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David Mamet Should Get out of Politics and Stick to Playwriting September 23, 2011

At my first job in Washington, in the late ’90s, my coworkers introduced me to the filmmaker-playwright David Mamet.

Via .wav audio files that seemed like a technological breakthrough at the time, we listened to Alec Baldwin’s mesmerizing Glengarry Glen Ross tirade on a perpetual loop, and quoted from it with a regularity that I’m sure those around us found highly annoying.

“Put that coffee down!”

“A-B-C: Always be closing!”

“First prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is, you’re fired.”

[See the month's best political cartoons.]

The Hollywood-invades-Main-Street send-up State and Main was more fully satisfying (Glengarry, I thought, didn’t sustain the pitch of the opening sequence).

It contained at least one immortal one-liner, delivered by a Hollywood playboy (Baldwin, again) who’d just wrecked his car while cavorting with an underage girl: “So that happened.”

So that happened: That just about sums up my reaction to Mamet’s mystifyingly bad political treatise, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture.

My review of the book appeared online today at The American Conservative.

Best I can tell, Mamet didn’t think terribly deeply about politics until fairly recently, and he couldn’t have picked a worse possible time to convert to conservatism. I like to imagine Mamet, a quintessential urban Jewish literary type, in the 1950s. He’d have fit in beautifully with the original neoconservative set: smart, skeptical, ironic, iconoclastic.

But in today’s reality, Mamet fell in with Hugh Hewitt and Glenn Beck, with their unhinged and ahistorical fear of impending serfdom.

Mamet has gone all-in with the crazies, and it ain’t pretty. As I write:

There’s something unsettling about the intensity, the totality, of [Mamet's] post-Damascene convictions.

The literary critic James Wood once described a certain kind of freshly adopted religious commitment this way: “It is like entering prison: you must turn out your spiritual pockets and hand over all your inner belongings, even your shoelaces.” Well, Mamet has handed over his shoelaces, voluntarily stripped, and appears eager for a cavity search.


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The Black Swans of Politics: (I am proud to be one of those Black Swans…) July 30, 2011

From the LewRockwell Blog:

I remember once arguing with an honest young atheist, who was very much shocked at my disputing some of the assumptions which were absolute sanctities to him (such as the quite unproved proposition of the independence of matter and the quite improbable proposition of its power to originate mind), and he at length fell back upon this question, which he delivered with an honourable heat of defiance and indignation: “Well, can you tell me any man of intellect, great in science or philosophy, who accepted the miraculous?” I said, “With pleasure. Descartes, Dr. Johnson, Newton, Faraday, Newman, Gladstone, Pasteur, Browning, Brunetiere – as many more as you please.” To which that quite admirable and idealistic young man made this astonishing reply – “Oh, but of course they had to say that; they were Christians.” First he challenged me to find a black swan, and then he ruled out all my swans because they were black. The fact that all these great intellects had come to the Christian view was somehow or other a proof either that they were not great intellects or that they had not really come to that view. The argument thus stood in a charmingly convenient form: “All men that count have come to my conclusion; for if they come to your conclusion they do not count.”

~ G. K. Chesterton

A recent article entitled “Ron Paul’s dilemma” makes the case that “Ron Paul may be in the ultimate damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation as next month’s Ames Straw Poll draws closer.”

If Paul polls fourth or fifth at Ames, it will feed the existing narrative that he is a second-tier candidate with a devoted but small legion of fans. Ames will be, at best, a wash. If, on the other hand, Paul finishes first or second, it will feed the narrative that he’s a straw-poll paper tiger with a small but devoted legion of fans that swamped Ames from around the country. The media will give itself permission to ignore the result and instead focus on the “serious” candidates.

Rasmussen makes the unfortunate factual error of stating that Ron’s “legion of fans” could “swamp Ames from around the country.” The Ames Straw Poll is only open to Iowa residents. A simple Google search could have prevented that mistake and allowed him to reword it differently, though at the expense of weakening his argument. A victory in Ames would not mean that Ron Paul is backed by a small group of fanatics that crawled out of the woodwork, but that he has strong core of support within the key state of Iowa. Let us ignore that fact for now.

Instead, lets focus on the substance of Rasmussen’s opinion: The Ames Straw Poll is very important, but only if Ron Paul doesn’t win. It doesn’t matter whether or not Ron wins, or even how many percentage points he wins by. The Iowa Straw Poll can help every other candidate, but it can only hurt Ron Paul. The voters at Ames can have no bearing whatsoever on Ron Paul’s viability as a candidate. A vote for Ron Paul ipso facto makes it irrelevant.

