Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Rock Against Republicans!

Candidates of both political parties like to have rock music playing at their rallies for obvious reasons. Rock is the music of millions of Americans, it has energy, it evokes a certain forward-looking vision, it connects with young people, it is culturally inclusive, and it implies that the candidate is not part of the Establishment.

In other words, rock is everything that Republicans are not. Still, they keep trying their own version of cultural appropriation by choosing rousing rock anthems to warm up the crowd, and once again, the musician who recorded that rock anthem told the Republican to get lost.

Today it was Neil Young. Today The Donald and that dead weasel on his head announced his candidacy for president to the tune of Neil Young's Rockin' in the Free World.

And just as fast, Neil Young told The Donald to get bent. “Donald Trump’s use of ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ was not authorized,” Roberts said, adding for good measure, “Mr. Young is a longtime supporter of Bernie Sanders.”

And, as usual, the candidate missed the entire point of the song.

Other examples:

Just a couple of months ago it was the Dropkick Murpheys and Scott Walker. New York (AFP) - The Dropkick Murphys, the Boston rockers known for their left-wing politics, have voiced outrage after union-busting Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin played their music at a conservative forum.

"Please stop using our music in any way. We literally hate you!!! Love, Dropkick Murphys," the band tweeted over the weekend.

It was also Rage Against the Machine when Paul Ryan tried to appropriate their music. As the band's Tom Morello wrote in Rolling Stone: Don't mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta "rage" in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he's not raging against is the privileged elite he's groveling in front of for campaign contributions.

The list goes on and on, but maybe we should confine ourselves to the list of music that Republicans should use for their rallies: Hank Williams, Jr., who said  "We've got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S. and we hate him!"

Ted Nugent, who said of President Obama  "I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist raised communist educated communist nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America.". 

What about you? If the Republicans must play music at their rallies, what is your ideal Republican playlist?

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

This is just vile

UPDATE: Diane Rehm has apologized.

You can judge for yourself if it is adequate. Personally, I feel that she's letting herself off pretty easy, given that her question was the equivalent to asking if it's true that Jews use the blood of gentile babies to make matzohs.

Or I should say, incompetent, sloppy journalism repeating a vile lie.

I like the Diane Rehm Show. She has good guests and she is generally a good, well-informed interviewer, but today she went way out of bounds.

I didn't hear the show myself, but Talking Points Memo reports that in the middle of her interview of Bernie Sanders she asked him this:

"Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel," Rehm said during the interview on her nationally broadcast show based on station WAMU.

. . .

Rehm cited "a list we have gotten" at NPR that said Sanders was "on that list."

Sanders dismissed it as "nonsense that goes on in the Internet."

(Rehm's station WAMU did not immediately return TPM's request for comment on Wednesday.)

"Are there members of Congress who do have dual citizenship or is that part of the fable?" Rehm asked Sanders.

It's true, there is a list on the Internet of members of Congress with dual citizenship. As you might expect, it is a vile, anti-Semitic lie. If you find it, and it's easy to find, it's on an anti-Semitic site. It repeats the canard that American Jews are not really Americans, and their loyalty cannot be trusted because their true allegiance is to Israel. Kind of funny that even though the media love to trace the genealogy that connects any particular president to the English royal family we never heard claims that George Bush or Ronald Reagan had dual citizenship with England, did we? No, it's always Israel and it's pretty much always Democrats.

When Bernie first announced I got on one of the very first Sanders for President Facebook pages and I soon left after I realized that a high percentage, maybe half, of the posts there were claims that he is a dual citizen.

This is just intolerable. As many awards as Diane Rehm has, she has to know better than to regurgitate this kind of anti-Semitic garbage. I haven't seen a retraction on her page yet, so when I'm done with this I'm going over to lodge a complaint. I hope you will, too.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, if you hear someone complaining about how the Rothschilds are running the world, that person's an anti-Semite, too.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The Republican War on Education

Republicans are funny. In their own antisocial way, that is.

