Rudely Stamped

Heterodox Views on Politics and Public Policy from Michael Blaine

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ozzie Guillen Learns About The Limits Of American Freedom

The political ridiculousness of the Cuban exiles in Miami seldom has been more apparent than this week, when that community shouted down Ozzie Guillen over his remarks on Fidel Castro and saw to it that Guillen's Miami Marlins baseball club suspended him for five games.

That nobody in South Florida seems to appreciate the irony of decrying tyranny in Cuba while hysterically stifling free expression at home in the USA is mind boggling. Guillen was bullied into submission by irrational thugs hellbent on imposing their version of reality. That doesn't sound much like freedom.

In any case, at least in Cuba it's possible to find a doctor and go out at night without fear of getting shot to death by a drug gang. That can't be said of many of the island's neighbors, such as Honduras.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Case For Minnesota's Secession

Supporting Warmongers and Reactionaries

Did you know that Minnesotans pay over 100% more into the coffers of the government in Washington, DC, than they receive in benefits? (See map above and chart below, courtesy of "The Economist" at: The state is being fleeced.

Given that Washington also launches and forces us to participate in illegal, interminable and colossally expensive wars of aggression, wars that will bleed us for generations; that it botches foreign policy in other ways that hurt us, such as maintaining the trade embargo on Cuba; and that it constantly emanates toxins from a depraved media and political culture; wouldn't it be better for Minnesota to secede from the Union?

Our state would have been better off waltzing out of the USA circa 1970, when Vietnam and Nixon had made it clear how terribly the country had veered off course, and when Minnesota did even better relative to the rest of the country on socioeconomic indicators. But it's not too late, even now.

Minnesota used to produce enlightened politicians, even statesmen, like Eugene McCarthy and Paul Wellstone. Even presidential election losers Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale would tower over contemporary national political figures. Now, however, infected by the reactionary zeitgeist in the rest of the country and funded by Texas oilmen and the Koch brothers, the state produces intellectual midgets and/or demagogues such as Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann. We even harbor our own PNAC monster, Vin Weber. It's hard to believe any of these latter domestic evildoers would have had a leg to stand on if Minnesota were its own nation-state, free of benighted forces from beyond its borders.

So, rather than being subjected to rule by sadistic troglodytes like George W. Bush (and, potentially, Rick Perry), wouldn't it be almost infinitely better if we Minnesotans could govern ourselves according to our own traditional values, among which I would count a belief in shared prosperity, equality of opportunity, and quiet competence? The alternative is to allow greed, jingoism, ignorance and pettiness -- the hallmarks of Washington, DC, and much of the rest of the country, particularly the South -- to continue to corrode our state.

It would be hard enough to assert that paying a premium of 100% for the fruits of an excellent national political system is worth it. But given the reality of the debacle that Washington, DC, has become, it seems almost impossible to argue that we should stay in the federal game. The moral noxiousness and financial dysfunction that the capital foists on us should be cauterized while Minnesota remains a distinctive, productive and viable society. The USA is killing us.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Afghans Get A Glimpse Into The "Culture" Of Their Would-Be Liberators

The View From The US vs. The View From Afghanistan

Now that General Stanley McChrystal has been deposed, following some ill-considered remarks about his civilian bosses in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine, what impressions might the people of Afghanistan be left with? What if the magazine that brought the general down were to be distributed among the populace?

Would they be aghast over the cover photo of Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (aka "Lady Gaga") posing with machine guns pointing out of her breasts? Would they be outraged by such a flippant treatment of violence? Would they wonder why the military officer making life-and-death decisions regarding their country saw fit to discuss his efforts in their country with a magazine generally focused on pop culture? Would they wonder why "serious" journalistic outfits such as the New York Times and Washington Post never dug deep enough to reveal the general's contempt for the civilian leadership?

More broadly, would Afghans wonder why the country that purports to desire the betterment of the lot of women in Central Asia has no females (or for that matter ethnic or religious minorities) in the upper echelons of its military establishment? Would Afghans wonder what they ever did to deserve having such a hypocritical, decadent and ineffectual power poking and prodding at them for nearly a decade now?

