Saturday, March 31, 2012

Idiot extraordinaire Rich Lowry attacks liberals over Trayvon Martin murder


In case you were wondering, National Review editor Rich Lowry, occasionally somewhat less insane than most on the right, is indeed a STUPID... FUCKING... IDIOT.

In a post at NRO today, he tries desperately to make the case that "the lives of young black people are cheap, unless they happen to fit the right agenda," specifically the right leftist agenda, as liberals ignore most of the violence against blacks and only bother to care when there are political points to be scored, as, he thinks, in the case of Trayvon Martin.

This is utterly ridiculous, of course.

Conservatives don't care about "the lives of young black people in communities beset by social disorder," and Lowry's fooling no one -- no one outside the conservative echo chamber, that is -- by mentioning murders other than Martin's as supposed examples of liberals not caring.

All Lowry is really doing is trying to score his own political points by suggesting that it's liberals and not conservatives who are the racists, while also trying to marginalize the Martin murder.

This is the sort of thing conservatives do in order to try to convince themselves that they're not a bunch of racists. (They may not be, but many of them are, and movement conservatism is steeped in racism.)

The implication of Lowry's "argument" is that Black America is a horrifically violent place and that White America is right to be fearful of it.

And in this case he actually says that the Martin murder has only become an issue (for liberals) because the killer isn't black: "There is no comparable epidemic of half-Hispanic neighborhood-watch volunteers like George Zimmerman shooting young black men. Nor is there an epidemic of cops doing the same."

In other words, it was a one-off. Nothing to see. No big deal. Move on. 

What are we to make of this nonsense?

Steve M. rips Lowry apart:

You know what's one huge difference is between the Zimmerman killing and every killing Lowry lists?

It's simple: In every case Lowry lists, everyone in America acknowledges that a crime has been committed. No one questions the notion that these killers should be arrested and tried. No one thinks the law protects the killers -- no one thinks the law ought to.

There's more beyond this. Liberals would like to see more economic opportunity for America's have-nots, and a reduction in easy access to guns. Liberals believe that personal responsibility plays a huge part, but that societal conditions do also.

But changing those conditions doesn't fit the right's agenda.

And Barbara O'Brien puts it bluntly: "If Trayvon Martin was killed for walking while black, I'd say Lowry is guilty of writing while stupid. And bigoted. And being a whiny self-absorbed wingnut.

Yup, that about sums it up.

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A desperate, pathetic Romney smears Obama for supposedly selling out America


In response to the Obama campaign's call for Romney to release his tax returns going back to the 1980s, the Romney campaign has made a counter-proposal of its own:

"The Obama campaign is playing politics, just as he's doing in his conduct of foreign policy," Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul wrote. "Obama should release the notes and transcripts of all his meetings with world leaders so the American people can be satisfied that he's not promising to sell out the country's interests after the election is over."

This is, of course, ridiculous. As Politico's Alexander Burns notes:

Releasing tax returns is a standard thing for a presidential candidate to have to do, which is not so much the case for releasing the transcripts of every conversation an incumbent president has had with a foreign leader. But of course the Romney campaign knows that, and the decision to answer with a non sequitur is a deliberate one. And the effectiveness of the tactic will hinge on voters are as prepared to believe that Barack Obama is bargaining away the country as they are willing to buy the idea that Mitt Romney is a secretive rich guy.

That's right. Basically, Romney is hoping that his completely baseless accusation that Obama is trying to sell out America, as if the president is basically a traitor, will stick. With the economy improving and his own approval ratings tanking, it's pretty much all he's got, this and his various other anti-Obama smears.

The selling out argument, such as it is an argument at all, has picked up speed after Obama was caught telling Russian President Medvedev that he'll have more flexibility after the election. Of course, he didn't mean that he'd sell out to Russia, just that politics limits one's viable options, particularly in the middle of an election season, but Republicans, as stupid and opportunistic as ever, jumped all over the remark as if it were the smoking gun they'd been waiting for.

The Romney campaign's "non sequitur," comparing apples to oranges, reflects just how pathetic it is, how desperate it is to smear Obama as a way to deflect from its own candidate's massive weakness.

And suggsting that "the notes and transcripts of all his meetings with world leaders" is fair game for public consumption isn't just ridiculous but reflective of a dangerously ignorant understanding of how the world works and of how diplomacy must be conducted. Simply put, the president, like any world leader, must be able to have private conversations, out of the public eye, with his fellow leaders. If it were all to be made public, no world leader would say anything of substance to the president, and the president would have to make every statement with an eye to how it would play, unfiltered, in the public arena. In other words, it would severely handcuff America's ability to communicate with, and make deals with, other countries. What the Romney campaign is suggesting, simply, is that the U.S. should willingly weaken itself on the international stage. If anyone is willing to sell out America, then, it's Romney. He would effectively disempower his own country.

It's unlikely, of course, that Romney and his people actually think this should be done. In addition to smearing Obama with the "selling out" charge, they're just using it for immediate political purposes as a self-defensive way to deflect attention away from Romney's tax returns, which should certainly be released for public consumption.

But the Romney campaign's ridiculous response can nonetheless be seen as an indication of how it intends to wage its battle with Obama -- that is, by lying and smearing and doing everying possible to keep the real Mitt Romney, whatever there is left now that he's a soul-less political automaton, from public view. That's really his only hope.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Nikki Haley to be indicted for tax fraud? (update)


Updating my post from earlier today, it looks as if South Carolina Gov. (and right-wing star) Nikki Haley is not going to be indicted for tax fraud:

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's office Friday provided IRS documentation that she is not facing investigation for tax fraud, calling accusations that she was "totally contrived."

