You Must Fear Us
Some poor schmuck over at CBS Sportsline had the unenviable task of ranking every NCAA Division 1 football team, from 1 to 119. People get passionate for some reason about college football. I've been to a handful of games--all in Fayetteville when I was a grad student--but I've never been a fanatic. Not even close. So the idea of deciding whether Northern Illinois or Hawaii deserves that coveted 57 slot seems just this side of torturous agony to me.
So where did the Fighting Burrow Owls slide in, you ask? 116 out of 119, baby. And #115 Kent State, we're coming for you.
My favorite story in Ana Menendez's In Cuba I Was a German Shepard is the one about a young girl who spends a day or two getting ready for the hurricane with her father, her father who has such tales to tell about the insane hurricanes he weathered as a boy in Cuba, and the profound disappointment when the hurricane, for her, never comes.
Aside from just being some good ol' storytelling, that's pretty accurate. Menendez is about my age, and she writes our experience. My father was in Miami for Betsy, among others, and, then being the 60's (that seems a good catch-all excuse for everything) he and his 3 brothers and 4 sisters ran out into the storm just to see what it was like (and their parents were probably glad to be rid of them!). He told me about hanging onto a palm in the front yard, a palm that was doubled over in the wind, and watching huge pieces of who-knew-what tumble towards him down the street in the driving, blinding rain. He described the overwhelming power of the storm, and how small he felt standing there, and how defiant.
But for those of us who grew up when I did (born '75), it was a big, long, hurricane dry spell. We were like the children of soldiers, born into peace-time, who dream of growing up and getting our own, real-life war, not knowing how undesireable having it would be, but desiring first-hand knowledge above all else. Enid Shomer wrote about it beautifully in her poem (one of my faves of hers), "Hurricane Season" (1987):
...Something in us
longs to try the tragedy on
for size: barometer plunging,
wires slapped down, fish
in trees, the beach quarried
to a cliff where we teeter
as with a childhood fever.
In the churn of the wind's
blades, in the swollen
waves, there is this sidelong
wish, this trigger we finger,
a breath we hold for days.
Well, those days of breath-holding are over. Now, we've all tried the tragedy on, seen the destruction, felt the exhaustion and the despair, and we've sickened of it. But Ernesto, sweet Che, kind of reminds me of those earlier, more innocent (and yes, more foolish) days, when we wished for the big storm to come, and it just kept not coming.
And now we wait
This is the boring time. Everything is inside that needs to be inside for a storm of this size. The main shutter is down. The flashlights and candles are handy, the freezer is packed full with food and ice, and the gallon jugs of water are filled in case we need them. Here's hoping the storm is as small as it looks on the radar screens.
Of course, most of the stories on the news today are all Katrina retrospectives. I've been ignoring them, largely because I don't need tv to remind me of the devastation Katrina wrought. My daughter has lived with me for the last year because of it, and she'll be returning this weekend, should Ernesto pass the way he's supposed to.
Plus, I was in New Orleans and the Northshore just about 6 weeks ago. I saw it firsthand. I took a few pictures, but stopped because it was too painful. It was like seeing your cousins after they got into a car wreck. They're hurt and there's nothing you can do to fix it, and what's worse, the people at fault are connected and will never be held to account or be forced to make it right. The people living there are affected most of all, no question, but it hurts to be removed from what was your home and know that it's never going to be made right, that the people who made the promises that locals would be given every assistance are allowed to lie without consequence, without repercussion.
These are two of the pictures I took while in Slidell. The first is the sign outside my high school, bent but still standing. The school has been bulldozed and is being rebuilt. The second is of a house on Rats Nest road, just off Lake Pontchartrain, destroyed by the storm surge, no doubt. A year later and there are more houses that look like that than look like repairs or reconstruction have begun. Along Highway 11, I saw a car, ass end hanging off a dock, nose plunged into the dirt; a 30 foot shrimp boat stuck in a tree; pilings jutting out of the water, their houses who know's where.
Ernesto will affect many still left unwhole from Wilma last year, but the devastation should not be as significant. This is a small storm, and Cuba took a lot out of it, but there will be people, roofs covered with blue tarps, who will be damaged again, and they'll be dependent on government assistance to make them whole, because insurance companies have made it clear that they won't help, unless you have the money to make them fight. And I fear our government will leave them wanting, yet again.
