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Front Page » Authors » Bio for John Petty » Archives for John Petty

By John Petty on September 8, 2010

"They talk about me like a dog," said President Obama at a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee on Monday. He departed from his script to throw it in, which we know because he told us that too.

Where did he get the unusual line? It could have been Jimi Hendrix, whose song, "Stone Free" included the line: "...people try to pull me down, they talk about me like a dog, talk about the clothes I wear..."

Mark Liberman at Language Log has found at least four other references. One is an interview with Bobby Brown in Ebony. "They (the press) don't know me," said Brown, "and they talk about me like a dog."

Read more of this post here ...

By John Petty on November 6, 2009

Now that the off-off-year elections are over, which, according to the mainstream media, the Republicans won overwhelmingly, which, according to the same, puts the Democrats on the defensive, and will likely lead to their double-digit loss of seats in 2010.

Honestly, could they get any dumber? In the first place, the winners of the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia tamped down their conservatism because they were smart enough politicians to know that teabaggers are a relatively small slice of the electorate and elections are won in the middle.

For the Republican leadership--Limbaugh, Beck, Bachmann, and their minions--this kind of moderation is treason. Sure, they'll happily claim victory in New Jersey and Virginia, but, in their heart of hearts, they would rather have lost both governorships if they could have won an ideological victory in New York's 23rd congressional district.

How much of a victory can it be when, at the close of election day on Tuesday, the Democrats had two more votes for health care reform, and two more votes for a public option? One might also note...

Read more of this post here ...

By John Petty on August 28, 2009

Many people don't know this about Ted Kennedy, but he was very nearly as pious as his older brother Robert. Ted attended Mass every week, in some cases, such as during Kara's bout with lung cancer, every day. At his mother's funeral, he made mention of her "greatest gift" which was "faith."

Jack took his Catholicism with a cool distance, though never flinched in his loyalty. Robert, on the other hand, did his religion the same way he did everything else -- wholeheartedly and passionate. Bobby was a Catholic every which way, from fasting with Cesar Chavez, to attending Mass, to having a big Catholic family. He once stepped into the theater at the Kennedy compound where the cousins were watching a movie. When he saw a racy scene, he ordered the projectors stopped and ran the kids out.

Read more of this post here ...

By John Petty on June 24, 2009

Remember Wilbur Mills back in the 70's cavorting with his "Argentine firecracker" in the Reflecting Pool? At least Mark Sanford didn't do that. He wasn't hitting on teenagers, like Mark Foley. He didn't hire hookers, like David Vitter, Eliot Spitzer, or Dick Morris. He didn't humiliate his family by dragging them in front of the cameras for "support," like Larry Craig, or, again, David Vitter, and again, Eliot Spitzer.

Like them, however, he did feel obliged to engage in one of the hallowed traditions of American politics, the public act of contrition, complete with references to -- drumroll! -- God, family, and -- don't forget this, everyone -- forgiveness. Remember how we're all supposed to forgive?

Read more of this post here ...

By John Petty on June 16, 2009

Despite the Iranian government's blockage of cell phones and certain internet sites, the word is getting out. Search Youtube for "Iran protest" and you get over 4,000 videos. In the past two days, over 1900 photographs have been posted on Flickr.

Iran has more blogs per capita than any other country in the world, and Iranian bloggers are managing to get the word out about conditions within the country. In the past week, there have been nearly 5000 blog posts in Farsi! Thousands of Twitter feeds have come from Iran. In fact, at the encouragement of the US State Department today, Twitter has re-scheduled its planned maintenance by one day because of "the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran." AP:

"The fact that the government is not able to stop all of the information is really key," said Robin Gross, executive director of IP Justice, a San Francisco-based digital rights group. "They can only sort of censor in a patchwork way, and censorship by its nature has to be all or nothing."
One third of Iranians are between the ages of 15 and 29, and they are tech-savvy.

Read more of this post here ...

By John Petty on May 4, 2009

The Pew Forum poll on religion in the United States has received a lot of press, most of which has focused on what we already knew, such as: the protestant majority is shrinking, protestants change churches a lot, evangelicals dominate in the south, and that significant numbers of both protestants and Catholics have left the church.