Haley denied the rumors of a looming tax indictment on Thursday. The rumors were based on an anonymously sourced blog post alleging that the Internal Revenue Service was investigating possible tax fraud at a Sikh center where the governor's parents are top officials. The Palmetto Public Record claimed Haley managed the temple's finances as recently as 2003 and implicated her in a failure by the temple to pay contractors. The governor denied keeping the books for the church.

Well, as I wrote, innocent until proven guilty, and the rumor only came from this one relatively unknown blog, at least outside of South Carolina, the Palmetto Public Record.

Unsurprisingly, Haley has taken aim at "dirty blogger politics," a typically Palin-esque way of deflecting a crisis (or any bad news), and is also arguing (ridiculously, it seems to me) that such rumors are hurting the state's efforts to attract business investment, but actually, as The State reports, there were other reasons for speculation, and even if the IRS isn't investigating Haley personally, it is probing possible tax irregularities (to put it nicely) at her parents' Sikh temple. 

Again, there may be nothing to this. For all I know, the IRS will find, or has already found, that the temple did nothing wrong or that, even if it did, Haley didn't do anything wrong. But I do still wonder how all this will hurt Haley's national profile, if at all.

Would she have been on Romney's VP shortlist? Will she be, even now?

It's hard to see Romney going with an inexperienced young governor after the Palin debacle of '08, but she seems to be much more substantial than Palin and obviously is demographically desirable for the extremely white/male GOP.

It's certainly a possibility.

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Mitt Romney's enthusiasm chasm


Sen. Marco Rubio endorsed Mitt Romney for president shortly before he strongly implied that he took no joy in the announcement. When you say in essence that you guess you'll endorse Romney, but you wish better candidates had run, that's not really an endorsement.

Here's what Rubio actually said at Townhall.com:

There are a lot of other people out there that some of us wish had run for president -- but they didn't. I think Mitt Romney would be a fine president, and he'd be way better than the guy who's there right now.

And then, in an interview on Fox News' Hannity show he had this to say:

I am going to endorse Mitt Romney. Not only is he going to be the Republican nominee, but he offers a stark contrast to this president's record.

Here's my translation: "Yep, Romney is going to be the Republican nominee and I'm a Republican so I guess I'll be supporting him."

Just to be serious for a moment, it is possible that the GOP will find a way to be enthusiastic about Romney. I know it's possible that some of the pundits are right when they say that once the thing becomes a one-on-one battle, everything changes. Voters who are moved by conservative political arguments, they say, will get behind Romney and get excited. I'm just not sure I agree.

I'm looking forward to the Republican convention. I think a lot of delegates will find it hard to give a damn about Mitt Romney no matter how much he professes to speak for their political values. Two points that stick out are that a lot of these people just don't believe the man, don't trust him and, even if they trust him, he is such a cold fish that they can't relate to him and don't really like him.

Sure, they'll nominiate him, but it won't be much of a send-off for their guy as he steps into the arena with the incumbent president, one of the more exciting political figures to come on the scene in a long time. 

Maybe, just maybe, Mitt Romney is a hell of a guy in real life, though I doubt it. He certainly doesn't come across that way as an actor on the national stage. And if there is one thing I know about politics, it's that people don't vote for candidates they don't like, at least not in sufficient numbers to elect them. 

Successful campaign slogans are usually in the category of "I like Ike," or "Nixon's the One." They are rarely things like, "I'm voting for Romney, what the hell."

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Nikki Haley to be indicted for tax fraud?


S.C. Gov Nikki Haley, with some unidentified attention-seeker
Well, so much for being a possibility for the Romney ticket in November. Looks like the South Carolina governor is going to be dealing with some legal troubles soon:

Two well-placed legal experts have independently told Palmetto Public Record they expect the U.S. Department of Justice to issue an indictment against South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on charges of tax fraud as early as this week.

A highly ranked federal official has also privately confirmed rumblings of an investigation and possible indictment of the governor, though the official was not aware of the specific timeframe.

Yesterday, Palmetto Public Record exclusively reported that the Internal Revenue Service has been investigating since March of 2011 the Sikh worship center run by Gov. Haley’s father. At least five lawsuits have been filed against the Sikh Society of South Carolina since 2010, alleging that the group bilked contractors out of nearly $130,000 for the construction of a new temple.

Gov. Haley is reported to have managed the temple’s finances as late as 2003, and our sources believe any indictment would center on what happened to the missing money.

I know, I know, innnocent until proven guilty. But it wouldn't exactly help a privileged rich douchebag to have someone accused of tax fraud as his running mate, even if her conservative bona fides are in order and she endorsed him back when he really needed a boost.

(Besides, while she would bring certain demographic benefits to the ticket (female, non-white), she's not exactly crazy Christianist enough for Republicans, many of whom would recoil at the mere thought of a Mormon/ex-Sikh ticket, even if she is a Methodist now.)

For more, see Ed Kilgore at Political Animal.

(photo)

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Conservatives don't much care for science


From yesterday's Daily Intel:

While only 35 percent of conservatives said they had a "great deal of trust in science" in 2010, an estimated 100 percent of Rick Santorum believes that climate change, evolution, and pretty much all empirical scientific data is a bald-faced lie.

And, let's face it, Santorum is pretty much a mainstream Republican in this regard.

