Sunday, July 27, 2014

We Need More Journalists Like This One

Once, journalism in this country was full of people who didn't give a damn about anything except the truth, and the need to tell it.  Not any more.  Which is why we can ill afford to lose people like Michael Hastings, who, even in death, is reminding us of things that many of us--including some in power--would like to forget.  RIP, sir.  And may you example inspire thousands more to report the news as you did.

Not EVERY Republican Hates Obama's New Climate Rules

Here's one that doesn't.  In Indiana, nobody's idea of a bleeding heart state, no less.

Oh, From Your Mouth To God's Ears!

Bush on trial for war crimes?  At least one person from his own Administration thinks that it could happen.  If international law means anything, it should.

Back When Republicans Could Be Sensible ...

... there were more men like this.  RIP, Senator Goodman.

The Harder You Push The Pendulum Back ...

... the harder it swings in the other direction.  The inhibited 1950s gave way to the wide-open 1960s.  Now, slowly but surely, the Republican Empire of this century's first decade is crumbling, thanks to its own persistent refusal to bend even a millimeter.  Good work, GOP.

Here's An Example Of A State Making An Adult Fiscal Decision

Maryland, the state that is doing what it takes to fix its roads and bridges, and provide public transportation.  My home state.  Bravo!

Legalized Gambling: A Fiscal Road To Nowhere

It's hard for me to admit this, as a near-lifelong resident of the East Coast, but until a month or so ago, when I was shooting a Web series, I had never visited Atlantic City.  I had, of course, read about its decline from its glory days in the early 20th century, and about its supposed revitalization by casino gambling.  I've seen advertisements promoting casinos, and bus trips to the casinos, and heard stories from friends and relatives about the casinos.  So I fell into the trap of thinking that it must all be true--casinos have been a great thing for Atlantic City, and would obviously be equally great everywhere (including Maryland, where several casinos have already opened, with a new one about to open in downtown Baltimore).  After all, apart from the casino stories, most of what I knew about Atlantic City came from the board game "Monopoly," which uses the names of AC streets for its board spaces.

Well, all I can say from having been there is that you could color me unimpressed.  The casinos themselves were gaudy and massive without otherwise being exciting, or even modestly inventive.  And they appeared to be anything but crowded, if the level of street traffic was any indication.  And keep in mind that this was on an early summer weekend, a time where people's thoughts ordinarily turn toward recreation.  Not a whole lot of recreating was going on.  And, from what I could see of the city apart from the casinos, nobody was going to go there to recreate for any reason whatsoever.  After a while, I found myself longing for a chance to pass "Go" and collect $200; that would have been more fun than anything else I saw.

Which is why this did not strike me as a surprise.  It probably wouldn't have surprised me in any case because, in an economic slump like the one from which we have been slowly emerging, entertainment spending is the first budget item most households cut.  You can't live without food, clothes, shelter and transportation but, when it comes to leisure time, there are always ways to economize.  It's probably safe to say that the people who have kept AC's casinos afloat have been the professional gamblers and the addicts--the latter, of course, being the people who shouldn't be there at all.

That vulnerability to economic hard times, combined with the over-expansion of gambling by state and local governments in the wake of AC's initial successes, is why governments need to end their own fiscal addiction to gaming revenues as a cowardly cop-out from what they should be doing--making grown-up decisions about taxes and spending.  Even when the current recovery reaches its peak, the gaming money isn't going to be the Mississippi River of income most politicians have up until now thought that it would be.  There are simply too many gaming venues, both physical and online.  And the severity of the past downtown is going to encourage a lot of folks to be more cautious about non-essential spending.

I loved it when then-Governor Robert Ehrlich of Maryland described casino gambling for the state as a "no-brainer."  Leaving aside the fact he's well-qualified to make no-brainer decisions, it takes no brains to see casinos as an alternative to making hard choices--just as it takes no brains to fail to see the fiscal fallacy in that thinking.  It is past time for politicians everywhere to level with their citizens and tell them the truth:  legalized gambling isn't a pot of public gold.  It's a source of public vice that still leaves us begging the question of how to pay our bills.

