Presto, Read the Communist Manifesto/Guerrillas in the Midst, a Guevara Named Ernesto.

Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns and Money is one of the better bloggers out there when it comes to law and political economy, but maybe less so rap music. Lemieux posted a brief item the other day dismissing an American Enterprise Institute piece on “The 21 Greatest Conservative Rap Songs Of All Time” as a patently absurd exercise. The piece may be absurd, but if it is it’s not patently so.

Conservative attempts to discern the hidden right-wing messages in movies/televisions shows/popular music/certain nineteenth-century presidents are irritating when they’re not completely idiotic. But in this instance the premise, at least, may not be entirely off base. Lemieux and the LGM commenters seem to think that rap and conservative ideas are oil and water, which is pretty clearly not the case. Continue reading

United States Senator

Lindsay Graham, a sitting U.S. Senator, just tweeted this about a U.S. citizen:

If captured, I hope Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes.

He also tweeted this:

The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to “remain silent.”

On a completely unrelated note, Graham joined 43 of his colleagues on Wednesday in voting against cloture for a bill that expanded gun background checks – a bill supported by 88% of registered voters, and 85% of all people with guns in their households. Why? Because he wanted to keep tyranny at bay.

Wicked.

Britain Thatcher Song.JPEG-0b45d

Admittedly, this is probably in bad taste:

“A campaign by leftists to push the song “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” from “The Wizard Of Oz” up the charts as a rebuke to Thatcher and her Conservative legacy has split opinion between those who call the gesture “distasteful” and “inappropriate,” and others who still chafe at the mention of the “Iron Lady’s” name.”

Getting the munchkins to sing about a dead witch all over British radio the week after Margaret Thatcher passed away is bitter, petty, and mean-spirited. But it is also a reflection of how many people feel about the prime minister.

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Stenography.

liberal-media-bias

Conservative writer Joshua Trevino has been getting paid lots of money to do public relations work under the guise of journalism.

For nearly $400,000, Trevino has written columns and hired other conservative journalists to write columns defending the ruling party of Malaysia and criticizing a democracy activist. In 2011, when Politico asked him about reported payments from Malaysia to American bloggers at sites Trevino was affiliated with, Trevino got indignant and said that he was never on a “Malaysian entity’s” payroll and “I resent your assumption that I was.” The next year The Guardian hired Trevino as a conservative columnist opposite their new liberal writer, Glenn Greenwald. That lasted a little less than a week before The Guardian fired Trevino over potential conflicts of interest with unnamed Malaysian businesses.

Trevino is not just some random conservative hack; he is a fairly well-respected, widely published conservative hack. He writes for several websites and print publications, has thought important stuff for established thinktanks, and is an occasional guest on KCRW’s Left, Right, and Center. And he also gets paid to push particular views in American media. Continue reading

On History and the Elephant

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The conservative-leaning National Association of Scholars has issued a new report expressing dismay about the state of U.S. history instruction in Texas state schools, and by extension, the American university system. The report has caught the attention of James Grossman, the director of the American Historical Association, who recently responded to the NAS’s findings. Grossman is not impressed. The NAS report “is based,” Grossman and his co-author Elaine Carey write, “on readings of historical literature that are uninformed, tendentious, and shallow.” Worse than the NAS’s ideological angle and deliberate attempt at “unbiasing American history,” are the NAS researchers’ methods of aggregating data: they read through a bunch of course syllabi and engaged some of the classroom literature.

The report is ostensibly about how American history is taught at two universities. But the data are drawn only from syllabi, rather than from any engagement with what happens in the classroom. The authors neither attended classes nor spoke to instructors. They did not examine lectures, in-class activities, or audio-visual presentations; their report signals no knowledge of digital materials or discussions, take-home assignments, or in-class examinations. This is not a document about teaching in any broad sense of the word. It is a limited study of reading assignments—many of which the authors seem to have either not read or not understood.

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Happy May Day, Commie Bastards.

The Obama campaign revealed its new slogan today – “Forward” – and conservative blogworld is apoplectic. Here’s the Washington Times, which is actually pretty well-respected by the standards of conservative media. Apparently “Forward” is a longtime socialist/communist/pinko slogan, that has a “long and rich association with European Marxism.”

It is also the official motto of the state of Wisconsin (see above). And Wisconsin is a swing state, one especially sensitive about red-baiting.

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Breaking: Conservative Embraces Racial Profiling in the Name of Justice

Random Tuesday morning thought: conservative blogger Mark Judge’s “white guilt” (which he apparently relinquished the day his bike got stolen) was never all that big in the first place. More here.

