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Friday, February 1, 2013

Senseless

Jump the Shark.

That’s what we call it when a once popular TV show goes on far, far too long.

The show becomes old and bitter and inflexible, the ratings decline, and the viewers wander off in search of fresher entertainment.

And in a desperate bid to hang onto the brass ring, to eke out one more season, one more paycheck, the show starts strapping on water skies and eying the shark tank.

The phrase Jumping the Shark, of course, comes from the 70's sitcom Happy Days, and specifically the three-part season five opener entitled Hollywood. By 1977, The Fonz, or rather the actor playing The Fonz, Henry Winkler, was 33 and it was getting pretty damned hard to believe that he and the gang were just out of high school. Instead of attending college, the actors were all old enough to be teaching it as tenured professors.  Nevertheless, season five opened with the TV studio doggedly determined to flog the fading illusion for every last dime, and thus Fonzie ended up in swim trunks and trademark leather jacket on water-skis. Jumping sharks.

As I’ve said elsewhere, it was all downhill from there, the already tired show declined further and further until until we ended up with Joanie loves Chachi and that, well, that just wasn't good for anybody.

In the late ‘90s, years after Happy Days went into syndication, radio personality Jon Hein, based on a conversation with some friends, coined the phrase jumped the shark in reference to the exact moment when a TV show goes into decline. Nowadays, it’s become a widely used euphemism for losing your way in an especially spectacular and ridiculous manner.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull gave us nuked the fridge, which means basically the same thing, only for a beloved big screen movie franchise instead of a TV sitcom.

I always thought the Rock & Roll version of this concept should be Kilroy Was Here, named for the band who peaked with Come Sail Away and somehow ended up at Mr. Roboto, but, yeah, that’s probably just me.

Business has long used the phrase gone off the rails, the origin of which should be obvious, to mean the same thing.

And we in the Navy had a dozen phrases for the concept, not the least of which are the derisive nicknames given to once mighty warships that have long outlived their useful lifespan and have become reeking rusting tin cans lurching from one maintenance disaster to another, Sorry Sarah, The Forest Fire, and so on.  After one high fatality deployment, I heard members of USS John F. Kennedy’s crew refer to their vessel as the Ted Kennedy, but I digress.

I think we need a political version of this phrase.

A political version of jumped the shark.

Now, around here, I generally use the phrase “Also, Nazis!” (which is technically pronounced “Also? Nazis!” with emphasis and joyous gusto on the goose-stepping fascists) to describe political positions that have taken a ridiculous leap over a tank full of giant man-eating fish, but I’m thinking about changing up.

What do you think of Senseless Holocaust?

See, that’s where a once respectable conservative publication starts out with the clear eyed sanity of William F. Buckley Jr. (William For Crying Out Loud Buckley) and somehow ends up online fifty years later as a twisted bit of Bizzaroland pretzel logic thrashing like a crackhead in a straightjacket trying to justify Hitler’s Final Solution in order to discredit the President of the United States.

What?

Oh, well, sure, when you say it out loud like that it doesn’t sound crazy at all.

Not at all.

Also? Well, you know.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m on about here, take a gander at this week’s The Corner, wherein National Review Online columnist Eliana Johnson took exception to President Obama’s comments regarding International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

What did Obama say? What offensive, socialist, unAmerican words did he utter this time?

Did he offend the British? Or badmouth the Israelis? Did he dismiss forty-seven percent of his fellow Americans as worthless parasites?

No.

See, according to Johnson, Obama had the unmitigated effrontery to note that Holocaust survivors faced the horrors of the cattle cars, and the Polish ghettos, and the concentration camps and “have witnessed humanity at its very worst and know too well the pain of losing loved ones to senseless violence.”

Did you spot the offending words?

Senseless violence.

Boy, you talk about offensive … to Nazis.

Seems Johnson was put off by the word “senseless.”

Nazism may have been an ideology to which the United States was, and to which the president is, implacably opposed, but it is hardly “senseless.” By the early 1930s, the Nazi party had hundreds of thousands of devoted members and repeatedly attracted a third of the votes in German elections; its political leaders campaigned on a platform comprising 25 non-senseless points, including the “unification of all Germans,” a demand for “land and territory for the sustenance of our people,” and an assertion that “no Jew can be a member of the race.” Suffice it to say, many sensible Germans were persuaded.

So, the fanatical genocide of millions, millions, makes sense – just so long as you have a twenty-five point platform and hundreds of thousands of devoted members.

That’ll be on the test, Kids, write it down.

Johnson soldiers on until she gets to the part where she can tie President Obama’s comment about the sensible horror of the Nazis to the recent death of four Americans in Benghazi.

Now, seriously, you’ve got to jump a lot of sharks to get to this point.

Whole oceans full of them.

How far is too far? How crazy is too crazy? I mean, come on, when you find yourself in all candor twisting your brain into a Gordian Knot just so you can take offense at Obama’s use of the word “senseless” in relation to the wholesale wanton slaughter of six million people, Lady, you’ve jumped the goddamned shark.  You’ve jumped the shark, nuked it, wrote a phenomenally bad 70’s hair band rock-opera about it … and then strapped it to a rail, climbed onboard, and drove it straight into the raging gray sea waving your hat a whoopin’ and a hollerin’ like Major Kong riding the bomb down at the end of Doctor Strangelove.

Jesus Haploid Christ.

What in the hell happened to these people?

Look, I might not agree with William F. Buckley on everything, but at least I could respect him.  What the hell happened to conservatives like Buckley? Were they eaten by sharks?

Honestly, how can anybody, and I mean anybody, respect the lunacy that is modern conservatism?

