Posts tagged "ussc"

Final Flight for Atlantis

Jay-Z, small government, and the declining Tea Party

The Verve Pipe - Freshmen (Villains, 1996)

Every week at the USSC, I compile a list of links to interesting articles about American politics and culture that I hadn’t had time to more fully address that week. (I basically stole the idea from Ezra Klein's “Wonkbook” and Rachel Hills's “Best of the Rest of the Internet.”) And, because I'm a music geek, I stick in a song to finish the post off.

Here’s the song from this week’s post, dedicated to the Tea Party Republicans elected to the House this past November:

For the life of me, I cannot remember
What made us think that we were wise and we’d never compromise

You can tell I like this joke, because I also put it on Twitter. Freal doe, “The Freshmen” is even better than the Goo Goo Dolls’s “Iris" as far as weepy adolescent mid-late ’90s angst rock goes.


I wasn’t particularly impressed with the Australian media’s reporting of the debt ceiling crisis, though the US media’s wasn’t much better. Too often journalists failed to properly distinguish between the argument over the debt ceiling and the argument over the deficit — or explain why the former was a manufactured crisis and whether the latter required immediate attention. I understand why reporters had such a problem with the topic: many politicians had a great interest in making the two arguments seem as if they were indistinguishable, and it’s difficult to call that out without seeming partisan.

I get pissy about the media

And I’m not usually one to get pissy about the media.


What happened to the Religious Right?

Who was the better youthful prankster?

Jon Huntsman as a high schooler in Utah:

[Howard] Sharp, who is now a doctor in Salt Lake City, says Huntsman was a practical joker who loved to douse an unsuspecting bandmate with a bucket of water or smoke a cigar in the office of someone who couldn’t stand the smell.

…or Rick Perry as a college student at Texas A&M:

On one occasion, Perry put live chickens in the closet of an upperclassman and left them there during Christmas break. “You can just imagine the smell,” [John] Sharp said. “Needless to say, he didn’t mess with Perry again.”

Another more elaborate prank took Perry months to execute. It involved M-80 firecrackers and an acquired knowledge of the plumbing in A&M buildings. Perry learned that he could drop something down the second floor toilet and get it to come out the first floor toilet. Then he learned M-80s had waterproof detonators — a perfect combination. His accomplice, Sharp, would give the high sign out the window when a potential target wandered into a stall.

Perry, from the floor above, would flush the lit firework down.

"It kind of launched the guy off of the seat,” Sharp told the Tribune in June. "It was quite a hoot. It was one of our more perfect deals.”

On this count, I’m  not sure it’s a fair fight. Anyone have word on how conversant Mitt Romney was with practical jokes?

Cross-posted at the USSC


The American insanity is, in short, a conviction that it has the ability to pursue extraordinary ideas from which a more moderate people might shy away. Sometimes those ideas are great, like republican democracy, and other times they’re horrendous, like slavery. (Sometimes, they’re both, like “Jersey Shore.”) But for all America’s ever-present residual insanity, there is a time when the crazy really comes out in the country and while these episodes last, the nation puts all claims to good sense in a shoebox on a high shelf, not to be brought down until an adult returns to the room.

We have a name for these occasions. That name is “August.”

My column today at American Review derives from my long-standing opinion on the United States of America: I love it, but it really is absolutely nuts. And never is it more nuts than in August.

The Awl: What's Really Pornographic? The Point of Documenting Detroit

The mainstream media absolutely fails to understand how little attention average Americans really pay to what goes on in all forms of government. During our 2008 race, our pollster taught me (hard to believe it took me 24 years to learn this) that the average voter spends only 5 minutes thinking about for whom to vote for Congress. All the millions of dollars of TV ads, all the thousands of robo-calls and door-knocks, and it all comes down to having a message that will stick in the voters’ minds during the 5 minutes before they walk into the voting booth.

The media likes to call this group “independents,” which implies that they think so long and deeply about issues that they refuse to be constrained by the philosophy of either party. There may be a couple of people out there who fit that definition, but those are not the persuadable voters campaigns are trying to capture.

Unnamed former congressional staffer quoted in James Fallows, “'People don't realise how fragile democracy really is',” American Review, September 7, 2011

Important information.


Two things were consistent: everybody wanted to tell you what they were doing on the day, and everybody had a different opinion about it.

Rupert Goold, director of Decade, a show marking the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, as quoted in Bryan Appleyard, “The Art of 9/11,” August 28, 2011.

I am no different, and did so as part of my column for American Review this week:

I probably heard about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 earlier than many Americans did. I was watching Australian network Channel 10’s late news that evening when anchor Sandra Sully announced that a plane had flown into the North Tower. It was just shy of 11pm on the east coast of Australia, and my parents and I watched as the TV screened the surreal sight of another plane colliding with the South Tower, then announcements that a third plane had struck the Pentagon, and a fourth downed in a field in Pennsylvania. Despite the continuous stream of reporting, little was clear: Who was behind this? Where would it end? As the night wore on, I wondered when and where the next attack would occur. Would they stay on the east coast of the United States, or was this a coordinated global assault?

Further attacks did not manifest themselves however, and I stayed up until three a.m. watching the inflow of news reports settle into a numbing cycle of interviews with experts and replayed footage of the attacks. At school the next day, my classmates and I ignored the task of studying for our impending end-of-year exams, and spent our time trying to make sense of what we had seen on TV the night before. I could not imagine how Americans were coping with an attack of such magnitude on their own soil.

My real topic of discussion, however, is what happened after, and that it wasn’t so much that artists created works that responded to the disaster as Americans used pop culture to help their own responses:

There’s a micro genre of songs I think of as “9/11 music,” and they hold that status more from what people did with them rather than what their creators intended. Though it was released in 2000 and has all the hallmarks of major label rock of the end of the 20th century, U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind album seemed to be everywhere in late 2001. Songs of indistinct uplift like “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” and “Walk On,” no longer seemed empty, but were transformed into adaptable vessels capable of uniting large audiences around a common optimism.

I guess “restoration” rather than “optimism,” though?



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