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Facts? We don’t need your stinking facts! Why right-wing Americans are so stubbornly ignorant

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There’s a transcript of a speech that Bill Moyers gave in January to History Makers, an organization of broadcasters and producers who make factual programs, posted at Alternet. It’s a very interesting talk, but ultimately depressing. He cites an July 2010 article from the Boston Globe that sets the tone for his remarks and I’d imagine that most of the people listening to what the saintly Texan had to say that day had the same thought “Wow, that sucks.” It’s certainly what went through my mind as I read it. Quoting Moyers:

As Joe Keohane reported last year in The Boston Globe, political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency “deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information.” He was reporting on research at the University of Michigan, which found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in new stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts were not curing misinformation. “Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.”

I won’t spoil it for you by a lengthy summary here. Suffice it to say that, while “most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence,” the research found that actually “we often base our opinions on our beliefs ... and rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions.”

These studies help to explain why America seems more and more unable to deal with reality. So many people inhabit a closed belief system on whose door they have hung the “Do Not Disturb” sign, that they pick and choose only those facts that will serve as building blocks for walling them off from uncomfortable truths. Any journalist whose reporting threatens that belief system gets sliced and diced by its apologists and polemicists (say, the fabulists at Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the yahoos of talk radio.) Remember when Limbaugh, for one, took journalists on for their reporting about torture at Abu Ghraib? He attempted to dismiss the cruelty inflicted on their captives by American soldiers as a little necessary “sport” for soldiers under stress, saying on air: “This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation ... you [ever] heard of need to blow some steam off?” As so often happens, the Limbaugh line became a drumbeat in the nether reaches of the right-wing echo chamber. So, it was not surprising that in a nationwide survey conducted by The Chicago Tribune on First Amendment issues, half of the respondents said there should be some kind of press restraint on reporting about the prison abuse. According to Charles Madigan, the editor of the Tribune’s Perspective section, 50 or 60 percent of the respondents said they “would embrace government controls of some kind on free speech, particularly when it has sexual content or is heard as unpatriotic.”

No wonder many people still believe Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii, as his birth certificate shows; or that he is a Muslim, when in fact he is a Christian; or that he is a socialist when day by day he shows an eager solicitude for corporate capitalism. Partisans in particular - and the audiences for Murdoch’s Fox News and talk radio - are particularly susceptible to such scurrilous disinformation. In a Harris survey last spring, 67 percent of Republicans said Obama is a socialist; 57 percent believed him to be a Muslim; 45 percent refused to believe he was born in America; and 24 percent said he “may be the antichrist.”

What’s even worse is that the most misinformed people (the most gullible, the most fanatical, perhaps) are the ones who vote the most reliably. The Creationists. The people making $40,000 a year who support tax cuts for billionaires to the detriment of their own lives and their kids’ schools. People with no healthcare who protest against it at Tea-party rallies. An entire voting bloc of people who do not believe in what others would deem objective reality. THAT, dear readers, is at base, what we are dealing with in America today and it’s a problem that’s here to stay. You might say it’s the red, white and blue brontosaurus in the room that no one wants to talk about: The willful ignorance of America’s right.

The Boston Globe article that Bill Moyers cites, Joe Keohane’s “How facts backfire: Researchers discover a surprising threat to democracy: our brains” is an absolute must-read. I’m surprised that there wasn’t a bigger fuss made of this information by the liberal media when it was published last year.  Here’s a link to the entire article, and some highlights:

This bodes ill for a democracy, because most voters — the people making decisions about how the country runs — aren’t blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds. The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false. And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed. Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper.

“The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon — known as “backfire” — is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.”

These findings open a long-running argument about the political ignorance of American citizens to broader questions about the interplay between the nature of human intelligence and our democratic ideals. Most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas, and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence. In reality, we often base our opinions on our beliefs, which can have an uneasy relationship with facts. And rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions. Worst of all, they can lead us to uncritically accept bad information just because it reinforces our beliefs. This reinforcement makes us more confident we’re right, and even less likely to listen to any new information. And then we vote.

Yup. And then we vote. Yikes!

Here’s another passage from the article that will wipe that smirk off your Blue State face:

“Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be,” read a recent Onion headline. Like the best satire, this nasty little gem elicits a laugh, which is then promptly muffled by the queasy feeling of recognition. The last five decades of political science have definitively established that most modern-day Americans lack even a basic understanding of how their country works. In 1996, Princeton University’s Larry M. Bartels argued, “the political ignorance of the American voter is one of the best documented data in political science.”

