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September 30, 2011 / sadhbhanu

The Right Word: Praying for Chris Christie to run

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Conservatives are ecstatic at the prospect that Governor Chris Christie might enter the presidential race, despite the New Jersey politician’s repeated assertions that he has no intention of doing so. While he is not everyone’s candidate of choice – Bill O’Reilly thinks he shouldn’t run because he hasn’t been in his current job for long enough – Rush Limbaugh is quick to explain that the enthusiasm for Christie’s phantom candidacy has nothing to do with unhappiness with the Republican field but just that they need to find someone, anyone, who can defeat President Obama (listen to clip).

This whole notion that the field is weak, in other words, is not something that the voting public thinks. The reaction that some people are having to Christie is, “Oh, God, please get in,” and then that does indicate an unhappiness with everybody else that’s in the field. It boils down, I think, to people wanting somebody they think can win, and it boils down to people wanting somebody that talks tough, and talks straight, from the gut.

Up until the last two primary debates, many conservatives thought they had their straight-talking, straight-shooting candidate: Rick Perry. But since Perry’s disappointing debate performance, where he failed to capitalise on his positives (the record number of executions and the record number of low-wage jobs without benefits he gave Texas), and instead, allowed his negatives (a willingness to afford the children of undocumented immigrants an education and to vaccinate girls against cervical cancer) to get the better of him, it is understandable that manyRepublicans would be literally begging Christie to step in and fill the void. It remains to be seen if Christie can pass the conservative litmus test, however – already, Limbaugh fears there might be too much of the John McCain in him. On the other hand, if he does, it may well work against him with the Republican establishment.

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September 23, 2011 / sadhbhanu

The Right Word: Fox News fights class war

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Class warfare is the word on everyone’s lips this week, ever since President Obama made the shocking announcement that millionaires, billionaires and corporations will be called upon to pay their fair share in taxes. Bill O’Reilly was so distressed about the presidents attempts to “punish achievement” that it looked as though he might burst into tears on Monday night. Fortunately, he managed to hold it together. He did set the blogosphere on fire however by suggesting that if President Obama does go through with the tax increase on super-rich people, like him, then he may actually quit his job rather than hand over any more of his “sweat equity” to the federal government (view clip).

He played a clip of President Obama saying to a journalist in 2009 that raising taxes in a recession was not a good thing to do. (Actually, the same clip has been playing on a loop on Fox News), and he bemoaned the fact that the president has since changed his mind.

Correct. So let me ask you: what’s changed in two years? The economy is still awful and unemployment’s even higher. So why have you changed your mind about a tax increase on the affluent and business?

O’Reilly may have inadvertently answered his own question. The rich have had their tax cut since 2001, the same tax cut that was supposed to trickle down all sorts of wealth and opportunity on the rest of us, but instead, the opposite has happened. Unemployment is growing, the deficit is growing; indeed, the only thing not growing is the economy.

 

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September 15, 2011 / sadhbhanu

The Right Word: Beck’s back

Obama’s jobs bill maddened conservatives – especially Glenn Beck, who awaits a hero on a capitalist white charger from China

Glenn Beck  launched his new internet venture, GBTV this week and the 230,000 paid subscribers will no doubt have been glad to find that other than the program being three times as long, little has changed. Conspiracy theories abound, there are chalkboards aplenty and Beck wept his way through much of the inaugural episode.

The tears were for 9/11, but by 9/13, they had subsided and he was able to turn his attention to his opposition to the jobs plan. He seemed to think that if we engage in any more spending in America, we will end up like Europe, where tensions are rising because the industrious, BMW-producing Germans are having to bail out the do-nothing Greeks who lounge around on beaches all day wearing speedos and retire at 45. Beck fears that the conflict between the hardworking European nations (Germany) and the lazy ones (everyplace else) will lead to a rise of what he calls the “old right” (fascism) and the “old left” (communism). But he clarifies that the right wing in Europe still comprises socialists because they are for “big government”.

The Germans work hard. They will push back. This will cause the beginning of the rise of the old right. Remember that’s the socialist right; it’s not the American right. It’s the socialist, big-government right, the spooky Nazi right. Greeks are going to push back, which will be the rise of the old left. This is already happening. The Greeks are already saying wait a minute the Germans can’t tell us how to spend our money.

