Friday Reads

Good Morning!

As you may know, one of my pet peeves is how right wing politicians distort historical figures and quotes to their advantage and very few journalists or people bother to spell check them.  Mitt Romney is going on using a George Patton quote and attributing it to one of my favorite founders, Thomas Paine.  Any one remotely familiar with the 18th century would know that “lead, follow, or get out of the way” couldn’t even be part of the lexicon.  But, never let a good opportunity to skew history the wrong direction get in the way of a pol in heat.

Fred Shapiro, editor of the authoritative Yale Book of Quotations published by Yale University Press, told BuzzFeed that “the notion that Thomas Paine said this is extremely ridiculous.”

“The diction and tone of ‘lead, follow, or get out of the way’ are, of course, far too modern to have been said by Thomas Paine,” Shapiro said.

A similar form of the quote — “push, pull, or get out of the way” — can be traced to a proverb dating back to 1909, according to Shapiro, who is the author of a forthcoming book on notable misquotes. And there is a newspaper mention of the quote from 1961, but it’s from the governor of Ohio. According to Paine biographer Craig Nelson, Paine “never said it. George Patton did.” (You can also find the quote attributed to Patton on the Internet).

In response to a request for comment on the Paine misquote, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul noted that the candidate had hedged a little bit: “In another era of American crisis, Thomas Paine is reported to have said, ‘Lead, follow, or get out of the way.'”

University of Texas professor and Paine scholar William Scheick called Romney’s misquoting of Paine “another deplorable example of politicians distorting history to advance themselves and their shadowy supporters” and said that Paine “hardly is apt in Romney’s case.”

“For me, that’s the real story here — that Romney and his audience apparently have no clue to what a searing liberal freethinker Paine was,” said Scheick.

Don’t you just love the description “searing liberal freethinker”?  I might also add the man was a well-known critic of organized religion.  That’s hardly a combination of attributes for a leader that  you would think a Republican presidential wannabe would want thrown around these days.  I remember reading a biography of Thomas Paine in high school and thinking “wow”.  At the end of his days, Thomas Jefferson was one of the few folks that would even speak to him.  He was that scandalous. It is pretty well known that he moved from being a deist into the realm of atheism by his end days.  His most famous work is Age of Reason but he is also well known as a pamphleteer or the equivalent of a 18th century blogger.

What you may not know is that he was one of the most ardent and earliest supporters of emancipation for women.  One of his most famous works is called: An Occasional Letter on the Female Sex and includes many examples of how women have been subjugated to men.  Here, Paine channels his inner female to argue for emancipation.

If a woman were to defend the cause of her sex, she might address him in the following manner:

“How great is your injustice? If we have an equal right with you to virtue, why should we not have an equal right to praise? The public esteem ought to wait upon merit. Our duties are different from yours, but they are not therefore less difficult to fulfill, or of less consequence to society: They are the fountains of your felicity, and the sweetness of life. We are wives and mothers. ‘Tis we who form the union and the cordiality of families. ‘Tis we who soften that savage rudeness which considers everything as due to force, and which would involve man with man in eternal war. We cultivate in you that humanity which makes you feel for the misfortunes of others, and our tears forewarn you of your own danger. Nay, you cannot be ignorant that we have need of courage not less than you. More feeble in ourselves, we have perhaps more trials to encounter. Nature assails us with sorrow, law and custom press us with constraint, and sensibility and virtue alarm us with their continual conflict. Sometimes also the name of citizen demands from us the tribute of fortitude. When you offer your blood to the State think that it is ours. In giving it our sons and our husbands we give more than ourselves. You can only die on the field of battle, but we have the misfortune to survive those whom we love most. Alas! while your ambitious vanity is unceasingly laboring to cover the earth with statues, with monuments, and with inscriptions to eternize, if possible, your names, and give yourselves an existence, when this body is no more, why must we be condemned to live and to die unknown? Would that the grave and eternal forgetfulness should be our lot. Be not our tyrants in all: Permit our names to be sometimes pronounced beyond the narrow circle in which we live. Permit friendship, or at least love, to inscribe its emblem on the tomb where our ashes repose; and deny us not that public esteem which, after the esteem of one’s self, is the sweetest reward of well doing.”