In a recent post I said that if Obama declared that he was anti-abortion, every one of these goofs would suddenly be hauling their daughters down to Planned Parenthood for a forced D&C. I intended it as hyperbole, but, man, I’m really starting to wonder here.

The majority of the comments under the article give me hope for humanity, but then there’s this:

The point was, in a not-so-subtle way, that conflating institutionalized, organized and systematic violence against people (the Holocaust) was rather like the organized, systematic, and institutionalized violence against Americans in Benghazi... not some random event of violence like a drive-by shooting or protests from a video.

For the president to use the word "senseless" to describe both confuses the issue and makes Obama seem like he either defines senseless differently than the rest of us, or he doesn't know what the word means...

Um, say what?

The death of four Americans in Libya is “rather like” the Holocaust? 

The Holocaust?

The Holocaust?

I can see why this guy is confused by the use of the word “senseless” in two different contexts. Frankly he sounds like the kind of intellectual vacuum who is daily confounded by the morning question of which comes first, pants or shoes?

Talk about senseless.

So what’s the problem?

I mean, sure it’s an obnoxious bit of tautology, but hey, who’s it hurt, right?

The problem, folks, is that this kind of warped thinking, this kind of worldview twisting lunacy, becomes habit.

And it bleeds over into every aspect of life.

It makes you blind.

It makes you deaf.

It makes you hate.

It drives you mad.

It’s contagious – for those who are susceptible, for those who haven’t been inoculated with the vaccine of critical thinking, it’s an infectious disease.

And that, right there, folks, is exactly, exactly, how you eventually end up with, well, Nazis. Real ones.

Jump the Shark.

That’s what we call it when a once popular show has gone on far, far too long.

These people have chained themselves to an ideology that has become old and bitter and inflexible. The ratings are in decline and the once loyal fans are wandering off in search of more respectable entertainment. 

It’s all downhill from there and not even Joanie and Chachi – or a Rubio and Christie reboot – are likely to pull it out of its death spiral.

 

I’d like to leave you with the words of a different president, words also spoken on International Holocaust Remembrance Day:

"Those who perished as a result of Nazi terror, millions of individual men and women and children whose lives were taken so senselessly, must never be forgotten." – Ronald Reagan

110 comments:

  1. Why does this blog remind me of Faux Noise and their claims of being "fair and balanced"?

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    1. Well, gee, Bob, I don't know. Perhaps you missed that part where I never claimed to be a news service, fair and balanced or otherwise.

      Delete
    2. Maybe Mr Bob missed that bit at the top where it says 'sidle up to the crazy and lick its ear"?

      Fairly unbalanced, I'd say, but in a very good way. I mean how on earth is a balance person supposed to act when he's faced with senselessness as senselessly senseless as Eliana J is spouting?

      The FAIR thing to do would be to lock the woman in a hall of mirrors that was also an echo chamber, where she could see nothing but a giant campaign poster of Obama, and hear nothing but her own voice.

      Except she's already in there. And wedged the door shut from the inside.

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    3. Nothing faux about the opinions voiced here at the Station.

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    4. @Bob Phillips

      With apologies to Abraham Lincoln: "Better to post 'FIRST !' and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

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    5. Anyway, I kinda thought this was fair and balanced. I mean, really--when being fair means you have to give equal time to how rational the Nazis were when they devoted enormous time, money and resources to an elaborate plan of murdering six million of their own civilians while losing a two-front war, all for the sake of easily-discredited junk science racialist theories... geez, I don't even know how to finish that sentence.

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    6. Oh noes... the balance fairies are at it again...

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    7. What would count as being "fair and balanced" here? Should the author search out for reasonable positions and quotes to counterbalance the unreasonable ones? Should he cite ridiculous positions and quotes from someone on the left? Would that suffice? Why? Pointing out the idiocy of a certain individual or group on the right does not exonerate or justify anything someone on the left has done/said. Idiotic statements are idiotic regardless of political bent. The subject of this article deals with the idiocy of a particular author and the National Review. If you want to address why/how the National Review article is not idiotic, by all means do so but to try and shift the focus to the fallacy of false equivalence is sad.

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  2. I'm suddenly reminded of the comment former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan Paul Craig Roberts made in 2004. Roberts was infamously tossed out of the Republican Party for realizing that we weren't going to march into Iraq with the citizens throwing flowers at us and he had the audacity to publicly oppose the war. Ever since then he's been harshly critical to the totalitarian anti-conservatives that have usurped control of the Republican Party.

    In his famous article "Whatever Happened to Conservatives?" he wrote, "The conservative movement that I grew up in did not share the liberals’ abiding faith in government. 'Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.' Today it is liberals, not conservatives, who endeavor to defend civil liberties from the state. Conservatives have been won around to the old liberal view that as long as government power is in their hands, there is no reason to fear it or to limit it. Thus, the Patriot Act, which permits government to suspend a person’s civil liberty by calling him a terrorist with or without proof.
    Thus, preemptive war, which permits the President to invade other countries based on unverified assertions. There is nothing conservative about these positions. To label them conservative is to make the same error as labeling the 1930s German Brownshirts conservative."

    I think they've gone beyond jumping the shark or nuking the fridge. They've actually *become* all of the things they've always accused the liberals of being. They have become what their ideology, in theory, staunchly opposes. As Roberts said, there is nothing conservative about today's Republican Party. They couldn't be more Red if they were wearing a Mao jacket and Che's ratty beret.

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    1. Highlight: "As Roberts said, there is nothing conservative about today's Republican Party. They couldn't be more Red if they were wearing a Mao jacket and Che's ratty beret."
      Or brownshirts... At least conservatism has a soul, Fascism has a banknote in its place...

