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Books, Literature & Ideas

Books, Literature & Ideas

The Christine O'Donnell phenomenon: Welcome to the United States of Amnesia

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  • Somehow we have forgotten the lesson we spent most of the past decade learning at ruinous cost, that faith-based governance, foreign policy by gut instinct, choosing leaders on the basis of which one we'd most like to watch television with, simply does not work.
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  • The Know Nothings and Flat Earthers are ascendant.
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  • Ignorance as Authenticity
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Leonard Pitts Jr., Syndicated columnist, Miami Herald | FL/Seattle Times | WA

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"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ... " — from the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

That's for Christine O'Donnell.

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"Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?" she asked last week (Oct 17-23), drawing gasps and astonished laughter from an audience of law-school students.

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Chris Coons, her Democratic opponent for a Delaware Senate seat, replied that in asking the question, O'Donnell shows "fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is. ... The First Amendment establishes the separation ... "

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Ignorance as Authenticity, Joe Klein, Swampland

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  • There is something profoundly diseased about a society that idolizes its ignoramuses and disdains its experts.
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  • People Are Allergic to the Facts
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If Williams deserved firing, we all do.


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  • Oh, sorry, did that offend somebody?
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  • Poor Juan. It was a dumb remark. He should recognize that his fears are unfounded, apologize, and move on.
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  • Glenn Greenwald: The real danger from NPR's firing of Juan Williams
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Syl Jones, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

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Juan Williams, left, and a man wearing "Muslim garb," which Williams said scares him (AP/iStockphoto)

NPR, the public radio service that incessantly begs for our listener support, fired commentator Juan Williams this week (Oct 17-23) for saying, on Bill O'Reilly's "Fear Factor" television program, that he is nervous when he flies with people who dress in Muslim garb.

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Poor Juan. It was a dumb remark. He should recognize that his fears are unfounded, apologize, and move on.

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But NPR sanctimoniously canned Williams. Which raises this question: Who among us is so devoid of irrational fears and contradictions that we should not be fired? Let's just dismiss the media at large -- well, that's not a bad idea, actually, but you know what I mean -- for transmitting stupid things each and every day.

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The real danger from NPR's firing of Juan Williams, Glenn Greenwald, Salon
Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell
I'm still not quite over the most disgusting part of the Juan Williams spectacle yesterday:  watching the very same people (on the Right and in the media) who remained silent about or vocally cheered on the viewpoint-based firings of Octavia Nasr, Helen Thomas, Rick Sanchez, Eason Jordan, Peter Arnett, Phil Donahue, Ashleigh Banfield, Bill Maher, Ward Churchill, Chas Freeman, Van Jones and so many others, spend all day yesterday (Oct 21) wrapping themselves in the flag of "free expression!!!" and screeching about the perils and evils of firing journalists for expressing certain viewpoints.  Even for someone who expects huge doses of principle-free hypocrisy -- as I do -- that behavior is really something to behold. And anyone doubting that there is a double standard when it comes to anti-Muslim speech should just compare the wailing backlash from most quarters over Williams' firing to the muted acquiescence or widespread approval of those other firings.

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Helen Thomas Cries, Denies Anti-Semitism, Calls President Obama 'Reprehensible' Associated Press/Huffington Post
Asked whether she's anti-Semitic, she responded "Baloney!" She said she wants to be remembered for "integrity and my honesty and my belief in good journalism" and would like to work again.

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Fascist America: Is This Election The Next Turn?

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  • This coming election may, in fact, be a critical turning point on that road (to facism).
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  • Lessons from History to Guide AntiFascist Voters
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  • Don't Vote for Your Future Oppressors
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Sara Robinson, Campaign for America's Future

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In August 2009, I wrote a piece titled Fascist America: Are We There Yet? that sparked much discussion on both the left and right ends of the blogosphere. In it, I argued that -- according to the best scholarship on how fascist regimes emerge -- America was on a path that was running much too close to the fail-safe point beyond which no previous democracy has ever been able to turn back from a full-on fascist state. I also noted that the then-emerging Tea Party had a lot of proto-fascist hallmarks, and that it had the potential to become a clear and present danger to the future of our democracy if it ever got enough traction to start winning elections in a big way.

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On the first anniversary of that article, Jonah Goldberg -- the right's revisionist-in-chief on the subject of fascism -- actually used an entire National Review column to taunt me about what he characterized as a failure of prediction. Where's that fascist state you promised? he hooted.
It's funny he should ask. Because this coming election may, in fact, be a critical turning point on that road.

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Duty to Warn: Lessons from History to Guide AntiFascist Voters, Gary Kohls, Evergreene Digest

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  • What Can Happen if We the People Let Down our Guard and Vote for Our Future Oppressors
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  • Excerpts, without comment, from Milton Mayer’s “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45”
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  • Advice for citizens who still have hope for America
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Duty to Warn: Don't Vote for Your Future Oppressors, Gary Kohls, Evergreene Digest
Who should freedom-loving people vote for?
Advice for citizens who still have hope for America

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U.S. Midterms: Political Freak Show

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I'm you, dear readers. Well, actually, I'm not. But I'm also not a witch, so at least I've got that going for me.

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Cliff Schecter, Huffington Post

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The above is of course a reference to Delaware's favourite Wiccan of Wilmington, Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell, who began her most recent television advertisement by assuring viewers that she, indeed, is "not a witch." In past political years this might have been considered a bit low-brow, to actually have to assure the voting public you didn't spend most days at dusk swooping over the heads of the Lollipop Guild.

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The bar has been raised among this year's crop of weirdos and wackadoos seeking higher office in America. If you don't have the Second Amendment tattooed on your buttocks or actually think you're The Walrus, don't even try and claim to be among the craziest third of aspiring politicos on the current American landscape.

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Keith Olbermann: Brian Kilmeade An 'Unamerican Bastard' For Muslims Comment

On both TV and radio Friday (Oct 15), Kilmeade said that, while not all Muslims are terrorists, "all terrorists are Muslims."

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Huffington Post

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Keith Olbermann slammed Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade Friday night (Oct 15), calling the "Fox & Friends" co-host an "unamerican bastard" over his comments about Muslims and terrorists.

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On both TV and radio Friday, Kilmeade said that, while not all Muslims are terrorists, "all terrorists are Muslims."

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"There is stupid and there is bigoted and there is paranoid and there is Islamophobic, but it takes a big man to combine all four of them," Olbermann said of Kilmeade.

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