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ile de ré
Remember when we associated France with popular rebellion against tyranny and individual liberty? The French Revolution, the Paris Commune, the French Resistance and May 1968 provided ideas and imagery for innumerable liberation movements around the world.
To the dismay of many Francophiles, of late liberal democracy in L’Hexagone has gone pear shaped in response to Islamist terrorism. Surveillance was ramped up and the number of prosecutions for hate speech multiplied after the January 7, 2015 Charlie Hebdo mass killing…
our collective narcissism
Let me first try to make sure I’m not misunderstood. I am not saying that I wish the Democrats had done anything different at the convention. As many observed, the Democrats were smart to occupy the upbeat, patriotic, American-exceptionalist, morning-in-America space that Trump’s GOP abandoned with its fear-mongering dark picture of the state of the nation. Those chants of “U.S.A! U.S.A.!” may help some Republicans and Independents, unhappy with Trump…
line that floored me
It is not President Obama’s way to deliver a blow in the ring of the sort that puts an opponent down for the count. (“When they go low, we go high.”) But last night he said something – delivering so unexpectedly powerful a blow – that made me leap from my seat.
I’ve seen several mentions of Obama’s having referred to Trump (without naming him) as a “homegrown demagogue.” But if anyone has taken notice of what a devastating and powerful attack that phrase was in its context, I haven’t seen it.
not so great
Today, in his third act as President, (the first two are too embarrassing to mention) Donald Trump ended the treaty with the SunGod. He felt that others were not contributing their fair share of sacrifices to the SunGod. At today’s press conference, which was held in the complete dark due to the lack of a sun, Donald stated “America is for chumps if we are going to pay too much for sunlight! I’m not going to sacrifice one more smoking hot virgin that I could use in the Miss America pageant to some SunGod who isn’t an American…
threat to our democracy
For millions of Americans watching the 2016 Republican Party Convention in Cleveland, disbelief and dismay have given way to bemused contempt. They see a GOP in a state of extraordinary disarray and unable to prevent a likely electoral train wreck. Many of its heavy weights simply refused to attend, including two former presidents, six governors, and 21 U.S. Senators. David and Charles Koch are notably absent.
minor celebrities matter
The first night of Donald Trump’s 2016 (Republican Party) Presidential Nominating Convention in Cleveland, Ohio provided more entertainment value than any in living memory. One after another former celebrities, practiced victims and assorted public figures took the stage to throw rhetorical raw meat at a seething pale audience.
Among the highlights were appearances by Marcus Luttrell and Scott Baio. Luttrell because he seemed to call for a civil war here in the United States when he asked, “Who among you are gonna step up and take the fight to the enemy? Because it’s here.”
requires frightened people
In what might be the smartest appeal so far in this otherwise dismal presidential election, Hillary Clinton did NOT call Donald Trump a fascist during her July 13th speech on unity in Springfield, Illinois. Instead she warned about what he might do once in power. Declining to use the “F word” might seem pusillanimous, the sort of rhetorical restraint that conservatives pounce on, but using it could actually blur what is more important point.
attention must be paid
This election cycle is looking like a slow motion tragedy for millions of mostly white, middle age blue-collar workers with only a high school education who’ve been marginalized by deindustrialization. This is roughly the population whose rising death rate was uncovered by Princeton University economists Angus Deaton and Annie Case. As reported by the New York Times last November, they found that “The mortality rate for whites 45 to 54 years old with no more than a high school education increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 people from 1999 to 2014.”
do your job
If there’s one thing people can count on you for, it’s that you will put your party’s interests ahead of the good of the nation. Fortunately, there’s something you can do now to redeem yourself. It won’t be with your second-guessing FBI Director James Comey, who determined that Hillary Clinton’s email fiasco doesn’t warrant bringing charges.
