According to CNN (as of right now), 44% of the Republican caucus-goers are in the 60+ age category. I know that caucuses tend to attract an older crew, but this seems like quite a lot…
According to Rep. John Boehner, my tastes are liberal. And he doesn’t have to take it.
Boehner has been complaining of late about the changes the Democrats have made to the Congressional Cafeteria since retaking the majority in the mid-term elections.
“I like real food,” proclaimed Republican leader John Boehner when asked about the new menu by a producer for another cable news outfit. “Food that I can pronounce the name of.”
Boehner is now forced to wrap his lips around such phrases as “broccoli rabe and shaved persimmon,” “balsamic glazed butternut squash,” and “calico pinto beans”…all on this afternoon’s menu, along with the downright patriotic “American Regional Yankee Pot Roast,” which, even Boehner would have to admit, kind of rolls right off the tongue. On Fridays, there is a real sushi bar tended by a bona fide Japanese sushi chef. Gone are such grade-school cafeteria specialties as Salisbury steak and fried chicken, slathered in gravy and served with a side of chips.
I have two questions for Boehner: first, which of these words can’t he pronounce? And second, does he really think rubbery roast is better? Wonder what Huckabee would say about the changes.
I also think it’s worth noting, as Chris Bowers did, that it seems the Republicans are so insecure these days that they can’t even handle lunchroom pluralism, nevermind pluralism of the political variety. It’s as if even a whiff of change gives Congressional Republicans heartburn (though one would think it’d be that old Salisbury steak).
Blustain and Friedman on “men’s post-abortion syndrome.” You can all but read the “moderate” Kennedy opinion now: “Although we have no reliable data to measure this phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable based on a few random anecdotes collected in amicus briefs to restore coverture to its proper place in American law, just like Sam always wanted.”
By the time I started playing, Bobby Fischer was long gone from the American chess scene. We know today that he was still around, giving the occasional interview or lesson, but before the internet it was remarkably difficult to track such appearances, and it seemed to almost everyone that he had simply vanished from the face of the earth. Of course, just because he was gone didn’t mean that he was gone; his ghost hovered over the game of chess, both for the public-at-large and for the serious player. For the public, he was the only recognizable American chess player, and his life lent an aura of the bizarre to what really wasn’t all that bizarre of a game. For the serious player Fischer was a bit more difficult, because the absence of the greatest player meant that the rest of what was going on in American chess felt like kind of a sideshow. People wondered what would happen when He returned, and what it would mean for chess if He never returned, and about what He meant for the game, and so forth and so on.
I started playing chess “seriously” in the 10th grade. I played for the Oregon City High School chess team, but also in various tournaments around Portland and in a couple of the local chess clubs. The questions about Fischer had, in an important sense, played themselves out by 1990. The larger world of chess was represented by the 1990 Karpov-Kasparov match, which had its own post-Cold War overtones. While I cheered for Kasparov, I felt that my style of play more closely matched Karpov, to the extent that it makes sense to think about similarities between the game of a grandmaster and a D level player. Fischer was always around, though. A few times each year we’d have a conversation about Fischer during chess practice, wondering where he was, what he was doing, and whether or not he could beat Kasparov. I believed that he could; Kasparov had come to prominence in the absence of the best player that the world had ever seen, and thus his success was suspect. All of the American champions, too, seemed to be playing for runner up, second to the ghost of Fischer. In any case, I had enough talent and patience to rise to low class C, which made me by far the best player in my high school and in the top ten of state high school players. If I had committed myself to chess I might eventually have gotten to class A, just below Expert but far short of Master, but it was enough simply to be the best at OCHS and to be competitive on a state level.