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    2. You're both conflating being communist with totalitarianism. They are NOT the same. Which you would know if you'd taken any basic political science class. The current Republican party HAS NO SOUL and are the fascist, totalitarian elephant in the room. If you don't believe me, please reference the definition of fascism here:

      Fascism (pron.: /ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism. Fascists seek to unify their nation through a totalitarian state that seeks the mass mobilization of the national community through discipline, indoctrination, and physical training. Fascism utilizes a vanguard party to initiate a revolution to organize the nation upon fascist principles. Fascism views direct action including political violence and war, as a means to achieve national rejuvenation, spirit and vitality.
      ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism )

      and here:

      fas·cism noun \ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm also ˈfa-ˌsi-\

      Definition of FASCISM

      1: often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

      2: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control
      ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fascism )

      If you have some reading comprehension problems, I'd be happy to explain what this means more fully. With examples.....

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    3. If the Republicans are accusing us of doing it, then it's what they themselves are doing.

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    4. LCG, theres a reason I call them the Reich Wing afterall.

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  3. Great post, Jim. The lack of critical thinking skills will be our downfall. We need to educate people in order that they will inform themselves. Depressing how many people just aren't aware, and actively don't want to know. Keep on writing, and we'll keep on reading. And thinking. And speaking out. -Beth

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  4. In 2008 we would say anyone who created nonsense about candidate Obama that they had 'caught the code.' And then there was this...
    ...
    www.democraticunderground.com › Discuss
    32 posts - 26 authors - Oct 11, 2009
    If Barack Obama were to cure cancer and bring world peace tomorrow before noon... ... Someone on TV said if he ended world hunger, he'd be blamed for overpopulation!

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  5. I selected "I hate you so much", because you express your thoughts through the written word far better than I could ever hope to aspire. Damn you, you magnificent bastard!

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  6. We live in a nation with varied beliefs, opinions, and principles. We attach ourselves to a political party that shares our views. I get that. I want my party to be the majority in Congress and have a president elected from my party.

    BUT.....I can't wrap my head around some conservatives who have tunnel vision and are not open to logic and common sense. They're holding on so tightly to their ideology that they have lost their humanity. When we as people stop seeing others as living, breathing humans, than our country is in deep sh**.

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  7. This is only tangentially related to your post. Not sure this makes sense, but its been worrying me for a while:

    Similar to the extreme, gay-obsessed homophobes who are so deeply closeted that they are the last to know they are gay, the conservative movement in this country rails against anyone but themselves making reference to Nazis or the Holocaust. Because. Fascism. Is. Their. Turf. They don’t want anyone else on their turf, especially not a liberal.

    Conservatives refer to the Holocaust all the time, everything that happens to USians is compared to it. They refer to it so much that it is a reflex. Whenever I happen upon a tape from Faux News, I just wait, because invariably, they will, sooner or later, make some small violent insult to USians into a holocaust.

    They are horrified! They are speechless (we could only wish)!

    I see this as a dual problem: First, by constantly invoking the real, actual Holocaust, they ‘normalize’ it. They imply that it’s quotidian event, an every day sort of thing. They (attempt to) remove the particular horror of it. I think this is a conscious activity a la Lee Atwater’s technique of repeating a lie often enough until it becomes accepted as the truth.

    Second, and more horrifying, I think they invoke the Holocaust so often because it gives them a thrill. Because in their (not so secret) secret world, the one between their ears, they wish they could. They want to. They wish they could get away with it. Because some of them read Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, not as a horror story but as a handbook. I think this is not a conscious activity for the majority of the quipsters, but for the powers behind them, the Koch brothers and the Murdoch clan, I believe it is what they are attempting to finance.

    None of them have the brainpower, the moral fiber or the self-reflective courage of William F. Buckley Jr. I wish he was still with us, he would silence them all with a single glance of contempt.

    BTW, I love the “Also? Nazis!” Because, really, we just can’t let this slide.

    P.S. I’ve been dying to use ‘quotidian’ in a sentence since I looked it up. Thanks for the opportunity!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. "Second, and more horrifying, I think they invoke the Holocaust so often because it gives them a thrill. Because in their (not so secret) secret world, the one between their ears, they wish they could. They want to. They wish they could get away with it."

      I am so damned scared that this is true.

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    2. You know, Jean Clarke? I think you are right that they view the Handmaid's Tale as a handbook. I've kinda thought this since I was first horrified by the movie and then read the book to confirm my horror... :O

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    3. Jean Clarkin wrote --
      "...I think they invoke the Holocaust so often because it gives them a thrill. Because in their (not so secret) secret world, the one between their ears, they wish they could. They want to. They wish they could get away with it. Because some of them read Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, not as a horror story but as a handbook."

      Absolutely. They are bereft of any intrinsic humanity.

      She also wrote --
      "None of them have the brainpower, the moral fiber or the self-reflective courage of William F. Buckley Jr.:

      This is true only insofar as brainpower is concerned. I posted my views on Buckley's morals downthread (before I saw this.) Here they are again.

      "William F. Buckley, Jr., dead these five years, was the archetypical 1960's 'serious conservative,' a pose he maintained until his death. With his slight British accent and upper-class British stammer (to some degree honestly acquired) he put a patrician face on racism and bigotry. Those that have followed and tried to emulate him have less than a fraction of his intellect and display that fact constantly. I suppose one might be thankful that they are so transparent, since Buckley had a lot of people fooled."

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  8. Thanks Jim - all the gop favorite words in one post

    Also too - Pierce explains it
    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/Why_We_Like_The_President_Again

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    1. Excellent article. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Thanks for another great new post. I'm never sure about people with answers, but good questions make thinking worthwhile. I'd seen a diary on this on Daily Kos earlier today that devolved in the comments into a rant on anti-semitism. Four times. Then I quit reading the comments. Once a hot button is pushed, reason generally goes out the window. Which may have been the purpose of the original article.