If Afghans don't end up asking these questions, at least we Americans should.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Marching For Immigration Reform: Promoting Justice, Acknowledging Reality

Today on the national mall I marched for immigration reform. It's time that our country's laws bow to demographic reality; with thirteen million undocumented immigrants living in the country, the humane action is to bring them out of the legal shadows. It's also economically rational to bring these people, the vast majority of them younger workers, into the financial mainstream in order to help support retiring baby-boomers who are about to create a giant sucking sound when it comes to the nation's "entitlements" system.
Indeed, the USA should consider itself lucky to have a steady stream of hard-working risk takers eager to make a new life here. Considering that these immigrants also tend to be staunch supporters of Jesus, democracy and capitalism, we natives ought to be grinning from ear-to-ear as we welcome them while implementing measures to ensure that the newcomers and their children find their way forward in the workplace and at school. Assisted assimilation of people who already mostly share the indigenous value system should not be viewed as too onerous to undertake.
It is true that the governments of the home countries of the bulk of immigrants, principally Mexico, could do a much better job of putting in place policies that help create jobs and keep people economically anchored to their place of birth. It is also true that the US government could do a lot to enable Mexicans to remain home by opening up its market for agricultural and other goods and finally ending the failed "War on Drugs." In any case, the phenomenon of people migrating every which way throughout the Americas in search of a better life - a tradition as old as the crossing of the Bering Strait at least 15,000 years ago - will continue regardless. The key is making sure that this restlessness benefits both new arrivals and the descendants of old arrivals to the USA.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Please, No More. . .

Even Freddie Mercury Would Want the Twins to Stop

The song "We Will Rock You" was released by the British band Queen in 1977. Junior high kids loved it. Professional sports teams started playing the tune in their stadiums when they had the visiting team on the ropes. We all have heard it literally thousands of times. We get it. It ceased being fun a generation ago. So, please, Minnesota Twins, stop blaring "We Will Rock You" at the Metrodome. It's time to move on.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Post-Election Analysis

Just One Of Many Questions

I am relieved that Barack Obama won this month's presidential election. He is a positive and well-spoken politician who ought to set a tone in Washington, DC that will feel like a salve after eight years of a White House that emanates sadism and stupidity.

Moreover, the other major-party ticket was abhorrent. It consisted of a simplistic old man who achieved "war hero" status by first dropping bombs on a distant agrarian society, and then getting shot down and imprisoned for it by the aggrieved, paired with a syntactically-challenged megalomaniac who believes that humans and dinosaurs (quite apart from her running mate) co-existed. If the Republicans somehow had won the presidency, it would have intensified the death throes of the USA. For once, America seems to have dodged a political bullet.

So, it is time now to move on to the three biggest post-election questions, judging from the mainstream press, facing the nation:

1. Whom should President-elect Obama choose to fill his cabinet? Many of my friends and family members, as well as former colleagues and professors, would make superlative candidates. These people have the experience, qualifications and moral fiber to do an outstanding job. Furthermore, none is beholden to the organized, monied interests of Washington nor wedded to the status quo manner of governing. If Mr. Obama would like me to forward specific names for his consideration, I will do so in an instant.

As for the other, well-known personalities being batted about by the media in connection with various cabinet posts, does it really matter? These people are so disconnected from and unconcerned about the average American that the federal government can scarcely be called "ours"; instead, it more closely resembles a parlor game, like pro sports. "Do you think Obama should keep Robert Gates on as secretary of defense?" "Do you think Hank Steinbrenner should try to put C.C. Sabathia in Yankee pinstripes?" Ultimately, it makes not a whit of concrete difference to us bystanders, the citizens.

2. What should the Republican party do now? That anyone feels genuine concern for a group of greedy; racist; superstitious; paranoid; and willfully ignorant zealots boggles the mind. That anyone still considers this pack of self-described "patriots" a legitimate political party is even more amazing. The GOP can best be understood as a religious cult. It confounds rational analysis. The best the rest of us can hope for is that the Republicans suffer their very own Jonestown.
3. What type of dog should the Obamas take to the White House? Obviously, they should take a cat.
Now that the above matters have been settled, the nation's commercial media and their endless supply of experts and pundits should feel free to move on to the next set of critical issues.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Told You So

For years, I told anyone who would listen that borrowing money from the Chinese to make wealthy Americans even wealthier, while simultaneously wasting hundreds of billions dollars on a pointless war in Mesopotamia, was terrible economic policy.

For years, I told anyone who would listen that the invasion of Iraq not only would produce no foreign policy success, but that the resultant death and destruction would also contribute to severe domestic moral erosion.

Today I feel vindicated but extremely rueful. I hope my country has learned its lessons so that it soon can begin to heal and evolve into a far better place.