On its own, this might not be a problem: People ignorant of the facts could simply choose not to vote. But instead, it appears that misinformed people often have some of the strongest political opinions. A striking recent example was a study done in the year 2000, led by James Kuklinski of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He led an influential experiment in which more than 1,000 Illinois residents were asked questions about welfare — the percentage of the federal budget spent on welfare, the number of people enrolled in the program, the percentage of enrollees who are black, and the average payout. More than half indicated that they were confident that their answers were correct — but in fact only 3 percent of the people got more than half of the questions right. Perhaps more disturbingly, the ones who were the most confident they were right were by and large the ones who knew the least about the topic. (Most of these participants expressed views that suggested a strong antiwelfare bias.)

Studies by other researchers have observed similar phenomena when addressing education, health care reform, immigration, affirmative action, gun control, and other issues that tend to attract strong partisan opinion. Kuklinski calls this sort of response the “I know I’m right” syndrome, and considers it a “potentially formidable problem” in a democratic system. “It implies not only that most people will resist correcting their factual beliefs,” he wrote, “but also that the very people who most need to correct them will be least likely to do so.”

The persistence of these political misperceptions is perplexing, but can be summed up as “Americans, but lets get real for a second, especially those who have a tendency towards “conservative” opinions, will only listen to you if you are saying something that sounds like something they already believe.” (No, I don’t think that all progressives are open-minded, but xenophobia, homophobia, Islamaphobia, racism, being anti-science and a general “fear of the other,” are not exactly hallmarks of the “liberal” personality the way they tend to be on the right. You’d have to be Andrew Brietbart to “believe” otherwise).

What’s worse is that when someone is feeling threatened or is economically insecure, the mind closes down even more. That’s how demagoguery works. It might explain why some dumb old white people think Glenn Beck is so wonderful. It might also explain his success as a pitchman for gold coins during his program. The more threatened someone feels, the easier they fall in line, and the less likely they are to dissent from the party line when it comes to “taking back the country” from a socialist Kenyan. Fear and gullibility go hand in hand, as we see daily.

But these are the dummies, we’re talking about, right? The ignorant people. Not so fast, smartass, because researchers at Stony Brook University found that the people who were the most politically sophisticated thinkers were even less open to “new” (which is to say a fact) information that challenged their belief systems, than the statistically ignorant! Quoting again from Joe Keohane’s article: “These people may be factually right about 90 percent of things, but their confidence makes it nearly impossible to correct the 10 percent on which they’re totally wrong. Taber and Lodge found this alarming, because engaged, sophisticated thinkers are “the very folks on whom democratic theory relies most heavily.”

How facts backfire: Researchers discover a surprising threat to democracy: our brains (Boston Globe)
 
Thank you Steven Otero!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Look, I’m on television!’: Steve Jobs preps for the big time
02.09.2011
11:19 pm

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Amusing
Media
Science/Tech

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Six years after he graduated high school, and four years after the LSD experiences that he’s called “one of the two or three most important things I’ve done in my life,” and less than two years after he co-founded a company named after a fruit, the biological son of graduate students Abdulfattah Jandali and Joanne Simpson prepped nervously for his first TV interview.

Ya gotta figure most game-changers have found themselves “deathly ill and ready to throw up at any moment,” right?
 

 
Thanks, Cameron Macdonald!

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape
02.09.2011
08:36 am

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History
Hysteria
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Movies
Politics
Pop Culture

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In 1984 the British government drew up a list of 72 films which it deemed so reprehensible that they should be banned. Anyone found in possession of a copy, or actively distributing one of the films, could face a prison sentence. This was in the very early days of video, when distribution of movies on VHS was unregulated, and the new medium could be found in almost every small local corner shop. This is the story covered by the fantastic documentary Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape by British horror director Jake West, which was released late last year in the UK.

More than just a look at the films that were banned by the UK Government in 1984, it’s an examination of the political climate of the era, and the moral panic whipped up by national newspapers, busy looking for an easy scapegoat for society’s problems (and probably a bit worried that their own medium was under threat). The most fascinating part, for me, are the interviews with the dubious, so-called “moral leaders” that decided the public couldn’t handle this type of thing in the first place. A quarter of a century later and society has relegated them to a status of mockery, yet they still cling dearly to the notion that they were doing something right and protecting stupid people from themselves, not just furthering their own mealy-mouthed careers. Sociopathic politicians aren’t just a new phenomena, you know.
 

