Archive for the ‘sarah palin’ tag
Agreeing with some advice Jonathan Chait offered about political discourse and argumentation, Ta-Nehisi Coates said political commentators — I think he would probably extend this to all opinion writers — should increasingly take on intellectual giants, rather than go after mental featherweights such as Sarah Palin and Michelle Malkin:
Write about something other than current politics. Do not limit yourself to fighting with people who are alive. Fight with some of the intellectual greats. Fight with historians, scientists, and academics. And then after you fight with them, have the decency to admit when they’ve kicked your ass. Do not use your platform to act like they didn’t. Getting your ass kicked is an essential part of growing your intellectual muscle.
I agree to a degree, insofar as it helps the person doing the writing. In Christian apologetics, for instance, it would be more beneficial to the intellectual growth of the writer to argue against some of the best thinkers apologetics has to offer — William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas or Ravi Zacharias, for instance, rather than charlatans like Pat Robertson or James Dobson. That’s not to say the “best thinkers” in apologetics offer a compelling case for belief. I just mean that these “thinkers” — and I used the term loosely — sometimes hold more nuanced views on faith than less erudite pastors and priests who simply quote scripture and assume that’s going to convince us of anything. A person, then, is better equipped to argue from a position of nonbelief when she has anticipated all the ways believers jump through rhetorical hoops attempting to defend faith.
A quote from Omar Khyyam seems apt here:
The Koran! Well, come put me to the test — Lovely old book in hideous error drest. Believe me, I can quote the Koran too. The unbeliever knows his Koran best.
That’s Rhetoric 101. Know your opponents, and anticipate their arguments. So, in this regard providing commentary on the brightest thinkers from any field of inquiry, rather than the most asinine, continues a pattern of learning that, as Coates argues, should not stop once a person gets a college degree.
What Coates doesn’t address is the flip side to this. Does pointing out stupidity benefit readers or does it just needlessly proliferate garbage and give people like Malkin more “air time” than they deserve? Media Matters, of course, has more or less built an empire on pointing out stupidity that takes place on FOX News on a daily basis, and I could crash this server writing about the latest antics of people like Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and their ilk. While I criticize them on here occasionally, would it be helpful to the larger and probably never-ending debate about which ideology, liberal or conservative, is the best one for leading a nation? Probably not.
But I think pointing out stupidity accomplishes at least two important goals. Deservedly, it marginalizes people like Beck and Malkin and their ultra-religious counterparts to the sidelines. Second, and more importantly, it shines a bright light on just how far the political and religious message in America has gone off the rails and how far the GOP spectrum has shifted, and making light of this could hopefully result in more moderate approaches, even among conservatives. Fringe ideology in either direction, left or right, will get us nowhere fast.
Bill Maher caught heat in 2010 from the feminist crowd for referring to Sarah Palin as a “cunt” and a “twat,” as critics at the time called for him to stop using “misogynist slurs” in his routine. First, I think it’s interesting that in this blogger’s critique of Maher’s comedy, she published the words “cunt” and “twat” twice in the same post. One would think that if she wanted these words expunged from society, she would only refer to them as misogynist slurs and not repeat the offending terms.
This is exactly the type of sensitivity to which Maher refers in the above video. While Maher’s words may have arguably been ill-advised, he used the C-word to get a laugh and play on people’s contempt for Palin’s anti-intellectualism. That was the intention, nothing more.
If someone happens to call me a dick or cock sucker for holding a certain point of view that invites a high level of passion, what reason would I have for being offended? I realize that name calling, childish as it is, is not a reflection on me as a male or a person, and further, there is not necessarily any kind of mystical connection between body parts and people. I wouldn’t personally be offended if someone called me a dick because they are just attacking me or an argument I made; they are not attacking the entirety of maledom. Even if they were, why would I care? I would probably just label that individual a grade-A asshole, a generally unpleasant person and move on with my life.
For the record, I’m not comfortable with the words “cunt” or “twat” anyway. They are the flotsam of the English language, and if I agree with feminists on one thing, I wouldn’t be sad if they were all but forgotten in the American conscious. I always cringe when I hear them because even forgetting that they are crass insults, they are just ugly words and the equivalent of verbal throw-up. But let’s not confuse my distaste for those words, and the simple fact that they are just that, constructions of letters that, taken together, have little real power except that to which we give them. This is just a theory, but perhaps feminists increase their insulting power by making such a big deal out of it when they are uttered.
