Archive | May 2015

Politics and Profanity

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

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.

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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The Difference between Charlie Hebdo and the American Freedom Defense Initiative

ACADEME BLOG

In response to the “cartoon contest” in Garland, Texas, that provoked an attack by two “Muslim extremists,” the news media has not been able to avoid making parallels to the much more devastating attack on the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Most of those commentators have felt uneasy enough with the comparison that they have made some effort to try to distinguish the two events. But in the end, the failure to emphasize the distinctions stands as a testament to the media’s inability to distinguish between superficiality and balance in its coverage of events.

I could, of course, be much more cynical and assert that the media’s failure to distinguish much more clearly and decisively between the two events simply demonstrates how much profits define coverage: that is, the coverage of the attack in Garland, Texas, was more newsworthy to the extent that it might have paralleled the…

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Same-Sex Marriage, Urban Discontent, and American Values: A Postscript from the Lunatic Fringe

ACADEME BLOG

In a post to this blog from several days ago, I linked same-sex marriage and the civil unrest in Baltimore. I knew that it was a stretch, but I was attempting to say that our society and our media are all too willing to look at the surfaces of issues and not at the underlying complexities that will require much more extended public attention and civic determination to resolve. Indeed, I knew that connecting the two issues in any way—even so broadly–was such a stretch that I pointedly framed my discussion of the civil unrest in Baltimore as a digression.

Well, apparently Texas congressman Bill Flores felt no such reservations. This past week, Flores was a guest on Washington Watch, a radio program hosted by Tony Perkins, the President of the Family Research Council. The ostensible topic for discussion was the rally outside the Supreme Court protesting the arguments…

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The Current Either-Or Choice in “Solutions” to Poverty

ACADEME BLOG

Aaron Barlow’s post highlights a major difference between how Progressives and those on the Far Right have sought to address endemic poverty. Progressives have been accused, sometimes with much justification, of being willing to waste millions on wrong-headed “solutions” to poverty. On the other hand, the Far Right has essentially ignored solutions and has turned poverty into another source of corporate profits. One can argue that some Progressive solutions ironically and tragically made some problems worse. On the other hand, one would be very hard-pressed to argue that any Far Right alternatives to anti-poverty programs have made anything better–except for how they have improved corporate profits and shareholder dividends.

There is no “culture of poverty,” no cultural transformation that is the magic bullet that will eradicate poverty. But there are very clearly defined broader political and cultural attitudes constructed around notions of poverty that have made it much more difficult…

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