Hurricane preparations underway
It's been interesting to watch the track on Ernesto swing so wildly east over the last couple of days, but the fact is that the more east it goes, the weaker it'll probably be, so I'll deal with the inconvenience it'll no doubt pose. There are already lines at the gas station on the corner, and I just finished bagging the ice in the freezer so the ice maker can make some more before we potentially lose electricity. When Amy gets home, we'll probably start bringing in the plants from the patio, and finding room for things like the grill and the patio table. I guess we'll get to see how the bower will handle the wind.
You can follow the development of the storm here and here.
What country is this again?
And what year is it?
COUSHATTA -- Nine black children attending Red River Elementary School were directed last week to the back of the school bus by a white driver who designated the front seats for white children.
The situation has outraged relatives of the black children who have filed a complaint with school officials....
After Richmond and Williams filed complaints with the School Board, Transportation Supervisor Jerry Carlisle asked Davis to make seat assignments for her passengers, Sessoms said.
"But she still assigned the black children to the back of the bus," she added.
And the nine children had to share only two seats, meaning the older children had to hold the younger ones in their laps.
Davis called to apologize, apparently, but given the rest of the story, you've got to wonder just how much of that apology is just trying to save her job.
It should be no surprise that we're still fighting racism at this late date--there will always be racists, those who scapegoat the other in order to make themselves feel better about themselves. But it seems lately that there's been a resurgence in the open, vituperative racism, that it's become socially acceptable to be publicly racist again. CBS's ludicrous Survivor stunt, Pat Buchanan's latest screed, Limbaugh's rundown of the Survivor story, George Allen's use of macaca and the subsequent wink at the camera during his apology (see Daily Kos for details of that one)--these stories are just the most recent examples of how racists have been emboldened by these political times, and how they're not bothering to hide it anymore.
I'd like to think that the public will rise up and smack these people down again. I certainly saw that potential in my poetry students this past Thursday when we discussed Dudley Randall's Ballad of Birmingham, which is about the 1963 bombing of the Birmingham church that killed 4 young girls. But then again, I live and teach in a very culturally diverse area, where you can't get away from the reality that the world is filled with the other. Shreveport, that's not so much the case, from what I understand, and so I can't help but not be surprised about this story.
And that's the saddest part of it all.
Friday Random Ten
It's been a long first week of school, and it's not quite over yet. I'm meeting my first ever full-on poetry workshop today, and I'm a little excited/nervous about it. Here's the random ten. I've got the iTunes on party shuffle and here's the next ten out of the chute.
1. Funky Malaguena--Blind Snooks Eaglin
2. Tonight, Not Again--Jason Mraz
3. Wish You Were Here--Pink Floyd
5. The Way of the Explosive--Finley Quaye
6. Angel from Montgomery--Susan Tedeschi
7. Come With Me--Special D.
8. The Golden Horn--Dave Brubeck
9. And You And I--Yes
10. I May Be Wrong (But I Think You're Wonderful)--Hoagy Carmichael
Special Bonus Track: I Like Beer--Tom T Hall. I remember this one from my childhood. Explains a bit, doesn't it?
Whatcha listening to?
More local politics, or God Hates Katherine Harris
Via Rawstory we read this delicious story about Katherine Harris, the first candidate I'll ever revenge vote against--assuming she continues to be insane and stay in the race for Senator.
"We have to have the faithful in government and over time," the Witness quotes Harris as saying, "that lie we have been told, the separation of church and state, people have internalized, thinking that they needed to avoid politics and that is so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers."
So I guess God's the one who's got you 40 points down in the polls, huh Kathy? Or is He the one who's going to make up that difference on election day by mysteriously changing votes in those electronic machines?
Oh, and from the same article, Katherine Harris says that gays aren't people.
"Civil rights have to do with individual rights and I don't think they apply to the gay issues. I have not supported gay marriage and I do not support any civil rights actions with regard to homosexuality."I mean, gays are individuals, right? They're not some Borg collective, single-minded in their agenda to gayify the world, after all (though it would be a far more attractive place if they did).
I've stayed away from these topics, largely because I know next to nothing about them as of yet (not that that stops many bloggers). I've only been in Fort Lauderdale for a year, and that's hardly enough time to figure out where the best restaurants are, much less get a sense of which politicians are larger douchebags than other ones--although I've certainly got an idea of who the biggest one is.