So Europe is struggling to cope with tensions between rightwing socialists and leftwing socialists,

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September 12, 2011 / sadhbhanu

Dublin: Literature on the Liffey

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by Sadhbh Walshe

I spent my first evening in Dublin at Mulligan’s pub on Poolbeg St. with an award-winning young Irish writer called Bryan Delaney, who highly recommended the Guinness there. Delaney runs the new playwrights program at the Abbey Theatre, and so I was hoping to get some insight from him into Dublin’s literary scene. He was in the midst of telling me how Mulligan’s had achieved a form of immortality by making an appearance in James Joyce’s classic, Dubliners, when a friend of his who had recently lost his job stopped by and told us he has been using the down time to read Joyce’s epic work, Ulysses.

Such is the place literature has in Dublin’s life that you can hardly enter a pub, cross a bridge or get into a chat with the natives without some allusion to it. Dublin was officially designated a city of literature by UNESCO in 2010, a rare honor bestowed on only three other international cities, which are deemed to have a rich literary heritage, as well as a vibrant contemporary scene.

There are so many ways to explore Dublin’s literary past that I couldn’t decide between a literary pub crawl or a literary bike tour and so ended up doing both. (With the benefit of hindsight, I’d recommend doing the latter before the former.) The pub tour was led by two actors who entertained us with their interpretations of great literary works and anecdotes about the authors against the backdrop of the pubs they frequented. One of the pubs was McDaid’s of Harry St., where Brendan Behan allegedly threw his typewriter through the window; another was Davy Byrnes of Duke St., also immortalized in Ulysses. (Behan’s typewriter and other literary artifacts can be enjoyed at the Writers Museum on Parnell Sq.)

One of the tour’s highlights, however, was a brief detour into Trinity College, alma mater to an impressive array of literary notables including Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and, more recently, the poet Paula Meehan and novelist Anne Enright, the 2007 Booker Prize winner. We gathered under the Campanile, an imposing bell tower opposite the front arch of Trinity’s cobblestone quadrangle, (a brave move as legend has it that if a virgin walks under it, the bell will ring) and were entertained with a story of Oscar Wilde’s trysts in Leadville, Colo., where he won over gold miners by managing to out-drink them.

The highlight of the bike tour, which is run by two wonderful guides, Cian and Brian, was the trip down the newly renovated Docklands. We stopped off at the Samuel Beckett Bridge, one of several new bridges that now straddle the River Liffey. Designed by Santiago Calatrava to evoke Ireland’s national symbol of the harp, the $59 million bridge rests beside the new $518 million convention center known to Dubliners as the “Tube in the Cube.” (Dubliners like to baptize their buildings—a fountain statue, since removed, was known as the “Floozie in the Jacuzzi.”)

Farther down the Docklands, some of the more negative legacies of the now dead Celtic Tiger economy were on display, such as the unfinished mult-imillion-dollar fiasco that was to be the headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank. Anglo currently holds the distinction of being the most indebted bank in the world, and the building’s hollow shell serves as a daily reminder of Ireland’s current economic misfortunes.

Whatever the country may be lacking in financial capital, it makes up for with cultural capital. The arts have always played a central role in Irish life, but since the economic downturn, its people seem to be embracing culture with a renewed fervor to deal with the accompanying psychological woes. Any month you visit there will be some major literary event, the details of which can be found at the Discover Ireland Website.

I was there in April when the annual Dublin: One City, One Book Festival was in full swing, and I spoke with the renowned Dublin writer Joseph O’Connor whose book Ghost Light had been chosen as this year’s “one book.” I asked him what his prognosis was for his native city, which he described as “the most beautiful bankrupt city in the world.” Just like the “explosion of creativity” that happened in Ireland during the recession of the ’80s, O’Connor sees the Irish working their way through the current crisis in a similar fashion. If that is the case, then it would seem they are well on the road to recovery.

See Original Article in Car & Travel Magazine

September 9, 2011 / sadhbhanu

The Right Word: Labor Day blues

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Our conservative pundits were disgusted by the tone of some of the Labor Day rhetoric from Democratic and union leaders

Rush Limbaugh was also furious about Hoffa’s speech, which he also played in its edited form and accompanied by the Godfather theme music, warning his audience that Hoffa’s words were nothing short of a declaration of war (listen to clip).