That said, feminists, particularly American feminists, when they take offense to Palin being called a misogynist slur, are conflating a specific case of childish name calling into some kind of ubiquitous crime against womanhood itself. Feminists who do this must admit to a high level of disingenuousness when they know full well that was not Maher’s intention, and female attendees to his shows, I would venture to say, have thick enough skin and big enough brains to be able to tell the difference between the two.
If I might say so though, (as someone originally from the UK/Ireland who has lived in the US for 15 years and has subsequently become a citizen) the sheer hypocrisy of American feminism in particular is on a scale of its own. American feminists want to have their cake and eat it. American men have to fucking pay for all the shows and dinners and then make sure the woman has the most fun in the bedroom. European women understand what EQUALITY means. It’s a celebration of the differences.
even FOX News won’t pony up the money to retain you:
(Sarah) Palin was a hot property when Roger Ailes landed her in 2009, fresh off her colorful run for vice president, and paid her an annual salary of $1 million. Fox even built Palin a studio at her Wasilla home.
But relations cooled between the two sides, and Palin was appearing on Fox less often—complaining on Facebook one night during the Republican convention that the network had canceled her appearances.
The new contract offered by Fox, say people familiar with the situation, would have provided only a fraction of the million-dollar-a-year salary. It was then, they say, that Palin turned it down and both sides agreed to call it quits.
A friendly announcement was planned for Friday, but a source close to Palin leaked the news in the afternoon to Real Clear Politics, saying the former Alaska governor “decided not to renew the arrangement” and “remains focused on broadening her message of common-sense conservatism.”
From The Borowitz Report:
Republicans Move Convention to Seventeenth Century
TAMPA (The Borowitz Report)—With the threat of Hurricane Isaac hitting Florida next week, the Republican National Committee took the extraordinary step today of moving their 2012 National Convention to the seventeenth century.
While the decision to send the convention four centuries back in time raised eyebrows among some political observers, R.N.C. spokesperson Harland Dorrinson downplayed the unusual nature of the move.
“After exploring a number of options, we decided that moving to the seventeenth century would cause the least disruption,” he said. “We’re not going to have to change a thing.”
Mr. Dorrinson added that despite recent controversy involving the U.S. Senate candidate Representative Todd Akin (R., Miss.), there would be no modification of the Party’s official platform: “After we ban abortion in cases of rape and incest, we’re going to focus on America’s spiralling witch problem.”
A 65-year-old politician who can’t manage to at least to pretend to not be “stiff, aloof and distant” and who needs a special made set to make him appear warmer and more approachable than he actually is, has problems.
Read more: G.O.P. Packaging Seeks to Reveal a Warm Romney.
Like many, I was baffled to learn that Paul Ryan listed Rage Against the Machine as one of his favorite bands, since even before becoming the vice presidential nominee, he was part of the machine. Now he’s more a part of the machine than ever. Of course, I would wager that Ryan said Rage Against the Machine was one of his favorites just to sound hip. In any case, Rage is one of the most outspoken and liberal bands in America.
Here is part of Harvard-educated Tom Morello’s response to Ryan:
Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades. Charles Manson loved the Beatles but didn’t understand them. Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn’t understand him. And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine.
Ryan claims that he likes Rage’s sound, but not the lyrics. Well, I don’t care for Paul Ryan’s sound or his lyrics. He can like whatever bands he wants, but his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent is antithetical to the message of Rage.
I wonder what Ryan’s favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of “Fuck the Police”? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!
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. …
My hope is that maybe Paul Ryan is a mole. Maybe Rage did plant some sensible ideas in this extreme fringe right wing nut job. Maybe if elected, he’ll pardon Leonard Peltier. Maybe he’ll throw U.S. military support behind the Zapatistas. Maybe he’ll fill Guantanamo Bay with the corporate criminals that are funding his campaign – and then torture them with Rage music 24/7. That’s one possibility. But I’m not betting on it.
This video from The Young Turks presents a brief outline of some of the many political issues on which Paul Ryan and Rage Against the Machine have diverged:
And now, since Ryan is so enamored with Rage Against the Machine, surely he loves this gem that speaks truth to power, and well, since Ryan is in a position of power (and potentially immense power in January), it should hit home (Morello is the guy in the black cap owning the Telecaster):
Ah heck, why not one more?