You see, Ron Paul supporters don’t count, even though they are the paragon of what the ideal political activist would be. They are arguably the only true grassroots activists in existence right now. They don’t wait for direction or leadership from Ron Paul himself. Rather, inspired by Paul’s ideals, they act on their own. Nothing else in history comes close to what they’ve accomplished.

It was Ron Paul supporters, not the Ron Paul campaign itself, that invented the “money bomb.” Money bombs are online fund-raising events, often held on dates with great historical and political significance, which seek to generate a large amount of donations within a short period of time. Such events are marketed through “viral advertising” where individuals take the initiative and spread the news of the event through online vehicles such as social networks, YouTube, and online forums. People who might think that their small contribution to the campaign might not make a difference, or who otherwise might not “get around to it,” find themselves encouraged by a large number of their peers to take an active part in these events and donate larger amounts more often than they otherwise would have. By seeking to set ever higher records in hourly, daily, and weekly fund-raising, money bombs can generate millions of dollars in free advertising in the media as well.

Remember the Ron Paul Blimp? Once again, Ron Paul supporters acted on their own initiative to make something happen. At 200 feet long, it beat out the Goodyear Blimp as the largest blimp in North America. It also cost $600,000 to fly for the six weeks it was in the air, and might not even get off the ground this year. Flying over the eastern seaboard, it generated over $2 million in publicity. The blimp needs to be flying over Iowa now, but there seems to be little interest in it! A single money bomb could do it, easy.

Let us imagine for a minute a Mitt Romney blimp or a Mike Huckabee blimp, constructed and financed by grassroots supporters independent of their respective campaigns. They would be praised from the rooftops for their creativity and initiative. They would be asked, “What is it about Mitt Romney that gives you so much hope?” With such a spontaneous surge of enthusiasm and devotion for this man, some may begin to wonder, could he be The One? We’d never hear the end of it, but because it was part of the Ron Paul Campaign, nay, the Ron Paul Movement, it is referred to as a desperate publicity stunt of questionable legality.

In every campaign in the history of campaigning, a lost run for office means that interest in the candidate mostly dies out, but not for Ron Paul. Supporters of Ron Paul are qualitatively different from those who support other candidates. Jack Hunter summed it up perfectly.

Ask the average Paul fanatic what they like about him and all you will hear nothing but specific policies: “Follow the Constitution!” “End the Fed!” “End the War!” Paul is the purest example of what I like to call “philosophical conservatism” in that what he believes – strict adherence to limited government and Constitutional principles – is more important to him and his followers than how his party perceives him.

Even after Ron Paul lost the 2008 Republican nomination, the Ron Paul movement remained a force to be reckoned with. It was Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty that forever changed America’s political landscape. It was the tireless efforts of the Campaign for Liberty that made the Federal Reserve a national issue. Through countless emails, letters, and phone calls made by people who were educated about the Federal Reserve and Austrian Business Cycle Theory, HR 1207, The Federal Reserve Transparency Act, gained some 319 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. The Senate version, S. 604, had 32 cosponsors. So great was the movement to “End the Fed,” the majority of Americans are not only conscious of the Fed’s existence and activities, but are radically opposed to it. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke now feels the need to have futile press conferences to try and win over the people.

A common soundbite you’ll hear in the news nowadays (if you still watch it) is that “many are coming around to Ron Paul’s points of view.” The truly astonishing thing is that any politician can posses a sound, logical form of thought in the first place, much less convince people of anything. Scott Conroy’s Doomsday Scenario may prove to be true, as the “famously devoted supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul wipe the sweat off their brows without batting an eye and descend on the campus of Iowa State University to propel the libertarian-leaning icon to yet another straw-poll victory”. This, for Conroy, would be a tragedy. If Ron Paul were to win in Ames, the sanctity of the event and the godly wisdom of all who attend would have to be called into question.

Yes, it is very true that it is not how high a candidate can get in the national polls, but how many of his supporters he can actually get out to vote that wins elections. If you show up to vote for Ron Paul, however, well then, you’re just some crazy fanatic who’s part of the ever growing cult of Ron Paul worshipers. You are like a pestilence that swarms GOP events to drown out the voices of more reasoned minds, a sacrilegious abuse of the Holy Democratic System. Your votes are not to be regarded with the same reverence as those offered up to the other lying, thieving, murderous scumbags that always get elected president. You are at best an outlier, at worst, a very real threat to our political way of life. The Ron Paul Movement, the greatest grassroots campaign in political history, could destroy Iowa’s position as an early primary state, and ruin the chances of any grassroots campaign for a small-name politician of ever being competitive in presidential politics ever again.

