Category Archives: Charles C. Mann

Hot Air

Grocery Grumbling

Wood czarina Nancy R. Hiller gets itchy just thinking about the whole Bloomingfoods/union contretemps going on.

Natch, which of us aren’t torn in this little tug of war? The majority of the citizenry of the People’s Republic of Bloomington are union partisans — yet everybody who’s anybody is hot for Bloomingfoods, the five-store co-op’s founders, its management, and its boardfolk.

Bloomingfoods Union Rally

Rally For B’foods Union Last week

In any case, Hiller got her hands on a list of benefits B’foods offers its galley slaves. The bennies look good, I’ll have to say. Shoot, they even offer free professional counseling which employees are eligible for the minute they start working. Dang, mang, I’d have saved tens of thousands of dollars in shrink fees had I worked for B-foods in my late 20s through early 40s.

Anyway, as soon as I get some free time, I’m going to grill some insiders about their grievances. A very friendly inside source has provided me a list of names and phone numbers of people who just may offer some insight into why at least some B-foods workers are ready to man the barricades.

Until then, read about Bloomingfoods’ employee benefits here, courtesy of our town’s most adept juggler of hammer and saw, the fab Ms. Hiller.

Boo!

The two most effective political messages in American history were Lyndon B. Johnson’s fabled mushroom cloud TV ad in 1964 and George H.W. Bush’s Willie Horton spots.

Mushroom Cloud Ad

Don’t Get Burned By Goldwater

I was too young to remember the mushroom cloud commercial, being eight at the time, but I remember Willie Horton well — I was 32 in 1988. Willie Horton was almost perfect in its simplicity and impact. Lee Atwater and company concocted the archetypical bogeyman: a scary, grotesque, really dark-skinned black man, a rapist/murderer sprung from prison by a lily-livered, pointy-headed Democratic governor. And you wanted that milquetoast Dem to be your president?

Horton

The Face Of Fear

As Atwater, Bush’s storied political strategist, said early on, “By the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’ running mate.”

His strategy was no less craven than that of adman Tony Schwartz, who created the mushroom cloud commercial (which, BTW, ran only once.) But craven in politics and other public pastimes works. Barry Goldwater was effectively painted forever as a nuke-slinging madman, Mike Dukakis a patsy for criminals, welfare queens, and — worst of all — black people.

The secret to success in public discourse is to scare the bejesus out of people.

Just as soon as GHWB trounced Dukakis in the ’88 beauty contest, it struck me that what separated the Democrats from the Republicans was the latters’ gleeful willingness to scare the populace and the formers’ hesitancy to do so (at least in the years post-1964.)

I immediately thought of the environment — you know, the air we breathe and the water we drink? All the environmental movement needed to do was start making the citizenry of this holy land wet its pants about pollution and, next thing you’d know, we’d start doing a thing or two about it. After all, the Reagan Administration had been as careful a steward of the environment as an eight-year-old husbanding his bag of Halloween candy.

Cut to almost two decades later: Al Gore et al came out with An Inconvenient Truth. Wouldn’t you know it, that Oscar®-winning doc got millions of us shuddering over the possibility that the likes of New York City and Miami Beach might soon be under water.

Gore/Truth

The Documentary Film Spawned A Book

We on the crunchy end of the political spectrum finally had our Willie Horton.

Don’t get me wrong, I dug An Inconv. Truth the most. Still, as I watched the picture, I had the feeling that certain suppositions in it were less than sure-fire bets. Nevertheless, the scare job was for a good cause, not for painting an entire race of American citizens as murderers and rapists.

Now comes a think piece by Charles C. Mann in September’s The Atlantic mag. He posits that the environmental gang is overreaching with its oft-times overblown rhetoric. Mann is a science writer who penned, among other works, the highly-lauded 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.

Mann feels the scare tactics of environmentalists are working against their own aims. He cites for support, for instance, French philosopher Pascal Bruckner, who insists that many climate worriers are apocalyptic fanatics:

A best-selling, telegenic public intellectual (a species that hardly exists in this country), Bruckner is mainly going after what he calls “ecologism,” of which McKibbenites are exemplars. At base, he says, ecologism seeks not to save nature but to purify humankind through self-flaggelating asceticism.

To Bruckner, ecologism is both ethnocentric and counterproductive.

McKibbenites, of course, are fans of high-profile ecologist Bill McKibben.

Mann is right about some of the overblown rhetoric: One anti-Keystone Pipeline activist says if the thing is built “civilization would be at risk.” Mann’s conclusion is such operatic verbiage marginalizes environmentalists.

Mann is wrong, though, about the scare tactics. He may know a lot about science — and Bruckner may know a lot about philosophy — but neither knows the American people.

Priorities

You had to know this would happen: many parents in Middlesex County, New Jersey, are far more teed off about the cancellation of the remainder of the Sayreville War Memorial High School football season than they are about the digital/anal raping/hazing ritual that caused the cancellation in the first place.

Just to keep you up to date, seven Sayreville HS football players have been arrested for their alleged near-daily hazing of team freshmen. Acc’d’g to the cops, the seven would trap freshmen in the locker room, turn out the lights, and proceed to digitally penetrate the poor kids’ anuses for fun and laughs.

Eek.

Number One

The Foam Finger Takes On A Whole New Meaning

Anyway, some student victims told their parents about the ritual and the parents called the police. Seems open and shut, no?

No. Because of the scandal, the school’s principal cancelled the rest of its football season. And many parents are steamed about having to face life without high school football.

Anally raping an adolescent is one thing, I suppose, but canceling a football season? Now that’s an outrage.

Football. America’s game.

 

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