Search Results for "democrat"

November
30th 2011
Teenager hurts nasty pol’s fee-fees!

Posted under American history & childhood & Gender & happy endings

Big Tent Democrat at TalkLeft:

[Ruth] Marcus states that “I may sound alarmingly crotchety here, but something is upside down in the modern world, which has transformed [Kansas teenager Emma] Sullivan into an unlikely Internet celebrity and heroine of the liberal blogosphere[.]” You don’t sound crotchety Marcus, you sound insane. Sullivan was too mean in her tweet about a politician? And you claim to cover these people?

Something is upside down in this world when a so called journalist can get this up in arms over a tweet that is disrespectful to a pol while being just fine with the past decade in Washington, DC.

Ruth Marcus, a supremely silly woman, is nevertheless only reflecting the reality of the world for people under age 30 or so.  Teenagers and young people aren’t permitted to talk back to nasty pols, even passively through Twitter.  Continue Reading »

12 Comments »

November
21st 2011
11/22/63, the Warren Commission, and the “torrid atmosphere of political rage in Dallas,” 1963

Posted under American history & art & book reviews & unhappy endings

Via RealClearPolitics, Frank Rich has some interesting comparisons of the political climate of our time and the political climate of 1963 in his review of a recent spate of books on President John F. Kennedy and his assassination 48 years ago tomorrow:  “Caroline Kennedy’s belated release of her mother’s taped 1964 reminiscences with an obsequious Arthur Schlesinger Jr., of course, but also Chris Matthews’s man-crush of a biography, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero, and Stephen King’s Moby-Dick-size novel 11/22/63,” and a preview of Alan Brinkley’s ” John F. Kennedy, his contribution to the American Presidents Series, due next spring.”

Rich appropriately spends most of his time on King’s novel, and specifically on the fact that King spends a great deal of time detailing the “torrid atmosphere of political rage in Dallas, where both Lady Bird Johnson and Adlai Stevenson had been spat upon by mobs of demonstrators in notorious incidents before Kennedy’s fateful 1963 trip.”  He continues:

As the time-traveling [protagonist of King's novel Jake] Epping gets settled in that past, he describes an inferno of seething citizens, anti-Semitic graffiti on Jewish storefronts, and angry billboards demanding the impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren and equating racial integration with communism. That last one, King’s protagonist observes, “had been paid for by something called The Tea Party Society.”

That “Tea Party Society” is the novelist’s own mischievous invention, but the rest of his description is accurate. King’s touchstone is The Death of a President, by William Manchester, a meticulous biographer and historian who was chosen by Jacqueline Kennedy to write the authorized account of the assassination. Continue Reading »

24 Comments »

October
16th 2011
Sunday round-up: friends & neighbors edition

Posted under American history & art & bad language & book reviews & captivity & childhood & Gender & wankers & weirdness

Me & my best friend!

Howdy, friends!  It’s lovely, sunny, and warm, so I’m off on a run.  Here are some interesting tidbits I found elsewhere on the world-wide timewasting web for those of you not enjoying perfect autumn weather today:

  • Via RealClearBooks, Eleanor Barkhorn on “What Jeffrey Eugenidies Doesn’t Understand About Women,” after reading his new book, The Marriage Plot:  “There’s one way, however, in which [the protagonist] Madeleine defies believability: She has no true female friends. Yes, she has roommates and a sister with whom she once had ‘heavy’ emotional conversations, but these relationships are characterized more by spite than affection. And, sadly, The Marriage Plot is just the latest story to forget to give its heroine friends. There are countless other Madeleines in modern-day literature and film: smart, self-assured women who have all the trappings of contemporary womanhood except a group of friends to confide in.”  Have you noticed this about recent books and films?  I have to say that I hadn’t until Barkhorn pointed it out.  She concludes, “The great irony, of course, is that the old-fashioned, marriage-plot-bound books that Eugenides attempts to modernize in his new novel actually do a better job of portraying female friendship than The Marriage Plot.”  I think I may read this anyway–a library codex copy of the book, of course–because I’m a huge fan of “marriage plot” authors like Jane Austen and the many Brontes, but Barkhorn makes an interesting argument here.
  • Isn’t it cute when right-wing religious nuts start condemning each other to hell?  Robert Jeffress vs. Bill Donahue, plus all Catholics, Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims, of course.  Taking victimology to new heights, Anita Perry cries that her handsome husband Rick has been “brutalized . . . because of his faith.”  Mark my words:  the majority of Americans will not reward this kind of religious pride, which just stinks of hubris and un-neighborliness.  Even if they privately agree with him, Americans are fundamentally uncomfortable with the Jeffress style of public religious condemnation.
  • 1970s flashback:  Do any of you remember the sensational book Sybil, about the girl with multiple personality disorder?  Continue Reading »

