An Anthem for Our Times?


WC has railed against the fervid jingoism of hyper-patriots like The Quitter, who claim the United States is “exceptional” and beyond criticism. But WC is equally offended by clods who can find nothing kinder to say about our country than “It sucks less.” . There’s a whole lot of room between claims of perfection and…

Exceptionally Expensive, Anyway


WC is deeply skeptical about the claim that the United States is “exceptional” in some magic way, and above reproach in all ways. The outrageously expensive cost of medical treatment would be one way in which the neocons claims of U.S. “exceptionalism” are only true in a bitterly ironic way. The International Federation of Health…

National Anthems


National anthems are one of the very odd aspects of modern culture. America’s national anthem is a bad poem by lawyer and very amateur poet Francis Scott Key called “The Defence of Ft. McHenry,” written in 1814. Key gave the poem to his brother-in-law, Judge Joseph H. Nicholson, who saw that the words fit the popular…

Americans Murdering Americans: al-Awlaki


Here’s the lead paragraph from a New York Times article yesterday: A federal judge in Manhattan refused on Wednesday to require the Justice Department to disclose a memorandum providing the legal justification for the targeted killing of a United States citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who died in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011. Excuse me? “Died in a drone…

The Disease That Is Killing Americans


We have an untreated disease that is killing 30,000 Americans each year. Today that untreated disease killed 20 young elementary school students in Connecticut. And 8 adults. WC has no words to describe the horror and the sorrow. Or the anger. We call ourselves “exceptional,” but we cannot even have an adult conversation about the existence…

A Given Definition of “Exceptional”: Regulation and Death Rates


There were 535 deaths in air crashes in 2009 according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s report. Air transportation is closely regulated. Pilots are licensed and carefully examined. Aircraft are regulated and inspected. It’s not perfect, but the death rate is 0.05 passengers per billion miles flown. There were 32,885 deaths in the U.S. from automobile accidents…

Exceptional? E.L. Doctorow Weighs In


It’s unsurprising that E. L. Doctorow, one of the best writers in the English language, could write a much better essay than WC on the absurdity of any claim by the U.S. to being exceptional. But his four phase analysis of recent history and its blight on everything the U.S. claims to stand for is…

The New Gilded Age


Back in undergraduate school, shortly after the end of the Dark Ages, WC was made to read William E. Leuchtenburg’s The Perils of Prosperity, an economic and political history of 1914-1932. As a simple, accessible summary of the period from the U.S. entry into World War I to the start of the Great Depression, WC…

Why WC Is Proud of President Obama


WC has criticized President Obama from time to time because no president of the United States is ever above criticism. If you examine his actual record, as opposed to the mischaracterizations, lies, distortions, hyperbole and – frankly – racism from the right, it’s a pretty remarkable set of achievements in very difficult times. The truth…