Tuesday Reads: A Mixed Bag

Good Morning!!

I have a mixed bag of interesting reads for you this morning, if I do say so myself. So let’s get right to it.

I’ll start out with that infamous Republican conspiracy theory based on an old UN initiative, “Agenda 21,” which has been in the news again recently. I wrote a post about it about a year ago that I called Dark Ages America.

Unfortunately, we’ll probably be hearing more about this nutty conspiracy, because there’s a new book coming out today–a dystopian novel supposedly authored by Glenn Beck–and it’s titled Agenda 21. Here’s a quote from the book, published on Amazon’s item page:

“I was just a baby when we were relocated and I don’t remember much. Everybody has that black hole at the beginning of their life. That time you can’t remember. Your first step. Your first taste of table food. My real memories begin in our assigned living area in Compound 14.”
Just a generation ago, this place was called America. Now, after the worldwide implementation of a UN-led program called Agenda 21, it’s simply known as “the Republic.” There is no president. No Congress. No Supreme Court. No freedom.

There are only the Authorities.

Citizens have two primary goals in the new Republic: to create clean energy and to create new human life. Those who cannot do either are of no use to society. This bleak and barren existence is all that eighteen-year-old Emmeline has ever known. She dutifully walks her energy board daily and accepts all male pairings assigned to her by the Authorities. Like most citizens, she keeps her head down and her eyes closed.

Until the day they come for her mother.

“You save what you think you’re going to lose.”

Woken up to the harsh reality of her life and her family’s future inside the Republic, Emmeline begins to search for the truth. Why are all citizens confined to ubiquitous concrete living spaces? Why are Compounds guarded by Gatekeepers who track all movements? Why are food, water and energy rationed so strictly? And, most important, why are babies taken from their mothers at birth? As Emmeline begins to understand the true objectives of Agenda 21 she realizes that she is up against far more than she ever thought. With the Authorities closing in, and nowhere to run, Emmeline embarks on an audacious plan to save her family and expose the Republic—but is she already too late?

Except, I found out today that Beck didn’t really write the book; he just purchased the concept from his co-author Harriet Parke, the real author. I never knew you could do that–did you? From “I got duped by Glenn Beck!” by “Sarah Cypher”:

Two weeks ago I discovered, to my surprise, that I had line-edited an early draft of Glenn Beck’s new novel, “Agenda 21.” Glenn Beck! At the time I was working on it, the manuscript belonged to its actual author, a woman named Harriet Parke, who lives a few minutes from my aunt. But a year and a few lawyers later, Glenn Beck purchased the right to call himself its creator, and Ms. Parke agreed to be presented as a ghostwriter.

Cypher doesn’t agree with Glenn Beck’s politics (or Harriet Parke’s), but she thought she was editing a novel for nice lady who lives near her aunt, not Glenn Beck, Inc. In fact, Cypher agrees with the goals of Agenda 21, which is, after all, simply a set of non-binding recommendations for city planning. The book is still the same one written originally written by Harriet Parke, but Cypher worries that having Glenn Beck’s name on it will transform it from a fun futuristic read to a right wing political manifesto.

Glenn Beck is more than just the nice guy whose publishing house is bringing Ms. Parke’s work to a national audience. He’s also a professional ideologue whose establishment confers the full force of its intellectually and morally irresponsible franchise on a novel that distorts the truth about Agenda 21, which is doing good work in the world. Glenn Beck is not writing as an artist, bound by the conventions of his art, plying his craft on the willing human imagination. Hell, he’s not writing at all. He is a brand, with a budget, and with an agenda of his own. Ultimately, by assigning his brand to the novel “Agenda 21,” Beck turns a form of entertainment into a political lie, a tool for politicizing people.

It’s an interesting piece. Do check it out.

Everyone has heard by now that Hostess Brands is going out of business after being taken over by a vulture capitalist firm. Yesterday, a judge talked the company into negotiating a little more with one of its unions.

