Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Rush Limbaugh

Friday Morning Links

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* A federal judge has ruled DADT unconstitutional. I can’t believe, with big Democratic majorities in both houses and a Democratic president, it still took a judge to do this.

* Jimi Hendrix loved science fiction.

* Fidel Castro in the Atlantic.

* Alan Moore vs. Watchmen 2.

* The Right vs. knowledge.

The Four Corners of Deceit: Government, academia, science, and media. Those institutions are now corrupt and exist by virtue of deceit. That’s how they promulgate themselves; it is how they prosper.
—Rush Limbaugh

* And it’s too late for us, but here’s hoping Canada can keep Fox out. Related: How a Murdoch subsidiary may have bought him big trouble spying on celebrities in England.

Fox News as Radio Rwanda

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Taibbi makes the provocative but sadly compelling comparison here.

A lot of Tea Party anger is driven by real local issues — where I live in central Jersey, for instance, there are a lot of pissed-off white people crowing over a nutty state supreme court case in which a Central American drunk driver got off because cops didn’t explain the consequences of refusing a breathalyzer in his native Spanish. But without the constant reinforcement of national 24-hour media, which has taken these isolated cases and presented them as a coast-to-coast massive conspiracy, the rage over stories like this would never reach the levels we’re seeing.

In fact if you follow Fox News and the Limbaugh/Hannity afternoon radio crew, this summer’s blowout has almost seemed like an intentional echo of the notorious Radio Rwanda broadcasts “warning” Hutus that they were about to be attacked and killed by conspiring Tutsis, broadcasts that led to massacres of Tutsis by Hutus acting in “self-defense.” A sample of some of the stuff we’ve seen and heard on the air this year:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hate to quote so much of the post, but his idea of targeted micro-boycotts against Fox advertisers seems like a very good one:

I’m beginning to wonder why effective boycotts against these hate-media channels, and particularly Fox, haven’t been organized yet. Why not just pick out one Fox advertiser at random and make an example out of it? How about Subaru and their unintentionally comic “Love” slogan? I actually like their cars, but what the fuck? How about Pep Boys and that annoying logo of theirs? Just to prove that it can be done, I’d like to see at least one firm get blown out of business as a consequence of financially supporting the network that is telling America that its black president wants to kill white babies. Isn’t that at least the first move here? It’s beginning to strike me that sitting by and doing nothing about this madness is not a terribly responsible way to behave.

To a limited extent this is already happening, although almost exclusively around Glenn Beck.

Stay Classy, Rush

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Pundit Rush Limbaugh, who has a home on Florida’s Palm Beach, suggested that the explosion could have resulted from Earth Day eco-sabotage by one of the rig workers. Limbaugh also said a cleanup was unnecessary.

“The ocean will take care of this on its own if it was left alone and left out there,” Limbaugh said. “It’s natural. It’s as natural as the ocean water is.” More here.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 3, 2010 at 2:05 am

Unnatural Disaster

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The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is looking more and more apocalyptic by the hour, with all commercial fishing east of the Mississippi now shut down. The worst case scenario, if the wellhead is lost, could be 6 million barrels a day, or 4 Exxon Valdezes per week. I don’t even want to tell you what Rush Limbaugh is already saying about this.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 1, 2010 at 9:15 am

Friday Afternoonage

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* Obama Administration on a roll this week, with announcements on new hospital guidelines for gay and lesbian partnerships and an SEC suit against Goldman Sachs for civil fraud.

The GOP claims to have the votes in the Senate to block financial reform. The Democrats really should have done this last summer when they had 60.

* Wealth, income, and power in America. 15 Mind-Blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality In America.

* What unites tea partiers? Watching Glenn Beck.

* Limbaugh lies again about unions and the Massey coal mine disaster. O’Reilly lies about Fox’s misreporting on health care.

* Just what’s going on with all that volcanic ash over Iceland? More here.

On the trustworthiness of beards.

* Beating SimCity 3000.