    I nominate "fell off the curve". Back in 1961, G. Harry Stine did an article for Analog titled "Science fiction is too conservative". (I remembered the concept, but had to Google for the author and date.) His thesis was that speed, technological change, and a host of other social/technical phenomena should be looked at as accelerating curves. My memory was that he was postulating an asymptotic curve, but not quite.

    What's happening now, and for the last maybe thirty years, is that the rate of change of a whole host of things is fast enough that if you weren't willing to dump your preconceptions every five years or so and start fresh, you're now living in an incredibly scary place, and you don't know why. The more of a bubble you've lived in, the worse it is. If you've had to cope with major unexpected changes in your own life on a regular basis, it's may be less of a problem. I'm not sure anybody can fully cope with it, though a sense of humor (and irony) has gotta help.

    The anguished cry of those who've fallen off the curve is "give me back the world I knew how to cope with", and, for the moment, their target is the most prominent symbol of change on the horizon - Barack Obama.

    It's not confined to Republicans, y'know, it just seems to hit them harder. I'm seeing more knee jerk reactions on the liberal blogs than I used to, from people who have generally been ahead of the curve and are having a little trouble hanging on at this point. And I don't see any solution, except, as usual, the kids who've grown up with it. If they're lucky, and we don't screw it up too much for them.

    Ann C.

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    1. It's not confined to Republicans? I beg your pardon.

      I'm not buying the false equivalency bit. It's maybe not just Republicans, you can add Tea Party adherents and the modern iteration of Libertarians. But to claim, progressives or actual liberals are just as discombobulated as 'teh Crazy' ? Not buying it. I cannot agree that's a credible claim.

      There are distinct differences between Republicans and Democrats, and 'teh Crazy' is a feature which starkly demarcates and helps define those differences, (as unfortunate as that may be for some to come to grips with, it's not unverified),

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    2. Thanks Joe - I was nodding my head with him until the false equivalency part. :)

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    3. I was nodding my head with him until...

      Her.

      I have good reason to believe Anne C. is a girl. Just saying.

      And I think you guys might be suffering a little kneejerk of your own. I don't think Anne's comment qualifies as a false equivalency. She didn't say the two were equal, only that Future Shock isn't confined to Conservatives - and she was speaking of her experience on liberal blogs as an example, not making a completely general statement.

      I'm pretty sure I could make a case that this kind of thing also hits the Left, only in a different way, in different places.

      The last four years of the most recent Bush administration are a pretty good example.

      Another case in point: The recent grounding of the Royal Dutch Shell oil rig, Kulluk, off Kodiak Island here in Alaska, liberals went absolutely apeshit over that - and yet, the mandated safety systems and rig design worked, no oil was spilled, no significant environmental damaged occurred. And yet, as an Alaskan, I sat here and watched liberals screaming in red faced outrage and spouting all sorts of irrational conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated nonsense.

      Frankly, all you have to do is look at the extreme liberal side of the ongoing gun argument to see that Anne is correct.

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    4. I was about to make the same point Jim. I'm as ready to go Full Driftglass on someone as anybody, but I don't think Ann C was "both sides" doing it at all.

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    5. Thanks, Jim. I kind of expected to get that original reaction, but it was nice to see some backup. I will say that it's Ann, not Anne. I noticed a previous poster in the post you referenced in your last post on rewriting the Constitution named Anne C. I'm not her, so you actually don't know that I'm a woman - we've never met.

      I was way ahead of the curve in the '70s, since I got my degree in engineering then. I was an early adopter for home computers, and the internet, in the '80s and '90s. At this point I'm sort of on the side waiting to see whether the curves go infinite or are only asymptotic. If they're legitimate 'knee' growth curves, then things are due to level out fairly soon (next 5 to 20 years). At that point the problems get much, much worse, but the good part is that people should be able to catch up and cope. If not, we're going to have a whole different kind of mess, and it will be wholly unpredictable. I'm not sure which to hope for. When I was a kid, I would have voted for the unpredictable, but these days I prefer a modicum of stability. I think it's called getting older. Ah, well.

      Ann C.

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    6. Urf. I thought you were the Anne C that I happen to know.

      Anne C. and Ann C. now there's a false equivalency!

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    7. Not unless you hit a couple of WorldCons in the '70s, at least.

      Ann C.

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    8. I don't recall any actual liberal or Democratic leaders having much of any reaction to the grounding of the Kulluk.

      No, there is no comparison just because you might find a few fringe extemist outliers.

      Could some wacko who self-identifies himself as a 'liberal' have said something crazed?
      Probably.

      Could a handful of 'self-styled bloggers' have over-reacted? Not unlikely.

      But here's the difference, when we're talking about 'teh Crazy', it's the Republicans who lead off with this utter insanity right from top, right from the party leadership, right down through their elected officials and official spokespeople, right through their media pundits and talking heads, and that's all before you get to some fringe self-identified TeaParty whacko.

      There's simply no equivalency, no comparison whatsoever to 'teh Crazy'. No, the Democrats aren't even slightly tinged in any comparable manner.

      Face it, ...'teh Crazy' is the modern day Republican Party and there is no equivalent. It's who they are, it's all they've got.

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    9. So, it's "us" versus "them", is it? No overlap, no middle ground, no possibility of rational solutions? Demonize your opponent - and simplify your world. Gee, I thought that's what the Republicans were supposed to be doing....

      Ann C.

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    10. "There are none so blind as those who will not see."

      The responses to Ann C have made that very clear.

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    11. The possibility of a rational solution has to be premised on a rational argument.

      Bringing irrational arguments to the table is not a rational justification to whine about not getting a solution.