So it was with great pleasure that I read this article in today's Sun-Sentinel. One of the things I loved about living in San Francisco was the fact that it was easier to not own a car than it was to own one. The public transportation system there is easily one of the best in the nation, and it was cheap too. For $55 a month, you can get a fast pass that gives you unlimited usage of the bus and BART system, and that will get you anywhere in The City in about as much time as it'll take you to drive, fight traffic, and find parking. I couldn't insure and keep gas in a car for three times that much.
So it was with hope for the future that I clicked on the above story--I'll gladly pay an extra penny in sales tax if it means I don't have to fight traffic on Federal or I-95 everyday.
The commission now must approve a plan to expand transit and ease congestion over the next 30 years. The People for Progress group that is campaigning for the tax crafted a $12.6 billion proposal that includes passenger rail, increased bus service and synchronized traffic lights, but their ideas have been under intense fire.
Business executives and environmentalists joined U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, Lauderhill Mayor Richard Kaplan and other elected officials in urging commissioners to move ahead with the November referendum. They characterized improved transit as vital to the county's future, considering the growth that is projected to occur.
"I cannot imagine the gridlock and pollution when Broward County has 1 million more people if there is not an expansion of mass transit," said Barry Heimlich, president of the Broward County Audubon Society.
Now there are a lot of details to be hammered out--where will the trains go, how extensive will the bus service be, etc--but if this thing passes, it'll be a step in the right direction. I'll be following this story very closely in the coming weeks.
No More Playing it Off
It probably happened last year sometime, when I was forced to trade in the Hawaiian shirts and Birkenstocks for more traditional teaching garb--the switch from teaching assistant to full-time faculty, even Instructor level, can be painful--but walking around campus today, it became absolutely clear that I can no longer pass for a student. After the fifth wide-eyed freshman (freshperson?) asked me for directions to one building or another, I began to wonder if I had gained so much weight that I looked like an information kiosk. (Kidding--I have, if anything, managed to stay at about the same level of fat for the last five years. Never much more than 250, never much less than 240.)
It's a good thing, though. I never have to worry about command of the classroom, and that's a big problem for younger teachers. Of course, I've probably just jinxed myself by typing those words--I've guaranteed myself a class from hell, filled with 45 year old business majors who are mad at the world and 19 year old truancy school rejects who are in my class because it works nicely with their night job of drug trafficking and internet porn shoots.
A Little Late to the Game
With all due respect to Atrios, I've had a link up to LitPac for months now (mainly because I saw it on my friend Stephen Elliott's page). Of course, since Atrios gets about a billion times the traffic I do, it's better that he promote them, but I still want props. I was there first, dammit.
School is starting and the Friday Random Ten
So it's been meetings this week, and the usual mad dash to complete syllabi--I'm not nearly done yet--and making the decisions over what poems to teach and what assignments to throw at my little noogies. The stress level has been pretty high, so please forgive the lack of blogging lately. I hope to get back into a regular rhythm soon.
Here's this week's random ten--as always, iTunes on party shuffle, first ten songs to pop up.
1. Pacific Theme--Broken Social Scene
2. Lover's Lane--Squirrel Nut Zippers
3. Be My Yoko Ono--Barenaked Ladies
4. I Love You--John Coltrane
5. Phonograph Blues--Robert Johnson
6. Light Blue--Thelonius Monk
7. Pop Song 89--R.E.M.
8. Irene--Spider John Koerner
9. Galileo--Indigo Girls
10. My Alcoholic Friends--The Dresden Dolls
Bonus track: Nurture My Pig!--Reverend Horton Heat
On a side note, beautiful ruling by the Honorable Anna Diggs Taylor yesterday. Assuming it holds up, can we expect the Bush administration to say anything other than "the courts can make the ruling, but can they enforce it?"
The Need for a separation of church and state
Churches in this country get away with a lot of stuff simply because government is afraid to challenge them on it. For instance, in no reasonable sense of the term should Focus on the Family or Pat Robertson's "ministry" or D. J. Kennedy's Coral Ridge ministry (which I give the bird every time I pass it on Federal Highway) any of the other right-wing fundie groups be considered politically neutral and recieve tax exemptions.
