From earlier this year. Nicolas Copernicus remains reburied in Polish cathedral – I forgot to post it at the time. Better late then never. Copernicus, considered the father of modern astronomy, was a 16th century astronomer and priest. Probably not the absolute first person to speculate about a heliocentric theory of the universe, but the first to formulate a complete theory of a sun centered solar system ( De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres). Actually he thought the sun was the center of the universe, but he made a an important step in the right direction of defining how the universe was ordered. At his reburial a Catholic official expressed regrets for the initial condemnation of his theories. Copernicus works were on the churches banned book list as late as 1835. Jules Verne, author of the science fiction classic From Earth to the Moon was born in 1828. In an odd twist of coincidence Sir John Herschel named the seven moons of Saturn in 1835, a year after setting up what was than one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated telescopes.
Scientists who found Copernicus old tomb also took the opportunity to use the skull to recreate a bust of what he looked like. Picture at the link.
December is culture wars month. Not officially, but has become a tradition. This the time where the Right spins, rewrites and generally hijacks history. It is silly. Much of the rhetoric is so convoluted and devoid of logic, it is by definition what its like be overwhelmed by a storm of propaganda. Beck’s Distortions of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ Mirror His Distortions of Current Events
In his radio broadcast last Wednesday, Beck read my post and dismissed the idea that there were progressive themes in the movie. (Either he or his show’s producer also called me “screwy” while doing a pretty darn good Jimmy Stewart impression.)
Who saved the Building & Loan in Bedford Falls? The people did. George did, with his own private funds. The government didn’t bail him out, and that’s the deal. You remember the bank was bailing everyone out … along with the government closing down the banks. The banks and the government were in collusion. … The local banks were the ones that didn’t have a problem. It’s the gigantic banks run by people like [Mr.] Potter that were just trying to get rich and didn’t care about people. The local banks are the George Baileys. That’s not progressive. Progressive is about going past the Constitution and having people at a government level babysit people because they’re all too stupid.
What Beck is saying, I believe—although it’s difficult to know for sure, because his logic is so hard to follow—is that the government was in bed with the big, evil banks, and that the good-guy local banks were successful because they were free from government regulation. This depiction matches his thesis about today’s economic problems: that too much government intervention in the form of bank bailouts is the inherent evil—as opposed to the absence of regulation that led to the banks’ implosion at the hands of, well, you know, greedy bigwigs.
I’m surprised Beck would keep bringing up the original TARP. That was a program stated by George Bush, his Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and voted on in the affirmative by Congressional Republicans. These “too big to fail” banks/financial firms were only possible because of irresponsible government deregulation. Their collapse would have been sweet in the eyes of many progressives. A comeuppance long past due. Unfortunately it was not possible to punish just the executives of those banks while preventing a nationwide wide collapse of the economy. To this day, largely because President Obama said something really mean – like referring to Wall St bankers as “fat-cats” and instituting some rather watered down new financial regulation, those banks hate Obama and Democrats. Obama and Democrats saved the banker’s Marxist style collective rather than break them up into smaller competitive banks along the line of real capitalism. In other words Obama saved the system which Republicans from Saint Reagan to George Bush to FreedomWorks’ tea stainer Dich Armey ( Beck has also acted as a Freedom Works propagandist) had championed for decades – tragically believing a system with the least or no regulation would act responsibly and in the best interests of the country. All regulation to increase competitiveness was damned as socialism, when it was Beck’s ideological comrades who were protecting the corporate collectivism which ultimately collapsed. Back to Pottersville,
In the oddest twist of this whole episode, though, during the red-baiting era in which the film was produced, the FBI had concerns about its supposedly communist message. Director Frank Capra was a complicated man; no liberal himself, he hired screenwriters who ranged from New Deal Democrats to card-carrying communists. According to the New York Times:
One of Capra’s great strengths as a director in the 1930s was his ability to work with anyone who had something to contribute to his pictures, even those who were far to his left. He was also enough of a popular entertainer to cater to his audiences; he understood that during the Depression the most hissable villains were grasping bankers and businessmen.
From a 1947 FBI internal memo:
With regard to the picture “It’s a Wonderful Life”, [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a “scrooge-type” so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists.
In addition, [redacted] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters. [redacted] related that if he made this picture portraying the banker, he would have shown this individual to have been following the rules as laid down by the State Bank Examiner in connection with making loans. Further, [redacted] stated that the scene wouldn’t have “suffered at all” in portraying the banker as a man who was protecting funds put in his care by private individuals and adhering to the rules governing the loan of that money rather than portraying the part as it was shown. In summary, [redacted] stated that it was not necessary to make the banker such a mean character and “I would never have done it that way.”
The FBI fretted that this portrayal of the consummate capitalist as the film’s villain promoted communism. But Beck, a propagandist, not a historian, applies his typical distortions to paint Potter as a progressive, which in Beck’s mind is someone who favors government takeover of big business, even though there’s no evidence in the movie—as now—that the government is seeking to run the banks instead of private enterprise.
Thanks to M’S Lebo for wading through Beck’s bullsh*t. Her original blog post is here. Beck and his intellectually servile followers seem to suffer from the same allergy to rational empirical evidence.
It does look as though the govmint will recover the majority of TARP funds.