      As to 'us' versus 'them', ...that's a position the Republicans carved out for themselves long ago, and they've only worked to more strongly enforce that position ever since.

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  10. Jon Stewart nailed a similar sentiment on The Daily Show this week with a Seussian poem (I think it was called They Don't Like You, Obama). On this clip, it starts at about 3 minutes in. Priceless. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-january-31-2013/skeet-fighter.

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    1. I'd like to put Jon Stewart and Jim in the same room for 24 hours. The resulting screed would certainly cause the explosion of every Tea Party member's brain. (Which would, admittedly, be a very small explosion, but it would still be fun to watch.)

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    2. We'd probably end up in a Mexican jail, hungover, Tattooed, and with missing time.

      Nobody needs that. Especially me. Just saying.

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    3. I watched that the other night and couldn't stop laughing. It was a classic.

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    5. I think you meant to reply to the previous comment thread, Frank.

      I'm not singing Shell's praises, but when they comply with the regulations as written and when there are circumstances out of their, or anybody's, control, then it's time to acknowledge that. Also, it's not evil to want to make a profit, for an oil company or for a kid at a lemonade stand. I've sailed these waters, I've had experience at tow in heavy weather, frankly, I just don't see what else they could have done. And they responded promptly and took care of it. This wasn't the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout and liberals need to stop acting like it was.

      That said, I agree, if we're going to drill in the arctic (or anywhere for that matter) then we need strict regulation, proven backup systems and contingency plans, and good understanding of the risk. The burden should be mostly on the oil companies, but some of it is on us too - we're the ones buying the gas.

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    6. We need strict regulation, (which we don't have), we need proven backup systems, (of which Shell's backup literally imploded on the first test), and we need contingency plans, ( if Shell had responsible plans from the start, contingencies would be less of a concern.)

      The Kulluck was to have another drill rig on site as backup too, that drill rig is sitting in Seward the object of a criminal inquiry. It was not ready to act as backup, it's not even seaworthy.

      As it is, Shell has proven to be willing to roll the dice and gamble on grievously damaging our environment, and akin to Shell's actions in Nigeria, Alaska, or for that matter, the US has left the door open for Shell to take it's profits and run when things go south.

      You might not be singing the praises of Shell, but you're giving them too much when you say you don't see what else they could have done or that there were simply circumstances out of their control. People who do such work in the Canadian Arctic have been reporting on a number of failures by Shell to properly gear up for working in the Arctic.

      Other people's vessels came to the rescue of Shell when they showed they were not up to the task. Moving those vessels from their intended use put other assets at risk while they were off rescuing Shell. We may have dodged a bullet, so to speak, and yes, luckily no one died, but that's more a matter of dumb luck this time than it was due to Shell being prepared.

      No, this wasn't the Deepwater blowout, and a good thing because there is simply no way they could have been prepared to deal with a blowout should they have had need. Going forward, as long as Shell continues in their attempts to cut corners and gamble as they did this year, we'd be better off telling Shell to take a hike.

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    7. Just wondering if folks realize that the Russians and the Chinese are planning to or are already drilling in the Arctic? Yet I don't hear anyone in any media complaining about that. Just the usual suspects screaming bloody murder about the US wanting to. Why is that?

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    8. Could you repeat that? The Chinese are planning to or are already drilling in the Arctic?

      You don't hear the media complaining about that because it's fictional nonsense.

      On the other hand, the Russians, besides their own companies drilling for oil, they've signed deals with Exxon, Eni and Statoil just to name a few other multinationals.

      The media? They have been and continue to report each new deal and each new development.

      Your premise is not supported by any reality.

      Delete
  11. .

    The RepublicanT Party may be in its final death throes; but we will always have Nazis. Just because the 'Clown Circus' (Murdoch Media/Fox Networks) 2012 Presidential Primaries gave US OMitt Rmoney, it does not mean the serpent is dead or that he game is over. The lust for power by the players behind the curtains is ever present.

    We may get big belly laughs at the RepublicanT Party's demise, but the money establishment remains.

    The knee-jerk silliness of right wing hate machine just makes the joy of watching low-life bullies getting their comeuppances that much more enjoyable.

    Your writing about it helps me articulate the subtle points more clearly. (FYI - I plagiarizer good writing when I visit the dark-side blogs/web pages). I copy you work often.

    Thanks.

    Ema Nymton
    ~ @ : o ?
    .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. .

      Oh please, oh please, oh please, President Obama; say something against eating/playing with yellow snow. Please, please, please.

      Ema Nymton
      ~ @ : o ?
      .

      Delete
  12. Nuke the Gay Whales for the Little Baby Jeebus

    ReplyDelete
  13. Well I'm sure Mr. Raygun meant "senselessly" in a, well, you know, CONSERVATIVE way.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Critical thinking in the U.S. is in peril because the Texas board of education is putting a "Christian" and anti-science perspective into the curriculum. All school districts in Texas have to use the textbooks selected by the board. Publishers make millions from the only state that chooses textbooks state-wide instead of letting local districts choose. So they gear their books to Texas requirements, and modify the textbooks slightly for other states. Check out:

    http://video.pbs.org/video/2325563509

    http://www.therevisionariesmovie.com/background.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. California is as big a player and we don't doctor up our schoolbooks. Perhaps they will start buying from the publishers who publish for the LARGEST POPULATION state. It would be about damn time. The sad part is that this divide over the facts will make governing this nation even more difficult than it already is...

      Delete
    2. The Texas Republican party put a plank in their platform that prohibits teaching of critical thinking. Because it might make the kids question their parents - or some such.

      Delete
  15. Thanks for reminding me that “The Grand Illusion” was Styx last good album. Love that album. Perhaps if we can get President Obama to say that he loathes “Mr. Roboto”, it would then become the Tea Party Theme Song.

