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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 03:48 PM
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It SHOULD backfire, and one certainly hopes it WILL backfire . . . and yet . . .

. . . I've noticed, certainly among friends and family of mine who are Republicans, there seems to be an almost impenetrable wall of denial as regards the radical extremist agenda that is being pursued by elected Republicans. Rank-and-file Republicans, en masse, seem to be doing their very best ostrich imitation. One of my sisters and her husband falls into this category. They are perfectly reasonable, decent people insofar as their own beliefs are concerned -- sure, they are a bit more conservative fiscally speaking, but they aren't really interested in dismantling the social safety net, and they certainly aren't interested in the extreme social agenda that the GOP is currently pursuing. Yet, when I try to have a discussion with them about the facts of what elected Republicans are actually pushing by way of legislation across the country, their eyes sort of glaze over and they fall into rote dismissals of the concern, invoking (false) equivalency, etc. They simply refuse to look at what is going on. So I wouldn't bet on it necessarily backfiring, at least not to the extent it really should.
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Mar 1, 2012, 09:16 PM (1 replies)

Hilarious comment by 87 year-old former NYC Mayor Ed Koch...

...Heard this evening on NY1:

If Obama runs against Santorum, it will be like running against Cotton Mather!
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Feb 15, 2012, 12:13 AM (6 replies)

Great Benjamin Harrison Quote

It's one I never heard before the other day, and which I am adopting as part of my signature tag:

I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process. -- Benjamin Harrison
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Feb 13, 2012, 09:22 PM (7 replies)

The RC bishops' reaction to the President's compromise betrays their true objective

The RC bishops' reaction proves what their real motive has been all along -- to find a back door way to prevent women who work in their institutions, even those who are not Roman Catholic, from having access to birth control. If their motive truly was, as they have insisted, a matter of religious conscience and of not being forced to pay for something of which they don't approve, then they should have no problem with this compromise No one can now say that these institutions' freedom of religion is in any way being infringed upon.

The Roman Catholic Church can't even get its own faithful to abide by this teaching. So, they thought they could strong-arm the president into giving them power over women's bodies for which they have no legitimate claim whatsoever.
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Feb 13, 2012, 05:33 PM (7 replies)

NY Times/The Certainty of Doubt

[font size=5]The Certainty of Doubt[/font]
[font size=3]By CULLEN MURPHY
Published: February 11, 2012[/font]

[font size=2]< . . . >

(Moral Certainty) sweeps objections aside and makes anything permissible if pursued with an appeal to a higher justification. That higher justification does not need to be God, though God remains serviceable. The higher justification can also be the forces of history. It can be rationalism and science. It can be some assertion of the common good. It can be national security.

The power of the great “isms” of the 20th century — fascism, communism — has dissipated, but moral certainty arises in other forms. Are certain facts and ideas deemed too dangerous? Then perhaps censorship is the answer. (China’s Great Firewall is one example, but let’s not forget that during the past decade, there have been some 4,600 challenges to books in schools and libraries in the United States.) Are certain religions and beliefs deemed intolerable? Then perhaps a few restrictions are in order. (Bills have been introduced in several states to ban recognition of Islamic Shariah law.) In a variety of guises, a conviction of certainty lurks within debates on marriage, on reproduction, on family values, on biotechnology. It peers from behind the question “Is America a Christian nation?”

An “ism” that retains its vitality — terrorism — is justified unapologetically by moral certainty. In a vastly different way, not always recognized, so have been some of the steps taken to combat it. Necessity overrides principle. The inventory of measures advanced in the name of homeland security during the past decade would fill a book. In the United States, the surveillance of citizens and noncitizens alike has become increasingly pervasive. The legal system has been under pressure to constrict protections for the accused. The National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law in December by President Obama despite his own reservations, gives the government enhanced powers to detain, interrogate and prosecute.

