Monday, March 02, 2015

Martin O'Malley gets his snark on

By Richard K. Barry

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley made a somewhat nasty little comment about Hillary Clinton's approach to politics in a speech in South Carolina on Saturday, criticizing the idea of "triangulation" so much associated with the way the Clintons have historically done things. 

The politics of triangulation is a phrase often used to describe former President Bill Clinton’s brand of centrism. It has also been used to criticize Mrs. Clinton as overly poll driven, and liberals have long used it as a cudgel.

Mr. O'Malley's comment was that "[t]he most fundamental power of our party and our country is the power of our moral principles.” He added, "[t]riangulation is not a strategy that will move America forward. History celebrates profiles in courage, not profiles in convenience.”

Take that, Hillary. That had to hurt. 

Of course, you may recall that candidate Obama said similar things in 2007, with some impact. 

Though it is unlikely Hillary Clinton will be seriously challenged for her party's nomination, it would be pleasant if she had to contend with a voice or two from the left. Not that I think it will have much of effect, as voices from the left in American electoral politics are typically barely left-of-centre. Still, it would be nice to hear the sounds. 

I'm already prepared to be very disappointed.

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Whiplash: Ridiculous movie, amazing music

By Richard K. Barry

The music to the movie Whiplash is fantastic. It reminds me why I love ensemble jazz. Unfortunately, the movie is absurd. 

I get the whole idea that achieving greatness requires sacrifice and a single-focus.  I suspect, though, that this could have been conveyed without giving any oxygen to the thought that psychopathology should be a part of the equation. 

 Having said that, J. K. Simmons played a great psychopath and deserved the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, if for no other reason than to show us all what it would be like if Hannibal Lecter picked up a baton. 

"Whiplash," the song which provides the title of the movie, was written by Hank Levy (1927-2001), an American jazz composer and saxophonist whose works frequently made use of unusual time signatures.

Powerful stuff.

(Cross-posted at Listening To Now.)


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Scott Walker could possibly, maybe, be for real

It is true that the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) attendees tend to be younger (with about half of those in attendance in the past few years college-aged), and more libertarian than the GOP base more generally, but the results of their recent straw poll are instructive.

Sen. Rand Paul polled the highest for the third year in a row with 25.7%, which was entirely expected, but Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who came in fifth place last year, managed to garner 21.4% of the vote to come in a strong second.

As a politically successful, union-bashing governor of a blue state, Walker has been getting noticed by Republicans who are sick of losing the White House to the Democrats.
And though Walker had a weak ground game at the conference, his speech was generally well received (apart from that whole "unions are like ISIS routine).

In any case, CPAC is the county's biggest confab of right-wing grassroots activists and provides a lot of energy for the conservative cause.

Early days, but the GOP has to know they need someone conservative enough to make it through the primary process, but mainstream enough to compete in the general election. If not Walker, I'm not sure I see an alternative.

All of this is not to say that Republicans won't nominate another loser, but, as I said, even they must be getting tired of that.

For those who want to fill in the rest of the CPAC score card.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, finished third with 11.5%, followed closely by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 11.4%.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush — perhaps the most criticized candidate at this conservative conclave — finished fifth at 8.3%.

Other potential presidential candidates — including Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and Rick Perry — had less than 4% in the straw poll. Paul also won CPAC contests in 2013 and 2014.

Let the games, er, continue.

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Republicans hate the U.S. Constitution

By Richard K. Barry

Though I recognize I will not be the first to point this out, conservatives have a very peculiar understanding of intellectual consistency.

A new national poll (Public Policy Polling) of Republican primary voters finds that 57 percent of these voters support “establishing Christianity as the national religion.” This is despite the fact that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution clearly states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

I can't help but envision all those slack-jawed Tea Party morons at various rallies a few years back looking strait into any available camera berating "libtards" for failing to respect or understand the intention of the Framers.

It's one thing to disagree. It is something different to attempt debate with people who have no respect for the rules of logic. 

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Booing Jeb Bush at CPAC

By Richard K. Barry

Activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) had a fine time booing Jeb Bush today. Jeb might be the only Republican who could give Hillary a run for her money. Great to see the party faithful so completely incapable of understanding their own best interests.  