    The Republican Party is a lot like Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung. He was once a talentedsongwriter with good ideas, a great showman. Now he is a strange little man with many phobias including an “allergy to stage lighting”. He makes nonsensical statements and has gone way “off the deep end”. “Mr. Roboto” was his Tea Party Movement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, that's why I used him as an example.

      Delete
    2. They do still put on a good show -- or did, when I saw them in Vegas ...uh oh... was that 15 years ago now? Damn. When did I get old?

      Delete
    3. That actually made sense. Which I find really, really, troubling. How is it that 47% of the electorate is that far off the curve, over the shark, lost in the woods and/or up the creek without a paddle to such an extent that description of the decline of an 80's band makes sense as a comparison?

      Delete
  16. It is very scary when anyone starts to defend the sensibility of the Holocaust, because it makes sense from only one angle - the acquisition & retention of power. You create a common enemy, demonize them, and then lead the attack. Hitler and McCarthy both used this sort of "sense" to grab for power.
    Take another look at the comments from both Anne C. and Jean Clarkin above. The sort of future shock Anne is referring to creates a feeling of powerlessness, and these folks want to stop the rapid change in the world and bring it back to a state they can understand (ever notice how conservatives always refer to the past & glorify it?). Since the world does not seem to want to oblige, you need to find a way to exercise power over it- and you demonize the agents of change that you see.
    And constantly referring to the Nazis does trivialize them, and it makes it easier to become them!

    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Greg - ETC(SW) USN - RetiredFebruary 3, 2013 at 6:46 AM

      I think it's worth noting that the "past" they so fervently want to restore never really existed in the first place. It's some idyllic fantasy, but it seems to get better and better every time they pine for it.

      Delete
    2. Oh nooooossss!! You mean if we constantly keep referring to Republicans, we'll trivialize them, making it easier to become them!!?? Oh the insidious evil of it all . . . .
      How about Commies? Can we go back to calling everyone Commies?

      Once again, great article Jim.
      MyTwoCents

      Delete
  17. Y'all are all wrong. It is a conservative/republican gene that they have not isolated yet. If these folks weren't so stingy with their research dollars, they would already found it. If they ever do, it will be name the CRAP gene--Conservative Republican Ass, Pompous variety. There is no treatment or cure for this genetic defect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmmm,,, That may explain why my special term for the Eric Cantors, Karl Roves, etc of the world is "crapbasket". I was scientifically ahead of my time!
      Ms. Johnson has earned the title crapbasket, in my opinion, with her crapbasket article.

      Bruce

      Delete
  18. Johnson, though offensive, isn't even original stole her thesis from "The Big Lebowski." "Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude. At least it's an ethos."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And was this the John Goodman character's line you are quoting?

      You made me go and look up ethos, whew!

      You are evil. ;o)

      Delete
    2. And who doesn't prefer the Dude's ethos:

      Abide.

      Delete
    3. Right on, Hazy! Come what may, the Dude abides...

      Having said that, the GOP does seem to be well represented by Sobchak's mindless obeisance to some imagined principles of decorum ("There are fuckin' *rules* man!"), and will suffer in like kind. In the words of Walter Sobchak, "Smokey, my friend, you are entering a world of pain."

      ~the Digital Warrior-Poet

      Delete
  19. Reading "Senseless" reminded me of Idaho State Senator Shelly Nuxoll's saying critical of Obamacare that "The insurance companies are creating their own tombs. Much like the Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps, private insurers are used by the feds to put the system in place because the federal government has no way to set up the exchange." She later said by way of apology (?)"I felt badly for the Jews – it wasn’t just Jews, but Jews, and Christians, and Catholics, and priests. My thing was they didn’t know what was going on. The insurance companies are not realizing what’s going to end up in their demise.” Six million Jews and 24 priests but let's pity the insurance companies who just do not understand their business? It's an off the rails attempt to incite her her base, who likely nod in agreement as someone reads to them, cause she wants to move up to the US Senate and hang out with Bachmanns crew. Geesh. Help, sharks! Also, Nazis!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2013/jan/30/idaho-senator-compares-health-exchange-holocaust/

      Delete
  20. I read the mostly irate comments on the National Review and they gave me as well some hope that there are sane conservatives, even if they are usually being kept well hidden by the 3 ring clown circus that the Republican party has devolved into. At least when I first read thru the comments, they were running 95% WTF to 5% torturous appologetics. Far better average than the usual Yahoo commentaries anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    There are sensible conservatives out there. I have a few in my family. but why are they not speaking up? Even after Bobby Jindal warned the Republican Party not to become the party of stupidity (too late, Governor!), he then went on to keep repeating the same old, same old party line.

    Where are the conservatives who will say no to mean-spirited attacks on Obama's family? (Moochelle? Give me a break!)

    Where are the Baptists who will tell Westboro Baptist Church to drop Baptist out of their name? Or who will show up in droves to counter-protest, like even the KKK, for God's sake, will do?

    Where are the "pro-traditional values" folks who will speak up when women are victim-blamed and vilified? ("The Steubenville girl who was raped was drunk and deserved it, and is now being nasty to our poor wonderful football players!")

    Where are this generation's Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley, or even Reagan or George H.W. Bush, conservatives who I respected even if I didn't like them? About the closest they have is Ross Douthat and I feel like I need eyedrops after I read as much of his column in the New York Times as I can stand. Reagan is a liberal compared to what passes for the Republican Party today.