* And Bruce in Durham! On 9th Street even.

Very Quick Tuesday Night Links

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* Previously unseen Jack Kirby creations.

* Joss Whedon will direct The Avengers! This will either be completely awesome or a completely awesome disaster.

* Could password masking really cost $16 billion dollars in productivity each year?

* Sarah Palin’s tour rider. Bendable straws not optional.

* And Rush Limbaugh is still an idiot.

Limbaugh Vows to Leave Country

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Limbaugh, patriot: I’ll just tell you this, if this passes and it’s five years from now and all that stuff gets implemented—I am leaving the country. I’ll go to Costa Rica. I’ll be taking up a collection to help him cover the cost of airfare…

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March 9, 2010 at 11:45 am

It Was The Week That Wouldn’t End and It Was Only Half Over

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* The time has come for all good people to follow Conan O’Brien on Twitter.

* Pay attention, North Carolina: “It is impossible for any candidate to get to the right of me.” I honestly don’t care who is running against him, I’ll pull the lever.

* Rush Limbaugh is this and every day’s worst person in the world.

* Glenn Beck: Judas!

* Ezra Klein hates America so much he’s trying to pretend that reconciliation isn’t just another world for communofascism.

* Matt Yglesias and Climate Progress explain to the editors of the Washington Post where all this climate misinformation mysteriously originates: their own completely useless editorial page and the liars they happily print there.

* Related: Reid wants a climate bill.

* Also related: Vermont has voted to close its problem-plagued Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. How long can a nuclear reactor last? Via MeFi.

* The secret origins of TV Tropes. Historical footnote: the first TV Trope ever was the Gilligan Cut.

* Behold the terror of the Zeigarnik Effect: “the tendency to experience intrusive thoughts about an objective that was once pursued and left incomplete.”

* “DNA’s Dirty Little Secret: A forensic tool renowned for exonerating the innocent may actually be putting them in prison.” Via Steve Benen.

Barlow’s main point of contention was statistics. Typically, law enforcement and prosecutors rely on FBI estimates for the rarity of a given DNA profile—a figure can be as remote as one in many trillions when investigators have all thirteen markers to work with. In Puckett’s case, where there were only five and a half markers available, the San Francisco crime lab put the figure at one in 1.1 million—still remote enough to erase any reasonable doubt of his guilt. The problem is that, according to most scientists, this statistic is only relevant when DNA material is used to link a crime directly to a suspect identified through eyewitness testimony or other evidence. In cases where a suspect is found by searching through large databases, the chances of accidentally hitting on the wrong person are orders of magnitude higher. 

The reasons for this aren’t difficult to grasp: consider what happens when you take a DNA profile that has a rarity of one in a million and run it through a database that contains a million people; chances are you’ll get a coincidental match. Given this fact, the two leading scientific bodies that have studied the issue—the National Research Council and the FBI’s DNA advisory board—have recommended that law enforcement and prosecutors calculate the probability of a coincidental match differently in cold-hit cases. In particular, they recommend multiplying the FBI’s rarity statistic by the number of profiles in the database, to arrive at a figure known as the Database Match Probability. When this formula is applied to Puckett’s case (where a profile with a rarity of one in 1.1 million was run through a database of 338,000 offenders) the chances of a coincidental match climb to one in three.

* Why autism is different for girls.

* Chat Roulette: a documentary.

* Do MFA programs hurt poetry?

* Teach the controversy: “There is no unified flat Earth model,” Shenton suggests, “but the most commonly accepted one is that it’s more or less a disc, with a ring of something to hold in the water. The height and substance of that, no one is absolutely sure, but most people think it’s mountains with snow and ice.”

* In response to a new federal mandate to fix under-performing schools, every teacher will be fired at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island. Via MetaFilter, where the conversation is by turns fascinating and soul-crushing. I’m expecting another round of (justified) anti-Duncan, anti-Obama diatribes from my friends in public education in five… four… three…

* And an awesome post I missed from Tim a few weeks back: the top-ten most desirable rare video games.

