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October 2014
S M T W T F S
     
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Syndication

Holiday reunions always bring family discussions. This year, a large part of those discussions focused on the police.

I was used to family opinions. Everybody has one.

This was different. This time, everyone had a personal story.

On the way home, the traffic itself provided an insight in good, bad, and cascading effect.

- More -

Direct download: Police_Resentment_and_Death_-_Crui.mp3
Category:Policy -- posted at: 10:21pm EDT

Rudy Giuliani has found a theme in public statements by President Obama. It is that everybody should hate the police.

It occurs to me that a simple sense ethics will compel Mr. Giuliani to hold others to similar standards. It has to. His well known level of integrity demands it.

- More -

Direct download: Rudy_Giuliani_Reminds_Us_Who_is_Resp.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:08am EDT

There is a harsh truth at the heart of the interrogation debate.

We are presented with a moral ambiguity, a sort of ethical Sophie's Choice. What about those rare cases in which a ticking clock presents us with a choice between torture and the death of innocents.

The harsh, terrible truth is that the choice does not exist. It never has.

Instead, we are endangered by a much more dangerous ticking clock.

- More -

Direct download: Interrogation_and_the_Ticking_Clock.mp3
Category:Policy -- posted at: 10:46pm EDT

Our culture has always reacted strongly against torture. Look at how we have portrayed our enemies.

But, for some of us, something changed the day we were attacked. What had been wrong became right.

Conservative reactions against the Senate report on torture contain an obvious self-contradiction: 

On one hand, we did nothing wrong. On the other, it will hurt our image and provoke foreign opposition if the wrongdoing that we didn't do is exposed.

But I am struck by a less obvious, and more dangerous, consistency.

- More -

Direct download: Torture_and_Value.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News, War -- posted at: 12:10am EDT

Chuck Todd's recent book offers a searing analysis of the Obama administration. The unwavering opposition of Republicans is already well documented. But Todd suggests that President Obama is also to blame for roadblocks to policies that would help the poor and middle class.

Todd worked hard, talking with hundreds of Washington insiders. He has been able convincingly to demonstrate insularity and isolation from the real world.

But not in the way anyone could have anticipated.

Direct download: Chuck_Todds_Analysis_of_President_O.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 10:42pm EDT

Sometimes important lessons from world developments; conflict with Russia, deadly battles with the self-styled Islamic State, the medical threat from Ebola; become clear only in later months or years.

But Republicans have taught us one unifying lesson from all of these issues. That lesson hasn't taken long at all.

Direct download: Issues_the_Day_After.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 3:23am EDT

Not quite buried in news accounts of protest, violence, and frequent missteps of authorities, was an incident that should have enraged pretty much everyone on every side of every aspect of Ferguson events. The New York Times published the home street and town where Officer Darren Wilson lives, along with the name of his new wife.

It reminds me of another incident from years ago. It is especially interesting to me how reactions have shifted.

 

Direct download: Ferguson_-_Publishing_the_Addresses.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:07am EDT

Senator Inhofe swore Benghazi would go down as the biggest coverup in history. Impeachment was on the table.

Chairman Issa was insistent. The American public was deliberately misled. Talking points had been changed by the administration.

Senator Graham said he knew for a fact that witnesses were being forced into silence.

One Republican after another condemned the lying, the coverup.

Fox News reported, and let viewers decide, about why administration explanations were unraveling in a very public way.

But a Republican investigation reveals that there was no coverup, that the American public was not misled, that talking points were not changed for political purposes, that no employees were told not to talk, that there was no scandal, none.

Now that they know the truth, conservatives will certainly do the right thing.

Won't they?

- More -

Direct download: Please_Proceed_Benghazi_Conspiracy.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 1:12am EDT

It seemed like the perfect crime. So complex, nobody outside the conspiracy could understand it. And, just in case, the entire nation held hostage. Rescue us or everybody's home gets burned to the ground.

But someone has come into our lives who makes it just clear enough. Maybe we can bring a few of the hostage takers to justice after all.

- More -

Direct download: Complicated_Financial_Fraud_Made_Ver.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:07pm EDT

It hardly seems like the sort of move any President would make right after losing the Senate and watching the opposition majority in the House go up even more.

But imagine the result if the President not only directs immigration reform by executive order, but goes farther than anyone thinks will happen.

Suppose, on top of that, the President directs some very tough words at those who criticize his executive order.

Here's a prediction. We will be reading about that precise event as Congress fails to act.

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Direct download: Imagining_the_President_Orders_Actua.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:09pm EDT

Since ancient times, applying a law retroactively, punishing people for what had been legal before, was considered unfair. So was increasing punishments for crimes that had been committed in the past.

In fact, delegates put protections directly into the Constitution. One said Congress couldn't pass laws like that. The other said individual states couldn't pass laws or punishments retroactively.

But that's what the Governor of Iowa is doing by executive order. And a young woman was prosecuted for trying to vote.

- More -

Direct download: Ex_Post_Facto_Voting_Rights.mp3
Category:Election Fraud -- posted at: 11:59pm EDT

Fox News and the terrorist fist jab was unintentionally funny. The local Minneapolis television station and the secret gang signal became hilarious. The ethic itself is not always so humorous.

