Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Luddites, Old Cranks, and the 21st Century – Open Thread

Time for an open thread. I’m going to start it off by talking about reading.

To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations – such is a pleasure beyond compare. ~Kenko Yoshida

My love affair with books started before I could read. Both of my parents were avid readers. They began to read to me as soon as I was old enough to sit still long enough to hear a story. I was reading on my own before I began kindergarten. By the time I was in the 3rd or 4th grade, I had moved up to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. From that point on there was no stopping me. Reading became my favorite pastime.

You may have tangible wealth untold;

Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be –

I had a mother who read to me.

~Strickland Gillilan (Thanks, Laurel)

One thing I discovered quite early is that knowledge is a never-ending quest. No matter how many books I devoured, there were more yet to be discovered. No one can possibly read every book written, and yet I tried. In high school, I would skip class to go sit in the school library and read. Every spare moment found me with a book in my hands. When I entered the work force, I sought out jobs that allowed me the most reading time. When I came home from work, I would spend hours more each night reading. There were years, decades, where I read at least 8 hours per day. That’s probably a conservative estimate. This reading obsession continued for most of my life.

Die Union Scum! Die!

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” -Warren Buffett to The New York Times, November 26, 2006

The Left constantly accuses the Right of favoring the economic elite at the expense of the rest of the country. It continually flummoxes those of us on the left why anyone who is not rich would support the Right’s attack on the middle and working classes. Yet they continue to do so in large enough numbers to keep the Greedy Ol’ Plutocrats (GOP) viable as a political force. It boggles the mind.

It’s not like the GOP makes a secret of its goals. When the “Masters of the Universe” otherwise known as the financial sector crashed the world economy the Right managed to convince their supporters that it was all the fault of minorities and the poor. While this analysis of the GOP report on the financial crisis doesn’t call out those evil black people in clear language it isn’t difficult to understand who they mean by “high-risk borrowers” who took out “weak mortgages.”

“While the housing bubble, the financial crisis, and the recession are surely interrelated events, we do not believe that the housing bubble was a sufficient condition for the financial crisis,” the document states. “The unprecedented number of subprime and other weak mortgages in this bubble set it and its effect apart from others in the past.” […]

Citing several government agencies, the document argues that “the government subsidized and, in some cases, mandated the extension of credit to high-risk borrowers, propagating risks for financial firms, the mortgage market, taxpayers, and ultimately the financial system.”

Walking the Dog – Conversations with Beau

This diary was first published in February, 2010. This was the first ‘walking the dog’ diary I wrote. It’s topical again so I decided to repost it.

Walking the dog is, in some ways, very similar to being a mailman. Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet… Well, maybe not quite the same. Rain and sleet will keep me indoors. Snow, on the other hand, is not a problem for someone born and bred in the north country. It’s not a problem for my buddy Al, either.

Al has some Husky in him. It shows in his brilliant blue eyes and his thick undercoat. He’ll romp in the snow for hours without showing the slightest discomfort. At least, he used to when he was younger. Nowadays, he’s more like me. A slow, rambling walk is good enough. Even when we have 8″ of fresh snow like we had this day.

This is America [UPDATED]

The tragic mass-murder in Tucson produced an almost instantaneous backlash against what many perceive to be vitriolic political speech in this country. This prompted an equally swift defensive pushback from those who felt their side of the political debate was being unfairly blamed for the act of a person who they argued was clearly mentally-disturbed

Most of the focus seems to be on guns. People point to the use of gunsights on maps and calls for “2nd Amendment solutions” as examples of political speech that has gone too far. I think it goes deeper than that.

The problem isn’t necessarily guns. After all, guns aren’t dangerous unless they are pointed at someone. The problem lies with the divisiveness of political speech in this country. It lies with the demonization of fellow Americans.

This demonization began long before Sarah Palin began to talk of “real Americans”. It has been going on for decades and is usually used by the Right to smear their opponents. If someone points out the only too real faults of this country, they are immediately attacked as an “America-hater” or traitor.  

The Awesome Stupidity of Jack Shafer

There have been many op-ed pieces in the aftermath of the Tucson, Arizona shootings at a political event. None of these have been more absurd than the piece written by Jack Shafer of on the day after the shooting.

From its title – In Defense of Inflamed Rhetoric – and its subtitle – The awesome stupidity of the calls to tamp down political speech in the wake of the Giffords shooting. – to its poorly chosen defense of vitriol and hatred, Shafer may have written the worst exposition I have ever read from a libertarian. That’s quite an accomplishment.

Shafer states the issue quite clearly in the first paragraph.