Which means that a vote for any Republican is a vote for a return to the Dark Ages.

The Founders, men of Enlightenment, surely would not approve.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Trayvon Martin murder: When being black is all it is

By Ramona

I don't think there is anyone who hasn't been affected in some way by Florida teenager Trayvon Martin's death in February at the hands of a neighborhood watchman who thought he saw a threat in the tall black teenager wearing a dark hooded jacket. The story is almost too terrible for words. 

I am white and my children are white. At the same time that I'm grieving with Trayvon's family, trying yet again to come to terms with the needless death of an innocent child, I recognize that I can't possibly grasp what it must feel like to know their precious son would likely still be alive if only he hadn't been black.

It wasn't the hoodie he was wearing that made him a target. Kids all across the country wear hoodies every day. It was the darkness of the skin underneath that hood that provided the catalyst for the kind of tragedy that is becoming as commonplace as it is unbearable.

We're in a place where the issue of racism opens up old wounds, forcing us to once again pull it out and examine it. I would say racism is back, but we all know it never really went away. We see it in the open hatred toward our first black president; in the collateral hatred toward his wife and daughters; in a generalized hatred toward people whose only difference is in the color of their skin.

I was a young mother during the last civil rights movement. It was impossible to explain the inexplicable to my children --t hat in our own country, this country that boasts about fairness and equality in story and song -- there are white people who hate black people so much they want to do them harm.

But the conversations I had with my kids couldn't even come close to the painful necessity every black parent had -- and still has -- in explaining the same thing to their black children. How can it be explained? It made no sense then and it makes no sense now.

I look at Sybrina Fulton's face as she weeps over this latest insult to her dead son -- the gleeful egging on of a story about his suspension from high school over an empty marijuana bag in his backpack; I hear the anguished rage in Tracy Martin's voice as he defends the reputation of his murdered son; and I am back to a time more than a half-century ago, when defenseless black citizens were humiliated and hurt and killed for no other reason than the color of their skin.

September, 1955. Murdered teenager Emmet Till's mother weeps at his open casket. Emmet Till was 14 years old when he was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by white men for the crime of whistling at a white woman. His face was battered beyond recognition, but Mamie Till-Mobley wanted the world to see what pure hatred could do to another human being -- and to society as a whole. "Civil rights activists used the murder of Emmett Till as a rallying cry for civil rights protest, transforming a heinous crime into a springboard for justice. The Montgomery Bus Boycott followed closely on the heels of the case. Indeed, Rosa Parks is quoted as saying, 'I thought about Emmett Till, and I could not go back. My legs and feet were not hurting, that is a stereotype. I paid the same fare as others, and I felt violated.'"

We are heading toward a new era of ignorance and poverty, and those two ingredients become, historically, irrationally, the fuel for a dangerous firestorm. It's not a leap to suggest that the vital issue of civil rights needs to be addressed and overhauled before violence becomes the norm again.

The stink of prejudice is everywhere. Hispanics feel it, Muslims feel it, LGBTs feel it, anyone who is "different" feels it. We can't let hatred win. We owe some measure of attention to the memories of Trayvon and all other human beings who are punished, often to the point of losing their lives, for no other crime than being who they are.

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It's all about Newt


Just a minor comment because I don't want to spend a lot of time thinking about Newt Gingrich, but whatever happened to party solidarity? Gingrich is laying off staff, running a campaign deficit, and cutting back his travel schedule. He's done, done, done.

So, what does he do? He announces that his goal is to amass delegates only as a tactic to stop Romney from getting the number he needs to secure the nomination. Newt then thinks, or says he thinks, he can go to the convention and present himself as the great saviour of the GOP as he wins the nomination from the floor. Dream on, little man. Not gonna happen.


His campaign says it knows it's not going to win by collecting the most delegates, so it's instead focusing on a last-ditch effort to position Gingrich as the man who gets the nod should the primary blow up and end in a brokered convention.

"If you look at the math, we're not going to get to 1,144 before June 26, the last two primaries, so what we're going to have to do is convince delegates in the 60-day period between the last primaries and the convention that Newt is the candidate to defeat Obama and to change Washington," Joe Disantis, a Gingrich campaign spokesman, told CNN Wednesday morning.

Team Gingrich says that by picking up delegates here and there, it can deny Romney the delegates he needs to win the nomination outright. Then, in the Gingrich campaign's mind, comes the real campaign to win over the delegates headed to the brokered convention.

I know this will sound really strange, but, as a former political hack, I really hate it when candidates show no loyalty to their party. I don't support the Republicans. It's not about that. It's about actually believing that there can be honour in politics, that candidates can see a higher good beyond their own selfish interests. Gingrich seems intent on throwing hand grenades because he hasn't been taken seriously enough by those he has tried to court, so he is going to blow things up.

I know you're probably laughing as you read this but it's not impossible to imagine that a lot of politicians over the years have taken one for the team because they believed in something that transcended their own ego needs. I've seen it happen. I swear I have.

Not that I expected much of Newt Gingrich, but it sickens me nonetheless.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Blogiversary: Seven years of The Reaction


I usually don't make much of these things, but I wanted to mention that The Reaction is seven years old today.

Yes, it was on March 29, 2005 that I started this blog, and started blogging.

In the very first post, written when I was a graduate student at the University of Toronto, and when I didn't really know what I was doing, I wrote this:

I will comment on an irregular basis on whatever comes to mind. If that sounds self-indulgent, it is, and I make no apologies. This is the blogosphere, after all, and self-indulgence comes with the territory.