As for Atlantic City, I wish it the best of luck.  Maybe they should bring in Parker Brothers and work with them to create a "Monopolyland" theme park.  That way, maybe, just maybe, someone besides the house would have a chance to win.

An Eye For An Eye In The Holy Land

In the interests of both full disclosure and clarity, I need to preface this post with a few qualifications.  Long before I had the good fortune to marry my wife (who is Jewish, as are my stepchildren), I was and still am an unqualified supporter of Israel's right to exist and to defend both its existence and the lives of its people.  I recognize the obvious truths about Israel's Arab neighbors, especially the Palestinians within its border:  they do not share my view, and have sought for decades to destroy Israel and Israelis by any and all means.  I do not believe there is any cure for the hostility that most Arabs feel for their brothers and sisters in Abraham.

But that does not change one simple truth stated years ago by Gandhi:  an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.  That is the more true when one is fighting a war in which the other side defines martyrdom as victory.  And a successful war strategy cannot depend on creating as many martyrs as possible.

The current level of conflict has come about for two reasons:  Israel's current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, does not want a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Palestinian people have elected terrorists to represent their political interests.  As long as either of those reasons continues to exist, there will be no end to the current level of violence; as long as both of them exist, the violence will continue to escalate--and, given the centrality of Israeli-Palestinian interests to governments around the world, no one can safely predict where it will stop.

Netanyahu, like most conservative Israeli politicians, believes that he can solve the problem by escalating the violence of Israeli responses to Palestinian attacks to the point at which no Palestinian terrorist is safe.  This is worse than madness; this is literally suicide.  Even if the Israeli armed forces could systematically kill every member of Hamas, or similar groups, it would only have the effect of expanding the violence beyond Israel's borders.  Every Muslim willing to die for his or her faith would have been handed a excuse for doing so--regardless of where they are on the planet.  This would not simply endanger Jews all around the planet, although it would certainly do that.  It could endanger everyone on the planet, if one or more terrorists gains the use of a nuclear device.

Neither Netanyahu nor the Israelis would have to worry about any of this, however, if the Palestinian people would stop putting their futures, and the futures of their children, in the hands of terrorist organizations.  As long as they continue to elect leaders who are content to conduct politics by weaponizing their own people, and cannot see that they are helping to perpetuate a nightmare with no end, they will have no help from outside their borders--perhaps not even from their fellow Arab nations, who could offer much in the way of practical help but systematically refuse to do so.

There seems to be little that outsiders can do to help, except offer to mediate, which the United States has tried to do over and over again.  We should, of course, continue to do so.  But our commitment to helping in this regard has to be conditioned on two principles:  acceptance of a two-state solution, and a commitment to ending terrorism that is enforceable, even if that means that renewed suicide bombing would give the Israeli government--and, perhaps, ours as well--the right to re-occupy and police the Palestinian territories.

Until all of this is in place, however, it will continue to be an eye for an eye.  Let's hope and pray that the world is not blinded in the process.

This Should Be A Part Of The Constitution

But, in the meantime, this will have to do.  Congratulations, Alan Grayson, for helping to enact a federal shield law for journalists.  And one more reason why we need you, sir.

Why The Border Crisis Is Not A Financial One

Because a public-defender system for deportations would pay for itself.  Take a look.

Bigotry Always Needs A Cloak

It can never work on its own.  Its cowardly, essentially evil nature always requires it to wear a mask.  Sometimes, as in the case of the religious right, the cloak or mask is an obsession with fetuses--an obsession that dies if when they become babies.

Especially black babies.

Rebuild By Rebulding

Detroit appears to be ready to do what we always do with our architectural past:  tear it down.  Far better to rebuild--better for saving history, money and the planet.  And one unasked (and therefore unanswered) question:  why does the blight exist?  And should the people responsible be rewarded for it?

Do Background Checks Work?

Yes, they do.  Now let's require them across the board.

"Supporting The Troops" By Denying Them Mental Health Care

That's the Republican way.

Campaign Finance Reform Versus Redistricting Reform?

To me, it's not a choice.  I'm very much in favor of both.  But this article from Slate makes a convincing argument for favoring the latter over the former.  I encourage you to read it, as I agree (for the most part) with the argument that it makes.  I would just add three additional arguments in favor of the thesis it advances, and emphasize one of its major points.

