President Barak Obama
delivered the annual State of the Union Address
on Tuesday night. The official Republican response
was issued by Representative Paul Ryan
of Wisconsin. And then in the name of the Tea Party movement, Republican Representative from Minnesota Michelle Bachmann
issued yet another response
As someone who has never voted for a major party presidential candidate, I am eager to see viable alternatives arise. I do believe that the Republican-Democrat duopoly is, at the end of the day, a detriment to American society and a corrosive force in politics. The parties in and of themselves are capable of great good, but a lack of competition has led to a highly partisan political atmosphere in the federal realm, where genuinely fresh ideas are few and far between. What’s worse, in many states and localities there is essentially one-party rule. For example, in my own fair city of Baltimore, Democrats govern without external competition; Abraham Lincoln himself couldn’t get elected to a municipal office here. And of course Democrats face the same intractable obstacles in Republican dominated areas. In such circumstances, loggerhead bickering and ineffectiveness are replaced by calcified political operations rife with cronyism and corruption.
So while I don’t support many of the Tea Party ideas, on some level I do want to see them succeed. At this point, almost any viable alternative sounds good. However, I want and even expect new political movements, either from the right or the left, to do better than the status quo. I did not see that last night from Bachmann. Instead I saw more of the same. Continue reading Bachmann Bullshit Overdrive
Please visit his website for more on Robert Stone.
The Sporting Life:
The Public Professor’s
Saturday Sports Column
Las Vegas, Nevada— I’m on the road this week, indulging my degeneracy in Lost Wages, with a quick side trip to LA so as to learn a bunch of computer stuff from Rae, my editor/layout designer extraordinaire, before the day comes when I must eventually set her free. So today’s Sporting Life column is a collection of thoughts from the road.
Monday— Dollar Bill Ordine, a former sports writer for The Baltimore Sun and currently doing a return gig at The Philadelphia Inquirer,is my primary runnin’ partner for the Vegas end of this trip. He knows the town much better than I do as he’s out here a few times a year, regularly covers the World Series of Poker, and we’re crashing at his timeshare. After picking me up at the airport and grabbing dinner at The Bootlegger, which featured some good singing and a fantastic backup band, he drove me over to M, the ill-fated new casino built by the Marnell family on the far south end. They spent over a billion dollars, opened it just as the national and local economies went belly-up, and were forced into bankruptcy within a few months. A Pennsylvania racing and casino syndicate got it at auction for a song. The places is fabulous. Bill describes it as a boutique casino; with only 300 rooms, it caters to the local well-to-dos in nearby Henderson. So much for that. But here’s hoping the place makes it. It’s simply gorgeous. I can’t think of a nicer place in Vegas to throw away my money (PS I’m getting nothing for this plug).
Tuesday— In LA for about 24 hours. Left my hoodie on a seat at McCarran, goddamn it. Was a damn good hoodie. Not the kind of crap Belichick wears. Continue reading Everybody Sack Somebody
Note: This is Part II of a post that began on Tuesday. The full and somewhat longer version was previous published at 3QuarksDaily.com on Monday.
When something crazy is the norm, opposing it seems crazy. When wrong is the norm, people who want to do the right thing are shunted to the lunatic fringe. And during the 17th and 18th centuries, most white Americans either embraced the institution of race-based slavery, merely accepted it, or looked askance but put up very little active opposition.
During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Northern states abolished slavery, but until the 1840s, few people in the North and almost none in the South made any effort to challenge it in the remaining states. And when major opposition in the North did spring up, it was mostly in the form of the Free Soil movement, people who were against slavery’s expansion into the West on economic grounds, not moral ones; small farmers who didn’t want to compete with plantations, and the new breed of new wage workers who didn’t want to compete with slave labor.