In brief, The Reaction is just that: a reaction to all the nonsense out there that passes for intelligent discourse. There's no way I could do it all the justice it deserves, but I'll do my part.

Well, this blog has grown a lot over the years, turning into more of a group blog with a wonderful team of writers, and we certainly comment on much more than an irregular basis, with usually 4-8 new posts up every day, but we're still going after all the nonsense out there, most of it coming from Republicans.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who's ever written for this blog, all the great friends I've met in the blogosphere, and all of our readers. It's exhausting keeping this thing going, but I love it, and it's so much a part of who I am.

I hope you keep coming back. We'll certainly continue do our best to make this blog the best it can be.

Seven years. Well over 11,000 posts. Wow. Time flies when you're having fun. Now let's get back to it!

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Just give Mitt Romney the nomination and be done with it


When do we get to say the Republican presidential nomination race is over? Is it when Santorum loses his home state of Pennsylvania, because that looks like it might just happen, or so some recent polling is starting to indicate?

A Franklin & Marshall College poll out this week has Rick Santorum nearly tied with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania, which is also showing that Santorum's support is eroding.

Here's the technical stuff:

The poll of 505 registered Republican voters, conducted March 20-25 in conjunction with the Tribune-Review and other media outlets, shows Santorum clinging to a small lead over Romney, 30 percent to 28 percent, within the poll's 4.2 percent margin of error.

And now, as Nate Silver is reporting at FiveThirtyEight, polls are showing Romney on track to win in Wisconsin, a state, Silver notes, that once seemed relatively favourable for Rick Santorum:

A survey from Marquette University, released on Tuesday, gave Mr. Romney an eight-point lead in the state. That is a slightly smaller margin than the one in an earlier Rasmussen Reports poll, which had put Mr. Romney 13 points ahead.

I even noticed today that if Romney falls short of the magic number of 1,144 delegates to win the nomination, he may be able to count on 120 uncommitted Republican National Committee super-delegates to put him over the top.

As Daily Kos writes, actually referring to a National Journal article:

Technically, there are actually 168 super delegates, but 15 of those super delegates can't vote because their states voted early, breaking RNC rules, and 33 of them are bound to support the winner of their state's primary or caucus. That means there's really only 120 super delegates in the traditional sense. Those 120 insiders have the power to put Mitt Romney over the top, if they need to do so, they almost certainly will.

Not to get into details, but this is just one more tool in Mitt Romney's kit to ensure he will be his party's nominee. If push comes to shove, or, I should say, when push comes to shove, the GOP establishment will be there to bail Mitt out. Of course they will.

You know, it wasn't even my intention to get into the weeds about why Romney will win the nomination. After Michigan and Ohio, that was a done deal. Most Republicans, even those who aren't very happy about it, are now pretty clear in their minds that Romney will carry the banner for their party.

The only question for me is how the pundits will fill their time over the coming months. I'm bored by the GOP race. I want Romney to be the guy because I am convinced that when he is the sole focus of attention he will implode. Hard to believe that anyone in the country is unaware of Mitt Romney and his failings as an effective mouthpiece for the conservative cause, or any cause, that anyone hasn't seen his pathetic attempt at being a politician, but a lot of people just don't pay attention.

When they do pay attention to Romney, most don't like what they see. The numbers are pretty clear on that. I also know that as a Democrat I should want the GOP race to continue. I should want Santorum and Gingrich and even Paul to be there to throw mud at Mitt. I'm just tired of it.

Please let it be over soon. I am convinced that Romney can destroy his chances of winning the general election all by himself without any help from his Republican challengers. I'm sure of it.

Let Mitt be Mitt, all alone on the stage, and let him fail miserably.

Let the games begin.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Backlash

 
By Carl
 
Y'know, the idiot numbnuts on the right ought to learn to shut up and not reflexively defend the white guy against the black kid:

Sanford police Sgt. David Morgenstern on Wednesday confirmed that the video being shown by ABC News is of Zimmerman. The 28-year-old's head and face are visible throughout and he is dressed in a red and black fleece jacket. Police are shown frisking Zimmerman whose hands were handcuffed behind his back. They then lead him into a police station.

"This certainly doesn't look like a man who police said had his nose broken and his head repeatedly smashed into the sidewalk," Ben Crump, an attorney for Martin's family, said in a statement. "George Zimmerman has no apparent injuries in this video, which dramatically contradicts his version of the events of February 26."

If you view the video, you'll see little evidence of a man who claims to have been knocked to the ground and all but concussed. he doesn't stagger around, his eyes are clear and he seems lucid and responsive to the police who examine him. One cop even looks at the back of his head, checking his injuries, whatever they may be.

He does lean briefly against a wall, but given that he just murdered a young man in cold blood, I think we can forgive him a moment of weakness and doubt.

There are serious questions as to why Zimmerman was allowed to go free, even if you accept the police version of the events at face value. Given the lack of injuries on the part of Zimmerman (he didn't even bother to go to an emergency room for stitches) and even allowing that Martin "got the jump on him," the fact that Martin twice asked Zimmerman about following him should take this murder out of the domain of self-defense, and at least make it an aggravated homicide.

And I'm not sure I accept the police version of events at face value. Neither, really, do I accept the version told by Martin's girlfriend at face value. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.

