Tag Archives: charles

Whose Country Is It? by Charles M. Blow

Posted by: Betsm

Op-ed by Charles M. Blow

Columnist Charles M. Blow (Photo: Earl Wilson/The New York Times)

Columnist Charles M. Blow (Photo: Earl Wilson/The New York Times)

The far-right extremists have gone into conniptions.

The bullying, threats, and acts of violence following the passage of health care reform have been shocking, but they’re only the most recent manifestations of an increasing sense of desperation.

It’s an extension of a now-familiar theme: some version of “take our country back.” The problem is that the country romanticized by the far right hasn’t existed for some time, and its ability to deny that fact grows more dim every day. President Obama and what he represents has jolted extremists into the present and forced them to confront the future. And it scares them.

Even the optics must be irritating. A woman (Nancy Pelosi) pushed the health care bill through the House. The bill’s most visible and vocal proponents included a gay man (Barney Frank) and a Jew (Anthony Weiner). And the black man in the White House signed the bill into law. It’s enough to make a good old boy go crazy.

Hence their anger and frustration, which is playing out in ways large and small. There is the current spattering of threats and violence, but there also is the run on guns and the explosive growth of nefarious antigovernment and anti-immigrant groups. In fact, according to a report entitledRage on the Right: The Year in Hate and Extremism” recently released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, “nativist extremist” groups that confront and harass suspected immigrants have increased nearly 80 percent since President Obama took office, and antigovernment “patriot” groups more than tripled over that period.

Politically, this frustration is epitomized by the Tea Party movement. It may have some legitimate concerns (taxation, the role of government, etc.), but its message is lost in the madness. And now the anemic Republican establishment, covetous of the Tea Party’s passion, is moving to absorb it, not admonish it. Instead of jettisoning the radical language, rabid bigotry and rising violence, the Republicans justify it. (They don’t want to refute it as much as funnel it.)

There may be a short-term benefit in this strategy, but it’s a long-term loser.

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TRMS Explores Literacy Tests in Our Nations Voting History

Posted by: Audiegrl

Rachel Maddow ShowMSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reviews the history of how “literacy tests” were used to prevent Black people from voting in America and why Tom Tancredo’s opening speech to the Tea Party convention calling for the return of those tests is so abhorrent. Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree shares his insights on racism in the United States.

This clip caught my attention, because as Rachel pointed out, this is not ancient history, the Voting Rights bill was passed in 1965, when I was three years old. The topic also reminded me of a story my parents told me. But a little background first. Although, they came to Northern Illinois in 1942, the first election they were ‘allowed’ to vote in, was for President John F. Kennedy. Seriously… They were not in the Southern states that Rachel mentioned, but in the North. I’m not sure all the literacy tests they were given, except for one. My mother was given the task to name all of Shakespere’s sonnets. She didn’t pass that test, so she was not allowed to vote.

When they voted for President Kennedy, they went as a group from the American Legion, because my father served honorably in World War II. My Great-Uncle also went with him that day, he served honorably in World War I. Amazingly although both were veterans, this was the first vote for both of them, and they sure were proud. 🙂

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Christmas in the Age of Dickens

Christmas as we know it was born in the Victorian era, and Charles Dickens is often credited with contributing to its creation. From 1649-1660, England had been governed as a Commonwealth, led by Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans, who believed that Christmas and several other holidays had come from ancient pagan ceremonies. They tried to cleanse the church and the nation of what they thought were lingering pagan traditions, and in 1644 they actually outlawed the celebration of Christmas in England. In 1660 the Puritans were overthrown, the monarchy was restored with Charles II as king, and a diminished version of the Christmas holiday returned. Great feasting and drinking was done in the name of Christmas in the 18th century, but the nation had lost its spiritual and emotional investment in the season.

Santa Claus from Harper’s Bazaar, December 1867

Santa Claus from Harper’s Bazaar, December 1867

In the 1840s, Dickens produced a series of extremely popular Christmas tales for the purpose of regenerating the true spirit of Christmas.