“The attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and the killing of six innocents outside a Tucson Safeway has bolstered the ongoing argument that when speaking of things political, we should all avoid using inflammatory rhetoric and violent imagery.”

It goes downhill from there.

Roger Ailes Outs Fox – Sarah Palin Says Words Can Incite Violence

Four days ago, a lone gunman opened fire at a political event in Tucson, Arizona. By the time he was subdued, nineteen people had been wounded, six of them fatally. One of those who died was a nine year-old girl who was born on the day of the terrorist attack on 9/11/2001.

In the first official news conference after the shooting, Pima county sheriff, Clarence Dupnik, mentioned the vitriolic language in use in today’s political arena. While the sheriff did single out any person or groups for that language, members of the political right immediately responded and accused him of blaming them for the violence.

While it is true that both sides of the political spectrum use hyperbolic language, some observers, including me, found that instantaneous defensive response quite telling. The most honest response I saw to justify this response was written in a comment on a right-leaning blog. A comment was made about the defensiveness exhibited on the right to the sheriff’s statement. The response from a member of the right was, “Everyone knows who he meant.” This was tacit admission that the worst rhetoric is from the right.

Good news from Tucson

This news is too good not to share. I don’t really have anything to add.

Dylan Smith

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is “100 percent” certain to survive, said Dr. Peter Rhee, a surgeon treating her for a gunshot wound to the head.

“As a physician I’m going to get into a lot of trouble for this, but her prognosis for survival is 100 percent, as far as it being short term,” Rhee told Britain’s Channel 4 News (watch the video below).

“Hopefully she’ll live to be 95 years old,” said Rhee, the medical director for University Medical Center’s trauma center.

“What her recovery is going to do I really don’t know. I’m very optimistic however that she’s not going to be in a vegetative type of state,” Rhee said.…

h/t Andrew Sullivan

Crazy as a Loon?

As soon as the shooter in the Tucson, Arizona tragedy was identified, people rushed to social networking sites online to look for any information on Jared Loughner. Although very little information was found, what was proved to be very disturbing. People pointed to the weird syntax and writing style as proof that the shooter was mentally disturbed. The subject of much of his writing, government control of grammar leading to mind control, supported those early assumptions.While it may prove to be true that Jared Loughner is mentally unstable, the garbled writing he left on the web may not necessarily be part of that proof.

Those who first viewed the words of Jared Loughner could not be blamed for questioning his sanity after reading what he wrote.

For example – “If there’s no flag in the constitution then the flag in the film is unknown.

There’s no flag in the constitution. Therefore, the flag in the film is unknown. Burn every new and old flag that you see. Burn your flag! I bet you can imagine this in your mind with a faster speed. Watch this protest in reverse! Ask the local police; “What’s your illegal activity on duty?”.If you protest the government then there’s a new government from protesting. There’s not a new government from protesting.Thus, you aren’t protesting the government.”

The Lady Doth Protest Too Much

Immediately in the aftermath of the shooting in Arizona, the nation was desperately searching for any information that would make sense of this senseless tragedy. It was in this atmosphere that Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was thrust into the role of official spokesperson at a news conference about the shootings.

Sheriff Dupnik released some information about the shooting, victims, and the shooter and then introduced the local FBI Special Agent in Charge and also introduced the doctor who spoke for the University of Arizona hospital. After the others had given their report to the press, the sheriff returned to the microphone and made a statement that soon had many on the right outraged at his “politicization” of the tragedy.

Reaction from the right

Your Lying Eyes

“Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” – Groucho Marx

In 2010, I viewed a photo study – The Ruins of Detroit – about urban decay in Detroit. The photos were shot by two French photographers – Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre. The photos are visually stunning and leave the viewer with the sense that the entire city must be a vast modern ruin. As a photography enthusiast, I was impressed by the artistry, saddened by the clear signs of decay, and angered by the one-sided portrayal of a city I love.

When someone asked me if I had seen the photos, I would point out that similar photos could be taken in any large city. I also pointed out that the photographers had a set goal in mind for this project and nothing is shown that does not advance their agenda. The reply I got was usually something like, “Yeah, but you have to admit the city is a mess.” Unfortunately, that statement is difficult to dispute.

Yesterday, while watching the latest episode of Detroit 1-8-7, I was reminded of that photo series. The television series, about a Detroit homicide squad, normally deals with two unrelated murders in each episode. One of the murders in this week’s show was about a death in an abandoned building. A suspect in that case was a French photographer who filmed urban decay. I thought the character was most likely inspired by Marchand and/or Meffre.