The establishment media would like to completely ignore Ron Paul by not even including him in the polls. When they can’t ignore him, they use a very simple formula. On the eve of an important straw poll, say he can’t win. When he does, downplay the results as meaningless. Now, on the eve of the Ames Straw Poll, they are hedging their bets with doublespeak; The Ames Straw Poll is very important, but only if Ron Paul doesn’t win. It’s a strategy that will likely stretch well into the primary season, but this can only work for so long.

When it become too obvious that the Ron Paul movement is taking over the country, they will resort to blatant lies and deception. This is precisely what Fox News did earlier this year when they tried claim that Ron Paul was booed at the 2011 CPAC by playing the clip from 2010. When Bill Hemmer asks Ron Paul how he felt being about booed, he laughs in a very odd, juvenile way. The way his tong moves around in his mouth, almost as if he is savoring the opportunity to humiliate Ron Paul, I imagine him once being a large, fat bully in the fifth grade. Ron Paul in fact got a standing ovation when he was announced the winner of the 2011 CPAC Straw Poll. Such an amateurish attempt at deception was quickly found out, and Fox News via Hemmer was forced to publicly apologize for their “honest mistake.”

How far will the mainstream go in order to stem the tide of the Ron Paul Revolution? They already say it threatens to destroy the presidential primary system. Will they go as far as Glen Beck did, and group Ron Paul supporters in with terrorists? Perhaps a bombing or a mass shooting will be blamed on the anti-government Libertarian movement. A so-called “Libertarian Bomber” would be just the excuse needed to send federal troops to arrest people at Ron Paul rallies.

It all makes one wonder how accurate those polls are that place Ron at around 10%. It’s clear that the media sees his supporters as a mere factor that skew the polls away from results that are more “representative of America.” The fact is that Ron Paul does represent America. He opposes the wars, he opposes the income tax, he opposes further burdening the country with more debt, and he wants to restore sound money and end the Federal Reserve. What the media doesn’t want is for Americans to figure this out.

They want people who like Ron Paul to think he can’t win; his victories don’t matter; he’s a “fringe candidate;” only kooks support him; best to support someone else who actually stands a chance. The establishment wants to create a self-fulfilling prophecy that a Ron Paul presidency is a hopeless cause. Their plan won’t work. Once the false paradigm is shattered and the people see the truth, Ron Paul will become President of the United States, and it will be all thanks to those “Ron Paul fanatics,” the Black Swans of Politics.

July 30, 2011

Justin T.P. Quinn [send him mail], who lives in New Jersey, has done project management for both private firms and nonprofits.

Copyright © 2011 by Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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Census shows whites lose US majority among babies… June 23, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) – For the first time, minorities make up a majority of babies in the U.S., part of a sweeping race change and growing age divide between mostly white, older Americans and predominantly minority youths that could reshape government policies.

Preliminary census estimates also show the share of African-American households headed by women – made up of mostly single mothers – now exceeds African-American households with married couples, a sign of declining U.S. marriages overall but also continuing challenges for black youths without involved fathers.

The findings, based on the latest government data, offer a preview of final 2010 census results being released this summer that provide detailed breakdowns by age, race and householder relationships such as same-sex couples.


Coffee Talk!

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Hi everyone! I am a typical American… June 3, 2011

Hi everyone! I am a typical American.

