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politics & governmentrace & culture

Clinton’s fudge

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Another dram of history: Mr Obama, or perhaps Mrs Obama, or perhaps Valerie Jarrett has smashed yet another glass ceiling kept so spotless you probably didn’t know it existed. We refer of course to the hiring of an openly gay man as Social Secretary at the White House. The purity of this latest First is somewhat at issue though. The office of Social Secretary, while venerable, is not mentioned in the Constitution. Its history is not well recorded. Like so many curious things Presidential, it owes its current sacred status to the gunning down of William McKinley which begat the raising up of Teddy Roosevelt. But until yesterday this swanky, demanding post had never been held by a man. Now, this is not much of a First for fans of Firsts especially as this lucky fellow, Jeremy Bernard, is about as white as they come except that he is no Republican. He is however a prominent homosexual, which counts for Firsts, I guess, except that since the job is approving doilies and judging chintz you might doubt it if they said he WASN’T gay, but just hiring a white guy with good penmanship and a glad hand wouldn’t be much of a breakthrough, at least not on par with the other Firsts we have seen. Probably Bernard’s status as a multi-million dollar campaign contribution bundler was most persuasive, if we are being fair. But paying off a crony is no kind of First and if we are being truthful we would say what everyone paying attention knows; our Second Black President has hired our First (Openly) Gay Male Social Secretary as part of a coordinated and transparent sop to a restive element of his base. [Read more →]

art & entertainment

Marty Digs: The Echelon Mall (or, what is left of it)

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This past Friday night, my girlfriend Cailin went out, so I had our son Jack all alone. I wasn’t wild about the prospect of watching Thomas the Train on repeat, so I thought of things to do. I am devastated that I couldn’t make my friend Rita Marley’s going away/wig out party, but I was thinking that showing up with a raucous, manic, wild(almost)three year old might not be a good idea. Then again, Rita is one of my brother Patrick’s best friends, so it may not have been so bad after all. But I hit the open South Jersey road with Jack, and while he played Angry Birds on my itouch, I thought about a place we could wander around and explore. I was having a comically bad day on Friday, and the place I decided to visit certainly didn’t help matters. I took Jack to the Voorhees Town Center, the shopping destination formerly known as the Echelon Mall. Instead of a fun night out, I wound up depressed over a once glorious shopping mall. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Holy Family coach’s macho crap costs him his job

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Holy Family University, a small Catholic college in Philadelphia, is an unknown in the world of major college athletics. It competes in Division II in most sports, including basketball. Rarely does the school’s name come up when it comes to sports news, but that changed this week. Head basketball coach John O’Connor resigned Thursday after a controversy stemming from his treatment of one of his players that became public the way so many things do these days:  Youtube. [Read more →]

politics & governmentterror & war

Target Khadaffy

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If you were a young man in Arizona in the eighties, you know Dave Pratt. He is much in the mold of a Howard Stern but local and more musically oriented. Dave Pratt and his Sex Machine band were big mouthed trout in this smallish pond but they did have one break-out national hit, the comic masterpiece Drop it on Khadaffy. As radio’s ‘Wild One’ Pratt was a man of his times. The infectious licks and Middle Eastern hooks wedded to open, violent assertion of US interests was hugely popular. It is probably needless to say, if you think about it, that this song that encourages the airstrikes on Libya of 1986 was actually a RESPONSE to those actions. It is a safe bet that Dave Pratt, like most of his audience and demographic was as ignorant of Libya’s existence as they were of its troublesome habits until American jets kicked up a goodly amount of dust there. [Read more →]

art & entertainmentBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten things overheard at last night’s Academy Awards

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10. “I hope Inception wins for Best Brain Cramp.”

9. “Only three hours to go?! Man, this show is just zippin’ by!”

8. “Best Picture? – Hah! My favorite is Best Sound Mixing!”

7. “What about Sex & the City 2? Or are they just giving prizes for good stuff?”

6. “I never realized that the Oscar is just chocolate wrapped in tinfoil.”

5. “I hope Jeff Bridges wins Best John Wayne Impression.”

4. “Crap! Justin Bieber: Never Say Never won’t be eligible until next year!”

3. “If 127 Hours wins, how’s that guy gonna clap?”

2. “Isn’t Lindsay Lohan up for Best Special Defects?”

1. “I thought The King’s Speech was about that whole ‘I have a dream’ thing.”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

educationpolitics & government

Russian teachers vs. Wisconsin teachers

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I’ve steered clear of the Wisconsin brouhaha mostly because I don’t have anything unique, interesting, or provocative to say about it.  Moreover, nearly all of my closest friends and family members live in Wisconsin, and 95% of them think Scott Walker is Satan. To phrase it delicately, these friends and family members are not “receptive” to opinions that stray from the Satan narrative.

However, at Jim Goad’s NetJerk Lounge, Vladimir Zamansky, a Russian citizen (and featured guest in one of WFTC‘s old “Audio Files” columns) provides the most compelling thought yet. He writes (emphasis mine):

My mom is working 24/7, half-day at school and half-day at home. Her monthly salary is 500 USD. These teachers from Wisconsin are shameless.

