my Twitter stream the other day…

No Nugent Is Good Nugent
GOP weeps over Nugent comments, but are these crocodile tears?

There’s been hand-wringing and eye-rolling among the Texas GOP this week over Ted Nugent calling President Obama a “subhuman mongrel.” The real question is, why now?

Because the rest of the country started taking notice, that’s why.  But as usual the corporate news media only looks at it superficially, lambasting republicans for hitching Ted Nugent to their wagon while focusing almost exclusively on his “subhuman mongrel” crack at the president.  Yes, yes, it’s telling in its in-your-face racism.  They’re not even dog whistling at the base anymore.  But that was hardly all there is to find in the catalog of Nugent’s wit and wisdom.

Christ almighty you’d think the Family Values party never bothered to listen to his music, hear the lyrics, or even just glance a second or two at the album cover for “Love Grenade”?

 

And then there’s this lovely little ditty…

Well, I don’t care if you’re just 13
You look too good to be true
I just know that you’re probably clean…

Jailbait you look fine, fine, fine…
It’s quite alright, I asked your mama
Wait a minute, officer
Don’t put those handcuffs on me
Put them on her, and I’ll share her with you

Now get back to me about how you’re all against the gay agenda because homosexuals prey on children.

What were they thinking you ask?  Oh I know what they were thinking.  They were thinking inside that comfortable cocoon that Fox News and Talk Radio and their right wing billionaire money teats built for them.  That gentleman’s club at the edge of town where they can let the masks come off and say all the things they really mean without decency and humanity getting a word in edgewise.  Sometimes they forget the cocoon they live in is not the world they live in, and then the rest of the country sees them hugging the likes of Ted Nugent like he’s their soul brother.  But that’s only because he Is their soul brother.

Take advantage of a 13 year old girl for her body…take the food out of her mouth because you wanted another yacht…the difference between the Wall Street men and the duck dynasty boys is the cost of their toys…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

November 5th, 2013

Spitting Into The Mirror

From Politico today, which I will not link to because…Politico…

Reince Priebus: President Obama’s ‘culture of hatred’

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus ripped President Barack Obama for creating a “culture of hatred” in which Democrats are likening the GOP to the Ku Klux Klan.

“It’s the culture that the president’s cultivated here. A culture of dishonesty, a culture of hatred,” Priebus said Monday on Fox News’s “Hannity.”

You don’t say…  A culture of hatred…

Hatred…

Hatred…

like the ku klux klan…

Carefully cultivated…

Carefully…

Carefully…

Carefully…

Carefully…

Cultivated…

And your problem with cultivating hatred for votes is…what exactly?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

October 12th, 2013

Deadbeats

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

Big tax cuts for the rich and big business, two wars on the card, and now they’re bellyaching about paying for it.  But no. They’re bellyaching that the democrats won’t let them make the poor, the sick, the elderly and the unemployed pay for it.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

April 3rd, 2013

This Really Isn’t About God Is It….

Someone in North Carolina complained that some county commissioners were starting their meetings with a prayer…and this was the response at the statehouse

North Carolina May Declare Official State Religion Under New Bill

Republican North Carolina state legislators have proposed allowing an official state religion in a measure that would declare the state exempt from the Constitution and court rulings.

The bill, filed Monday by two GOP lawmakers from Rowan County and backed by nine other Republicans, says each state “is sovereign” and courts cannot block a state “from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.”

Arguments about religion are usually arguments about Who’s In Charge rather than arguments about religion.  Same thing with arguments about Intrusive Government.  Reverence allegedly paid to God is actually directed at the Tribe, in whose name God serves.  Figure they’ll be holding a conclave down there somewhere in the old confederacy to elect the first Baptist pope any day now.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

November 27th, 2012

Small

This just came across my Twitter stream…

Joseph Weisenthal ‏@TheStalwart There’s no empirical evidence or theoretical basis for arguing that cutting taxes is a means towards smaller government.

After the recent revaluations from former Florida GOP members that all that talk about voter fraud was itself fraud, you’d think people would finally stop listening to the rhetoric, and pay more attention to the behavior.

Yes, yes…they yap about “smaller government all the firggin’ time, but you need to understand what is meant in the first place by “smaller government”. It was never about reducing its staffage or its costs. Size is a relative matter.