A Christmas Carol, the first of Dickens’s Christmas Books, is Dickens’s most beloved and widely acclaimed fictional piece, cherished for its simple expression of what relations between human beings should be, at Christmas time and throughout the year. In A Christmas Carol, Dickens gives Scrooge’s nephew these words, which sum up the Christmas spirit this enduring tale has preserved for generations past and generations to come:

I have always thought of Christmas time…as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they were really fellow-passengers to the grave and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

“Santa Claus”  1895 Library of Congress

“Santa Claus” 1895 Library of Congress

The English Christmas transformed in the mid-1800s, partly as a result of the traditions described in A Christmas Carol. The pre-Victorian-era Christmas was gradually reshaped to reflect the Victorian era’s religious revival and its growing humanitarianism and romanticism. The presence of the Industrial Revolution was felt in a newly-created, large and visible lower class unable to celebrate Christmas with the same luxurious abandon as their wealthier neighbors. The Victorians’ “New Christmas” stressed “the traditional values of neighborliness, charity, and good will” and emphasized the obligation of the rich to the poor.

The New Christmas met with some resistance, however, mostly from Puritans, Quakers and others who disapproved of the mingling of liquor and merriment with a sacred holiday, and who were disturbed by some of the tradition’s origins in pagan ritual. Writing in 1871, G.K. Chesterton provides an insight into the mid-19th century mindset with his claim that:

…in fighting for Christmas [Dickens] was fighting for the old European festival, Pagan and Christian, for that trinity of eating, drinking and praying which to moderns appears irreverent, for the holy day which is really a holiday.

In spite of its detractors, the New Christmas gradually took hold, and the Victorians established many of the customs that are at the center of today’s traditional Christmas celebration. In 1840, when Prince Albert celebrated the holiday at Windsor Castle by presenting his family with the “German” Christmas tree, all of England followed suit. The festival began to focus predominantly on the family, particularly on children. The first Christmas cards appeared in 1843, the year that A Christmas Carol was published. The originally pagan ritual of caroling was revived, gift giving grew in importance, and the traditional Christmas dinner began to take shape.

Christmas Customs in Victorian England

“Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle” wood engraving by J.L. Williams from The Illustrated London News

“Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle” wood engraving by J.L. Williams from The Illustrated London News

Charity: Christmas was a time to remember the less fortunate, and a host of charitable causes stepped up their appeals during the holiday season. Well-to-do individuals often visited poorhouses and other charitable institutions on Christmas Day, when a holiday dinner was served to the residents.

Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, was traditionally the day when servants and tradesmen were paid for services rendered during the year: money was deposited in the Christmas box.

Tree: Christmas trees became popular after an illustration of Victoria, Albert, and their children decorating a Christmas tree was published in The Illustrated London News in 1848. Victorian Christmas trees were elaborately decorated with trinkets such as tin soldiers, dolls, whistles, candies, fruit, nuts, and candles. Many decorations were homemade, and children often helped make garlands and paper decorations.

Beverages:Here we go a-wassailing,” begins a familiar carol. No Victorian Christmas was complete without a Wassail Bowl, a strong mulled punch made of sweetened and spiced ale or wine and garnished with roasted crab apples. Drinking the wassail from the same cup was the fashion.

A Christmas Carol title page

A Christmas Carol title page

Dance: In A Christmas Carol, partygoers at the Fezziwigs’ indulge in spirited dancing, akin to modern day square dancing. Another traditional dance was the Pavon or Pavane, named after the peacock because the movements of the gentlemen in their mantles and the ladies in their long gowns resembled a peacock’s sweeping steps.

Decorations: Then as now, halls were decked with holly, ivy, red berries, and of course, mistletoe. Young sweethearts kissed under the mistletoe and plucked a berry for each kiss.

Spectacles: The annual holiday excursion for families in the Victorian era was to a Christmas pantomime, a fairy tale or other traditional story adapted for the stage with music, spectacle and stock characters.

Christmas revels at prominent noblemen’s dwellings might include masques: short allegorical dramas performed by ladies and gentlemen in elaborate costumes, masks and headdresses, often ending in a formal dance.

Charles Dickens Biography

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was born in Potsmouth in 1812. When he was 10, his family moved to London. They were very poor and his father was even arrested (when Charles was 12) because of their debts. Charles had to start working – at first in the factory and later in solicitor´s office.

He was always very keen reader and later he also started to write. His first work was published in 1833. He got married in 1836 and in the same year he started working on Pickwick Papers – he finished it a year later. The book was extremely successful and he became well-known. Within seven years he wrote next five novels and created unforgettable characters (as Scrooge from A Christmas Carol). Dickens very often referred to the situation of poor and wanted to improve their social condition. He wrote books as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Pickwick Papers and A Christmas Carol and was considered to be one of the most famous writers of the 19th century. He was very energetic and remarkable. He had ten children, published his own magazines, traveled a lot and also acted. When he died in 1870, he was working on his 15th novel.

A Christmas Carol Illustrations

John Leech provided eight illustrations, four woodcuts and four hand colored etchings, for A Christmas Carol published in December 1843.


