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Category: Politics

Similes: The Bonus Army and The Veterans For Peace

Then:
The Bonus Marchers, believing the troops were marching in their honor, cheered the troops until Patton ordered the cavalry to charge them—an action which prompted the spectators to yell, “Shame! Shame!”

Now:
Police appear to clash with peacefully protesting veterans from Veterans For Peace, an organization of U.S. military veterans who oppose war. The veterans’ flags, including the American flag, also appear to be thrown to the ground. All the while, the veterans chant: “We are the veterans of the United States of America” and “Shame! Shame! Shame!”


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The Increasing Visibility of Occupy Wall Street


“Nobody wants to think about it, everybody just wants their normal life” – Franzen, Freedom

America is a country where a $6 Netflix fee increase causes more of an uproar than a $5 debit card fee for Bank of America customers. Over 1 million Netflix subscribers closed their accounts in response to the increase. Here was a company, beloved by its subscribers for the near-infinite entertainment it provided, losing customers over a mere $6. The outrage was steeped, it seemed, in disbelief–how could they do this?

On the other hand the outrage surrounding the $5 BoA debit card fee has been muted by the public’s cynicism towards banks–a cynicism banks wear as a badge of honor. Indeed, when asked about the new fee, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan simply responded that the bank has a “right to make a profit.”

I’d like to think that people would be more likely to drop Bank of America over $5 than Netflix.  However, this doesn’t seem to the be case. The reason is simple: the public will put up with a certain level of institutional discomfort–the sort of grin-and-bear-it fees, taxes, and tolls Americans have always accepted–but the one thing they won’t put up with is a disruption of the things that make day-to-day life bearable: food prices, housing, alcohol, and entertainment.

Which brings us to Occupy Wall Street. Read the rest of this entry »

Campaign Slogans

This post is part of my continuing quasi-coverage of the 2012 presidential election. Also feel free to revisit my thoughts on Obama’s 2012 campaign kickoff and Santorum’s failed first attempt at a slogan.

Deciding on a campaign slogan is not exactly rocket science, but it’s not exactly easy either. Campaigns are just barely getting started and already Mitt Romney has introduced us to the nurdle and Rick Santorum has reminded us why we love Langston Hughes. Concise, memorable, witty: A good campaign slogan won’t get you elected, but a bad one will guarantee defeat.

So before we are bombarded with the slogans of the next class of presidential candidates, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at some of the best (and worst) campaign slogans from America’s past.  Read the rest of this entry »

America being America


O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME
Langston Hughes

Rick Santorum, perhaps best known for his infamous Google problem, recently announced his plans to launch a presidential exploratory committee. The tagline from his press release: “It’s time for America to be America again.” As many places have reported, this tagline was appropriated from a Langston Hughes’ poem. Sites like Gawker, Think Progress, and Huffington Post have focused on the too-obvious irony of the crazy, conservative Santorum using a slogan written by a liberal, gay, black man.

But I must say that I find this sort of ad hominem irony to be rather offensive to Langston Hughes and literature in general because it ironizes the man and not the content. What I haven’t seen anywhere is a comment on the irony of the content. Santorum’s slogan “It’s time for America to be American again,” comes with the implicit assumption that we’ve merely lost our way as a country–that at some point in the past America was perfect.

Langston Hughes’ poem satirizes this notion. Sure he says “let America be America again,” but he follows that up immediately with “The land that never has been yet.” There are two ways to take this. One, America will soon be the America that has always been promised from the Declaration of Independence onward. Or, and I believe more likely, Hughes is resigned to America being the America it has always been–home of the poor; home of the disenfranchised; and a home that will never be his.

Rick Santorum has since backed off from the slogan, but it seems to me the real irony here is Santorum not realizing how perfect his “let America be America again” slogan really is.