And don't you find it interesting that, in a gated community where crime was rampant enough to warrant a vigilante squad, not one surveillance camera caught a single moment of the action as it unfolded? I do. I find that suspicious, in fact. After all, these crimes were burglary and breaking and entering. It seems to me that you wouldn't be able to spit without hitting a camera.

That Sanford police have threatened reporters covering the story with arrest speaks to me of a force desperately trying to cover up their own incompetence.

(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Romney thinks laying people off is hilarious


Mitt Romney does a lot of Romneying, and I've been calling him a privileged rich douchebag for some time now, but let's not forget, on a more serious note, that he made his money as a vulture capitalist who destroyed jobs and ruined lives, and that, not to put too fine a point on it, he's basically an insensitive asshole.

Sure, he can joke around with Leno when the questions are the softest of softballs, but every once in a while, and actually rather frequently, we get to see what sort of person he really is. Take what he said yesterday, as reported by New York's Alex Klein:

Mitt shared some of his connections to the state of Wisconsin on a conference call. 

One of most humorous I think relates to my father. You may remember my father, George Romney, was president of an automobile company called American Motors... They had a factory in Michigan, and they had a factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and another one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And as the president of the company he decided to close the factory in Michigan and move all the production to Wisconsin. Now later he decided to run for governor of Michigan and so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign. 

The joke is laying off working-class factory workers. The punch line is screwing over Michigan, the state in which he was born.

Hilarious, eh? And so very Romney. This is who he is.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The NRA "concealed carry" hoodie


Speaking of hoodies -- which if you wear you apparently deserve to be shot by racist vigilantes, even if in Trayon's case it wasn't the hoodie but the color of his skin -- this is fucking disgusting.

I hate the NRA.

**********

Make sure to read: "I am hoodie," an important post from the perspective of the embattled hoodie, if not one for carrying a concealed weapon, which, to repeat, is fucking disgusting.

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The Dark Shadows of my youth


Tim Burton is remaking the cult-classic TV soap opera Dark Shadows, which ran from 1966 to 1971. While I recognize that the original is best known by many for charming screws-ups in the production of the show, I remember it as just another program we watched after school and seemed to enjoy a great deal.

Still, it is true, as The Hollywood Reporter writes, that:

[O]ne of the most charming things about the daytime drama was the plethora of bloopers – wrong props, bats flitting about on visible wires, falling scenery, muffed dialogue, the crew seen walking through shots, the cast trying in vain to ignore them -- in every episode.

Ah, yes, the bats flitting around on visible wires. I do remember that and it was pretty funny, but mostly, as an eight to thirteen year old I didn't particularly see it as camp, though apparently I should have.

Again, The Hollywood Reporter:

The original Dark Shadows dialogue was very stilted and the show took itself very seriously. Still, due to the recurring onset mishaps, it was hilarious (in that so bad it's good way) and highly addictive.

As I look back now at the Dark Shadows clip I retrieved from Youtube, I think of a Frasier episode in which Frasier and his brother Niles lion an actor who had been on television in their youth only to realize when they see him perform years later that he was always just a bad actor. Maybe the old Dark Shadows is a little bit like that, kind of awful but really cool when you were a kid.

Dark Shadows was a gothic soap opera that originally aired weekdays on ABC, from June 27, 1966 to April 2, 1971. As the Wikipedia entry indicates:

The series became hugely popular when vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) appeared a year into its run. Dark Shadows also featured werewolves, zombies, man-made monsters, witches, warlocks, time travel, and a parallel universe. A small company of actors each played many roles (as actors came and went, some characters were played by more than one actor).

I don't even really remember what it was all about, only that it was creepy in that way that younger people have always tended to like. 

The remake will feature Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Helena Bonham Carter, and will be, according to reports, "flat out funny, over-the-top and very vampire tongue-in-cheek."

That's fine. I'm sure it will be good fun, though very different than the original.

This clip below features Barnabas, the aforementioned vampire, and a character named Burke. I have no idea what's going on in the scene, but it's fairly painful to watch in a wonderful sort of way. It does bring back memories.

As an added bonus, and because I was so proud of myself for remembering it, I've posted "Quentin's Theme," a spoken-word instrumental track from the show that peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969. Yes, it did. 



(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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I am Hoodie


I Am Hoodie takemycountryback
Hello. Hoodie here. I know what you are thinking. I am up to no good, right? But that is what I wanted to talk to you about. You see, I felt it was important to get the message out in light of the recent events in Florida that we, the hoodies of America, are not all that bad.

The other day I was watching Fox News and saw this horrible man with a thick mustache saying how we were somehow responsible for the shooting death of this poor kid, Trayvon Martin. I was so saddened and quite appalled that this odd-looking fellow would say such a horrible thing about us. What did we ever do to him, or to anyone for that matter?

I mean, do we not keep you dry in the rain? Do we not offer breathability for runners on cool spring mornings? Do we not offer pockets and a means of something quick to throw on late at night when throwing out the garbage? Do girls not look totally hot wearing nothing but us after sex? I mean, why are we getting such a bad rap for such a senseless killing?

I remember back when I was young. It was such a simpler time. Back then we were called sweat jackets. Remember that? I sure do. We were just benign articles of clothing used by athletes and young kids who wanted something they could easily tie around their waists when they got overheated. (I mean, check out Bill Belichick over there.)

Something changed, though, as I got older. Personally, I blame P. Diddy, or whatever he calls himself now. He made us into some sort of fashion article. I have even seen sweat jackets selling for hundreds of dollars because of that guy. Can you believe that? A sweat jacket going for that much? I would never have imagined.