Take any accusation, rumor, or suspicion, and present it to a predominantly conservative audience as legitimate speculation. A large proportion of the public is led into a cocoon of comforting delusion.

Is Barack Obama really from Kenya?

Does Obamacare include death panels to decide when the elderly should die?

Is President Obama trying bring Ebola to the United States?

We report, you decide.

- More -

Direct download: Nixon_Mandela_Bachmann_God_Expose.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 12:22am EDT

In 1993, Prime Minister John Major used his unpopularity in Britain to force opponents to ratify the European Union.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter used his unpopularity in America to force Iran into releasing hostages and paying reparations.

President Obama may have a chance to use his losses in the Senate to force Iran to accept a nuclear agreement Iran does not like and Republicans hate.

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Direct download: Nuclear_Iran_and_a_Fevered_United_St.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:36pm EDT

I have discovered, through introspection and my relationships with others, that most people have a low tolerance for injustice. When we encounter the unfairness of life, in little ways and great, humankind faces a great divide.

The hatred of injustice causes much of humanity to deny that it exists. Rationalization often involves more than simple inaction. Victims of injustice are sometimes victimized again in calloused attitudes. So we cheer for the giant who beats the little guy into submission.

But much of humanity recognizes the injustice that stares back at us. We know it exists. We know it is wrong. We know that subjecting the little guy to the mercies of the selfish and powerful is evil in motion.

That is why I am a Democrat.

That is why I will be voting today.

That is why I will be asking friends to vote.

Direct download: Why_I_Will_Be_Voting_Today.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 10:07pm EDT

In 1965, when the Voting Rights Act was first passed, the reasoning was very simple. Racial discrimination in voting should not be allowed.

The provision of the Voting Rights Act to which conservatives objected the most named specific states, and specific parts of other states, those with the most vicious history of voting suppression, for special supervision. Conservatives thought that was unfair.

The burden of proof before 1965 was on anyone who wanted equal rights. Local politicians lost records and insisted that coincidence accounted for those disparities that remained. Local judges were often hostile to minority rights. Foot dragging meant that years could pass before burdens of proof could be met.

Courts even ruled, in 1903, that southern registrars could not be forced to process valid voter registrations.

In 2013, the Supreme court ruled that states, not people, were inherently equal. History of voting suppression should not matter. And in 2014, a district court said it could not force the state of Georgia to process valid voter registrations.

Conservatives are beginning to talk about voting as a privilege, not as a right. 

In 1965 we sprang ahead toward equal rights. Now we fall back to states rights.

Conservative Savings Time.

- More -

Direct download: Right_to_Vote_No_Longer_a_Right.mp3
Category:Election Fraud -- posted at: 11:14pm EDT

Republicans held a public meeting in California this week where they gathered absentee ballots to deliver to election offices.

A Republican held a private confrontation in Arizona with an Hispanic volunteer who was delivering a group of absentee ballots.

Guess which event has sparked conservatives around the country to a white hot fury.

The two events illustrate the expanded new conservative definition of voter fraud.

- More -

Direct download: How_Voting_Becomes_Ballot_Stuffing_a.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:19pm EDT

The Ebola panic in the United States has dramatically outgrown the Ebola virus itself. Were it not for the death of a man initially turned away from Presbyterian Health Hospital in Dallas, the panic would be a massive exercise in comedy. The hysteria would have been hysterical.

Still, there are legitimate concerns.

We need to re-examine our current system of private care. For-profit medical facilities can be expected, like any free enterprise institution, to be primarily motivated by profit. To weigh life and death risk against this year's bottom line may not be the best method for the next possible pandemic.

Now may not be the time. It is the campaign season, and Republicans do like to campaign on fear.

But there are signs the public is tiring of panic. The Texas Chainsaw Medi-scare may be approaching the closing credits.

- More -

Direct download: Chicken_Little_Doesnt_Have_Ebola_Af.mp3
Category:Policy -- posted at: 10:58pm EDT

I'm okay with negative ads. If they don't distort the facts, if they don't outright lie, if they are pertinent, if they don't grossly violate ethical boundaries, I'm okay with them.

I am a distinct minority. Voters are sick of negative ads. Poll after poll has demonstrated this to the point where it has become conventional wisdom.

Still, negative ads work. Most of the time. Not always.

They especially don't work when they are so over-the-top voters end up laughing at the sinister accusations.

For example...

- More -

Direct download: Politics_-_Throwing_Mud_Against_the.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 11:22pm EDT

Most general elections are zero-sum affairs. Winning does not depend on a candidate being liked. Winning depends on a candidate being liked more than the opponent. Sometimes that just means being disliked less.

Negative campaigns produce two negatives. Voters dislike the candidate running negative ads. Voters come pretty close to hating the opponent who is the target of negative ads. All things being equal, the candidate voters dislike wins over the candidate voters hate. A lot of voters hold their noses and vote for the nasty guy who ran the ad they didn't like to see.

That can be true of any campaign with two credible candidates. None of the above is not a real option. One of the candidate will win.

In South Dakota, a third choice might just kick over the chessboard.

