Category Archives: Tea Party

Hot Air

Cancer Profits, Tea Party Benefits

Who knew?

I just learned, via Bill Moyers’ website, that the Cancer Treatment Centers of America is a big-time Tea Party donor.

CTCA, in case you’ve been living in an isolation tank the last couple of decades and haven’t seen or heard its ubiquitous commercials, can be described as the most institutionalized of the alternative cancer treatment rackets out there. The operation was begun back in 1988 by a real estate investor, financier, and horseman named Dick Stephenson who felt conventional medicine did not provide enough adequate treatments for the disease. So, his outfit peddles things like homeopathy, acupuncture, reiki, and qi gong along with fact-based treatments such as chemotherapy.

Anyway, Stephenson and the CTCA have shoveled tons of dough at the Freedom Works gang which is an offshoot of an earlier Koch Bros.-founded organization, Citizens for a Sound Economy. Tea Party-ists Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe, among others, split off to form Freedom Works in 2004.

The Washington Post reported in 2012 that Stephenson had committed to donating $400,000 per year for 20 years to FW.

Stephenson

Stephenson

Then again, I really shouldn’t be surprised by this. Skim through any Right Wing or Tea Party sites and publications and you’ll see scads of ads for iffy or downright fraudulent cancer schemes. The angry-white-person crowd is ripe for snake oil claims for a seemingly endless array of maladies. The idea being, I suppose, that they don’t like hearing the truth that this or that disease is going to kill them. So they look for someone, anyone, to tell them it won’t. That goes along nicely with much of the Right’s overall denial of science and established facts in general when said info makes them feel itchy.

The CTCA is a for-profit medical  corporation. Stephenson is now a reclusive bazillionaire. His five-hospital operation reaps bushels of dough per year but don’t expect to find any exact figures because CTCA is still privately-held. It’s enough to know that, acc’d’g to the above-mentioned WashPo piece, Stephenson has spent ten of millions of dollars in recent years supporting conservative causes and individual candidates such as notorious former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh.

Even the business-friendly publication, Forbes, has criticized Stephenson’s cancer-for-profit dealio:

For-profit hospitals present a big ethical problem, even when they provide proper care.  The problem is that motivation to increase profits may work against the interest of patients.

The Federal Trade Commission has disciplined CTCA for making false claims in its ads and the Food and Drug Administration has sanctioned the corp. for conducting substandard clinical tests.

Of course, Tea Party organizations are four-square against big government poking its big nose into businesses, big or small. To them and the rest of the Ayn Rand-loving, invisible hand-ists, the making of money is a sacred end in and of itself even when the makers of money are people who capitalize fraudulently on the desperation of people who are scared to death of dying.

Those damned jack-booted gov’t thugs just might be cutting off a sweet source of cash.

Hot Air

Satan’s Sounds

Much as I make fun of the Republicans (and, by the way, I don’t hate them — that’s kid’s stuff) it’s the Libertarians whom I consider to be the silliest gang of political animals extant.

The Libertarians, from this vantage point, are essentially overgrown teenagers. Their basic philosophy boils down to You can’t tell me what to do.

Bumper Sticker

As Walter  Sobchak said of the difference between nihilists and neo-Nazis in The Big Lebowski, “Say what you will about the tenets of national socialism, at least it’s an ethos.”

Matt Kibbe, one of the folks responsible for the Tea (read: Me) Party’s existence, was interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday this morning. He’s a Libertarian of the first degree. He says his early philosophies were formed in part when he listened to (the insufferable music of) Canadian prog-metal rockers Rush as a youth.

Rush

Philosopher Rock Stars

Apparently, Rush put out a song or an album (I forget which, mainly because I don’t care) about some dystopic society far in the future. So the pimply-faced young Matt Kibbe ate the song (or album) up and next thing you know he was working with the former House Majority Leader Dick Armey to form a quasi-sociopathic political bloc that has taken over much of the Congress of this holy land. The Tea Party’s tenets are spelled out in  a book Kibbe and Armey c0-wrote entitled, Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto. Kibbe’s own FreedomWorks organization is dedicated to the proposition that a monolithic, all-powerful entity like the federal gov’t is icky.

Kibbe

Kibbe

Freedom Works and the Tea Party are financed and led, ironically, by various representatives of monolithic, all-powerful multinational corporations as well as any number of monolithic, all-powerful, individual plutocrats.

So the argument can be made that rock ‘n roll is responsible for the birth of the Tea Party. Hmm, maybe all those hyper-moralists of the 1950s who warned that rock ‘n roll was the devil’s music were right.

Rotten To The Core

Speaking of Me Party-ists and Libertarians, the Indy Star today tells the story of the downfall of Indiana’s acceptance of the federal Common Core standards for public schools.

Common Core is pretty much an innocuous attempt by bureaucrats to make sure kids graduating from high school know how to do things like read, write, and add two plus two. The vast majority of states in this holy land — 45 of the 50 — accepted Common Core standards after they were released in 2010. Indiana bought in almost immediately but it has become the first of the states to change its mind and buy out.

