A field guide to Nazis For Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes

I seem to be grouching about US conservatives a lot here lately, and I feel kind of bad about that, but I have a limit as to how many stupid comments I can listen to, and the righties are just dancing on my last nerve.

Fox News chairman goes on record about NPR:

They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude,” Ailes said of NPR. “They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.”

Ok, I really hope that was taken out of context. Because that? That’s just stupid. See, here’s the deal: when people describe mere political differences in histrionic terms, then that suggests to me that they don’t know what REAL oppression looks like. And unfortunately, real oppression exists all over the world, and in terms of oppression, the human race has much bigger fish to fry than NPR.

Nazis are people who support state-sponsored socialism through the totalitarian military state, and, in terms of social reform, actively pursued policies of racial hygiene. They also believed in state-controlled capitalism, a variety of corporatism.

Now, I don’t love many commenters on NPR. I don’t listen; well, I do sometimes. It’s incidental, if a friend of mine is on it, for example, I listen.

However, here’s a field guide and comparison: I report, you decide.

Adolf Eichmann

–developed the plan to concentrate Jewish residents of Europe into Poland, and in particular Warsaw
–orchestrated and promoted the death camp at Auschwitz
–personally oversaw the death of over 600,000 Jewish men, women, and children at Auschwitz.
–associated with the deaths of over 5 million innocent people
–Genuine, real-deal, evil

Frank Deford, NPR

—left-leaning, believes in big government
— needs some moisturizer
—could benefit from a better tailor

Amon Goeth, Nazi

—Commandant of the forced labor camp at Plaszow
—killed over 2,000 innocents constructing and populating the camp
—closed down camps by ordering the murder of thousands of innocent inmates
—oversaw slave labor
–general, real-deal evil portrayed in Schindler’s list

David Brooks, NPR

—strikes me as not being very good at math
—describes self as a “liberal before I came to my senses” (yeah, that means NAZI, clearly)
—SAYS he’s a third-wave feminist but has not convinced me he’s anything another than a plain-old garden variety misogynist
—totally needs to get better advice on matching his eyeglass frames to his face shape

Adolph Hitler, Nazi

—used political influence and the pervasive threat of violence to create a legal dictatorship which consolidated the legislative and executive powers of the republic in his office;
—then proceeded to wage a genocidal war that would immiserate millions of his own people, millions of people abroad,
—alienated and killed off his talented generals, and
—through inept military strategies, enabled Joseph Stalin to extend a brutal regime across eastern Europe that would kill an estimated 20 million people.

Linda Werthheimer, NPR

—has a German last name
—is married to a campaign reform advocate
—has been with NPR since its beginning
—looks kind of shifty to me

Michelle Bachmann’s bogus $200 million per day and Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman at the NYT has a column up that helps us understand why our democratic dialogue is in so much trouble:

In case you missed it, a story circulated around the Web on the eve of President Obama’s trip that it would cost U.S. taxpayers $200 million a day — about $2 billion for the entire trip. Cooper said he felt impelled to check it out because the evening before he had had Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a Republican and Tea Party favorite, on his show and had asked her where exactly Republicans will cut the budget.

Instead of giving specifics, Bachmann used her airtime to inject a phony story into the mainstream. She answered: “I think we know that just within a day or so the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He’s taking 2,000 people with him. He’ll be renting over 870 rooms in India, and these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending.”

When Anderson followed up, he found that the expense associated with the trip is way, way less–likely to be around $5 million a day. Then Cooper established how quickly the bogus statistic of $200 million a day tumbled through the blather-rama media:

Cooper then showed the following snippets: Rush Limbaugh talking about Obama’s trip: “In two days from now, he’ll be in India at $200 million a day.” Then Glenn Beck, on his radio show, saying: “Have you ever seen the president, ever seen the president go over for a vacation where you needed 34 warships, $2 billion — $2 billion, 34 warships. We are sending — he’s traveling with 3,000 people.” In Beck’s rendition, the president’s official state visit to India became “a vacation” accompanied by one-tenth of the U.S. Navy. Ditto the conservative radio talk-show host Michael Savage. He said, “$200 million? $200 million each day on security and other aspects of this incredible royalist visit; 3,000 people, including Secret Service agents.”