You probably knew there would be no indictment, since most legal authorities had reached that same conclusion. And surely you know that Mr. Comey — appointee of George W. Bush, and contributor to the presidential campaigns of McCain and Romney – has no partisan motive to help the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
recipe for injustice
When I was involved in electoral politics here in Virginia, I was advised by Democratic politicians to stay away from the issue of “right-to-work” laws. Most Virginians favor those laws, I was told. They think that “right-to-work” is a matter of “liberty,” and no one running for office can succeed in explaining to them what these laws are really about.
If that’s wise counsel, it’s a sad commentary on our politics — for it’s doubtful that most of the Virginians who support right-to-work understand how these laws take money out of their pockets.
rise above our fears
E Pluribus Unum or out of many, one. This 13 letter phrase became an official part of the Seal of the Unites States by an Act of Congress in 1782. It was the de facto motto of the United States until Congress officially made In God We Trust the national motto in 1956.
But beyond being simply our unofficial motto, since even before 1782, E Pluribus Unum embodied the very spirit of us as a new country. This simple but profound idea is that we are all many – many different people of different origins, different histories, different religions, different colors, and different races – but all one, the People of the United States.
BREXIT has elicited expressions of wounded outrage from European intellectuals emotionally invested in the current European Project. Some have contented themselves with name-calling by denouncing British voters as shortsighted bigots manipulated by conservative populists. Disappointment in the outcome of the referendum was so great for others that they have begun asking whether democracy itself might be the problem. If people, the British to be precise, are unable to see what is in their own best interests then perhaps …
embrace equality ideal
Abraham Lincoln, were he alive today, would quibble with only one word in the trumpeted slogan, “Make America Great Again,” but it would be a vehement, demagoguery-shattering quibble. He would insist that the sentence be ended after Great. America has, he would solemnly remind us, in practice NEVER been great, only struggling slowly and painfully toward greatness.
In theory, of course, it was another matter. He famously paid homage to “the last best hope of earth” that the truly radical American experiment in democracy …
until the struggle is won
Fear is a powerful weapon. For centuries, threatening people’s lives and livelihoods has proved an effective means of suppressing protest and maintaining injustice. Fifty years ago this month, James Meredith’s March Against Fear sent a ringing message to oppressors everywhere: their tactics would not work! As mentioned in my earlier article, last weekend, a viciously anti-union company, Nissan Canton, whose workers call it an “architect of fear,” tried to appropriate the anniversary of Meredith’s march to suit their own purposes. Their financial sponsorship of this commemoration was clearly an effort to sever the civil rights movement from the battles of labor …
the laws of nature
Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. — Kenneth Boulding
The mantra of classical economists is “growth.” So fixated are they on growth that recessions are often referred to as periods of “negative growth.”
The dominant economic paradigm: If we can keep growing the pie, everyone’s piece will get larger. Never mind that, as the pie grows, the greedy cut monstrous pieces for themselves and slivers for the rest of us. The foundational assumption itself is flawed. The empty promise of perpetual growth is based on folly …
wrong side of freedom
Gary Webb’s book, Dark Alliance, casts dark aspersions on the United States. In its historical and hysterical opposition to “leftist” thought it has routinely allied itself with criminals. Obvious examples are the regimes it supported in Cuba prior to the revolution, the Somoza regime in Nicaragua prior to “its” revolution, dictatorships in the Philippines, Vietnam and… it goes on and on (just read some Chomsky).
Alfred McCoy in his book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, documents U.S. alignment with heroine smuggling mafiosa where said mafia were allowed to import their product to the U.S. in exchange for union-busting and other undemocratic “services” by said thugs …
mexico might take them
In cities across America – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and New Orleans – in stunning, giddy numbers, millions of Americans streamed into the streets to celebrate President Barack Obama’s executive order Wednesday calling for a “Texit” vote to expel Texas from the union.
The executive order came two days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Texas law to limit the legal rights of women to abortions, and a week after the shocking “Brexit” vote in Great Britain to sever ties to the European Union.
a civilization-wide challenge
Some commentators have reminded us lately of what originally inspired the nations of Western Europe to move toward unification. The impetus came after two horrific wars, originating in Europe, within the space of thirty years.