First, because the substantial damage to campaign finance reform has come by way of decisions from the Supreme Court, the damage can only be undone by amending the Constitution to permit the reinstatement and even expansion of the provisions that have been overruled.  Amending the Constitution, to put it mildly, is no easy task.  In the 224 years since the ratification of the Constitution, it has only been successfully amended 27 times.  Amendments must be approved by supermajorities at the national and state level, and in a country as fractious as ours, supermajorities are few and far between.  In contemporary America, a country that cannot even come together on the issue of child refugees, they are all but non-existent.  For this reason, any forward movement on this issue will have to travel a long road, with much patience being required of those who travel it.  As the Slate article shows, redistricting reform can be accomplished far more easily at the state level, as was the case in Florida.

Second, even though most progressives are reluctant to admit this, the truth is that we have our deep pockets as well--and those pockets cancel out much of the influence of the Koch brothers of the world.  It's worth noting, even though the mainstream media has largely ignored it, that the IRS flagged as many applications (if not more) from progressive groups as it did from conservative groups seeking tax protection in the aftermath of Citizens United.  We shouldn't be ashamed of this:  it simply reflects our success in the marketplace of ideas.  Liberals have money because liberalism sells.  And we shouldn't be ashamed or afraid to show conservatives that we can beat them on any playing field they choose.

Third, and related to my second point, liberalism's popularity in this county is due in no small part to the fact that it takes a more flexible, more local, more practical and less ideological approach to addressing the needs of Americans.  This is why, contrary to almost every piece of right-wing rhetoric you've probably ever heard,
the Democratic Party has never been a mirror-image of progressive parties in Europe.  And this is probably why, in 2012, Democratic candidates outpolled their Republican counterparts by a million votes.  The simple fact of the matter is that the current House Republican majority is not a natural majority--it is a gerrymandered one.  Take away the gerrymandering, and allow Democratic House candidates to continue tailoring their messages to their communities, and you may never see a House Republican Majority again.

Finally, as even the article concedes, this effort must be joined at the hip with Congressional action to fix the Voting Rights Act, which has also been damaged by the Supreme Court.  And that effort must also be joined by a greater effort by the Democratic Party to recruit minority candidates.  These things must be done to address the concerns of African-Americans who seek gerrymandering as the path to political power, through the creation of "majority-minority" districts.  They may lead to the election of minority officials, but they also dilute the power of the minority vote to join with other voters and elect officials who can set a progressive agenda for all Americans.

So read the article, and consider my additional thoughts.  And then, get out their and work as hard for redistricting reform as you do for progressive candidates.  Achieving the one is the key to electing more of the other.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Is A "Frontier Nation" Afraid Of The Final Frontier?

Today is the 45th anniversary of what ought to be regarded as this nation's greatest and proudest achievement--the landing of men on the Moon.  An accomplishment that for centuries had been the object of of dreams and fantasy had become real.  As a species, we were no longer irrevocably bound to the Earth.  We had, along with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, taken the first steps toward conquering space and making it truly our home.

Sadly, you won't find much recognition of the anniversary, or its cosmic significance, in today's media.  And that shouldn't be surprising, either.  As a species, we have all taken many giant steps back from the days of the Apollo missions.  This is certainly not because we've lost our technical edge:  the digital communications revolution that connects all of us testifies to the contrary.  Nor is it because we've lost interest in space, as the International Space Station, the Hubble telescope and the Martian rovers all demonstrate.

What we've lost is the desire, or perhaps the need, to be there.  And I think there are two causes for this.

The first is the end of the Cold War, which had originally provided the national drive to reach the moon before the Russians did.  They had effectively beaten us in the satellite race with Sputnik, and no one wanted to consider the possibility that they might reach the Moon first--and use that accomplishment as a propaganda tool to expand their sphere of control beyond the Warsaw Pact nations.  John F. Kennedy grasped, before anyone else did, the idea that the "space race" could be a way of linking America's frontier past with the need to "get America moving."   Thus, he established the national goal of reaching the Moon within a decade--and thus, the words "New Frontier" came to define his all-too-brief Administration.