When you get them talking about politics, and about the differences between the parties, you can't shut them up about the value of education, and how being all smart and educated makes them better than Democrats. They love to point out the differences in educational attainment between Democratic and Republican voters. Ol' Rushbo loves to attack what he calls the "low-information voters", by which I'm pretty sure he means black people who vote for Democrats. In fact, education is so important to the Republicans, and conservatives in general, that the ur-text of the modern conservative movement is William F. Buckley's God and Man at Yale, where he upholds the sacred values of education against the political perversion of the academy.

But, as I say, they're funny. Somewhere after William F. Buckley was a lone, foaming-at-the-mouth conservative standing athwart history yelling, "Stop," and the present, where the whole Republican Party is foaming at the mouth, their attitude toward education took a radical turn. To be specific, they used to be for it, now they're against it.

Developments in the last week or two have made this painfully clear, and I'll just mention a couple of them.

Wisconsin. For many years, probably owing to its Progressive history, Wisconsin has been the only state to enshrine the principle of tenure for public university faculties in its statutes. That won't last long, as Governor and likely presidential candidate Scott Walker got a legislative committee to repeal that statutory provision. Because Walker has a right-wing supermajority in the legislature, count on that repeal becoming law very soon.

Wisconsin. Walker again. This time it's not just attacking academic freedom and protections for professors, Walker is also pushing $300 million in cuts from the state's public universities while asking for $500 million to give the Milwaukee Bucks a new stadium.

Wisconsin. Still Walker. This time it's a proposal to gut teacher licensing standards. Anyone with a bachelor's degree could teach core subjects from grades six through twelve, no advance degree or specialized education required. And it gets better: for non-core subjects, no college required!

Is it fair to pick on one state so much? Maybe not, but with Walker's own undistinguished education (dropped out of Marquette with a 2.6--in other words, passing, barely--GPA) maybe we shouldn't be surprised that he places little value on education for others.

Nevada. New rule in Nevada: Who needs public schools? Take your voucher and go wherever you want. Want to send your kids to a fundamentalist school where they'll learn that the universe was created in six days, six thousand years ago? Well, there go your tax dollars right along with it. We'll see how that stands up to a constitutional challenge.

Texas. You know what William Tecumseh Sherman said about Texas, don't you? "If I owned Hell and Texas, I'd rent out Texas and live in Hell." Things haven't gotten any better. Now, when your kids study history in the Texas public schools they will learn that Moses was one of our Founding Fathers. Yes, that Moses. The one with the burning bush. Since it's Texas we're talking about, maybe it was a tumbleweed.

North Carolina. (Motto: Not as bad as South Carolina!) Budget cuts, tuition increases, and attacks on academic centers based explicitly on political ideology. Will there be anything left of higher education in North Carolina once the John William Pope Center, the Tarheel version of the Koch brothers, gets done with it?

Kansas. Last but not least. It's a little older news, but it's breathtaking in the sheer audacity of the program. You know that Sam Brownback has been working for his entire tenure as governor to undermine and abolish any beneficial government activity, hoping to prove that if he cuts enough taxes on enough rich people the economy will perk back up. It hasn't happened yet, but in Brownback's mind that just means that he hasn't cut enough for long enough. The collateral damage? Hardly anything worth mentioning. They just had to shut down public schools in Kansas early because the government doesn't have the money to keep them open! Is that even possible? Forget about the dislocation for the families, who now must make other arrangements for their children while the parents are working, did it even occur to them that what goes on in schools is actually important? Apparently not.

Louisiana. Believe it or not, Bobby Jindal is a Rhodes scholar. Still, in Louisiana public school teachers are being allowed, encouraged, and pressured to teach that creationism is a valid explanation for the millions of species on earth. The parents must be hoping that when their kids graduate from high school they can get accepted to one of those many fine universities that "don't hold with book-larnin'".

I could go on, but it's really too discouraging. For instance, I'm not even going to get into global warming. We are brought to a point where the parties aren't even seeing the same world. How is it possible to have any kind of debate or discussion when one of the parties is so militantly opposed to reality and facts?

The Republican attacks on education are a direct attack on the future. As long as this goes on they won't need Buckley to stand athwart the future. It's a good thing, because they're going to have a hard time finding someone who knows what "athwart" means.

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