- More -

Direct download: Three_Candidates_and_a_Scandal_Make.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 11:22pm EDT

As buildings smoldered and the dead were counted, policy makers knew who was behind it. The idea that a comic book villain in a cave on the other side of the world could have directed such destruction was hopelessly naive. Osama bin Laden could wait. They had to go after the one who sponsored him, who had to have sponsored him.

Saddam Hussein had to pay.

What they possessed in confidence, they lacked in evidence. They knew what they knew, but they couldn't prove it. America had to attack Iraq's dictatorship, but America had to be convinced. The convincing was done with manufactured evidence. They lied because they would not be able to convince us of what they knew was the truth.

It never crossed their minds that they were wrong.

Now a candidate for the United States Senate has revealed evidence that the deception was not a deception at all.

Joni Ernst (R-IA) has revealed new intelligence, unknown to ordinary citizens.

You have got to hear it.

- More -

Direct download: Joni_Ernst_and_Smoke_of_Mass_Destruc.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 12:07am EDT

My conservative friend was, as usual, blunt. 

"Mr. Deming, do you find President Obama to be a man of his word who governs with integrity and without misdirection and outright lies?"

It seemed a shame to avoid such a direct question from such a good friend. So I invited him for a quiet stroll through the record.

- More -

Direct download: How_Has_Our_President_Been_Doing.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:28pm EDT

News reports, analysts, and pundits flooded networks and print media with accounts of the Romney interview. It was big news.

The most significant item was mentioned in the interview, but was lost in the covereage.

It was overridden by the hot, hot question raised by the interview. Will Mitt run again?

News focuses on the unusual. In another era, the confession would have dominated. Today, it is scarcely worth mentioning.

- More -

Direct download: Mitt_Romney_and_the_Truth.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 10:43pm EDT

The unraveling of the Secret Service protection of President Obama is a scary thing for those of us who remember the most painful moments of the 1960s, or the near murder of another President almost 20 years later. It now appears that two demented individuals came very close to repeating searing events, not while our President was on a sidewalk or in an automobile. They both came closer than we knew at the time, both violating the People's House. The White House is where the President and his family live, where the first couple sleep at night, where their children have played while growing up.

Gunshots have broken a window in the family living quarters. A man carry a knife came very near. Had the first family been delayed even a few minutes in leaving on a trip, and had the intruder turned left instead of right at a critical juncture, tragedy might have struck again.

In a literal sense, it hits close to home.

Direct download: Praying_for_the_Secret_Service_to_Pr.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:09pm EDT

Most of us remember the moment we first became aware the nation was under attack.

Rescue workers at a Pentagon day care center worked frantically, trying to evacuate infants quickly, wondering how soon the next plane would hit. They cheered as two American fighter jets flew low overhead.

They had no idea that one of those planes was piloted by a young woman who had prepared for what looked like a suicide mission.

If that fact had been reported then, would anyone have laughed at the idea of a woman pilot?

Direct download: Women_Fighter_Pilots_as_a_Funny_Idea.mp3
Category:sexism -- posted at: 10:41pm EDT

The Georgia state unemployment rate has jumped way up to 8.1 percent. That's according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in a routine list published on September 19, 2014. That's the highest unemployment rate in the nation. It's higher than Mississippi, which had been the state with the highest rate until they got bumped by Georgia.

Governor Nathan Deal hates being blamed for the highest unemployment in the nation. He suggests an alternate explanation. Maybe there is a conspiracy by the folks who put together unemplyment statistics.

It's hard to say just what conspiracy Governor Deal has in mind. He's only pointing out "some influence here that we don't know about." He seems a little indignant about it.

Except, uh-oh, his conspiracy theory was undermined by his own administration.

- More -

Direct download: Nathan_Deals_Unemployment_Conspirac.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:23pm EDT

It's the sort of thing that surfaces about every other week from regionally prominent Republicans. It represents a large proportion of a shrinking party.

Referring to people as anything other than human, with human feelings, with human worth, is wrong. It is wrong when the target is a black, or gay, or immigrant. The fact that this was not as widely recognized 60 years ago does not make it any more right.

Such ways of of talking and thinking come from those who are so used to the reinforcement of those of like mind, some political figures imagine the policies they espouse, and the terms they use to describe their own thoughts, will find the same approval from the general public.

- More -

Direct download: Regarding_Humans_as_Less_than_Human.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 11:11pm EDT

104 former Republican office holders have joined to oppose the election of Republican governor Sam Brownback.

Republican Senator Pat Roberts might squeak by to re-election with a fraction of the vote, if Republicans can get opponents to divide between two other candidates.

But Republicans have nothing to worry about. After this election, Kansas voters will always stay Republican. Really, they will.

- More -

Direct download: Whats_Wrong_With_Kansas_Republicans.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 1:52am EDT

Voting restrictions are needed to prevent voter fraud, that's all. That's how conservatives justify the new voting changes. But election stealing always happens in backrooms, away from voters. Ballot stuffing, changing total, are what will work for dishonest politicians. Fraud by voters involves too many people. It's too easy to get caught. The penalties are harsh. And it doesn't work. The backroom stuff is what works.

But conservatives keep insisting they just want to prevent fraud. Keeping large numbers of legitimate voters from voting is just the sad price that must be paid. It certainly isn't the reason for making voting harder. That's what they say... except when they slip up and say in public what they are really trying to do.

For example, this case in Georgia...

