Monday, December 26, 2011

The Dickensian Mr. Nugent

A few days ago a friend e-mailed me the following article entitled “Nugent: Poor parental choices make poor children” and asked me for my thoughts. When are people going to learn not to do that…

First, allow me to express my keen disappointment in the Motor City Madman’s rather bland regurgitation of right-wing think tank talking points. This is work more akin to the bleating duckspeak of a second tier Fox news commentator than something from the man who inflicted “Wango Tango” and “Cat Scratch Fever” on the American public thirty odd years ago. You would think there would be more pyrotechnics.

However, there are some pleasures to be found in Mr. Nugent’s unlettered drivel, even if they were unintended.

Let’s take a moment and savor the delicious irony of Ted “Wango Tango” Nugent extolling the probity of middle class sexual mores to the feckless poor. To my mind, this is a bit like enduring an avuncular lecture about the evils of chemical dependency from Keith Richards.

Terrible Ted opens his salvo on the less fortunate with the admonition:

“The fault is with the parents or, often, the lack thereof.”

Nugent is so good as to graciously spare the children from being complicit in their parents’ inconsiderate actions which so aggrieve good conservatives such as he. This is a common complaint. Even at the most cursory glance, history is chocked full of examples of society’s betters bemoaning the fecundity of their lesser members (see Dickens). Setting aside the lack of originality, it’s Nugent’s shameless hypocrisy that comes to the fore.

Nugent has been married twice and is the father of eight children. His first wife Sandy divorced him, accusing him of “bizarre sexual practices”. Three of the children were from his first marriage and two were from the second. Wait a minute; that is only five, his other three were born out of wedlock! And if that wasn’t enough, he further warns “mindless baby-making machines”:

“… if you can’t afford to have kids, quit having them and expecting the taxpayers to pay for them. Men and women with no visible means of support other than the taxpayer dime shouldn’t be having children. That may sound ugly and controlling, but it’s much uglier to expect the taxpayer to pay for mindless baby-making machines…”

Of course, Ted takes his responsibilities very seriously, so much so that in 2004 he was sued for unpaid child support payments for a bastard he fathered in 1995.

It must be said that Nugent contributed more than his fair share to the corrosion of our cultural currency. His 1980 classic “Wango Tango”enlightens young minds with the following lyrics:

“Kinda like, goes kinda like this
You take her right ankle out
You take her left ankle out
You get her belly propped down
You get her butt propped up
Yeah lookin' good now baby
I think you're in the right position now baby…”

Oh there’s more,

“I got salivate late, salivate late, salivate late
I got the droolin', droolin', get all wet, salivate, salivate
Got salivate, salivate, salivate, salivate, heh heh heh
Yeah you look so good baby, I like it, I like it, I like it
You know what I been talkin' about honey…”

Ted, no vicarious tunesmith, often put these words of wisdom into action. He gained a bit of notoriety in October 2000 when Spin magazine declared what follows as #63 on their list of the "100 Sleaziest Moments in Rock". Channeling his inner Jerry Lee Lewis, the thirty-year old Nugent initiated a “relationship” with seventeen-year-old Hawaii native Pele Massa. (There seems to be some dispute as to Ms. Massa’s true age with allegations she might have been as young as thirteen). Due to the age difference they could not marry so Nugent joined Massa's parents in signing documents to make himself her legal guardian. The above lyrics probably give some insight into the type of guardianship “Uncle Ted” was providing. Nothing creepy here.

It is illustrative that Nugent chooses to quote William J. Bennett another leading light of the “do as I say, not as I do” school of conservative thought. Bennett, when not dropping millions on the tables of Las Vegas, spends his time cranking out unreadable tomes with a singular theme – blame the victim. Perhaps Bill “Know when to fold ‘em” Bennett wants the poor to parlay their lottery tickets and repair “The Broken Hearth”.

Of course, we have to “punish” the poor for their own good. They don’t work. That broccoli on your table just finds its way there. The toilets at the McDonalds just clean themselves. Damn, if those poor people would just work 100 hours a week between three or four jobs, they could make as much as $725.00 a week! “[We] must make hard choices that force people into making smart, responsible decisions.” You’re too late, Ted, poor people make hard choices every single day.

I suppose it is now de rigueur in conservative circles to blame teacher unions for AIDS, the Kardashians and the fall of Western Civilization. This argument is so tiresome and spurious, I can only respond as Christopher Hitchens would have responded; 'That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence'.

The most risible and laughable of his assertions is “…we need a government that respects the free market and private sector instead of spitting on them. The more our government embraces the private sector, the more opportunity there is available…” It could well be argued that our government does a bit more than “embrace” the private sector. In fact, given its behavior toward Wall Street and the trillion dollar bailouts one could say they fellate the private sector. Now that we have protected the “job creators’” wealth from taxation, the question remains – where are the jobs?