The problem here is that nobody other than Cooper is getting off their dead asses to do journalism. There is too much money and attention in color commentary. This isn’t about liberal or conservative bias; this is about checking your numbers and being honest enough to reveal your sources and validate your claims. Isn’t this why God made interns?

There is a policy question here: I don’t know how I feel even about $5 million/day trips. In the case of India, the US does a LOT of trade with India, and it’s the world’s largest democracy. It might even be worth a much greater figure. And do I want my president at the G20? You betcha. I might even be willing to pay $200 million for the trip. Maybe. But we’ll never have that discussion in a world where, apparently, people have decided they have a right to their own “facts.”

via JibJab:


Sarah Palin Goes Au Naturale and Bores the Stuffing Out of Us

Ok, I normally leave stuff alone in Sarah Palin land because I don’t generally subscribe to knocking down other women unless they deserve it, and as far as I can tell, except for whining in public that people are somehow violating her rights by disagreeing with her, she hasn’t done anything too terribly rag-worthy.

Until now.

As you know, I have an interest in the environmental media and its various offshoots, and how environmental communication is also political communication. I, therefore, had a pretty tall interest in this show. This show, however, will help you get over any interest you might have in it, because it is, in a word, boring. BoRING.

This show is on TLC, the “Learning” Channel. TLC brings us other such educational offerings as “Obese People! Doing Things! Let’s Stare From the Comfort Of Our Living Rooms!”; “More Obese People! Doing More Stuff! Let’s Stare More!”, and “How To Have Too Many Kids and Then Abandon Them Like the Dickwad You Are” (Jon and Kate plus 8).

So my expectations weren’t high. Which is good. Here’s how it goes:

Hard Christian Rock band song and sweeping vistas for the intro.

More sweeping vistas.

Family is cute.


Sarah explains to us the VISTAS and her special relationship to them and how she’d rather be in THE WILD than in some stuffy old office somewhere. Enjoying all this beauty is clearly her first priority, as is evidenced by her willingness to run for national public office, appear on any national television show on a moment’s notice, and the constant clicking she does on her Blackberry throughout the show.

Cute kid says something obviously fed to her by producers.

Todd Palin grunts. Todd comes off as the sort of barely sentient, baseball-cap-donning, dead-eyed knuckle dragger who would join any mob that proffered him the opportunity to witness bloodsport. Now, I doubt Todd is ACTUALLY that, but her people should probably work on this image.

Sarah explains that ALL THESE VISTAS are resources that hard-working Alaskans can cash-in-on um exploit utilize in a utilizey sort of way, adding to America’s greatness. Clearly, we need to drill for oil in these VISTAS.


Boy, howdy, the family’s in the kitchen. Gran is folksy. My heart warms. This is just like at my house, only with muffins and people who seem determined to prove they have not two brain cells to rub together. Yet, THEY’S POWERFUL FEMININE FAMILY VALUE BEING ADDED HERE in ALL THIS FOLKSY TOGETHERNESS….while Sarah pokes her Blackberry and checks her email.

It’s time to go a-fishing by the bears! It’s what any mother do on a normal day, really, take her daughters a-fishing near the bears with her very own reality television crew. Shucks! No mama grizzlies for the crew to capture on the wide-angle! It’s just one GREAT OUTDOORS MOMENT AFTER ANOTHER!!!

A VISTA!!! An airplane! The possibility of a crash!

Aw we learn what true family discipline is: no boys upstairs, and there are the TODDLER GATES to PROVE IT and to THWART any virile males incapable of a) just stepping over it or b) just moving it the way any other adult can. (However, the toddler gate intelligence test may be an explanation for the males in this hardy clan, all of whom seem to be living embodiments of “the odds are good, but the goods are odd.”)


SARAH PALIN IN SHORT SHORTS! OOooooo cheesecake for the modest Pentecostal.


(Did I mention the SWEEPING VISTAS?)


Camden, NJ, Chris Hedge’s “indictment” of academia, and poverty reporting

I recently became rather annoyed at Chris Hedges pointing his finger at academics as liberals who have abandoned working people and progressive causes. This NPR story was circulated via the delightful Frank Popper via Facebook, which started up the usual whine that “professors have all this power and they don’t use it, or one proffie was mean to me once, so clearly academics have abandoned The Cause.”

