1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown August 22-28 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dear Internet:

There are segregated middle school class elections in Mississippi.  In 2010.

Here's Tendown 41.

First: The Simplest of Jacks

Glenn Beck's I Have a Dream Speech was yesterday; it's hard to get overly agitated by Beck; he seems so transparently craven.  If the American public wants to buy his John Birch society wine in new bottles, I suppose they can.

Except his aren't just simple arguments about American history; they're outright falsehoods, like the separation of church and state was a myth; I had a conversation with a student awhile ago who believed such, she offered quotes from Madison and Jefferson that didn't seem remotely plausible, and it turns out they're fabricated by David Barton, Glenn Beck's "historian".  The student disbelieved this, instead taking the position that my education at "secular schools" disabled my ability to see the truth. 

There is an agreement we need to make about facts; as members of an academic community, as citizens of a democracy, as thinking reeds; there have always been those on the fringe of American thought who wore tinfoil hats, now we put them on Fox News and call them real Americans. 

The guts of Beck's March on Reality yesterday are his stated claim that King didn't fight for economic justice; you can see over and over again Beck's argument that the entirety of the King legacy is about color blindness (and who better to deliver that message in 2010 than the man who said the first African-American President has a "deep seated hatred for white people").  This is just factually incorrect.  At the time of King's assassination (he was in Memphis supporting a garbage strike, a month before he spoke to 1300 striking sanitation workers, "Don’t go back on the job until the demands are met. “Never forget that freedom is not something that is voluntarily given by the oppressor. It is something that must be demanded by the oppressed....If we are going to get equality, if we are going to get adequate wages, we are going to have to struggle for it.) he was organizing the Poor People's Campaign:

King spent the last months of his life organizing a popular movement aimed at disrupting the machinery of the United States until the passage of an Economic Bill of Rights;
“The dispossessed of this nation—the poor, both white and Black—live in a cruelly unjust society. They must organize a revolution against that injustice, not against the lives of their fellow citizens, but against the structures through which the society is refusing to lift the load of poverty.”

These are not King quotes that you would have heard from Beck's stage yesterday. 

The flaw is not entirely, or even largely, Beck's.  Our national consciousness has almost entirely erased King's economic radicalism, focusing only on the elements of his civil rights work now largely considered benign; King's a commodified, beatified marker for the notion that all men are created equal.  A notion that, when it comes to race, is accepted by even the most fact-free of the Simple Jack nation.

Except in Mississippi, that is, where the middle school class President has to be a white kid.

Like Muhammad Ali, King's had his edges dulled.  Our collective understanding of him has been limited to a greeting card, "gosh, wouldn't it be great if little black boys and little white boys could hang out together and stuff and there'd be no more fighting.  Boo on fighting!  I have a dream where people won't be mean anymore."

And we can all get behind that.  Corporations, elementary school teachers, Tea Partiers, Simple jack.  You.  Me.  We're all against mean people in the abstract.  Thanks, Dr. King.

But the guy who said:

 “It is a tragic mix-up when the United States spends $500,000 for every enemy soldier killed, and only $53 annually on the victims of poverty.”


The profit motive, when it is the sole basis of an economic system, encourages a cutthroat competition and selfish ambition that inspires men to be more concerned about making a living than making a life.


A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.


True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.


Any religion which professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them, is a dry-as-dust religion.

That's a voice we could use more of in our national debate in 2010.  Not to mention in Mississippi middle schools and tea party rallies on the Washington mall.    

And in Tennessee - where they set fire to the mosque site last night. Probably though, Howard Dean will tell us that's due to good faith issues that good, well intentioned Americans have with the placement of a mosque Murfreesboro.  Where they've had a mosque.  For 30 years.  Without incident.  Until now. 
After the jump - the rest of Tendown 41
1. The One Piece You Need to Read
It's Krugman on the Bush tax cuts:
According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, making all of the Bush tax cuts permanent, as opposed to following the Obama proposal, would cost the federal government $680 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. For the sake of comparison, it took months of hard negotiations to get Congressional approval for a mere $26 billion in desperately needed aid to state and local governments.

And where would this $680 billion go? Nearly all of it would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans, people with incomes of more than $500,000 a year. But that’s the least of it: the policy center’s estimates say that the majority of the tax cuts would go to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent. Take a group of 1,000 randomly selected Americans, and pick the one with the highest income; he’s going to get the majority of that group’s tax break. And the average tax break for those lucky few — the poorest members of the group have annual incomes of more than $2 million, and the average member makes more than $7 million a year — would be $3 million over the course of the next decade.

