Saturday, March 29, 2014

MARCH 2014 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH



clip_image001


We have three candidates for the March Bonehead Absurdity of the Month award:


1.  The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) convention offers numerous opportunities to find bonehead absurdities, though with the heavy media presence, comments usually lack the off-the-cuff spontaneity that makes for a good bonehead absurdity. Nevertheless, one can always count on conservative favorite, Ann Coulter, to offer some worthy morsels.

Amnesty for immigrants was Coulter's venting topic this year. Here is a compilation of her venom:

Republicans who support [amnesty] are basically telling people, “Screw the country! We want our low-wage workers!” And: “ …… on top of that, something I think people haven’t really noticed — well, certainly they’ve noticed on MSNBC where they are celebrating the browning of America, but if you don’t celebrate it you’re a racist.”  Coulter of course turned her wrath on Democrats: "You want the Democrats who want more immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants, because they need brand new voters, just warm bodies, more votes . . . . .Amnesty goes through, and the Democrats have 30 million new voters. I just don't think Republicans have an obligation to forgive law-breaking just because the Democrats need another 30 million voters." And, finally, the best: “Amnesty is forever and you got to vote for the Republicans one more time and just make it clear; but if you pass amnesty, that’s it, it’s over and then we organize the death squads for the people who wrecked America.”

2.  Our next candidate, Austin Ruse, is not a celebrity, per se, but the Catholic Family and Humana Rights Institute he heads is popular among conservatives for, among other things, its rabid opposition to the U.N.  When the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities came up for ratification by the Senate, Ruse blasted out an email  claiming that the UN would use it as an excuse to take kids away from their parents.  This should tell you all you need to know about Ruse and his organization. 

Serving as a guest host on American Family Radio, Ruse went even further to the bonehead absurdity extreme.  As has been reported in the news, a freshman at Duke University recently revealed she's helping to pay her tuition by acting in porn films.  Ruse's used the woman's degrading announcement to blast liberal academics:

"That is the nonsense that they teach in women’s studies at Duke University, this is where she learned this. The toxic stew of the modern university is gender studies, it’s “Sex Week,” they all have “Sex Week” and teaching people how to be sex-positive and overcome the patriarchy. My daughters go to a little private religious school and we pay an arm and a leg for it precisely to keep them away from all of this kind of nonsense. I do hope that they go to a Christian college or university and to keep them so far away from the hard left, human-hating people that run modern universities, who should all be taken out and shot."


3.  Congressman Paul Ryan said on William Bennett's "Morning in America" talk radio show that there was a  "tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there's a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with." 

And the winner is  .  .  .  .  .

THE UKRAINE CRISIS: SPECULATING ON WHAT’S AT STAKE

By Ronald Fox

New Note:  Sometimes Feedburner sends out previous posts on its own with no instruction from us.  I noticed this March 29 post was somehow re-sent last night.  I apologize for the redundancy.
 
(This post is a continuation, or Part II, if you like, of yesterday’s post, The Ukrainian Crisis and the Resurgence of the Neocons.  NOTE:  It's risky to speculate on events while they're unfolding.  I have no crystal ball.  My hope here is to stimulate an exchange of thoughts about where the Ukrainian crisis is heading and what Americans can expect.)
 
At stake in the Ukraine crisis is not only Ukrainian democracy and the territorial integrity of internationally recognized borders in the region, but the future of U.S.-Russian relations as well as the broader dynamics of international relations.  It could be we are witnessing the onset of a new Cold War, with its demonization of all things Russian and its many dysfunctions and dangers.  Worse yet, if the situation escalates into a shooting war, things could spin out of control with consequences too horrible to contemplate. Perhaps we should be grateful Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in 1994, though now they probably wish they hadn’t.
 