What chess did for me was help to achieve a certain level of notoriety, to set me apart from the common nerd, and to get my name in the announcements now and again. None of these are particularly laudable goals, but they meant a lot at age 16. To this goal, Fischer was a better model than either Karpov or Kasparov. Karpov and Kasparov have very different personalities (and political outlooks) from one another, but are both notable for being, in their own ways, quite normal. They both belie the notion that there’s a connection between the chess and the crazy; this belief appears, largely but not entirely because of Fischer, to be particularly American. But of course, to the nerd seeking notoriety, Karpov and Kasparov were entirely useless. If I could have been normal and cool and good at chess I would have been, but this was simply not to be. Fischer was a much more compelling role model for a young man who made the terrible mistake of putting chess at the front of his social resume. Now, this isn’t to say that I threatened to drop out, or started doing poorly in classes, or started dressing like Fischer, but I did learn as much about his life as I could (remember again that this was pre-internet), became familiar with the “where is he now?” debates, and developed a capability for holding forth on the question of whether he could beat Kasparov. I also took a certain pleasure in noting that Bobby and I shared initials.
Of course, high school ends and no one wants to start school at a big state university with “chess nerd” as his primary identity. But then Fischer came back, a month before classes were supposed to start, and I felt I owed him something. Fall 1992 was my first semester at the University of Oregon, and the second class on my first day was Political Science 225: Political Ideologies. While the listed professor was George Zaninovich, it was actually taught by a graduate student named Joshua Gold. It appears that he now works at Salt Lake Community College; if you have a chance, take a course from him. It was reasonably demanding for a freshman/sophomore course, as in addition to the Ball and Dagger Political Ideologies Gold also assigned Berger and Luckmann’s The Social Construction of Reality, and Carol Pateman’s Participation and Democratic Theory. The course ended with a novel assignment; produce your own internally coherent political ideology. I wrote a paper called “Chess as Ideology”; it was written as a Trotsky-esque recapitulation of a revolution led by Bobby Fischer that overthrew the government of New Zealand and established a society based on chess. The ideology wasn’t terribly attractive, as it could best be described as internally oriented fascism with a substantial dose of Indian caste system. That made some sense, though, as it was becoming clear by that point that Bobby hadn’t come back quite right. As I mentioned the internet was in its infancy, so news of Fischer’s behavior during the 1980s and even during the 1992 match with Spassky was pretty limited, but it still seemed that he was more than a little off.
After that I left chess behind. I watched a couple films that featured Fischer, including the remarkably powerful Fresh, and the awfully bad Searching for Bobby Fischer, and vaguely followed his career, but as the chess connection waned I came to evaluate him on his merits as a celebrity. I didn’t take any joy in his difficulties, but didn’t feel that they were particularly undeserved. What bothered me most, I suppose, was his contempt for Garry Kasparov. Kasparov may have been a product of the same Soviet chess system that Fischer legitimately deplored, but he is now and was then both an admirable figure and a fantastic chess player. To attack Kasparov, it seemed to me, both denigrated the game and foreclosed the possibilities that it had produced. Kasparov, in short, was an amazing former world chess champion, while Fischer was a waste of oxygen.
On the whole “crazy” thing, I really don’t know what to think about Fischer’s mental state. It has become clear enough that whatever issues he had after the return were simply amplifications of issues that had been present before 1972, and not behavior qualitatively different. While on one hand I kind of want to believe that he was suffering from some kind of mental illness, I’m also wary of diagnosing mental illness from political belief. It’s possible that he was just a pretty awful human being, in the way that lots of people are awful human beings, although perhaps in a way that was enhanced by his particular celebrity and experience.
So, I feel like I should mourn Bobby Fischer, but I’m not sure how. Unlike Chris, I can’t mourn the Fischer of 1972, because I never experienced that. Fischer to me was a ghost, but an important and meaningful ghost. I can’t excuse the late Fischer in favor of the young, because all the bad that was present in the late was also there in the young. I can mourn the ghost, but I feel kind of bad about that because it seems to celebrate Fischer’s death (his return to “ghost” status) more than remember it. And so I find myself in a bit of a quandry regarding Bobby.
Still, I can say that there are very few to whom I can more sincerely say “Rest in Peace,” than Bobby Fischer.
