Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The New "Focus Of Evil"

That was the phrase Ronald Reagan coined to describe the Soviet Union in what became known as the Evil Empire speech.

Well, the Soviet Union is good, but there's something Red in our political climate that's totally focused on evil.  It's red states hoarding cash to the point of letting their own citizens suffer, simply to prove what they consider to be a deeply philosophical point about government.  Take a look.

Make no mistake:  if you vote for these people, out of '80s nostalgia or your own determination to be comfortably ignorant, God will not forgive you.  And neither will the rest of us.

Me least of all.

And Obama Loves Immigrants, Too

For his sake, it's a good thing that he does.  It's nice to see a politician rewarded for doing the right thing.

For The Umpteenth Time, Reagan Did NOT Win The Cold War

The other side lost it, for reasons that are partly about their weaknesses and partly about the restraint and patience preached and practiced by George Kennan and other liberals in the American foreign policy establishment.  (Yes, there are some).

In fact, we all won the Cold War, because good ideas, like the Western mixed economies, were allowed to flourish and prove themselves to bad ideas, like the Eastern command economies.

Hopefully, one day in this country, ideas will once again flourish at the expense of dollars.  Because, right now, we have a capitalist command economy--one that is doomed to collapse, and will collapse faster if we have an all-Republican government next year.


If you're talking about Big Government and its sundry tentacles, the evidence is not in your favor.

On the other hand, if you're talking about Big Business and its cronies in Congress holding down the consumer class--i.e., the real "job-creators"--well, then, I think you've got something.

God Loves Immigrants

After all, His Word commands us to welcome the stranger and sojourners in our midst.  So, I guess it's not so surprising that God's people do as well.  Here's some of that love from a seemingly unlikely branch of His (or Her, or It, or Them) people.

They, of course, would say "His."  But I don't care.  On this issue, as in other cases, I couldn't agree with them more.

I'm Back, and Paterno's Gone

I'm back, that is, from the LHAT convention, about which I hope to say more later.  And Paterno's not only gone from this mortal coil, but his statutory presence has been banned from the campus of Penn State.

Regarding the latter, there seem to be two schools of thought:  one, that the statue should have stayed because the good in Paterno's life outweighed the bad, and two, that the statue needed to be removed because it had become a source of division on campus and was otherwise a distraction from the university's institutional need to repent, reform, compensate and otherwise move on.

I always think that there's a third alternative.  At least.  And, at least for me, that's the case here.

Removing the statue strikes me as a form of Orwellian re-writing of history.  Good and bad, Paterno is part of the university's history.  The making and installation of the statue reflects that fact, and taking it down does not change it.  I can understand their concern about vandalism, but I'm not sure even that justifies taking the statue down.  Do we want to dismantle every historic structure because its associations are controversial?  Do we not do a disservice to history, and ourselves in the process, by doing so?  Besides, the statue is huge.  Any vandal capable of harming it would be noticed and stopped long before he or she got to it.

Let me be clear, however:  I am NOT in favor of doing nothing.  Paterno was complicit in the covering up of the child abuse sins that occurred on his watch.  No one should forget that.

And that is why I was (and am) in favor of leaving the statue where it was, with one small change.  Opposite it should have been placed a statue of a small boy, staring at Paterno with astonishment and heartbreak.  And, at the base of the new statute, the following quote, in letter too large to ignore:


That about covers it.  Context is everything when it comes to history.  History doesn't change, but, as in this case, the context in which we understand it has.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

It's Always Foolish To Look Ahead On Recriminations

With the Supreme Court's endorsement of Obamacare, and the poll numbers up for both Obama and Obamacare looking up, it's a good thing no one's speculated about how health care reform made Obama a one-term President.



I'll be taking off next week for the League of Historic American Theatres' annual conference.  See you when I get back;-)!

Can Obama Just Run Against Bush Again?

Damn right he can, especially if Weigel thinks so.

Wait a second.  He already is!

Douthat's Wrong About CIR

Actually, he's wrong about a great many things.  But this in particular.  Let me refute his major points.

First, the Hispanic population in the United States (documented and otherwise) is already growing fast enough to have shifted the political balance of power in a number of red-to-purple states, such as California, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, and even Arizona.  Sorry, Ross, but the GOP doesn't have the luxury of waiting four decades before it surrenders its absolute allegiance to the Anglo vote.  A new generation is coming of age, and that generation is already operating the levers of power (and registering new voters all the time).