Sure, yeah–universities are corporate–heaven knows I work at one. And there are plenty of academics that are only out for themselves. But what annoys me about Hedges–and the response–is that it’s so knee-jerk, one-dimensional and stereotyped. Can professors be abusive? Sure. Why would they as a group be any different than any other people when they hold the position of “boss”? People are people, with human failings, in every context. If we weren’t all working at essentially the same place with essentially the same people, Dilbert wouldn’t be as funny as it is.

But when you want to rage against the machine, you might want to ask: is the person/institution you are raging against capable of

  • putting hundreds out of work to give themselves supra-normal profits with one decision?
  • stealing people’s pensions and impoverishing elders?
  • torturing and killing your family and neighbors?
  • writing $163 million dollar checks like it’s nothing to get yourself elected into a highly influential public office?

My colleagues and I certainly make a comfortable living, but we had to save to buy our small houses and condos–we are, simply, not in that league, except for those who came in with family money.

I’m not saying big-money universities are good thing or that they have clean hands. I’m also willing to believe that higher education should take their lumps at budget times with everybody else: I’m unprepared to put higher education before foster kids in the state’s budgets, at least not without more study.

I AM saying that Yale and Kansas State are worlds apart in the influence they hold, and treating them like they are the same–or that they are in the same power universe as a Goldman Sachs or the Meg Whitmans of this world strikes me as being both inaccurate and a bit self-serving of Hedges. After all, if everybody BUT you has abandoned the poor, then suddenly you are very very important as the Voice of The Poor. There’s a little too much “don’t blame you, don’t blame me, blame the guy the behind the tree–those other people, the media, academics, Rush Limbaugh” about Hedges, who lined his nest quite comfortably I suspect when he was part of the mainstream media, whom he says is Part of the Problem, at the New York Times.

And that’s the irritating thing. Hedges, Barbara Ehrenreich and Naomi Klein make a pretty comfortable living being “the voice of the poor.” Now, I think Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, Nickel and Dimed, is excellent. But if I’m in moral hazard territory because I make my living researching poverty rather than solving poverty, I kind of have to wonder whether what they are up to is really all that better than what I do or don’t do.

Here’s an example of how Hedge’s arguments are rather self-serving and contradictory:

In this issue of the Nation, Hedges has an article about Camden, NJ: City of Ruins. Nice enough piece, only there is little of substance that hasn’t already been said by an academic, Howard Gillette, Jr., in his book published five years ago: Camden After Fall. (If you haven’t read it, drop what you are doing and read it right now, along with American Project by Sudhir Venkatesh)

So the question: are academics really the craven sell-outs who don’t grapple with hard issues and poverty, or does Mr. Hedges need to read more?

At some point, all of us who write about poverty and inequality run the same danger: leering instead of doing. I’m all for people writing about Camden–the more attention it gets, the better, unless the attention is on the leering side, which Hedges’ piece comes pretty close to doing in the way he trades on the images of strong, spiritual black women.

Every year or so, some senator decides he’s going to live on food stamps–and finds out that living on food stamps sucks. Quelle surprise. Or some some supermodel puts on a fat suit and discovers! OMG! That being pretty has given her unearned perk after unearned perk. Or somebody decides to live among the homeless, and discovers that homeless people are human beings (wow!) and have souls but live hard. Why can’t we believe it when the single mom on food stamps tells us that it’s not enough to sustain a family? Surely, single moms do say such things. It’s pretty simple to me: it’s not that we don’t believe her, it’s that we don’t care to intervene either publicly or privately, and after the senator’s “discovery”, we go back to business as usual. Ditto with all those other examples: we go back to stepping over homeless people, etc.

That strikes me as a much bigger, more authentic source of trouble than whether proffies are doing right by the poor. No, proffies aren’t. Most of the rest of the world isn’t, either. So what is academia? Is academia represented by celebrity scholars like Joe Stiglitz, or people, like my colleague David Sloane, who has worked for years with poor neighborhoods to virtually no celebrity–but to fairly substantial efficacy?

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