11 Comments »

October
8th 2011
11-dimensional chessmasters checkmated by “reality”

Posted under American history & bad language & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness

Scott Wilson has an interesting article in the Washington Post today about President Barack Obama’s political troubles and how they may be connected to his dislike for retail politics at any level–he never stays on a rope line for more than 15 minutes, big donors are shocked by how little face time they get, and he delegates the management of Congress to Vice President Joe Biden.  Members of Congress are getting a lot more sleep than back in Lyndon Johnson’s day–there are no more “Senator So-and-So, this is your President” calls at 2 a.m. 

But then, they’re apparently not the only ones getting plenty of rest.  Obama’s schedule shows striking deference to his children’s schedule and needs–but remember how we all laughed and laughed at President Ronald Reagan and “Mommie” being in their jammies by 7 p.m. to watch re-runs of Little House on the Prairie?  I’m not convinced that Obama’s days are significantly longer: Continue Reading »

68 Comments »

September
26th 2011
Gerstle on White’s Railroaded, Gilded Ages, and the corruption of democracy

Posted under American history & book reviews & class & race & unhappy endings & wankers

Via John Fea’s blog, I found Gary Gerstle’s review of Richard White’s Railroaded:  The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern AmericaBoth White and Gerstle in his review are writing history for our times, friends:

For a generation now, historians have been reluctant to write about capitalism. Cultural history has been the rage, even as developments in the Second Gilded Age (1980–2008)—the unleashing of private economic power, the dismantling of government regulatory controls, and the deepening of income inequality—were making clear the need for a new reckoning with capitalism as a historical force.

Against this background, it is significant that one of the most distinguished historians of our time, Richard White, has written a book about an epic story of the First Gilded Age: the building of the transcontinental railroads between the 1860s and the 1890s. From the moment the first of these railroads was finished at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869, these immense undertakings became an American obsession, eliciting both marvel and anger. The marvel was about the technological and organizational feats required to build these roads across vast and often difficult terrain and the profound ways in which these projects transformed America—economically, geographically, and politically. The anger was about the power accruing to the men who built these roads and their consequent ability to hoodwink investors, bribe congressmen, exploit farmers and other small shippers, and engage in speculative activities so dangerous that they periodically brought the entire U.S. economy crashing to the ground. No industry did more to galvanize anticapitalist fury or to generate movements for economic regulation during the First Gilded Age than the railroads. Continue Reading »

4 Comments »

September
25th 2011
Liberal racism: a possible explanation for an Obama loss in 2012?

Posted under American history & GLBTQ & jobs & race

Still, electoral racism cannot be reduced solely to its most egregious, explicit form. It has proved more enduring and baffling than these results can capture. The 2012 election may be a test of another form of electoral racism: the tendency of white liberals to hold African-American leaders to a higher standard than their white counterparts. If old-fashioned electoral racism is the absolute unwillingness to vote for a black candidate, then liberal electoral racism is the willingness to abandon a black candidate when he is just as competent as his white predecessors.

The relevant comparison here is with the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton. Today many progressives complain that Obama’s healthcare reform was inadequate because it did not include a public option; but Clinton failed to pass any kind of meaningful healthcare reform whatsoever. Others argue that Obama has been slow to push for equal rights for gay Americans; but it was Clinton who established the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy Obama helped repeal. Still others are angry about appalling unemployment rates for black Americans; but while overall unemployment was lower under Clinton, black unemployment was double that of whites during his term, as it is now. And, of course, Clinton supported and signed welfare “reform,” cutting off America’s neediest despite the nation’s economic growth. Continue Reading »

28 Comments »

September
11th 2011
What is the point of learning history?