I graduated high school but didn’t want to go to university or study foreign languages.
I demand to be able to own a home on a cul-de-sac for a very low price and very low property taxes
But I expect full services from my community and no one can build unless I say I like the color.
I demand to be HOME by five and lifetime employment earning more than my neighbors.
I don’t know anything about the web, computers, engineering, operations, but I can do touch type.
I don’t want to further my education with all that hassle.
I know a 5th grade Chinese kid knows more about math and geography than I do.
I never read. It is cable T.V. for me. Because I can learn a lot from local news and CNN.
I love low prices. I can get more.
I have two children from three possible fathers.
I think I have a right to .50 cent gasoline that never changes.
I want a new car every two years and a big home with a five car garage.
I go to the salon every week but I am 250 lbs and never go to the gym
I don’t deserve what I get , didn’t earn it, but if I don”t get it I will raise hell if I can remember to vote.
I like to have totally free medical care with a private room, specialists, and free pharmaceuticals of the latest kind and a second opinion.
But if it doesn’t work out I will sue for billions.
I get weird diseases like neck pain, back pain, carpal tunnel , and fibromyalgia even though I can’t prove it.
I want the first parking spot and no waiting at any location or restaurant.
The weather should always be 70 degrees
I should have a 2%30 year fixed mortgage but want a 25% for a risk free CD at the bank every three months.
I want a smartphone and I like to text while driving.
I deserve six weeks vacation from my job paid + 12 weeks paid for FMLA plus free daycare.
I should not have to push hard or feel stress.
If it was a good idea I would have had it already.
I am an American and these are the privileges I expect. If I don’t get it I will be mad.
I like 20 times income of my neighbors but no inflation.
I don’t understand why why why I have to pay anything for medical care.
I should pay 5 dollars a year on my home insurance but get 150 % full replacement for all my undocumented belongings and rebuild of my home if there is trouble.
Air fares should be no more than 50 dollars and I should be able to take 10 bags for a weekend trip.
My husband should get 125% of his pay even if the company fails for a period of 10 years taxes paid.
Cable TV should be 3 dollars a year.
I don’t want to understand how my taxes work.
After I retire, I should get 20,000 dollars a month from the government social security and pay no taxes plus continue on with free, unlimited medical care with no copay’s and no limits.
I demand to spend 10,000 dollars for Xmas.
I don’t have a passport and can’t speak English well or write.
There should be no waiting at the grocery store and the butcher should have my order ready.
I think I should be able to mail anything of any weight for 41 cents.
Other people should pay for power plants and pollution control but not me.
My electric bill is 5 dollars a year
I should earn 250,000 dollars and work 35 hours a week + I want overtime because I am non-exempt
I don’t like competition. It’s not fair because I cannot pass even the SAT.

That about covers 90% of all Americans. The rest of us are working hard and busting hump.


Coffee Talk!

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Cell Phone Study Raises Profile on Safety Lawsuits June 2, 2011

* U.S. high court deciding whether to tackle cell lawsuit

* Hundreds of cases could be impacted — plaintiff lawyer

* Activity comes amid fresh WHO report on health risks

By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court is
considering the fate of litigation against cell phone makers
over safety risks, just as the industry comes under more
scrutiny in the wake of a health report from the World Health

A working group of WHO cancer experts suggested Tuesday
that cell phone use should be classified as “possibly
carcinogenic” after reviewing of all the available scientific

The classification puts mobile phone use in the same broad
cancer risk category as lead, chloroform and coffee, and it
garnered extensive media coverage. Industry groups immediately
sought to play down the announcement, saying it does not mean
that cell phones cause cancer.

The report comes as a proposed class action lawsuit against
19 defendants, mostly cell phone manufacturers and
telecommunications companies, has landed at the U.S. Supreme
Court. The defendants — which include Nokia, ATT Inc and
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd — are accused of misrepresenting
that their cell phones are safe, when they in fact knew of
potential dangers.

A lower appeals court dismissed the lawsuit, saying the
plaintiffs’ claims were preempted by federal law. But
Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court formally asked the U.S. Justice
Department to weigh in on whether the high court should hear
the plaintiffs’ appeal.

Allison Zieve, who represents the plaintiffs, said people
often dismiss allegations about the harm of common products as
“silly.” The WHO report could change that perception, said
Zieve, director of Public Citizen Litigation Group, a consumer
advocacy organization.

“I hope that it signals to the Justice Department … that
it’s a potentially significant case and they should take it
seriously,” she said.

An ATT spokesman declined to answer questions about the
case and representatives from Nokia and Samsung did not respond
to a request for comment.

The lawsuit seeks damages and an injunction, including a
requirement that the companies provide headsets to customers.

Joanne Suder, a Baltimore-based plaintiff attorney, said
she had “hundreds” of cell phone cases on hold pending the U.S.
Supreme Court’s actions in the coming months. Her clients are
seeking monetary damages, Suder said.

Paul Freehling, who represents the Cellular
Telecommunications Industry Association, said he does not know
of any cases where a court has found sufficient scientific
evidence of a link between cell phones and cancer.

In one case, a U.S. appeals court upheld the dismissal of a
lawsuit against Motorola in 2003, finding that the plaintiffs
could not demonstrate that cell phones caused malignant brain

“Based on previous assessments of the scientific evidence,
the Federal Communications Commission has concluded that
‘here’s no scientific evidence that proves that wireless phone
usage can lead to cancer,”‘ said CTIA vice president John Walls

But Suder forecast that, after this week, reports about the
dangers of cell phone will only increase.

“I think at this point the genie is finally out of the
bottle,” she added.
(Reporting by Dan Levine; editing by Andre Grenon)

© 2011 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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