03 February 2010

Somewhat Off-Topic Musings

If I can draw your attention away from the train wreck/continued nuclear implosion represented by the Macmillan/Amazon to a couple of things that actually matter for a moment...

Today is National Signing Day for football players. It's a tremendously offensive day, particularly to those of us who are parents of disabled children. There is not one mention — anywhere — of whether these athletes have been admitted to the colleges of their choice(s). Nothing. As it happens, I enjoy watching college sports. I also enjoy watching a Labrador Retriever's wagging tail clean off a coffee table, because it's amusing. The tail, however, is just an appendage... and that's what college athletics is supposed to be, in theory, if you listen to the pious mumblings from those who justify so-called "athletic scholarships."

My modest proposal is that National Signing Day should be deferred until the fifth business day after the national admissions deadline (currently 15 April)... and that candidates may only sign to schools that have actually admitted them. OK, so maybe that's just going to make some schools continue to admit marginal (and worse) candidates at the expense of better ones. It might, however, actually start a conversation, and perhaps some questioning like "Why does the university give 95 need-blind full scholarships to football players and a total of 6 need-blind full scholarships to engineers (and none to English majors)?" (Yes, U___ of ___, that is exactly what happened last year.)

Here in Illinois, there were primary elections yesterday — the only elections in which I don't vote, because Illinois has closed primaries and I refuse to dirty my name by associating with either corrupt faction of conservative-to-moderate morons (and the Greens are, in most cases, worse... being right-wing nutcases around here who modify their cryptolibertarian principles to be sensitive to hedgehogs). The races in both parties for the nomination to be the elected successor to George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich's hair are, at this writing, still quite close, and subject to Daleyesque/Strattonesque revisions in the vote tallies. (What? You thought the Democratic Party had a monopoly on voting fraud in this state?) That said, it appears at least that the Republicans did not agree to put forth the candidate running for dictator.

Andy McKenna — a man with corruption problems of his own — has been running a series of commercials in which he promises to be a "businessman" (hey, doesn't that mean Mafioso in some parts of the country?) and not just work to prevent tax hikes, but absolutely and positively prevent them... and so on, running down a list of movement-conservative memes that ultimately constitute a tale told by an idiot — sound and fury, signifying nothing. Pardon me, Mr Candidate, but the Governor does not have the authority to absolutely block a tax hike (or, indeed, any other measure passed by the Legislature... there's this little thing called a "veto override"), or — in this state filled with political dynasties on both sides of the aisle — even the power without authority. Winning the election for governor would not give you dictatorial powers to decree by fiat. A couple of hundred years ago, the First War of American Secession was fought over that issue, and the pro-dictatorship forces lost. Get over it, and get the hell out of "leadership" contests until you accept it.

And while you're at it, take the so-called "Committee for Truth in Politics" with you... although, I suppose, the Supreme Court's decision last week in Citizens United has made it not just possible or inevitable, but routine, that even the state that gave rise to Madigan would be inundated with ads that engage in misrepresentations that would — in the commercial speech context — get a justified preliminary injunction from the FTC so fast that the air would crackle. The irony that the current CTP campaign concerns a banking bill in this new era of "money talks" seems to have escaped most commentators.