As I said, it’s really hard for me to imagine Willard thinking that he is quoting Paine.  He obviously knows not what of he speaks in many ways.

 Sabrina Rubin Erdely has written an incredible account of the “One Town’s War on Gay Teens” in this month’s Rolling Stone. The town is none other than Anoka, MN who is represented in congress by the dread Pirate Bachmann and her faux therapist, closeted husband Marcus. The personal stories of several teens is detailed and gut-wrenching. So much for Minnesota nice.

Against this supercharged backdrop, the Anoka-Hennepin school district finds itself in the spotlight not only for the sheer number of suicides but because it is accused of having contributed to the death toll by cultivating an extreme anti-gay climate. “LGBTQ students don’t feel safe at school,” says Anoka Middle School for the Arts teacher Jefferson Fietek, using the acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning. “They’re made to feel ashamed of who they are. They’re bullied. And there’s no one to stand up for them, because teachers are afraid of being fired.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have filed a lawsuit on behalf of five students, alleging the school district’s policies on gays are not only discriminatory, but also foster an environment of unchecked anti-gay bullying. The Department of Justice has begun a civil rights investigation as well. The Anoka-Hennepin school district declined to comment on any specific incidences but denies any discrimination, maintaining that its broad anti-bullying policy is meant to protect all I students.

Meanwhile, I continue to wonder if any Republican presidential candidate has read that bible they keep thumping.  Here’s the latest example of  audacious  insensitivity from Rick Santorum.

GOP contender Rick Santorum had a heated exchange with a mother and her sick young son Wednesday, arguing that drug companies were entitled to charge whatever the market demanded for life-saving therapies.Santorum, himself the father of a child with a rare genetic disorder, compared buying drugs to buying an iPad, and said demand would determine the cost of medical therapies.

“People have no problem paying $900 for an iPad,” Santorum said, “but paying $900 for a  drug they have a problem with — it keeps you alive. Why? Because you’ve been conditioned to think health care is something you can get without having to pay for it.”

The mother said the boy was on the drug Abilify, used to treat schizophrenia, and that, on paper, its costs would exceed $1 million each year.

Santorum said drugs take years to develop and cost millions of dollars to produce, and manufacturers need to turn a profit or they would stop developing new drugs.

“You have that drug, and maybe you’re alive today because people have a profit motive to make that drug,” Santorum said. “There are many people sick today who, 10 years from now, are going to be alive because of some drug invented in the next 10 years. If we say: ‘You drug companies are greedy and bad, you can’t make a return on your money,’ then we will freeze innovation.”

Santorum told a large Tea Party crowd here that he sympathized with the boy’s case, but he also believed in the marketplace.

Then there’s “I don’t care about poor people Willard”.  Do these guys even think before they speak?  I really like this Pierce description in an article where he rips austerity a new one.  We have to be punished for suffering, for not surviving their financial abuses, and for not being patient enough.  Hallelujah  and trickle it down Big Brother!

The idea of poverty’s being a sin that requires ritual purification before redemption runs pretty deeply in this country. When Jonathan Edwards delivered his great sermon, Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God, I doubt whether even that unbending piece of Puritan iron realized how many of his fellow citizens would be so willing to be the servants of that god, seeking to punish their fallen brethren. There has always been a strong view in our politics that pain can purify the nation. Especially the pain of other people, less-worthy-people. Sinners.

We are falling like dim children, like the suckers we always are, to the notion of the deserving and undeserving poor, the have-less-and-lesses are being pitted against the have-littles, and the have-nots. That’s what Willard Romney’s been about the last couple of days. He wants to find a way to harness the fear people have of becoming poor to his advantage at the expense of the people who actually are. That is the basis of the entire public career of Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin, and the whole party has signed the guestbook into his little S&M parlor of a budget.