After that, things started to change for us. We started to become "cool" to wear, and by cool I don't mean lightweight in the fall. Then, somewhere along the line someone changed our name to "hoodie." Sure, we have a hood and it is very versatile and practical, but it was never meant to be something sinister! And "hoodie"? Really? That sounds like we are from the ghetto. Or perhaps it was meant as a nod to the criminals of old known as "hoods," for all you youngsters out there.

And okay, for the record I will concede one fact. Our pockets were always convenient repositories for dime bags, but is that our fault? As far as I am concerned, and you can call me an old sweater, but we were and still are just innocent, comfortable, simple old sweat jackets.

So I ask you, how can anyone blame us as the reason a kid was shot to death? Rocky wore us for his many fights with Apollo Creed and we cheered him on. Jesus wore us and we are still talking about him. Heck, when the Unabomber wore us nobody even noticed that he was leaving mail bombs on people's doorsteps!

Sure, we will always have our rotten apples like the Evil Emperor, Darth Maul, and the Grim Reaper. But we knew they were evil. Personally, I always hated that they chose to wear us instead of vampire capes or something. But again, is that our fault? At the end of the day we are just cotton people!

Look, all I am trying to do here is to try and change the public's perception of us by speaking out during this troubled time. It is simply wrong to accuse us of having anything to do with people dying. We might be inanimate objects, but even inanimate objects have feelings! So please, Geraldo, and all the other haters out there, give us a chance! Try us on! Experience our comfort and convenience for yourselves. Go so far as to even try on our hoods. Pull on our drawstrings. You know you want to. I guarantee you will feel cozy, secure, and, most of all, non-threatening.

However, if after that you are not completely satisfied, then just return us. We would rather be back on the rack than be owned by haters, or worse, shot at by people who have no idea what they are missing.

Thanks for listening. Hoodie out!


********** 

By tmcbpatriot (not a hoodie) 

(Ed. note: The patriot has written numerous posts for us, has been live-blogging the Republican primaries with us, and is now a full contributor. His recent posts include "I am Rush Limbaugh's wife," "I am Rush Limbaugh's wife... part deux, and "I am Ann Romney." You can also find him at his blogging home, Take My Country Back. -- MJWS)

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Quote of the Day: Arlen Specter on Romney's pornographic contortions

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The former Pennsylvania senator, on Morning Joe this morning: 

Mitt Romney has changed positions more often than a pornographic movie queen. 

Though, needless to say, Romney's contortions haven't been anywhere near as stimulating.

(Seriously, who refers to porn stars as "movie queens"?)

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Money, it's a gas: Mitt Romney, car elevators, and out-of-touch super-rich douchebaggery


Look, I think we all realize that people with money can have things that people without money can't. It's just the way it is, however unfair it may be. I certainly have things many people don't, and indeed most of us in the West have things, luxuries, that the vast majority of our fellow human beings don't. You know, like clean running water and penicillin, not to mention cars, high-def TVs, and smartphones.

And of course the more money you have the more you can have, the more you can acquire and call your own. Personally, I can't afford, say, the sort of vehicle that, oh, Kobe Bryant might be able to add to his collection. Just an example, but I'm sure you get the point.

All of which is to say, I don't necessarily begrudge anyone for being rich, even super-rich like Mitt Romney. (How he got rich is another matter, vulture capitalist that he was, destroying jobs and ruining lives in the process. For that he ought to be held accountable, at least at the polls.) No, the problem with Romney isn't necessarily that he has a lot of money but that he's a privileged rich douchebag who likes to flaunt his wealth, and the fact that he's super-rich (i.e., "Romneying"), with seemingly clueless, but nonetheless deeply offensive, disregard for everyone else -- particularly given the unsettling current economic climate, where people have rather more urgent problems than Romney has, like putting food on the table, paying the bills, and caring for their children.

And so this is only going to deepen the privileged rich douchebag narrative (as I'm calling it) that has attached itself to Romney during the campaign, mostly of his own doing:

At Mitt Romney's proposed California beach house, the cars will have their own separate elevator.

There's also a planned outdoor shower and a 3,600-square foot basement — a room with more floor space than the existing home's entire living quarters.

Those are just some of the amenities planned for the massive renovation of the Romneys' home in the tony La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, according to plans on file with the city.

A project this ambitious comes with another feature you don't always find with the typical fixer-upper: its own lobbyist, hired by Romney to push the plan through the approval process.

Work on the project has not yet begun.

But it may not help Romney — whose wealth has caused him trouble connecting with average folks — to be seen building a split-level, four-vehicle garage that comes with a "car lift" to transport automobiles between floors, according to 2008 schematic plans for the renovation obtained by POLITICO that are on file with the city of San Diego.

No... really?

Again, it's not that he has money and so can afford such things. Whatever. It's obscene, what with all the suffering in the world, including not so far from La Jolla, but I'd be a hypocrite if I said he should be deprived of his wealth -- though he should most certainly be paying higher taxes.

But he's not really a private citizen anymore, he's a man desperately trying to be president, a politician willing to do and say anything to get to the White House. And while he's a douchebag about his wealth, basically because he just can't help himself (Romney is all about Romneying!), he's also been trying to connect to normal, ordinary Americans by presenting himself, on occasion, as a man of the people, as someone in touch with the troubles of the broad electorate, including mostly low- and middle-income GOP primary voters.

