Better Dead than Red, or Better Red than Dead?

One of my colleagues, now long retired, put it this way.  Frankly, I can’t remember who said what — who gets the credit.  Or who gets the blame, depending, of course, on your perspective.  Anyway, the question is this: Why do Republicans own red?

When I was a U.S. congressional page for the Republicans, they wore red.  Red neckties and red party dresses abounded.  Later, when I switched sides, I began to relate more to my friends from the other side of the aisle. This wasn’t hard, since Tip O’Neill was the speaker of the House when I was a page, and the Republican party was so small (circa 1977–78) that my friends were pages borrowed from the other side:  Southern Democrats, Blue Dog Democrats, bold Democrats, or just plain curious Democrats coming from the closest city to red that we had: San Francisco. The Republicans, in other words, did not have enough leg power, or person power, to run all their errands.  So, back in the day, the Democrats were gentlemen* and would help them out — at least at the level of running errands to the House floor.

Getting back to the conversation at hand, I didn’t turn blue for long.  The Democrats, I quickly learned at Claremont Men’s College, were not as, but almost as ______  (fill in the blank) boring in the absence of agents of change as the Republicans.  In a two-party system, they were Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

So, I moved left.  Moving left after college meant leaving the country. Going abroad, I ended up in the one country that could be counted back then as dissident, or had a dissident history — the former Yugoslavia.

Here we all embraced the red.  Indeed, one of my going-away gifts was a basket of red stuff — red nail varnish, lipstick, etc. — and the biggest movie that spring, when I got to decide if I wanted my diploma to read Claremont Men’s College or Claremont McKenna College, was Reds, by Warren Beatty.

Back then, red was the color of communists — and I never quite put it together why it was also the color of Republicans.

Anyway, listening to Max Boot on a Forum podcast got me thinking: Now we do know — not why they, but at least he, wears red.  And this got a laugh out of me.

It made me think: “Better dead than red” made sense to my relatives and I decided to resist my relatives with “Better red than dead.”  But today’s Republicans are so anti-intellectual that you might say: “Better-read? Then dead.”  Whose color is it anyway?  Or are we all seeing red, knowing that some say or dance around it that our president is committing treason.



* I say gentlemanly because the House was a gentlemen’s club.  We were taught that the number-one reason a woman sat in the House was because her husband had died in a plane crash.  I still have yet to check the veracity of that statement.


** you guess

GOP: Party of Lincoln? Or Falwell?

Why do I find the liberal media so annoying?  It isn’t that they’re dominant — they ARE NOT.  It isn’t that they’re not critical if we want to remain a REPRESENTATIONAL democracy — they ARE.  It is that they let the Republican Party elite (the fringe, the not-so-fringe, the land Repubs or Trump Land — divided into rural and urban — or the used-to-be-suburban or ruraburian).  No, that’s not it either.

It’s all the room that the so-called liberal media (i.e. tepid Republicans) give to the faith-based . . . and here I won’t insult people with cognitive problems, so let’s just call them the faith-based fringe who belong in tents where so-called tongue is a language . . .

Having a Weedpatch/Santa Barbara (Buckaroo/yacht club) — heritage gives me some insight.  I come from the land of opposites.  And yes, you can just call it land power politics.  

It’s the type of land that dictates the power that the developer (a nice word for landlord of land, buildings . . . the people who pillage, evict, and decimate whole communities) will have, which is annoying.

The liberal media should stop allowing those who have raped and pillaged this nation to keep redefining themselves.  

Post Trump Stress Disorder — 11/9; not 9/11

unnamed We are all suffering from some form of Trump-induced PTSD. Emergency-room visits were up the day after 11/9, as a creative-writing friend of mine pointed out this perverse inversion of 9/11 after the presidential election of 2016.  I have friends and colleagues in all disciplines — Spanish literature, comparative political thought, literary theory, interdisciplinary pedagogy taught in Dutch and international English, let alone American politics, law and society, American political development (APD), and American (or better yet, comparative) political thought (APT & CPT). We would all laugh at the buffoon if he were not so scary. When you’re terrified, you can only titter.