Guess who was in the forefront of the state’s reversal. Yep, the Tea Party and its Libertarian pals.

The Rush-inspired and robber baron-funded political movements demanded the Hoosier State adopt its own educational standards for students at each grade level. That’s what state legislators and operatives from the Indiana Department of Education are doing as we speak. In fact, they’ve already come out with a number draft standards.

Lo and behold these new standards are — get ready for it — pretty much the same as the fed standards.

Hmm. So the whole contretemps boiled down to — see above — You can’t tell me what to do.

Hot Air

Bloomington’s Big Party

Monroe County Dems gathered together yesterday eve at the Convention Center to pat themselves on the back and to cheer each other on toward the fall elections. Politics, y’know?

The whole gang of Democratic elected officials in this town and county (almost all elected officials herein, truth be told) made the scene. Even B-town’s notoriously stealthy mayor, Mark Kruzan, showed his face. He contributed to the pep rally as befitting the star of the team but he did not say whether he’s running for a fourth term in 2015, as some have already whispered he may not.

Party chair Trent Deckard read off a seemingly endless list of candidates for the May 6th Democratic primary. When he finished, he told the throng he’d prob. be eligible for Social Security now. Fitting, because it was Franklin D. Roosevelt, after whom the annual bash is named, who signed SS into law.

FDR

FDR Signs The Social Security Act Into Law, 1935

The honored guest of the confab was former US Congress dude Lee Hamilton. The Party presented Hamilton, now a distinguished scholar at Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies, a certificate of gratitude for being a decent guy who could win an election or two. Hamilton said he tried to follow the path of Roosevelt, who looked upon any potential piece of legislation for what it did to benefit the average person. Sounds like county Dems have themselves a talking point for the 2014 elections.

And speaking of the upcoming beauty contest, the following Dem primary candidates were on hand yesterday:

Monroe County Republicans currently are looking for an old phone booth to reserve for their pow-wow.

[h/t to MC Dem Party sec’y Efrat Feferman for help with the abovementioned names.]

Like Father, Like Son?

For the benefit of those whose historical perspective reaches back, oh, say, 15 minutes, one Willard Mitt Romney once, very long ago, wanted to be president of these here Yew-nited States of Murrica.

He lost to a commie, socialist, sub-human mongrel, abortionist, non-Murrican citizen born in Kenya and our holy land has crashed into a sea of shit ever since.

Well, that’s the narrative of the audience Willard Mitt Romney played to back in those paleozoic days of 2012.

Now, anyone who could figure out a way to lose an election to such a blatant example of bold, bald evil, you would think, might consider it better to keep his trap shut in ensuing years. But Ol’ Mitt is traipsing around the country these days, campaigning for Republican candidates for US Congress and various statehouses. Politics, y’know?

Anyway, Candidate Mitt repped a zeitgeist that posited if you’re rich, you have worked hard and are wonderfully fabulous and whatever you did to get that way was good and pure, and by contrast if you were in need, well then, you deserve it and you’d better get the hell out of my face.

Many of Mitt’s supporters considered themselves members of something called the Tea Party. That’s an almost-perfect name for them. They were only off by two letters. More properly, they should call themselves the Me Party.

Murrica, the Romney gang sang, was made great by gun-owning, god-fearing individuals who excelled despite the onerous burden of gov’t regulations and tyrannical things like labor laws and consumer protections. The rest of this sanctified land was populated by takers — those too lazy, unmotivated, or dark-skinned to amass piles of cash.

Romney/Bain

Mitt (Center) And The Bain Boys: Good & Pure

Now, how could a man construct such a worldview? Romney himself might answer that by saying a man’s character is formed, in large part, by the most important male role model in his life — his daddy-o.

Mitt Romney’s old man was George Romney, auto company CEO, guv of Michigan from 1963 through 1969, and himself a candidate for prez in ’68. Romney pere is a relic of a long-gone age, a liberal Republican, if you can believe such a thing ever existed. In the 1960s, it did.

G. Romney Placard

The old boy spoke about poverty and civil rights and Americans helping Americans and he even became a dove after visiting Vietnam, saying that our little excellent adventure there was a “tragic” blunder.

George Romney had this to say about the American slant on economics, something we’ve liked to refer to as “rugged individualism”:

It’s nothing but a political banner to cover up greed.

Wow. Imagine if the Kenyan Manchurian Prez had said that! Oh, the Me Party-ists, the GOP, and Romney fils would scream to high heaven that it was the preamble to a Soviet invasion.

In reality, Romney the Younger didn’t give a good goddamn about the lessons his pop tried to teach him.

So, why am I bringing this up? I’m getting this strange feeling that Ol’ Mitt is fixin’ to run for president again in 2016. I’m no more an idolator of Hillary Clinton than I was of Barack Obama, but I sure as hell will vote for her over a man who doesn’t have the good sense to listen when his father tries to teach him to be a decent human being.