Posted under jobs & unhappy endings

Last week, I found myself on a plane to Houston.  Although I ordinarily don’t talk to strangers on airplanes, I found myself drawn into conversation with a very affable and intelligent older man.  He told me he is an accountant, a successful business owner, and well-connected in Democratic politics in Denver.  He was interested to learn that I’m a history professor, and said he thinks that the reason the that the republic is in a shambles is widespread historical ignorance.  You know the old saying by heart, I’m sure:  if only we knew history better, people would be smarter and wiser, we’d vote for smarter and more honest politicians, and together we’d all make better laws and wiser public policy decisions.  (Maybe he was just a nice guy trying to make a connection to my rather abstruse line of work, which most people see as a vocation of buffs, hobbyists, and antiquarians.) 

I told the man on the plane that I completely disagreed with him.  Continue Reading »

36 Comments »

August
13th 2011
Hey, good lookin’

Posted under American history & art & fluff

What’cha got cookin’?

Is anyone else struck by his resemblance to this guy, back in the day? Weird.  I must have Texas on the brain.

Speaking of looks: Continue Reading »

5 Comments »

August
9th 2011
Tips for toads: no one votes for smartypants

Posted under American history & bad language & class & Gender & race & weirdness

Both the enemies of Republican presidential candidates and the enemies of Democratic presidential candidates are indulging in yet another predictable, pointless food fight about intelligence:  who haz it?  Who don’t?  And why do we care about college transcripts from 40 years ago?

First of all, let me be among the first to confess that I was a smug smartypants back in 1999-2000 who just couldn’t believe that anyone with a C-average had the chutzpah to run for President of the United States in the first place, let alone that anyone else would vote for him.  Was my face red–for the next eight years!  Much to my surprise, I discovered that in the end, the smug disapproval of college professors didn’t amount to a hill of beans when it comes to political opinion in this country.  My bad!

Well, liberals as well as some conservatives are getting in on the action this time around.  First, Tenured Radical alerted me to the leaked Texas A&M transcripts of Texas Governor Rick Perry.  I completely agree with her that college grades are a foolish thing to prattle on about, especially considering that most Americans haven’t gone to college at all.  (It’s almost as clueless and pointless as noting that a candidate used the wrong fork for the salad course, or that he doesn’t know how to tie his own bow ties.  Maybe so, but the complainer looks and sounds like an insufferable snob.)  Then I read an article by Bret Stephens that suggested that President Obama is perhaps kind of dim because he keeps insisting that his policies are working when plainly they haven’t.  I don’t agree with the author that Obama is “stupid,” but I think it’s fair to wonder what’s up with a presidency whose main policy objective seems to be full employment only for Tim Geithner and friends.  Continue Reading »

21 Comments »

July
25th 2011
Monday’s reading assignment: “What Were They Thinking?”

Posted under American history & wankers

UPDATED BELOW, 1:35 MDT

Via Shakesville, Corrente, and pretty much every other political blogger today–go read Elizabeth Drew’s “What Were They Thinking?” which gives an overview of recent political history as well as her prediction that history will not smile on the political leadership we’re stuck with today:

Someday people will look back and wonder, What were they thinking? Why, in the midst of a stalled recovery, with the economy fragile and job creation slowing to a trickle, did the nation’s leaders decide that the thing to do—in order to raise the debt limit, normally a routine matter—was to spend less money, making job creation all the more difficult? Many experts on the economy believe that the President has it backward: that focusing on growth and jobs is more urgent in the near term than cutting the deficit, even if such expenditures require borrowing. But that would go against Obama’s new self-portrait as a fiscally responsible centrist.

There’s lots of interesting gossip and inside baseball about the President’s re-election maneuverings, the different goals of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Eric Cantor; and the recent negotiations over raising the debt ceiling.  I agree with her perspective for the most part, but the last sentence of the article strikes me as wrong:

This country’s economy is beset with a number of new difficulties, among them that recovery from the last recession remains more elusive than was generally expected, while the US is confronting a variety of international economic instabilities, especially the large debts and possible default of several countries in the eurozone, bringing on unpopular austerity measures. Recent experience with what should have been a simple matter of raising the debt ceiling, normally done with no difficulty, is reason for deep unease about our political system’s ability to deal with such challenges.

Saying that the “political system” isn’t up to the challenges of 2011 and beyond is pretty vague–what does she mean?  The U.S. Constitution?  The two-party system?  It’s unclear, but as I’ve said here before:  it’s a mistake to see President Obama’s failures or the failures of the Democratic Party as failures of the U.S. Constitution or the political system in generalContinue Reading »

20 Comments »

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