If Mr. Nugent really wants us face the “ugly and uncomfortable” truths about poverty in America today, he might start by leaving his “canned hunt” in the wilds of Michigan and ask a few a few of his former fans – many of whom are becoming statistics in the longest recession since the 1930’s - in decaying rust belt cities that long supported his decadent rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. If this really all the right has to offer, along with the cavalcade of clowns they call their candidates; Mr. Obama, of whom I am no fan, should have nothing to worry about this November.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Quote for the day

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

Louis D. Brandeis (Supreme Court Justice)

"There is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic system are simple. They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and others;

Jobs for those who can work;

Security for those who need it;

The ending of the special privileges for the few;

The preservation of civil liberties for all;

The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living."

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

NPR Check: Barbara Bradley Hagerty - God Help Us

NPR Check: Barbara Bradley Hagerty - God Help Us

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Portland Catholics raise $86,000 to fight same-sex marriage in Maine

No doubt, the baby Jesus is beaming with pride in regard to his acolyte, the bishop of Portland, and his minions for doing their part so the fairies can’t marry. Throughout the month of September, the diocese took “special” collections to ensure that people who are fond of people with similar genitalia are denied inheritances, health insurance, and the other benefits most of us take for granted. And to buy air time

Every time I turn on the radio, there is another commercial warning us of the evils of same-sex marriage. One of the supposed “mandates” of the law is our children in the public schools would be indoctrinated with the idea that two people who love one another should be allowed to marry regardless of their orientation.

Huh? The next thing you will know, they will be letting colored folks sit next to us on the bus!

I would like to reassure the opponents of same-sex marriage they need not worry. I’ve met plenty of the recent graduates of the public schools and if their grasp of history, literature, biology and mathematics is any indication of their ability to retain knowledge – the Gay and Lesbian community should be in for a real disappointment.

(For the fact-based community: there are no plans to teach about same-sex marriage in the schools.)

But the part of the commercial that catches my attention is the ominous warning: “this law could possibly do away with the church’s tax-exempt status”. Now, we are getting down to the meat and potatoes of the issue – the Benjamins!

Personally, I think tax-exempt status for churches is an egregious violation of the constitution and should be ended immediately. Tax-exempt status should be reserved to those organizations that can be shown to provide a public good. I’ll be damned if I can see the public good in buggering children and helping the perpetrators escape justice. But, that’s just me.

It seems the threat to the holy gravy train lies in the fact that by treating evil homosexuals like citizens, the churches won’t be able to discriminate against them any more in matters of employment, adoption, etc. and still be able to suck on the public teat. It seems the state isn’t really interested in the Bishop’s (and others of his ilk’s) hate-filled, homophobic rants, and what really hurts; it doesn’t want to pay for them anymore.

I can’t help but wonder what the baby Jesus would have done with the 86 G’s? Maybe help the poor, or feed the hungry – you know – that whole “sermon on the mount” thing. Maybe, just maybe show a little compassion too.

Barney F. McClelland 10/10/09

US hypocrisy on free speech at United Nations

Found this disturbing article at the "Index on Censorship" website:

08 Oct 2009

The UN Human Rights Council has passed a resolution condemning “stereotyping of religion”. It’s a move that flouts freedom of expression – and it was sponsored by the United States. Roy W Brown reportsThe United States has backed a new UN resolution on free expression which would be considered unconstitutional under its First Amendment — which protects freedom of expression and bans sanctioning of religions.

The UN Human Rights Council on 2 October adopted the resolution, which the US had co-sponsored with Egypt. The US had finally joined the Human Rights Council in June, and its support for the measure reflected the Obama administration’s stated aim to “re-engage” with the UN.

While the new resolution focuses on freedom of expression, it also condemns “negative stereotyping of religion”. Billed as a historic compromise between Western and Muslim nations, in the wake of controversies such the Danish Muhammed cartoons, the resolution caused concern among European members.

“The language of stereotyping only applies to stereotyping of individuals, I stress individuals, and must not protect ideologies, religions or abstract values,” said France’s representative, Jean-Baptiste Mattéi, speaking for the EU. “The EU rejects the concept of defamation of religion.”

France emphasised that international human rights law protects individual believers, not systems of belief. But European members, eager not be seen as compromise wreckers, reluctantly supported the measure.

On the other side of the fault line stood the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which lobbied for a measure against “religious defamation”.

“We firmly believe that the exercise of freedom of expression carries with it special responsibilities,” said Pakistan’s delegate, speaking for the OIC. The “defamation” of religion, he said, “results in negative stereotyping of the followers of this religion and belief and leads to incitement, discrimination, hatred and violence against them, therefore directly affecting their human rights.”