Speaking of Big Brother References, I just finished an interesting novel about religious cults, domestic violence and alternative realities called 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.  I’m checking the sky for two moons these days.  I totally recommend it.  It’s literary.  It’s unusual.  It’s got marvelous character development and descriptions and a plot that is amazing.  Here’s the NYT review from October. Aomame makes the girl with the dragon tatoo look like a conformist and weakling.  It was a very long read and didn’t always capture me, but it is still worth the time. It starts out with what seems like two completely unconnected characters and events and then weaves all the connections from there on out.

One of the many longueurs in Haruki Murakami’s stupefying new novel, “1Q84,” sends the book’s heroine, a slender assassin named Aomame, into hiding. To sustain her through this period of isolation she is given an apartment, groceries and the entirety of Marcel Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past.”

For pity’s sake, if you have that kind of spare time, follow her lead. Aomame has the chance to read a book that is long and demanding but well worth the effort. The very thought of Aomame’s situation will pain anyone stuck in the quicksand of “1Q84.” You, sucker, will wade through nearly 1,000 uneventful pages while discovering a Tokyo that has two moons and is controlled by creatures that emerge from the mouth of a dead goat. These creatures are called Little People. They are supposed to be very wise, even though the smartest thing they ever say is “Ho ho.”

You can see the Times reviewer was not enthralled.  I was frankly happy to read something not so cookie cutter for a change. So, I guess that’s what’s on my mind these days since I’ve had plenty of bedrest and time on my hands. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


70 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    This was the first thing I saw when I got online this morning: HOPE KILLS: Susan G Komen Foundation Would Rather Be Associated With A Handgun Than Planned Parenthood

    Well, here’s an interesting weapon!
    The Susan G. Komen Foundation, which collects and distributes money for Breast Cancer research and prevention is in the news for withdrawing its (relatively small) grant from Planned Parenthood.
    So the Komen Foundation doesn’t want to be associated with the nation’s largest abortion-provider. But they don’t mind partnering up with a handgun maker.
    This gun is a beauty.
    And a portion of the sale of each P-22 Hope Edition will be donated to the Seattle Branch of the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    “For me, that’s the real story here — that Romney and his audience apparently have no clue to what a searing liberal freethinker Paine was,” said Scheick

    The things these politicians say is revolting! Santorum is an ass, we all know it, but where is the accountability for the incorrect and absurd statements that spew from the mouths of people hoping to be President of the US?

    • Pat Johnson says:

      When education is mocked and fewer people bother to read or study history, the time then becomes “ripe” to say, do and twist anything at all to make a point because there is no longer a fear of being sourced.

      How many still believe that the president is foreign born, a Muslim practitioner, a socialist Marxist Kenyan colonial ready to overthrow the US government? Enough of them apparently who supported the likes of Donald Trump who promoted that meme during his short runup to the nomination.

      Just throw anything out there and somehow someone, somewhere will buy it. Fewer people are willing to think anymore. Fewer still are bothered to read anything beyond a Facebook entry or a Tweet. Hell, “history” for some begins and ends with Ronald Reagan in 1980!

      Knowing anything is considered “elitist”. Knowledge is no longer necessary when someone else can be counted on to do your thinking for you.

      So yes, they can get away with saying just about anything minus the facts and be rewarded and excused by blaming others for bothering to check.

      Whoever described us as a “nation of dunces” was spot on.

      • Woman Voter says:

        My Republican brother sent everyone an email, that he couldn’t support Mitt Romney due to his blatant disregard for the most vulnerable in our society and that their weren’t any good choices in any political party.

        I see Newt Gingrich as a snake oil salesman, selling his version of history and people simply not taking the time to challenge him on facts. I see a complete disregard for human beings in the current political discourse, that is cheered by those in attendance and frankly it is freighting.

        When Hillary said that our media was behind others around the world she was speaking to this ‘dumbing down’ of our nation and I agree, as a BREAKING STORY is a live car chase. SAD! The most controlling thing about the access to news is that foreign news is currently blocked on some sites, as you can’t access the BBC on Youtube etc.

        Then we have some that consider themselves ‘elites’ of information like Fareed Zakaria who told a panel that Obama had passed Universal Health Care and asked (seeming aghast) why were the Liberals still complaining and not one person on his panel corrected him!