- More -

Direct download: Reserving_to_the_Right_People_the_Ri.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:09pm EDT

The literary storm that followed an unfortunate book review in the Economist magazine has been a combination of outrage and rage. The review was critical of a book by Edward Baptist about slavery. The reviewer presented the case that the book lacked balance, neglecting to present the case in favor of slavery.

The Economist withdrew the piece. The recantation contained the review itself as a gesture toward transparency. It served as an allocution of sorts: an acknowledgment of the facts as part of an admission of guilt.

The controversy brought to mind the lessons of my youth and a larger message about history itself. The reasons we were taught what we were taught can teach us more now than we could ever have learned then.

- More -

Direct download: Balanced_Views_of_Slavery.mp3
Category:History, News -- posted at: 9:48pm EDT

Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) has been attacked, among other reasons, for no longer being a resident of Kansas. His declared residence turns out to be the home of supporters in Dodge City. He pays them rent.

As a voter, I'm okay with facing reality. Maintaining a full time residence here in Missouri while attending to a full time job in Washington is an untenable requirement. My bet is I'd feel the same way if I lived next door in Kansas.

But the insistence that our Representatives must work for us in Washington but can't live there continues. It doesn't happen every election season. Just enough to be an irritant.

I thought again it all again as I read about another scandal brewing in Maryland. The state gives tax breaks to residents. Tax officials are investigating whether a public official committed a crime by claiming to be a full time resident.

Now I have to rethink whether the Housing deal should always be a non-issue.

- More -

Direct download: Taking_the_House_Out_of_Politics_-_M.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 9:54pm EDT

I posed one of the traditional questions. If God had created all that he had created 6000 years ago, how would we explain fossils that were dated millions of years old. How about light from stars billions of light years away?

He had an answer. God had created his creation with the appearance of age. That was my introduction to what is known as the Omphalos hypothesis, named for a novel written in the mid-1800s. It has a certain chicken-and-egg logic to it. If God created the egg, it would appear to have come from a chicken. If God created a chicken, it would appear to have come from an egg. Both would have the Appearance of Age.

I suggested that, if God had gone through that much trouble to give his universe the Appearance of Age, it seemed to me a bit unsporting for us not to surrender to his will and believe in all those contrived eons.

My new friend's unbending faith was strong enough for him to find my observation completely nonthreatening. In fact, he laughed appreciatively. It was hard not to like him.

Not all creationists accept the Omphalos hypothesis. I don't much blame them. The big gaping hole in it is that it can support pretty much any theory of limited existence. God created the universe last Tuesday. He did it with the Appearance of Age, including memories, pseudo-history, relationships, and a fictitious past. Why not?

- More -

Direct download: Fearful_Faith.mp3
Category:Religion -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

One notable result of the slaying of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, comes from the deeply troubling ambiguity of the circumstances of that death.

The plain truth is we don't know what the plain truth is. Not for sure. The context of police mistreatment of the community does not tell us. The context of Michael Brown's character does not tell us.

The frustration that comes with a lack of knowledge has provided some momentum to an already existing movement to provide police officers with body cameras and to insist on their use.

- More -

Direct download: Police_Cameras_and_the_Ferguson_Shoo.mp3
Category:Policy -- posted at: 11:45pm EDT

They are scattered around St. Louis County, seeming at random. The reason these small police departments exist at all has very little to do with protecting the lives and property of citizens.

The open secret, the one never explored by media pundits, provides an explanation for the growing divide between police and the communities they patrol.

The reason they exist raises an important policy question.

- More -

Direct download: Why_is_There_a_Ferguson_Police_Depar.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 1:13am EDT

Fast decisions with little information, without thinking for more than a fraction of a moment, may have kept our most vulnerable ancestors alive. Our modern term for the process is "common sense."

The ability to think things through took us beyond immediate survival to a greater measure of security. Every major advance in human development, from technology to military defense to law, came from analysis. So did much of spirituality. Our relationship to each other could finally transcend personal survival.

Analysis when things don't yet matter is what prevents paralysis when they do. It allows for rapid response that is thought out. It often allows for intelligent, realistic, compassion.

When "common sense" leads to suspicion, fear, and unfounded accusation, it can bring us to the invasion of wrong countries with loss of life and tragic unanticipated danger. When it diminishes compassion, even for frightened children, it endangers the national soul.

- More -

Direct download: Rick_Perry_-_Analysis_Paralysis_an.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:07pm EDT

Long before he became President, Senator Richard Nixon went after Democrats. Each was a quisling, "holding a Ph.D. from Dean Acheson's Cowardly College of Communist Containment."

The cowardly containment rhetoric was more than bluster. It was the clarion call of true believers. We were at war, and there ought to be no limits. Conservatives were angry beyond words at the rejection of emotional impulse. The substitution of thoughtful strategy was infuriating.

Turning away from intellect during crisis is a predictable emotional response. But acting on rage can have unintended results.

Similarities of conservatives back then to conservatives today are striking. Containment, and the reactions to containment, are back.

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Direct download: Cowardly_College_of_Containment.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:47pm EDT

The disconnect with those he ostensibly represents, the disconnect unintentionally expressed Representative Representative Lee Terry, is actually part of a broader picture.