What they’re talking about isn’t size, it’s power…specifically the power of the federal, not state level government. They want it small enough it can’t enforce equal rights laws. They want it small enough it can’t stop Wall Street and big corporations from raping the middle class. They want it small enough it cannot defend the rights of women, minorities, the poor, and the powerless. That is all that was ever meant by the term, “small government”.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

November 20th, 2012

Lazy Bums On The Government Dole…

This came across my Facebook stream this morning…

This seems like beating on a dead horse…probably everyone knows by now that WalMart pays food stamp wages…but there’s a point here that needs constant hammering on.  If you like WalMart’s Low, Low Prices! fine…except WalMart workers are living on food stamps and probably other public support too, and that’s a large part of how WalMart keeps its prices down (another part is their pressure on companies to manufacture goods in low wage countries abroad, thereby costing American families their livelihoods and decimating this country’s industrial base).  So…the difference between what you paid for your WalMart goods and what they would actually cost if WalMart simply paid its workers a living wage is the part paid for by food stamps.  If you shop at WalMart, you are on the dole too.  Except you could probably afford not to be.

So who’s the lazy bum wanting a government handout here, because it isn’t the WalMart worker.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

November 7th, 2012

Moral Nihilism Isn’t Only Believing In Nothing…

I just finished watching Rachel Maddow deliver a smokin’ hot riff on republican shock and confusion, as displayed on Fox last night, that the numbers they were certain were going to go massively in Romney’s favor didn’t. She showed clips from past Fox News predictions of a Romney landslide, showed that stunning live TV moment that’ll almost certainly go down in television history, when Rove got angry that the Fox News vote analysts called Ohio for Obama. Then…brilliantly…she added that no, the polls were not skewed, Obama was born in Hawaii, he didn’t raise taxes, the deficit hasn’t gone up, unemployment figures were not cooked, Saddam didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, climate change is real, evolution is real, FEMA isn’t building concentration camps…

…and god I hope I can get my hands on a video clip of it because it really said it all…especially how at the end of that grotesque litany of decades of republican right wing and religious right hallucinations she said that it is profoundly damaging to our democracy when one party is trying to cope with things as they really are and the other is living it it’s own detached insular fantasy world.

We need, she said thumping her pulpit, honest, good faith arguing and debating about policy…real argument not phony crap ginned up just to drive people to the polls or satisfy the pathetic conceits of religious and political fanatics…because it is in that honest debating of the issues that we have the best hope of finding answers that work. By cocooning in their own fantasy world the republicans have made that honest, good faith arguing and debating nearly impossible.

She said she hoped the shock of that collision with real numbers and real reality last night might break the bubble. I’ve heard others expressing this since last night, but I am not so sure. But there is the problem we face as a nation.  It’s the problem we need to address before we can really and truly get down to addressing any of the others. The polls were not skewed. The unemployment numbers were not rigged. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Climate change is real. Evolution is real. FEMA is not building concentration camps. Homosexuals are not demon possessed tools of satan. Two plus two equals four. If any of this distresses you be assured that reality does not care about what you believe or about you.  It just is what it is.  You need to care about reality.  If you can’t bring yourself to do that critically, honestly, with your eyes wide open, without letting your cherished preconceptions blind you to simple facts, don’t be bellyaching about the moral relativism, hedonism, nihilism whatever of the world around you. The nihilist is you.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

October 28th, 2012

Dear Values Voters…

If you’re still committed to vote for this man admit it…you don’t care that he’s a brazen in-your-face liar. You care about something else. Maybe it’s the president is a darkie. Maybe it’s the homosexuals are after your children. Maybe its rape is a gift from God. Whatever.

You’re going to vote for the liar. Because he shares your moral values.

by Bruce | Link | React! (6)

October 17th, 2012

Ain’t No Jive Bro…I’m both Married and Engaged! To Two Different Women!

Via Ed Brayton…

D’Souza Gets Engaged — While Still Married

Although D’Souza has been married for 20 years to his wife, Dixie, in South Carolina he was with a young woman, Denise Odie Joseph II, and introduced her to at least three people as his fiancée…

The next day another conference organizer, Alex McFarland, distressed by D’Souza’s behavior, confronted him in a telephone conversation. D’Souza admitted he shared a room with his fiancée but said “nothing happened.” When I called D’Souza, he confirmed that he was indeed engaged to Joseph, but did not explain how he could be engaged to one woman while still married to another. When asked when he had filed for divorce from his wife, Dixie, D’Souza answered, “Recently.”

How the man who, while editor of the Dartmouth Review, penned a racist parody of African American students titled “This Sho Ain’t No Jive Bro” and later outed a gay student using stolen mail between members of the Dartmouth Gay Student Alliance can in any sense be labeled a Christian is something confederate christianists can explain I suppose.  But here it is again: the righteous anti-gay moralist getting caught with his pants down around his morals.