In the immediate aftermath of World War II, after tens of millions had been killed and with much of Europe in ruins, some visionary European leaders understood the necessity of weaving the nations of Europe into a more whole order enabling its nations able to live together in peace, and to work together for their common good.
adopting a two-round system
Perhaps the only good thing that may be said for the Electoral College is that every four years it relieves most of us of the burden of choosing the lesser of two evils from among major party presidential nominees. Once we know that a clear majority of the other voters in our state will be plumping for the Democrat or the Republican, we are free to vote sincerely rather than a strategically for any candidate that we like. And that includes the nominees of third parties. Blame the ‘winner take all’ rule …
whole woman’s health v. hellerstedt
At year’s end last December, on a radio show in the Shenandoah Valley, I was asked at year’s end for my predictions for the coming year. One prediction I made was that the Court would strike down the Texas abortion law. I thought that the decision might be as much as 6-3 (this was before the death of Scalia), with Chief Justice Roberts joining the majority. My reason was this: whatever a justice might think about abortion, if s/he cares about the authority of the Supreme Court s/he will refuse to accept this Texas law which is clearly an attack on that authority.
Broadcast news coverage of the BREXIT Referendum has been nothing short of catastrophic. So bad is the quality of the journalism that, in keeping with the portmanteau usage, it should from here on be known as JOURNOCAT. Or perhaps INFOSTORT for ‘information distortion.’ Maybe NEWSCHLOCK or FUBARPROP would be more appropriate. You get the idea.
twin facets - same struggle
From their beginnings, the labor and civil rights movements have been deeply bound up in each other. Many of the watchwords of the 1960s, including “We Shall Overcome,” had been shouted in earlier struggles, on picket lines across the country. Tactics — from marches to sit-ins to boycotts — that had achieved shorter working hours, higher pay and human dignity for workers proved equally effective in the fight for racial equality. At the March on Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., shared the platform with United Auto Workers (UAW) president Walter Reuther…
called personal responsibilty
OK, we’ve all been waiting breathlessly for Congress to change the gun-control laws in order to make America safer. My lungs are about to collapse, aren’t yours? I was sure they’d take some action after Orlando, but the votes are in, and guess what? NADA.
So, how about looking at the problem from a whole different perspective? One that takes away the need for laws and court hearings and the involvement of governmental agencies.
satire on the campaign trail
My brother and sister Americans, let me introduce myself: my name is Arturo Tad Semple. Fearing someone might think I liked longhair classical music, or read books, or attended foreign movies, or watched PBS, or was born in Italy or France, or god forbid, Kenya, I dropped the “Arturo” years ago in favor of just a simple, less confusing “A.” I hope this information makes it easier to understand why I am known as A. Tad Semple.
I prefer it that way. It is an unique name and is easy to remember. And it fits me.
That’s a question I asked in connection with our utility’s plan to make $41 million in capital improvements in the next five years. The consultant who put together the list and the necessary funding strategies for the JWSC claimed that was a question he’d never considered.
In trying to find an answer to how many jobs are produced by a million dollar investment, I discover that it’s a question that is being asked all around the globe, but no firm answers are forthcoming. Everything’s relative and depends on local conditions. Duh!
In 1993, Bill Clinton became president of the United States for the first time. The movie “Unforgiven” won the Oscar for the Best Picture of the Year. A 51-day stand-off at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, ended with a fire that killed 76 people, including David Koresh. The Unabomber’s first bomb injured computer scientist David Gelernter at Yale University. The first version of Microsoft’s Windows NT operating systems was released. Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston was the number one song.
Although defeating Donald Trump is one essential goal for this fall’s campaign, that should be seen as one important means toward the ultimate goal, which is to move the nation forward.
There is every reason to believe that the Republicans in Congress would try to do to a new Democratic President what they’ve been doing for more than seven years to the current Democratic President: use their power to obstruct progress on all fronts.
For that reason, a wise Democratic campaign must also minimize Republican power in Congress.