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Interestingly, one of the prime movers in the the banning of these films was a man called Peter Kruger, who was the head of Scotland Yard’s Obscene Publications Unit. It may be just one huge coincidence, but almost a year later saw the release of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare On Elm Street, and the unleashing of one of the greatest horror characters of all time, Freddy Krueger. Was this Craven’s own F.U. to the British board of censors? Perhaps not, but it doesn’t take a wild leap of the imagination to draw this conclusion - Craven is a smart, politically aware man whose own Last House On The Left ended up on the list of 72 banned films.

The three-disc DVD set, called Video Nasties - the Definitive Guide, comes with the documentary itself, and split over a further two discs a guide to all 72 films on the list (almost half of which were unbanned at the time) with commentary from British horror critics like Kim Newman, Alan Jones and Stephen Thrower. It also comes lovingly packaged in a fake video cassette box with artwork by Graham Humphreys, who created the now iconic British sleeve for The Evil Dead (another banned film on the list). So far only available in the UK, for anyone with a multi-region DVD player the film can be found on Amazon.co.uk and comes highly recommended. This documentary is not just for horror buffs, it is for anyone with an interest in politics, culture, and how liberal ideals can be thwarted by a select, self-interested few.
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Iowa Republican focus group agrees: Obama a Muslim

 
Now this is good TV! Ever since I stopped giving a fuck that I live in a land of lard-encrusted intellectual midgets and learned to sit back, relax and grab a good seat for the end times reality teevee show, my life’s been so much less stressful.

Why just a few short weeks ago, I’d have been apoplectic at the sight of these moronic Iowa Republicans passing judgement on Obama’s Middle East foreign policy as if even one of these ignoramuses could find Egypt on a map. The punch line happens just before the one minute mark, when all is revealed….

Here’s an astute comment from YouTube:

This is what happens when when you fail to learn how to think critically and judge the validity of your sources of information. These people feel confident in their beliefs because they never put any real thought into them.

Arguing with such people is often fruitless, because directly confronting them usually causes them to retreat further in their beliefs. To get them to question their beliefs you would first need to improve their methods of thinking, which is not an easy thing to do.

He’s right, you can’t just snap your fingers in front of an idiot’s face and say “Wise up, dumbshit!” and expect that it will happen. Even Fox New’s Frank Luntz seems embarrassed for these people, which is saying a lot.

Bonus clip, Glennspeed You! Beck Emperor:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
MyWTF?!: The Rise and Fall of MySpace
02.07.2011
12:44 pm

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Media
Music
Pop Culture
R.I.P.

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Image by Adam de la Mere.

Ah, it seems like only yesterday when MySpace was the biggest and most important website in the world. I remember attending a music biz pow-wow about five years ago and being told by a manager that as an artist I would not be taken seriously if I didn’t have a MySpace. Well, five years on and the opposite is almost certainly true—if you are a new artist and all you have is a MySpace, you are not going to be taken seriously.

There is an almost bewildering array of sites now dedicated to artist-uploads and legally sharing music. The biggest of these is probably Soundcloud, which this Wednesday is organising its first ever “meet-up”. Users of the site are gathering in cities all over the world, to meet face to face, and also to engage in jam sessions and round table discussion forums.  This kind of pro-user approach is something that MySpace could have done with 2 or 3 years ago, extending its reach from the e-world into the real world, and bringing together its most active users. But, for whatever reason, it never happened. Now potential users are spoiled for choice, with the likes of Mixcloud, Bandcamp, Fairtilizer, ReverbNation and more vying for their music hosting.

For my money, MySpace in its prime was the best music based social networking site. Perhaps I am being nostalgic, but it gave great access to the visual and blog cultures that surround and hugely inform modern music, more so than the sites mentioned above. It was open to hacking and adjustment via code, so you could make your profile look the way you wanted. However, they fumbled the ball badly. I have to say it - you fucked it up guys. Majorly - and this is coming from someone who at one point had roughly 20 different MySpace profiles on the go, representing different acts, production aliases, and a couple of hard-to-hear soundtracks that deserved to be on the web. I haven’t logged in to my primary profile as the Niallist since last autumn.