        Ignorance is bliss on both sides to the detriment of all.

    • Woman Voter says:

      They have taken the Christ out of Christian and think the 12 apostles were corporate raiders catering to the elite or upper class. I truly don’t get it, and Rick Santorum is simply praying to a dollar bill in my humble opinion, and it makes it clear why it was THE NUNS that set up the hospitals and not pricks like him.

  3. Thanks, dak. I meant to look up that “lead, follow or get out of the way” quote & forgot to. I knew it didn’t sound like anything Tom Paine would have said.

    Can’t remember which MSNBC show last night showed the Santorum clip. Not only was his answer completely insensitive, but what honestly struck me was how he answered the child who asked the question first about making prescriptions more affordable. Instead of speaking to the boy, he spoke to the crowd. His answer certainly wasn’t geared toward something a child could even understand. This is Mr. Family First, who has 7 children. Is this how he answers his children’s questions? Is this the disrespect he shows his own children? Yes, we know he’s a hypocrite. Was that lost on everyone in that audience. I wish they had turned the camera on the audience to see their reactions. I didn’t hear much, if any, applause. He’s such a creepy schmuck.

    Cops are cops. During the early 70s I worked the graveyard shift at Ranch House. We were the only place open after the bars closed and were relatively close to The Parliament House, a gay bar with female impersonators. Of course, they would come in still in drag. I always loved when they came in. They were fun, funny and really nice customers. We also would get some police officers. If the 2 groups came in at the same time, the officers would always give the drag queens a hard time in the parking lot. It really ticked me off.

  4. Did you hear this story on NPR this morning?

    Talk about insensitivity, and clueless. We the people are just faceless numbers on a page. Kudos, once again, to Barbara Boxer.

  5. peggysue22 says:

    BTW, Just heard Komen reversed itself. Planned Parenthood has won the argument and the firestorm had an effect. But I will never trust this organization again.

  6. dakinikat says:

    Roseanne Barr is not kidding around. The comedian and star of the hit TV series “Roseanne” has jumped into the presidential race.

    Barr filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission Jan. 27. She will be running for the nomination of the Green Party.

    “We are very happy that Roseanne has put her hat into the ring and we welcome her to the competition for the Green Party’s nomination,” party national media coordinator Scott McLarty said.

  7. dakinikat says:

    The Corporation for Enterprise Development recently released a scorecard for all 50 states, and it has boatloads of useful information. That includes overall tax rates, where CFED’s number crunchers conclude that in the median state (Mississippi, as it turns out) the poorest 20 percent pay twice the tax rate of the top 1 percent. In the worst states, the poorest 20 percent pay five to six times the rate of the richest 1 percent. Lucky duckies indeed. There’s not one single state with a tax system that’s progressive. Check the table below to see how your state scores.

    • ralphb says:

      Yeehaw, we’re number 7 with a 4.1 ratio. I honestly thought we’d be worse.

    • Hmmm, didn’t expect to rank #2 – just over 6 to 1. And we don’t have a state income tax and there’s a limit on property tax increases on older existing homes.

      • ralphb says:

        Amazing how fast all the “fees” excise and sales taxes add up isn’t it? We finance pretty much the same way.

        • dakinikat says:

          We have a huge sales tax on everything but food. That’s deeply regressive. It stops me from buying a new car. Immediately adds 9% to everything. When I first moved here, they didn’t even exempt food. You had to file taxes and get a credit on your taxes.

      • ralphb says:

        8.5% here, once city is added in. I’d like another car to but am not going to buy it now.

    • peggysue22 says:

      I’m surprised to see the number so high in Washington State. I must be missing something here. The poverty and unemployment seems to be concentrated in pockets across the country. For instance, I just heard that our county’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.9% Business people are beginning to rehire, even open new places. And there’s building projects going on and new Big Stores opening.I keep saying to my husband–where’s the money coming from? The numbers on a national basis are horrible. At Christmas, the Mall was a ghost town. My husband stopped in about a week ago. He said it was mobbed–an Apple store just opened.