Related Article

Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Meets the 21st Century

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President Obama’s Bow: Right-Wing’s Silly Stupid Pathetically Weak Attack on Obama

Posted by Audiegrl

President Barack Obama bows as he is greeted by Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko as he arrives at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo

Ok, its only been 10 months, and I’m already getting sick and tired of Fox News’ stupid attacks on President Obama. If this is going to be the trend for the next 3 to 7 years, I’m going to need someone to talk me down.

If they are going to attack him for bowing to foreign leaders, they really need to work on getting rid of all the photos and video of Republican President’s doing exactly what they are accusing President Obama of doing.

Ultra-right wing internet news outlet Newsmax had a screaming headline “No American President Ever Bowed to a Foreign Leader — Until Now”. TheFoxNation brays “Should a U.S. President Ever Bow to a Foreign Leader?” Fox News has been questioning bowing all day, with Fox and Friends anchor Steve Doocy, idiotically parroting right-wing blog Hot Air, that “in 230 years since the country was founded in 1776, that no other U.S. President has ever bowed to a foreign leader“.

Come on now! These right-wing folks are making it way too easy. My Google and Wikipedia are in for some fun. I’ll start chronologically, and leave President Bush for last. 😉

A September 2, 1959 Associated Press photo shows President Dwight Eisenhower bowing his head while meeting French President Charles De Gaulle. The caption of the photograph read: “President Dwight Eisenhower bows as he acknowledges speech of greeting by French President Charles De Gaulle on his arrival at Le Bourget near Paris on Sept. 2, 1959. Between the two chief executives is Ludovic Chancel, French Chief of Protocol.”

We also have a photo of President Eisenhower and First Lady Mamie looking pretty chummy with Nikita Khrushchev and his wife Nina at a state dinner in September of 1959. Khrushchev’s US visit resulted in an informal agreement with President Eisenhower that there would be no firm deadline over Berlin, but that there would be a four-power summit to try to resolve the issue, and the premier left the US in general good feelings.

This February 1972 photo shows President Richard Nixon bowing to Japanese Emperor Hirohito. You know, the guy who ordered the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? Under his orders, on December 7, 1941, Japan struck the US Fleet in Pearl Harbor and began the invasion of Malaysia. At the end of the American occupation of Japan, Hirohito was prepared to apologize formally to U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur for Japan’s actions during World War II – including an apology for the attack on Pearl Harbor. MacArthur refused to admit him or even acknowledge him.

In February 1972, President and Mrs. Nixon traveled to China, where the president was to engage in direct talks with Communist Party Leader, Mao Tse-Tung. Yes, the same Mao who is Glenn Beck’s favorite boogy-man . Here is a photo of President Nixon shaking hands and grinning at Mao on February 29, 1972.

Last but not least, we have the hand-holding and cheek-kissing President George W. Bush. On a April 2005 visit to the President’s ranch, Saudi Prince Abdullah is greeted with a kiss on both cheeks and taken by the hand to the house. Jon Stewart did a segment about this on The Daily Show’s. Thanks to Jed Lewison of DKosTV, we have a mash-up video below.

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Documentary: The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder – (Trailer)

Posted by Audiegrl

Former prosecutor and NYT best-selling author Vincent Bugliosi

Former prosecutor and NYT best-selling author Vincent Bugliosi

Famed Charles Manson prosecutor and three time #1 New York Times bestselling author Vincent Bugliosi stars in this most powerful, explosive, and thought-provoking documentary.

In The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, Bugliosi presents a tight, meticulously researched legal case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq. Bugliosi sets forth the legal architecture and incontrovertible evidence that President Bush took this nation to war in Iraq under false pretenses—a war that has not only caused the deaths of American soldiers but also over 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, women, and children; cost the United States over one trillion dollars thus far with no end in sight; and alienated many American allies in the Western world.

As a prosecutor who is dedicated to seeking justice, Bugliosi, in his inimitable style, delivers a non-partisan argument, free from party lines and instead based upon hard facts and pure objectivity.

prosecution-bush-murder-thumbA searing indictment of the President and his administration, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder also outlines a legally credible pathway to holding our highest government officials accountable for their actions, thereby creating a framework for future occupants of the oval office.

Vincent Bugliosi calls for the United States of America to return to the great nation it once was and can be again. He believes the first step to achieving this goal is to bring those responsible for the war in Iraq to justice.

