a jim jividen blog

Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Weekly Tendown January 9 --15 2011


Dear Internet:

I made a discovery this week.  Here's Tendown 60.

1. Torn From Today's Headlines!

You know the wedge haircut, right?  Popularized when Dorothy Hamill won the figure skating gold medal in 1976?


Here's the thing.  This week, on the Game Show Network, was an episode of Match Game '74.  One of the contestants was that woman at the top of the post.

Her name was Dorothy.

Not '76.  But 1974. I'm willing to say, right now, that it was Match Game '74 Dorothy who popularized the wedge cut.  I do not know what ever became of her; I do not even know if she won that episode, 'cause I was just hoping to see Richard Dawson (don't forget - he's still alive) make out with Brett Somers. History has forgotten her.  But now - she is redeemed.  Hell, it could be that she died in the war and Dorothy Hamill, whose real name is Dick Whitman, took her identity and married her hot secretary. 

For shame, Dorothy Hamill.  Decades of taking credit for a haircut you blatantly ripped off from Match Game '74 Dorothy.  It ends today.

2. I'm Watching, Freddie Mitchell
I don't know the percentage of Bravo's core audience with my level of sports literacy, but I'm guessing it isn't superhigh.

To that end, sometimes, Bravo maybe tries to slip some nonsense past its viewers.

But I'm out there, Andy Cohen.  I'm watching you.

On multiple episodes of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills this season, one could have found Faye Resnick (and also Kato Kaelin) as Kyle's "longtime friend" - with the only scandal attached to her being an apparent appearance in Playboy (did Faye Resnick get naked?  Was there a particular clamor for that? Here's how big that trial was, a juror, and not even one who made it all the way through, also wound up in Playboy).  The words "Columbian necktie" did not play a part in her scene with Frasier's soon to be ex-wife's psychic buddy (my question would have been "When's the L.A. DA's office going to charge Mark Fuhrman, who took the 5th amendment on the question "did you plant or manufacture evidence in this case" with perjury?").

I gently raised my hand during these scenes.  I see you, Faye Resnick (but not naked, no, no, no.)

This week, Millionaire Matchmaker's season ended with Freddie Mitchell, former NFL player "looking to get back into the league."

Fred X's last season was 2004.  He had 5 career touchdowns.  The only way he's getting back into the league is if there's a lockout in 2011 and he's dropping passes from Keanu Reeves.

I'm out here, Bravo.  I'm your sports reference goalie.

(I also watched the Barefoot Contessa go to a farm this weekend called "Amber Waves"; I'm going to guess she didn't get the Boogie Nights reference.  I can't be the Food Channel goalie too; I'm only the one dude.  However, were any of the powers that be to be interested in a suggestion - it would be that the simile "it's like ______ in my mouth" just has got to go.  Even if it's really a subtle prompt to watch more Match Game '74.)

3. Does This Mean Duchovny's in Middle Relief?  Or that Travis Ishikawa Will Get a Cross-over on Nurse Jackie?


Coming to Showtime in 2011 - your World Champion San Francisco Giants.

Really?  Not the Red Sox?  Or the Cubs?  My baseball team?  On premium cable?

Sports has gone weird.

4. But, My Picking Games Correctly - That's Not Weird at All.
I finished 21-12-2 picking the college bowls against the spread.  I'm 5-1 against the spread so far in the NFL playoffs.  My Golden Globes picks (I'm guessing a little bit with TV, I might sweep the board with movies) are here.

5. Who Can You Trust?
So, maybe you come to Tendown not for the football picks, but for the politics - but maybe I'm not around when you need some insight.  Via The Nation, here are the top 30 lefties in today's media. I'd drop all of the TV people, save Maddow, about ten slots each.  On that list, find Chris Hedges, who wrote this:


There is no major difference between a McCain administration, a Bush and an Obama administration. Obama, in fact, is in many ways worse. McCain, like Bush, exposes the naked face of corporate power. Obama, who professes to support core liberal values while carrying out policies that mock these values, mutes and disempowers liberals, progressives and leftists. Environmental and anti-war groups, who plead with Obama to address their issues, are little more than ineffectual supplicants.