Hot Air

Black Bogeymen

No more bullshit about how the most extreme critics of B. Obama aren’t, at heart, racists.

Yes, yes, yes, you can criticize the Prez all you want because that is our nation’s pastime no matter who occupies the Oval Office, be he a dope who lied to get us into a war or a Nazi/commie who just happens to have dark skin.

But criticizing the president does not mean the Congress must obstruct every single thing he wants done. To wit: Wednesday’s Senate rejection of Obama’s nominee to head the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. See, Debo Adegbile, in his former position as counsel for the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, once wrote a couple of amicus briefs on behalf of convicted Philadelphia cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Adegbile

Adegbile

Mumia has been a cause-célèbre since his conviction in 1982. He pretty much was railroaded through the PA state courts, although, I must admit, a careful reading of the evidence against him reveals that, sure, he killed that cop. Nevertheless, Pennsylvania prosecutors had such a tumescence to fry him that they neglected a few of the fair trial niceties the US Constitution calls for. Thus, civil liberty advocates cried whoa and called for a new trial. Thusly, Adegbile got involved.

Mumia

Abu-Jamal

Now, ergo, acc’d’g to the conservative loon-ocracy, Adegbile is four-square in favor of every black man killing a cop just for the hell of it. And remember, he’s black, with a really scary black name, so it has to be true.

Indiana’s very own Senator Joe Donnelly, nominally a Democrat, joined the disloyal opposition in quashing Adegbile’s nomination.

So Adegbile has been denied a Justice Dept. post because he did what lawyers are supposed to do: That is, defend people. Apparently, though, defending a scary black man disqualified him.

Post-racial America my foot.

Soul Man

Speaking of hard-core conservatives in this holy land, I’m getting the feeling a lot of them secretly dig Vlad Putin, aren’t you?

Putin

Republican?

He’s macho. He’s full of strutting braggadocio. He hunts. He hates gays. He’s tough. George W. Bush gazed into his eyes and concluded they were kindred souls. And he does whatever the fk he wants with a gun in his hand (and, by extension, so does his Russian military).

Kiddies, the truth is Putin would be a perfecto Tea Party choice for Prez of these U. States.

Leaders Of The Pack

Speaking of potential presidential candidates, isn’t NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand looking more and more viable by the day?

And wouldn’t the Dems take a needed first step in repositioning themselves if they selected as a 2016 ticket Hillary Clinton and KG? You might say it’d be suicide to put two women on the same ticket but wags said something similar when Bill Clinton tabbed Al Gore to be his running mate in 1992. No way, they said, can you have two southern boys from smallish states running together. But they won.

Clinton/Gillibrand

That’s The Ticket

I wonder if the Clinton/Gillibrand pair would win. It’d sure be fun to find out.

[BTW: Google’s Related Searches feature that pops up when one types in the NY Sen.’s name has “Kirsten Gillibrand weight loss” as its number one category. The number two most popular KG search is “Kirsten Gillibrand Vogue.” Apparently, she was profiled in that mag in 2010. “Kirsten Gillibrand on the issues” does not show up until number five. Sigh.]

Your Daily Hot Air

Meet The New Boss

At long, long, long, long, lo-o-o-o-o-ong last (have I made my point yet?), the august WFHB Board of Directors and Protectors of Free Speech, Community Access, and the Democratic Process will select a new czar of the airwaves today.

The station has been running without an official boss since the surprising departure several decades ago (well, okay, last June) of fundraiser extraordinaire and and radio savant Chad Carrothers. WFHB’s Board typically moves at a glacial pace but this time it appeared as though the ice flow had come to a complete halt.

The Board has had the three final candidates for the open General Manager position hop through hoops and, on several occasions, engage in games of dodgeball with the unwashed masses (read: the rank and file volunteer membership of the station). The lucky (unlucky?) three fielded Q.’s in public forums wherein they were asked about their hopes, dreams, plans, and systolic and diastolic numbers.

Now, the folderol is complete. The vote takes place today. Oh, wait — one last bit of folderol remains: before the Board votes, there will be yet another opportunity for jes’ plain folks to voice their preferences, displeasure, or delirium regarding the unlucky (lucky?) three. As if the Boarders don’t have enough info already. And as if everybody with an opinion hasn’t already shouted it from atop the fish on the dome.

Courthouse Dome

When Chad Carrothers dropped a second bomb on us and announced he and his clan were coming back from their sojourn in the Pacific Northwest, I immediately concluded he’d been summoned, sub rosa, by one or more Boardfolk to return to this metrop. and rescue the station from a mediocre cast of applicants. That was a few weeks ago. I would have bet my good money that the GM chair was being fitted once again for CC.

Now? Not so fast. I’m hearing too much grumbling among the membership about the commander emeritus possibly coming back. And some of the grumblers believe a few Board members have joined the chorus.

Which leads me to hedge my bets. If you, like me, are afraid to take a total bath on the GM pick action, lay a little dough off on this proposition: News Director Alycin Bektesh just may be compelled to share her key to the WFHB Dames’ Executive Washroom with the new boss after today’s vote.