**Scheduled for release in February, 2010

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Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Meets the 21st Century

Posted by Audiegrl

It’s been 166 years since the publication of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’ seasonal story of redemption wrapped up in a biting indictment of 19th-century capitalism.

Scrooge (Jim Carrey) and Tiny Tim (Gary Oldman) are prepared to get you into the holiday spirit.

Scrooge (Jim Carrey) and Tiny Tim (Gary Oldman) are prepared to get you into the holiday spirit.

Telegraph.co.uk/Paula Bustamante—Yet in the era of global financial crisis and multi-billion-dollar fraud, Jim Carrey believes Dickens’s tale about how the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge learns to change his ways remains as relevant today as ever.

I think it’s a very pressing story nowadays, too,” said Carrey, the star of Disney’s re-imagining of the classic, released in North America on November 6. “I think stories get told at times when they’re supposed to be told.”

a_christmas_carol_jim_carrey_photoScrooge is the first corporate scumbag. The unloved scumbag. So, in this time when all our constructs are breaking down because of greed, this story is so pressing,” Carrey added.

“Everybody loves a good transformational story. You know, somebody who sees the light, who finally finds out what’s important in life. And, this is one of the greatest ones ever written.”

Just like the character of Scrooge, Carrey was confronted with a vision of his future during the making of the film.

But while Scrooge’s insight came via the spooky Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Carrey’s own premonition was entirely due to his appearance after the 3D movie’s special effects wizards went to work.

Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey

Instead of the familiar 47-year-old face known to millions in hits such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Bruce Almighty, Carrey said he was left staring at the spitting image of his father.

When I saw the movie, one of the first things I said when I saw the first close up of Scrooge is, ‘my family is going to have a heart attack, because that is my father,'” he said.

It’s unbelievable. It’s really a look into the future for me. Not the long chin and the long nose, but the look is what I’m going to look like when I’m old,” Carrey added.

Disney’s new take on the classic is the latest in a long line of adaptations of the beloved 1843 novella, with the first screen version coming more than a century ago with in the 1901 British short Scrooge.

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A Christmas Carol Tops Weekend Box Office with $31 Million

5926A Christmas Carol unsurprisingly topped the weekend box office with an estimated $31 million in receipts.

The latest foray by Robert Zemeckis into motion-capture filmmaking came in lower than initial expectations but easily bested the $23.3 million open by The Polar Express, his last holiday CGI film. With the holiday season only now ramping up, A Christmas Carol should continue to play strong for weeks to come.

A Christmas Carol starring Jim CarreyCharles Dickens’ timeless tale of an old miser who must face Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet-to-Come, as they help to bring kindness to his otherwise cold heart. The Ghosts remind him of the man he used to be, the hard truth of what the world is today, and what will happen if he does not strive to be a better man. Set around Christmas, the most joyous day of the year, Scrooge realizes the sharp contrast of his own personality.

Jim Carrey plays four separate roles in this updated version of A Christmas Carol. Carrey portrays Scrooge, as well as the three ghosts (Past, Present, and Yet-to-Come). His dynamic character roles keep the four characters as diverse as being played by four actors.

Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future trilogy) has his chance to dabble in telling a story through the windows of time, as he directs the long-awaited remake.

Our Favorite Versions

Each December my family and I watch our favorite versions of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. What’s your favorite?

A Christmas Carol starring Alastair SimA Christmas Carol starring George C. ScottA Christmas Carol starring Patrick StewartScrooged starring Bill MurrayEbbie starring Susan Lucci
Ms. Scrooge starring Cicely Tyson

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Christmas in the Age of Dickens

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Glenn Beck: Stop the Insanity

Glenn Beck on Clusterfox

Glenn Beck on Clusterfox


Posted by Audiegrl

Josh Silver/Huffington Post—Looking back, it’s hard to believe that Father Charles Coughlin’s hate speeches were broadcast into millions of homes during the 1930s. Coughlin’s anti-Semitic rants incited prejudice and violence. Now, in the Internet age, it seems positively antiquated that one person could have such a powerful soapbox to engage in fear-mongering and hate speech.

In fact, it seems insane.

We would never stand for that today, right? So why do our media continue to resemble the hate radio of decades past? How did it happen that just a few media pundits can disseminate such vitriol and misinformation into millions of homes, and — worse — cast it as real news?

Father Charles Coughlin

Father Charles Coughlin


Father Coughlin must be dancing in his grave. His model for using the media to manipulate the American people through fear and division lives on in the form of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and other extremists that propagandize millions of Americans daily. And unlike Coughlin, these guys have powerful corporations to back them up.

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