Following the OIC’s logic, one could equally apply the language of the resolution to Islamism, a political form which is arguably a “contemporary manifestation of religious hatred, discrimination and xenophobia. It results in negative stereotyping of the followers of other religions and beliefs and leads to incitement, discrimination, hatred and violence against them, therefore directly affecting their human rights.”

The EU also had other worries. European members felt that the provision in the resolution on “the moral and social responsibility of the press” was objectionable in that it went beyond the limited restrictions set out in article 19, the provision on free expression in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

Finally, the EU encouraged the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank LaRue, to continue his work. This was an indirect reference to the attacks made against LaRue by several OIC members at the June session of the Human Rights Council. (Read more here)
The Council stopped short of repeating the OIC’s criticisms of the Special Rapporteur but encouraged him to stick to his mandate. That indicates that he should continue to focus on violations of free expression, rather than purported “abuses” of that right.

While this new resolution reflects new efforts by the US to broker compromises between Western and Muslim nations, it also represents an ominous crack in the defences of free expression.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Northern Exposure

Like most readers, I carry an image of Alaska that was formed in large part by the quirky television program Northern Exposure. A populace comprised of congenial misanthropes and eccentrics who were charming against a backdrop of majestic natural beauty.

The frozen north it seems is not quite as friendly – at least to nonbelievers – as we were led to believe. The following letter has a decidedly less tolerant tone than one would expect to find in the Kenai Peninsula Clarion where stories of moose charges and Grizzly bear sightings make the front page. A certain Alice Shannon, whose letter appeared in the Clarion holds somewhat xenophobic notions in regard to infidels:

“It’s time to stomp out atheists in America. The majority of Americans would love to see atheists kicked out of America. If you don’t believe in God, then get out this country.

The United States is based on having freedom of religion, speech, etc. which means you can believe in God any way you want (Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, etc.), but you must believe.

I don’t recall freedom of religion meaning no religion. Our currency even says, “In God we trust”. So to all the atheist in America: Get out of our country.

Atheists have caused the ruin of this great nation by taking prayer out of our schools and being able to practice what can only be called evil. I don’t care if they have never committed a crime, atheist are the reason crime is rampant.”

Well, Alice certainly has a bee in her bonnet. One hardly knows where to begin with this (but I am sure some readers do!). If I might throw in my two cents worth, I’d like to address Alice’s failing memory, “I don’t recall freedom of religion meaning no religion.” To quote Thomas Jefferson, author of the amendment she so clearly admires;

“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

So to all you evil-doing atheists (with or without felony records) out there, watch out! Alice Shannon is on to you, and she has the [final?] solution.

My thanks to the Raving Atheist for this gem

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Nearly 1 in 3 Believe Bible is Literal Word of God

I found this disturbing little bit of news in the latest issue of Editor and Publisher. I think it speaks for itself:

Nearly 1 in 3 Believe Bible is Literal Word of God

By E&P Staff

Published: May 25, 2007 10:05 AM ET
NEW YORK About one-third of the American adult population believes the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally word for word, a new Gallup poll reveals. This percentage is only slightly lower than several decades ago.

Gallup reports that the majority of those "who don't believe that the Bible is literally true believe that it is the inspired word of God but that not everything it in should be taken literally." Finally, about one in five Americans believe the Bible is merely an ancient book of "fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man."

There is also a strong relationship between education and belief in a literal Bible, Gallup explains, with such belief becoming much less prevalent as schooling continues.

Those who believe in the literal Bible amount to 31% of adult Americans. This is a decline of about 7% compared with Gallup polls taken in the 1970s and 1980s. It is strongest in the South.

Believe in the literal word of the Bible is strongest among those whose schooling stopped with high school and declines steadily with educational level, with only 20% of college graduates holding that view and 11% of those with an advanced degree.

E&P Staff

Friday, May 25, 2007

Cincinnati's Shame

This past Sunday the Cincinnati Enquirer devoted the front page and an entire section to the creation museum opening here on the 28th. Of course, the praise was lavish and what few criticisms there were, buried in the "letters" section (yours truly was included). An entire spread was dedicated to Ken Ham, the Chaucerian mountebank who swindled the credulous out of $27 million to erect this shrine to ignorance where Adam and Eve go to Sunday school riding dinosaurs; a place where Darwin, secular science and troubling evidence hold no sway.

If our bumpkinhood was not already confirmed, this insult to every natural history museum in the world was splashed across the pages of the New York Times yesterday. And to my horror, it remains the most popular e-mailed, blogged and searched article today. Now the whole world knows of our shame and can only conclude we are hotbed of inbred goobers.

This utter barking lunacy make one almost wish for biblical wrath; a nice plague of locusts or a Sodom and Gomorrah tactical nuclear strike, anything to end the embarrassment.