“That’s a declaration of war. I mean that is a come-on to violence. That’s a call for violence, folks, from Don Hoffa to Barack Obama, standing right beside him. Can there be any doubt Hoffa, maybe Obama, [have] been thinking of theRepublicans as their bitches ever since he was elected? Detroit has the highest unemployment rate in the US. It’s 15.7%. I hope, before this is all over, Hoffa has to go hide in Italy someplace. This is all about the Tea Party, scared to death. Hoffa wants to go to the mattresses!”

President Obama was not actually “standing right beside” Hoffa, nor did he endorse the language used in his speech – although it is probably safe to assume that he would like to see the Tea Party voted out of Congress, so he can actually implement some economic measures that would prevent a double-dip recession. As it stands, the president may not even be able to secure an extension of the payroll tax cut that affects Americans earning less than $106,800 a year, even though there was no objection by the Tea Party to extending tax cuts for the rich.

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July 22, 2011 / sadhbhanu

The Right Word: Bill O’Reilly breaks Fox News silence on phone hacking

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Bill O’Reilly finally lifted the veil of silence that has shrouded the hacking scandal involving News Corporation, which owns Fox News. It is unclear why he waited until Tuesday, (the same day that Rupert Murdoch had to eat humble pie during a British parliamentary investigation) to finally mention the scandal that has dominated coverage on every other major network. Perhaps he felt compelled to respond to a memo released by the watchdog group Media Matters, urging O’Reilly to uphold his oft-stated commitment to “independence” from News Corp’s influence or perhaps the anchor was concerned that he could jeopardize his status as “the most trusted political reporter in America” if he failed to even acknowledge a major news story just because it involves the company he works for.

Anyway, whatever his reasons, he finally decided that avoiding the issue was not going to make the story go away.

He got an update on the status quo from Fox News correspondent Amy Kellogg and while he did acknowledge that the story was pretty big and “is going up and up and up” all the way to David Cameron and that the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone was ” the kind of thing that will anger folks”, he still thought that the scandal was mostly a British problem that the US media are making too much of.

He took up this point with Dr Nile Gardiner, a former assistant to Margaret Thatcher and senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

You know look, people are exploiting this situation. It is a bad situation, anyone who broke the law should be held responsible. Everybody knows that. Journalists are citizens too. We break the law, we should be held responsible for it. But here in the United States there isn’t any intrusion of this story thus far on News Corp properties, none! Yet you have the New York Times absolutely running wild with the story, front page, front page, front page, column, column, column, vicious stuff and ah it’s all ideological! Is it not?

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July 14, 2011 / sadhbhanu

The Right Word: Bust-up over the debt ceiling

Sean Hannity complains that ‘free speech doesn’t exist for conservatives in the media any longer’ as the debt ceiling arguments rage

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Sean Hannity is appalled by how the mainstream media are characterising the GOP’s behaviour in the debt ceiling debacle.He played some clips of liberals calling the GOP “hostage takers” and “suicide bombers”and saying that the party has become a “political cult” whose “Hezbollah wing” is in full control. He noted that even “so-called conservative” David Brooks of the New York Times said that “if responsible republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that republican fanaticism caused this default, they will conclude that republicans are not fit to govern and they will be right.”
Hannity discussed the outrageous slander of the Republican Party with democratic strategist Steve Murphy.

You know what I’m sick and tired of… you don’t like it either but the left keeps doing it, the left keep doing it! The left keep attacking viscously, viciously, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann! Here’s the problem, you say it, a couple of other Democrats say it, it doesn’t get noticed and it keeps happening. If a conservative says it they get fired, their advertisers get targeted because liberals say anything, but free speech doesn’t exist for conservatives in the media any longer. That’s the problem.

Murphy responded that he didn’t think it was helpful to characterise the GOP as “economic terrorists” but maintained that it was highly irresponsible of republicans to suddenly decide that the $4 trillion deficit reduction they have been insisting is absolutely essential to save the country from economic ruin, is not really necessary after all if it means that their taxes would have to be raised.

 

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