Hostess Brands Inc. and its second largest union agreed on Monday to try to resolve their differences after a bankruptcy court judge noted that the parties hadn’t gone through the critical step of private mediation. That means the maker of the spongy cake with the mysterious cream filling won’t go out of business yet.

The news comes after the maker of Ho Ho’s, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread last week moved to liquidate and sell off its assets in bankruptcy court. Hostess cited a crippling strike started on Nov. 9 by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which represents about 30 percent of Hostess workers.

‘‘Many people, myself included, have serious questions as to the logic behind this strike,’’ said Judge Robert Drain, who heard the case in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York in White Plains, N.Y. ‘‘Not to have gone through that step leaves a huge question mark in this case.’’

The mediation talks are set to take place Tuesday, with the liquidation hearing set to resume on Wednesday if an agreement isn’t reached. Jeff Freund, an attorney for the bakers union, said any guess as to how the talks will go would be ‘‘purely speculative.’’

Frankly, I think the world could live without Twinkies and Ding Dongs–I was never a fan. But the jobs are needed, that’s for sure. But as long as we’re talking about Twinkies, we can revisit “the Twinkie defense.” At Counterpunch, the great Paul Krassner recounts the story behind the story:

A dozen police cars had been set on fire, which in turn set off their alarms, underscoring the angry shouts from five thousand understandably angry gays. This was in 1979. I had been covering the trial of Dan White for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. The ex-cop had confessed to killing Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

Dale Metcalf, a former Merry Prankster who had become a lawyer, told me how he happened to be playing chess with a friend, Steven Scherr, one of White’s attorneys. Metcalf had just read Orthomolecular Nutrition by Abram Hoffer. He questioned Scherr about White’s diet and learned that, while under stress, White would consume candy bars and soft drinks. Metcalf recommended the book to Scherr, suggesting the author as an expert witness. After all, in his book, Hoffer revealed a personal vendetta against doughnuts, and White had once eaten five doughnuts in a row.

Hoffer didn’t testify, but his influence permeated the courtroom. White’s defense team presented that bio-chemical explanation of his behavior, blaming it on compulsive gobbling down of sugar-filled junk-food snacks. Psychiatrist Martin Blinder testified that, on the night before the murders, White “just sat there in front of the TV set, binging on Twinkies.” Another psychiatrist stated, “If not for the aggravating fact of junk food, the homicides might not have taken place.”

In my notebook, I scribbled “Twinkie defense,” and wrote about it in my next report. On the 25th anniversary of that double execution, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that, “During the trial, no one but well-known satirist Paul Krassner — who may have coined the phrase ‘Twinkie defense’ — played up that angle.” And so it came to pass that a pair of political assassinations was transmuted into voluntary manslaughter.

It gets much better. Please go read this entertaining piece at the link.

There’s a great post by Karoli at Crooks and Liars: GOP Governors Unwittingly Move U.S. Toward Single Payer Health Care

Republican governors are holding a boycott. As the deadline looms large for them to establish state-based exchanges, they are refusing to do so, one after the other.

I applaud them. No, really. I do….

When these Republican governors opt out of the state-based exchanges, they are not opting their states out of Obamacare. I’m sure they’re trying to set up future litigation as yet another roadblock, but fortunately there were safeguards written into the law in order to thwart effective “secession” from the coverage rules.

Each of those Republican governors has just abrogated their authority over the insurance exchanges to the federal government, who is now free to step in and offer people in their state health insurance based on a national risk pool, rather than state based. The bigger the pool, the cheaper it is.

Insurers are already whining about how they’ll be out of the health insurance business altogether in a matter of a few years. Good. This should hasten the process and bring about single payer that much faster.

Read the details at the link.

I love this piece by Scott Terry at HuffPo: Gay Cowboys, Utah and Mitt Romney. You really need to read the whole thing–it’s not long. I’ll just tell you that Terry has written a memoir of growing up gay and a fundamentalist Christian and he has a few choice words about Mitt Romney and his shock at losing the election.

