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Newt Gingrich is the Babe Ruth of American douchebags. All the arguments now are about who is the second biggest douchebag in America. Newt will always be the biggest.
Doghouse Riley, one of the smartest people on the internet, addresses the question of our "education failure":
A country that embraces deliberate, aggressive stupidity isn't going to have a world class education system. Want our schools to get better? Start by respecting actual learning.
UPDATE: It just occurs to me that a good second step might be to elect politicians who were good students, instead of the intellectually lazy self-promoters we are surrounded by now.
I'm giving a paper on the spatial semiotics of the urban vernacular at the upcoming European Sociological Association RN7 (sociology of culture) mid-term conference in Milan.
This is what happens when politicians use nativist hysteria for political gain. The hate is easy to generate, but not so easy to control. Or stop.
Ignorance + xenophobia x political opportunism -> violence.
We're headed for some dark days. The far right has stormed the public square. We'll look back at this time in American history with great shame.
Tony Blair is an idiot.
No, not because he played Bush's lapdog so eagerly, though that certainly speaks volumes about his principles.
No, he's an idiot if he thinks that progressives demanding progressive policy from politicians progressives help to elect is in any way part of the problem of contemporary politics in Western democracies.
With all the hate in the air these days, it is no surprise that some idiots are violently acting on it. TPM has news of another hate crime against Muslims. I think we'll be seeing a lot more of this. It is happening around the world, too.
Amanda has a good concise explanation of why there can't be a "Palin of the left."
Need further proof of the scope of ideology in contemporary America? How about this: a majority of Republicans think that Obama wants to impose Sharia law on the US. It almost seems impossible that this could be a real poll. Who could believe this? Who are these Republicans? Well, the fundamentalists and evangelicals are likely believers. So, too, the partisan hacks. What do these folks have in common?
Ideology creates an aggressive ignorance in people. It makes people close their mind to facts in order to preserve the belief system. And it gives them an automatic path to reconcile their beliefs with a stubborn reality. It goes like this: Obama is bad, so everything bad must be related to/associated with him; Sharia is bad*, so it must be a part of Obama's plan. You could do the same with "socialism."
Those of us in the reality-based world shake our heads. But we need to call out the distorting power of ideology. The uneducated will never be persuaded, of course, but it is important for us to document how social forces come together to create a social space for this ideology to work.
* Hard not to notice the irony that the rank and file of the American Taliban are concerned about Sharia law — they want the same thing, but under a different brand name.
If there is one thing that I detest above all else it is the small-minded bigotry that undergirds nativism. The Anti-Naturals, inheritors of the promise of the Situationists, embrace cosmopolitanism as a bedrock principle; we will not let tribalism distract us from the real struggle against Capital and its enforcers.
So, it is with sadness and alarm, but not surprise, that I note the rise in nativism globally. I study immigrant neighborhoods in global cities, and have been detecting increasing signs of political opportunism oriented toward im/migration for a couple of years. But nativism is taking to the streets more recently, as a scan of the news reveals: you have the Bircher rally in DC, of course, and new hate groups in Japan as examples from just today.
It is distressing. The solution, I think, is a more public and militant cosmopolitanism. We have to answer these nuts preaching nation and "patriotism" with the mockery and insults that they deserve.
My best wishes for a speedy recovery, Dr Pharyngula.
PZ really is the most dangerous professor in America. And I ought to know.
I know that the title should be retired because no one could be a bigger douchebag than Breitbart, but the Republibigotry is coming so fast and hard that we've got to make an effort to keep up.
The new titleholder: Greg Gutfeld, The Biggest Douchebag in America.
Professor Krugman usually zooms right in to the crux of our political dysfunction. He's done it again. The highlight:
Both political parties represent the interests of corporations and the economic elite. We simply don't have a party of labor in this country. And forget about all that Tea Party bullshit -- that's warmed over John Birch Society lunacy backed by far-right foundation money.
If the state is not willing to counteract the power of the ownership class, then there is no reason to have a state. (That is, no reason for workers to keep supporting the state.)
Via SocProf, Matt Taibbi's excellent takedown of David Brooks' latest inanity. Here's the main body blow, as I see it:
In some cases what we’re talking about is the highly complicated merger of crime and policy, of stealing and
Taibbi doesn't say it, because he is talking about a particular story — Goldman Sachs — but the truth is that government under capitalism is always a mixture of crime and policy. The state exists to facilitate the theft of wealth from workers by owners. The state is how the wealthy rig the game in their favor.
If you want to understand modern American conservatism, you need to consider carefully the primary political operation of the GOP — we used to call it the Southern strategy, now it goes by the Tea Party. It is all about making white voters afraid of minorities. That is what they mean when they say all they want is to "take back our country."
Rachel Maddow does a superb job explaining how this works.
This week's Biggest Douchebag in America:
Andrew Breitbart, a true ratfucking sociopath.
As I've said before, contemporary American conservatism is about nothing but making other people miserable. I say give them the Deep South, put up a big fence, and let them become a twisted Christian version of North Korea (sans nukes, of course).
I think this settles the "debate" about whether Sarah Palin is a feminist:
Susan Jacoby is exactly right, as usual.
You thought I was going to name Gov Paterson or Gov Christie, no? Or perhaps Pedro Espada Jr?
Wrong. It is this guy.
The lowest of the low, a corporate shill.
Our Governor thinks he can solve the budget deficit by stealing money from public employees. Think again, Gov. My union will sue your cowardly ass, I promise you. Your theft will not stand. Not over my collective bargaining agreement, bub.
The state can fix the budget "crisis" in the same way it created it: change the tax code.
In the Times story, the president of the Civil Service Employees Association gets the best line:
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth. -- IWW
In a democracy it is necessary that people should learn to endure having their sentiments outraged. -- Bertrand Russell
Let us strangle the last king with the entrails of the last priest. -- Denis Diderot
It's not that no one sees the straight line to Doomtown we've been on since Reagan, it's that there's big profits in it. The most superficially Christian and Other-Worldly-Yearning nation in the developed world is the one most likely to kill you for your shoes. -- Doghouse Riley
The true purpose of education is to try to foster in students a kind of critical cosmopolitanism, such that they learn, among other things, to question any notion that one’s nation or tribe is favored by God or destiny. -- Michael Bérubé
It is not enough to decry the existence of the Spectacle. We intend to use both art and theory as a battering ram against Capitalism and its false opposition, tribalism, in all of its mystical forms. We believe it is possible to move beyond the inexcusable savagery of everyday life. -- The Anti-Naturals
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