A Different America

Bill Clinton did what he does best (no, not that) yesterday in Virginia when he stumped for his old pal Terry McAuliffe, who’s running against a Tea Party darling for governor of the Commonwealth. Clinton, it may be recalled, is a campaigner without peer and who, if Al Gore hadn’t gotten all huffy and puffy about his former boss’s sexual peccadilloes, might have helped the Veep beat George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election, but let’s not cry over that spilt milk again.

Clinton & Socks

[Insert Way-Too-Easy Joke Here]

Clinton Sunday afternoon told a McAuliffe rally that Dems have suffered in non-presidential election years of late because “a whole different America” shows up to vote. Meaning, of course, that tons of folk came out to vote for Barack Obama but those same folk punted when governorships and congressional seats and school board positions were up for grabs. Ergo, the Tea Party gains of the last few years.

McAuliffe’s opponent, a fellow named Ken Cuccinelli, pretty much verified Clinton’s assessment. He told his own supporters, “If we want to import D.C. politics and tactics to Richmond, Terry McAuliffe will do it for us. Of course, we’ll also get good Detroit financial policy, too. And we’ll get Hollywood values, too. And Bloomberg New York City gun control.”

Allow me to decode Cuccinelli here: If you don’t vote for me, the Democrats (Washington), the darkies (Detroit), the fags (Hollywood), and the Jews (Bloomberg New York) will take over.

Democrats, darkies, fags, and Jews voted for Barack Obama twice. They tended to stay home in 2010.

Man, if only Al Gore wasn’t such a prude.

You Can’t Handle The Hot Air!

Gaming The Game

It’s not often I like, respect, or even tolerate being in the same room with a big player in the high finance industry. Economists, business professors, money managers, investment bankers and the like are, by and large, glorified door-to-door salesmen.

From "Pee-Wee's Playhouse"

They sell hope. They swear up and down their primary interest in life is to serve you, the customer. They purport to foresee the future. Smugly and with stunning hubris, they convey the notion that they and they alone can understand the global economy. In that sense, they are as priests.

So, here’s a shocker: I really dig and respect a fellow named Steve Eisman.

Eisman

Steve Eisman

He gained a modicum of fame with his appearance in the Michael Lewis book, The Big Short. At the time Lewis wrote of him, Eisman was a financial analyst who studied the health and well-being of outfits like Household Finance Corporation and other reprobate entities that suckered millions of people into taking out subprime loans then turned around and peddled those loans to other suckers looking for a quick and easy buck. You know, the industry that nearly brought down the world economy six or so years ago.

While studying these firms, Eisman came to understand long before most other so-called experts that not only was the game rigged, it was designed to fuck the greatest number of participants possible. Its practitioners made hundred of millions — nay, billions — capitalizing on the ignorance, greed, and credulousness of others.

At one point, Eisman attended a luncheon conference at which the featured speaker would be the CEO of a big savings and loan. Eisman told Lewis someone in the audience filled with industry insiders and reporters asked the CEO what he thought about the free checking that many banks used as a come-on.

And he said, ‘Turn off your tape recorders.’ Everyone turned off their tape recorders. And he explained that they avoided free checking because it was really a tax on poor people — in the form of fines for overdrawing their checking accounts. And that the banks that used it were really just banking on being able to rip off poor people even more than they could if they charged them for their checks.

Eisman said to Lewis: “That’s when I decided the system was really, ‘Fuck the poor.'”

Now there’s a priest who’s looking to be defrocked.

Anyway, Eisman now works for a Morgan Stanley-owned subsidiary. He’s a senior portfolio manager specializing in shorting subprime home loans. But dig: He also works tirelessly to stem the growing tide of for-profit colleges and universities.

He said this to attendees pf a 2010 conference:

Until recently, I thought that there would never again be an opportunity to be involved with an industry as socially destructive and morally bankrupt as the subprime mortgage industry. I was wrong. The for-profit education industry has proven to equal to the task.

Tell it, preacher.

Zeeda Explains It All

This dame is a beaut!

Miss Zeeda Andrews

He-e-e-ere’s Zeeda!

Miss Zeeda Andrews is one of the organizers of that failed Million-Trucker March that was s’posed to shut down Washington and the fed gummint (sorry, boys and girls, the Me Party-ers beat you to it). Turns out she makes the Birthers look like, well, sane people.

Miss Zeeda Andrews believes…, ready for it? Can you handle it? Sit down now!

Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden are the same person!

Woohoo! This is the freaking best conspiracy theory of all time!

Jesse Ventura — hang up your magnifying glass, meerschaum pipe, and your official Sherlock Holmes Double-Brimmed Detective Cap®! You ain’t got nuffin’ on Miss Zeeda Andrews!

Man, that’s seven exclamation points in the first ten sentences (and here’s another one)! This breaking news deserves five million EPs (shorthand for exclamation point, duh!) Hey, how ’bout if we change the name of this communications colossus to Exclamation Point!? Same initials and all, no?