When we picture ordinary people. We usually think of those we see every week, friends, co-workers, neighbors, worshipers at Sunday service, shoppers we meet in line at the pharmacy. Ordinary people.

As a young student studying government several decades ago, I participated for a few months in a special program that put me in Washington, DC.

I was impressed by one detail that I do not recall ever being reported. It is a detail that explains much of why those we elect so easily forget about us.

 

- More -

Direct download: Public_Servants_Representing_Ordinar.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:32pm EDT

Three decades ago, a young man in Baltimore did not deserve to be shot. He did not deserve a life of partial paralysis. The officer who  did not deserve the public censure that became a permanent part of his life.

That case provides lessons we may want to apply to a shooting death, and subsequent police overreaction in Ferguson, Missouri. Justice is needed.

We need to think through what is needed for justice.

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Direct download: Death_Protest_and_Guilt_in_Ferguso.mp3
Category:Racism -- posted at: 9:28pm EDT

Racism is often unexamined except superficially. We skim along the surface of a single assumption. Racists are unspeakably evil. We, and those we include in our circles of friends, are not evil. What could be more clear? They, and we, are not touched by racism, except in our rejection of it.

Most bigotry is not binary, turned off and on as you would a light switch. A line drawn between racism and good will can be fuzzy. Sometimes it is so blurred it is not a line at all. It can be more like a rheostat. The light shines and dims in degrees as the dial is slowly turned.

Few of those who hate the President because he simply does not belong in his position would consider their motivations to be racist. Racism is the province of monsters, on a level with child molesters. In the polite company of Fox News viewers, even those who wear tricornered hats at public gatherings, motives are pure. They must be.

- More -

Direct download: Putting_Skin_in_the_Game_-_Racism_in.mp3
Category:Racism -- posted at: 11:46pm EDT

Mo Brooks and his assertion that white people are suffering as a result of minority advancement, not as a result of a playing field tilted toward the wealthy, comes from a zero-sum view of the world. That view is as common in history as influenza. It is especially identified with conservative reactions to every surge of progress since slavery days.

It isn't hard to exploit that view, especially when it is reinforced by an economy that has been slowed by a Congress dominated by the enemies of equality. A war against white people is a powerful lie to those who feel the effects of economic hardship.

Most analysts seem to think Democrats will win electorally just by waiting for outraged minorities, and those white people whose sensibilities are offended, to reach a combined majority.

A more immediate remedy may be a full throated expression of the truth. We ought to point out the truth because it is the right thing to do. In this case, it is also the smart thing to do.

A responsible populism on behalf of those working hard and still hurting would be justly aimed against those who dominate the halls of power and influence. A powerful falsehood can sometimes be met by a powerful truth.

- More -

Direct download: Mo_Brooks_Slams_the_Hymnal.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 12:45am EDT

I know there is humor to be had in Republicans needing approval from extremists for extremist legislation, and it can seem funny that conservatives demand that President Obama issue Executive Orders exactly one day after filing suit against him for issuing Executive Orders.

Obama vs the Republican Lawsuit becomes Obama vs the Empty Suit.

But, as I think of a high school girl I met just once last year, it's hard for me to dwell on the humor.

- More -

Direct download: Humor_Drains_From_Border_Legislation.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 4:05pm EDT

If families have to tighten their belts during hard times, then government should as well. That's easy to understand, even easier to support. It may lead us into recession that borders on depression, but that's unknown except to those who dwell in the Olympian heights.

Towers of ivory have their expert denizens, but their message is difficult, even when the virtue of clarity is attempted. Government should run deficits during hard times, the bigger the better. Government should pay it back during the resulting times of prosperity. That's the way real mainstream economics works.

What politicians don't understand, especially liberal politicians, is that you can't straddle the fence on some policies. The only way folks will vote for a policy they don't understand is if it is working so well it is not worth thinking about.

- More -

Direct download: Obamaconomy_Worked_After_All.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:42pm EDT

The idea that opposition to the President is a natural result of some flaw in his own policy or personality is counter to documented evidence.

On the very night of President Obama's first inauguration, a group of top Republican lawmakers and strategists met. The country was in peril, teetering on the edge of a mammoth economic depression rivaling that of Herbert Hoover.

Hours into the new presidency, the conservative group decided to bring Obama down, no matter what it took. They determined they would obstruct, in every way possible, anything and everything the new President would ever, could ever, propose. It did not matter what, they would oppose it.

The newest mantra from the base is coming slowly to the surface of public discussion in Republican circles. This time, impeachment needs nothing more than a vague sense that something is wrong. There are no specifics. But the feeling is strong that all of the debunked scandals must still contain something of substance: Benghazi, the IRS, Obamacare, the economic bailout, something has to provide grounds for removal from office. The impostor must be turned out.

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Category:Political News -- posted at: 12:02am EDT

The idea that opposition to the President is a natural result of some flaw in his own policy or personality is counter to documented evidence.

On the very night of President Obama's first inauguration, a group of top Republican lawmakers and strategists met. The country was in peril, teetering on the edge of a mammoth economic depression rivaling that of Herbert Hoover.

Hours into the new presidency, the conservative group decided to bring Obama down, no matter what it took. They determined they would obstruct, in every way possible, anything and everything the new President would ever, could ever, propose. It did not matter what, they would oppose it.