And the Rest

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* Happy 90th to Isaac Asimov. One of the greats.

* Multimillionaire visits hospital, declares American health system works just great.

* ‘How to Train the Aging Brain.’

* The world will not end in 2012. 2011.

* Notice again how far down the slippery slope we have gone. Krauthammer’s first position was that torture should be restricted solely to ticking time bomb cases in which we knew that a terror suspect could prevent an imminent detonation of a WMD. His position a few years later is that torture should be the first resort for any terror suspect who could tell us anything about future plots. Those of us who warned that torture, once admitted into the mainstream, will metastasize beyond anyone’s control now have the example of Charles Krauthammer’s arguments to back us up. More here.

* Get your sneak peak of 2020 here and here. Via i09.

Possibly the Only ‘Climategate’ Video You Will Ever Need

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Written by gerrycanavan

December 5, 2009 at 8:14 pm

TDS on CRU

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Jon Stewart had a so-so bit on the CRU hack last night, but I was annoyed to see him make the same mistake the right-wingers keep making regarding “hide the decline”: this idea that some sort of global cooling is happening but being masked by data manipulation. (This is a purely Limbaughian fantasy, last seen pouring out of the logorrheic mind of Michael Steele.) The opposite is actually the case: the problem is that post-1960 tree-ring data suggest temperatures that are lower than the real temperatures. The “decline,” that is to say, is in the theoretical temperatures as extrapolated from post-1960 tree-ring data, and not in the temperatures that were actually recorded.

Maybe it’s less funny that way, but Jon really shouldn’t feed the trolls if he can help it.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 2, 2009 at 11:01 am

Lunatics and Asylums

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Via Steve Benen, I see that Paul Krugman’s column today addresses a particular concern of this blog over the last few months, the long-term consequences of a GOP “taken over by the people it used to exploit”:

In the short run, this may help Democrats, as it did in that New York race. But maybe not: elections aren’t necessarily won by the candidate with the most rational argument. They’re often determined, instead, by events and economic conditions.

In fact, the party of Limbaugh and Beck could well make major gains in the midterm elections. The Obama administration’s job-creation efforts have fallen short, so that unemployment is likely to stay disastrously high through next year and beyond. The banker-friendly bailout of Wall Street has angered voters, and might even let Republicans claim the mantle of economic populism. Conservatives may not have better ideas, but voters might support them out of sheer frustration.

And if Tea Party Republicans do win big next year, what has already happened in California could happen at the national level. In California, the G.O.P. has essentially shrunk down to a rump party with no interest in actually governing — but that rump remains big enough to prevent anyone else from dealing with the state’s fiscal crisis. If this happens to America as a whole, as it all too easily could, the country could become effectively ungovernable in the midst of an ongoing economic disaster.

The point is that the takeover of the Republican Party by the irrational right is no laughing matter. Something unprecedented is happening here — and it’s very bad for America.

That a radicalized GOP will degrade to permanent minority status but still retain enough power to obstruct constructive legislation is certainly a concern. But the bigger concern, as I’ve written a few times before, is that eventually the Democrats will have bad luck and the logic of the two party system will propel the Palinized Republicans back into power—at which time the lunatics really will be in charge of the asylum.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 9, 2009 at 3:59 pm

A Few Monday Links

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A few Monday links.

* NJ-GOV Watch: As yet another ethics scandal hits Chris Christie, a poll shows him down 42-33 to Corzine. I think this particular poll is probably an outlier, but nonetheless I think Corzine may actually win this thing.

* Looking through Steve Benen’s newsfeed this morning I was struck by how many stories he’s found in the last few days about Republicans baldly misreporting clearly labeled satire as fact. Glenn Beck: Nancy Pelosi to ban Fox News! Rush Limbaugh: Obama’s nonexistent thesis hates America! Of course, they just make things up, too.