Maybe not. Anyways, like all conspiracy theorists everywhere, Miss Zeeda Andrews adds two plus two and comes up with some number ju-u-u-ust about as long as the latest calculation of pi by those eminent math geeks Alexander Yee and Shigero Kondo, which, BTW, is 10 trillion digits. Yeah, that’s about the size of the figger that Miss Zeeda Andrews comes up with. To wit: Here she is referring to the tragic helicopter crash that killed a bunch of Navy SEALs not terribly long after other such highly trained Mission Impossible-y type dudes carried out the contract on ObL. Natch, the crash was a set-up so that…, oh, lemme let her explain it:

The fact that these soldiers were set up to die in a no-return operation is obvious; they had knowledge that Obama didn’t want leaked. This is the SEALs that killed Osama bin Laden. I don’t believe this story. He is alive. Call me crazy but Osama bin Laden is our President Obama. Do your research! The CIA has been preparing for this since he was a boy. They have the same height, bone structure, hand and ears. Both are left-handed. The Osama face was created by Hollywood. The fox is in the hen house.

Busted! You know, these arch-villain conspirators keep on forgetting that the Wingnut-iverse is chock full of the sharpest-eyed folks in the whole gol-durned world.

Miss Zeeda Andrews, who (we are told by Greta Van Susteren) is also a country singer, told The Fox News legal affairs correspondent the other day what the Zillion Trucker March would be all about:

We want the President of the United States removed from office. He is a threat to our national security. He is a threat to our way of life. He is a threat to our future generations.

So, by the time you read this sometime today (Sunday), former Prez Barack Osama bin Obama will be locked up in some max-security cell for the criminally brown, awaiting trial by the Posse Comitatus set up by none other than Jillion Trucker March organizer (and country singer) Miss Zeeda Andrews.

Before his trial begins, though I have some questions. The fox is in the hen house? WTF? Does this mean all good, white Murricans are lady chickens? And Barack Adolf Stalin bin Laden John Gacy Obama is a fox? And is that fox used in the 1970s, Burt Reynolds/Robert Redford sense? Is Miss Zeeda Andrews telling us that she gets turned on by the world’s most famous Kenyan? Can’t be, can it?

I did a little digging and found this on Miss Zeeda Andrews’ Facebook page:

Deranged Meme

She’s also a big fan of a fellow by the name of Joel Skousen, a survivalist who is certain that members of the US Gummint are aiding the Russkies and the Chinese in a plot to launch a nuclear attack against this holy land. He’s also the nephew of Cleon Skousen, who was a big John Birch-er and end-times fanatic.

Birds of a feather, y’know.

Fellow liberals, progressives, and coffeehouse radicals, this is the opposition! If we can’t beat these basket-weavers, we are a sorry lot indeed.

Miss Zeeda Andrews invites us to call her crazy. We are more than happy to comply.

[Big Mike Note: I cleaned up some of the grammar, usage, and punctuation of Miss Zeeda Andrews’ YouTube comment represented above. Apparently, Christian American is her second language.]


Hot Air, Cold Pizza

Go Read Alice

Congrats to Canadian short story writer Alice Munro on her Nobel Prize in Literature. Her latest is the collection Dear Life.

Book Cover

Munro’s 82 years old now and she has already announced she isn’t going to write anymore. The Nobel is a fitting coda to her brilliant and glorious career. If you want to learn more about her, here’s a good ten-year old biography of her that ran in the Guardian UK.

Crisis In Black And White

Bingo, babies! The fed shutdown is merely the latest play in the long running game of Republican Us vs. Them politics. The “us” being scared white Murricans and the “them” being everyone else.

Joan Walsh of Salon laid it all out in the Chicago Tribune last week (h/t to Monroe Anderson), although you would instinctively know this if you’ve been paying attention.

Walsh

Joan Walsh

The GOP since soon after the end of World War II has been organizing around the visceral fear whites have that blacks will one day amass enough guns, money, and real power (oops, sorry I’m being redundant) to overthrow the whole shebang here. Not only that, our wives and daughters will be taken as spoils.

No lie. You have to have grown up in an edgy, pure white neighborhood as I did to really grasp this: Black men with their large penises are to be quelled at all costs.

That’s my addendum to Walsh’s superb take on America’s political history of the last half century or so.

Even the National Rifle Association became a power to be reckoned with by demonizing blacks. The NRA gang was just a nice little club for deer hunters and such until the late 1960’s when, responding to an exaggerated threat of black nationalism and the emergence of the armed Black Panthers, the organization began conducting a national grass-roots campaign to limit access to guns. Yup. Some 40 years ago, it was far more important to the NRA that guns be kept out of the hands of blacks than in the hands of whites. Now, of course, it’s far more important to keep guns in the hands of paranoid schizophrenics than it is to make firearms purchases a tad more inconvenient for everyone else. (The reasons for that transformation are grist for another post, another time.)