So today I am reading headlines of how the Republican Party leaders are lamenting their election loss and speculating on why their candidate couldn’t carry the Republican Party to victory. In the weeks since his defeat, I’ve read headlines that declare Mitt Romney to be “stunned” at his loss. Stunned? Really?

Here’s a newsflash for Romney: In 1885, when your Mormon great-grandfather had four wives, it would have been acceptable for elected officials to think their obligation was to solely represent their white male constituents. Women didn’t have the right to vote at that time. Neither did most people of color. The world has changed. Perhaps you and Utah and the Mormon Church have a ways to go before you catch up with the rest of society, but it is no longer acceptable to believe that you only need to appeal to white male Christians. If you dare to ask for the privilege to govern the people of this country, you must govern for everyone, even for the two gay guys who would have preferred a king-sized bed in Utah.

While you’re at HuffPo, check out this one: Political Forecaster Nate Silver Talks About Being Gay. It’s another short but pithy read.

That’s about all I have room for today. I realize I didn’t give you a lot of breaking news, but I hope you found something you enjoyed.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?

35 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: A Mixed Bag”

  1. ecocatwoman says:

    FINALLY! Allen West has CONCEDED!

  2. surfric says:

    Beck is a 100% phony guy. I’m not surprised at anything he would pull. If you’ve ever seen his “crying” act, you know that. Just think. Here is a guy who is too right wing wacko for Fox News!

  3. boogieman7167 says:

    this is mt take of what happen in the 2012 GE . with the repugs having this my way or the highway attitude and most american biggest issue with the government is the wont or cant work together and obama at lest tried to compromise with the wingnut right . so the voter sent a clear message to the right compromise with obama and the dems or else . some of the repugs like McCain just can or wont learn with this witch hunt they have stated against RICE . if they keep this up they will pay dearly in the 2014 midterms .

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Dave Wiegel and Kevin Drum explain to “innumerate” (I’d say “stupid”) rich people how marginal tax rates work.

    • dakinikat says:

      They need to. It seems this rich people don’t understand that their first $250,000 will still get tax breaks along with every one else’s of a lesser amount.

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    You gotta love the GOP!

    Now their loss is all the “fault” of Mitt Romney, a man who only a few weeks ago was being touted as the best reason to unseat Barack Obama.

    As they scramble to identify the next nominees for 2016 they seem to have set their eye on the likes of Marco Rubio who just the other day admitted that he was not sure how old the universe is, suggesting that it could have been created in 7 days but wants to include this theory into the educational curriculum as a forum for “debate”.

    And some suggest that Sarah Palin was intellectually deficient when it came to facts.

    These people are not only ridiculous they are just plain too stupid to lead the way to the rest rooms.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      I love how the prospective GOP candidates suddenly disagree with Romney’s 47%, Takers vs Makers, ideology. How many of them called out Romney or Ryan on their BS during the campaign? Now they suddenly want to become the party of “all Americans”? Nothing like having your ass handed to you on a platter to change your perspective on who has the power in the voting booth. Without the Citizens United decision that gave the GOP unbridled access to 100’s of millions of dollars, much of it dark money, to use to promote Romney lies, their Presidential candidates would have been smoked!!!

    • dakinikat says:

      I think Bobby Jindal is trying to horn his way into the Rubio/Christie action. I don’t think he knows that he’s only a token and no one really likes him yet.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Jindal is a creepy guy, I don’t think he has a shot at becoming the GOP nominee or even getting the VP slot, he’s just not a very appealing person. Until the GOP gets off the religious-zeal crack, they have no chance of winning POTUS. Their best shot would be Christie because he seems like just a regular guy, from a regular background, but he needs to lose 300lbs and shed the christos, plus he needs to watch his wicked tongue. He must learn to speak to citizens with respect instead of scolding people like he’s “daddy”. I don’t think Rubio is ready, nor do I think he will hold up well to the scrutiny. He might win FL, but the Dems could easily counter that with the right nominee.