Obama, like Bush and McCain, funds and backs our unending and unwinnable wars. He does nothing to halt the accumulation of the largest deficits in human history. The drones murder thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as they did under Bush and would have done under McCain. The private military contractors, along with the predatory banks and investment houses, suck trillions out of the U.S. Treasury as efficiently under Obama. Civil liberties, including habeas corpus, have not been restored. The public option is dead. The continuation of the Bush tax cuts, adding some $900 billion to the deficit, along with the reduction of individual contributions to Social Security, furthers a debt peonage that will be the excuse to privatize Social Security, slash social services and break the back of public service unions. Obama does not intercede as tens of millions of impoverished Americans face foreclosures and bankruptcies. The Democrats provide better cover. But the corporate assault is the same.


See, you can use sharp language to criticize today's politics without advocating shooting anyone.

6. If Ballots Don't Work, Bullets Will.




Does language embolden violence?

It's exhausting to unpack all of the nonsense from this week's reaction to the Arizona shootings.

The element of the right's reaction to the suggestion that maybe some of their rhetoric could be dialed back that was interesting to me is best seen in Palin's "blood libel" comment (no, I don't think she knows what it means, no I don't think she cares what it means). Her argument is "using just words, the left is creating an atmosphere where Republicans may be harmed."

And her evidence for that is the left saying "using just words, the right is creating an atmosphere where Democrats may be harmed."

See what they do?  Conservatives threaten people's lives.  That's not a problem.  But when you say "hey, conservatives are threatening people's lives" - then you are not only wrong, you're equated with the level of harm that conservatives are actually causing.  And then what we have is a "debate" - and the result of a debate has to be, of course, that "both sides" are really wrong, and our national consensus finds the phony "middle."

This should seem familiar.

It's similar to the way the right thinks about racism - it's not racism that is the problem - what's the problem, the problem is when you call attention to that racism.  Because then you become the moral equivalent of the racist.  And now your charges of racism lose their force in our need to find "common ground".  

Or class warfare.  There isn't anything more important than the wealth shift over the past 30 years.  And when you point out the following -

In 1979, the richest 1 percent of Americans earned 9 percent of all US income. Now they earn 24 percent of US income. 


Then you're the one accused of class warfare.

The truth isn't somewhere in the middle.  Conservative economic policy, embraced by the two corporate political parties, has served to shift wealth from you and me to the wealthiest among us.  The right wing, since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, has specifically adopted a "southern strategy" to stoke white racial anxieties for electoral gain.  And the right, as overtly as possible, has been asking its constituents to go shoot Democrats.

Just from my own district came conservative radio host Joyce Kaufman, at a 2010 Tea Party rally "if ballots don't work, bullets will."

Kaufman was then named chief of staff for my new Congressman, the conservative Allen West.

She didn't last a week, but it wasn't due to West's, at any point, repudiating her comments.  In fact, West said the following about his congressional opponent, the Democrat Ron Klein:

"Let me tell you what you've got to do," said West, a retired lieutenant colonel. "You've got to make the fellow scared to come out of his house. That's the only way that you're going to win. That's the only way you're going to get these people's attention."

And this week, what was West's response to suggestions that right wing rhetoric had gotten out of control?

“One of the concerns I do have is the political opportunism that has come out of this. That’s kind of deplorable and unconscionable what some people are doing. This is not the time to start looking for grandstanding and things of that nature,”


That's right.  It's not "if ballots don't work, bullets will" that is "deplorable and unconscionable" - it's pointing out that his chief local media cheerleader/turned chief of staff had threatened violence if he lost the election that is deplorable.  Not violence in metaphor.  Not "grab your musket" - but actual "if we lose this election, let's go shoot people" threats.  Apparently in case Sharron Angle's "second amendment remedies" was insufficiently clear.

This is what they do.  It's not that "both sides are really wrong and the problem with this country is that both sides have gotten too extreme and what we need are regular, middle ground, common sense Americans to come together and agree on things."  That idea, that drive to moderation, that "third way" that both Obama and Clinton and the mainstream media (and I think, now, Jon Stewart) bends over backward to find, has the appeal of making a lot of well meaning people nod, and it is entirely a falsehood and feeds this problem.

That's how the right works the discussion.  It's why the country has moved rightward over the past 30 years. And that process is why we are here, in the death throws of the American dream.

7. Go Read This


Here are the best pieces about the Giffords shooting from the week.


Here's Eric Boehlert, who should be in that top 30.

And from Shakespeare's Sister.

And from Talking Points Memo

And from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

8.  I've Written About All this Before.

The reason why so many conservatives applauded Obama's speech this week is he let them all off the hook.  I started writing about right wing eliminationist talk back in 2009.

A year and a half ago, I wrote this.

A month after that, this.