But of course he's not. He was a businessman, and specifically a vulture capitalist. And he's pushing a policy agenda that, while lacking in the dirty details, is overwhelmingly plutocratic, specifically featuring much lower taxes for the rich like himself while heaping sacrifice upon sacrifice on those who can least bear any more of the burden of sustaining a sick, twisted capitalist system.

What can we do about it? Well, if Romney wants to have a massive SoCal beach house with an elevator for his cars (and we already know his wife drives a couple o' Cadillacs), fine. Let him spend all the time he wants there after November.

Do you really want an unprincipled panderer and privileged rich douchebag as your president? (By the way, he wants an elevator for his cars but, while governor of Massachusetts, vetoed a bill to improve elevators for persons with disabilities. That says it all.)
 
Vote accordingly.

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Behind the Ad: Santorum goes apocalyptic with "Obamaville" nightmare


(Another installment in our "Behind the Ad" series.) 

Who: Santorum. All Santorum, but speaking on behalf of many, many Republicans in their hatred of President Obama.

Where: Online. In other words, everywhere.

What's going on: Just watch the ad. It explains itself.

You may have seen this on Jon Stewart last night, but it's also been making the rounds. And it's about as un-subtle as a Ron Jeremy film.

We do a series here at The Reaction called "Signs of the Apocalypse," though we haven't done a new entry in a long time. (This was the most recent, #75, from October 2010. I really need to get back to it.) It's more socio-cultural than political, focusing on various indications that the Apocalypse is on the way. (And, no, it's not religious.)

Well, according to Santorum, in this first of an apparently eight-part series (just like Harry Potter!), the Apocalypse will come if President Obama is re-elected -- and it's called "Obamaville," a dystopian future meant to scare the shit out of conservatives, or at least to reinforce the conservative lie that Obama will turn America into something resembling Mordor, an earthly hell for "God"-fearin' Americans. And, note, for white Americans specifically, as Jon pointed out. Yes, this too features the racism that is at the core of the right's assault on Obama.

"Imagine a small American town two years from now, if Obama is re-elected..." Yes, 2014! If Obama is re-elected, it will take just two years for the nightmare to become a reality.

Oh wait... that's not quite enough to scare you? How about blending Obama and... Ahmadinejad. Yes! Perfect! And add to that the treat of nuclear armageddon. Even better! "And every day, the residents of this town must come to grips with the harsh reality that a rogue nation and sworn American enemy has become a nuclear threat."

Honestly, this may be the silliest, most ridiculous political ad I've ever seen. And yet it captures the fear, ignorance, bigotry, and outright insanity that have been driving the right's own apocalyptic opposition to Obama -- and that are driving conservative politics generally.

As Rude Pundit put it yesterday, so very well:

One of the things it has always been easy to admire (yes, admire) about Santorum is that the motherfucker may be crazy as a shit fight in a monkey house, but he believes what he's saying. He's all-in. If you're gonna base your candidacy on your belief that Satan wins if you don't, own that shit. And nothing says nutzoid like Santorum's latest video from his campaign, not a Super PAC, wherein he imagines the color-drained hellscape that America will become if Barack Obama wins a second term. Because apparently you can put anything after the President's last name, it's called, "Obamaville."

That's right. Obama will force your children off playgrounds and take away one of their shoes. Hot women with whore-red lips will tell you to be quiet. You and your spouse will have nothing to chop on the butcher block but a bowl of grapefruit. Grapefruit, goddamnit. Little girls will dress in rags and sit in wooden rooms. Doctors will have long lines, says the narrator, but somehow hospital beds will remain empty. And all of a sudden gasoline will have the ability to pierce your skull. Old people will sit or stand quietly, knowingly. TV will mix up Mahmoud Ahmadenijad with the President in showing us our "enemies."

It's all supposed to be a bit Twilight Zone-y. Check out the ending. It's the sort of thing that would be understandable, perhaps, as satire, as something you might see on Colbert to show just how fucking insane Republicans really are. The thing is, Santorum means it. And you know conservatives are just lapping it up.

Enjoy!


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Predictive posting

By Carl 

There's a theme in my thinking with respect to this nation that, eventually, some large-scale changes are going to occur, and that they might occur suddenly and perhaps even violently.

American culture is based on three things: democracy, faith, and capitalism.

There's a basic disconnect in there. Those three things are, jointly and separately, untenably conflicted. Somethings have got to give, because it's within the human nature that one of those things aligns.

A basic drive of humanity is self-protection: food, clothing, shelter are all manifestations of our primal drive to survive. To believe that, somehow, that urge ends just because we satisfy those basic needs flies in the face of modern marketing, Maslow's theory notwithstanding.

Capitalism takes this into account when it says that each of us acting in our own self-interest will create a general good for society. Capitalism is the only one of the legs of the stool upon which American culture sits that speaks to the most basic inner needs of the individual.

The other two, a faith in a higher power (including science) and the democratic process, speak to the more noble sentiments of community and caring.

Democracy and faith both require humility: an understanding that the individual is not bigger than the whole, that there is something "out there" bigger than we each are.

Democracy serves the best interests of the community by polling the combined wisdom of that community, group-sourcing decision making. Faith serves the best interests of the community by reminding us that the components of that society, people, are just like you and I and share the same ultimate fate.

Both of those are very humbling concepts, but capitalism not only ignores the best interests of the community -- it has to, by definition -- it is antithetical to humility. Capitalism breeds ego and the most successful capitalists tend to be those with outsized egos and overinflated senses of self. Think about it: you set a goal to earn a million dollars a year. The average income of an American is somewhere south of $50,000, 1/20th your goal. You have to be pretty self-involved to believe that you can do that, that you are 20 times better than average.