    This raises the question: At what point is the right-wing so far to the right that it drops off the map?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Wow, the photo capture is all but impossible to read, took me 3 tries before I guessed all the numbers correctly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, Apologizes For that. I don't have control over it, it's part of the Blogger/Google platform. And I have to have it on at the moment as noted in a previous post

      Delete
    2. Not a major issue, and better than pages o'spam

      Delete
    3. Indeed.
      And I kinda loved the word I got earlier - scateria: where hate-mongers must be eating in order to spew as much shit as they do.

      Delete
    4. C A Collins - If you press the 'Control' key and the '+' key simultaneously, you can enlarge the stuff on the screen as much as you want. Then press 'Control' and '-' (the dash, or minus sign) to get it back to more usual size. Makes it FAR easier to read those skewed letters!!

      Learned the enlarging tidbit here the first day Jim had to add that anti-spam feature. (Then looked up the reduction feature because I did not think of trying the dash key as a minus sign. Oopsie!)

      Delete
  23. An aside on Happy Days.

    ABC Network had never made a profit until this show came along. It was not expected to, other divisions in the company, ABC Inc., made handsome profits, but neither Network nor News did.

    They were going to keep this show on as long as it was driving a profit. News would have to wait for the days of Arledge

    I was the Transmission Manager (responsible for getting signals into and out of the facilities) of ABC-TV for almost 20 years.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Another aside: To be Trivially Correct, the expression "jump the shark" did not come into use overnight. It was coined by Jon Hein for his website in 1997. There is no record of the phrase being used before that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Every time I use that phrase, somebody with a similar screen name to yours shows up to correct me. Do you guys have a club where you sit in front of banks of giant monitors constantly searching the web for "jumped the shark" and "nuked the fridge?" I'm just asking.

      Thanks for the information, the essay has been updated to reflect your correction.

      Delete
  25. Thanks Jim...Now I will have to cancel my vacation to the Bahamas because "nazi sharks"...and lack o' money...

    ReplyDelete
  26. I watched Sen. McCain strap those missiles under his armpits and jump the megladon the other day. I knew he had gone off the deep end in the past few years; but I swear I saw foam in the corners of his mouth and thought he was going to spit teeth as he raged at Hagel. Did you catch the second of "WTF?" expression on Hagel's face when McCain went off on him?
    Priceless.

    I never thought I would feel nostalgia for the old school sane conservative Republican. But it sure is hard to hold a debate on policy when your opponent is lost inside the Video Game Land of his fractured and fearful mind.

    ReplyDelete
  27. After reading this and dealing with my wing-nut "friends" and family regarding the Sacrosanct 2nd Amendment, I'm more and more convinced that it's time to implement the conservative Screwfly Solution.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An Alice Sheldon, AKA James Tiptree Jr., ref. You're my new favorite, Davy.

      Delete
  28. "Were they eaten by sharks?" To paraphrase the joke, "Sharks, señor, sometimes he no lose." Or "jump enough sharks and eventually they eat well."

    And the GOP won't be saved by Rubio and Christie. Christie already sawed off his own chances by embracing Obama for helping out during Sandy. And with Rubio pushing immigration reform that includes something more than "build a wall, shoot them as they cross", well, just yesterday I heard the start of labeling him RINO.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Clearly, Ronald Reagan was a Nazi.

    Erm, well, there were plenty of left-wingers back then who were pretty convinced of that notion, especially with the whole kicking over random small countries thing (e.g. Grenada). Still, the whole notion of criticizing the Nazis making you into a Nazi is, uhm... I'd say "mind-blowing", but I suspect those making such statements have no mind to blow.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I think the Reagan quote was just gilding the lilly there Jim :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. William F. Buckley, Jr., dead these five years, was the archetypical 1960's serious conservative, a pose he maintained until his death. With his slight British accent and upper-class British stammer (to some degree honestly acquired) he put a patrician face on racism and bigotry. Those that have followed and tried to emulate him have less than a fraction of his intellect and display that fact constantly. I suppose one might be thankful that they are so transparent, since Buckley had a lot of people fooled.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I nominate the simple, self-explanatory "Tea Party time." That was when the Republicans stopped being a political party, and started being a frat party.

    ReplyDelete
  33. USS Forest Fire..... never heard that before. How appropriate.

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  34. Anyone mistaking Reagan for being any kind of liberal might want to read this new book. Much of it is the product of Freedom of Information Act releases of previously uncovered files.

    If you're too young to have lived through Reagan's rise to power, this book will open a few eyes.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0374257000

    ReplyDelete
  35. Seriously? Come on, people. "Joanis loves Chachi." 74 comments, and not one reference to 'chachi' sounding like the Korean word for penis? http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/joanie.asp I'm so dissapointed.



    ReplyDelete
  36. The first thing that comes to mind when I see these kind of bat-shit crazy statements is who are these people? I mean, I realize I'm older and new faces are due to make their way to the fore, but really, I've never heard of some of these people. And who gives them the time of day and makes them think they are relevant?

    The second thing that comes to mind and bothers me the most is where are the professional politicians on the right who realize this is bat-shit crazy stuff? Why don't they step up and call the crazy for what it is? Don't they want to be viewed as serious civil servants? Don't they want to be reelected at least? Not a single one that I know of has stepped up to the plate and said "I'll be the adult in the room". And not just on the "senseless" comment but the oh so many bat-shit crazy statements made since 2008.

    Their silence tells me they approve. Rant over.

    --Bigtoe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As for bat-shit crazies - after 2 elections, the birthers are still spewing their garbage

      McCain was about the only GOP leader who was willing to state publicly that he believed that Obama was a natural-born US Citizen. The rest either jumped on the birther band-wagon or mumbled something about waiting for "evidence".

      Even today, no GOP leader has stepped up to the plate and called out the birthers.

      Delete
  37. Speaking of crazy, Mr. Wright, this is right up your alley and in keeping with the theme of your post.