So why the downturn? While it would be tempting to class this as yet another example of fickle generation Y, the truth is much more simple. MySpace treated its music uploaders like shit. I don’t know if this was a deliberate move on their part, or the result of not understanding a good thing when they had it. I guess it could be something to do with the site being bought by Murdoch, and any avenue of profit being bled dry. As a site of cultural importance it is long over, to the point where I think it is never even going to see a Bebo-style ironic/nostalgic resurgence.

MySpace constantly felt the need to model itself on Twitter and Facebook, sites which serve vastly different purposes. MySpace was never about fast flowing streams of information, where the profile itself is largely unimportant. Quite the opposite, MySpace was all about the profile, and being able to browse through lots of them at your own leisure. Now, the current staff can claim they are merely moving forward with the times, but this is at the expense of the functions that MySpace was originally great at. It just comes across as, at best misguided, and at worse desperate. Talk about killing the goose who laid the golden egg.

Some specific examples: the “download” function was disabled at some point around 2007, making sharing of music through the site impossible. Yet, the button remained on the music player, goading us with a function we couldn’t use for a good year or more, and giving other sites the chance to supersede them with much easier sharing and monetizing functionality. Also, it makes less than zero sense for a social networking site that claims to be trying to combat spamming to change their friend-adding process so that you can no longer screen friends’ requests. Anyone who requested you as a friend after Dec 2009 was automatically added to your friends list and able to message you and post on your comments wall, a huge boon for porn and spam bots everywhere.

The British music/new media blogger and lecturer Andrew Dubber started a campaign called “Happy Quit MySpace Day” that has grown in popularity hugely since its launch in 2009. Incredibly, one year later (when Dubber had asked people to delete their profiles) MySpace itself had a massive relaunch which simply made the site much, much worse. Aside from re-branding it as “My_____” (which is just asking for trouble), it now looks a confusing mess. The music content has become secondary. Old codes which could be easily manipulated by the user to their own desire don’t work anymore, meaning that some profiles, which had taken a long time to cultivate a certain look or a vibe, are now blank. Logging in reveals the true extent of the damage. It seems as if no-one at MySpace heeded any advice from musicians, bloggers, or respected insider voices like Dubber. They have blindly stuck to their guns of trying to turn it into a fast flowing info stream like Facebook, and as such have killed it.

Oh well, maybe this whole thing is just me getting old. Maybe a new generation of kids will re-discover MySpace, hack it and make it look good again—but you know what, my feeling on this is “why would they bother?” Their needs are better served by other networking sites. MySpace, for a while you were on to something amazing. But you blew it. Sorry.

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
John Peel interviews Mick Farren about the underground press
02.01.2011
02:20 pm

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Fantastic! Vintage interview with Dangerous Minds pal Mick Farren (seen here with ex-wife Joy) conducted by John Peel!

Here the legendary Mr. Farren discusses how “the authorities” would pressure printers not to deal with the International Times or the underground press as a means of suppressing it. Towards the end, he sketches out how an underground economy would work. What a thrill to see this. Imagine if rock stars today were this smart!

When Mick gets back to me about this interview (not mentioned in his autobiography Give the Anarchist a Cigarette) I will update this post.
 

 
Via Blog to Comm

More Mick Farren on Dangerous Minds

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
How to do news: Al Jazeera spends 25 mins. with actual young Egyptian & Tunisian activists
01.30.2011
12:19 pm

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As bewildered analysts on the sidelines wring their hands over “what’s next in Egypt,” Al Jazeera continues to very simply shame the American news media with regards reporting on the region’s issues.

Jane Dutton, the host of the network’s “Inside Story” show, does what we used to call actual insightful reporting by bringing into AJ’s Cairo studio Egyptian activists Gigi Ibrahim, Amr Wakd and Wael Khalil and, remotely, Tunisian graduate student activist Fidi Al Hammami. And while these kids may represent a somewhat elite and educated part of the thousands on the streets, Al Jazeera goes a long way here beyond the usual news formula of interviewing either excited guys in the middle of a protest yelling at the camera or annoyingly hedging news “contributors.”

At around the 18-minute mark, Khalil makes the crucial remark that puts the American punditry’s narcissistic agonizing into perspective: “We don’t need the US.” In short, Uncle Sam, the EU and the international community are rather irrelevant to this struggle. The paradigm’s changed, and the old powers need to get over themselves.
 

