16 Sep 2012

Privateers and Public Education: They Want the Money

It’s not hard to pierce the rotten veil of today’s so-called public education reformers. Some corporate hacks see all that money spent on public education and, as is their habit, they set out to get it.

First, they embarrass teachers and schools with ridiculous, destructive high-stakes tests and rigged “accountability” measures. Second, create an awkward, exploitative alliance with home-schoolers and religious-based private schools to advance corporate-owned alternatives: vouchers, charter schools and virtual schools.

Let’s put it plainly. This conservative reform movement has come to bury public education not to save it.

09 Sep 2012

Coining Lies: God and Man on the Campaign Trail

Polls show Mitt Romney lost badly to President Obama in the Battle of Conventions. Obama appears to have gained ground during the GOP convention and to have widened his lead over Romney during the Democratic convention.

So what does Romney do? He doubles down on culture war lies, implying over the weekend that Obama plans to remove the word “God” from the nation’s coins. Call it coining lies. I have to ask once again, should Romney somehow manage to win, why would anyone grant his victory legitimacy?

02 Sep 2012

GOP Convention and “The Magic Christian”

The grandees of the ruling class are submerged in an artificial reality in which comic horrors overtake happy illusions of social supremacy. Such was the Republican National Convention. It was also the hilarious late scene in Terry Southern’s 1969 satire, The Magic Christian.

26 Aug 2012

Goodnight, Moon: No More Neil Armstrongs in a Conservative Future

Neil Armstrong went to college on the GI Bill. It seems fitting that we remind ourselves of that on the day after his death and on the eve the GOP national convention with the stupid, chest-puffing slogan, “We Built It.”

19 Aug 2012

The Smoke of Ocoee: The Assault on Voting Rights

Aided and abetted by activist judges with grudges, America’s right wing has made it easier for corporations and harder for actual humans to influence elections. Let that sink in.

Corporations are people, the Right says, while actual people are in the way. In Pennsylvania and elsewhere, new voter suppression laws threaten to deny the franchise to millions of Americans. Meanwhile, corporations are funneling millions of dollars to candidates who promise to get those actual people out of the way of their inhuman ambitions.

12 Aug 2012

Paul Ryan: Almost Famous

Want to know what America thinks of vice presidential nominees? Just consider Barry Goldwater’s 1964 choice, William E. Miller. A New York Congressman, Miller was so forgettable that American Express tapped him for one of its first “Do You Know Me?” commercials years later. Cameron Crowe even gave the name William Miller to the protagonist of Almost Famous.

05 Aug 2012

Will Today’s Voter Suppressors Be on Next Election’s Dubious “Felons Lists?”

Last May, Maryland political consultant Julius Henson was fined $1 million (in June a 60-day jail term was added) for a robo-call scheme to suppress the votes of eligible African-American voters. He was working for Republican Bob Erlich, a former Maryland governor trying to unseat Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley. Erlich campaign manager Paul Schurick was also convicted.

Erlich, of course, has gone on to become Mitt Romney’s Maryland campaign chairman. He lost his race but earned his Republican anti-democratic merit badge.

29 Jul 2012

Olympic Thoughts

Maybe Danny Boyle’s $42 million Olympic opening spectacle wasn’t a song of homage to working people, but it played one on TV.

It included a tribute to Great Britain’s National Health Service. The workers who built the arena served as honor guards for the arrival of the Olympic torch. There was a gritty look at the Industrial Revolution. And there were comic bits poking fun at the grandiosity of the event, including filmed sketch plus stunt-double-skydive that featured the Queen.

22 Jul 2012

Recognition Through Violence

I don’t want to dismiss the extreme nature of shooter James Holmes’ obvious mental illness. Like psychiatrists say about Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle, Holmes might suffer from schizotypal personality disorder. Certainly he suffers from serious disturbances.

I do, though, want to make two additional points: 1) Recognition through violence is a common theme in American culture; 2) In the age of Facebook, Twitter and reality television, everyone seems to have access to a significant audience, but the recognition it brings is, usually, an illusion. When everyone’s a star, no on is a star.

15 Jul 2012

The Right’s Dreams of American Apartheid

It’s tragic but not surprising that the election of the nation’s first black president would accelerate a racist, nationwide movement to disenfranchise people of color, the poor and the elderly. A new map of states with restrictive voting laws indicates the scope of the problem: racism is not restricted to