      But then, a couple counties over from us [mountain top/rural area], the unemployment rate is 18.6%. We seem to becoming balkanized by income levels and need.

      • northwestrain says:

        WA State has no state income tax — and all the tax rates are high. The poor in this state can’t get rebates. Seeing WA state at #1 doesn’t surprise me. Property taxes are high, gas taxes are high. A few poor might be able to walk to their jobs but in most cases those working who are below the poverty line must drive to work — and most cars owned by the poor don’t get good gas mileage. Food isn’t taxed — but it was for years.

        Oregon has a State Income tax but little or no sales tax.

  8. foxyladi14 says:

    considering how the vote went in 08.
    we are a “nation of dunces” 🙄

  9. Fannie says:

    Inquiring minds want to know, how much of our tax payers money has gone for this investigation of Planned Parenthood via Rep. Stearns? Don’t you want to know?

  10. Fannie says:

    FYI- re:Cliff Stearns

  11. This is primarily for Wonk (for the SAG awards you were rooting for The Help). A friend sent me this link to a review written by the sister of a friend of hers: Be sure to go to the link for the review by Valerie Boyd. I seem to remember there were some not so glowing reviews of the book originally. And I saw the author on, I think, Up With Chris Hayes, and was not impressed.

    • Well I can understand. I never cottoned to Slumdog Millionaire for similar reasons, but everybody just lurrrrrved it.

      The Help was not a perfect movie, but the SAGs are about acting…I very much enjoyed the acting by The Help’s top-knotch cast–Viola, Jessica, Octavia, Emma, Bryce, and Allison. And, I do love that scene with Viola’s character saying “you is kind, you is smart, you is important” to the kid she cared for. Can’t not love that scene.

      • Having neither read the book nor seen the movie, I thought both these perspectives were interesting. Since you were a fan of the film I thought you might be interested in the 2 reviews.

      • Connie, I did find the reviews interesting–thanks! I agree with the criticisms even, though perhaps not to the same degree. I wouldn’t say I’m a “fan” of the movie (indies that no one has heard of are more my thing)–it was just one of the few films I’d actually seen this year out of the Award show fare so far. 😉

        (sorry, I’m just catching up on a week’s worth of the blog really quick and spitting out these comments as quick as I can… I really meant that earlier comment in an appreciative way. I’m sorry that didn’t translate!)

  12. Fannie says:

    The people in Cliff Stearns DC Office is really fucked………(202-225-5744)…….after four different individuals…………I finally talked with James, who stonewalled me like no other.
    He tells me “ZERO” dollars is spent. He says they have allocations via the oversight investigation committee (wouldn’t say how much)……….I asked how many people are on the staff, and he told me to look it up on the web. I asked how much do they make per year, and how many man hours went into this investigation, and he said they don’t break it down like that.
    Whether the staff is sitting doing nothing, or out investigating they don’t know. That’s a bunch of bullshit. You and I know most of those hired or working are lawyers, and I wonder how much they get per hour. There must be hidden cost, I mean digging up 20 years worth of records on PP, across 50 states, somebody must be held accountable……….obviously Rep. Stearns is NOT.

    Hold many hearings has he held? Should be able to figure out how much of his yearly salary has gone to the hearings.

  13. ralphb says:

    Hackers Intercept FBI, Scotland Yard Call

    They trade jokes, chuckle and talk shop about a hacker plot called “Project Mayhem.”

    But at the heart of the conference call between the FBI and Scotland Yard was a strategy aimed at bringing down the hacking collective known as Anonymous, which has launched a series of embarrassing attacks across the Internet.

    Unfortunately for the cyber sleuths, the hackers were listening, too — and now so is the rest of the world.

    Anonymous published the roughly 15-minute-long recording of the call to the Internet early Friday, gloating in a Twitter message that “the FBI might be curious how we’re able to continuously read their internal comms for some time now.”


  14. foxyladi14 says:

    we have a lot of power we just aren’t using it. 😉

    • ralphb says:

      It’s a great object lesson. When women, who are after all a majority, get pissed and decide to act together mountains can be moved. I’d like to see a lot more of it!