Is this the face of a machine politician who unquestioningly executes whatever obscure directives party apparatchiks give him? Um, yeah—now that you mention it, it kind of is. Especially if you mention it along with the news that Scott Walker appointed 27 year-old college dropout Brian Deschane to a $65,000-a-year supervisory position in the Wisconsin Bureau of Licensing and Regulation. Deschane has no management experience, only a short history of full-time employment and two drunk driving convictions, but he is the son of Jerry Deschane, head of the Wisconsin Builders Association, which sent Walker over $120,000 in contributions during the 2010 campaign. Two months after he was hired at L&R, Brian Deschane was promoted to a supervisory position in the Wisconsin Commerce Department, where he got a 24% pay raise. Then a bunch of articles came out about that, and Walker demoted Deschane to his earlier job. He’ll also be in charge of Walker’s exploratory team for the 1882 election.
If you’ve spent any time teaching rhetoric or composition,* you’ve likely noticed that many people understand on an instinctive level what a sentence sounds like but have no idea what to put inside it. I became fascinated by this phenomenon in the years before I withdrew to my mountain lair, back when I used to spend hours a day watching high school students compose sentences. “Although,” they would begin, and then lapse into a state of deep concentration, as if they A) had no idea what they were going to say but B) knew the second part would contradict the first part. In the same way that we all learned language by mimicking sounds before we knew they were vehicles for meaning, many of us have mastered the art of building the shape of a truthful statement and then filling it with total bullshit. This week’s link roundup features statements, actions and ideas that resemble decency in silhouette, but which turn out to be crassly unethical and vapid in content. It’s the perfect preparation for a weekend whose structure will be exactly the same as every other, but which will of course turn out to be an unprecedented, irreplaceable experience that will probably involve throwing up. Won’t you bring a little bile to your mouth with me?
In the same way that the foreign exchange student was weirdly the most candid person at your high school, foreign news services are a great way to catch up on long-running* stories that you somehow missed. Besides describing state senators’ flight to Illinois as “an almost comic move,” this article from the Guardian neatly sums up what’s going on in Wisconsin. Perhaps you’ve heard about this, but they’ve got some law up there nobody can agree about. Newly-elected governor Scott Walker, with the support of a Republican senate, wants to address the state’s budget shortfall by cutting benefits to schoolteachers and other state employees. He also wants to eliminate collective bargaining rights for same. Exactly what teachers’ right to negotiate as a union might have to do with the state’s fiscal problems is just one of the many fun complications people are yelling about in Wisconsin.