As one of the old-timers who prefer to read the Times in the dead tree edition, I almost spit out my coffee when I saw that Maverick McStraighttalk had claimed that “[e]very time in history we have raised taxes it has cut revenues. [my emphasis]” Jon Chait points out the obvious facts that 1)you have to go all the way back to the previous administration to find a straightforward refutation of this baldfaced lie, and 2)the Times is grossly irresponsible to have let that lie stand without correction. If someone doesn’t even know about the shrinking deficits/surplus following the tax increase in the 1990s, it’s outrageous that they’re reporting about politics for a major newspaper, and if they knew it was erroneous and let it stand it’s even worse.
For all the talk of “Bush Derangement Syndrome” promoted by various clowns, note that Democrats and Republicans both see Bush as the staunch conservative that he is, while Republicans put Hillary Clinton substantially to the left of Noam Chomsky while sane people properly place her on the moderate left. And her killing of Vince Foster makes her the quintessential liberal fascist…
Before there were the Worst American Birthdays, there was Forgotten American Bastard Blogging, which established the standard for the genre. A little more than a year ago, Erik offered some thoughts on Sam Zemurray that are worth recalling on what would be the banana kingpin’s 131st birthday.
Working closely with Guatemalan dictator Jorge Ubico, Zemurray and [the United Fruit Company] destroyed labor unions, gained signficant land concessions, and increasingly worked the CIA to undermine any smidgen of opposition to the Ubico regime. Ubico had been installed by the US in 1930 and in fact, for most Guatemalans, United Fruit and the United States were the same thing. A 1934 uncovered coup plot allowed Ubico to militarize his regime, something fully supported by Zemurray, United, and the Roosevelt administration. Zemurray worked closely with the powerful businessman John Foster Dulles, later Secretary of State under Dwight Eisenhower, to gain ever more lucrative contracts and create ties to the US government in case things went sour in Central America.
The US demand for bananas, which soon became one of the cheapest fruits on the market, also spawned widespread environmental destruction. Millions of acres of native jungle were destroyed to provide for bananas, decimating wildlife populations. The monocultures that replaced the jungle became susceptible to diseases such as Panama disease and Sigatoka disease. Today, much of that original Cuyamel and United land cannot support bananas. When I traveled on the North Coast of Honduras a few years ago, I saw miles and miles of palm oil plantations where jungle and then bananas once grew. In addition, nasty chemicals were used to fight off Sigatoka, exposing workers, animals, and water supplies to chemical pollution.
The vindictiveness and disproportionate influence of the blogosphere is a particularly sore subject. Who is it that “rewrote history, made anonymous accusations, hired and elevated hacks and phonies, ruined reputations at will, and airbrushed suddenly unwanted associates out of documents and photographs”? Mr. Siegel’s immediate answer is Stalin. But he alleges that the new power players of the blogosphere have appropriated similar powers.
Maslin’s review, meanwhile, is another manifestation of a fairly positive review describing an unreadable book whose arguments are apparently either trite or transparently ridiculous. Maslin does have seem to have some awareness of the amount of projection involved, although she soft-pedals it. Obviously, if you personally use the web to do things like accuse people of being pedophiles with no evidence and use a sockpuppet to reveal yourself as a big fan of yourself you have a strong interest in attributing your actions to some homogeneous “internet culture,” but this really isn’t much of an argument.
As a follow-up to
d Farley, I see that a “pro-heritage” group has placed ads in favor of Huckabee and against McCain and Romney. (The former can’t be happy; you flip-flop on the acceptability of the state displaying swastikas Confederate flags to straight-talkingly pander to morons and you can’t get any credit!) In fairness, I think Yglesias is being a little reductive about this unbroken tradition dating all the way back to 1962. Really, the flag is just as much a symbol of lawlessness in defense of apartheid as treason in defense of slavery.
It’s always refreshing when a Republican candidate embraces neo-confederatism. Reaffirms my faith in the Party of Lincoln. Huck:
“You don’t like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag,” Mr. Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, told supporters in Myrtle Beach, according to The Associated Press.
“In fact,” he said, “if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we’d tell them what to do with the pole; that’s what we’d do.”
Huh. Is it just me, or is Huck suggesting that a flagpole should be rammed up the ass of some do-gooder Northerners? I have to wonder, is ramming a flagpole up someone’s ass in accordance with biblical teachings? What if it’s done for fun, and not for punishment?