Oh, and for the loyal readers of this blog who enjoy reading and writing about hip-hop, you might have come across Judge before: he once wrote a hilariously ridiculous review of John McWhorter’s book All About the Beat.

Easter Sunday

Just in time for Easter, one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, The New York Times has a big story excoriating the anti-welfare push of the 1990s. Today, it seems, millions of people are worse off for it. And most of them are single mothers:

The distress of the last four years has added a cautionary postscript: much as overlooked critics of the restrictions once warned, a program that built its reputation when times were good offered little help when jobs disappeared. Despite the worst economy in decades, the cash welfare rolls have barely budged.

Faced with flat federal financing and rising need, Arizona is one of 16 states that have cut their welfare caseloads further since the start of the recession — in its case, by half. Even as it turned away the needy, Arizona spent most of its federal welfare dollars on other programs, using permissive rules to plug state budget gaps.

The poor people who were dropped from cash assistance here, mostly single mothers, talk with surprising openness about the desperate, and sometimes illegal, ways they make ends meet. They have sold food stamps, sold blood, skipped meals, shoplifted, doubled up with friends, scavenged trash bins for bottles and cans and returned to relationships with violent partners — all with children in tow.

If you can’t reach someone’s mind, you may as well try his heart. But let’s be serious here for a moment. There’s no moving mind or heart when it comes to penetrating the interpretation of a very specific set of Christian teachings. Somehow Christianity has (for millions) become a vehicle for anti-tax and anti-government hysteria, not benevolence and charity. Somehow we’re living in a world where–on Easter Sunday–thousands of ministers and pastors and priests are lacing sermons centered on love and faith with calls for an individualism so liberal that Jesus himself would be baffled, if not horrified. Only love a few of thy neighbors, and never through government largesse.

David Atkins gets to the heart of the matter:

When I encounter fervent believers, I’m not compelled to attempt to disabuse them of their faith. After all, they may be right; I myself am agnostic on the larger question of universal origins; and disabusing people of their faith is both pointless and potentially quite harmful to them. I do, however, want to sit them down and ask them if they’ve actually read their own damn book and thought about what it means they should do… There is no such thing as a worshipper of business and capitalism, and a worshipper of Jesus. They’re diametrically opposed to one another. Why they’re unable to see this is beyond me.

In times like these, one may recall that Ayn Rand herself despised Christianity for its communalistic ethos. Indeed, you’d think that religious Christians would be suspect of men like Paul Ryan, or at least give pause before subscribing to his political economic philosophy, which effectively flies in the face of just about everything Jesus ever preached. So yeah, I’ll bite: perhaps there is a war on religion in this country. But it’s a civil war, if it’s anything at all, and it’s being waged more by believers than secularists.

How Do You Like Them Apples?

Andrew Delbanco had a well-meaning but probably pointless opinion piece in the New York Times last month.

Noting Rick Santorum’s recent characterization of higher education as snotty and liberal, Delbanco pleads sort of a little bit guilty, maybe. He acknowledges the growing economic stratification between the higher-educated and the non-higher-educated and admits that it is fair to accuse the academic industry of certain kinds of elitism. Then he talks about the protestant origins of the university, the long-forgotten value of humility, etc., etc., etc., and finally offers:

Perhaps if our leading colleges encouraged more humility and less hubris, college-bashing would go out of style and we could get on with the urgent business of providing the best education for as many Americans as possible.

Sure. No one’s going to argue that Ivy-League hubris is a good thing, and no one is going to object to just a little less arrogance amongst the recently B.A.’d. But perhaps if we didn’t grant that this is a matter of attitude and values, and insisted instead that this is in fact a matter of public policy, we wouldn’t have to deal with this culture-war nonsense at all. Continue reading

The Central Problem

Proponents of the individual mandate did not have, it would seem, a good week. But let’s leave aside for a moment the imminent demise of the ACA and Obama’s signal (and deeply capitalistic) accomplishment. I want to talk about something else. How alleged centrists like David Brooks are responding to the hearings is very telling; it betrays the big difference between conservatives and liberals, insofar as the last three years have played out. Jon Chait, having read the aforementioned Brooks column, (re)makes an excellent point:

Conservatives are committed to the free market as a value system in a way liberals are not committed to government. Conservatives see small government as an end in and of itself (it inherently promotes freedom) while liberals generally support government only if they believe it to provide concrete benefits. I argued that a lot of conservative reasoning on economics is backward reasoning, beginning with the assumption that markets are correct and then working to fill in the details.

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