Archive for the ‘civic disengagement’ Category

It’s hard not to feel bad for Democrats from South Carolina.

Republican Jim DeMint‘s U.S. Senate seat is up for grabs in that state, but on Democratic voters there couldn’t differentiate on primary day between their party’s actual politician, Vic Rawl, and Alvin Greene(more…)


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About a month ago I went to post at one of the blogs I wrote for and found that I wrote for it no longer. Logging onto Jones Town, I learned that Fairlane had replaced his Barbie doll banner with an empty screen, and one last headline: “Everything went black.” No explanation or set of instructions as to where we could find his writing in the future. Just a Shakespeare excerpt, insinuating that all of this vigorous blogging “signifies nothing.”

In a way, he’s right. It’s not that what we’re saying is always all that insignificant. But our would-be readers don’t recognize significance when they see it anyway. Why else would we be where we are as a nation? For all our bloviating about corruption in Washington, that corruption exists on both sides of the aisle. It takes a truly gullible and simplistic to society to know the difference between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. And the fact that we elected them in the first place—much less reelected—these sneaky men who were their capacity for corruption on their face, means that our society sadly has a long way to go before it’s ready to know the truth.

I’m sick of hearing politicians praise the strength and ingenuity of the American people. Candidate John McCain went so far as to attempt to pass off his Freudian slip—“the fundamentals of our economy are strong”—as a hat-tip to the American workers’ resilience.

But maybe being patronized is exactly what those of us at the bottom of the IQ Pyramid need.

Now more than ever, the average American seems either indifferent or incompetent in public affairs. It’s contagious, and I feel myself catching the bug. What is with this latest round of bailouts, and why can’t I bring myself to care the way I did a year ago? Why can’t I hold strong to the hope I had as I feel it fading? Why don’t I care anymore if I get forced into a life that’s not rewarding, the “American dream”—i.e., my life may always suck but by golly I’m gonna make sure my kids’ life sucks a little bit less.

Part of it is that I see it’s not as simple as I thought it was. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are indeed gone, but our troubles are not. And I can’t say with my former, naïve certainty that I know enough to criticize every decision our government makes. Yet I see through its trickery, the gimmicks that fool most people most of the time. And if our safety and security and happiness, collectively, depend on fooling most people most of the time, then where does that leave people like me who aren’t really fooled at all?

What’s more, if we organize our lives around criticizing “power”, how is it possible to hope for a resolution? Many of the blogs I read leave the distasteful impression that if corruption were thwarted and we suddenly lived in a perfectly harmonized world, the authors wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. Their world only has meaning insofar as it is completely and utterly fucked up. I don’t want that to be me, a scowling pessimist whose sense of purpose is tied to the assumption that there can never be a shortage of evil people whose goal it is to make our lives painful and unjust.

I am not strong. I am not resilient anymore. Months and years of no rewards have stolen that from me. The shear ignorance of simple, simple people has taken its toll. It starts to dawn on me, that I care too much about strangers who don’t care about each other, let alone care about me back.

That I haven’t posted anything in two months should have told me that I’m feeling a bit like Fairlane. The way to happiness for me does not travel through this blog. And so alas I realize it’s time for The Public Intellectual to join his legendary Jones Town among the list of blogs on hiatus.

As for political affairs, I may write again, but probably not here. As my first blog, it will always hold a spot in my heart, but it’s just not me anymore. What the hell is a “public intellectual” anyway? I realize I posed that question but never fully answered it. That’s because “public intellectual” is a concept invented by people in academia who briefly lamented that academic research was all about the pursuit of their own private interests. And they regretted this fact just long enough to coin a new phraseology for some obscure, little-read journal within their discipline. Talk about signifying nothing!

Now I’m off to finish writing my dissertation. To those who enjoyed my writing, please check back periodically, as I’ll be sure to post any new developments  regarding my professional progress. Thank you to all who supported and encouraged me when I had a younger soul and still believed one person’s words could make some difference. And as Fairlane has already taken Shakespeare, please accept Live’s “White, Discussion” as my official “swan song”:

“I talk of freedom; you talk of the flag. I talk of revolution; you’d much rather brag. And as the decibels of this disenchanting discourse continue to dampen today, the coin flips again & again & again & again, as our sanity walks away.

All this discussion (though politically correct) is dead beyond destruction (though it leaves me quite erect). And as the final sunset rolls behind the earth, and the clock is finally dead, I’ll look at you, you’ll look at me, and we’ll cry a lot—but this will be what we said.

This will be what we said:‘Look where all this talking got us baby.’”

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(Note: I’ve been busy writing and grading final papers, so I’m reposting this article, originally written May 14th, 2007. It was one of my very first blog entries, so most of you probably never read it, but I find this issue as relevant today as when I wrote about it seven months ago. I’ll be back soon!)

People say I spend too much time ranting about the problems with this country and what they will eventually mean for this world and for all the people I love who live here. They say its pessimistic to dwell on such things.

In fact, pessimists don’t care enough to bitch in the first place. (more…)

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Let’s be clear about something: putting a flag on your pickup truck is LITERALLY the LEAST you can do to show that you “support our troops.”

The most effective use of propaganda during American wars is to slander those who oppose the war by calling them “unpatriotic.” For the first few years of the U.S. military adventure in Iraq, most Americans were afraid to express any sentiment other than blind support for the war efforts, as opposing the war in those early days was assumed to mean one did not “support our troops.” (more…)

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The GOP’s position on YouTube

As if young voters needed further evidence, Republicans have shown once again how little regard they have for the future of our country. This time I’m not talking about their economic or environmental sloppiness–debts to society that Generations X and Y will someday be forced to repay. Those catastrophic blind spots aside, what pissed me off today was their blatant disregard for the future’s technology and the young people who have embraced it. (more…)

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A recent blog entry at Dandelion Salad pointed me to a month-old Reuters article about a prominent French politician who insinuated that Bush “was behind” the 9/11 attacks. French Housing Minister Christine Boutin, before taking office, expressed publicly that she was skeptical about Osama bin Laden and al-Quaeda being able to pull of the 9/11 attacks.

Her reasoning:

Ms Boutin backs her assertion by pointing to the large number of people who visit websites that challenge the official line over the September 11 strikes against US cities.”I know that the websites that speak of this problem are websites that have the highest number of visits … And I tell myself that this expression of the masses and of the people cannot be without any truth.”

Part of Boutin’s confusion stems from the fact that “the masses” in France are quite different from those in the United States. (more…)

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