Panthers

Black Panthers in 1969

As this holy land’s demographics change, the Strom Thurmond/Dick Nixon/Ronald Reagan/Roger Ailes strategy of appealing to jittery whites is becoming less and less effective. By 2050, say, whites won’t be able to throw their weight around as they are doing in this weird game of chicken that has closed, basically, the social safety net and all other parts of the gummint that don’t have to do with maintaining our sacred duty to threaten the rest of the planet with incineration.

It can even be argued that men like Ronald Reagan weren’t racists in their hearts. But the fact that they found it easy to capitalize on racial fears in order to attain and keep power made them, and the country as a whole, racist indeed.

(OTOH, Strom Thurmond was a racist, through and through, and I don’t care how many children he sired with black women. Nixon wasn’t specifically a racist; he loathed all humanity equally. Ailes? He’s just a pig.)

So yeah, the Republicans and the Me Party-ists who seem to have a power all out of proportion the the rest of the body politic ain’t gonna be big shots much longer. Problem is, with the Koch Bros.’ (among other sneaky plutocrats) dough behind them, John Boehner et al can do some really serious damage to the nation. Hell, they’ve done it already.

Think of it as a fire in your home. It may have started in the kitchen and, thanks to quick work by the firefighters (who get paid by that hated gummint, BTW), the rest of your house was saved. Still, the kitchen’s a wreck. It’ll be a long time before the place is functioning properly.

Walsh is right; this isn’t an all-sides-are-to-blame thing; the Republicans started it and now the rest of us are feeling the heat.

[Big Mike Note: The head for this entry is stolen from a 1964 book of the same name, written by Charles E. Silberman. He was among the first to identify and explain the reality that the USA is really two separate nations.]

Big Mike Explains It All

[Wordpress went a little funny in the head yesterday so this post that should have been dated Wednesday, October 9, 2013, is now dated today.]

Okay, kids, strap on your crash helmets because things are gonna get really, really weird here now.

As you know Peter Higgs won the Nobel Prize in Physics yesterday Monday because a bunch of geeks toying around with the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN facility on the border of France and Switzerland finally found the sub-atomic particle that bears his name. See, Higgs got cracking with pencil and paper (and eraser — lots of erasers) some 50 years ago and as a result of some calculations he did, he was able to predict the existence of the Higgs Boson, aka the God Particle, although most serious physicists get really cranky when the Higgs is called that.

Telegraph UK Image

Peter Higgs

People called the Higgs the God Particle because some wise guys figgered once it was found, scientists would know the secret of existence. That is, why things exist, and why they don’t just smash into each other and annihilate themselves or, conversely, why everything there is doesn’t just go flying off into its own nowhere so that there would be no mass or forces or even pizza.

Talk about existentialism! This whole shebang couldn’t get more mind-bending if the ghosts of Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, and Kafka suddenly were to appear in the living room playing Twister in their stocking feet.

Twister

That’s Kafka In The Green Suit & Wearing Glasses

Whereas pious folk say the Big Daddy-o in the Sky snapped his fingers one day and next thing anybody knew, light, aluminum, oceans, Adam & Eve, and shingles all came into being, particle physicists tell us reality is just a seemingly endless series of Russian nesting dolls, with ever teensier pieces fitting inside each other. There was a time when the learned among us thought atoms were the smallest things there could be.

Har-de-har-har. Over the last 150 years or so, researchers have found successively smaller motes that make atoms look like honeydew melons. Things got so surreal that when Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig, unbeknownst to one another, dreamed up the idea of the most fundamental particle yet back in the early 1960s, one of them had to reach into the bizarro world of James Joyce’s poetry for a name. Finnegan’s Wake provided the following line:

Three quarks for Muster Mark!
Sure he has not got much of a bark
And sure any he has it’s all beside the mark.

What in the hell ever that means. So inscrutable were those two sentences that Gell-Mann immediately sensed he’d happened upon the right language from which to pluck a perfect term. Ergo, quark.

But wait! Even quarks had to be shoved around by smaller pieces of something so Higgs entered the picture in 1964, proposing his eponymous boson. It wasn’t until March of this year that the CERN gang proved Higgs’ speck of near nothingness really does exist.

The Standard Model that most physicists today subscribe to holds that magnetism, electricity, light, and a few other of nature’s magic tricks do their thing via force-carrying particles. These little specks, which are far too miniscule to be seen even with the strongest grocery store reading glasses, have mass or, to use a very technical term, oomph, only because they rub up against the Higgs Field.

Dig: The Higgs Field, which is everywhere, sprinkles photons and other force-carrying particles with confetti-like Higgs Bosons so that they, the photons et al, actually carry some weight and therefore can push things around.

And that’s why there are Republicans, pebbles, electric guitars, and — yes — pizza, as opposed to a universe full of, well, nothing.

