Given the Choice between a Feckless and Hyperbolic Foreign Policy . . .

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

While being interviewed by Breitbart on Sirius XM radio, Mike Huckabee said the following: “This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. He’s so naive he would trust the Iranians, and he would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven. This is the most idiot thing, this Iran deal. [It] should be rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and by the American people.”

Like most super-heated rhetoric that relies on highly charged historical analogies, Huckabee’s is actually very difficult to parse.

Is Huckabee saying that Obama or the Iranians, or both, are comparable to Hitler?

And beyond the idea of a mass extermination fueled by anti-Semitism, how are the Holocaust and a nuclear attack exactly comparable? Would not the gas chambers, rather than the ovens, be a more appropriate point of analogy?

I am not trying to trivialize or to…

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The Lunatic Fringe Attempts to Define Lunacy

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Today on the TPM website, there is an article by Katherine Thompson that is mind-boggling. The article is titled “100s of Civilians Plan to Monitor the Possible military Takeover of Texas,” and here are the opening paragraphs:

“If President Barack Obama really is planning to implement martial law under the guise of a military training exercise beginning Wednesday, hundreds of civilian volunteers will be ahead of him.

“The Houston Chronicle in a story published Friday spoke with a leader of the Texas branch of a civilian surveillance group calling itself ‘Counter Jade Helm.’ Eric Johnston, 51, told the newspaper that he’s expected to coordinate 20 volunteers throughout the Lone Star state who will monitor incoming troops.

“’If a team member sees two Humvees full of soldiers driving through town, they’re going to follow them,’ Johnston told the newspaper. ‘And they’re going to radio back their ultimate location.’

“The operation dubbed…

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The Elimination of Transparency and Accountability: Scott Walker’s Notion of Government for the People

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Several days ago, this brief item by Tierney Sneed appeared on the TPM website:

“Wisconsin Republicans may have swiftly backtracked on a proposal that would have gutted the state’s open records law, but the big question remains as to who inserted the language into the budget bill in the first place and whether Gov. Scott Walker (R) — who was already facing a lawsuit challenging him to release certain legislative documents — was involved in pushing the changes.

“The changes to the public records law were initially approved by the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee by a party-line vote Thursday evening, before the long Independence Day weekend. But a fierce backlash prompted Republican leaders, led by Walker, to announce during the holiday weekend they were dropping the provisions. The proposal, part of a budget package known as Motion #999, would have removed a number of legislative documents from under the…

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The GOP National Leadership, Donald Trump, and the Fallacy of Argument by Analogy

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

If you have watched a half-hour of any cable news program over the last several weeks, or since Donald Trump descended on an escalator and flamboyantly announced his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, you are aware that the media and political class are equally consumed by trying to unravel the paradox that the more that Trump has been saying things that make them want to dismiss him as a less than “serious” candidate, the higher his poll ratings have been climbing. Indeed, when Trump was polling at 7% or 8% in the polls, the talking heads asserted that 10% would be his ceiling. Then, when he started polling at 11% or 12%, they pushed his ceiling up to 15%. Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC had earlier gone one better on these predictions when he kept insisting that Trump would never run for president—until, of course, Trump announced that he…

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Anyone Can Run for President

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

It may not be true that anyone can grow up to be President of the United States, but it does appear to be true that just about anyone can be a candidate in the presidential primaries.

I came across an item in The Hill that lists all of the declared candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination up to about June 20, 2015.

If you have accepted the common perception that the field is very over-crowded, the following list of the declared candidates whom you have truly never heard of may make your head spin. I have omitted all of those candidates with any national name recognition.

Declared GOP Candidates_Page_1

Declared GOP Candidates_Page_2

Declared GOP Candidates_Page_3

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Racist Kich !?!

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

After Walmart and other retailers announced that they would stop stocking and selling items that feature the Confederate flag and related symbols, the news commentators on the cable news networks (or at least on CNN and MSNBC) began to refer to those items repeatedly and rather uniformly as “racist kitsch.”

“Kitsch” is, of course, pronounced exactly as my surname is pronounced, as you can see from the phonetic spelling of the word that is included in the definition of “kitsch” that Google provides:

Kitsch (kich)

Noun: art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way: e.g., “the lava lamp is an example of sixties kitsch.”

Adjective: considered to be in poor taste but appreciated in an ironic or knowing way: e.g. “the front room is stuffed with kitsch knickknacks, little glass and…

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An Editorial on the Confederate Flag—from 2001

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

During the 2011 fight to repeal Ohio’s Senate Bill 5, I began to write op-eds on the many aspects of that legislation that would have reduced collective bargaining rights for all public employees in the state and would have completely eliminated those rights for college and university faculty. Initially the goal was to place op-eds in the print editions newspapers, but we soon discovered that we were generating much more response on media-related websites. So, although I continued to pen some op-eds, I began to focus more and more on responding to or elaborating on news stories, op-eds, letters to editors, and readers’ comments on all of those items on the websites of newspapers, television and radio stations, and blogs. I think that that experience of working with the other members of the Communications Committee of the Ohio Conference of AAUP led directly to my becoming a regular contributor to…

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The Political Rhetoric of Mass Murder

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Two nights ago, Jon Stewart began The Daily Show with a blistering commentary on the disjunction between our willingness to expend untold resources and thousands of lives and even to compromise some of our core national values in order to prevent attacks by foreign terrorists and our unwillingness to entertain any meaningful discussion of, never mind any meaningful action on, the causes of gun violence in America or of domestic terrorism that is not identifiable as “Islamic.”

Then, on The Nightly Show, Larry Wilmore derided those Far Right political figures, in particular several of the candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination, who have been very determined to describe the Charleston mass murder as an attack on Christians, rather than as race murders, a hate crime, or an act of domestic terrorism.

Yesterday, the Cable News networks have framed some of the discussion of the Charleston massacre around these issues…

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Ronald Reagan, Warmed Over, Redux—Or, How Scott Walker Has Dismantled Environmental Protections in Wisconsin

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Beyond Wisconsin, Scott Walker is known primarily for his attacks on unions and collective bargaining, on the funding of public education, and more recently, on tenure. But in a recent article for Scientific American, Siri Carpenter reports on his attacks on Wisconsin’s environmental protections, on environmental activists, and on climate science and climate scientists:

“When Wisconsin’s new state treasurer Matt Adamczyk took office in January, his first act was to order a highly symbolic change in stationery. Adamczyk, a Republican and one of three members of the board that oversees a small public lands agency, “felt passionately” that Tia Nelson, the agency’s executive secretary, should be struck from the letterhead. As soon became clear, his principal objection to Nelson, daughter of former Wisconsin governor and environmentalist-hero Gaylord Nelson, was that in 2007–08 she had co-chaired a state task force on climate change at the then-governor’s request. Adamczyk insisted…

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