Monday, December 31, 2012

And A Parting Thought For 2012

Let's hope that the MSM can finally get past the idea that there are two sets of bad guys in Washington.

There are not.

There are two sets of guys (and gals) in Washington.  One is reasonable.  The other is not.

Perhaps this will help.  One can only hope.

Stay safe, be well, and may 2013 be your year.

For that matter, may it be everyone's.

That Shattering Sound That You Hear ...

... is the sound of another lefty stereotype dying upon contact with reality:  liberals who hunt.

And why not?

It's actually good for the environment, as it helps keep animal populations in check.

It proves that gun registration and gun bans are NOT the same thing.

And it gives wingnuts a thing or two to think about if they think we're easy pickings;-).

A Right-Wing House Divided Against Itself

Ann Coulter apparently gets it, proving perhaps that Hell really HAS frozen over.

The problem is, she and her colleagues in the conservative chattering class need to explain that to their political operatives, especially Mitch McConnell, who has been reduced to debating with himself.

Get it together, conservatives.  The country you supposedly love so much is waiting for you to catch up with it.

For That Matter, Never Underestimate The Power Of ANY Individual

Even if you only met them once, or talked to them twice.

Helen Marie Guditis falls into both categories for me.  And she made a difference in my life, and the lives of others.

It was Helen who, when two of my friends and I sought out advice from her about saving Times Square theatres, suggested that we focus on the Biltmore Theatre on West 47th Street.  It was a small (about 1,000 seats) Broadway house of the type that had fallen out of favor in the age of mega-musicals.  It had been badly damaged by fire and vandalism.  It was in danger of losing what was left of its theatrical identity to so-called "adaptive reuse."

And it was Helen who encouraged my friends and me to launch what became Friends of the Biltmore, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the Biltmore for theatrical use.  We lobbied everyone in the theatre community and the New York media for years, including the man who purchased the theatre intending to make it a building lobby.  We formed a 501(c)(3) (my first one) and sold T-shirts (not as many as I would have liked, but the publicity was good).  In the end, it was the Manhattan Theatre Club that stepped up as a theatrical user.  But who's to say that they would have done so without us?  I will always believe that we kept the building in play as a theatre, until a theatrical user was ready to take it over.

In the course of working on FOTB, I made many friends I would not otherwise have made.  And, for a time, I got to be a small part of the Broadway community, proving that it's never too late to pursue a dream and make something of it.

Helen made all of that possible.  I'll never forget you, Helen.  And someday, perhaps in a celestial Morosco Theatre (may it rest in peace, too), we can have another chat.

Never Underestimate The Power Of An Actor

Even when he or she is not on stage or screen.

R.I.P., Mr. Klugman.

And Charles Durning as well--a great character actor and war hero.

And A Word Of Advice To Fox News ...

Just because you're NOW willing to admit that Obama's stimulus was a good thing doesn't mean that you should be expecting the FCC to give you a version of it.

Environmentalists: Please Turn A Negative Into A Positive

Don't talk about global warming, or even climate change.

Talk about geoengineering.

People are more willing to engage in solving the problem, if you're ready to propose a solution.  Especially a job-creating one.

I Take Back Every Mean Thing I Ever Said About Bob Costas

I never liked his anti-Mets slant in his baseball coverage.  On the other hand, if he keeps this up, I no longer care.

Memo To Chain Restaurants: You Reap What You Sow

Especially when it comes to Obamacare.

Personally, I don't feel sorry for any of them, especially Papa John's.  Its owner lead with his fairly insubstantial chin.  And, frankly, his pizzas are terrible and overpriced in any case.

One more reason to buy local, folks.

P.S.  Could someone please tell the Cheesecake Factory guy that this is not working?

Yet Another Reason To End Corporate Welfare

Corporations can afford to end it.

This is why ANY spending reductions in any so-called "grand bargain," or "fiscal cliff" resolution, should come 100% out of the pockets of corporations, NOT people.

Stiffen your spines, Democrats.  One corporate party is more than enough.

Where Are The Real Capitalists?

Not in states that support corporate welfare through tax deals of dubious value.

And not in states where hunters have to bid for licenses, in order to pay for conservation (and therefore giving future hunters something to hunt).

Turns out that Cuba is a better place to look than either of those two.

Get over your assumptions, people, and check out the facts.

The Voice Of Reason On Guns And Federal Agents

Who would have expected it to be George H.W. Bush?

Feel better, Mr. President.

Over The "Cliff" Into 2013?

I write this on the last day of the year, one that was amazing for me personally.  My wife and I became grandparents, and we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.  My childhood home was sold and emptied out, and I brought a number of very tangible mementos from it to my home and office.  Most importantly for the country, Obama got re-elected, and the U.S. Senate is still in the hands of sane people (the less said about the House, the better).  AND none of this touches on the terrific "Avengers" film that finally got released this year (talking about childhood memories).

And yet, 2012 ends on a note of uncertainty for the country, and especially for the economy, because a handful of House teabags can't get it through their heads that they are not the future of this country.

The saddest part about all of this, to me, lies in the fact that past generations from both parties took (speaking of the Avengers) a Captain America approach--the letter "A" meant more than the letters "D" or "R."  I'm not entirely sure what letter matters most to the Tea Party caucus in the house.  Then again, I'm not sure that most of them can spell.

While I take comfort from the fact that I am certain they are a minority, and owe their short-term power to gerrymandering and not actual numbers, they are nevertheless in a position to do enormous harm.  When it comes to the disabled, they already have, effectively spitting in the face not only of the disabled but one of their former leaders.

Can Obama and Democrats in Congress stop this?

I am convinced that they can only do so if all of the rest of us remain engaged.  Citizenship and democracy are full-time activities.  And the struggle to preserve and advance them never ends.  I don't agree with H.G. Wells on everything (like a lot of British intellectuals, he was a terrible anti-Semite), but he believed that history never stood still.  It always moved in one direction:  forwards, or backwards.  And, above all, he believed that the choice of directions is always ours.

It still is.  So, in the words of Doc Brown from "Back to the Future," make it a good one.

And now, on to other year-end miscellany ...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

We Can't Afford Obamacare?

Actually, we can't afford not to have it.  Investments in people always pay for themselves, especially when they're not very big in the first place.

It's Not Quite The Polo Grounds And Ebbets Field ...

... but this does renew a rich tradition.  The last time the word "Brooklyn" was in the standings of a major league, I was 1 year old.  To see it for the first time in my adult lifetime is very special.  And how much more so for the people of Brooklyn.  Hey, who's a Bum now?

Fox News Finally Has Its "Dan Rather" Moment

Remember that moment in the 1988 presidential campaign, when Dan Rather was interviewing George H.W. Bush?  Rather was pursuing a line of questioning that was embarrassing to Bush, and Bush changed the subject by bringing up the time Rather had walked off the CBS Evening News set in mid-broadcast.  After several embarrassing moments during which Rather tried to get the interview back on track, he eventually cut it short.  Rather was, not without reason, attacked by the conservative chattering class for doing so.

Well, it turns out that, now that the CCC (as I may call them from now on) has its own media foghorn, it gives them an opportunity to be embarrassed all by themselves.  In other words, to have a "Dan Rather" moment.  Take a look.

That Bargain You Found Is Not Such A Bargain

Someone else paid a price for it, in working conditions that are not only dangerous, but often fatal.

Don't think this can happen here?  Maybe not yet.  Thank "union thugs" for that.

Well, At Least Some Of Them Are Honest About It

The only way that Republicans can win elections is by suppressing the vote.  Just ask the ones in Florida.

Happily for all of us, it didn't work.

Top-Down, Or Bottom-Up?

I've always argued that real change comes from the bottom up, and not from the top down.  Had we applied that principle to the Great Recession, we all might be in better shape now.  In other words, punish the culprits in the business and banking community, and bail out the people.

Too idealistic, you think?  Couldn't work?

Well, don't tell that to the people of Iceland.  They gave idealism (or common decency, as some of us might think of it) a chance, and it actually worked.

A Free Society Needs A Strong Public Sector

Because the only alternative is to become a third world county.  As Nicholas Kristof points out here, the effort to drown government in the bathtub of conservative hogwash has taken us far in that direction already.

You don't have more freedom without a strong government.  You only have chaos, poverty, and death before its time.  So long as it is monitored and controlled by a free people, it is not only right to have a strong government but also essential as well.

What Does Small Business REALLY Want?

An end to the Bush tax cuts, as it turns out.

Remember, when Republicans complain that "small businesses" will be hurt by an end to the Bush tax cuts, they're talking about very big business.  Namely, the ones that line their pockets.

Trust me.  The only "small business" that would be hurt by an end to the Bush tax cuts is the current House majority.  And without gerrymandering, it wouldn't exist, so don't shed any tears for its departure.

The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling!

That's what Republicans want you to believe.

But that big thing that's falling isn't the sky.

It's the Federal deficit.

Take a look (and, especially, click on this link).

Which Scares You More?

Peak helium?

Or peak fertilizer?

I would hope it would be the latter; after all, we need food for our survival much more than parade balloons.  But both stories make the same point:   we're running out of planet in a hurry.

If there should be tax breaks for anything, it should be for industries that develop, produce and market alternatives to dwindling resources.  This is, in my opinion, the greatest economic and cultural challenge of the 21st century.  You can have an environment without an economy, but you can't have an economy without an environment.

No, Sad To Say, You Didn't Build It

As Nicole Tichon puts it, free enterprise isn't free.  It would not even exist on the scale that it currently exists, without public spending and the tax dollars that pay for it.  We would not have a budget crisis without a tax code that is so top-heavily in favor of a financial minority, one that repackages and often destroys existing wealth with debt-heavy mergers.  Innovation?  Risk-taking?  Why, that's for the suckers who keep electing politicians that let us take more and more of their money, and hide it where they'll never see it again.

How many times do I have to say it?  How many times do most of us have to do so?  We need a level playing field.  If that means a flat-tax structure, so be it.  It can't be worse than what we've got now.

If change of this sort is good enough for Warren Buffett, it ought to be good enough for the rest of the 1%.

On A Happier, Theatre-Saving Note ...

My home town of Baltimore does not, sad to say, have a large number of historical preservation success stories.  And that is especially true when it comes to historic theaters.

But, thanks to Everyman Theater, one of two Equity companies in the city, one theatre is magnificently coming back to life.  And, given its proximity to the Hippodrome, where Broadway touring companies play, its enough to turn the area into a theatre district.

Projects such as Everyman's reclaiming of the former Empire (later Town) Theatre almost always boost the economy of the neighborhoods and cities in which they are located.  In particular, they help to reclaim Main Streets all across small-town America, and protect local businesses from being Wal-Marted into oblivion.

If only there were more cities that recognized this fact, and acted on it!

Here's another example of theater in Baltimore bringing an older building back to life.   Full disclosure:  I have done legal work for them in the past.  But you should still see their shows!

Strict Construction, My Foot*

When it comes to promoting "the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries" (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution), its more like strict construction be damned.  And, sad to say, this applies to Democrats as well as Republicans.  Even when a young Republican law student has the temerity to point this out and, in the process, point out that it's an indictment of his party's alleged economic principles, his party does him the favor of allowing him to promote the truth for 24 hours--before they sit on it.

The basic problem here, sadly, is not limited to intellectual property.  The basic problem is the reality of modern America as a multinational corporate state, one in which politics is bought out, money is shipped overseas, and the poor suckers on the outside (that's you and me) are expected to buy more and more with less and less.

It's never going to change until we wake up and fight.  It's almost now or never.  And I'm half tempted to leave out the almost.

*As opposed to a less attractive anatomical part.

Even Forbes Gets It

If Forbes can publish an article such as this, calling to task millionaire business who attempt to fight Obamacare with blackmail, then clearly the magazine is much more than a capitalist tool.

And, in consequence, perhaps there's hope for the rest of us as well.

A New Southern Strategy?

That's what this article attempts to advance.  I'm inclined to agree with much of its reasoning, particularly as it relates to the urban-rural divide that exists in Southern states as much as it does Northern ones.  It might be worthwhile for Democrats to invest resources in organizing and registering voters in Southern cities, and to do so now, with an eye toward 2014, rather than waiting for 2016.

There were a few states in various parts of the country where Obama lost by less than a landslide margin.  Now may be the time to start finding out if those states can be flipped in time to help produce a Democratic Congress two year from now, and make the last two years of Obama's Presidency productive ones.

In fact, here's a little practical support for that idea.

And, Speaking Of The Bill Of Rights ...

As long as we're trying to get the Second Amendment right, let's do the same with the First.

Sign the petition referenced here, and tell the Internal Revenue Service to do its job and stop religion from being used as a cowardly hide-out for political influences that dare not speak their real names.

27 Tragic New Reasons For Sanity About Guns

This past week, 27 innocent (and, in some cases, heroic) souls were sent to Heaven far before their time, because of the great American religion.

I'm not talking about Christianity.

I'm talking about guns.

We have, in our Constitution, an amendment that allows citizens to keep arms in their homes for the purpose of defending the nation.  That purpose is made explicit by the amendment's qualification that "a well-regulated militia" is needed for this purpose.

Contrary to what a corrupt majority of the current Supreme Court thinks, the Second Amendment has never conferred upon anyone an unlimited right to own any arms that anyone might desire for any reason whatsoever.  And it has never denied government the right to regulate the use of arms, if the safety of the nation was the reason behind the regulation.

Unfortunately, an equally corrupt minority in this country has twisted and destroyed the meaning of the amendment, for its own self-serving reasons.  The hypocrisy of its doing so is evident in the fact that this same minority is the one that attempted to use the September 11th tragedy to turn our country into a police state.

Then again, maybe it isn't hypocritical.

Maybe the worship of unlimited gun ownership, combined with the lurch toward fascism under Bush and Cheney, are part and parcel of the same unpatriotic movement.

Maybe it's time to recognize the the loyal opposition is really a fifth column, one that is prepared to destroy America for the sake of maintaining an iron grip on its spirit.

And doing so in the name of patriotism.  And yes, God.  Who must surely weep at the abuse of His, Her, Its or Their Name.

And if the heretofore silent majority does not get serious immediately about the need for sane, sensible, national gun regulations that balance private ownership with the defense of innocent life, it might as well join the NRA parade and arm itself to the teeth.

But it would be better for everyone for the majority to put its faith in the power of self-government, and not bullets.

27 of us who are no longer here would doubtless agree with that.  Let's not let them die in vain, and resolve to do the right thing.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Environmentalism Isn't Economic Death

If anything, it's economic life.  Here's the green equivalent of beating swords into plowshares:  unemployed coal miners installing solar panels.

Which Matters More?

A center-right political structure, or a center-left cultural one?  My money's on the latter.  Time and again, the latter has been able to push the former in the correct direction, especially when it comes to the meaning of family.

So, no matter what, progressives, never give up and never give it.  To paraphrase Billy Wilder in a different context, theirs may be the kingdom, but ours will always be the power and the glory.  And, as long as that's true, we'll keep making America as great as it should be.

The Counter-Intuitive Nature Of Politics

Regardless of what side of the political divide you fall on, it's important not to be discouraged by setbacks.  Our democracy is something of a perpetual see-saw, and the American people like it that way.  Neither side is completely trusted.  The day you've lost an election is, more often than not, the day you start to win the next one.

And, when the Supreme Court closes a window, it often opens a door.  Its restriction of the Medicare component of health care reform may have been a gift to Democrats in the GOP's geographic heart.  Take a look.

And What Frustrates Me Most About Obama's Critics

With socialists like Barack Obama, who needs capitalists?  Even these seven Obama-hating CEOs might agree with that..

What Frustrates Me Most About Barack Obama?

He accepts the playing field that his opponents define for him, by acceding to their concept of political reality.

Here's one example.

Here's another.

Maybe mortgage forgiveness and carbon taxation aren't political reality now.  But a President has a platform that no one else has to argue for reshaping that reality.  Not only does he (and one day, she) have the powers conferred in the office itself, by the Constitution, past Congresses and the courts, but also the power conferred by a national voter base and followed by the national media.

Leadership isn't about doing the possible.  It is about stretching the boundaries of what is possible.  Obama's signature accomplishment, health care reform, stands on the foundation of many failed attempts by Democrats that came before him, from Harry Truman to Hillary Clinton.  Putting it another way, he didn't build it all by himself.  Now that he has the political capital that comes with a second term and the freedom that comes (supposedly) with being term-limited, he owes it to the next generation of Democrats and the American people to get out of his comfort zone, and ours, to push the nation forward as he has says he wants to do.

Color Me Unsurprised

I mean, Dick Morris trying to influence an election income by lying about it?  Never happen, right?


At Least SOME Of The Future Is Here!

They said it couldn't be done, that it was science fiction at best.  But the electric car is here to stay.  And the oil companies' days are numbered.  If you own their stocks, here's my advice:   SELL!  At the very least, in the short run, the environment will send you good karma for it.

Is Trickle-Down Economics Dead?

I mean, it's always been dead in practice, and deadly to the majority of us.  But has it lost its political base.  This writer seems to think so.

I wish I could feel comfortable agreeing with him.  But, as long as Americans are focused on short-term benefits and feel-good politics, mixed in with flim-flam marketing, it's going to take a lot to convince me that there's been a sea change.

Still, Romney's economic pitch was straight out of Reagan 101, and it didn't put him over the top.  At the very least, that tells me that they're going to have to go to work on the marketing.  As for how feel about the substance, maybe we've picked up some more people with common sense in the past generation.  We'll see in another two to four years whether it's enough to start to make a real difference.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

And About Petraeus ...

All of the people who urged calling him "General Betrayus" back when he was in charge of the Iraqi war deserve an engraved apology for having the courage to question his character.  Apparently, his character was questionable, after all.  I think everyone should remember that, the next time conservatives start a war and liberals have the temerity to question it.  Maybe questioning is just part of that thing called "patriotism."  Maybe it's just part of exposing the truth.  Either way, I'll be damned if I'm going to be intimidated out of questioning the likes of Petraeus.

There is one good thing about this sordid scandal, however:  it further exposes the hypocrisy of the right, especially its religious division.  Thank you, Pat Robertson; as always, sincerity is written on both of your faces.

And with that, a happy and healthy Thanksgiving to everyone, especially to those serving our country.  And don't show up at any retailers until after midnight!

The Real Source Of Cultural Rot

Predictably, Cal Thomas characterizes Obama's re-election as a sign of America's continuing cultural decline.  As he might say, "Yawn."  That's my only response.

Oh, wait.  That's not true.  There IS cultural decline in this country.  It's just that it's coming from your side of the fence, Cal.  Let's hope that Fox's continued sabotaging of the truth, masquerading as journalism, really does lead to its self-destruction.

So Goes The Nation ...

... if California continues to get bluer?  One can only hope so.  Among states, it's supposed to be the trend-setter.  May nothing stand in the way of it setting this trend.

Whither Israel?

That's an important question, given that Israel is currently fighting on two fronts against Arabs:  in Gaza, where Palestinians have launched rocket attacks, and the Golan Heights, where the Syrian civil war is spilling over the border.  Netanyahu has learned absolutely nothing from the Bush-Cheney experience in Iraq, still absolutely convinced to bully the Palestinians into submission, still unable to see the difference between them and the thuggish leaders they choose.

Israel can and must survive, for the sake of Jews everyone and democracy in the Middle East.  But Israel desperately needs leadership that can balance its security needs with those of its neighbors.  Otherwise, at best, it will become a badly isolated nation, even from its best friend, the United States.  It's easy to fault Obama for not doing more for Israel; it's not quite so easy to see that Netanyahu is not giving him much of an incentive to do better.

Better Ingredients, Better Blackmail

There are, unfortunately, plenty of powerful people on the other side of the fence who are determined not to get it.  Papa John himself is one of them.

What's amazing to me about this is that no one buys more pizza than under-30s, and under-30s went for Obama in big numbers.  Schnatter is just another example of a 1-percenter who has become so detached from his customer base that he can't conceive of doing or saying something that would alienate it.

Unfortunately for him, he's not quite the category-killer that he apparently believes he is.  Pizzas are sold by lots of small, independent businesses--and their pizzas are better.  It would be easy for me to be part of a Papa John's boycott; I haven't bought one of his pizzas in years, purely as a matter of taste.

I propose boycotting all overpriced, benefit-denying chain restaurants.  If the advent of Obamacare is also the beginning of their end, I would call it win-win.

UPDATE, 11-25-12:  When it comes to the cost burdens of Obamacare, methinks Papa doth protest too much.

I'm Sorry, GOP, I'm Afraid I CAN Do That.

That's what HAL from "2001" might want to say, in response to this.  Proof that Obama and Democrats really are the ones who are all about the future, and the role of space in it.

From Ashley Judd's Mouth To God's Ears!

Will she do this?

For my purposes, it would be enough to just get rid of McConnell, a profoundly narcissistic acolyte of power.  Getting Judd as his replacement, however, would be a huge plus.  In any case, the Democrats face a rough election map in 2014, so my hope would be that they put the best possible candidate (incumbent or not) in each an every race.

Putting celebrity aside, as a woman, Judd could be part of a narrative and strategy that has worked well so far for Democrats.  We'll see.

When Does A Fetus Become A Living Human Being?

At conception?

Or at birth?

And what does the Bible say?

Apparently, not what conservatives says it does.

Works for me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Another Human Rights Victory On Election Night ...

... was won by immigrants and their advocates.  The Maryland DREAM Act passed, granting in-state tuition to undocumented students in Maryland.  And, more significantly, the surge in Latino support for Democrats in Congress almost ensures the passage of some form of comprehensive immigration reform bill, at long last.

Will Republican support for such a bill reverse the current trend, and bring immigrant voters into the GOP?  Not likely.  Latinos may not be single issue voters, but they are a far more diverse community than conservative stereotyping allows.  Even one of the more GOP-leaning segments of this community, Cuban-Americans, has warmed up to the Democrats.

It's enough to make one think that soon, this will be transformed from a referendum into a reality.

Not Just A Good Night For Democrats

It was also a terrific night for human rights, as marriage equality prevailed as a ballot issue, as it never has before.

A key reason:  progressives are finally learning the value of speaking the other side's language.  Take a look.

Will Sandy Wake Us Up?

There seems to be general agreement that Hurricane Sandy, and Obama's response, especially as appreciated publicly by Chris Christie, helped re-elect the President.  As significant as that is, his supporters would agree that it would be even better if Sandy helped Obama and all of us focus more on climate change, and the need to take action against its harmful effects.

The New York Times is not optimistic about this happening.  Too bad, because science keeps putting us on notice that Mother Nature is tired of being pushed around.

Can Republicans Adapt?

That's what Nicholas Kristof asks, and he does a good job of explaining the need to do so.  The input from some members of the conservative chattering class is not very encouraging.  In the case of Grover Norquist, it's downright delusional.  He apparently believes that (a) the election was a draw, despite the fact that Democratic votes outnumbered Republican ones and (b) Republicans win all ties.  I'd wish you good luck with that, Grover, but you don't deserve it, and neither do we.

Yes, it's possible for the GOP to fall back on gridlock.  However, it looks like Speaker Gerry Mander recognizes that he needs to change the way he operates.  Take a look.  It's just as well because, when it comes to the so-called "fiscal cliff," he and his colleagues are not in an enviable position.  Obama, as it turns out, is celebrating two victories--his re-election, and outmaneuvering his Congressional Republican counterparts.

The Republicans have a great many "facts" to unlearn, as Rachel Maddow illustrates.  Perhaps Bill Kristol can help; he, at least, seems to have gotten off to a good start.

Does Boehner Have A Mandate?

He thinks he does.  But he shouldn't.  After all, more votes were cast for Democratic House candidates than for their Republican counterparts.

So why is there a House majority?  This article and chart provide the answer, and it isn't pretty.  And it's not being overlooked, either (see here and here).

And this is why he's really Speaker Gerry Mander.

AND this is also why, if he pushes too hard and too far, he won't be Speaker much longer.  If he oversteps the will of the majority of voters by a significant enough margin, he'll provide opportunities for Democrats to find candidates for those districts who will know how to exploit that weakness.

Will he do it?  Will his members push him to do it?  Well, that leads to another question ...

Barack Obama: A Consequential Presidency?

It already has been.

He's been given a chance to do even more.

He may have realigned American politics.

And, happily, he's not here to be kicked around any more.

Let's hope he's got the fortitude to take this seriously.  It's time to pay the price for civilization, especially by those who have not been doing anything close to a fair share.

Okay, Let's Drill Down To Some Specifics ...

... about the election, that is.

Why did Romney lose?

This is a good comprehensive list of causes.  This, on the other hand, calls attention to specific people, in a nicely humorous way.

What do I think?

All of the above, plus something my wife pointed out to me.

Romney reminds one a lot of Nixon.  A cleaned-up, higher functioning version of him, to be sure.  But the same beady eyes.  The same calculating nature.  And the same untrustworthy mouth.

Many Republicans wanted to ask of if we were better off than we were four years ago.  I can think of a different quote, invoking a different Republican President (namely Nixon), that's more appropriate for Romney:  "Would you buy a used car from this man?"

In Romney's case, no one should.  Including his supporters, who were stood up by him on Election Night.

Thank God (or Whomever you want to thank) that he didn't cross the finish line first.

Okay, I'm NOT Supposed To Gloat ...

But what the hell.

I was dead right about the Senate and, if current totals hold up, I'll be pretty close to being right about the House.  Ah, the House, still to be led by Speaker Gerry Mander.  More about that later;-).

And then there was, and (thankfully) is, Obama.

To tell you the truth, I didn't think he would make it.  I hoped he would, but I was not optimistic.  Money talks in politics, as it does in other areas of our life.  And more money was spent attempting to kick him out of the White House than was spent against any other candidate in history.

Luckily, brains count, too.  And Obama and his people possessed enough brains plus money to stop the Romney-GOP-Super PAC onslaught of cash from the other side.

A lot of emphasis in the post-election coverage has been placed on the increasing role of women and ethnic groups in the Democratic coalition.  While there's a great deal of merit to that focus, it overlooks the fact that both groups are key components of a new generation, which I in turn felt is what would be the main story of this election.  Happily, I was right.  Happily not just for me, but for all of us.

I'll get to some more specific aspects of last Tuesday a little later.  There are, in my opinion, two big takeaways from election year 2012.

First, money is still a problem.  It will continue to flood the system and, in the process, embed it with the potential for corruption and destruction.  And nothing in this regard will change, until we cease tilting the playing field away from the afflicted and toward the comfortable.

Second, we are the problem.  When we don't show up at the polls, that is.

We did it in 2008, but not in 2010.  We are still paying the price for that failure.  We cannot let it happen again.  Ever.

In a democracy, where the people are the government, the burden of governing does not go away between Election Days.  It always rests on all of us.

To organize.  To protest.  To raise money.  To be active in the media, by any and all means.  And, above all, to vote in each and every election.

Not just when we feel like it.  Not just when our chances look good.  And not when the other side has nearly pushed us to the brink of destruction.

Eternal vigilance truly is the price of liberty.  And so, here on this Veteran's Day, I call on all of us on the leftward side of the divide to remember that reality, and live it every day.  Many pay the price for a better society with their lives.  You can do it by paying a smaller price:  stay involved.

Being a citizen is the greatest office anyone can hold.  Hold it as well as you can.  Be grateful for this year.  But be grateful enough to keep up the good work.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

And Now, For Something A Little Different ...

The right to death.  Which, so far as I'm concerned, is a corollary to the right to life.  If it's the case that no one should be deprived of a chance to live, no one should be forced to live if living is unendurable.

We appear to be making slow but steady progress in the direction of recognizing such a right.  As it turns out, like so much of American life and progress, it's a question of marketing.  Take a look.

And, with that, I'll be back after the election.


The Ultimate Republican Principle

It's not smaller government, free markets, personal responsibility or even conservatism in general.

It's blackmail

Paul Krugman demonstrates it with words; Lindsey Graham, by encouraging deeds.

And the worst part of all of this is that some newspapers, who should know better for a number of reasons, apparently think that this is such a great idea that it should be rewarded with Mitt Romney's election.

Except that, as William Saletan goes on to say, this reasoning defies a principle that is supposed to be part of the GOP bedrock:  that compromise is only valid and valuable as an outcome of confrontation.

Which begs the question:  what confrontations would exist between the House hardliners and Mitt Flip-Flop?  There would be none, of course, only an ever-increasing drift to the right in a country that is showing increasing signs of drifting to the left.

Hopefully, the outcome in 2014 would be the election of an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress.  Then you might have real confrontation, as well as real compromise.  Assuming, of course, that Mitt is still willing to flip-flop for the remaining two years of his Presidency.

Who's Manipulating Whom?

According to John Crudele of the New York Post, it's the Obama Administration, pumping up the economic numbers to create an "illusion" of recovery that Americans are just dying to reject.

I think Crudele's "manipulation" argument is pitifully weak.  All politicians massage the numbers they publicize.  It's far worse to deliberately, blatantly suppress the truth, as Congressional Republicans have done, and are doing.

If that's the best argument that you can make against the President, John, then, like it or not, you're effectively saying that he's in great shape.  Let's hope you're right.

Climate Change Is No Joke

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, that has never been more obvious.

Except to Mitt Romney and his party.  They think that climate change is just one colossally funny joke.

If they're in change after Tuesday, they'd better stop laughing.  Or there may not be an America to re-elect them.

Unhappy With Obamanomics?

Doesn't matter.  You should still vote for him, simply because the alternative is categorically worse.

Just ask one of the leading voices for conservative economics.

The Good Evangelical Son

As appalled as I am by the shameful manipulation of Billy Graham by his power-hungry son, Franklin, I stand in awe and admiration of Frank Schaeffer's willingness to repudiate the intellectually dishonest upbringing he received from his father, Francis Schaeffer.  He has shown tremendous integrity and courage in doing so, and, in confronting the hypocrisy of white evangelical voters, he does so again here.

And The Other Major Reason Why A Romney Administation May Be Doomed To Failure

His party is built around a shrinking demographic.  Read here.

The 2012 Election: Whither America?

For some time, even before Barack Obama's election, I had thought of the 2012 election as being guaranteed to be a pivotal point in American political history.  That is because I believe all politics to be not only local, but generational as well.

From the 1930s until midway into the 1960s, politics in America had a somewhat leftward drift, shaped by the experiences of the Greatest Generation in the Depression, the New Deal era and World War II.  Even in the 1950s, the most conservative period of this era, the combined efforts of Nixon, McCarthy and other Congressional Republicans could only push this drift back so far.  And even Eisenhower, a nominally Republican President, launched his one major government initiative:  the Interstate Highway System, based on his wartime experience with European highways.

Beginning in the late 1960s, however, the Baby Boomers began to enter the voting cohort.  And, despite the hippie-yippee image of this group, the Boomers were anything but flaming liberals as a voting block.  After all, they had grown up with more creature comforts than any generation in American history.  They consequently came of age expecting more such comforts in their adulthood, which had the effect of making them economic royalists at heart.  As a consequence, they gave their hearts and their votes to Republicans.  It should have therefore surprised no one that the next three decades saw Republican dominance in national politics, and that the only two Democratic Presidents in this period, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, came from the moderate-to-conservative wing of their party.

The turn of the century and millennium, however, revealed the beginning of another generational shift, one that was overlooked in the controversy over the 2000 Florida fiasco and the horror of 9/11.  In 2000, between Al Gore and Ralph Nader, liberalism won a majority of the popular vote.  In 2004, despite campaigning as a wartime President, George Bush barely won re-election--and his party lost control of Congress.  And, of course, 2008 saw the election of the first African-American President in history, along with huge majorities of Democrats in Congress.

Why did this happen?  I think it can be explained by not one, but two generational shifts.

The most obvious of these shifts is the rise of the Echo Boom generation.  They came of age with less economic security than their parents, the Boomers, enjoyed.  Consequently, they came to value the need for shared economic strength, which drew them into the Democratic fold.  But the less obvious shift involves the Boomers themselves.  By and large, they have consumed without saving, leaving them more vulnerable in old age to the need for government services.  And 2012 will be the first Presidential election held since the Boomers started to reach eligibility for Social Security benefits.

I tend to think that 2010 was an electoral anomaly, brought about solely by disillusioned Echo Boomers staying home because Obama was less of a miracle worker than they expected.  (A side note to them:  change has always been slow and difficult, but that just make your involvement all the more necessary.)  I tend to agree with this analysis, as a consequence.

So, whither America after Tuesday?  On the congressional side of the ledger, I think Democrats will gain seats in both houses of Congress--between 1 and 3 in the Senate, and between 10 and 12 in the House, leaving them solidly in control of the Senate, and not quite yet able to pick up a House majority due to gerrymandering (another side-note to Echo Boomers:  be especially sure to show up in election years ending in 0, or you risk diluting the power of everyone's vote).

The Presidential race?  Jump ball.  I hope Obama will win, and I think (knock on wood and pu! pu! pu!) that he will.

But, even if Romney wins, he will not be able to stop America's leftward drift.  He will either find a way to take his party with it, or he will be a one-term President.  Period.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oh, And One More Thing ...

In light of recent or soon-to-be events, this might make you think twice about voting for Romney.

Believe me, it should.

Can Obama Hold On In Swing States?

He was doing so, about 10 days ago.  Let's hope he still is doing so, and can do so for nine more days.

I'm going to go hunker down, and wait out the storm.  May we, and everyone we care about, be safe.

The REAL Source Of Voter Fraud

The Republican Party has a right to be concerned about it.  Because they are the chief cause of it.

Why Obama and the Justice Department hasn't gone after Ohio for using Romney-owned voting machines is beyond me.  It's as if they want to forfeit the election.

Cheer Up, Liberals!

Even if the Republicans get an across-the-board sweep on November 6th, they will only own the government.  We own the culture, and real progress has always come from the bottom up, not the top down.

It was true in 1972, and it remains true today.  We will regroup, and move ourselves, and America, forward.

Does This Surprise Anyone?

It shouldn't.  I've been saying this all along, and I'm certainly not alone.  Now, however, we have empirical proof.

Makes you wonder what the backlash against African-Americans is going to be like, if the Republicans return to power.

Wonder no more, thanks to Colin Powell's brave decision to endorse Obama for a second term.  Another brave man has confirmed that it will happen, while an idiot has illustrated how it will begin to play out.

One wonders, along with Victor Hugo, if the future will ever arrive.

But Will A President Romney Agree?

According to Eliot Spitzer, the Grover Norquist firewall against tax increases may be crumbling, now that business leaders are coming out in support of them.

While I'm grateful to learn that the American business community still, to some extent, lives in the real world, its principal political agent, the Republican Party, does not.  This is why its Presidential candidate still talks about piling tax cuts on top of tax cuts.

If he actually reaches the White House, and is paired with a Republican Congress, they may conspire to deficit-spend the American business community, and the American way of life, out of existence.

But don't worry.  They'll still be in charge, and that's all they really want, anyway.

Unless, of course, you do something about it.

MSM Guilt: Working Overtime To Elect Romney

This was predicted, over a month ago.  And, if you look at the media coverage since Romney's dishonest, cheating, hypercaffeinated performance in the first debate, you can see that it's come true.

Never forget that freedom of the press belongs to the person who owns one.  It's as much a property right as it is a civil right.  And major property owners don't tend to be liberals.

So, You Wanted A "Public Option"?

Well, here it is.

And, if you let Romney and the Republicans win, you'll lose it.

The Gathering Storm ... And The Day After Tomorrow?

I write this on Sunday afternoon, within hours of the arrival of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, which is expected to have a devastating human and economic cost.  The headlines, on and off-line, are filled with the usual stories about advanced precautions, accompanied by the usual pictures of those precautions being taken (windows being bordered up, lines of vehicles headed inland, rapidly emptying store shelves, and so on).  All of the focus, understandably, is on the immediate danger, as well as our inability to know the exact extent to which we are in harm's way.

I, too, share the concern for the immediate danger.  At the same time, I am more than astonished--and, frankly, disgusted--about the fact that no one seems to want to connect the climate dots.

Until a decade or so ago, we were accustomed to being occasionally visited by powerful storms, and to cleaning up the aftermath and moving on.  We accepted this as part of nature's status quo.  But there is nothing "occasional" about these storms anymore, nor are weather extremes in general extremes anymore.  For all practical purposes, they are the "new normal."  Except for the fact that they are exponentially more dangerous and costly for all of us than they have even been.

And, in spite of that, we go on pretending that we can just keep cleaning up the mess, even when the messes get bigger and bigger.

We pretend that, as a species, we are so frail and helpless that we cannot control our behavior, and must rely on God to sort things out, to ensure that the wicked are punished and the righteous are protected.  Anything else somehow smacks of socialism.

That overlooks the fact that government, in both the Old and New Testaments, is an institution established and even ordained by God.  It overlooks the fact that the Constitution was established to ensure domestic tranquility, and promote the general welfare.  And, in the context of our climate, it grossly overlooks the fact that we have a serious problem, and it will take government of the people, by the people and for the people to set it right.  Government is the only segment of society capable of taking the long-term interest of everyone into account.  And, right now, whether it is Sandy or the next storm not yet on the horizon, government that thinks beyond the next fifteen minutes is needed more than ever.

It is, therefore, more than shameful that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney have even talked about climate change in their debates, or otherwise in their campaigns.  There has never been a greater need to talk about it.  Because Mother Nature is speaking very loudly, and we need to start listening.

It may take getting past our pioneer mentality, with its myth of a limitless wilderness, as David Attenborough has suggested.  Or, as he also suggests, it may take disaster.

But, for the sake of the human race, and its Creator, let it be SOMETHING.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What Is "Self-Interest"?

Is it making ourselves a slave to our appetites, at the expense of others.  Or does it mean helping others in ways that ultimately help ourselves?

Evolution--that is to say, science (as opposed to Ayn Rand)--gives a rather surprising answer.

Or, at least, it might be to you.  Not to me.

"Frivolity" Is In The Eye Of The Consumer

Until, that is, the consumer is injured.  Then, in the eyes of other consumers, he or she becomes a frivolous litigant, reaching into consumer pocketbooks.

Actually, if the companies providing the injuries cared a little more about people than they did about profits, consumer pocketbooks would be pretty safe.  Then, again, there's nothing like a little blame-shifting to run interference for your greed.

Gasoline cans, for example, have the potential to be extraordinarily dangerous if not designed properly and/or explained properly.  Doing so is far cheaper than the cost of trying and/or settling cases.  Unfortunately, not every company feels this way.

So called "tort reform" is never really about protecting the economy or the consumer.  It is always about protecting the shortest possible path to profits, at the expense of your ancient right for a redress of your grievances.  The famous Shakespeare line about killing all of the lawyers was spoken by a character who wanted to do so because of the good that lawyers do.

It's bad enough that we sell away the rights of foreign workers by buying goods made in sweatshops.  Are we so craven that we're willing to clip our rights away like they were coupons?

The Case For Obama, Part 3

As eloquently made by a former Senator, a Vietnam Veteran, and a Reagan Republican.

Historic Buildings Helping The Needy?

Sounds like a great synergistic solution to me.  For a person with my interests, it's a real win-win.  Take a look.

The Keystone XL Pipeline Is A Bad Idea

And not even TransCanada can pretend otherwise.

You want to ship foreign oil overseas at the expense of the American heartland?  Go ahead.  Build this sucker.  But just remember, when the price of grain-related products shoots sky-high because the pipeline had a little "oops," don't pretend that no one warned you.

Conservatives Used To Learn From The Past

But not anymore.  Modern conservatism is all about standing athwart history and yelling "Halt," as if it is possible to deny life itself its essentially changing nature.  Even worse, modern conservatives imagine that no one else has tried this before.

As this book shows, it has been tried.  And it has failed.  And, if we continue to try it here, not even American exceptionalism will prevent it from failing again.  Because American exceptionalism at its best is all about embracing change and making it work for ourselves, not wishing it away or bullying it down.

A "Clear Eyed" View Of What Must Be Done

You all know Ben Stein.  TV personality.  Economist.  Tireless self-promoter.  The very model of a modern major Republican (thanks, G&S).

What you may not know is that he has apparently joined George Will in switching to the other side when it comes to economic royalism.  Take a look.

Apparently, after all of those years of promoting "Clear Eyes," he's actually used the product, and it worked!

When Is Adultery Not Adultery?

When Dinesh D'Sousa says so.

“I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced”?

Guess what, Dinesh?  It's considered wrong OUTSIDE of those circles.  It's tantamount to bigamy, which is still a crime.

Thank goodness you're willing to avoid "even the appearance of impropriety."  But please keep in mind that you have no business sitting in judgment on anyone else.  Least of all, Barack Obama.

The Evangelist And His Wicked Advisors

Which is worse:  A Presidential candidate taking advantage of the weakened judgment of an elderly man, or the willingness of the elderly man, and those close to him, to compromise his principles in the process, as expressed on his Web site?

You decide.

And no, I don't think Mormonism is a cult.  But, if you're willing to change that view for the sake of an election, you should never have said it in the first place.

The Case For Obama, Part 2

So, Romney doesn't like Obama's handling of the economy.  He repeatedly says that America is worse off as a result of what Obama's done.

Well, one thing's for sure:  Mitt Romney isn't.

But, we'll give him his due:  He's willing to admit that he'll give you the shaft in the process of giving himself and his friends the gold mine.

And, if you have the nerve to tell the truth about them, watch out.  Even being a charity won't protect you.

Too Late For Climate Change In 2012?

So far, in this year's Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates, climate change has not reared its head as a political issue.  Which is a tragedy for everyone.  So far, it appears that the triumph of Bush over Gore, and the 2010 elections that ended the prospect of cap-and-trade legislation, has pushed the issue to the back burner.

Unfortunately, as large parts of the country have been ravaged by wildfires and drought, the issue itself has pushed itself back to the front burner--pun intended.  And, as a consequence, there's now some suggestion that the issue has the potential to be a winning one for the candidate(s) who are able and willing to use it.

What makes this more likely is the possibility of taking immediate, practical steps to address the problem.  I've been saying that promoting such steps should have been the focus all along for those of us who believe in the reality and the magnitude of the problem.  Now, it seems, I'm not alone.

I just hope it's not too late for the rest of us.

So What Exactly Was The Point, Gentlemen?

Two columns that I've read in the past week make me wonder we've reached the point at which both sides of our political divide are so hell-been on arguing that we're all prepared to argue ourselves into oblivion--or onto the other side of the divide.

First comes George Will, with a column in which he argues that Romney could take the election by coming out foursquare against "too big to fail" banks.  Why he thinks that there is even the remotest chance of Romney doing this beyond me; everything about Romney's "economic policy" screams economic royalism.  But the most unbelievable portion of the column is probably this:

 At bottom, the TBTF phenomenon raises questions not merely about the financial system but also about the nature of the American regime. These are Jacksonian questions, implicating issues Old Hickory raised in 1832 when vetoing the Second Bank of the United States: Should the government be complicit in protecting — and by doing so, enlarging — huge economic interests? (Emphasis added.)

Capitalism — which is, as Milton Friedman tirelessly insisted, a profit and loss system — is subverted by TBTF, which socializes losses while leaving profits private. And which enhances the profits of those whose losses it socializes. TBTF is a double moral disaster: It creates moral hazard by encouraging risky behavior, and it delegitimizes capitalism by validating public cynicism about its risk-reward ratios.


George Will is now against the government "protecting--and by doing so, enlarging--huge economic interests."  Which means he is effectively admitting that Reaganomics, and three decades of Will-led cheerleading on behalf thereof, was and is a total fraud.  Guess what, George?  America's on the phone.  It wants the last 32 years back.  And it wouldn't mind if, in the process, you went straight to hell.

On the other hand, what is one to make of Frank Rich?

Here, he suggests that the triumph of the Tea Party is inevitable, and the rest of us, including Rich's friends on the left, should just sit back and enjoy it.  Next thing you know, he'll take a page from Todd Akin's book, and call it a legitimate rape.

Well, gee whiskers, Frank, why the hell have progressives in America spent over a century trying to make America live up to its ideals?  Even worse yet, they've succeeded from time to time.  Are you suggesting that we save the Tea Party the trouble of dismantling it, because you've somehow decided that they can't be stopped?  Are you suggesting that everyone who has sacrificed in some measure--completely, in many cases--was just wasting their time getting our hopes up?

Tell me, how much DID Roger Ailes pay you to write that column, anyway?

Both Will and Rich exemplify an American phenomenon:  they love politics for its potential for conflict, not its potential for progress.  The process is now completely about competing and winning, not about advancing one or more ideals.  Hell, if it means you'll win, throw your ideals out the window.

And don't give a damn if America goes with it.

The Case For Obama

It may surprise some people on both sides of the fence to realize that there's a very easy positive case to make for Obama's re-election.  Heading off another Great Depression.  Enacting health care, student loan and financial reform.  The rebound of the markets, and the slower but equally real rebound of employment.  The death of bin Laden and the war in Iraq, and the restoration of foreign confidence in our international leadership.  The successful (yes, successful) promotion of alternative energy sources and applications, and the first tentative steps toward addressing our backwards immigration policy.

But, if I've learned one thing over the years, it's that fear trumps facts in our electoral process, even if only for the reason that, for most people, it is far easier for people to feel than it is to think.

So, let's steal a tactic from the other side.  Let's turn the politics of fear against its proponents on the right.

If you let Romney beat Obama:
Please tell me exactly how an Obama victory will be worse than that.

And don't worry, because I won't be holding my breath waiting.

George Stanley McGovern, 1922-2012

In retrospect, it seems fitting to me that the first presidential candidate I worked for was one who reminded me so much of my own father--a teacher, a veteran, a family man and, above all, a man who believed that a great nation never ceases to embrace change, and that politics could rise above the dirt and become the means to an far better end.

Until the advent of Barack Obama, George McGovern was the closest thing I experience to having my father run for president.  Which is part of why his crushing loss hurt so much, even though the polls more or less braced me for it.  In part, it was because it was my first campaign, although, on the bright side, it did brace me for the reality that you can't win 'em all, and, in part, it was because it was because the outcome gave Richard Nixon, then the Darth Vader of American politics, a ratification and glorification he did not deserve (and, in the end, one that he through away through his craven criminality).

But McGovern's loss hurt so much, most of all, because it felt like a rejection of every life lesson my father had taught me up to that point.  Reason trumps emotion.  Progress is inevitable, as is change, and the former must be sought as an antidote to the latter.  We are stronger together than when we stand alone.

Where in a 49-state landslide was there any sign that America believed in any of this?

And yet, McGovern's life after 1972 shows how you deal with the rejection of your ideals and values.  Mainly, and above all, you don't give up.

The loss to Nixon was not the only loss that McGovern endured.  He lost his Senate seat in 1980, he lost his wife and two of his children, he made another and even less successful run for the Presidency in 1984, and he tried his hand as a businessman, with less than successful results.

But he never stopped working to advance the cause of world peace, and of ending world hunger.  He remained a believer that politics could make progress possible, and that it was essential for it to do so.  And he did so in the face of constant, childish sneering from the other side of the political fence, primarily from people whose lives do not even reflect a fraction of McGovern's accomplishments.

If there is one lesson for progressives, especially young ones, to take from Senator McGovern's death, it should be the remembrance that the things we hold dear are both too valuable and too essential to walk away from.  They cannot be accomplished in a day, or even a lifetime.  They can only be accomplished by men and women who define themselves by their ideals, and not by their setbacks.

And so, to the millions of young people who worked so hard and so valiantly for Obama four years ago, and who have had their first bitter taste of the compromising nature of politics, I challenge and invite you to follow the late Senator's example.  Hold on to your values, don't give up fighting, remember to seek a better world and not a perfect one, and never forget that politics will come to seek out you and your life, even if you want to run away from it.  Far better to face it on your own terms, and make your mark on it.  You may look at a given Presidential race as a choice between the lesser of two evils.  But to run away from that choice is to invite the victory of the greater evil.

Rest in peace, Senator, along with my father.  Both of you, to borrow from Arthur Conan Doyle's tombstone, were steel true and blade straight.

And may that be said of the rest of us, once we too have finished striving to make a great nation a greater one.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

And, Continuing On A Positive Note ...

... we may indeed be able to grow and harvest our way to a self-sufficient, pollution-free energy future.  Algae may prove that great things can and do indeed come from the smallest among us, a theme of both Christianity and progressive politics (and sorry, wingnuts, but that's not a contradiction).

Sorry, Gun Nuts, But Gun Control Works!

Just ask Californians, where it works for them when it's done right.

If You Can't Buy 'Em, Twist Their Arms!

You have to wonder how much real freedom is left in this country when the candidate of a major party literally uses forced labor to advance his cause.  And make no mistake:  Romney was fully aware of, and completely on-board with this.

Free men and women cherish a level playing field.  The GOP and their fellow-travelers in the wingnut movement can't wait to tilt it--towards them, and away from you.

Is This Real, Or A Head-Fake?

A Koch brother coming out for tax hikes, defense cuts and marriage equality?

Well, you can decide.  In the absence of some kind of road-to-Damascus experience, I'm inclined to think that this is some kind of effort to dupe the few swing voters left into thinking that his man Romney is some kind of moderate.

In other words, it dovetails with Romney's debate strategy:  lie about your record, and think that you can get away with it because swing voters haven't been paying attention up until now.  Personally, I think the only reason that there are any swing voters left is because they HAVE been paying attention up until now--to Romney.

I'll believe in a Koch conversion when he and his brother heed the words of Luke 18:22.  But I'm not holding my breath.

On The Other Hand, Does It Matter Who Gets Elected?

I believe it does.  And yet, it is possible that things are already so bad economically that even those in power, who should have little to fear, are acting as fearfully as possible.  Take a look.

Well, Okay, Yet One MORE Thing About The Debates!

How corrupt is the American political system?  As corrupt as can be, when the liars admit the lying, because they know they can get away with it.

And One More Thing About The Debates ...

It was appalling to hear all of the post-debate talking heads blabber on about how much "substance" this debate had when it failed to touch upon the one issue that undergirds so much of our domestic and foreign concerns:  immigration.  Good immigration policy is good domestic AND foreign policy at the same time, and that point has never been made better than it is here, which I think of as the best article I've ever read about the value of immigration to America.

Does He Want To Be Re-Elected?

It's hard to avoid that conclusion, in the wake of Obama's embarrassingly tepid debate performance.  He had a hypercaffinated, lying opponent who systematically denied most of his own previous statements, and Obama, for the most part, just sat there and let him get away with it.

And I'm not alone in pondering that as a possibility.

And yet, I wonder if I'm alone in thinking something darker might be at work.  Pun intended.

Obama, as everyone knows, is the first African-American president of a nation that embedded slavery in its DNA.  Slavery, the original sin that seemingly nothing can absolve.  Including the election of Obama.

Putting aside the high-tech lynching that he's been given in the conservative media, you have to wonder how many death threats--or possibly worse--he and his family have had to endure during the past four years.  Especially when Rush Limbaugh, the cheerleader for those without enough brains to spit, can get away with something like this.  And, frankly, if the consequence of that is that Obama may be, however subconsciously, sabotaging his own re-election campaign, he may have a powerful reason for doing so.  It's difficult to think about running for office if you're literally afraid for your life.  And the lives of those you most love.

Sorry, George Will.  You're correct in thinking that race plays a factor in public sentiment about the president.  But, sadly, that sentiment is more likely to kill him than it is to re-elect him.  In the meantime, pray that cooler and wiser heads will prevail.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's Reagan's Party No More!

That's because, as Rachel Maddow explains, it's to the right of even him.

And, with that, I'll see you in October!

We Are Built To Explore

And that's why the space program can't be limited to robots, wonderful an accomplishment as they are.  This lays it all out.

I hope I live long enough to see this advice heeded.

Soak The Rich? You Betcha!

We can pay off the deficit simply by asking those who have benefited the most economically to act like real citizens of the United States, and not of the international financial community, to pay their fair share.  Take a look.

I'd say it's about time, except for the fact that it's long overdue.

This Makes Me Proud To Be A Marvel Fan!

In my much younger days, I gravitated to the idealism and sense of purpose that I found in the characters in Marvel Comics.  I often say that Matt Murdock/Daredevil was one of the key reasons I became a lawyer.

It's good to know that the idealism and sense of purpose isn't limited to the pages of the comic books.  It's also reflected in the lives of at least one of Marvel's creatives.  And I don't mean Stan Lee; take a look.

Maybe They Really ARE Waking Up!

If the father of the "law and economics" judicial philosophy can learn to respect to respect the limits of capitalism, perhaps others will as well. 

In The War On Drugs ...

... drugs have won.  And poverty has helped to lead the way.

"Kinda Weird"?

A 13.9 per cent tax rate on $42.5 million in income?

No, Bill Kristol, it's a lot worse than that.  It's an obscenity that Mitt Romney wants to make even worse, for himself and the vultures who support him.

At least Kristol sounds like he would support some sensible changes in the tax code.  Maybe he realizes that the party's over (in more ways than one).

"The Music Man" Was A Hit For A Reason

And the reason is very simple.  We love being conned.  Megan McArdle explains it here.

Which is why one party is a party of professors and students and the other party is a party of snake-oil men and suckers.

Colorado Springs Faces Harsh Reality

You can't cut your way to prosperity, or even to survival.  At some point, no matter how much you want to avoid it, you have to pay the piper--or, at least, the tax collector.

Words Matter

It's an odd truth that progressives, though often better-educated than conservatives, tend to discount the power of words, and even of communication in general.  Sadly, the other side has, as a consequence, had a free hand in mastering the art of successfully articulating their bankrupt thinking.

Perhaps this book can help turn things around a bit.  Perhaps it can help us (to follow some of its advice) level the playing field.  It's long overdue.

The REAL "Pro-Life" Candidate?

Here's a hint:  It's not who you'd think.  And you've got no less than an agent of the Catholic Church saying so.

On the other hand, the Church itself continues to work both sides of the fence.  See here.

What Goes Hand-In-Hand With Right-Wing Lying?

Right-wing scapegoating.  It's gone on at least since the early days of Richard Nixon, and it goes on into the present.

Only this time, I don't think it will work.  Impoverishing whites and blacks doesn't make them enemies.  It gives them a common ground--one one which they can win, even when the playing field isn't level.

Paul Ryan Tells Both Kinds Of Lies

Lies of co-mission.  And lies of omission; see here as well.

Which are worse?

Does it matter?

Either way, vote for him, and you're voting for a lie.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Case For Gun Control

Read this.  Nothing more need be said.  But a lot more needs to be done.

A New Christian Convergence

That's the title of this column by Brian McLaren.  I had the good fortune to get to know him, and go to church with him, back in my graduate school days in College Park.  Whether you're a Christian or not--but especially if you are--you should take a look.

It's Not YOUR Taxes That They Want To Cut

It's their patrons.  Take a look at what's happening in Kansas.

Vote for them, and your taxes won't be paying for civilization, or even for decency.  They'll be paying for economic slavery.



Here's proof.  Here's more.

For crying out loud, Democrats, stop apologizing and shout the truth from the rooftops.

Bush IS Responsible For The Deficit!

And that's why studies show it!

One day soon, hopefully, right-wing media reality can be replaced by the real thing.  After all, as even George Will was once willing to concede, facts are stubborn things.  And never more so, when they run against your beliefs.

Willing To Die For A "Hoax"

That sums up the attitude of red-staters on climate change, especially after this summer.  Problem is, they're willingness to do this takes those of us with sanity along with them.

We have to stop them, hopefully by outnumbering them at the polls.  Hopefully, that's all we'll need to do.

How Dysfunctional Are Our Politics?

Even when we agree, and our survival depends on agreeing, we can't act on our agreement.

This is why we have to destroy, or at least dilute, the power of money in politics.  Right now.

Never Give Up On Progress, Just Because It's Slow (Part 2)

One 800 meter race for a Saudi female athlete, one giant leap forward for women and Muslims everywhere.

Religion and humanity are both stronger when they can adapt to change together.

How Green Is The Internet?

Not very, as it turns out.  A grim reminder of what a tricky thing it can be to have a net-green effect.

How Do You Know That The Republicans Are Losing An Election?

Simple.  Their allies in the press start running diatribes against Washington, even when they control a major share of power in it.  Take a look.

Sorry, Ross, but D.C.-envy isn't going to work.  Average income (as he knows) is one of the most deceptive ways of measuring wealth.  The entire sum of disposable assets in DC isn't even remotely equal to the amount of money that's been offshored by your patrons.  Need a reminder?  Here you go (we're a full service blog;-)).

By the way, Ross, D.C. was on the upswing even before 2002.  I guess some people never get over trying to make W look good.

The REAL Entitlement Reform That We Need

Social Security?  Medicare?  Medicaid?


It's the entitlement of the 1% to unlimited political power.  The kind of entitlement that allows this disgrace to the name of Jesus to even consider making a comeback.

They keep pushing the same old buttons, and expect the same old results.  But every day isn't Groundhog Day, and every election year isn't 1980.

And Barack Obama isn't Jimmy Carter.

And Mitt Romney isn't Ronald Reagan.

And even if he was, we've moved on.

Get over it, Mr. Reed.  You and the rest of your cronies are yesterday's failures.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Never Give Up On Progress, Just Because It's Slow

Because it needs to happen, and there are no limits to making it happen other than the ones we impose on ourselves.  If this much progress can come to the Roman Catholic Church under an ultra-conservative Pope, who are we to set limits?

How To Bring Manufacturing Back To America

One way is to forget about mass production, and focus on specialty markets.  Think it can't be done?  It's already happening in Brooklyn.

The Epitome Of Pitiful

It's this:  having a name like Reince Pribus, and pretending that you have what it takes to take on the Senate Majority Leader who beat back a manufactured conservative wave to win re-election (and who is also a former boxer).

But why waste a thousand words on this fribble, when I've got this picture, and the words that go with it?  Enjoy, if you can avoid having your stomach turned.

Try To Remember: It's Only A Hoax ... It's Only A Hoax ...

Except, of course, when there's "virtually no explanation other" than it.

And NONE Dare Call It Treason

In fact, it's not being called anything at all, because, so far as I can tell, it's not being discussed anywhere.  Except here.

The holders of this wealth are worse than contemptible.  There's enough money here to pay off the national debt, which was run up largely to fight wars they supported, and then to bail them out when they were "too big to fail."  TOO BIG TO FAIL IS RIGHT!  They should have been allowed to fail, and then forced to pay the public costs of their failures with their own damn money!

I can only sum up my feelings with an out-of-context quote from Thomas Jefferson:

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.

I truly pray that it doesn't sleep much longer.