< . . . >

The idea that some single course is right and necessary — and, being right and necessary, must trump everything else, for all our sakes — is a seductive one. Isaiah Berlin knew where this idea of an “ultimate solution” would lead — indeed, had already led in the murderous century he witnessed: “For, if one really believes that such a solution is possible, then surely no cost would be too high to obtain it: to make mankind just and happy and creative and harmonious forever — what could be too high a price to pay for that? To make such an omelet, there is surely no limit to the number of eggs that should be broken. ... If your desire to save mankind is serious, you must harden your heart, and not reckon the cost.” [/font]

Read full article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/opinion/sunday/the-certainty-of-doubt.html?pagewanted=1&ref=opinion
Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Feb 12, 2012, 01:14 AM (0 replies)

How NOT to sing the National Anthem

On a lighter, but not altogether unserious, note . . .

I was a music (voice) major in college. Below is the text of a Facebook status update of a friend who was a fellow student at Westminster Choir College when I was there some 30 years ago. I couldn't possibly have said it better!

“So, with all the kindness I can muster, I give this one piece of advice to the next pop star who is asked to sing the national anthem at a sporting event: save the vocal gymnastics and the physical gyrations for your concerts. Just sing this song the way you were taught to sing it in kindergarten — straight up, no styling. Sing it with the constant awareness that there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines watching you from bases and outposts all over the world. Don’t make them cringe with your self-centered ego gratification. Sing it as if you are standing before a row of 86-year-old WWII vets wearing their Purple Hearts, Silver Stars and flag pins on their cardigans and you want them to be proud of you for honoring them and the country they love — not because you want them to think you are a superstar musician. They could see that from the costumes, the makeup and the entourages. Sing “The Star Spangled Banner” with the courtesy and humility that tells the audience that it is about America , not you.”; If you agree, please pass this on. The entertainers need to get the message!
Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Feb 3, 2012, 12:25 AM (0 replies)

You're right, it is just a piece of cloth - but that doesn't mean . . .

. . . that publicly burning it, be it protected speech or not, necessarily serves the larger agenda of a particular movement. As a matter of strategy, it can be a downright stupid thing to do.
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Feb 1, 2012, 03:21 AM (0 replies)

I posted on the flag burning thread ...

I posted the text of a message I had posted to Occupy Oakland's Facebook page.

I agree with you about the fetishization of the flag, and I agree that reaction to flag burning incidents is always overblown (it's a piece of fabric, for Christ's sake). So my concern for Occupy Oakland was not about the flag burning, per se, nor was it a matter of being concerned with "political correctness." My concern was purely a strategic one (i.e., that the corporate media, eager to slander the Occupy movement at every turn, would seize upon the photo of the event in order to turn public opinion against the movement.

Rightly or wrongly, the flag, as a symbol, carries a great deal of emotional freight for many people across both political and socioeconomic spectra. And for a large swath of the American public, many of whom are predisposed to be a bit suspicious of protest movements anyway, an image or two of Occupy protesters burning a flag is all it would take to convince them that everything Fox News, et al. have been saying about the protesters is true. It isn't a rational, analytical response to jump to that conclusion, but rather a visceral, emotional one. And conclusions people draw based on such emotionally-laden, visceral reactions are often far more difficult to alter and dislodge, irrespective of the facts of the matter.

Like it or not, there is a PR aspect to all political/protest movements that represent a significant challenge to entrenched power structures -- an aspect that simply must be factored into any such movement's strategy if that movement is to be successful. In short, I was trying to point out, purely as a matter of practical, on the ground strategy, might be, as a strategic matter, a stupid thing to do. Belittle it as "handwringing" if you must, but the concern is simply based on what I've observed in my 50 years on the planet about the way protest movements can sometimes undermine themselves by resorting to tactics that might, in the moment, be emotionally satisfying, but can potentially do a lot of political damage in the long run.
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Feb 1, 2012, 03:02 AM (0 replies)
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