Cargo Ship wallpaper – Modern Magic Tricks, Conservative Republican alchemy transforms freedom into authoritarianism

Cargo Ship wallpaper. Technically a container ship, but that doesn’t have the hard boiled adventurous sound of the kind of sea faring my great grandfather ran off to be a part of when he was in his teens.

Kind of funny how this works. Right-Wing Watch finds the video of Rick Santorum pining for the days of women getting illegal and usually dangerous abortions, and calling mainstream Protestants evil. Liberal bloggers picks up the story and the mainstream media yawns. Matt Sludge, the conservative smear monger and racist picks it and, suddenly its news you can use – Conservatives Start To Sound The Alarm Over Rick Santorum’s Extremism

Drudge is generally seen as a friendly outlet for Romney, and the timing of the less-than-flattering story — coming just a week before the primaries in Arizona and Michigan — was dead-on for someone hoping to derail Santorum’s momentum.

Ed Kilgore noted that Drudge wasn’t the only generally pro-Romney conservative to call out Santorum for extremism Tuesday. Jennifer Rubin took Santorum to task for his comments about women in combat, women working outside the home and this weekend’s meltdown over Obama’s “theology”:

“In short, Santorum on social issues is not a conservative but a reactionary, seeking to obliterate the national consensus on a range of issues beyond gay marriage and abortion.”

[  ]…Conservative radio talker Laura Ingraham hosted Newt Gingrich on her show Tuesday, and spent much of the eight minute interview berating Santorum for causing the conversation to veer away from economic issues in favor of discussions of pre-natal testing.

[  ]…The case against Santorum’s extremism was made to the Republican intellectuals as well. Former Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administration official Peter Wehner issued a stern warning in the pages of Commentary.

“A wise observer told me years ago that for a politician to be seen as the aggressor in the culture wars is the quickest way to lose them,” the longtime veteran of conservative politics wrote. “That is something Rick Santorum should bear in mind as this race moves forward.”

One conservative blog commentor summed up the general reaction of the far Right saying he doesn’t care who Santorum offends, Rick is right and has the courage to speak the ‘truth”. Conservative pundits have been pushing a commentary on culture in the same price range for decades, so there is no reason to be shocked if your tendency is to think that the USA would be far better off if we were governed in a way that reflected the authoritarian theocracy of 15th century Europe. Women were property for the most part, certain chosen men ruled, moral authority was enforced at the end of a rope, in torture chambers and suspected heretics burned at the stake – see The Inquisition.  While they do not make too much of it anymore The Vatican still believes, doctrinally that all Protestants are heretics. All conservative fundamentalists hear is the echo of culture warriors like the late Jerry Falwell who once claimed “The Democratic Party is going to hell in a hand basket.” This from one of the most immoral sacrilegious demigods to grace the stage of American public life. Falwell also warned of the consequences of not destroying Bill and Hillary Clinton, send in those donations and buy the nefarious ‘Clinton Chronicles’ or “the Clintons, the radical homosexuals, anti-family feminists, Godless atheists, and the liberal media will have won.” While there has been progress it does seem like some days the radical insecure homophobes, the women haters, the sanctimonious hypocrites that ignore the Sermon on the Mount and the 24/7 conservative noise machine is winning. While they are not in fact winning they are making life as miserable as possible for as many American as they can. If I had to boil down why I am not a conservative in one short phrase it would be because conservatives are day in day out bereft of genuine morality. Sure they think they’re moral. Some short people think they’re tall. Some dumb people think they’re smart. Some lazy people think they work hard ( Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Bush 43, Ron Paul). There is in fact an on going multi-billion dollar industry(s) ( advertising, cosmetics, plastic surgery, sugar coated breakfast cereals, diet programs, self help books either religious or secular  – to name a few) that knows the depths of which people are capable of deluding themselves. No one is immune, it just happens that conservatives have a particular talent for self delusion. Didn’t everyone enjoy the one about financial deregulation and low taxes creating a thriving economy with full employment. That delusion was a hoot.

Some highlights from little Ricky Sweater Vest: Agenda for the Dark Ages: GOP Frontrunner Rick Santorum’s 5 Most Extremist Themes

1. The end of the secular state. Santorum is a big proponent of the religious-right assertion, which he recently reiterated at the Conservative Political Action Conference, that the rights of American citizens come not from the U.S. Constitution or the laws of man, but from God. (To prove their point, they cite the Declaration of Independence, and the line that “men” are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”) Not just any God, mind you, but the authoritarian, patriarchal God of right-wing Christian theology. And Santorum has reserved for himself the role of theologian-in-chief, the arbiter of true religion, the messenger privy to the things God really wants — and the things Satan really wants, which, according to a 2008 speech he delivered at Ave Maria University in Florida, is the demise of the United States.

Right-wing fundamentalists – being the self sustaining islands of hard work and the chosen they claim to be – are and have been free to start their own theocracy somewhere. Just not here. We have a set of laws that prohibit such a thing. Were they to try by force – like the Civil War – they would once again be guilty of treason. In his, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” [1787-1788], President John Adams wrote:

“The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

“. . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.”