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Monday, February 23, 2015

The liberal line up

By Carl


In case you haven't heard, MSNBC -- which has always had some pretty shaky ratings but can usually point to one or two juicy plums in their book -- has been suffering miserably since their most recent prime time shakeup:
Amid the cable news network’s declining ratings, insiders tell TheWrap changes are coming soon and “everything is on the table”

When President Obama was reelected in 2012, MSNBC was “leaning forward” and smiling wide as Obama 2.0 propelled it to record ratings and a firm grasp on the No. 2 spot in cable news.

Over two years later, the network has fallen backwards. January ratings revealed double-digit declines compared with January, 2014 in all ratings measurements. During the day, MSNBC was down 20 percent in viewers and 37 percent in the advertising-coveted 25-54 demo. In primetime, it fell 23 percent in viewers and 39 percent in demo.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

So what does it mean

Not to "love" America?

By Capt. Fogg

The question is unanswerable without asking what is meant by love, because in the era of accepted error, of laissez faire definitions, it can mean anything. So why ask? Certainly the intended audience of the assertion that Mr. Obama does not "love" the country that elected him aren't asking because their reasoning is circular, or perhaps because their ability to question things has been eroded by the linguistic dumbing down of our speech. In the mouth of Rudy Guiliani, I'm deducing that love means something rather nebulous and involves jingoistic nationalism, selective memory, denialism, a dash of megalomania and a psychopathic lack of conscience.

During the Vietnam years, the trope: 'loving America,' became a euphemism for blindly supporting the war, its conduct, it's stated goals, it's dishonest reasons against any and all criticism. It included defamation of all those who did not blindly follow. It included death threats, sometimes implemented against those who had doubts. According to a large number, you either "loved" America or you were advised to leave the country. Some of us did.

Many of us who were raised in the post war atmosphere of America as the savior of freedom and the leaders of the "free world" began to smell something as the flag marched by and the bombs fell and a generation was decimated and thought of Orwell. Love is hate, war is peace and freedom is slavery. Indeed, when people fling loaded words around like irritated apes fling dung, that famous quote from 1984 seems less cynical than it once did and more of a sad acceptance of hopelessness. Language has to change as the needs and wants of the oppressors and exploiters require it. Freedom fries, pre-owned cars, processed foods, assault weapons: define and conquer. 

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Thursday, February 05, 2015

Typhoid Mary's revenge

By Capt. Fogg

Reductio ad absurdum. Its a common tool used in informal debate both properly or improperly, but although I won't say it's more common with the arguments we hear from the self styled Right, arguments such as this one seem to need no assistance from any opposition to reduce themselves to the ridiculous. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) told us this week that the government has no business demanding that the people who handle our food should wash their hands after using the toilet. If you don't see this as ridiculous, you probably shouldn't read further because I'm going to insult you. In fact I mean to insult everyone who considers himself rational but, like all of us, is not.

Putting principle above survival and practical necessity seems to be a widespread form of communicable idiocy, for when I mentioned this bit of crepuscular wisdom in jest to some friends last night I got no laughs but rather some grim recitations of the formula "we have too much regulation." It's the same reaction, although from different people, that I got when mentioning that the disastrous BP oil spill would not have resulted if regulations had been followed. "We have too much regulation." If you've been listening to the yapping from the Republican kennel for as long as I have, you'll see it as new bullshit in old crocks -- or from old crocks if you prefer. We want law and order but without the law. That absurdum enough for you?

If we assume that in fact we do suffer under excessive regulatory burden, I should think it would be obvious that the gap between that debatable observation and a valid attack on any specific regulation isn't easily leaped with anything but blind faith or the kind of stupidity that removes all obstacles. "All laws reduce freedom -- this is a law -- this reduces my freedom." Do we really need to ask Aristotle to explain such sophistical refutations? Can you honestly proceed from a false statement to a valid one? Do laws facilitate freedom? Without law, how do we protect life and liberty? Who decides what is excessive without laws providing us with the power to do so? Principle! it's the defense against having to answer such impertinences. 

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