Pizza

Raison d’Être

We and everything around us are made of of countless billions and trillions of mini billiard balls — which actually also are waves, but don’t worry your pretty and handsome heads about that because if you start, search parties of shrinks would have to disperse in search of your sanity. Just trust, alright? Anyways, those eensy-schmeensy billiard balls only can come together to become a deep dish pie with sausage and green peppers thanks to the Higgs Field and its mass-inducing confetti called Higgs Bosons.

Understand?

That’s okay, neither do I.

Fortunately, Peter Higgs does and that’s why he won the big prize yesterday.

Aren’t you glad you read this rather than gawked at yet another picture of Miley Cyrus sticking her tongue out?

Cyrus

Put That Back In Your Head!

[Another Big Mike Note: I’m neither a mathematician nor an expert on particle physics. Try as I might, there’s a good chance that my word picture herein describing the Higgs Boson and Field is full of crap. If so and you, dear reader, are a physics geek, please correct me.]

Hot Air, As Usual

The Joy Of Killing!*

Here’s a follow-up to Saturday’s entry about whether or not it is good policy to want to die for your beliefs.

My assertion was it seems senseless to want to do so. I quoted Bertrand Russell who famously said he’d never do it because what if he was wrong in his beliefs?

A couple of guys eloquently told me and Bertie in the comments section that we were full of shit.

The commenters didn’t cause me to change my mind, despite their well thought out positions. In fact, I’ll add another line of reasoning to my original assertion.

I don’t want to die for my beliefs because, well, my worst and most rabid enemies want me and my beliefs to die. (Not that I have many enemies or, for that matter, any at all; this, keep in mind, is all theoretical.)

Anyway, the more pressing question should be, Would you kill for your beliefs?

Well, Pencillistas, whaddya say?

[* Quote in headline from Mark Twain’s Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World.]

Letting Others Do The Work For Me

Now then, here are a few links to interesting things (because I really have nothing else to say today that I haven’t said before or that others haven’t already said.)

◗ h/t to Chicago theater maven Albert Williams who points out Charley Pierce’s Esquire mag blog post about the notorious “ratfuckers” of the Nixon gang back in the 1970s. Pierce asserts they were merely the opening act for later Republican operatives and hijinks-makers.

◗ You know that study everybody’s talking about, the one that looks into the hearts and minds of the fundamentalists, evangelicals, and Tea Party-ists that now make up more than half of the Republican Party? The interwebs have been flush with opininionation (yup, I just made up the word) on its findings.

Well, here’s the study in toto.

◗ We’re a bunch of scared rabbits now; for no good reason. Historian and all-around good guy Rick Perlstein explains how and why in The Nation.

That should hold you over until I feel brilliant again, which probably will be tomorrow morning.

Hot Air

Illumination

So, a guy lights himself on fire in Washington, DC. The rest of us figure the act must somehow be related to whatever lunacy Congress is up to these days.

From WPTV Ch. 5

Back in the mid-’60s, several Buddhist monks immolated themselves in protest against the corrupt regime that was running the non-nation of South Vietnam into the ground and whom we were about to send in half a million soldiers to prop up. The monks were seen as courageous martyrs.

Will the guy in Washington yesterday be seen as a martyr?

You bet he will, no matter what side of the fence he stands on. As for me, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I stick with Bertrand Russell on this one. He said:

I would never die for my beliefs because I could be wrong.

Russell

Bertrand Russell

Now It’s “Inefficient”

What with millions upon millions of people flooding the interwebs servers and phone lines of the bureaucracy that is running Obamacare, the Me Party-ists and their Republican coat holders in the US House of Representatives have to come up with a new fiction/myth/slander/prevarication…, er, um, lie to justify their rabid opposition to jes’ plain folks getting their hands on affordable health care.

Obamacare Web Error Message

Prior to this week, of course, the Me Team has screeched that the American people simply do not want Obamacare. Well, kids, tell it to all those millions and millions.

So, now what do they say? I heard a Tea Party squealer talking with Scott Simon on NPR’s Weekend Edition this morning. Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots told Simon, “[T]his law is not ready for implementation. All we’re saying is don’t spend our tax money on this law that clearly isn’t ready.”

Oh. Perhaps she’s referring to the flood applicants who got busy signals and error messages. Isn’t that sweet of her? Clearly she cares for all those poor uninsured souls. No?

No.

Big Mike Pronouncement: Tea Party-ists and their pals don’t give a good goddamn about anybody but themselves.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Tea Party-ists and the like would do better if they stopped couching their terms. For instance, why don’t they just come out and say it: If you’re poor, you’re unworthy. If you haven’t won big — or at least fatly and comfortably — in this jungle economy, you should shut up and accept your lot of shit in this life.

I’m telling you, this refreshing crystal clarity wouldn’t turn off a soul who already buys into their Randist, faux-Darwinist, execrable manner of “thinking.”

Anyway, here’s the definitive slapdown to Martin et al‘s dishonesty. A war toy manufacturer by the name of Lockheed Martin has been trying to develop a brand spanking new multipurpose stealth fighter for the US Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy as well as several of our bomb-dropping allies in Europe and elsewhere. The US alone was slated to buy more than 2400 of the airplanes. They’re to be called F-35s.