Other findings, less noted: Immigration is bolstering an otherwise declining Roman Catholicism--one of three persons raised as Catholic no longer affiliate with the church. "Former Catholics," were it a denomination, would be the second largest denomination in the United States. Moreover, with immigration from Latin America, the "weight" of Roman Catholicism is moving out of the northeast and toward the southwest.

Significant numbers of people join churches, but they barely exceed the number who exit through the "back door." People are seeking the spiritual, in other words, but not finding it in church. Young people, in particular, are increasingly secular. One in four identifies as "unaffiliated," the highest percentage among any demographic. At present, about 15% identify as secular now, up from just 7% ten years ago. With young people increasingly "secular," that over-all number will no doubt continue its increase.

Why are young people less "religious"?

Read more of this post here ...

By John Petty on April 27, 2009

Richard Nixon is the architect of today's Republican Party. It was the Nixon "southern strategy" in 1968 that began the south's "flip" from Democratic to Republican. When Nixon and Reagan said "law and order" and "states' rights," everyone knew what it meant.

For awhile there, the GOP was the home of both hard-core southern conservatives and northeastern and midwestern moderates, which gave them enormous electoral clout. In 1980, the GOP still had a moderate wing, and it went for Reagan.

While the south was flipping, the northeast and midwest were, more slowly, moving away from the GOP. Moderate suburbanites found Bill Clinton's emphasis on education and the environment to be more compelling than fighting culture wars.

Read more of this post here ...

By John Petty on March 26, 2009

CNN: "Nine in 10 Democrats approve of Clinton -- that's no surprise," said Keating Holland, CNN's polling director. "But by a 50 percent to 43 percent margin, Republicans also think she is doing a good job at the State Department. That's an interesting result for a polarizing figure like Clinton."

Holland apparently buys into the standard media narrative that the Clintons are "polarizing figures." Viewed from one angle--30% of the people, over-represented in the media, who absolutely hate the Clintons -- then I suppose you could say that they are "polarizing."

If you looked at it from the flip side--the 60% or so of the people who like the Clintons -- then you would have to say that they are among the most popular politicians of their time, both in the country and outside it as well.

Read more of this post here ...

By John Petty on March 12, 2009

President Obama decides to forego the dumb Gridiron Dinner. His reasons were good, unfortunately. His kids are on spring break, and the family will probably in Chicago.

I'd rather he'd just told them to stuff that hoity-toity elitist self-congratulatory insider Villager "ain't-we-grand" fab fest wherein the media-plutocrats are entertained by the nation's top politicians as they lose all dignity and abase themselves to suck up to High Opinion.

When they're not doing that, they're yucking it up together over Iraq jokes -- "Nope, no WMD's over here!" Heh.

Strike a blow for democracy, Mr. President! Next year, don't bother to have a good excuse. Just say, "No thanks. Michelle, the girls and I are going out for deep dish pizza instead."

By John Petty on December 22, 2008

Pres.-elect Obama has generally gotten good reviews on his cabinet choices. Hillary Clinton at State has been a hit with both the pundits and the public -- 71% support it. Secretary of Labor-designate Hilda Solis has received high marks from labor. Others -- Napolitano, Richardson, Daschle, Shinseki, Chu, Salazar -- seem to be sharp appointments as well and have been widely praised.

That economic team, however, worries me. Timothy Geithner, Treasury Secretary-designate, was the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York -- from the heart, in other words, of the financial establishment that has very nearly wrecked the entire country.

His National Economic Council director will be Larry Summers -- "a libertarian who thinks unions cause unemployment," says Cannonfire, and who is widely known to have a massive ego. He's the fellow who got bounced out of the Harvard presidency because he said that women were inherently bad at math, which, one must say, would be clueless for a elementary school teacher, let alone the president of Harvard.

I know very little about Austan Goolsbee, who supposedly has Obama's economic policy ear, but the fact that he eulogized Milton Friedman in the New York Times cannot be a good sign. The Pres.-elect has tapped Paul Volcker to be Economic Recovery Advisory Board Chairman. Volcker, some will remember, worked for Reagan. His economic policies brought on one of the worst recessions of the past 70 years.

Read more of this post here ...

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