So, what now? I, for one, am going back in both time and thought. Like many of my friends, I have to put my head into history for a time.  My sabbatical is being spent writing about American tribalism, which references merging APT/APD and CPT, though there is no CPD, since APD is CPD.  Huh?  Really, what I’m doing is streamlining inter- and intradisciplinary research on comparative political thought and politics and history broadly cast over eras and epochs.  How do you get to comparisons that are global, given our now-embarrassing global American empire?  Easy: We must go abroad and note the other perspectives, even if we don’t put them in more than our footnotes or register the comparisons with European Union nations, particularly the Netherlands.

The Dutch, after all, had more legitimacy and authority in the colonies that became the United States over 150 years later. Dutch-Anglo, not Anglo-Dutch, thought is more persuasive when you think of the founding canon in American political thought. It’s just that the English, in 1661, knocked those pesky merchants’ republican ideas out of enlightenment and post-enlightenment Anglo-American political thought. The Dutch not only predated the English, but also the English, Scottish and French Enlightenments.

This is all academese, I know, that will be explained later. For now, I must explore the history of the texts, Baruch Spinoza and heretical thought. Indeed, I saw the first book in Heretical Thought — Assembly, by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri — in a radical bookshop, or boekhandel, near Spinoza’s likeness where he lived in Amsterdam.  My college-age son and I are not the only fans of Assembly.  According to Rebecca Goldstein, it took 200 years before any scholar could comfortably cite his heretical thought.

Comparing history of thought or schools of thought — not just heretical thought or Dutch-Anglo-American political thought, where Hugo Grotius is possibly more important than William Blackstone — could be considered heresy — or not.* There are many academic and public historians, from Joyce Goodfriend to Russell Shorto, who show how the British rewrote American colonial political thought.  

* The references here, I admit, are academic and yet not obscure if you follow the train of hyperlinks or references to the plethora of different or multiple schools of thought and political traditions.


Trump’s Wars + Math of APSA Male Presidency Culture

Sad, mad, eating glass. Like we didn’t know this was what was going to happen?  I mean, really, Trump reveres nothing.  Take a quick peek at that video of Ivanka on his knee if you don’t mind feeling the creeps, again.

Okay, we knew, and that’s why so many voters tried to make sure he didn’t get elected.  Then again, many SLAMs wanted to make sure she didn’t get elected.

I guess my point is: What do you expect in a two-party system nestled in a misogynistic culture?  Call it rape culture if you want to be crude, not blunt.

This is what folks outside (e.g. experts from European or international arenas with their own patriarchal cultures) don’t get about the United States.  Why do we put up with this?  Why not pass another constitutional amendment?  Have we stopped amending the Constitution?

Let’s start first with changing our culture: Equal Rights Amendment, please.  If that’s too ambitious, how about resurrecting the Violence Against Women Act, and if that’s too tough, where are we?  We should start with the study of American politics, no?

Now that we have a president who should not be impeached but goes so much further, and we’ve had a female candidate for president who lost not once (i.e. Democratic nomination, then general election) but twice, why is the actual study of the presidency — like math — still controlled by men?  Why should American politics, particularly the study of the presidency (which is less revered by the sports/math/music statistics crowd, like Nate Silver), be dominated by men?  Why is there a gender gap in citations?

Political science as a major is not filled with men.  Women, too, study politics.  And they study more than  “women and politics” — a parochial course, not by choice but by . . . you fill in the blank.

So let’s go back to who controls the American-politics curriculum in the United States?  It’s the chairs of political-science and government departments, and whoever they select to run their curriculum committees.  The chairs happen to be 87 percent male, so it’s math culture, no less.  At least my institution asked me to reapply for a research in the classroom grant about this very question.  Yay CUNY.

Professors Need Ethics, but New York Times Editors Do Not? Propagating Parental Prejudice

merlin_132362976_3c3de7b3-5c62-4db7-a267-a602a88f8eaa-master768.jpg  Having just passed the new Institutional Review Board (IRB) test got me wondering: Why don’t journalists have to do this, let alone their editors (who, after all, set the agenda, “alt” or not)?