Already the confrontation over Ukraine and Crimea has jeopardized, if not doomed: diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria; achieve a satisfactory outcome to the Iran nuclear weapons issue; attain future U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms reductions (in fact, expect the events to encourage both countries to build up their nuclear arsenals, and possibly withdraw from existing arms control treaties); and, strengthen nuclear non-proliferation (who fools with a nuclear power?).  Prospects for future Washington-Moscow peace-making initiatives (which I wrote favorably about in a December 13 posting: After Iraq and Afghanistan: Will the U.S. be Less Inclined to Use Military Force Abroad?), such as in the fight against international terrorism and managing relations with North Korea, appear dead in the water.  Neocons and fellow hawks won't mind these consequences since a lack of progress in these areas will open up opportunities for the use of American force that could lead to the Pax Americana they want to establish.  For those who desire a world based on respect for human rights, the rule of law, and the peaceful settlement of disputes, however, there is good reason to dread a neocon future.     
 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

SCIENCE FICTION FILMS OF THE 1950s: OR HOW I LEARNED TO START WORRYING AND HATE THE BOMB


By Ronald Fox
 
Like many youngsters in the 1950s, I watched science fiction movies. I don’t remember being very scared by the monsters and aliens, but what I do recall is that the films got me, an inquisitive kid for my age, thinking about atomic security—or more correctly, atomic insecurity. I wondered why our glorious A-bombs, which were supposed to protect us from evil, didn’t work so well against invading aliens, who always seemed smarter and more technically advanced than us. The aliens would dish out mass destruction, only to be thwarted at the last minute, not by our weapons, but by the brilliance of some scientist who figured out how to defeat them. This may have produced a happy ending, but it was little consolation for my skeptical mind. My lesson was to worry about our atomic future.

Throughout the early years of the atomic age U.S. security officials went to great lengths to convince the American public that nuclear supremacy would not only protect us from military attacks, but also enable us to control world events, large and small. We would be omnipotent. We were told that atomic weapons were a godsend, bestowed upon the United States, and not our enemies. This numinous quality would prove highly seductive, luring millions of Americans in the early post-World War II period to worship at the altar of nuclear power. In the tightly controlled and conformist Cold War atmosphere of the time, few dared to challenge the pro-bomb orthodoxy. Among the few, however, were science fiction film-makers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

DECEMBER 2013 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH


clip_image001
So many absurdities surround in our lives, there's a whole body of philosophical thought called "absurdism."  In this spirit, Phronesis is starting a new award series we will call “The Bonehead Absurdity of the Month.”  Each month we will select a statement by a public figure that is, according to the dictionary definition of absurd, so  "utterly or obviously senseless, illogical, or untrue; contrary to all reason or common sense; laughably foolish or false" that it warrants recognition as our bonehead Absurdity of the Month.

We didn’t post our December 2013 winner because of the holidays, so this posting will present the December recipient of this distinctive award.

The December Award goes to Congressman Duncan Hunter, Jr., R-Calif. Who said in a C-SPAN interview on December 6 regarding Iran:

"I think if you have to hit Iran, you don't put boots on the ground, you do it with tactical nuclear devices, and you set them back a decade or two or three. I think that's the way to do it — with a massive aerial bombardment campaign."

Given that bombing campaigns have never proven their worth for the U.S., it's amazing the Right remains so affixed to them.  Our bombing and deployment of military force in the Middle East is accomplishing one thing: destabilization of the entire region.






Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Response to Yosarian's Question about Exaggerating Enemy Fighter Airplane Capabilities

Yossarian,

Thanks for your comment.  Yes I can give you an example.  To push the F-14 and F-15 programs, the Pentagon hyped the Russian Mig-25 "Foxbat."  It was portrayed as a super plane, with superior speed, range, and capability to what we currently had; that is until a defecting Russian pilot in 1976 landed his Foxbat in Hakodate,  Japan, where upon inspection we found it to be very ordinary.  It was made of steel instead of titanium (which made it unwieldy), almost incapable of close-quarters combat, electronically far inferior to U.S. fighters, and had less top speed and range than the Pentagon had claimed. Such exaggeration was common in U.S. Cold War assessment of the Soviet threat.

Yossarian, huh?  Figures.