The second is the Challenger tragedy, and the loss of six brave and accomplished lives--including the life of Christa McAuliffe, a schoolteacher who was to become the nation's first civilian astronaut, and instead became its first civilian tragedy.  It was a reminder that frontiers, however romantically we define them, are dangerous places, guaranteeing neither comfort nor safety.  In a sense, the reaction to the Challenger tragedy illustrates the difference between Kennedy's America and Reagan's America--and our sad transition from a nation that embraced adventure to a nation desperate to be cocooned at all costs.  Space and the effort to reach it, as it turns out, could be terrifying.  Who wants any part of it?  Better to stay on Earth and follow the ups and downs of the stock market rather than the movements of the heavens.

But it isn't better.  And it isn't the way we're wired.  Humans need to explore, to ask questions, and to find the answers even at great cost.  This is how we've grown and matured as a species.  Many of the technical innovations we take for granted, like personal computers, may not have been created without the space program as a spur to research and development.  And simple economics has always demanded a search for new resources:  the Moon, Mars and the asteroids are resources waiting to be discovered and exploited (hopefully, with more sanity than our treatment of the Earth).

Equally important is the need to recognize that we do not live in a world of perfect safety.  We can't prevent all of life's tragedies by running away from all possible sources of danger.  We can, however, live our lives in such a way that expands our knowledge and understanding of life and the universe.  Even if that means confronting danger, it may be a danger that needs to be confronted in any case--and, by confronting it, the world may become safer in the process.

That is why I'm with this authorPer somnia et ardua ad astra.  We need to get out of our cocoons.  We need to understand once again that adventure, and even danger, are a necessary part of living, as opposed to just existing.  And we need to take aim with all that we have, once again, at what Gene Roddenberry memorably described as "the final frontier."  Actually, as one of Roddenberry's writers for "Star Trek," David Gerrold once put it:  "The final frontier is not space.  The final frontier is the human soul.  Space is merely the place where we will meet the challenge.

I hope that, in my lifetime, we will find a way to meet it again.  Not half-way.  Not for a decade.  But, to borrow a phrase, to infinity and beyond.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Equal Rights Must NEVER Go Away

And the same is true of the Equal Rights Amendment.  Three more states.  One day, and may it be soon, it will happen.

The Next Time You Run Into A Creationist ...

... it will help you a great deal if you've read this first.

Space Cities?

Not in my lifetime, perhaps, but hopefully an inevitability, if we can look at the challenges that face us and find a way to replace fear with hope.  This gives me hope.

One More Gubernatorial Crack In The GOP Dam Against Obamacare

And it's in Indiana.  Fifty states is only a matter of time.

Yet Another Illustration Of The Law Of Unintended Consequences

Satanic prayer at public meetings?  Well, why not?  It might not have the "calming effect" predicted by Justice Kennedy in the Town of Greece case.  But how will we ever know, unless we try?

This Doesn't Say Anything About Climate Change That I Haven't Said Before, BUT ...

... it's worth repeating again and again, until we finally admit that the "hoax" is real and that our future depends on doing something about it.  The article's comments about the damage to Australia and the Great Barrier Reef are tragically ironic in the wake of this week's news that the conservative government of Australia has repealed the nation's carbon tax.  Shame on them.

"Rope-A-Dope" At The Border?

Recent headlines suggest that Congress will be of no help to President Obama when it comes to solving the current humanitarian crisis at our southern border.  Democrats object to his request for changes in law that would permit faster deportation of the thousands of Central American children fleeing American-made violence in their home countries.  Republicans, on the other hand, see political gold in the President's request for supplemental funding to give these children the level of due process currently required under the law, and want to use that request to extract concessions for additional enforcement.  As a consequence of this so-what-else-is-new division, John Boehner is on the record as lacking "optimism" about Congress' ability to grant the President's request.

And I suspect that no one is likely to be happier about that fact than Barack Obama.  I'll explain why.

For months, and especially since the death of legislative attempts at comprehensive immigration reform, we've been treated to a series of media accounts and opinion pieces about the President's executive power to ease the problems of the undocumented.  Some of this speculation has emerged from Obama's own lips, as well as statements made by members of his Administration.  Much of it, however, has come from the chattering classes on both sides of the ideological divide.  But almost all of it seemingly came to a halt with the first headlines, photos and videos of child refugees facing guns and threats from some of the more outspoken members of this "Christian" nation.