In reference to an earlier post in which I made light of Sarah Palin’s gaffe about Paul Revere riding through Boston to warn the British, not the colonists, about the former’s movements, I need to make a concession, but only a minor one. It is true that when and only when Revere was confronted and captured by the British, he indeed told them
there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time for I had alarmed the Country all the way up
in his letter to Jeremy Belknap.
Either by accident or a stroke of luck, Palin was technically correct that at some point along his ride, Revere told the British about the American troops.
But she remains solidly wrong in suggesting — and she unequivocally does — that warning the British was the main point of Revere’s trip. The main objective of his trip was to warn the American colonists. Presumably, getting captured by the British was not part of Revere’s plans that day, since he tried to elude them. Seeking out the enemy just to warn them of the American militia would have been silly. One can imagine the conversation going something like this:
Revere: Here ye! Here ye, damned British! The American militia is just up the way, and it is going to deal you a decisive blow!
British officer: That’s great, mate! You are now a prisoner of the British army. Answer my questions or I will blow your brains out. (Indeed, a British major did tell Revere that he would shoot him if he didn’t answer his questions)
We can only assume Revere was bright enough to know that actively seeking out enemy forces just to warn them of their impending demise would be counterproductive at best, and I doubt he much enjoyed being told he was under the gun if he didn’t cooperate.
While militia did fire off some rounds that Revere said startled the British, there’s no record that Revere himself fired any rounds, and there’s no mention of “bells” in Revere’s letter. Revere and other riders warned the colonists quietly with lanterns, not with guns or bells. Again, the idea was secrecy. Town bells did ring once the British were near Lexington, and one of the captured riders (not Revere) did say:
The bell’s a’ringing! The town’s alarmed, and you’re all dead men!
The British then turned back to warn their commanders. In my last post on this topic, I noted that Revere indeed told the British there were 500 Americans on the way, but I just wanted to clarify the point since some historians have now claimed that Palin was indeed correct. My contention remains. While she may have been correct that Revere warned the British at some point that night, warning the British couldn’t have been farther from Revere’s goal, but a residual effect of him getting captured. Secrecy was the game.
I know I’m being a little dated here, but I wanted to briefly address this Sarah Palin/Paul Revere business. For anyone unfamiliar with the story, here’s the incriminating video:
Here, Palin indicates, while on a stop in Boston no less, that Paul Revere rode through town to
warn the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding through town (bizarre change in pitch) to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.
She later defended her comments on FOX News (appropriately, the only news channel to which she will grant interviews) with this retort to critics:
I know my American history … part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there, that, ‘Hey, you’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms. You are not going to beat our own well-armed persons, individual private militia that we have.’ He did warn the British.”
Sure. She knows her history. After more than one nudging by Glenn Beck (Glenn Beck no less!), she couldn’t name one of the Founding Fathers outside of George Washington and said that all of them were her favorite (I doubt she would have agreed much with Thomas Jefferson). She also gave the same ludicrously broad answer (“All of them”) when Katie Couric, again more than once, asked her to name just one newspaper or magazine that she regularly consulted. Further, she couldn’t name one Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade with which she disagreed:
Back to Revere, here is a letter written by the rider himself to Jeremy Belknap. In it, Revere tells of how he was trying evade the British while warning the colonists of their movements. Conspicuously absent from the letter is any mention of him ringing bells or firing shots to warn the households, as per Palin’s account. He was part of a committee with
the purpose of watching the Movements of the British Soldiers, and gaining every intelegence of the movements of the Tories. We held our meetings at the Green-Dragon Tavern. We were so carefull that our meetings should be kept Secret; that every time we met, every person swore upon the Bible, that they would not discover any of our transactions …
Later in the letter, he recalled how he narrowly escaped some British soldiers but was eventually captured. He then told the British how 500 Americans were on the way after he had warned the colonists of British actions. This L.A. Times article asks whether this is what Palin meant:
So was Revere warning the British that he had warned the Colonists? Is that what the prospective presidential candidate meant? Was Revere serving notice (at gunpoint)?
But Palin was clearing talking about Revere’s ride in the above quote from the FOX News interview (“part of his ride was to warn the British”), not whatever Revere said after being captured. Some Palin supporters have went so far as to erroneously modify Paul Revere’s Wikipedia entry to more closely reflect Palin’s cartoon-like account. Palin’s followers will seemingly do anything to make sure their star stays above board intellectually. But it’s really too late for that. She has disgraced herself repeatedly, and I hope that a majority of Americans understand the kind intellectual absentee that she is if she becomes an official candidate for president.