The newest mantra from the base is coming slowly to the surface of public discussion in Republican circles. This time, impeachment needs nothing more than a vague sense that something is wrong. There are no specifics. But the feeling is strong that all of the debunked scandals must still contain something of substance: Benghazi, the IRS, Obamacare, the economic bailout, something has to provide grounds for removal from office. The impostor must be turned out.

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Direct download: Impeachment.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 12:02am EDT

The controversy began soon after Paul Ryan gave his speech about how conservatives have an understanding of love that others simply do not share. The story about the little boy was untrue.

In fact, the little boy who hated federal supplemental nutrition programs because they lacked love was a little boy who did not exist. At least he had never spoken with Secretary Anderson.

Representative Paul Ryan issued a clarification. He said did not know the story was false. Governor Scott Walker had no idea. A spokesperson for the department led by Eloise Anderson, who gave the false testimony, said she had simply misspoken. "...a little boy told me once" should have been "Once I heard someone say".

The point Representative Ryan had been making does survive the controversy. Conservatives understood that the health of the soul is more important than a full stomach. The story was simply an illustration of a point that deserves our attention.

It pertains especially to the newest immigration issue.

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Direct download: Immigration_-_Demonstrations_of_Empt.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:17pm EDT

The anger that reacts against injustice is often what impels us along the arc of the moral universe. It is part of what bends that arc toward justice. If not channeled, it becomes the violence itself.

So, yeah, if my family was victimized, I would want to kill those responsible. Personally. Slow, torturous death would not be a flaw, it would be a feature. I wouldn't want to be deterred by process, or by appeals, or by the microscopic possibility that I might have the wrong guy.

I would likely be the one who wants to pull the switch. I can see myself as the one who hopes the killer suffers at least as much as his victim. Two hours to die? Good.

The same would be true if a victim of murder was from a family down the street. The same might even be true if the family was in the same courtroom while I deliberated guilt or innocence.

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Direct download: Execution_for_Those_Who_Deserve_to_D.mp3
Category:Policy -- posted at: 1:40am EDT

Racism, to conservatives, is primarily a rhetorical weapon. It is no more than an arrow in the quiver of the enemy. It is the perennial false charge, unfairly made against good, solid American people, many of whom have best friends who are black. It is a double edged sword, one to be turned against those liberals whenever the opportunity comes. After all, only racists play the race card, accusing good folks of racism.

The featured speaker at pro-confederacy conferences, rousing cheers from those longing for the good old days, lights up another leg on the path to the future. Accusations of racism are not only to be themselves condemned. Those using them are to be banished.

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Category:Political News -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Andrew Breitbart made a name for himself by editing a video to make it appear that an Agriculture official was saying the opposite of what she said.

Breitbart, before dying of a heart attack, went on to post heavily edited videos of others. A couple of University professors here in St. Louis lost their jobs. They were made to seem to say things they did not actually say.

Andrew Breitbart has gone to the Great Beyond. But breitbarting lives, having become a bit of a conservative art form.

Christiane Amanpour, Norah O’Donnell, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf, the Environmental Protection Agency have all been breitbarted. Self-proclaimed Christian historian David Barton even breitbarts the founding fathers, editing documents to mean the opposite of what they actually say.

Now the slice and dice video distortion technique is being used by conservatives on each other.

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Category:Political News -- posted at: 11:17pm EDT

A procedure advanced by a Republican administration, passed by Congress, then signed into law by President Bush, mandates investigation into immigrant claims of physical danger. The process is slowed by a shortage of legal staff and judges to hear cases. President Obama asks for millions to recruit and hire those needed to speed up the process. His request combines those millions with the billions Congressional conservatives have demanded to increase border security.

Congressional conservatives say no.

Some Republicans insist that they regard pretty much all of the influx of children as dangerous gang members.

We can hope the national character is not reflected by such bias. The sad fact is that mobs and the public officials who react to them do say something about individual character.

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Direct download: Violence_in_Latin_America_and_Streng.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:20pm EDT

Al Qaeda had never had any force to speak of in Iraq. There were scattered outposts in largely deserted areas not controlled by Saddam Hussein's forces. But after the invasion, al Qaeda began to develop a presence. It wasn't much, but it was more than the zero that had been in Sunni areas before. And it was growing.

So the Bush/Cheney administration went for the spin cycle. The increase in al Qaeda influence was actually a good thing. We were attracting terrorists to fight us in Iraq. But that meant they were sidetracked from coming to America.

Iraq was flypaper. Terrorists were flies. Every attack on our troops in Iraq meant less danger in the suburbs of Peoria.

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Category:Policy -- posted at: 11:03pm EDT

Most voters, in fact the overwhelming majority of voters, regard gun safety as something that government ought to insist on. The numbers are unmistakable.

But, while most voters are for gun safety in principle, it is one of many issues. War, environmental regulation, taxes, jobs, Obamacare, and a thousand other issues are also important. Some voters will show up to vote. For some, gun safety will even be the straw that breaks a vote away from a Republican.

For enough gun enthusiasts to matter, guns are not an issue in principle. It is a matter of principle. And more. It is an issue that is personal. Very.