    Enjoy.

    http://vigilantcitizen.com/sinistersites/sinister-sites-the-denver-international-airport/

    DS

    ReplyDelete
  38. I nominate "Picked the Palin"

    ReplyDelete
  39. Keeping the insanity of the Republicans in perspective.

    http://politicalgates.blogspot.com/2013/02/false-equivalency-insulting-analogies.html

    ReplyDelete
  40. I nominate "jump the Fox," since that network catapults stale propaganda on an hourly basis.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Well, this is one of the few times I disagree with you! Oh not on the main point of your post, THAT I agree 100% on. But Styx did not jump the shark by doing Mr Roboto...and they have done better things since! But anyway, other than that one bit, good job!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Buckley ran the National Review to have a conservatism that didn't produce things like this. But he did not always succeed.

    In the spring of 1975, some Bible college paid for a set of surveys of student politics, at their own institution, and at Princeton, Stanford, and five other national universities. Unsurprisingly, the seven schools formed a fairly tight cluster, with the sponsor way off to the right, so that the grand average was slightly outside the cluster. (To make up numbers, suppose the national colleges were spread between 45 and 55% on some question, and the sponsor at 90%; then the eight would average at 55%.)

    On the basis of this data alone, some fool wrote an article that eight years of Princeton (towards the left of the cluster) would produce graduates indistinguishable from the Lenin Institute; and National Review published it.

    ReplyDelete
  43. You'll be glad to know, then, that conservatives of the Tea Party persuasion next to Fox News now have a new thought-bubble to hang out in: https://www.teapartycommunity.com/ - or, shark-infested waters.

    ReplyDelete
  44. For Styx to have had a last good album, they would have to have had a first good album. Just sayin'.

    Great post, Jim.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My parents raised me to not say the snarky thing out loud, but yeah, that's pretty much always been my take too.

      Delete
    2. Clearly you have no taste in music!

      Delete
  45. Having been thwarted by President Obama, not once but twice, Republicans are now throwing a full blown hissy fit. They will continue to complain to the country that did not elect them, just as a child who does not get his way complains to his mother. "He's touching me!" "MoooM! He called me a name!" "He looked at me wrong!"

    David Avella, President of GOPAC "Educating and Electing a New Generation of Republican Leaders", was on 'Real Time with Bill Maher' a couple of weeks ago. He accused the President of 'name calling' for using the term 'right-wing' when referring to Republicans in his inaugural address. (WTF???!!!)

    Their hate of anything and everything Obama has blinded them. They cannot see the tree of the country through the forest of their ideological hubris. I have a feeling that if President Obama got a medical degree and cured cancer. His detractors would be angry because he was putting Oncologists out of work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That should have been - 'the forest of the country blah de blah ...'

      ;)

      Delete
  46. Greg - ETC(SW) - RetiredFebruary 5, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    Speaking of senseless bat-shit crazy. . . . I'd be interested in your take on this.

    http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/02/obama-sending-death-squads-after-gun-rights-activists

    Like Obama has everything else under his finger and is now out to assassinate gun rightts activists. I would think Mr LaPierre and maybe Ted Nugent would be higher on the "hit list" than the two guys they mention in the story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was surprised the other day to pick up my local paper only to find Thomas Sowell's column still railing about the Benghazi attack. Curious as to how strong the interest in what I thought was a dead issue really was I pulled up Google's search trends page.

      It turns out that the search term "Benghazi" has about as much interest on average over the past 90 days as the term "compost." Actually, when a conservative isn't pushing a column about it there is less interest in Benghazi than compost.

      Either we have a national compost crisis or the Republican Party is getting as much traction as a '68 VW Bug at the bottom of a wet clay pit with slick tires. I'm looking forward to the compost hearings in Congress soon.

      http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=benghazi%2C%20compost%2C%20arctic&date=today%203-m&cmpt=q

      Delete
  47. My vote for the political equivalent to "Jump the Shark"?

    "Picking Palin". That's what McCain did to save his dying campaign to win over the Teanuts, and nothing better pinpointed the beginning of the end for his campaign.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You will laugh at my reaction. At the time, I thought that the Republican movers and shakers, you know the people that are behind the scenes that we don't see, decided that they did not want to win the election because the next four years were going to be terrible no matter who was in office and they did not want the Republican party to bear responsibility for the ugliness. I could not look at McCain and Palin and call them a viable set of candidates at the time. Perhaps if President Obama had not won, but one of the white Democrats had won, the Republicans would not have gone barking mad.

      Delete
  48. The plain fact is that present-day conservatism no longer refers to the "conservation" of anything. All it means is "opposition to Barack Obama and anything the thinks, says, or does." This has been the GOP's philosophy of government for the past several years. It is obviously racist in its origin, and they have been duly punished for it. This is unfortunate, since real conservatism has historically served a wholesome function in our nation's development. But they have abandoned that which was of value for that which is, in effect, political vandalism. And their pronouncements, increasingly, are mere graffiti.

    ReplyDelete
  49. My favorite album was Paradise Theatre so I guess you could be right. I did see Styx in Iowa City on their Roboto tour and it didn't compare. I don't think either album had anything about the Holocaust in them, maybe if I play them backwards?

    ReplyDelete
  50. Whatever phrase gets coined, it's clear that the GOP is the prime progenitor of the politics of hatred and it not only involves prejudice against our non-caucasian President but also against those who would support him or simply not agree with them. How many under article comments have we seen that immediately throw the liberal tag on anything the commenter doesn't agree with? Dr Wayne Dyer supposedly has said "The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about." I think that pretty much covers it all.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Also let's remember that 11 million people were senselessly slaughtered in the holocaust. Six million Jews and 5 million others.

    ReplyDelete

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