* Airlock Alpha says Battlestar Galactica: The Plan is worse than Razor. That’s too bad, because Razor really wasn’t very good. The reviewer makes a great point here:

At the same time, the most interesting parts of the Cylon story were cut out or not even considered for this film. Really!

I mean, look at this way. You had the Final Five who show up in the middle of the first Cylon war. They offer the Centurions evolutionary advancement in terms of resurrection and becoming more like their human creators, so the war ends. After the skinjobs are created, the Cylons try to simply live their lives away from the humans, but Cavil wants revenge.

When the Final Five get in his way, he kills them, and then resurrects them, depositing them all over the Twelve Colonies, giving them a front-row seat to the holocaust he’s about to unleash.

This is great storytelling by itself. Except we only get the end of this tale in “The Plan.” We don’t get to see the Final Five arrive, we don’t get to see Cavil’s betrayal. Instead, we pick up with Cavil already having deposited the Final Five in the Colonies and go from there.

It’s very odd to see them go the clip-show route when a better story really was just sitting there unused.

* And via Atrios, Detroit can’t give away land. The unemployment and outmigration numbers in Michigan are just staggering. From a policy perspective I have no idea how you fix this.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 26, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Heath Care! Special 4000th Post Edition

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I’m still Twittering, so I’ll just say here that was pretty dynamite. We’ll have to wait and see whether and how much it moves the needle, but it seems like a corner has been turned; Democrats in the chamber seemed ecstatic, Republicans angry and small. The Teddy Kennedy tribute, segueing into a explicit articulation of the moral duty for health care reform, was spellbinding, and, for some members, deeply shaming. Another historic speech from a guy who really makes it look easy.

Doing some liveblogging at Twitter.

My 4000th post on this blog—something like 9,500 since starting Backwards City in May 2004—is devoted to the president’s upcoming speech on health care. Robert Reich says the trigger is bunk. Ed Kilgore says it isn’t. Even-the-liberal New Republic‘s Jon Chait explains why centrism is bunk. Millionaire Rush Limbaugh says you don’t even need insurance. An end to the gang of six? Tea leaves suggest Obama may finally be ready to go it alone. Schumer talks up reconciliation. President Clinton’s health-care speech from 1993. Steve Benen on where things stand. Ezra Klein on where things stand. Excerpts from the speech.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 9, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Infinite Summer #3: No Matter How Smart You Thought You Were, You Are Actually Way Less Smart Than That

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(This one turned out a little longer than expected.)

There have been two references so far in Infinite Jest to “the M.I.T. language riots of B.S. 1997,” a reference so slight it hardly seems worth the trouble of tracking down. The first we find in James O. Incandenza’s massive filmography on pg. 987n24, linked from pg. 64:

Union of Theoretical Grammarians in Cambridge. B.S. Meniscus Films, Ltd. Documentary cast; 35 mm.;26 minutes; color; silent with heavy use of computerized distortion in facial close-ups. Documentary and closed-caption interviews with participants in the public Steven Pinker-Avril M. Incandenza debate on the political implications of prescriptive grammar during the infamous Militant Grammarians of Massachusetts convention credited with helping incite the M.I.T. language riots of B.S. 1997.

Forty footnotes later, on 996n60, we get this about “the near-new M.I.T. student union” (184):

Replacing the old neo-Georgian J. A. Stratton Student Center, right off Mass. Ave. and gutted with C4 during the so-called M.I.T. Language Riots of twelve years past.

Glossing over the difference in capitalization, taken together these two footnotes place the “present” of the novel as exactly now: 2009.

We don’t know much about what has happened in the intervening decade, and as was discussed in the comments to the last post I don’t think Infinite Jest is productively read as predictive fiction. (Instead it should be understood as always twenty minutes into the future.) We get, for instance, a quiet reference to the Kemp administration on pg. 177, a moderately reasonable prognostication for DFW to make in 1996 (though Jack Kemp was widely considered a failure as Dole’s running mate at the time)—but it’s paired with a no-chance-in-hell Limbaugh administration that is clearly satiric. (Both references are somewhat suspect, in any event, as they originate in-dialogue from a character at the Ennet House who euphemistically admits they have “some trouble recalling certain intervals” during these periods. So maybe it’s a joke within a joke.) We know Vermont has become the Great Concavity—where feral hamsters rule unchecked!—and that videophones have come and gone, and that broadcast television has ended in favor of TPs, apparently some sort of on-demand service not unlike Netflix.

But we don’t know much, because these sorts of predictions just aren’t the point.

So enough of that—back to the M.I.T. language riots. This is an allusion to Don DeLillo’s Ratner’s Star (1976), a novel which shares some affinities with Infinite Jest, including a boy-genius plotline, multivocal narrative, deep suspicion about the reliability of both personal subjectivity and bureaucratic institutions, and intense theoretical interest in the inner workings of language. The riots are covered in their entirely on pages 31-33 of Ratner’s Star in a short bit of dialogue from J. Graham Hummer, “widely known as the instigator of the MIT language riots”:

“Tell us about the MIT business,” Mimsy said. “I’ve never heard the details.”

“There are no details.”

“Did people really throw stones at each other and overturn cars and the like? I mean was there actual killing in the streets?”

“I was simply trying to assert that what there is in common between a particular fact and the sentence that asserts this fact can itself be put into a sentence.

“And this led to rioting?”

This weird, obscure moment, which could be slotted into Infinite Jest itself without a tremendous amount of revision, introduces the problem of cognitive reflexivity that structures a lot of both Ratner’s Star and IJ. It centers around what is in essence, the Gödel paradox, the problematic fact that statements-about-statements are themselves statements, that there is no self-consistent exterior vantage point from which we can look objectively at our own subjective experiences of the world—that as soon as we attempt to think or speak about the way we think and speak we become hopelessly lost in paradox, in indecidability, and in confusing and shadowy incompleteness. And I hope it isn’t too much of a stretch to assert that this is exactly the problem we face when we confront addict subjectivity:

That most Substance-addiction people are also addicted to thinking, meaning they have a compulsive and unhealthy relationship with their own thinking. That the cute Boston AA term for addictive-type thinking is Analysis-Paralysis.

…That 99% of compulsive thinkers’ thinking is about themselves; that 99% of this self-directed thinking consists of imagining and then getting ready for things that are going to happen to them; and then, weirdly, that if they stop to think about it, that 100% of the things they spend 99% of their time and energy imagining and trying to prepare for all the contingencies and consequence of are never good. That this connects interestingly with the early-sobriety urge to pray for the literal loss of one’s mind. In short that 99% of the head’s thinking activity consists of trying to scare the everliving shit out of oneself… (203-204)

The strange compulsion towards endlessly looping cognitive reflexivity—thinking about thinking about thinking about thinking…—leads in the end to that terrible desire that is central to addiction, the desire for one’s consciousness to be obliterated altogether:

…a little-mentioned paradox of Substance addiction is: that once you are sufficiently enslaved by a Sustance to need to quit the substance in order to save your life, the enslaving Substance has become so deeply important to you that you will all but lose your mind when it is taken away from you. Or that sometime after your Substance has just been taken away from you in order to save your life, as you hunker down for required A.M. and P.M. prayers, you will find yourself beginning to pray to be allowed literally to lose your mind, to be able to wrap your mind in an old newspaper or something and leave it in an alley to shift for itself, without you. (201)

This is, that is, the desire for suicide that haunts so much of Infinite Jest, that in the wake of 9/13/08 threatens to consume the book altogether. Reading The Bell Jar is like this; knowing that Sylvia Plath committed suicide a month after its publication destroys our ability to believe its assertions of an apparently happy ending for its Sylvia-stand-in, Esther. Knowing what happened to DFW—what he did to himself—deeply unsettles our ability to believe “[t]hat no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable” (204), which seems now, in retrospect, less like truth, and more like the prayer of a person who hopes they might someday believe it.