Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Part 2, Tina's tale

As is only natural for a Puertoricana hairdresser in Gotham City, Tina is drop-dead gorgeous… but I swear that’s not the only reason I started chatting her up at the bar. The intelligence shone from her eyes, and before I knew it she was dropping literary insights that would have made her the envy of any Princeton grad. student in an advanced comp. lit. seminar. But of course she never went to college, so she’s found a way to make her hairdressing a source of daily inspiration. Just as Michelangelo visualized the Pietà just by looking at the raw marble, the limp hair Tina faces each day inspires her to create some new beauty in the world every day. She has achieved a wisdom that is rare and true, with no hint of bitterness at all that she hasn’t shared any of the worldly adventures her clients gossip about in front of her. This is the genius of working-class Americans, refusing to feel second-class even as they are treated more poorly every day by their corporate bosses.

What the hell do you mean, Ulysses?

Voting is great, but changing the voting patterns of those who vote wrong is even better. Many Americans don't vote at all, but almost all of them eat and drink. "Progressive" politicians have been hiding in their ivory towers building a better policy mousetrap, expecting the voters to beat a path to their door. Great idea, NOT!! We need to drink Bud at the bar and eat home fries at the diner and talk to regular folk. They'll gladly tell us what's wrong with this country and how to fix it. This is sorta what Rep. Cicilline is trying to do in RI's 1st district with the spaghetti suppers, etc. But it helps to not hold any sort of office if you're looking to hear the truth. And the truth isn't pretty, my friends. it's not pretty at all...

Tina the erudite hairdresser, or why drinking in bars and eating in diners is more important than voting.

I just wanted to give fair warning to my Left-sider friends: I’ll be spilling a lot of ink on these pages later today… and introducing a new online educational opportunity. Stay tuned!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

From Julius Caesar, to Lorenzo de' Medici, to Boss Tweed, to the Koch brothers

Today in Wisconsin, the Koch brothers stand exposed as manipulators of Governor Scott Walker, and the Republican state government. This is scandalous and disturbing, because it is the worst sort of political corruption.

Yet, sadly, corruption in politics is nothing new. Ancient Roman elections were rigged to favor a handful of powerful families. "New men", like Cicero, who managed to achieve wealth and prominence, still required the support of more powerful patrons. In the fifteenth century Republic of Florence an attempt was made to limit the potential for abuse by filling most of the magistracies by sortition rather than election. Names of citizens were drawn from different bags for lesser and higher offices. This somewhat random process was supposed to ensure that people could do their civic duty without fear or favor, not having made any promises to win their elections. Yet the Medici family and its supporters learned how to game the system. During a year in which the Medici faction dominated the highest council, they created a quasi-official group of "bag-holders" that were given the honor of maintaining the integrity of the bags. These "bag-holders" were not paid any government salary or given any authority beyond the selection of government officials. For half a century these "bag-holders" did what the Medici faction required. For many of the lesser magistracies, no tampering was needed. Men from small-time merchant or artisan families were thrilled at the chance to help regulate the scales at the fish market. They didn't make waves. For more important posts, the "bag-holders" would rig the bags so that opposition leaders could not control a particular council. So, for example, the pro-Medici folks might dominate a council 11 to 9. They would be careful to give their most prominent opponents a chance to express their opposition, without being able to make meaningful policy changes. This charade was finally ended by the expulsion of Piero de' Medici from Florence in 1494. By 1512, however, the Medici were back with a vengeance, and ultimately established themselves as the hereditary ruling family of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, marrying into the highest royal houses of Europe. Of course, like all good plutocrats the Medici weren't content to become mere royalty. Three different Medici popes (Leo X, Clement VI, and Leo XI) helped to further the family fortunes in heaven and earth.

[The above picture is of Lorenzo "il Magnifico' de' Medici-- it was his princely attitude, while ostensibly just another citizen, that led to the uprising that pushed the Medici out of Florence in 1494, just two years after his death.]