I suspect, however, that, in Obama's mind, the possibility of administrative action wasn't so much halted as paused.  He has known for a long time that Boehner and the Tea Partiers would rather damage their own country than do anything for an African-American President that might even look like a favor.  Likewise, he has been under tremendous pressure from his own party and from immigration advocates to slow down the record-setting pace on deportation he had been maintaining solely in a no-win effort to draw Republicans into a legislative consensus on immigration reform.

Which is why I think there is a two-fold purpose in the President's supplemental request.  First, he is effectively giving Congress one last, highly visible chance to act in a sensible way about a serious immigration-related problem, knowing that they will kick it to the curb.  And second, he will then pivot, turn this failure into election-year campaign fodder against a "do-nothing" Congress--and then announce a major program of administrative relief that will include some form of temporary protective status for the refugee children.  He will have effectively "rope-a-doped" the Republicans, and made Congressional Democrats and the people who will vote for them in November very happy.

The media perception, at this point, seems to be that Obama is the one in a tough spot.  I couldn't disagree more.  It's the Republicans who have to decide whether the militia-types facing down unarmed children with semiautomatics are going to be the face of their party this fall.  I have a feeling they're going to make the wrong decision--and that, ultimately, they will be the only ones harmed by it.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Tribute To J. Frank Cashen

It's rare enough to have a rooting interest in two baseball teams, as I do, especially when those two teams were matched in a memorable World Series in 1969.  It's even rarer still that one man could have a major hand in changing the fortunes of both teams.

Then again, Frank Cashen was, especially in this day and age, a very rare kind of man.  A Renaissance man in an age of specialists, a man who built success one brick at a time in an age of instant gratification, and a Baltimore boy who had the courage to face down the lions in New York and became king in the asphalt jungle of Big Apple baseball.

I started following the Orioles around 1964, at the age of 8, one year before Cashen became the team's executive vice president, and two years before they began a dominance of the major leagues that lasted well into the early 1970s.  He engineered what was arguably the single most important trade in the team's history--getting Frank Robinson from the Cincinnati Reds--and hired Earl Weaver, who merely became one of the most successful managers in history.  He drew on his experience in law, journalism and business and added to that a knowledge of baseball that proved to be crucial to the Orioles four pennants and two World Championships, and that ultimately earned him the reputation of being one of the last true general managers in baseball--one who knew enough about everything to be able to make the final decisions the right ones.

Later, after college, I started working at a civil-service job in New York City--in Queens, to be exact, seven short subway stops from Shea Stadium.  Since my rooting interest in the Orioles precluded rooting for the Yankees, I adopted the Mets as "my" team for my new home town.  And, not long after than, the Mets were sold for the first time in their history--and the new owners promptly hired Frank Cashen to resurrect the by-then less-than-miraculous Mets.  In a way, it helped make me feel right at home, known that a fellow Baltimorean was trying to make it in the Big Apple.

And it helped that much more that, like me, Cashen wanted to succeed on his own terms, rather than being led by the short-term passions of the fans or the press.  He had owners who were willing to spend big, even to the point of getting into a bidding war with the Yankees for Dave Winfield.  But Cashen believed very strongly that winning teams were build from within, and not by participating in what he once referred to as an "auction of mediocrity."  He knew that would take time, and he knew that it would not win him any short-term popularity contests.  Despite that--and despite media coverage that was often vicious to the point of injustice--he never deviated from what he had learned through his experience in Baltimore.

I read all three major New York papers (as well as Newsday) every day, getting upset and angry each time I read the sniping comments about bow ties, crab cakes, and any other Baltimore references the so-called sophisticated Big Apple columnists could throw by way of insult at Cashen and his allegedly cautious, small-town approach.  What did any of them know about running a team?  Cashen, by contrast, had already accomplished everything they had accomplished during his days with the old Baltimore News-American--and presided over two World Championships with the Orioles, or twice as many as the Mets had won by that point.  As a fellow native of Charm City, I felt bad for Cashen, but admired the fact that, publicly at least, he never let the insults bother him.