To see how that $500 USD a month compares to some Wisconsin teachers’ salaries, click here.

What’s that, you say? “You can’t compare Wisconsin to Russia — it’s apples and oranges.” OK, fine. That’s fair. But then please don’t compare Wisconsin to Egypt. Please don’t compare Wisconsin to Nazi Germany. Please don’t compare State Street to the beaches of Normandy.

Vladimir officially gets my vote for Champion of the Universe right now.

UPDATE: Some more revealing data (h/t Michael C. Moynihan).

art & entertainmentends & odd

Ways in which “Two and a Half Men” can survive without Charlie Sheen

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Charlie Sheen and his poetic fingertips have been the source of great entertainment and speculation over the last several days. His antics have provided a much-needed distraction from events in that other part of the world where all that stuff is happening that I’m not really following anyway because it in no way affects me, and rising gas prices. But now that CBS and Warner Bros. have pulled the plug on the remainder of this season of his show “Two and a Half Men,” things have gotten a lot less funny and a whole lot more serious. After all,

If the show can’t return after this shortened season, it will still have a long life in re-runs and remain a cash cow. Warner Bros. still retains the syndication rights, and the show is watched almost as much in syndication each week as it is in primetime.

“Great would be an understatement,” said one studio insider asked to describe the show’s success, who said the show remains on-track to be a billion-dollar asset for Warner Bros. “This is one of the most successful sitcoms in the history of television.”

I have to admit that I have never watched more than a few minutes of the show. But given the importance of this program to the American economy, it is vitally important that it continue. It “is one of the most successful sitcoms in the history of television.”

It can’t die. Therefore I would like to present some suggestions as to how “Two and a Half Men” can continue its run. [Read more →]

politics & governmentrace & culture

Quitclaim Zion

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Israel sits on some disputed real estate. Perhaps you had heard. The vigor with which it is disputed is somewhat curious given that it is tiny, mostly desert and in a pretty rough neighborhood. Indeed it is the neighbors who press their claims. The claimants are arab and muslim. The holders are jewish and jewish. Yes, there are arabs and muslims in Zion but if they are loyal Zionists they keep that to themselves. Israel is a jewish nation for a jewish people who are about as religious as any western people which is to say some are not at all and some are devoutly so. There have been many, many denunciations of this state of affairs as some sort of racism and yes, it IS some sort of racism. It is the sort of racism practiced by a race that is threatened with extinction every day by explicitly racist actors with apocalyptic religious tastes of their own.

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sportsvirtual children by Scott Warnock

I’m your coach now

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While once we may have contemplated the merits of the philosopher king in human society, now we focus on a humbler, but quite common role: The parent coach. So many of us spend hours coaching our own kids, and I will start by stating the embarrassingly obvious: It is challenging. [Read more →]

language & grammarpolitics & government

I ain’t people

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It is wearying to mention Wisconsin so let’s mention it not. It’s unnecessary because those events are not exceptional, actually, but for scale and location. The struggle there is just one beach head in the constant, global and universal struggle. A tiny tendril of that struggle touched down here in Atlanta yesterday as a noisy bussed in scrum of unionists faced a smaller, carpooled scrum of flag wavers across the intersection in front of the Georgia capitol. I can’t say that I attended although that was my intention. For me it was just a three or four block walk. Approaching I could tell my side by the abundance of Carhartt’s and posterboard signs. I could tell the other by their red t-shirts and glossy-stock signs. The unionists numbered maybe 200 and the anti-unionists half that so this was less than a political Woodstock. An earlier scheduled event for and against a referendum on Sunday liquor sales (I’m pro) was a bit larger.

I didn’t stop. I didn’t break stride. I walked past my guys and their guys at the same camel-esque speed and blinked at them as if I had no idea what I had stumbled upon at all and walked straight to the bar. So I guess I am a deserter. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads: Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow

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Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow is a fictionalized telling of the story of the Collyer brothers — two eccentric New York brothers from a wealthy family, living in a spacious brownstone on 5th Avenue.  They became famous, not for their wealth or their looks or their philanthropy, but for their compulsive hoarding.  It’s a tragic story and Doctorow’s fictionalized account is compelling reading, trying to give some background and insight into the lives of these famous recluses. [Read more →]

art & entertainmentends & odd

Academy Awards offer distorted view of Hollywood life

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On Sunday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present its awards for the year’s “best” cinematic achievements. The Academy Awards is a celebration of success. It’s well worth remembering that for most who live in Hollywood, such success is elusive, and the Academy Awards ceremony offers a distorted view of life in the shadow of the dream factory. The following expose is an unflinching and thought-provoking look at the all-too typical of the experiences of Hollywood denizens.

In a rundown bachelor apartment in Hollywood, there lives a dream. A dream denied and battered, scraping by on memories of might-have-been, at that cold intersection of Loneliness and Possibility, but actually closer to Yucca and Las Palmas, literally speaking. For $750 a month, one man who is the living embodiment of Hollywood watches from his window as the traffic, which is a metaphor for the world at large, passes by.