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Marching music for 21st century rebellion: Mutamassik’s ‘That Which Death Cannot Destoy’
01.29.2011
12:36 pm

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Mutamassik’s 13-track That Which Death Cannot Destroy was one of 2010’s most under-recognized releases in underground music. It could also turn out to be a brilliant soundtrack to the current anti-authoritarian street-fight spreading throughout Egypt, the Maghreb and the Middle East.

Even better—the whole album is offered for FREE download.

Mutamassik (meaning “stronghold” and “tenacity” in Arabic) is the nom de tune of Giulia Lolli, a half-Italian/half-Egyptian composer and DJ with a background that’s reflected in her splintered internationalist musical style. Born in Italy and raised in the American Rustbelt, Lolli went to New York City in time to swoop quickly in and out of the illbient scene of the mid-‘90s before heading out to Cairo, and finally landing up in what she terms a “CAVEmen-style” existence with her husband, Brooklyn guitarist Morgan Craft, and child in Tuscany.

Lolli has described her music as “Sa’aidi Hardcore & Baladi Breakbeats: Egyptian & Afro-Asiatic Roots mixed with the head-nod of hip-hop & the bass and syncopation of hardstep.” (The term “Sa’aidi” can refer to people of Upper [central-eastern] Egypt, and can also be interpreted as “ascending”; “Baladi” refers to traditional, oft-rural Arabic folk music.)

With that said, That Which Death… sees Lolli lay down a ritualized heavily percussive base over which she smears rumbling bass tones, cranky cello, evocative samples and scratches, various electronic instrumentation, and her own subliminal vocals to create an otherworldy brand of liberationist marching music.
 

 
Get That Which Death Cannot Destroy free…

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Exclusive: ‘Who are they and who are we?’ A hip-hop reflection on the Tunisian revolution
01.28.2011
11:32 am

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Hip-hop
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Music
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As this posts, despite an evening curfew falling on the cities of Cairo, Suez and Alexandria, some of the biggest popular showdowns yet between the Egyptian people and the regime of President Hosni Mubarak continue. That remarkable unrest has been explicitly inspired by the recent historic and ongoing revolution 2,100 miles west in Tunisia, which has led to the ouster of the dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years of repressive rule.

One little-known aspect of the Tunisian uprising is the role of hip-hop. As in most of the Arab world and Iran, and despite Ben Ali’s draconian rule, Tunisia’s hip-hop scene has grown. Artists like Afrock, T-Shibo, and Killah Rector have carried on the work first laid down by pioneers like Wled Bled, and the arrest for questioning of 22-year-old MC Hamada Ben-Aoun, a.k.a. The General, for his track “President, Your People are Dying” happened a few days before Ben Ali fled the country.

Watch and listen closely. This is the epitome of music culture against repression.

I asked Tunisian rapper Firas Louati for a few words on the unrest in his home country:

I grew up in Tunisia. For me, like I’m sure each country is for every kid, it was the center of the universe. I truly believed that everything revolved around Tunisia. People from all over the world literally did pilgrimage to it, whether for religious reasons (during Lag Ba’omer, a Jewish holiday that takes place after the celebration of Passover, Jews from all over the world come in masses to Ghriba synagogue, home of the world’s oldest Sefer Torah), or more commonly for touristic reasons during the summer when Tunisia becomes a Mecca for beach-goers and sun-lovers.

As I got older I realized it wasn’t really the center of the universe. I discovered we were categorized as a Third World country, and since both my parents are revolutionary syndicated journalists (my father was jailed during the 1978 manifestations), I learned pretty quickly that we were living in a dictatorship, that the media is censored and freedom of speech is virtually non-existent. Sure we ranked highly among African and Arab countries, and women enjoyed a freedom unheard of in the neighboring countries, and for decades that was the thread of dignity we, people of Tunisia, hung onto. But that wasn’t enough, not if we wanted our kids to be proud of being Tunisians.

It took long enough, but Tunisians rid themselves of their fears—fears of the government, but most importantly fears of leaving their comfort-zone and the apparent safety and security our country was famous for. And they marched into the streets simultaneously, first to express their anger and discontent, then to ask for reforms and, well…jobs! Then, finally, to demand and ultimately impose a radical change—a historic one, too. For the first time in history, an Arab people has ousted its president and dictator without foreign help or the use of force.

