Chpt 1/Day 14: Where Are We Going, and Why Are We In This Handbasket?

I don’t usually use this blog to vent my political opinions. There are far smarter folks out there in the blogosphere doing it much better than I possibly could, so I’ve generally kept quiet on it and focused on the dissertation. But today, I’m a little overwhelmed by the world and need to gripe a bit about it. My top ten current worries and rants:

1. Terrorism. This week, we are all Egyptians. We mourn with you and bemoan the state of our world where the voiceless have to result to blowing up themselves and others in order to be heard.

2. Iraquagmire. What did we think was going to happen? That it would be popular with the world if we just go in and take over a country on some flimsy-ass evidence just because we WANTED to? Because we thought it would make things better? Because we don’t want to spend more money on gasoline? That it would be QUICK because we wanted it to be? I’m sure it is a good thing that Saddam is gone. But at what cost?

3. Labor Unions. What is the AFL-CIO without the Teamsters? What is the Democratic Party without organized labor? A great professor I had once described the 19th century Democratic party like this: “Whenever things were just starting to look up for the Democrats, they’d walk over to the wall, take down the rifle, meticulously clean and polish it, load it up with bullets, point it downward, carefully take aim and shoot themselves in the foot.” I’m increasingly worried that 21st century Democrats are following in that pattern. Is anybody else worried about this news from the labor unions?

4. Fox News and the suitable lack of a moderate/liberal equivalent. As a historian of political parties in the 19th century — let me tell you, for all their issues at least they knew how to best utilize the most prominent media of their time — newspapers. All newspapers were partisan. Television is the most prominent media of our time, and liberals have missed the boat on exploiting it. We only have one partisan television news source. And it is the wrong one. Today, we are reaping the benefits of a decade of Fox News in our Republican President and Congress. Biases are made palatable with sensationalism and normalized by inordinate repetition. We liberals cannot be above this and expect not to be harmed by this. We’ve got to use it, or lose it. Or continue to let the Republicans shoot us in the chest while we’re busy shooting ourselves in the foot.

5. Rove. Where the hell is the news on this? I can’t believe the media is falling for the SCOTUS nominee distraction ploy. It was so bloody obvious. Dammit.

6. SCOTUS. ‘Nuff said.

7. The prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. No rights. No charges. No hope. What’s going on is so secret that we have to hide it away in a country we refuse to have diplomatic relations with. That’s ok, Cuba. We don’t want to trade with you or talk to you about policies, but we’ll just put away our dirtiest little secrets in your back yard, thanks. What can people of good conscience do to object to what is being done there in our names?

8. The growing domestic prison population. There was a great story on NPR this evening about the aging prison population. So, not only are we stuffing young black men into the prisons as fast as we can, we’re keeping old men in there well into their dotage. What is our goal here? Punishment? Reform? Vengeance? Protection of the rest of the population? This needs some serious rethinking and is a problem that will soon become untenable. (AND, by the way, reinstating the death penalty is NOT a solution unless we are truly honest about it and decide that it is vengeance that we’re going for.)

9. Teaching. More anxiety dreams last night. This time involving nakedness and teaching. Not fun. So, I spent the day working on my syllabus. I’m still waffling on the textbook thing. But, I’m making progress on the rest of the syllabus. And I’ve discovered some simply amazing online resources for teaching history. Very exciting.

10. Dissertation. Oh yeah. That. But, in the light of all of the rest of the above, it seems trivial. Nothing like the world going to hell in a handbasket to make you realize how small you and your own little self-indulgent problems really are.

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One response to “Chpt 1/Day 14: Where Are We Going, and Why Are We In This Handbasket?

  1. Great list — always good to have the reality check, since ideally we should aspire to be well-rounded humans AND dissertation writers. Tough, of course.

    I’ve been thinking about the union question (and as an addicted blog reader) I saw an interesting post on Daily Kos about this. And I might have heard the same thing on NPR but it was during that snooze phase this morning. Anyway, the idea is that perhaps the union split will enable unions like SEIU to direct their cash into growing new union members. Oh, you can always check out NathanNewman.org for good union analysis, too. I’m not sure where I stand, but thinking about it beats dissertating, that’s for sure!

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/7/25/85558/5369

    “Among its set of reforms, SEIU has been pushing for redirecting political money back into organizing based on a simple principle — union members are far more likely to vote Democratic than non-union members. So much so that Mondale actually won the southern, white, male union vote en route to a catastrophic nationwide loss in 1984. So why not make more union members? Rather than invest directly in races (something SEIU clearly still plans to do, given its current efforts to take over the San Antonio city government), it plans on diverting some of that direct assistance into organizing and growing union ranks. That investment will mean 1) more money for future political engagement, and 2) more Democratic-leaning votes.”

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