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

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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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President Obama’s Eulogy at the Funeral of Beau Biden

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

This is a very moving eulogy. It is also a great testament to the deep friendship between President Obama and Vice President Biden.

Indeed, although—or perhaps because—it is a very personal response to a deeply personal sense of loss, rather than some broader statement on public policy, political positions, or the pressing issues of the day, I think that it may stand as one of the most noteworthy and enduring speeches ever delivered by President Obama or, for that matter, by any president over the past few decades.

In a way that transcends conventional rhetoric, President Obama manages to make his own sense of loss and the Bidens’ sense of loss meaningful for all Americans. In a way that transcends conventional rhetoric, he manages to convey how Beau Biden’s life story was a distinctly American story.

It is a speech that should cause most listeners to take stock of their…

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Politics and Profanity

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Each year, there is a “roast” of the governor of New Jersey attending by politicians, journalists, and lobbyists. This year’s roast was held at the Hamilton banquet hall and was attended by about 350 people.

When it was Chris Christie’s turn to speak, here is a sampling of what he had to say:

About Bridgegate, Christie said to the journalists, “”We don’t give a shit about this or any of you.”

Later, he directed his attention to one journalist in particular, advising that the journalist should “open your eyes” and “clean the shit out of your ears.”

And he said, pointing to another journalist, “This is a guy who says he doesn’t know what I’m doing every day. Then just get the fuck away from me if you don’t know what I’m doing.”

Of course, the progressive media and bloggers have had a field day with these comments, asking rhetorically…

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While We Have Been Focused on the Verdict in the Tsarnaev Trial

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

This past week, an Egyptian court sentenced to death former president Mohammed Morsi, along with 130 other defendants, for their participation in a mass jailbreak and their roles in subsequent attacks on the police and the military that led to the overthrow of the government of Hosni Mubarek.

This sentence comes on the heels of Morsi’s receiving a 20-year sentence for countering protests against his government with armed force, orders which resulted in the deaths of dozens of the protesters. Moreover, the death sentence comes ahead of another potential death sentence for Morsi’s “treasonous” involvement with “foreign” and “international” groups with Shi’ite and Iranian connections.

Perhaps, these sorts of trials and verdicts are all too predictable as one authoritarian regime replaces another. Nonetheless, the moral logic at work here is as tenuous as the political logic may be obvious.

For three decades, Mubarek ruled Egypt so repressively that there was…

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It’s All Interconnected. It Just Requires a Special Sort of Vision to See It.

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Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Over the past few days. There has been a great deal of media coverage of the Far Right lunatic theory that long-planned military exercises in western Texas are a cover for a planned federal takeover of the state.

Supposedly some shuttered Walmarts have been leased by the federal government for use as detention centers, and beneath those stores, networks of secret tunnels are being created.

It is, of course, completely pointless to try to highlight all of the ways in which this exhibition of rampant paranoia is completely nonsensical, but one can start with the very basic fact that the federal government does not have to seize Texas because Texas is already part of the United States.

I can see how there might be confusion on that point for those hundreds of thousands of Texans who have repeatedly signed secession petitions and who might therefore think that Texas has actually…

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