And on that Friday, the 14th of January, the eyes of the whole world were on Tunisia. On that historic day, Tunisia was and forever will remain an idol and an inspiration for the tired and the poor, the weak and the oppressed, anyone who has ever dreamt about liberty while living under dictatorship. On that historic day, Tunisia WAS the center of the universe. I couldn’t help remembering all those revolutionary rap songs I wrote, all those cliched phrases that even I was starting to get tired of: “Power to the people,” “We can change our destiny,” etc.—and smile. Finally it was relevant, finally it made sense.

The battle is far from won, but we know the challenges awaiting us, and we will work them out as a united free people in a democratic way. Because now that we tried the taste of freedom, we are never giving it up again.

Thank you people of Tunisia for making her once again the center of the universe.

Here’s the video for Firas’s recently released tune, “Tunisian Revolution,” with a translation from the Arabic below:
 

 
Tunisian Revolution

CHORUS
[The chorus is sampled from “Homma Min Wehna Min” (“Who are They and Who are We”), a song by revolutionary Egyptian composer Sheikh Imam.]

1st verse:
If the people one day decided to live*
then it’s as if they decided to walk on water.
Hands are cuffed, my “masters”’s needle has sewn our lips
nothing left but the weaponized pencil
and my fist.
The night they arrested my heartbeat…**
Long live my country
he who betrayed it will live in it
and he who isn’t among its wealthiest won’t.
The people have been subdued, robbed,
heroes been put down, burnt down,
riches have been accumulated and disappeared.
Underneath us the fire is burning,
and above us the wealthy are living,
and we’re stuck in the middle.
If the people one day decided to live,
start digging graves and preparing burial shrouds.
Blood is screaming inside our veins,
we die and they live, dear country.
If the people one day decided to live,
then destiny has to obey
and the shackles have to be broken
and the dark night has to end.

- CHORUS -

2nd verse:
Who are they?
U won’t see them but u will feel their shackles
Who are they?
The ones that deafened hearing people
and muted the talkative until we became like statues,
steered like a herd.
Who are they?
They’re the ones who dried the ink out of our pens,
imprisoned speech.
Who are they?
They’re the ones that made the flag cry.
Who are they
and who are we?
Where are they?
In fortified castles.
Where are we?
In destroyed shacks.
Their sons enjoy our misfortune,
our sons get beaten in universities,
get burnt.
Their sons get the highest positions,
our sons hang from coffee shop to coffee shop, from bar to bar
are unemployed, with diplomas…

*A take on Tunisian national anthem by Abul-Qasem Alchebbi:
“If the people one day decided to live
then destiny has to obey
and the shackles has to be broken
and the dark night has to end”

**Refers to the famous 1984 Egyptian TV film The Night They Arrested Fatma, a drama about a young woman who became radicalized during the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.

After the jump: the video (with English subtitles) that helped get Tunisian rapper The General arrested…

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Tea Party Express founder Sal Russo in cringeworthy (and hilarious) ‘Hardball’ appearance

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I’m perhaps a little bit late on this one, but this has to be the single funniest clip of a Tea bagger having his ass handed to him on a silver platter that I have ever seen. I snickered derisively throughout this as Hardball host Chris Matthews hangs Tea Party Express founder Sal Russo out to dry on a hook for the world to see. To be fair, Russo was cast in the unenviable role of having to intellectually defend gross misstatements of historical fact by Rep. Michele Bachman, who just makes shit up that sounds good, or that seems to bolster her other misstatements of fact, as she goes along. A tough act to follow. But he tried! What a fool he looks trying.

Russo keeps trying to maneuver it so he can repeat one of his Tea party talking points, but Matthews will have none of it. Bachmann, it’s obvious to almost anyone with an IQ over 50, is a complete buffoon and yet she is the de facto spokesperson for Sal’s organization. And he can’t make even a single valid point to defend her! It gets even funnier as it goes on and Joan Walsh really rips Russo a new one as well.

I like “Balloonhead” as a name for Bachmann, too. I hope it sticks!

Note to Russo: Matthews treated you with the respect that you deserved, which is to say: none. You might want to reconsider making TV appearances where you are called upon to defend something which is intellectually indefensible (and you even know it, beforehand!). This is what’s gonna happen anytime you venture out of the FOX News echo-chamber with your lame-o talking points, buddy. You got no game, Russo. None. Do you really need to see yourself on TV so badly that you’re willing to look this bad?

Can you imagine how Russo felt after this taping? Ouch. HIs ass must’ve hurt.

The Ultimate Collection Of Bad Michele Bachmann Quotes (BuzzFeed)
 

 
Via Joe.My.God.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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