Category Archives: Culture war

The tragic tale of oppressed billionaires

Glenn Greenwald has a must-read piece on Continetti’s apologia thingy to the Koch brothers in the Weekly Standard regarding how influential billionaires are being cruelly victimized by bloggers and the like. It’s a tragic tale.

And Benen quotes Charles Koch and comments…

“”His father was a hard core economic socialist in Kenya… So he had sort of antibusiness, anti-free enterprise influences affecting him almost all his life. It just shows you what a person with a silver tongue can achieve.” 

Now, Koch’s vast wealth proves that one need not be intelligent to get rich, but remarks like these are still just embarrassing.”

Not merely embarrassing in getting details wrong, I’d point out. Consider the stunning lack of self-awareness here. Obama is profoundly influenced by a father who was absent and played almost zero part in Obama’s life. On the other hand, the Koch boys who were raised by and gained their millionaire to billionaire fortunes from a co-founder of the John Birch Society, that’s invisible to the dork.


God’s bow tie

This is one of the images following on a repair of the Hubble.  More here

What, one wonders, would a child who has been home-schooled on a curriculum of fundamentalist christian ideas, make of such photos? Just take the concept of ‘light years’. If the world and creation are merely about 6,000 years old, then any number of sciences have to be deemed erroneous to make way for that single belief.

I had a conversation a couple of years ago with someone who had been convinced that carbon dating was bad science, that it was undependable. Carbon dating, of course, is a method of establishing the age of a thing which is carbon-based, such as wood. I explained to her that there’s a very simple and elegant way in which to test whether this science is accurate (and in fact, it was this cross-checking which showed us that the carbon dating readings had a predictable error which grew over time, and knowing this error, we can account for it). The test involves using samples of wood taken from tree rings.

She decided, this information not withstanding, that carbon dating still couldn’t be trusted.

Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God

h/t Washington Independent

Another ‘family values’ republican with weiner waving

We’ve all seen those stories where a careless politician gets a little too candid when speaking into a hot mic. But this one’s really in a whole different league.

Michael Duvall is a conservative Republican state representative from Orange County, California. While waiting for the start of a legislative hearing in July, the 54-year-old married father of two and family values champion began describing, for the benefit of a colleague seated next to him, his ongoing affairs with two different women. Invery graphic detail.

For instance…  TPM has the juicy hypocrisy detailed

I’m not even going to bother theorizing on the psychology of this sort of thing.  I’ll just share my utter disgust with the ‘family values’ movement, its proponents and the cynical hypocrisy that marks the modern conservative movement and the party who uses it to gain and maintain power.

Quote of the day – “Jumping the kosher shark” category

One of the things I find most interesting is that generally Evangelicals are so much more supportive of Israel than the American Jewish community. – Mike Huckabee

“And if Israel disagrees with this obvious fact, then we’ll bomb the shit out of it until Jesus comes”, Huckabee might have added.

I’ll let Josh Marshall (yes, he’s Jewish) at TPM explain this bit of madness.

This is true on many levels. But it also gets at deeper issues. One of which is the inability of the Republican party to attract substantial numbers of Jewish voters. This is treated as odd by many political observers, reasoning that the GOP has adopted such hard line positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict that surely this should lead to an increasing number of American Jews voting for the Republican party.

Some would say that the failure is explained by the fact that Jews are Americans and they’ve got a lot of other issues that matter to them beside Israel. Which is, of course, true. And needless to say, moonbat wailing to the contrary notwithstanding, the Democratic party is also extremely pro-Israel in its policies.

But the nature of GOP support for Israel is simply not aimed at or shaped by the support of Jewish voters. It’s support is aimed at a vastly larger evangelical Christian constituency. And the aims, mores, values, etc. of each group are profoundly different. (The most obvious difference is that American Jews tend to support Israel because of a mix of nationalism, ethnic identification, religious belief and democratic values while the religious right tends to support Israel because its existence will hasten the apocalypse when God will vanquish the Jews en masse in hellfire and turn Israel into a vast evangelical theme park. So the two groups sort of come at the issue from different perspectives.)

At one level, this is obvious: we know the religious right is a huge constituency for uber-hawk policies on Israel. But I’m not sure we think through its implications as clearly or as deeply as we might.

Another one of those big fucking surprises

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pours through Tom Ridge’s new book and offers the relevant passages where the former Homeland Security chief discusses the Bush administration’s desire to increase the terror threat level for political reasons. Ridge reveals that Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld argued in favor of raising the threat level by noting the correlation it had with Bush’s approval rating…

Anyone watching the behavior of that administration at that time understood this.  Well, anyone not a crazed ideologue or a happy-to-be-paranoid-at-all-times consumer of fear-inspiring propaganda, that is.

But it is encouraging to see Ridge, a rare individual in that administration who seemed to have a smidgeon of integrity, state what was so obvious.

Income inequality trend – what matches it?

Paul Krugman (and others) have noted recent income inequality figures from  Emmanuel Saez at Berkeley.    Here is the historical perspective graphed…

Two major trends are immediately evident – downwards from the 20s and then upwards from the the mid-70s.  We know what brought the trend down from “the guilded age” but what brought it back up?

I’ve previously noted here Lewis Lapham’s essay “The Tentacles of Rage”. What Lapham describes in this essay matches yjod rise and does so far better than any particular individual or party holding the Presidency or the inititation of any particular policy or the establishment of or dismantling of any particular institution related to governance in the US.

Further, one can see quite clearly how what Lapham describes is presently in full bloom in the broad campaign underway to kill healthcare reform in the US and to bring down a President who likely will, if he is able, move the country back towards the sorts of regulations and perspectives which caused or facilitated the downward trend mentioned above.

I encourage everyone to read the essay with care and with attention to the correspondences between the timeline demonstrated in the graph and the correspondences between the thesis Lapham advances with what we have all experienced since the mid 70s and are still experiencing now.