But too often, church groups are given leeway because of what they offer politically--bloc votes on single issues that allow politicians to rape and pillage the treasury while demonizing minority groups. And the church groups get away with crap until they get called out on it in public. For instance, remember Bethany Christian Services? You probably don't. They're the Mississippi adoption agency that refused to allow Catholics to adopt because they didn't fit in with the agency's "statement of faith." If they'd been a wholly private organization, I'd have less of a problem with it--in short, I'd look at them as I look at any other ignorant and bigoted organization. But they were taking state money, and they'd been doing so for quite some time before the story broke. Google has a link to an article saying they've changed their policy, but the link is broken--I'd be interested to see if they've actually accepted Catholic couples as adoptive parents yet, or if the policy change was, as I suspect, a smoke screen to keep the money coming.
I find it amusing that so many churches are eager to link themselves to government, and that when they do, they cite a flawed reading of the US Constitution to do so, instead of turning to their own seminal document. In Matthew 22:21, undoubtedly one of the most recognized scriptures of the New Testament, Jesus is quoted as saying "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." One particularly egregious example of a right-winger ignoring this command is that of Kent Hovind, aka Dr. Dino, who recently pled not guilty to charges of tax fraud, claiming that "he is employed by God and has no income or property because everything he owns belongs to God." Funny, Jesus didn't seem to support a clerical tax exemption.
So what brings this on? You may have heard the story about the young man who died on a camping trip run by Back to Basics Military Academy, which was being run out of a church. Well, it turns out that the "academy" was operating illegally. And guess what? Public money was involved.
A military academy -- under scrutiny after one of its students died during a camping trip Saturday -- has been operating illegally out of a Lauderhill church, city officials said Tuesday. At the same time, the school accepted tens of thousands of dollars of state money to educate disabled students, state records show.
Back to Basics Military Academy does not have an occupational license or a special exception use permit to run a school out of the strip-mall church, which is a violation of city codes, said Planning and Zoning Director Earl Hahn.
It has, however, collected $86,760 in state money in the past year to help educate disabled students, according to the Florida Department of Education. State law requires schools to meet city building, fire and health codes to qualify for the money, but does not require them to submit documentation....
State officials say the school accepted $86,760 in state money in the past school year to educate 14 special-needs students. This year, it had accepted 24 disabled students but had yet to get the state money. The school serves grades 4-12.
The money is part of the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program, which is meant to give parents options when public schools are not meeting their children's needs. Such students could have anything from a mild learning disability to severe physical and psychological handicaps.
Now, in the vast funding pie that is the Florida educational system, $86K is a pittance, but still, had this kid not died and necessitated an investigation, it's likely none of this would have come to light. But why was the "academy" eligible in the first place? It was renting space from a church (and the church was apparently breaking the law as well--zoning violations).
I think I've wandered a bit here. I don't have any proof that this group avoided scrutiny as long as it did because of its association with a church, and it's more than likely that a scam of this size simply went unnoticed because it was small time. But stories like the ones I mentioned earlier are more and more common--the North Carolina church that kicked out its Democratic members in 2004 springs immediately to mind.
Jehovah's Witnesses--I come back to them so often, don't I? :)--take the other extreme, refusing to involve themselves in politics in the slightest, claiming neutrality to earthly governments and allegiance to the kingdom of God. That's a foolish way to be as well, I think--we live in this world, and have a duty to be involved in the running of it, regardless of our religious beliefs or lack thereof. And I'm not demanding that religious people who are involved politically check their religions at the door--that's equally foolish. I've been religious; I know how it can permeate every aspect of your being.
But there has to be a separation between the motives of individual churches and the workings of government, if for no other reason than because churches have their own motives, and to force them upon those with different beliefs based on nothing more than your interpretation of a centuries old book (in the best of cases) goes against one of Jesus's greatest commands, which was to "love your neighbor as yourself." Those church leaders like the ones I mentioned above could stand to go back and look at the basics of Christianity, I think.
Dat's my Saints
I promise you I'll keep the football blogging to a minimum during the season, but this was just too good to pass up.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -New Orleans quarterback Adrian McPherson went to the locker room early in the third quarter after a golf cart ridden by the Titans' mascot hit him at the end of halftime Saturday night.
There's already been speculation about whether or not McPherson will make the team, since he's seen no action so far, and this can't help matters. But to go out like this is just sad--run over by a raccoon in a golf cart.
Friday Random Ten, Monkey Returns Edition
Monkey's been in Mississippi visiting her mother and assorted friends for the last couple of weeks, but she flies home today, and I'll pick her up this afternoon. So here's to the five hours she'll likely spend in security lines at the New Orleans airport, and the five minutes I'll wait when picking her up this afternoon--assuming her plane is on time.
So here's the random ten--iTunes on party shuffle, first ten songs to pop up.
1. Pass the Mic--Beastie Boys
2. D'yer Mak'er--Sheryl Crow
3. Bales of Cocaine--Reverend Horton Heat
4. Pretty Pink Ribbon--Cake
5. Wouldn't Mama Be Proud?--Elliot Smith
6. Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor--Mississippi John Hurt
7. We Can Work it Out--The Beatles
8. I Love Boosters--The Coup
9. Waiting for the End of the World--Elvis Costello
10. Steal My Sunshine--Len
Bonus Track: (Who Discovered) America?--Ozomatli
So what are you listening to these days?
The Wrongest Thing I've Read All Day
New York Times:
The road ahead for Mr. Lamont is hardly smooth. He now has to make the adjustment from being an insurgent- he gave his victory speech with the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson at his side - to being the official Democratic nominee, the symbol of the party establishment.Lamont's job is to REMAIN an insurgent - and Lieberman's staying in the race is going to help him do that. Lieberman cannot suddenly stop being the waggling jowls of the DLC DC-insider establishment, and his hanging on should continue to energize people for change: if the Lamont campaign frames this thing right.
And by the way, how does appearing beside Sharpton and Jackson (NYTime's evidence that Lamont is indeed "insurgent") indicate anything more than being a (real) Democrat? We're talking two former Democratic presidential candidates who are longstanding party fixtures, and who are widely, nationally known. (With far more name recognition than say a Vilsack or a Richards) ...What predjudice does this journalist here exhibit?
Hooray Lamont! May this be merely the first lappings of a rising tide that will finally, FINALLY, throw these two-faced lobbyist-teat-sucklers OUT.
A quick note on Lamont/Lieberman
Whenever establishment types start tut-tutting about the horrible things the bloggers are doing by forcing Joe Lieberman to justify his spot as the Connecticut Senatorial Democratic nominee, they often mention that "only 6 years ago, this man was the Democratic party's Vice-Presidential nominee," as though they can't understand how a man so embraced by the rank and file to select him for such an honor could now be so callously tossed aside.
So, who did you vote for to be the VP in 2000? I don't seem to recall having much of a say in it. In fact, I don't recall much of anyone in the rank and file having much input into that choice. Joe Lieberman was the establishment choice (and a pretty poor one, at that). He was never a "man of the people." He was a DLC choice forced on Gore, ostensibly to help distance Gore from Clinton--remember that Holy Joe was the first to condemn the Clenis from the Senate floor--and theoretically, to help Gore with the Cuban community in Florida (which was a lost cause after the Elian Gonzales situation).
So establishment types, while you opine about how shabbily we're treating your BFF Joe Lieberman, remember, we're treating you just as badly, and if we can toss you off your perches of authority, we'll gladly do it.
Friday Random Ten
Running late today, and not a lot of time to mess around either. Here's the list--set the iTunes on Party Shuffle and see what comes out. (Sometimes I wish I had the sound effect from the God machine for this.) Here we go.
1. Lunar Landscapes--John Vanderslice
2. In Spite of Ourselves--John Prine w/Iris Dement
3. Baby Let's Have a Baby Before Bush Do Something Crazy--The Coup*
4. Female of the Species--Space
5. 2:45 A.M.--Elliot Smith
6. Dyer Maker--Led Zeppelin
7. Alcohol--Barenaked Ladies
8. Cruise Your New Baby Fly Self--Girls Against Boys
9. Pacific Theme--Broken Social Scene
10. Leather and Lace--Stevie Nicks and Don Henley
*I just downloaded The Coup's album from eMusic the other day, and I love it. It's hiphop, it's got a groove, lots of talk about revolution, and one of the rappers has a very interesting style. This song is the weakest on the album, I believe. "Laugh, Love, Fuck and Drink Liquor" and "Ass Breath Killer" are my two faves.
Living on a Hot Planet
Some advice for living on a hotter planet, from one who grew up in the heat.
1) Live south, near the water. Global warming affects the higher latitudes worse. That means Miami is 98 while Little Rock is 104. Breezes, especially ocean breezes, are your best friend. You'll still be hot, but it'll feel a little cooler.
