Saturday, November 14, 2015

Well, It Ain't Raining This Saturday

On the one hand, the American political right has no problem at all with cloaking itself in the bloodshed yesterday in Paris:

Particularly remarkable is the Judith Miller response. After all, can anything Coulter or Malkin say not be an already broken record? Ms. Miller shows herself to be incapable of reflection. I guess this was already a proven fact about her, given the interviews she gave recently whilst pushing her memoir, see, e.g., her conversation with Jon Stewart, which is surely preserved on Youtube. Ted Cruz of course lept to the battlements. Editorial comment from Digby:

Sen. Ted Cruz found time to talk tough with a statement worthy of Sarah Palin:

We must make it crystal clear that affiliation with ISIS and related terrorist groups brings with it the undying enmity of America—that it is, in effect, signing your own death warrant.

Yuppers, that will have them quaking in their suicide vests.

On the other hand, there's this today from Henry Giroux:

The simple concept behind Black Lives Matter in self evident. Yet one of the two major political parties must find an obnoxious counter: "why not all lives matter?" Why not indeed. would that it were true. Way back when I was less than 40 and riding around the country in a van full of musicians, the GOP managed to nominate Ronald Reagan for President. The GOP had been utterly humiliated only a few years previously by the criminal corruption of Richard Nixon, and the country had more recently voted in a kind, reasonable man, Jimmy Carter, who suggested that we wear sweaters in the winter rather than turning up the heat so much. This advice was as Republican as Calvin Coolidge, but it managed to offend Mr. Reagan, an aging California movie star who spent his time in toastier climes, behind the wheel of a Borax mule train. Reagan kicked off his campaign against Carter with a speech at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi. This was where the three civil rights workers had been found, buried in an earthen dam, and where the sheriff's deputies who murdered them were featured on the cover of Life, chawing their Red Man and grinning at the Yankee cameraman. From an account of the murder investigation:

It is not known whether the three were beaten before they were killed. Klan informants deny that they were, but there is some physical evidence to the contrary. What is known is that a twenty-six-year-old dishonorably discharged ex-Marine, Wayne Roberts, was the trigger man, shooting first Schwerner, then Goodman, then Chaney, all at point blank range. (FBI informant James Jordan, according to a second informant present at the killings, Doyle Barnette, also fired two shots at Chaney.) The bodies of the three civil rights workers were taken to a dam site at the 253-acre Old Jolly Farm. The farm was owned by Philadelphia businessman Olen Burrage who reportedly had announced at a Klan meeting when the impending arrival in Mississippi of an army of civil rights workers was discussed, "Hell, I've got a dam that'll hold a hundred of them." The bodies were placed together in a a hollow at the dam site and then covered with tons of dirt by a Caterpillar D-4.

You can see, from the grins on the spectators behind the two defendants, that it was all pretty much an open conspiracy. The two deputies were acquitted, by the way. This was Reagan's kick-off venue, 1980. Take our country back, they like to chant. Three "experts" have now determined that Tamir Rice was justifiably killed by police in that snowy Cleveland park. Nothing to see here, move along.

As rust never sleeps, nonetheless, I'll now ascend my tin roofs and sweep the leaves off yet again. Assuming I return to earth in a controlled manner, you can look (or listen) for me on the Prairie Home Companion radio show next Saturday, November 21. I'll be the one with the fiddle.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

20--Hell Yes

Some short mid-week stuff, as we recover from our fall Martinsville experience. The consternation amongst much of the more or less NASCAR paid racing press concerning Mr. Kenseth's response to Joey Logano's repeated smooth moves and arrogant responses, race after race, yielded for the moment the biggest penalty ever levied by NASCAR for an in-race "infraction." To justify their decision required remarkable hair-splitting and obfuscation, and a laughable walk-back by NASCAR owner Brian France, grandson of NASCAR owner Bill France, of things he'd just said in lavish praise of both Logano's wrecking of Kenseth at Kansas, and of Harvick's similar wrecking of Trevor Bain at Talladega. According to France, who seems to spout pronouncements as though he were the King of Versailles, Logano's late race move, spinning out Kenseth and both winning the race and pretty much assuring himself that the leading regular season competitor, Kenseth, would not be in the next Chase round, was nothing short of brilliant.

Kenseth offered a better analysis as he left the infield care center post the Logano wreck at Martinsville. "Sometimes you're the bat, sometimes you're the ball. It's never fun to be the ball." We were sitting just above turn one at Martinsville when 20 drove 22 hard into the wall. The blow seemed to shake the seats, and was a visceral experience. After a moment of shocked silence, the crowd all around us exploded in cheers for Kenseth, who climbed from his car and gave a slight wave to the crowd as he climbed into the ambulance. Logano looked up at the bleachers and gave a slight wave as well, but as far as I could tell got nothing much back. The crowd at Martinsville was as happy to see Kenseth finally react to the several improprieties levied upon him by both Logano and Keselowski, teammates in the Penske operation who were racing as a pair all day as they were last time round, when Junior finally won him a grandfather clock. That's remarkable. Someone on the radio said, "Kenseth just gained more fans than he's ever had." TV polls continue to reflect the fan support too, with Kenseth winning some 70% support for the choice of "NASCAR should do nothing."