And, in the end, he didn't let them stop him from proving that his way was the way that worked, as anyone who watched the 1986 World Series knows.

Thanks, Frank, for showing that what works in Baltimore can work anywhere, even in the worlds' toughest market for sports (as well as everything else).  I ultimately left civil service and the Big Apple to find success elsewhere, but I will never forget the lift you gave to my spirits, twice in my lifetime.  As a Mets and Orioles fan, both of my rooting interests will always appreciate you more that I can ever say, here or elsewhere.  I never met you, but perhaps we'll meet on the flip side.

In spring training, of course.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Did Reagan Kill Entrepreneurialism?

Sorry, Peggy Noonan, but yes, he did.  This article explains why in less time than a chapter in one of your remaindered books.

A New Source Of Energy AND Funds For Highways

What do we do about this?

We solve it with this, with installation and maintenance handled by private companies, and a surtax on their profits.  What are we waiting for?

A HIgh-Speed Train From China To The U.S.?

It could happen.  This would revolutionize world trade and politics even more than the European discovery of the Western Hemisphere.  It would certainly show how high-speed rail can expand on the connectivity the Internet has created.

Let Capitalists Truly BE Capitalists

And end senseless state subsidies.  Right now.

And then I won't be tempted to talk about the hypocrisies of the Rick Perrys of the world.

Preach It, Pat!

You're still a plutocratic demagogue, but I definitely agree with this.

Who Cares What Percertage Of Journalists Are Republicans?

Or Democrats, for that matter.  This writer does.  But it shouldn't matter, and it wouldn't matter, if journalism just got back to what it was supposed to be (and actually was) for a long time:  an unbiased search for the facts.  We've descended into an anti-intellectual vortex because it's easier to believe in lies than it is to thin about the truth. 

If we can climb out, and go back to reporting the truth without fear or favor, it will do much more for this country than any attempt to "balance" the press with an even number of Republicans and Democrats.  That effort, to the extent that it exists, is just an extension of the view that politics is just a partisan ball game.  It's not.  It's working for the people and getting business done on their behalf.  Both reporters and elected officials need to stop worrying about who's up and who's down and get back to working they way they used to, before movement conservatism and money destroyed both professions.

Suffer The Little Children To Go On Suffering

Just over twelve months ago, the U.S. Senate passed a historic, bipartisan compromise bill that would, if passed by the House and signed by President Obama, enact comprehensive immigration reform, reform of the sort that has been sadly needed for decades.  And, soon thereafter, the House, determined not to do anyone any favors except for the party that controls it, began its pass-dribble, pass-dribble approach to the issue of immigration, in a two-pronged effort to take control of both houses of Congress by discouraging the Democratic proponents of reform, while firing up the conservative opponents of it.  Sadly, it worked.  The Senate bill will never be taken up now by the House, whose "Speaker" has made it clear that the issue of immigration reform is dead for this year.

It would be bad enough if the state of immigration in this country was no worse than the mere death of reform efforts.  Unfortunately, it's much worse than that.  Now, even children running for their lives to a place of supposed safety are not immune from our dysfunctional political system.  Now, even those children can be viewed by America's plutocrats, and the red-state idiots who love them, as "lucky duckies."

For decades, we have supported and armed governments in Central America that routinely torture and execute their own citizens.  We have allowed any number of illegal arms to flow into the countries controlled by these government, turning them into shooting galleries.  And those two reasons--not DACA, not the provisional waiver program, and not the increasingly remote prospect of immigration reform--are the only reasons that we have thousands of child refugees from those nations at our borders.

These are not competitors for American workers.  They are not, in most cases, guilty of criminal or even violent conduct.  They could, in perhaps the majority of cases, be eligible for asylum--and should, in any case, be given the opportunity to make their case heard before the Customs and Border Patrol puts them back into harm's way.  So what is our supposedly "pro-life," nation doing?  How is it responding to this opportunity to put our pro-child money--and action--where our mouths are?