That's the state of our democracy in 2010.  The Republican Party and their operatives - paid operatives and just those unknowingly carrying their water - call attempts to roll back our national giveaway to the wealthiest one tenth of one percent of Americans socialism.

2. The One Wrestling Show You Need to Watch
Death Before Dishonor VIII is the best show I've seen from any company in the world in 2010; I went 4 1/4 on Steen/Generico, 4 1/2 on the KOW/Briscoes tag match - and I've got Davey/Black as the first five star match of 2010, and my new Match of the Year.  It's in pencil until I can get feedback from my brother (next week) as we adopt the same policy with rating five star matches as one does with launching nuclear submarines.  We each have to turn the keys before it becomes official.
3. The One Document You Need to Read
This is This is the official Congressional report detailing the pattern of deception by the military and the Bush White House about Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch.  The report notes that it is by necessity incomplete:
On the key issue of what senior officials knew, the investigation was frustrated by a near universal lack of recall.
When the Congressional committee interviewed Donal Rumsfeld, for example, about the Pat Tillman fratricide, his response was "I don't recall when I was told and I don't recall who told me."
About Jessica Lynch, the report added:
Witnesses who should have possessed relevant information were interviewed by the committee. They said they had no knowledge of how the report Private Lynch fired her weapon and was wounded during her capture was spread to the media and the public.
It's a fifty page report detailing military and white house deception - and one which also implies deception by witnesses in their interviews with the Congressional committee.
But it's Roger Clemens under indictment for lying to Congress.  And Barry Bonds, whose testimony for which he has been indicted is now almost 7 years past, goes on trial next year. 
If only they had lied about national security as opposed to having taken prescription drugs without a prescription, apparently they would have been okay.
4. Andy Pettitte Is Putting Roger Clemens in Jail
You can also read Andy Pettitte's deposition if you are so inclined.  There's a book to be written about Pettitte's flipping on Clemens.  It's like Donnie Brasco in pinstripes. 
5. Title IX
If you've listened to sports talk radio over the past 25 years, you've been sold a line that Title IX has harmed amateur sports.  Here's a contrary, and superior argument. 
6. James Franco Is Curious
James Franco makes interesting choices. 
7. A List I'd Like to Make
The right wing hit list. It's a little nutty; I mean from their own perspective - Carter was a largely inconsequential one term moderate; he shouldn't be behind FDR or LBJ.  No judges?  Where are Black and Brennan and Douglas and Marshall?  What about Stone?  Not Oliver - Harlan who wrote Footnote Four that eventually led to the application of the Bill of Rights to the states.  Ooh, my brother conservatives - you are missing the boat if you don't get how deeply Stone wounded your cause.  Really - Woodrow Wilson was absolutely nothing compared to Harlan Stone.  What about Robert Jackson - Jackson wrote the opinion that said you can't make me salute your flag or pray to your god:
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act.
Where's Jefferson?  Or Thomas Paine?  Or Mark Twain - my brother conservatives - how is Mark Twain not next to Michael Moore on this list?  Read a book for the love of god. 
What about Anne Hutchinson?  Or Margaret Fuller?  Or Elizabeth Cady Stanton?  Hellen Keller? Mother Jones?  There's a decided lack of women on the list, right wing. 
What about Frederick Douglass?  Or Studs Terkel?
Ooh - Thoreau.  How could Thoreau not be on this list ahead of Jane Fonda?  Come on right wing - step it up a little bit.
Sojourner Truth?  How about Lincoln?  Where are you states rights Tea Partiers on Lincoln?
WEB Dubois?  Malcolm X?  You've got Al Sharpton but not WEB Dubois?  I thought you people loved America? 
Eugene Debs?  Big Bill Haywood?  Henry George?  Ooh - Charles Beard and Carl Becker - and William Appleman Williams and Howard Zinn and Walter Lafeber.  Come on right wing.  You're letting me down with Al Gore of all people.  A Vice-President?  Really?  Worse than Eugene Debs? 
Upton Sinclair?  Jack London?   Bob LaFollette? 
Read those MLK quotes above.  Seriously - come back to me with a better list.  There have been many more Americans far more destructive of the ideals the right wing holds dear - far more Americans who have spent their lives attempting to dismantle your most cherished beliefs than you give credit to in this list.
I'm disappointed.  You can do better.
8. Look Who's Gay.
Ken Mehlman.
9. The Emmys Are Tonight
My picks are here. Coming this week - my college football top 25, as the seasons starts Thursday night when my Trojans kick against Hawaii - and the NFL Network is going to unspool a series listing the 100 greatest NFL players of all time - so I'm going to do the same thing - and that will also start this week.
10. And Taibbi
As he is more than he isn't, Taibbi was right about the primaries:
If you follow Fox News and the Limbaugh/Hannity afternoon radio crew, this summer’s blowout has almost seemed like an intentional echo of the notorious Radio Rwanda broadcasts “warning” Hutus that they were about to be attacked and killed by conspiring Tutsis, broadcasts that led to massacres of Tutsis by Hutus acting in “self-defense.” A sample of some of the stuff we’ve seen and heard on the air this year:

On July 12, Glenn Beck implied that the Obama government was going to aid the New Black Panther Party in starting a race war, with the ultimate aim of killing white babies. "They want a race war. We must be peaceful people. They are going to poke, and poke, and poke, and our government is going to stand by and let them do it." He also said that "we must take the role of Martin Luther King, because I do not believe that Martin Luther King believed in, 'Kill all white babies.'"

CNN contributor and writer Erick Erickson, on the Panther mess: "Republican candidates nationwide should seize on this issue. The Democrats are giving a pass to radicals who advocate killing white kids in the name of racial justice and who try to block voters from the polls."

On July 6, the Washington Times columnist J. Christian Adams wrote an editorial insisting that "top [Obama] appointees have allowed and even encouraged race-based enforcement as either tacit or open policy," marking one of what would become many assertions by commentators that the Obama administration was no longer interested in protecting the rights of white people. "The Bush Civil Rights Division was willing to protect all Americans from racial discrimination,” Adams wrote. “During the Obama years, the Holder years, only some Americans will be protected."

July 12: Rush Limbaugh says Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder “protect and represent” the New Black Panther party.

July 28: Rush says Supreme Court decision on 1070 strips Arizonans of their rights to defend themselves against an “invasion”: "I guess the judge is saying it's not in the public interest for Arizona to try to defend itself from an invasion. I don't know how you look at this with any sort of common sense and come to the ruling this woman came to.” That same day, Rush says this: "Muslim terrorists are going to have a field day in Arizona. You cannot ask them where they're from. You cannot even act like we know where they're from. You cannot ask them for their papers. We can ask you for yours. Not them."

July 29: The Washington Times asks “Should Arizona Secede?” and says the Supreme Court "is unilaterally disarming the people of Arizona in the face of a dangerous enemy” with the aim of creating a “socialist superstate.” The paper writes: "The choice is becoming starkly apparent: devolution or dissolution."

July 29, Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy continues the Radio Rwanda theme, saying, "If the feds won't protect the people and Governor Brewer can't protect her citizens, what are the people of Arizona supposed to do?"

There’s nothing in the world more tired than a progressive blogger like me flipping out over the latest idiocies emanating from the Fox News crowd. But this summer’s media hate-fest is different than anything we’ve seen before. What we’re watching is a calculated campaign to demonize blacks, Mexicans, and gays and convince a plurality of economically-depressed white voters that they are under imminent legal and perhaps even physical attack by a conspiracy of leftist nonwhites. They’re telling these people that their government is illegitimate and criminal and unironically urging secession and revolution.

And that's exactly right.  Right wing media has immersed economically depressed whites in a fictional world where they are under physical assault.  Their condition isn't a result of our 30 year drive to hand over our country to unfettered corporate power - instead - the economy has been shattered by Blacks and immigrants.  Our Muslim President won't protect the borders from rapacious Mexicans and terror babies; we build Mosques at Ground Zero to complete Obama's attempt to drive Jesus out of the United States and impose sharia law. 
They used to just be the lunatics who believed it.  Now the lunatics march on Washington, with Glenn Beck to lead them.
That's all for this time.  I'll be back next time - if there is a next time...
Your pal,

1 comment

Kirk said...

"Donnie Brasco in pinstripes" was my nickname in junior high, but for decidedly different reasons.

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