I had no idea that Logano was so disliked. It may be his rich-kid demeanor. Tony Stewart saw that a couple of years back. I went over to the Kenseth gear store and priced his ball hats yesterday. I think they're trending up. I'd like to find a bumper sticker to put on the truck that says what the title of this post says: 20, Hell Yes. It may be Brian France, rich guy heir, just identifies more with Logano, rich boy heir. He certainly doesn't understand that making ad hoc decisions can lead in the end to contradiction and muddle. Golden boy Jeff Gordon wrecked Clint Bowyer a couple of years back and nothing was done. Golden boy Carl Edwards could have killed Keselowski at Atlanta before that and, again, nothing was done. At the moment, France has made "Chasers" untoucable, yet Kenseth himself was in the Chase until Logano, at Kansas, took him out. It's all very, errm, complicated. Sometimes you're the bat, sometimes you're the ball. That's clarity.

Sheila O'Malley has a post up about Walker Evans:

If you don't get the people Evans photographed, you don't get NASCAR fans.

Someone wrote about Brian France's father, back when Batista had just fled to Florida from Cuba after Fidel had won the civil war and marched into Havana, "now there's two dictators living in Florida." Pissed ole Bill off too. He tried to get the guy fired.


A brief update week and a half in:

Last time I saw Brian Vickers at Martinsville he was wrecking folks right and left, including I believe one Jimmie Johnson, who last weekend at Texas came close to finishing off Mr. Logano's chances this year, and at a minimum now pits, with his victory, Logano against his teammate Keselowski (will he wreck him?) and Harvick in the last chance of the year. Vickers, in his current job as pundit, made a great point this week, and against the tv current no less. Logano, he said, has only himself to blame for his current predicament, because turning Kenseth at Kansas was Logano's choice alone. Exactly. As as Kenseth accurately tweeted (#quintessential), Johnson also illustrated how one passes a vehicle in front of one without wrecking said vehicle, and implied in so doing that perhaps Master Logano was not so skilled a driver as he himself might have imagined, and/or lacked at his youthful age some impulse-control development yet to be attained. Re Vickers, Libby thinks it was the Red Bull at Martinsville. Could be?

As you know, I'll be pulling for 18.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Drilling in the Wall Kept Up But No One Seemed to Pay It Any Mind

Juan Cole suggests five obviously reasonable Congressional Hearings that might be undertaken as, among other things, a bracing contrast to the pointless and wasteful kangaroo court which has just given Mrs. Clinton a powerful boost towards her goal of achieving the Presidency. (Prior to watching some of the Clinton hearing on Thursday night I was having conversations with friends about how while I'd vote for Mrs. Clinton, I wished there were some other better choice. After her testimony was done it was clear to me that she had a solid grasp of what the United States government is, and will do a fine job in the office of the President of the United States. Thank you Mr. Gowdy, et al.)

But Mr. Cole is certainly right that all five of his suggested Congressional Investigations would be far more enlightening to the voting public than anything the Benghazi hearing was even theoretically capable of generating. What the Benghazi hearing revealed was, primarily, the incompetence of the Republicans in the House of Representatives. Of course we certainly knew that already. And it must be said that if one imagines the current House undertaking any of Mr. Cole's suggested quests for truth, they will mess those goals up just as much as the Benghazi hearings. Because in every case, as Mr. Cole well knows, the Republicans in Congress are already compromised by the subjects he suggests they investigate. Congress investigate Exxon, or ALEC? It's a thought experiment because it's easy to imagine the result of this group of "representatives" asking questions of those folks.

Here in North Carolina, the ALEC bunch has now "captured" the entire system of state universities, all sixteen branches of the University of North Carolina. The former Education Secretary of the George W. Bush administration is now the new President of the UNC System. She gets an annual salary of about three-quarters of a million dollars, a nice mansion in Chapel Hill, and a seven year contract. This lady has nothing beyond a bachelors degree. It's said she's a protege of Carl Rove, as NC is generally now a protege of Texas politics, a tragedy not to be wished even on Texas.

The UNC Board of Governors pulled this coup off with the style of safe crackers and jewel thieves. They got it done only a day or so before a new law would have at least forced them to offer some alternative choices. It was a lock, this appointment, the day they fired the capable current President--an act the Board had no explanation for. But as for the result, well the far right in North Carolina have made a move at least comparable to Governor Walker's destruction of the government worker labor unions in Wisconsin. This appointment, in its theoretical implications, is almost the assassination of liberal thinking in North Carolina. Jesse Helms, who is the godfather of North Carolina radical conservatism, and who hated UNC with a burning passion during all but his very last years on earth, must be dancing in his coffin. And among those who's dream it is to restructure Law in the United States, this amounts, in theory, to the capture of a grand old law school. If the cards fall as they may, one day a Supreme Court appointee could have a UNC law degree next to his name--a far cry from the dubious conservative law schools that already give formal credentials to the long-game of destroying every progressive advance in our legal framework which has occurred over nearly a century of at least modestly liberal governance.

There are certainly vigorous objections to this coup, from UNC faculty and students among others. I would expect any number of events to unfold as the months pass. Ms Spellings will not necessarily have a happy time in her mansion. And the Board that appointed her, now skulking off into the night, pretty much anonymous outlines in the mist, leaves her potentially twisting in the wind, to use a fine Nixonian phrase. This fine office used to be peopled with remarkable North Carolinians, William Friday being the first and foremost. Dr. Friday had degrees from both NC State and UNC. Before that he'd been in the Navy Reserve during World War II. It's a long way to a Carl Rove toady from Texas.

At the moment, the NC public thinks Ms Spellings is a political gambit by an 81/19 margin. How that might translate into actual votes next year is anyone's guess. A lot of those dubious voters are going to get to the poll and discover they don't have the proper credentials to cast a ballot. This is what a President of the University of North Carolina System used to look like: