James's blog

Lying liars and the lies they lie about

Image hosted by Photobucket.com If you haven't read Al Franken's book about the tsunami of lies coming from the so called mainstream media, don't bother. It's certainly on point, but it's woefully outdated. Because in the brief period since its publication, the miasma of lies spread by wingers, media monopolies, the Republican congressional leadership and little King George has completely eclipsed anything examined and reported in Al's book.

Free speech flare up

Wonder of wonders. The Pope-a-Dope Center has sponsored a new poll that finds free speech restricted on UNC campuses. These wingnuts are so predictable it's like deja vu over and over and over again.

Aren't these the same jerks who plant students in classes to snitch on faculty that may be contaminating virgin minds with the horrors of progressive thought? Aren't these the same people who single out faculty members they disagree with for ridicule and harrassment?

The center goes on to say:

“UNC should treat this report the same way it would treat a report saying that there were hazardous conditions at many campuses,” Leef said. “It should act now, rather than waiting for trouble to develop.”

Competition cure-all?

I never expect much thoughtfulness from North Carolina's business publications, and the Triad Business Journal is no exception. But this lame analysis about the role of competition in driving down healthcare costs is laughable. Like much shallow thinking, it starts with self-serving generalizations, which it then stretches to ludicrous proportions.

Employers and insurers are increasingly pushing "consumerism" as a possible solution to high health care costs. They argue that consumer-driven health plans will lead individuals to be more cost conscious when seeing a doctor or going to a hospital.

Good for bidness

Jack Betts does a nice job today in his Charlotte Observer column on the 1898 Wilmington Race riots . . . highlighting the business-led conspiracy campaign for white supremacy in North Carolina.

In December, the Wilmington Race Riot Commission -- created by the 2000 legislature -- produced a 600-page draft report that documents how white business leaders and Democratic Party officials launched a duplicitous campaign to throw blacks out of office in Wilmington and replace them with whites.

When it was over, the federal government had done nothing to stop the violent overthrow of a legally elected Republican municipal government. Nor did it bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of an unknown number of black citizens, wounding of many others, burning of a black newspaper, firing of black workers or the running out of town of a number of black leaders. Barely a year later, the state adopted a new voting law that effectively disenfranchised most black voters and many poor whites as well, depriving a major portion of the state's population of the right to vote for much of the 20th century.

A target-rich environment

If you dare to enter the treasure trove of North Carolina Wingnuts you’ll find – as we say in the military – a target-rich environment. Especially at the Pope-a-dope Center, where ideology trumps intellect at every juncture . . . and liberal thinking is the source of all evil. Take George Leaf, for example (please!) and his dazzling insights on public education.

First the breathtaking generalization to obscure reality and truth:

Today, your typical high school graduate believes that school is just a rather boring, obligatory use of his time that is tolerable only because it leads to the paper credentials necessary to unlock the door to high-paying employment. Put a lot of young people with that attitude in a classroom and a professor has little choice but to water down the material and make sure he keeps the kids entertained.

John Hood's Poor Mouthing

Why is it that when wingnut pundits try to appear reasonable, they always manage to come across as arrogant assholes? Case in point: John Hood’s daily drivel reflecting on the real needs of the poor in America.

In a breathtaking flight of fantasy and pseudo-analysis, Hood determines to his own glib satisfaction that the poor are doing just fine, thank you. Here's the kind of evidence he provides:

And just since 1992 . . . the share of households containing stereos rose to 73 percent from 57 percent. VCRs are as commonplace now as color TVs at 87 percent, up from 68 percent. And only 19 percent had computers in 1992, compared with nearly 60 percent in 2002.

Fat city

New years always bring lists of this and that . . . most of little interest or value. So take this article in Men's Fitness with whatever grains of salt you think appropriate. Is any besides me surprised that Charlotte is among the top 25 "Fattest Cities" listed? On the flip side, I'm not surprised at all that no North Carolina city is rated among the top "fittest" cities in America. Looks like the Health and Wellness Trust Fund still has plenty of work to do.

Fattest Cities
2005 Ranking

1. Houston

Mandatory voting?

Sometimes you know you know certain things . . . but they still don't hit home until you read them for the umpteenth time. In this case, I read a factoid in an N&O editorial.

Barely one Triangle resident in five cast votes in the Nov. 8 election.

Holy Diebold. One in five? No wonder the metaphor 'nation of sheep' comes so often to my mind!

The editorial went on to talk about programs designed to get young people involved in community affairs and electoral politics, which is a good idea, of course.

But still. One in five?

In Peru, voting is mandatory for everyone over 18 . . . up to the age of 65. I'm not advocating that by any means. In fact, the last thing we need is more people voting who have no idea what the hell they're doing.

Oh six

There's nothing like a trek through the Andes to get help you get your head on straight. That's where I've been over the past ten days. No internet. No phones. No news. No Bush. No lottery. No war. No North Carolina.

It was a blessed break from all of the things that have come to occupy my life and my mind 24/7 for the past few years.

Most of my Peruvian encounters involved people living on the edge . . . in conditions we'd all consider intolerable. Outdoor toilets, cooking with wood, eating guinea pigs that scurry around the kitchen. Moving rocks, digging holes, planting potatoes and corn. Herding llamas.

Year in review

We are what we choose

In the roiling ocean of international politics, George W. Bush was a tsunami of bad choices in 2005. The continuing war on Iraq. The abuses of power. The torture. John Bolton. Michael Brown. Harriet Miers. ScAlito. The lying. The spying. And worse. If our nation ever carried the mantle of moral leadership, we have surely lost it by now.

Which is not to say there aren’t benefits to living under the constant gaze of Dear Leader. Safer at home. Fighting them over there so we won’t have to fight them here. Freedom on the march. Mission accomplished. Yeah, right. The Bush cabal has replaced reality with rhetoric on every front. Words without wisdom, policies without promise, and ruinous debt as far as we can imagine.

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