The idea that experimental subjects have rights was started by the United Nations and promoted by human-rights activist Eleanor Roosevelt (who didn’t like the United States using information from Holocaust victims, no less).

Ethical training is especially needed by the New York Times, the “paper of record,” which, at least in this one article, was practicing “alt” ethics (promoting parents who teach their young how to discriminate against vulnerable people while they’re still in single digits).

This one even comes with a photo of this so-called nurturing mom, and then publishes some “alt” rubbish (that later contradicts it) articulating the absurd argument that providing elevators to mass transit can be considered unsafe in these terrorist-provoking Trump times.

Why does the NYT feature this overt parental prejudice, and publish the vulnerable child’s photo too? The only fact in the piece is how this is bunk (duh!) and that NYC mass transit is worse than that in other cities (another duh).  So what’s new or news?


Why does WNYC/PBS in NYC think all public intellectual interviewers are men? — Don’t pledge until we all hear more diverse voices



Top 10, Top 20, Top 100 — you find your list.  Or even rely on Richard Posner‘s pre-9/11 list, and public intellectuals who are not SLAMs or SCAMs (and not fiction writers) are not women.  They are the default identity: straight liberal Anglo men or straight conservative men — the defaults or the embodiments of the “norms,” the 5 percenters.

I’ve been teaching this in Writing Politics for so many years it gets boring, old, trite, frustrating, maddening . . . oops, now I sound like a w/b-itch . . . something not nice, I suppose.  The first repair is please, please, please let’s forget Charlie Rose and Leonard Lopate and John Hockenberry and start filling the NYC airwaves with women public-intellectual interviewers.

The second repair — stop featuring how difficult it is to spot sexual harassment.  The definition is very, very clear, and the difference between civil and criminal law is VERY basic, yet even Brian Lehrer seem to have a problem with this.

The first thing is that you can’t say you didn’t know it was happening (male or female bosses either).  Indeed, the only reason sexual harassment — not pay inequity, nor paycheck discrimination — has had any impact since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is that the federal courts (including the Supremes) put their employers/managers/co-workers on the hook.  The whole head-in-the-sand approach doesn’t work — in CIVIL law (not criminal law, needless to say; criminal law carries a higher burden).

Aren’t we in the Anita Hill moment for public television and public radio, meaning her bravery despite Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas taking a seat was worth it?  Without her, NOW would not have increased and sexual harassment would have remained obscure (even though the press still can’t get a definition of it . . . or explain the difference between sexual crimes and civil crimes).

Here’s an exercise.  Compare the Forbes 400 with any top list of PUBLIC intellectuals and you might well find yourself on a stick, a broom, etc.  You get the idea.

Now, I get it for Roger Ailes/Rupert Murdoch’s baby Fox News(?), but public radio and public television, particularly in New York City, being conducted or run by mainly men?

To be sure, Terry Gross could don a cool cape and fly from station to station, but she’s only one person. . .

Here’s my challenge — don’t submit your pledge until we’ve heard bell hooks, Melissa Harris-Perry, or anyone but Doris Kearns Goodwin* absolutely refuse to interview for these openings.  This could be a call-in or petition campaign we might actually win!

* (who signed more than one settlement for more than one case of plagiarism — or one of the ultimate public intellectual civil crimes — unconscionable in my book 🙂 )

Too Tired, Too Many Global Golf Course Fries Trump

President Trump’s doctor says he may be eating too many fries at his global golf courses His so-called physician never named what food or when, naturally. Still, Trump’s clearly winning at Davos given double digit growth for double digit wealthy nations who have global leaders who are saying my how we’ve grown.
Well this is a surprise (not!)
Review Boardwalk Empire’s portrayal of 1-buck-Andy — Secretary of Treasury Andrew Mellon — if you don’t have the time and/or patience to read about him or his salary or compare Trump to Tricky Dick (Nixon) and his attempted firings and more.