Second, yes, of course, Hispanics are people (glad you noticed!) and hence not single-issue voters.  African-Americans are people too, but they've been "demonized" into the Democratic Party by white Republican politics that pushed the race button over and over again.  This is why the Hispanic vote is trending Democratic; Hispanics being people, they recognize demonization when they see it.  And Democrats, frankly, have a broader range of social-issue positions among their leaders than Republicans do.  At least they're not reading people out of the party over their positions on abortion.

Third, virtually all of the so-called anti-immigrant sentiment in the Democratic Party comes from labor unions.  Guess what?  Your success in neutralizing them just makes it easier for the Democrats to recruit immigrant voters through the passage of CIR.

Finally, CIR is both more necessary and preferable to piecemeal legislation (e.g., the DREAM Act or the recapturing of unused visa numbers) because it is fundamentally unfair and, in any case, impossible to ignore the presence of 12 million or more undocumented human beings in our midst.  The vast majority of them entered lawfully, and remained unlawfully in no small measure because of a system that was designed for an economy that no longer exists, one in which the vast majority of people grow up, work and grow old in the country in which they are born. 

We have a global economy, but only as it relates to money, which moves around the world at the speed of light.  People, on the other hand, move around the world at the speed of sludge.  If anything, we need not only CIR but a global treaty in which as many nations as possible joined together to share the burdens and benefits of true international mobility.  We absolute do NOT need a United States in which individual states (are you listening, Jan Brewer and your friends in Georgia and Alabama?) practice bigotry and economic suicide in the name of exercising sovereign powers they do not have.

I get it, Ross.  You and your Reagan-era friends want to go back to a Borax-colored world of happy white people, one in which everyone else knows his or her "place."  Well, America is there place.  And they're staying.  And they're voting.  And they're NOT voting for you.

I Admit It, The Internet Had Me Fooled

I once thought that it would be a tremendous tool for connecting people in ways that would change the world around us.  Little did I realize that, little by little, it has not only become a world unto itself, but one in which we can create our own worlds.  This gives a frightening perspective on how far this could go.

Is Devaluation The Right Sort of Austerity?

One author thinks so.  One obvious advantage:  it would take politicians out of the process of picking winners and losers in the austerity game.  Currency devaluation would effectively gore everyone's ox at once.  Who knows?  It might be the reminder we all need that we're all in this together.

And The First Crack In The Norquist Iceberg Is ...

... Lindsey Graham, who is hopefully learning to channel his inner moderate.  Or, at least, get back to an era in which politicians worked together as hard as they campaign against each other.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How Can We Fix The Constitution?

Some interesting ideas.  What do you think?  I like the idea of changing the rules for running Congress prospectively, so that current Congresses can stop gaming their own system.

And Even If Obama Had Lost The ACA Battle ...

he, and America, would still have won.

Even When Rick Perry's Memory Works ...

... he still can't help blowing it.  This is why, no matter how things look right now, joining the GOP is joining the losing side.  Because, as Perry's idiotic decision to fight Obamacare (presumably with a pair of monogrammed six-shooters) shows, to fight big government is simply to hasten its rise.

Monday, July 9, 2012

E. J. Dionne Is Right

Government is the solution.   Not just because of its track record, but because government is us.  It always is.  It was in the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries, when their peoples finally chose their dreams over their fears, and overthrew a system that lived for itself.

That can be us too.  All we have to do is see it, believe it, and act on it.  I'd like to think that we're somewhere in Phase 2 of that formulation.  We'd better get to Phase 3 fast, before President Romney deposits our future in the Caymans.

I've Said It Before, And Mitch Feierstein Is Happy To Say It Again

The morality of capitalism is the morality of failure; take that away, and you have neither capitalism nor morality.

There He Goes Again!

No, it's not Jimmy Carter.  It's Jeb Bush, sounding more like a Democrat all the time.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Number John Roberts Had In Mind

44.  No, not Obama's place in the Presidential pantheon.  It's the approval rating of his own Court.  As I said earlier, Roberts is a canny operator.  Anyone who says that this had nothing to do with the ACA decision is not paying attention to reality.

