Archive for February 1st, 2012
The phrase “Bread and Circuses” describes one of my biggest concerns:
“Bread and Circuses” (or bread and games) (from Latin: panem et circenses) is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. It was the basic Roman formula for the well-being of the population, and hence a political strategy unto itself. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion, distraction, and/or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace. The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the common man (l’homme moyen sensuel). In modern usage, the phrase has also become an adjective to describe a populace that no longer values civic virtues and the public life.
What are some of today’s superficial means of appeasement? Mostly our wars. Our needless military adventures. Our “war on drugs.” Our wars against each other –scapegoating. Our wars against (our ridicule of) intellectual excellence. Our war against meaningful citizen participation in government “of the People” (i.e., the Citizens United problem). Our wars against most things that are not “American.” I’m sure I’m forgetting some of our other wars . . .
Much was made of the “magnitude” of former Governor Mitt Romney’s recent win in the Republican Presidential Primary in Florida. However, it may have been much ado about nothing. Rachel Maddow pointed all this out days before the Florida Primary, so I decided to fact check her.
As Ms. Maddow accurately reported, Florida ran up against the arcane and mechanistic RNC Delegate Selection Rules and the punditry followed like the mythical lemmings off the bluffs into the sea to drown. The Florida delegation has just 50 delegates to award in its primary because it held its primary before April 1, 2012. Had the Florida GOP followed the rules for delegate selection mandated by the Republican National Committee (RNC), Florida would have been able to award 99 delegates per the normal “winner take all.” Florida may also have a RNC Convention delegate problem by holding its primary before April 1, 2012 because the RNC Rules also mandate that for any such early primary that the delegates be awarded on a proportional basis.
[More . . . ]
Josh Fox, director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Gasland” was taken into custody by Capitol Hill police this morning, along with his crew, after Republicans objected to their presence, according to Democratic sources present at the hearing. The meeting of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment had been taking place in room 2318 of the Rayburn building.
Matt Taibbi is at his best as he describes Mitt Romney versus Newt Gingrich:
They may be shit for choosing a good candidate for the presidency, but say this for the Republican primaries: They’re fast turning into the most luridly entertaining political spectacle of our time. In an inherently conservative, bottomlessly moneyed, scrupulously stage-managed electoral system designed to preclude chance or weirdness from playing any part in determining our political future, the unthinkable is happening: real drama. This isn’t part of some clever but inscrutable master plan, put on by the hidden hands who run this country, to fool or distract the masses. This is an unscripted fuck-up of heroic dimensions, radiating downward from the highest levels of our society, playing out in real time for all of us to watch. Our oligarchy has thrown a rod.
I am reacting much the same as Richard Cohen to the ongoing political circus. I’m having an especially difficult time believing the lack of nuance that I’m seeing and hearing of the GOP nomination process.
I am also haunted by the analysis by Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt regarding the characteristics of fascism. Britt compiled his list after analyzing the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile).
- Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
- Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
- Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
- Supremacy of the Military
- Rampant Sexism
- Controlled Mass Media
- Obsession with National Security
- Religion and Government are Intertwined
- Corporate Power is Protected
- Labor Power is Suppressed
- Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
- Obsession with Crime and Punishment
- Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
- Fraudulent Elections