Democracy and faith are inefficient. Indeed, they both reward inefficiency: democracies take forever to make major decisions, taking into account all arguments before casting votes. That's why we in America chose a representative democracy, where we elect people who presumably have our best interests at heart.

Theoretically.

Too, faith rewards inefficiencies. Most faiths speak to a reward in the hereafter: a heaven, or 72 virgins, or to be written into The Book and memorialized, or reincarnation. This is antithetical to living life in the now, to be rewarded immediately relative to the work and success you attempt. A powerful, perhaps the most powerful, form of learning. Hell, we can teach rats and pigeons with this method. 

Capitalism rewards efficiency and -- particularly the gruesome form practiced in America -- punishes inefficiency: a dollar given to a charity is a dollar that doesn't go into the pockets of the shareholders. And also unique to American capitalism (although this is sadly spreading), the rewards are tallied up every three months and woe betide the CEO who doesn't beat expectations, much less last year's books!

It has been said that a lie is halfway around the world before the truth can lace up its boots. Substitute American capitalism and democracy/faith, respectively, and you begin to comprehend the full impact of this dynamic. Long before we can enact laws or get the flock to stop a particularly noxious economic behavior, the damage is done.

This is why liberals believe in the so-called "nanny state": by getting ahead of the curve, by getting ahead of the behavior, we can mitigate and perhaps even prevent the damage.

Sadly, capitalism has one-upped this: by infesting not only the democratic process by dangling dollar bills in front of the elected representatives, but also by stepping squarely into the arena of faith.

Indeed, my suspicion is that corporate America is more in bed with the religious right than even you suspect, and we can't even really prove this, because churches do not have to pay taxes so they don't really have to report income or where they get it from.

It's an opportunity to exploit an inefficiency and as we've seen already, capitalism exploits inefficiencies and punishes those who indulge in them.

I don't know what the answer is and I don't even really know what the question is, but I do know where the question lies: in the corporatocracy.

Specifically, the investor class. See, we might blame the American corporation and there's some truth to this, but it's also true that the rules themselves are designed to reward this behavior and punish behavior that would be more compliant to society's benefit. If a corporation were tomorrow to decide to pull its profit-making back a little in order to make the community a better place, its stock price would plummet. Unless they can prove it would make an immediate return on investment, of course.

No, we need to look deeper, into the bowels of the markets themselves and see the inhumanity that reigns there: the quantification of human beings and economic activity. The software that detects the slightest deviation from maximum profitability and exploits the inefficiency for its own benefit (after all, software that fails to do this is abandoned -- killed off -- and my thinking is there's a certain amount of consciousness amongst all those chips and wires.) Most major investment decisions are now done by computer and that means efficiency will reign supreme.

Which means you can kiss democracy and faith goodbye.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Obama to Medvedev: "After my election I have more flexibility." (Cue ignorant, jingoistic conservative outrage!)


Conservatives are outraged -- outraged!!! -- by President Obama's comment to outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin should give him "space" on controversial issues like missile defence because... and I quote... "This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility." (Watch it below.)

Oh no! Obama was caught by an open microphone admitting that... well, what?

That he'll capitulate once the election is over... that he'll sell out America... that he's got some traitorous secret plan for his second term... that he's lying to the American people?

Here's a quiz. Conservatives are:

a) faux outraged;
b) politically ignorant;
c) dumb-ass jingoists;
d) fucking stupid; or
e) all of the above.

Allowing for an exception or two, I'm going with (e).

First, of course Obama would have more flexibility in a second term. Every politician has more flexibility when he or she doesn't face re-election. It was certainly true of Bush after 2004.

Second, winning an election means pandering, at least to some degree, to the electorate, and on national security issues, particularly complicated international ones, Americans are, by and large, deeply ignorant and prone to prolonged spasms of jingoism. Particularly on the national state, you need to be "tough," or at least to appear to be, and for the jingoistically ignorant that means saber-rattling. Republicans have been successful on the national state in large part by playing directly to this jingoistic ignorance and so by appearing to be tough (e.g., torture detainees! bomb Iran! flaunt America's nukes like a massive national hard-on!). All President Obama is doing is recognizing this unfortunate political reality. It's a reality realists like Medvedev, like most sensible political figures, understand all too well. ("I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir." This is how diplomacy works.)

Third, President Obama, far more than pretty much every Republican, understands the complexity of international relations. What he is saying is not that he will capitulate, that he will give Russia whatever it wants, but that he will work with Russia on long-term solutions to these challenging problems, that he will treat Russia as a partner for peace, not, as Romney would have it, as America's #1 enemy (not just a counter-productive but completely reckless position to take, though I suspect Romney is just flopping around like usual).

Fourth, the White House clarified the issue: "[T]his is a political year in which the Russians just had an election, we're about to have a presidential and congressional elections — this is not the kind of year in which we're going to resolve incredibly complicated issue like this. So there's an advantage to pulling back and letting the technical experts work on this as the president has been saying." Makes sense, no? I mean, we all know this, don't we? It's politics versus policy, the latter of which is often sacrificed by the former. Alas, conservatives are so blinded by their relentless partisan outrage that they can't -- and won't -- make sense of anything.

Fifth, did I mention that conservatives are, by and large, fucking stupid?

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