The Real Lesson Of Wisconsin

It's not that we're outnumbered by the Right; it's that we don't pull together and make the most of our numbers.  As well as the fact that we think slow progress isn't real progress.  It's all laid out here, in greater detail.

The question is, will we heed this advice?  Or will we just go on shooting ourselves in the foot?  The future of America and perhaps civilization itself depends on us giving a "Yes" answer to the right question.

On The Other Hand, Mother Nature May Not Need Our Help

If global warming can produce its own new forests, it may prove that the planet is smarter than the rest of us.

Or maybe not.

"Get Over It," George?

George Will's assessment of record-breaking, killer weather that has literally killed dozens of people?  "It's summer ... Get over it."

And with that, Will declares himself free from any sort of seriousness.  Makes you think that he would assess the rise of neo-Nazism in Europe by saying it's just "Springtime for Hitler."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

When You Offend Someone Like This ...

... you've really gone too far.  David Zurawik writes for my hometown newspaper and, as the mostly measured tone of this piece shows, he's not given to quick or extreme judgments.  That he reaches the conclusion he reaches is not at all his fault; it's the fault of a network that engages in comic-book journalism under the guise of giving the far right "a fair shake," in Britt Hume's over-used formulation.

I'd love to give Hume and his "network" a shake.  And I wouldn't worry about whether or not it was "fair."  But I'd let the rest of you decide, of course.

I Guess There's Some Limit On Lying, After All

At lease Virginia's governor thinks so, on the subject of Obama and the economy.  Obama should re-run this over and over again over the next four months, especially if McDonnell's on the ticket, which is a very strong possibility (in spite of this going off-script here).

And I'm SO Grateful That They're Not All North Carolina ...

... where, if you're a real estate developer, you can now ignore the shrinking coastline, and the government will back you up to the hilt.

It's hard to have a debate with people whose response to every fact is to stick their fingers in their ears and scream "I'M NOT LISTENING!" over and over again.  Even when we are part of the same country.  One wonders if it wouldn't be better for the sane states to just go their own way.

I Wish They All Could Be California ...

... all fifty states, that is, when it comes to immigration.  Take a look at a rational approach to an issue that, as a nation, we can only discuss in the most irrational terms.

Somehow, I Doubt It Would Have Happened If He'd Been Canadian

Even being a war hero didn't save him.  This isn't about enforcing the law.  This is old-fashioned racism masquerading as law enforcement.  That someone like Arpaio is still on the job is enough to make you wonder if Arizona should just be kicked out of the Union.  Not even the Grand Canyon is worth the life of a hero.

A Picture Truly Can Speak A Thousand Words

Here are 40 that do so, and then some.

Why Would Any Parent Belong To The Catholic Church?

More and more, it just seems like institutionalized child abuse.  Just ask one of its newest cardinals.  But don't expect an honest answer.

Did A Conservative Chief Justice Give Liberals A Victory?

I'm talking about the Obamacare decision, of course.  And, frankly, I wouldn't counsel liberals to think that John Roberts is your new best friend.

Yes, you can be pleased with the outcome:  the ACA was, for the most part, saved.  But it was saved by a Chief Justice who made a political calculation that, as much as he wanted to line up with the four dissenters (shame on you, Anthony Kennedy!) and take out not only health care reform but the Commerce Clause itself, this was the wrong case with which to do it.  Too much visibility, too much public contentiousness, too close to a national election that itself is too close to call.  No, if you're going to amend the Constitution from the bench, as Scalia did in Heller, you've got to do it when the attention of most people is diverted elsewhere.

So Roberts, a canny political operator, made a canny political decision, and allowed most of the ACA to survive based upon Congress' power to tax.  By doing so, he hands Romney a rhetorical weapon ("It's a tax increase!") in the guise of bipartisanship, and sends a very strong signal that, if the right case comes along, he will join his brethren on the far right and take the Commerce Clause back to the nineteenth century.

Which is just one more example of why this election is so critical, and why Obama MUST win it.  Two members of the Gang of Four that opposed Obamacare--Scalia and Kennedy--are likely to retire in the next four years.  An Obama victory, especially combined with a Senate that remains in Democratic hands, could safeguard constitutional law in the United States for years to come.  Can you imagine what a Romney victory would do instead?

Yes, enjoy the survival of Obamacare.  But fight like hell for a government in which reform is the rule, not an inadvertent act of charity from a Chief Justice with an agenda in which you have no real place.