        I wish we’d get Hillary next time around, but I think she will decide against it. She will be 69 years old in 2016, so time is not on her side. If we can’t get Hillary I hope we at least get a woman in the VP slot. I love Elizabeth Warren, but I don’t think she will want it. I’m watching Kirsten Gillibrand, she might be the WOMAN we’ve been waiting for. We. society, women, the world, desperately needs a woman in the executive branch of U.S. Govt.

        • dakinikat says:

          Jindal is really creepy. He’s got that big ol head and those big weird fanatical eyes and that long neck with a huge adam’s apple. He looks like a zombie. Plus, he talks a mile a minute and goes on and on and on. I have no idea what any one sees in him.

  6. dakinikat says:

    Pierce writes about Crazy Old Neoconfederate Ron Paul and secessionists:

    Secondly, secession hasn’t been a “deeply held American principle” since Pickett’s division came staggering back from Cemetery Ridge. Even at the beginning, it was recognized to be the single most perilous notion to the success of the American experiment, as it later proved to be. The country is a union of people, not a voluntary association of individual states.

    Read more: In Which Ron Paul Teaches Us About Secession – Ron Paul State Secession – Esquire http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/ron-paul-secession-14761701#ixzz2Cn42vWY2

      • ANonOMouse says:

        He’s as crazy as Ron and has too many batshit crazy ravings on the record and on video to ever be POTUS. Rand is one of those guys who rejected the Civil Rights Act, saying he would NOT have voted for it. That would make him a supporter of Jim Crow!!! That is the kiss of political death for Rand. He might win in KY or AL or MS, but in very few other places.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Before Ron Paul seceeds I want him to reject that Social Security Money he’s been collecting since he was 65 and that Super Gubmint Healthcare he’s been getting since he joined the U.S. Congress. That Dumb Clucker!!!!

  7. dakinikat says:

    Krugman nails it again.


    First, on economic issues the modern Democratic party is what we would once have considered “centrist”, or even center-right. Obama’s Heritage-Foundation-inspired health care plan is to the right of Richard Nixon’s. Nobody with political influence is suggesting a return to pre-Reagan tax rates on the wealthy. Fantasies about Obama as a socialist, redistributionist hater of capitalism bear no more resemblance to reality than fantasies about his birthplace or religion.

    Second, today’s Republican party is an alliance between the plutocrats and the preachers, plus some opportunists along for the ride — full stop. The whole party is about low taxes at the top (and low benefits for the rest), plus conservative social values and putting religion in the schools; it has no other reason for being. Someday there may emerge another party with the same name standing for a quite different agenda; after all, the Republicans were once defined by opposition to slavery, and the Democrats by rural voters (hence the donkey) and Tammany Hall. But that will take a long time, and it won’t really be the same party.

  8. dakinikat says:

    After cutting tax credit for children, Michigan Republicans consider one for fetuses http://thkpr.gs/SOxHyh

    State legislators in Michigan held a hearing on Tuesday to consider House Bills 5684 and 5685, which would allow taxpayers to receive tax relief for unborn fetuses past 12 weeks’ gestation. The proposed legislation is an odd push for Michigan Republicans, partly because the state slashed tax credits for children last year — meaning that although parents living in Michigan do not qualify for tax breaks to offset the cost of caring for their own children, they could soon be able to claim a tax credit for an unborn fetus.

    Progress Michigan’s executive director points out that the proposed legislation is a dangerous step toward endowing fetuses with the same rights as human beings while disregarding the real economic needs of Michigan’s children, 341,000 of whom currently live in high-poverty areas

  9. BB, I love this post.

  10. madamab says:

    What’s ironic is that “Agenda 21” is exactly what will happen if the Austerity/Ayn Randian nutters have their way.