And the day after my 39th birthday, this.  The next time you hear a "both sides do this stuff, that commentator in the Daily Kos said Giffords was "dead to me".  What about that?  Hmmmm?  Hmmmm?  The next time you hear that - feel free to quote me:


In July of 2008 it was the shootings in the Tennessee church, the murderer leaving behind a four page letter explaining how the church was too liberal in its teachings, that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, that they had ruined every institution in America: 

"If decent patriotic Americans could vote three times in every election we couldn’t stem this tide of liberalism that’s destroying America. Liberals are a pest like termites. Millions of them. Each little bite contributes to the downfall of this great Nation. The only way we can rid ourselves of this evil is Kill them in the streets. Kill them where they gather"

Among the literature in his home, Michael Savage's Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder.  From another Savage book, Savage Nation, came this:

"To fight only the al-Qaeda scum is to miss the terrorist network operating within our own borders… Who are these traitors? Every rotten radical left-winger in this country, that’s who.”

Savage isn't alone in this level of violent talk. 

Here's Sean Hannity:

I’ll tell you who should be tortured and killed at Guantanamo: every filthy Democrat in the U.S. Congress.

Here's Rush Limbaugh:

Liberalism is the greatest threat this country faces.

I tell people don't kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus -- living fossils -- so we will never forget what these people stood for.


Here's Ann Coulter:

We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too.

And here's Simple Jack:

I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could.

Where are the similar quotes from the stars of the left?  These aren't random blog comments; these are highly compensated superstars of the right, highly advertised and supported through corporate dollars and outlets.  A 10 million dollar sexual harrassment lawsuit payoff here and a drug conviction there notwithstanding.

See, 'cause that's how this gets framed - that somehow "both sides" say extreme things, "both sides" have radical perspectives, that the hatred of Bush was expressed in ways similar to the hatred of Obama.

Where does Michael Moore threaten to kill Republicans?  There are lots of movies, plenty of interviews - where are the death threats?  Keith Olbermann did lots of passionate anti-Bush commentary, where's the clip where he said he should be assassinated?  Ann Coulter said "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building." in which of his books did Al Franken express a wish that Fox News would be blown up, its employees killed in the explosion?

There's a term for this sort of rhetoric - Eliminationism, where a democratic exhange of ideas is replaced by violent rhetoric designed to close the discussion of those ideas.  Where an "enemy within" is framed as evil, as needing to be eliminated.  Perhaps you recognize this in the tactics from the town hall debates - designed not to foster discussion - but to end it.  Guns brought as shows of force, of intimidation - implicitly saying shut this debate down, my guns are more important than your ballot box.

Conversation is needed in democracy; one should feel able to freely exchange ideas - once those ideas are threats that speech is no longer geared toward flourishing ideas but ending them.  Conservatives take cover under the first amendment while their words are geared toward ending discussion. 


And when the next shooting happens, I'll link to this post too.

The President, much praised though his speech was, is wrong.  We don't need a more civil tone in our political discussion.  We need conservatives to stop explicitly asking for Democrats to be killed.

9. Don't Worry, None of It Is Real Anyway.
People freaked out a little bit about losing their zodiac sign this week.  Sort of like if your pet rock died.

10. Your World Champion San Francisco Giants


You have to win 11 playoff games to win the World Series.  This was our third.

Young Madison Bumgarner beat the Braves on the road to give us the clincher.  They loaded the bases in the second, but Lowe flied out to right; that was a precursor to the third - they got 3 singles and scored Infante on a McCann sac fly.  With those two rough innings and our not getting even one hit things felt a little shakier than that 1-0 margin until Cody Ross homered to tie it in the 6th.  They got the lead back immediately with a McCann leadoff homer in the 6th.

Down 2-1 going to the 7th.  Following a Sanchez groundout...

Huff walked.
Posey singled to chase Lowe.  Moylan came on and got Uribe to hit to short - but Gonzalez's throw was bad,  everyone was safe, scoring Huff to tie the game - and an out later, Ross singled off Venters to score Posey and set us up for the short relief to knock them out.

Casilla got 3 up, 3 down in the 7th; then sandwiched a McCann single around two 8th inning outs; Lopez struck out Heyward to get us to the ninth.  Wilson walked two - but got Infante and Cabrera to strand the runners and send us to Philadelphia for Game One of the NLCS.

3 down.  8 to go.  That's all for this time.

I'll be back next time.  If there is a next time....

Your pal,

Jim

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