F-35

Not Ready

One of the selling points of the F-35 was that it would be inexpensive, whatever that means when one talks about the Defense Department and military contractors. Each of the fighters is expected to cost more than $150 million. Lockheed Martin’s hoped for invoice to the people of the United States would total approximately $360 billion.  Sheesh, if that’s inexpensive, I’d hate to see the Cadillac version of a stealth fighter.

Anyway, the production and design of the F-35 has, natch, caused eye-popping cost overruns. Not only that, the plane has so far been found to be unsafe, not all that stealthy, and, in computerized war games run by Pentagon geeks who love this kind of stuff, was roundly defeated by old fashioned Russian fighters.

In other words, to paraphrase Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin, the F-35 is not ready for implementation.

Can we expect Martin and her cronies to sing out, All we’re saying is don’t spend our tax money on this airplane that clearly isn’t ready?

Neither Martin nor any other Me Party-ist has ever uttered such a line in reference to any war toy program. Nor will they ever.

They are as full of horseshit as anyone this mendacious holy land has yet produced.

Hot Air Is Not Shut Down

Smart. Or Not.

People have been talking about how ironic it is that members of the US House of Representatives will continue to get paid even while much of the federal government is shut down due to certain Congresscritters’ intransigence.

From C-SPAN

Hardly Working

But here’s the perfect opportunity for the sane among our esteemed legislators (there are all too few) to demonstrate how whacked the Me Party wing of the Republican House is. If the Democrats were smart (they’re not) they’d stand up en masse this morning after last night’s fed shut-down and say, “We’re not going to accept our paychecks” (they won’t.)

Wouldn’t it be perfect, though, if they did? The dramatic act would strip away whatever shred of dignity the Me Party-ists think they still have. Suddenly, the Dems would look like heroes, sharing with the rest of us the pain of the ordeal, while making the Republicans stand around with their pinkies in their noses argling and bargling as reporters demand to know why they’re still drawing checks.

Oh, wait, I just thought of yet another reason why this wouldn’t work: This holy land’s reporters don’t demand to know anything of import.

My mistake. Forget it.

800,000

Congressbeing David Schweikert of Arizona told NPR interviewers this morning that people seem to be getting all “shrill” about the fed shut-down. He added that there are silly geese who are acting as though “the world’s coming to an end.”

His words, of course, in quotes.

Schweikert

What, Me Worry?

Schweikert, who is four-square against the crime against humanity that is Obamacare, will continue to receive paychecks based on his $174,000 yearly salary even as some 800,000 people (all of whom make a lot less) will go without as long as he and his House cohorts continue to hold their breath.

Just a little trivia about the number 800,000. That would be the approximate population of the cities of Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and San Francisco. Fast approaching that figure are Columbus (Ohio), Ft. Worth, and Charlotte. All are large, vibrant, densely-packed municipalities.

So, for perspective, let’s just imagine that the entire population of the city of Indianapolis were suddenly laid off at midnight. Folks there might be driven to a bit of shrillness should that occur, no? And those who, let’s say, are trying to keep the refrigerator full while remaining current with the rent or mortgage payment and just happen to be wondering how they’re going to continue paying for various prescriptions and medical treatments for themselves or members of their families? Yeah, the world just might seem to be coming to an end.

BTW 1: That $174,000 yearly salary for a freshman, rank and file member of the US House of Representatives? It comes with a generous, comprehensive health insurance plan. None of the Representatives, it should be added, are responsible for co-pays. Sweet, eh?

BTW 2: Schweikert’s nickname is Rusty and that’s what the interviewers referred to him as. I will not. I don’t give a shit about his nickname. He’s neither likable, nor cuddly, nor familiar enough to me to get all chummy with in that way as long as he’s putting so many people out of work just so this holy land will not put into effect a law that will mandate health insurance coverage for all its citizens. I think a better nickname for him might be Dickhead.

Historic

If you’ve still got your gig, scrape together $25.00 for the new book Historic Preservation in Indiana: Essays from the Field. It’s a beauty, edited by Bloomington’s own Nancy Hiller and featuring writings by the likes of Henry Glassie, Lauren Coleman, Cynthia Brubaker, Steve Wyatt, Don Granbois, Vicki Basman, Benjamin Clark, Gayle Cook, Edith Sarra, Scott Russell Sanders, Teresa Miller, Cheryl Munson, and Bill and Helen Sturbaum. Kristen Clement does the pix. Linda Oblack, ably assisted by Nancy Lightfoot and Sarah Jacobi, got the project through the publishing maze at Indiana University Press.

Man, that’s an all-star cast.

Book Cover

Here’s a review of the book by Demetra Aposporos, editor-in-chief of the magazine Old House Journal: “Through a series of compelling essays, Historic Preservation in Indiana shows us both the far-reaching ripples of one person’s singular endeavors, and what can be accomplished when entire communities ride waves of preservation education and triumphs.”

The book hits the shelves tomorrow.

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