The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

April 12, 2010


plato's cave of reflections and mirrors, maybe medusa, the real

inside the body of the avatar-with-attachments
within the invisible body of the avatar
outside the attachments remaining invisible
beyond the shadows of the body have disappeared
below the reflections of attachments are visible
into the water reflections having fallen
above the water reflections coming into play
throughout reflections among the invisible body
out there treating us to reflection's afterthoughts
under the air the water containing recognitions
among the recognitions attachments appearing clearly
beside the attachments no body nothing residing
on the attachments memories of visibility
in the attachments segments of missing body

julu twine out of luck and image
jennifer's attachments' reflections' distortions coming into their own
something about material cultures and absent centers, erasures
something else, julu and jennifer forgot

http://www.alansondheim.org/platoscave.mp4

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2010 21:57:40
From: moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG
To: PORTSIDE@LISTS.PORTSIDE.ORG
Subject: The Republicans Are Like Frat Boys in Animal House

The Republicans Are Like Frat Boys in Animal House

Reckless, anarchic and strident, the American right is
living in a parallel world where fear and rage drive
out the facts

By Gary Younge Guardian (UK) April 12, 2010

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/11/us-right-republicans-obama-fraternity

In the classic teen movie Animal House there comes a
moment when the ne'er-do-well students of the Delta
fraternity finally realise their pranks have gone too
far. Faced with expulsion from university, the most
violent, antisocial drunkard of the group, Bluto
Blutarsky (John Belushi), gives one last rousing,
rambling speech to his crestfallen comrades. "Nothing
is over until we decide it is," he yells. "Was it over
when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no!"

The other students look on confused. Bluto leads a
charge but nobody follows. However, they soon fall in
line after the fraternity's leader, the far more
respectable, presentable, all-round-cad, Otter (Tim
Matheson), backs Bluto's call to arms against the
university authorities. "Bluto's right," he says.
"Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these
bastards . I think we have to go all out. I think that
this situation absolutely requires a really futile and
stupid gesture be done on somebody's part."

The Republican party, in particular, and American
conservatism in general, have taken to operating in a
similar manner to the Delta fraternity - increasingly
reckless, anarchic and strident. Faced with defeat they
respond with desperation. Only where the Deltas were
motivated by ribaldry, conservatives are driven by
rage.

On the one hand there are the Blutos - characterised by
their contempt for even the most basic facts. Their
assertions are often not only verifiably false but
patently ridiculous. The very people who claim that
Obama is a Muslim were the ones who fumed about his
relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his pastor
in Chicago. Muslims don't have pastors. Last year the
Investor's Business Daily claimed that if the renowned
scientist Stephen Hawking were British he would be
dead: Hawking is British and alive.

These falsehoods are not limited to the fringes. A
recent Harris poll reveals that a majority of
Republicans believe Obama is a Muslim and a socialist
who "wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United
States to a one-world government". A Daily Kos poll in
January showed that about two-thirds of Republicans
either believe or are not sure that Obama is "a racist
who hates white people", and more than half believe or
are not sure that he was not born in the US and that he
wants the terrorists to win.

So long as these people breathe the ever more fetid air
of their own ecosystem - oxygen provided by Fox News -
then these contradictions are of little concern or
consequence to them. Cognitive dissonance is not the
exception but the rule. But there is menace in this
madness. A few weeks ago, shortly before the passing of
the healthcare vote, conservative blogger Solomon
Forell tweeted: "We'll surely get over a bullet 2
Barack Obama's head!" He added: "The Next American with
a Clear Shot should drop Obama like a bad habit. 4get
Blacks or his claim to be Black. Turn on Barack Obama."
Last week a man was detained for issuing death threats
to Democratic senator Patty Murray. Speaking in Phoenix
on a Tea Party tour, Joe the Plumber, recently spelt
out his plan for dealing with illegal immigration: "Put
a fence in and start shooting."

So much for the Blutos. Far from reining them in, the
Republican leadership increasingly reflects their
excesses. Absent any legislative agenda or coherent
ideological approach, they have spent the last two
years crafting "a really futile and stupid gesture . on
somebody's part" that Otter would be proud of. Small
government is a legitimate philosophical and political
position. But in the hands of people who voted to bloat
the deficit and unleash a huge state-grab of civil
liberties, it is shorn of credibility. It isn't
government they don't like; it's Democrats in
government.

So congressmen scream "liar" at the president and "baby
killer" at their colleagues; senators repeat myths
about death panels; and legislators stoke up crowds
from the balconies during the healthcare debate. On
Friday at the Southern Republican Leadership
conference, Sarah Palin repeated her slogan: "Don't
Retreat, Reload." This time she insisted it was "not a
call for violence". The fact she would have to make
that explicit tells us something about how dire things
have become.

The potential for this kind of rhetoric to produce an
unthinkable calamity should not be underestimated. Last
year a Homeland Security report, Rightwing Extremism:
Current Economic and Political Climate Fuelling
Resurgence in Radicalisation and Recruitment,
concluded: "The economic downturn and the election of
the first African-American president present unique
drivers for rightwing radicalisation and recruitment."

Such people are on the fringes. But those fringes are
growing. In any case, it only takes one angry person
with a gun to make the difference. If such a person
were to emerge, they would not be acting alone.
Thousands of others, from the blogosphere to Congress,
have colluded in creating an alternative reality that
would explain, if not justify, their actions. After
all, if Obama truly were a foreign-born, white-hating,
terrorist sympathiser who has usurped the presidency,
drastic action would make sense.

Meanwhile, the brazen disregard for basic facts goes
all the way to the top. The 2008 presidential contender
John McCain recently insisted he never considered
himself a "maverick", even though one of his books is
subtitled The Education of an American Maverick, and he
called himself "the original maverick" in campaign ads.
It used to be assumed this was the tail wagging the
dog. But by increments it is turning into an entirely
new breed of dog. Establishment Republicans are not
running away from Palin's wing of the party but towards
it. McCain needed her endorsement to fight off a Tea
Party challenge in Arizona.

This trend is not new. Ever since the Republican
election rallies of 2008, where Obama's name provoked
screams of "traitor" and "terrorist", this dialectic
between leadership and base, margins and mainstream,
populist reaction and legislative response, has been
all too evident. Far from subsiding, the contradictions
have sharpened.

Whereas in 2008 McCain grabbed the microphone from an
audience member's hand and corrected her after she said
she didn't trust Obama "because he's an Arab", the
metaphorical mic has now been returned to her and she
has been ushered to centre stage.

Having pitted fear against hope and lost, the
Republican leadership has come up with no better
alternative than to keep doubling down on fear. None of
this puts food on Blutos' tables, but it does keep them
angry. For those who peddle in rumour and angst, this
is a lucrative market indeed. In a world where facts
don't matter, their fears can never truly be assuaged.

Quite how reality will intrude into this parallel
universe is as of yet unclear. But it will. Now that
healthcare legislation has been passed, people will see
that the state does not kill their grandmothers and
most Republican voters will see their healthcare costs
fall. This week there will be an anti-tax rally - most
of the protesters on it will actually see their taxes
lowered by the Obama administration.

And how would the Republican party explain to most of
its supporters that while their living standards
stagnated or declined under George Bush they are set to
improve under Obama? As Otter explained to one of the
fraternity after trashing his brother's car: "You
fucked up ... you trusted us!"

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