With blockades.  With screams on the Internet, cable and social media to "send 'em back," to "stop the invasion," to say "enough is enough."  Enough of what, exactly?  Compassion?  Humanity?  Decency?  For that matter, Christianity?  Unlike Jesus, we do not suffer the little children to come to us.  Rather, we proclaim their "right" to be sent back to their suffering.  America may be a "Christian" nation, but it's certainly not one that Jesus would recognize.

And what of our "pro-immigration" President?  Is he demanding resources to give even a smidgen of due process to these would-be immigrants?  Are you kidding?  Even as he announces that now, he's going to get really, really serious about administrative action, he's demanding changes in the law that would make it easier to put these child back in the line of fire.

I repeat:  these children are looking for safety.  And the United States, with the reputation of being the richest, most compassionate nation on Earth, is turning its back on them.  Actually viewing them as a threat to its very existence.

Better that these child should incorporate.  Then we would welcome them with open arms.  Except that I would tell them to go to the Cayman Islands.  You deserve better than what the United States has become.

From A Nation Of Suckers To A Nation Of Bullies?

So now, in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court has clarified the landscape of contemporary America.  Corporations, originally just a fictitious legal "person" created for purposes of containing liability, are now supernatural entities with the traditional protections of corporations, but also with the rights of individuals to buy elections (remember, per Justice Roberts, it isn't a bribe if you spend it before Election Day) and the rights of individuals to inflict as much religion on the public as you can get away with, especially if you can do so with a "captive audience" such as your employees.  And women?  They don't even have the right to control their own health decisions.  They don't even have the right to a "buffer zone" to help them implement those decisions--even though the Court itself feels the need to grant one for itself.

This demonstrates that the Court, despite having three female members, possesses an institutional terror of women.  And how have they responded?  With a series of decisions that have the practical effect of advancing institutional power over individual power.  Contrary to the ridiculous rhetoric from the right celebrating the Hobby Lobby decision as a victory for religious freedom, nothing could be further from the truth.  Hobby Lobby takes all of us further down the slippery slope that leads us, at its bottom to a nation where for-profit and non-profit Corporate America controls all of America.  And at that bottom, "limited" government is very limited indeed--to serving as a weapon that Corporate America can use against all of us.

How did we get here?  Putting it simply, by believing the conservative lies about their advocacy of "limited government.  By translating that belief into thirty years of voting for the GOP's vision of "limited government," despite massive and obvious evidence that this vision has always been a fraud.  By doing so not as a matter of principle, but as a matter of convenience--because, as history teaches us (if we're willing to learn), it is easier for humans to believe than it is to think.  This is why, as I have written previously, we have traditionally been a nation of suckers.  Unfortunately, if a nation is dominated long enough by suckers, it allows the bullies to move in, set up shop, and eventually take over completely.

And turn that nation into a nation of bullies.  Which, sadly is what we are today.

Perhaps you are sitting around on this holiday weekend consoling yourself with the thought that "surely, this can't get worse."  Or, worse, the thought that "well, it doesn't directly affect me, so why should I worry about it?"  Or, worse still, ultimately shrug and say "what can I do?"

Here are your answer:  Yes, it can get worse, unless you do something about it because, if you don't, it will affect you.  Corporate America isn't interested in your freedom.  It doesn't see you as a person.  It certainly doesn't see you as having any rights.  It sees you as existing only for it.  We, the People, have managed to do something that, according to philosophers, God is unable to do--build a boulder bigger than ourselves.  And that boulder is Corporate America.

Keeping the U.S. Senate out of Republican hands has never been more important than it is now.  And it is far more possible to accomplish this than the polls and the current punditry might indicate.  There is an outrage level about Hobby Lobby on the left that equals and may even exceed the right-wing anger over Roe v. Wade.  Even religious voices are denouncing the decision, as well they should, since religion traditionally has found its strongest home in the individual consciousness now threatened.  I have never been more confident that this outrage is going to translate into organizing and voting in November.  Especially considering the current lack of public confidence in the Court.

Don't be the person they come for when there is no one to stand for you.  Stand for others first.  Organize and vote with progressives, even if you are not one.  There is no safety for you in the world the Supreme Court is creating.  A nation of bullies is a nation that always seeks new victims--even those who consider themselves allies.