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Sunday, July 24, 2016
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    threat to our democracy

    Something Wicked This Way Comes

    by | Jul 22, 2016
    Something Wicked This Way Comes

    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.

    Those who watched the third night of the convention might have missed Marco Rubio’s 90-second video endorsement but almost certainly caught Ted Cruz’s 21 minute long non-endorsement.

     

     

    minor celebrities matter

    Zoolander Defense

    by | Jul 19, 2016
    Martian Girl from Mars Attacks!

    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.”

     

     

    needs America full of frightened people

    Dropping the ‘F word’

    by | Jul 18, 2016
    Dropping the 'F word'

    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

    Blue-Collar Blues

    by | Jul 12, 2016
    Hard Hat Riot (May 8, 1970 in New York City) via Wikimedia Commons

    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

    Dear Congressman Goodlatte

    by | Jul 12, 2016
    U.S. Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

    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

    The “Right-to-Work” Con

    by | Jul 11, 2016
    Gateway to the South

    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

    Hey Y’all, E Pluribus Unum

    by | Jul 8, 2016
    Hey Y’all, E Pluribus Unum

    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.

     

     

    risks being understood

    Matt Hamilton: Been there, done that

    by | Jul 8, 2016
    Cover photo of the book, "The Land of the Four Rivers" by Matthew A. Hamilton

    Matt Hamilton has packed more life into his 41 years than most of us could in twice that.

    Of the many roads he has traveled – soldier, congressional aide, Benedictine monk, Peace Corps – one he likes best is the road that brought him to North Litchfield, S.C., where he vacationed last week and sat down in a Litchfield coffee shop long enough to be interviewed.

    “My whole family has vacationed here for years,” he said. “We love it. The younger ones can go north to Myrtle, and the rest of us have Litchfield, Pawleys and Georgetown.”

     

     

    lebensunwertes leben

    Worst Senior Discount Ever

    by | Jul 7, 2016
    People waiting in line to vote

    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

    Yet another fiery trial, Father Abraham; weigh in

    by | Jul 5, 2016
    An iconic photograph of a bearded Abraham Lincoln, taken on November 8, 1863, eleven days before his famed Gettysburg Address

    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

    The Fight Against Fear Continues in Mississippi

    by | Jul 4, 2016
    The Fight Against Fear Continues in Mississippi

    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

    What Economists Don’t Know About Physics — And Why It’s Killing Us

    by | Jul 2, 2016
    What Economists Don’t Know About Physics — And Why It’s Killing Us

    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

    Pipe Dream: CIA as 1980s Crack Dealer

    by | Jul 2, 2016
    Pipe Dream: CIA as 1980s Crack Dealer

    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 …

     

     

    confession is the first step

    My Guilty Pleasures: NFL Football and World War II

    by | Jul 2, 2016
    NFL and WW2 Helmets

    NFL football and World War II share certain characteristics that make them, for me, guilty pleasures.

    The pleasures come from my lifelong love of good games of strategy and of heroic action.

    For these pleasures, no sport seems to me the equal of NFL – largely because of the excellent structure of the game: the series of downs, which can be renewed; the cumulative nature of field position; the balance between offense and defense; the management of the clock; etc.

     

     

    mexico might take them

    As Obama Orders Texit Vote, Millions of Americans Celebrate in the Streets

    by | Jun 29, 2016
    Texit

    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.

     

     

    zika excuse

    Who Needs the Pros? Time for the Olympics to take a Mulligan

    by | Jun 29, 2016
    Who Needs the Pros? Time for the Olympics to take a Mulligan

    With the 2016 Olympic Games on the horizon, a group of prospective participants are giving the whole business a snub. Golf is returning as an Olympic game after being away since the word sticks was an accurate description for the equipment being used. And many of the top professional players in the world have announced they will not attend. Most are citing the fear of the Zika virus and family concerns, and some are probably happy they have this as a built in excuse.

     

     

    a civilization-wide challenge

    Brexit: A Setback in One of Humankind’s Most Important Projects

    by | Jun 29, 2016
    Brexit: A Setback in One of Humankind’s Most Important Projects

    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

    A Guide to Guilt Free Third Party Voting in 2016

    by | Jun 28, 2016
    A Guide to Guilt Free Third Party Voting in 2016

    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

    Texas abortion law attacked women’s rights and the authority of the Supreme Court

    by | Jun 28, 2016
    Texas abortion law attacked women's rights and the authority of the Supreme Court

    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.

     

     

    getting through it

    Laughing all the Way

    by | Jun 27, 2016
    Woman holding a pink paper smiley face - fotolia

    Dashing through the snow
    In a one horse open sleigh
    O’er the fields we go
    Laughing all the way.

    You probably recognize that verse from Jingle Bells — But it’s those last two lines, O’er the fields we go, Laughing all the way, that have always been for me a powerful image for having fun and living life to the max.

     

     

    choreographed hysteria

    Everything Broadcast News Gets Wrong About BREXIT

    Brexit ballot by PRO(Mick Baker)rooster

    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.

     

     

    delicious summer weather

    Two non-southern states of mind

    by | Jun 24, 2016
    Maine St, Kennebunkport, Maine by Kate Barnum

    I’m a South Carolina native who grew up in Georgia, and I have lived in one of these two states most of my life except for two years in the Navy (during which I never saw a ship — a story for another time) and a misguided six months in California, land of fruits and nuts.

    How bad was the golden state? Well, when I got back home I kissed the ground and vowed never again to leave the South except for visits, and only then with a copy of my birth certificate in hand to prove where I was from so I could be sure to get back in.

    But I might have been a bit hasty in making that pledge. Two reasons: Iowa and Maine.

     

     

    called personal responsibilty

    A Simple Answer

    by | Jun 21, 2016
    Wayne LaPierre holding gun laws hostage by DonkeyHotey

    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

    America’s Savior is A. Tad Semple

    by | Jun 21, 2016
    America's Savior is A. Tad Semple

    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.

     

     

    it depends

    Jobs Produced by Investment?

    by | Jun 20, 2016
    Employment Applications Not Being Accepted

    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!

     

     

    unequal opportunity

    People to Legislature: How long?

    by | Jun 20, 2016
    People to Legislature: How long?

    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.

     

     

    my superhero

    On Father’s Day

    by | Jun 19, 2016
    On Father’s Day

    Dear Daddy,

    I was coming back from a run the other day in Central Park. It was a beautiful day – the sun was high and my heart was wide. On the sidewalk a few blocks from my apartment there was this little orange chrysanthemum that had recently been uprooted – soil still clinging to its roots, softly, gently. There was so much potential in that flower to have life, to flourish, if only given the chance…

     

     

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