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Direct download: Gun_Safety_-_the_Personal_Amplifies.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:12pm EDT

Senator Cochran survived by appealing to non-traditional participants in Republican primary elections. He asked black voters to help him win. And so he won.

Chris McDaniel cried foul. He refused to concede. In fact, he promises to go to court over the vote.

Thanks to illegal voting from liberal Democrats, my opponent stole last week’s runoff election, but I’m not going down without a fight.

- Chris McDaniel, in a mass email, July 2, 2014

Slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, housing, voting are issues that echo into today's reality. For all the sleight of hand, everyone knows how the shell game has been played. Racial Conservatives have moved from one shell to another, from the Democratic Party of old to the Republican Party of today and tomorrow.

Plantation, conservative at heart, Party of Lincoln. The arguments vanish in the wind as outraged conservatives make a new case for truth. It is the truth that was already apparent.

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Category:Political News -- posted at: 10:21pm EDT

Greg Abbott is not just the Republican candidate for governor. He is also the Attorney General of Texas. He ordered state agencies, including the State Health Services Department to no longer release any information on vast amounts of dangerous chemicals corporate neighbors are storing, including explosives.

Attorney General Abbott came up with what you might call the Nosy Neighbor Principle. Residents can drive around a neighborhood, knocking on the doors of friendly business owners, and simply ask what hazardous substances, including chemicals and explosives, they store.

A Texas law requires companies to furnish information about certain hazardous substances. But there is a twist.

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Direct download: Nosy_Neighbor_Principle_-_Have_any_M.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:55pm EDT

The tension between economic realism and political realism resulted in a reduced economic stimulus that still succeeded in pulling the country away from a solid depression. The recession that remained was beyond painful for many Americans. Jobs were lost, homes were foreclosed.

Enough Democrats pushed for a middle path to get what economists predicted.

It was a recovery. It was a weak recovery, but it was a recovery.

The public had opinions about the stimulus. But they didn't vote based on their opinions.

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Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:46pm EDT

As emperors go, Hadrian is regarded by students of history as one of the best. He was quite popular among the military and the people of Rome were with him.

The Senate had a big, big problem, though. Hadrian was born in Spain, one of the many conquered lands. So he was not to be considered a real Roman. Certainly not one of those born to the upper, upper classes. This outsider should have been a slave, not a ruler.

I sometimes wonder about the stupidly selfish way the Senate dealt with the only Roman Emperor at the time who had come from the provinces. It could have been an opportunity to promote the fiction of a "dream that was Rome." Imagine Rome as an ideal in which those conquered could rise to rule. Imagine how that might have cemented the loyalty of subjects.

Parallels with patriotism in American stop when it comes to a July 4 dream.

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Direct download: America_as_a_Work_In_Progress.mp3
Category:Patriotism -- posted at: 10:21pm EDT

Whenever key evidence simply disappears from an arena of controversy, alarm bells go off. These missing emails happen to be a case in point.

We have to ask a more basic question. If that large a gap in the official record exists, how many other key pieces of evidence are missing? What other email messages have vanished?

When a public official suddenly resigns, and so much documentation turns out to be missing, is it any wonder suspicions will spread?

But there is another side. There are reasonable explanations.

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Category:Political News -- posted at: 9:21pm EDT

I never thought of him as a comedian until I came across a bit of history a few months ago.

Then, a Tea Party candidate in Oklahoma again reminded me of Benjamin Franklin last week, and how he faked out an unethical rival, and made him deny his own death for years.

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Category:Political News -- posted at: 7:23pm EDT

Disagree with the President as many of my friends do, you kind of have to admit, in more honest moments, that this President is among the most straight arrow people around. No financial dirt. No extra-marital affairs. "No Drama Obama" is not just a personality trait. It seems to be a personal ethic.

But, after years of effort, Republicans have finally uncovered a criminal conspiracy with illegal trading of insider knowledge. And it involves Obamacare.

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Direct download: Republican_Witch_Hunt_Gets_Very_UNbo.mp3
Category:Political News, Insider Trading -- posted at: 10:21pm EDT

Hillary Clinton can become a great President, if she stops trying to think of herself as one of us.

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Direct download: Hillary_Clinton_Agonistes.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 11:11pm EDT

Ancient Romans considered themselves superior to those they conquered. What is often unexamined in popular history is the attitude of Roman elites toward the Emperor Hadrian.

They thought of Hadrian as unworthy. He was not considered a real Roman. He came from one of the conquered territories. Such people were inferior, uncivilized, unclean. They were to be tamed, not to be followed.

Ancient Senators who looked down on Hadrian as a pretend Roman have modern descendants.

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Category:Political News, Racism, War -- posted at: 11:29pm EDT

As the Empress and her entourage made their way down the Dnieper River, the governor had his men erect a fake village and dress up as peasants. As soon as the procession was out of sight, the village would be disassembled, hastily transported down the river before the Empress could arrive, and then reassembled.

The Empress and her group saw dozens of healthy, productive villages, populated by industrious peasants who looked remarkably alike.

Centuries later she is back in suit and tie, disguised as a US Senator.

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Category:Policy, Political News, War -- posted at: 9:56pm EDT

The last foreign policy trip George W. Bush took as President, and the last few days of the Bush Presidency itself are remembered for a single jarring incident. Shoes were thrown. They missed. The President was amused.