“They’re heading to Chateau Marmont,” he says, knowingly. His voice is gravelly, with the age that comes from wisdom, of having seen and experienced much in pursuit of that elusive dream of Hollywood fulfillment.

I ask him how he knows this, and he replies, “Because it’s where I’d go, if I had any hope.”

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politics & government

He must be out of his mind

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Another politician goes down because he doesn’t understand the social network.  Jeff Cox, former deputy attorney general of Indiana, responded to a question by a writer for MotherJones about riot squads being readied in Wisconsin.  The guy tweeted “Use Live Ammunition”.

What a dumb thing to say.

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moneypolitics & government

Scott Walker is no spelunker!

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In other words, he ain’t cavin’. Apologies to the Gov for the last column and its presumptions as to his character. Given his RINO-esque whitewashing of the protests as “civil and nonviolent” when they were anything but, I thought he might be looking for an out, especially one that could deliver all of his legislativegoals immediately just not permanently. It looks like Walker has no interest in such a maneuver even though it could relieve the assault on Madison today while tripping up the Democrats at a crucial point two years from now.

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race & culture

The genius of Hallmark

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Do you know how Hallmark became a successful company? They introduced expectation. They used a seemingly worthless trinket to set a low bar, but a bar where none had existed before.

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artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo

All art is experimental

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I realized, after rereading my post from last week, that I hate the word “experimental” as it applies to the arts. Done right, all art is experimental. I recognize the need for artists in every discipline to be able to stretch their legs — to try new things. But the thing is, I don’t see art without any boundaries as much of a help in the growth of human expression. An artist who creates only to be different; who creates only to “break the rules” might be making a statement, but I am not sure that statement is as much about art as it is about desperation. [Read more →]

politics & government

I like sunsets

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Just what was that all about last December? How is it that two years after Obama’s election he and the Legislature had to wrestle with Bush’s Evil and Foolish Tax Giveaways to the Rich (as once we knew them)? Memories long and deep recall that this Stimulus of Yesteryear could only be passed, even in a Republican majority, with a Sunset Clause.

It’s sometimes hard to keep up with all these corny euphemisms and that is a large part of their charm to our Legislators. All this means is that the subject law, unlike most, has an expiration date. For the Bush Era Tax Rates (their new handle) the date was set for last New Year’s Day. On that day, absent the extension so long and bitterly fought over, income taxes would have gone up for all payers some ten percent. The reasons for the time limit? These were variable. For the most part it was understood that cutting the tax rates were an emergency measure to avoid a deep recession after 911. That danger would certainly be passed in ten years, right? Right. And we couldn’t deprive the Treasury of those precious funds indefinitely. But much of the appeal at least for those Democrats enticed by the Clause was that it would limit the political positives accruing to the grinning cowboy from his triumph today and lay a mine field for Republicans tomorrow as they presumed, so hopefully, that over time the legislation would grow as unpopular with the country as it was with themselves. That didn’t quite go as planned, did it? No, as it happened even a Legislature where the Democrats were in firm control could not do what they had to do to rid us of these dangerous and foolish tax policies and all they had to do was sit on their hands. [Read more →]

books & writingmoney

A world without Borders: saying goodbye to the corporation that shaped me

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In the ever-turbulent economic climate, hearing about the demise of yet another big box store is not that surprising, or even that unsettling. In fact, seeing storefronts shuttered until the next box chain moves in and breathes recycled air in that space until its life cycle ends, is now more common — and more expected — than seeing a chain or department store last the duration of one’s lifetime.

Keeping that in mind, along with the knowledge from following their ups and downs in the news, I was not surprised to read that Borders had finally filed for Chapter 11. But it didn’t make it any less sad to see. [Read more →]


Marty digs: Mount Up!

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Why was I wearing an Eddie Bauer fleece vest this weekend and listening to songs like “Far Behind” by Candlebox? Well, it was because this past weekend I had the opportunity to go to a basketball game at my alma mater – Mount Saint Mary’s University in the bustling metropolis of Emmitsburg, Maryland. And since I still can’t really let go of college even after almost thirteen years after graduating, this was a very special occasion to me. It was just what I needed, another reason to get outrageously nostalgic.   [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Mark Buehrle’s America is better than yours

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A couple of weeks ago, Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle was quoted as saying that he and his wife had been rooting for Michael Vick to get hurt during the NFL season. Now, my feelings on Michael Vick have provided much fodder for this column over the last couple of years. I can not claim to have never had a similar thought, regarding Vick’s playing health, if we’re being completely honest. I certainly have little interest in being in a position where I need to defend Michael Vick. I have had to do my best to focus on the positive things he is doing off the field, rather than think about the abhorrent things he did to those dogs. As a fan of the Eagles, and with him clearly sticking around for a while here in Philadelphia, I either needed to look on the bright side or get a transfusion to replace my green blood with the more traditional red. [Read more →]

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