President James Madison wrote in “Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments

“During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

“What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not.”

When moderate Christians or those who have simply some deep personal beliefs not easily characterized want to practice their beliefs as they see fit the Founders had no problem with that. The Founders did not  and most Americans today do not want or need a self appointed mini-Pope like Santorum or any other conservative hypocrite twisting religion into some excuse for tyranny.

Not that this latest in conservative self appointed martyrdom is only between rational American and the kooks. It is another chapter in the conservative clown show – Donald Trump Assails Rick Santorum’s ‘Lobbyist’ Past In Michigan Robo-Call. The pin-up boy for unearned wealth and arrogance pointing out the unfairness of anything is always funny. Not as funny as the Right’s modern incarnation of Al Capone – Chris Christie: Rick Santorum’s Satan Comments Are Relevant

“I think the idea of the fighting against religion piece of this goes to more to Obamacare issue and the invasion of Obamacare into maybe some religious freedom issues.  I think that’s an interesting conversation and an important one to have in the context of overall Obamacare and what’s that going to mean for the country if it goes forward after the Supreme Court arguments this spring,” he said.

Christie  – an outspoken supporter for the former Massachusetts governor – partly blamed Romney’s lack of traction on the Republicans changing the rules from winner takes all to awarding delegates on a proportional basis.

A Romney apologist defending Romney by invoking ObamaCare which is modeled on Romneycare which was modeled on a plan by the wing-nuts at the Heritage Foundation. Scientists need t study this. Some of the neurons in Christie’s head are completely disconnected from the neurons in another part. They don’t speak to each other. That way Christie can look straight at the camera and seem as though he is darn sure that the word salad of contradictions he is regurgitating are perfectly consistent. Of course no one in that press room would dare pause to ask about how the contradiction makes sense.

It’s not pretty, but apropos of Santorum, Christie, Romney and their conservative sycophants, one of the best analysis I have read of the Right’s ability to hold contradictory thoughts in their head – A Conservative Explains Why Right-Wingers Have No Compassion

An understanding of their leaders, infrastructure and political goals is warranted. Max Blumenthal has done the work in his book “Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party.” Blumenthal investigates politicized fundamentalism and provides capsule bios of such movement luminaries as James Dobson, Tony Perkins, John Hagee and Ted Haggard. The reader will conclude that these authority figures and the flocks they command are driven by a binary, Manichean vision of life and a hunger for conflict. Their minds appear to have no more give and take than that of a terrier staring down a rat hole.

Blumenthal examines the childhoods of these religious-right celebrities and reveals a significant quotient of physical and mental abuse suffered at the hands of parents. His analysis of the obvious sadomasochistic element in Mel Gibson’s films – so lionized by the right wing – is enough to give one the creeps. But the book is by no means a uniformly depressing slog: the chapter titled “Satan in a Porsche,” about fundamentalist attempts to ban pornography, approaches slapstick.

According to the author, the inner life of fundamentalist true believers is the farthest thing from that of a stuffily proper Goody Two Shoes. They seem tormented by demons that those in the reality-based community scarcely experience. That may explain their extraordinary latitude in absolving their political and ecclesiastical heroes of their sins: while most of us might regard George W. Bush as a dry drunk resentful of his father, Newt Gingrich as a sociopathic serial adulterer and Ted Haggard as a pathetic specimen in terminal denial, their followers on the right apparently believe that the greater the sin, the more impressive the salvation – so long as the magic words are uttered and the penitent sinner is washed in the Blood of the Lamb. This explains why people like Gingrich can attend “values voter” forums and both he and the audience manage to keep straight faces. Far from being a purpose-driven life, the existence of many true believers is a crisis-driven life that seeks release, as Blumenthal asserts, in an “escape from freedom.”

An observer of the right-wing phenomenon must explain the paradox of followers who would escape from freedom even as they incessantly invoke the word freedom as if it were a mantra. But freedom so defined does not mean ordinary civil liberties like the prohibition of illegal government search and seizure, the right of due process, or the right not to be tortured. The hard right has never protested the de facto abrogation of much of the Bill of Rights during the last decade. In the right-wing id, freedom is the emotional release that a hostile and psychologically repressed person feels when he is finally able to lash out at the objects of his resentment. Freedom is his prerogative to rid himself of people who are different, or who unsettle him. Freedom is merging into a like-minded herd. Right-wing alchemy transforms freedom into authoritarianism.


Joe Wilder: Celebrating a jazz legend’s 89th birthday

Today, the National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Jazz celebrate trumpeter Joe Wilder’s 89th birthday. Born in 1922 in Colwyn, Pennsylvania, Wilder’s passion for music began when, as a young boy, he saw his father play the tuba. Primarily known as a jazz musician, Wilder has performed in diverse entertainment settings such as in touring jazz bands, classical orchestras, and on popular television and radio programs. Today, the National Museum of American History honors Joe Wilder, a pioneer on and off the stage. “Harbor Lights”