2) Ice cube trays. Always have an enormous amount of ice on hand. When I first moved to Arkansas, someone from Washington state opened my freezer and immediately asked, "why do you have so many ice cube trays?" People from hotter latitudes would never ask. You NEVER know when you'll desperately need some ice.
3) Big Cups! Those tiny drinking glasses northern types sip from will only contribute to your suffering. Buy enormous plastic drinking cups and fill them with ice and water to coat. Don't ever stop drinking.
4) Alcohol dehydrates, but beer has more water in it than wine or booze, both of which will give you quick dehydration-headaches in the heat. Drink more beer!
5) Batten down the hatches! Battling back true heat is not just a matter of pumping in cool air, it's all about keeping the heat OUT. The most ghetto solution is coat your windows with aluminum foil to bounce the heat back, but thick, thick curtains work too. Some curtains come with reflective, insulated, or compartmentalized backing, to help keep the heat back even more. Last summer, unwilling to go ghetto and without the cash for new curtains, I bought two cheap carpet-rugs from target and nailed them over my windows. Looked stupid, but worked wonders. If you don't have a/c, try to block the windows that are most sun-facing and get breezes going from the windows and doors that aren't.
6) If you've got a/c, seal the windows and doors! Any way you can. I use draft-stoppers and clear packing tape to get the hard spots.
7) Keep the air moving. Strategically placed fans can re-direct breezes or a/c flow right into your lap.
8) Wear very little: or nothing at all.
9) Create a cold room: if you can make one room cool, you can camp out in there. Make it your bedroom, and you can sleep in there.
10) Go outside. If you go outside for 2o minutes and then come back in and take a shower (to wash off all the sweat you just made), you'll feel a little cooler. Fix yourself a huge glass of ice water. Oh yeah.
11) Eat cold meals. Save the lasagna for December. A turkey sandwich and chips makes an awesome hot weather dinner.
12) Lastly, vote liberal, progressive, Green, lefty-Democratic, and anyone else who doesn't want to sell out the future of the entire planet to oil interests. And lobby the monsters in DC for hybrid car subsidies and alternative energy initiatives. Because it's only getting hotter.
The world will go out with neither a bang nor a whimper, but with an argument about whether or not the world is going out.
Or whether this is part of a natural "cycle."
The "hurricane cycle" particularly amuses me: yes, there were a lot of hurricanes in the early 20th Century. But tell me, when was the "cycle" before that? And since greenhouse gasses were spewed into the atmosphere much MORE at the beginning of the industrial age than they were, say, post environmental legistlation, why is a shitstorm of hurricanes in the early 20th C evidence "against" greenhouse gasses making hurricanes worse? Seems to me that it fits the pattern right well, and that the lull in hurricanes that fell during our more "environmental" years might better reflect natural "cycles," or at least a possible plan of action to reduce the number of storms.
But I am no tree hugger. I'm a man-hugger. Save the humans is my motto. These temperatures kill our elderly indoors and young athletes outdoors. They raise the demand for energy, and that means more war. Why would a species knowingly kill itself? No bang, no whimper, just a tortured rationalization. No end in sight.
I propose this date be made a national day of mourning.
Via the Writer's Almanac, we discover that today is the anniversary of a truly sad day in recent US history.
It was on this day in 1988 that Rush Limbaugh's nationally broadcast radio show had its premiere on WABC, eventually becoming the most popular radio talk show in the country. The FCC had recently dropped the "Fairness Doctrine," which had required radio and TV stations to provide balanced viewpoints on every political topic. This provided an opportunity for openly partisan talk shows, and Limbaugh's show was the first that became really popular. Within a few years, Limbaugh's show was airing on 580 stations, with more than ten million listeners.
You could fill more than a few pages with names of those who have poisoned political discourse and subverted the spirit of the Constitution, who have disseminated untruths and caused great harm to the environment and the causes of racial and gender equity, who have cheered the rise of the evangelical right, who have defended the greatest excesses of corporatism and have exemplified the "live for today, fuck the future, live for yourself, fuck the poor" mentality that pervades US society today, but at or near the top of that list must be written the name Rush Limbaugh. If there is a single personality who has done greater damage over the last 18 years, I don't know who it could be. Even the damage wrought by Bush/Cheney has mostly occurred over the last 5 years.
But I'm willing to be convinced otherwise. Give me some other options below.