Prior to the Civil War, only a few people opposed slavery on moral grounds. The abolitionists, standing up for what was right, were far outside the mainstream and castigated by many as the lunatic fringe. They were the crazies, the radicals, the ones that everyone else pointed to and said: Hey, you’re really nuts. What the hell’s wrong with you? Knock it off already. Abolitionists were the ones who regular people mocked, jeered, and cursed. They were the outsiders of their day, the lunatic fringe of the early 19th century. Slavery was normal, so a society that largely accepted slavery labeled them as crazy. Continue reading The Lunatic Fringe: Part II
It wasn’t so very long ago that some Americans held people as slaves, other human beings as their own private property, as if that person were a horse or a chair, to do with, to use, abuse, exploit, beat, and rape as they pleased. What’s more, until the late 1840s most Americans thought that slavery was acceptable. The great majority found themselves somewhere along a spectrum that at one end actually exalted slavery as a positive thing, a benefit to black people they deemed radically inferior, and at the other end said, Well, it’s a real shame, and I certainly don’t condone it or want it where I live, but what’s done is done, and I guess it isn’t the worst thing in the world, and anyway there’s nothing we can do about it now, so that’s that.
And in between those two ends of the spectrum rested any number of justifications and rationalizations that people used to explain, excuse, praise, rationalize, or simply accept the reality of human bondage in their nation.
Black slaves had been owned and held in every English colony prior the Revolution and in every U.S. state after it, the practice only ending for good in the North during the 19th century. Indeed, before the sectional crisis that began to emerge in the 1840s, the acceptance of slavery was so widespread that there were even a small number of black slaveholders, free blacks who themselves had purchased a slave or two. Continue reading The Lunatic Fringe: Part I
The Sporting Life:
The Public Professor’s
Saturday Sports Column
Word come around that some students from a couple of colleges got together earlier this week and played a football game. One of the state schools out in Oregon and some other school down in Alabama. Don’t right know where these kids all got the money to come together and meet to play a game of football, but these college kids usually got some money lyin’ about. It’s why they’re college kids I suppose.
Where’d you say it was? Arizona? Hmm, maybe they planned it around their winter break or something.
Anyway, these students got together and played a football game, and that’s nice. But the funny thing is, apparently they were all riled up about it being important for settling who’s the best. I find that kinda odd. I mean, there ain’t no great rivalry between the states of Oregon and Alabama, not so far as I know, so that can’t explain it. And after all, they’re just a bunch of students running around out there, so it’s not like they could be very good at it. Continue reading College Boys Gone Wild
It seems to me that the quality of America’s political class, by and large, has deteriorated
since the Baby Boomers came to power. When I say that, by no means am I putting prior generations on any pedestals; they’ve all had their faults and weaknesses, bringing about and mishandling various disasters from time to time. However, the current crop, which has been gaining dominance since the 1990s, is ever more and more disappointing to me.
Perhaps American politicians have always been a dysfunctional lot, and it’s merely a case of me now being old enough to critically observe and understand their dysfunctions firsthand. Perhaps they’re better than I give them credit for, successfully preventing new versions of the Great Depression, 9/11, and any other number of possible catastrophes we’ll never know about because they didn’t happen.
But in my gut I feel as if on the whole, regardless of clannish party affiliation or adherence to rigid ideology, and excepting of course a minority of intelligent, effective, and well-meaning servants of the people, the American body politic in the federal, state, and local spheres is a tremendous disappointment, largely comprised of the greedy, the inept, the narcissistic, the ignorant, and the foolhardy. Continue reading For She Knows Not What She Says
Learn more about Billy Pappas.
As many people have recently reminded us
, back in March of last year Sarah Palin
used rifle sites
on a map to identify freshman Democratic Congress members who had voted for President Obama’s health care bill, “targeting” them as political opponents to mobilize against in the 2010 elections. One of those new Representatives was Gabrielle Giffords
of Arizona. And of course, Rep. Giffords was shot in the head on Saturday at a small political event at a supermarket in Tucson. Federal Judge John Roll
and five other people, including a child, were killed.
Many are now criticizing Palin very harshly for having frequently used the language and imagery of violence to symbolically make her points over the last couple of years, claiming that Saturday’s very real violence is a case of chickens coming home to roost; that she is partially to blame for helping contribute to a climate of hatred and extremism, and for helping to make violence an acceptable part of American political discourse in the 21st century.
For her part, former Governor Palin has had the good graces to offer condolences and prayers to the Giffords family. And I think that more or less settles it. After all, words and pictures aren’t important, they don’t have much affect on society, and they really don’t motivate people to act. Words are just words, pictures are just pictures, and we shouldn’t make too much of them.
Continue reading Proposing Modesty