Self-hating closeted gay people and anti-gay fundamentalists have this in common: they’re both so busy fighting the homosexual menace they never develop the skills necessary to honorably manage their own sexual desires.  And every time they fail miserably at it they double down on their fight against the homosexual menace.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

September 27th, 2012

Atlas And Republican Jesus Slow Dancing In History’s Graveyard

Is the GOP Still a National Party?

Republicans have enjoyed a state-level resurgence even as they have lost — and lost big — their once commanding national majority. The GOP was once the landslide party, the party of Eisenhower ’52 and ’56, Nixon ’72, and Reagan ’84. Even Bush I’s 53.4 percent in 1988 was very respectable. Reagan’s 50.7 percent in 1980 wasn’t a landslide but still demonstrated that an outright popular majority supported the Republican. In the five elections before ’92, the GOP won popular majorities in four.

You should go read this article in full.  It’s a take down on today’s republican party, not bitter, but clearly ticked off.  He comes close to saying it outright: the republican party is now the party of southern christianists and wall street financial barons, locked in a deadly embrace of money and highly motivated southern tribalists each demanding fealty from republican politicians…one for their money, the other for their votes.

Because the world view of each is so self-centered, insular and disconnected they have made the nation nearly ungovernable. They have their own facts, their own news channel, their own pundits all telling them their deranged conceits are the highest wisdom. There was a time when I could hope the money guys would eventually come to their senses: economic disaster has a way of making you pay attention to reality. But as their world has become more and more infected with Ayn Rand’s poison that seems a lost hope too.

They’ll let it all burn down: the christianists because Armageddon means Jesus is coming…the financiers because they won’t stop believing in their own Atlas-like infallibility until they’re jumping out their wall street windows because they’ve lost everything and this time there isn’t any money left in anyone’s pockets to bail them out.

I really wish I knew what the answer was.  But it seems all there is left to do now is ride it out to wherever it’s going, and maybe grab whatever small piece of America you can as the pieces all float past and hang on to it.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

August 29th, 2012

Getting Real

Dan Savage

I blew up a corner of the Internet last night. After reading this observation about Ann Romney’s speech at the Dish…

[Ann Romney says] what she and Mitt have is a “real marriage.” Who has a fake one, one wonders?

…I tweeted something about my unreal marriage and created the hashtag #unrealmarriage. The #unrealmarriage hashtag quickly trended as other people in marriages that the GOP doesn’t consider legitimate—and the Republican party has ways of shutting our marriages down—started tweeting out their unreal 140-character love stories, their unreal wedding pictures, photos of their unreal kids, etc., all with the #unrealmarriage hashtag.

Now I wasn’t watching Ann Romney’s speech—I also missed Rick Santorum’s speech—so I didn’t hear her “real marriage” remark in context before I tweeted. My bad. So here’s Romney’s “real marriage” phrase in context…

I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a “storybook marriage.” Well, in the storybooks I read, there were never long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once. And those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or Breast Cancer. A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage.

Angry conservatives soon swarmed #unrealmarriage to argue that we were being unfair to Ann Romney because she wasn’t drawing a distinction between her opposite-sex marriage and the same-sex marriages that keep Rick Santorum up at night. But “real marriage” is a loaded a phrase—particularly in the context of the Republican National Convention. It’s so loaded a phrase, in fact, that even those who were watching the speech—like Andrew Sullivan—took it as an unsubtle dig at folks in same-sex marriages. And while Romney’s comments seem benign in print/pixels), consider the reaction of the anti-gay crowd.

Here’s the thing…  you can’t turn words like “Family” and “Values” into dog whistles for hating on gay people and then get miffed when whenever you use those words to actually mean Family and Values people keep hearing that dog whistle.  You’re the one trashed the neighborhood and forgive me (or not) for thinking you did that out of spite because you couldn’t make the rent.  And if you turn the institution of marriage into a seedy dive with a sign over the bar that reads…

…just remember, the one who devalued marriage, is you.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

August 20th, 2012

From Our Department Of What He Said…

“…at Power Line, Steven Hayward asks, “WHY IS THERE NO LIBERAL AYN RAND?” He’s taking off from Beverly Gage who, slightly less stupidly, asks, “American conservatives have a canon. Why don’t American liberals?” Sure we have a canon — it’s called Western literature. And it beats the snot out of the sad, long-form political pamphlets wingnuts like to name-check. You will learn more about the human condition from the works of novelists, playwrights, and poets than you ever can from a thousand power freaks’ blueprints for the mass production of Procrustean beds.”  -Roy Edroso

And now you know why they want to defund libraries and public schools.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off

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