What is often overlooked is the reason President Bush was visiting Iraq to begin with.

The new Status of Forces Agreement had deadlines. Some experts thought the United States should stay a lot longer. The time frame of our stay should be anywhere from a few more years to a few more generations. Mostly they were the same experts who had marched us into Iraq.

But Iraq's Prime Minister, not to put too fine a point on it, turned out to be an astonishing jerk.

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Direct download: Throwing_Shoes_at_the_President.mp3
Category:Foreign Policy, Political News, Obama -- posted at: 9:36pm EDT

The Love It or Leave It mentality has, at its heart, a rejection of traditions important to representative democracy.

Missouri Republicans seem to have a different tradition.

State Senator Republican Ed Emery wrote to one citizen who protested Republican blocking of insurance for low income residents. Part of Ed Emery's letter was an invitation...

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Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:16pm EDT

The assessment went back to the closest previous period during which such threats had materialized. It had been during the Clinton administration a decade and a half before: Economic problems, the winding down of war, social change, and a liberal Presidential administration. This time we could add a black President.

Conservatives were insulted.

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Category:Domestic Terrorism -- posted at: 11:21pm EDT

With each oscillation of modulus 4 years, Republicans win, when they win, by a smaller margin. When they lose, they lose by an ever widening gap.

The reason is that Republican politicians face an increasingly conservative electorate in Republican primaries. They lose to extremists or they adopt extreme views themselves to get past primaries.

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Direct download: Republican_Revolution_in_Virginia.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 11:42pm EDT

All the vital, angry, deadly issues in this prisoner exchange come down to a few decisions. Each of those few decision involves priorities.

This true of the President. This is true of each conservative critic.

 

What is most important?

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Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:41pm EDT

Changes that keep keep minority voters and the elderly from voting for the other side are necessary. If voting rights are violated, that's just the price you have to pay.

The campaign activist locked alone with the ballots? Let's not make a big deal over every little thing.

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Direct download: Muddy_Mississippi_Elections.mp3
Category:Election Fraud -- posted at: 10:17pm EDT

Depending on our level of ignorance or on our philosophy, we either negotiated for a hostage, or we negotiated for a prisoner exchange.

The meaningful question is whether either one will encourage other enemies to take prisoners for the purpose of negotiation.

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Direct download: Negotiating_With_Terrorists.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:24pm EDT

Eric Shinseki once discussed his management technique, comparing it to combat, where you never have enough information or resources."Sometimes you just gotta launch, and fight your way through the unknowns."

 

That might work at times in combat. In a non-combat organization, a narrow focus on motivation works about as well as overfilling a gas tank in response to a dead battery. Perverse incentives are a recognized enemy in the private sector. In this case, the 14-day mandate provided an incentive that was singularly perverse.

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Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 7:01pm EDT

There really are a small number of activists so devoted to ideology they cannot find within themselves any sympathy for the families of the Sandy Hook children. Some parents of those little kids still report anonymous messages of hostility.

And this newest tragedy carried with it yet another stunning reaction. The open letter on a conservative website targeted the grieving father who had appeared on television.

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Direct download: Devotion_that_Blinds_Us_to_Human_Val.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25pm EDT

My friend John Myste asks me my diagnosis of urban youth.

Race notwithstanding, Mr. Deming, what do you think of the general work ethic, or more specifically, the motivation to succeed, of the urban youth?

My friend T. Paine seconds the motion, along with the lament:

I would not be able to ask simply due to the racist implications of the question regardless of whether I specified "race notwithstanding" or not."

The life of an oppressed conservative is hard.

Mr. Paine is correct in that "urban" has become a euphemism for African American. That is why he hesitates. A long, long history of stereotypes would make Mr. Paine's hesitation a conservative anomaly.

 

The short answer to the question of urban work ethic is obvious.

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Category:Racism -- posted at: 11:45pm EDT

We got news reports of the attacks on the base, and Marine fatalities, just as his messages suddenly stopped. We realized that electronic communication would not be possible during transport, but as days dragged on, fear bore down a little harder. I had private talks with God that were a little harsher than usual. Of course, we feared the worst.

He eventually was able to let us know he was safe.

 

I occasionally think back on that time, and on the prayers. We still carry the relief that came when we heard from him. I also carry the inherent selfishness, the zero-sum nature of my talks with God. Please, Lord, let it be other families who get the bad news.

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Direct download: Asking_Forgiveness_for_a_Prayer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:20pm EDT

Conservatism was so much simpler when I was a kid. Conservatives just didn't much like black people.

Some were outspoken about it. Black people had all sorts of new privileges. Too many. They could vote. In fact, they could vote for the first time in some parts of the country. Lynching was now against the law. Segregation was still pretty strong, but it was technically against the law. Same with discrimination in housing and hiring. It was still going on, but it was against the law.

What more did they want?

The fact that, with the leadership of a Democratic President, some form of civil rights had become the law enraged enough conservatives that a migration of sorts had already begun. Lyndon Johnson remarked privately that new laws respecting the rights of black people would ensure that Democrats would lose the South for many decades. Conservatives left the Democratic party and became Republicans.

 

Even back then, outright racism, the kind spoken out loud, was confined to a vocal minority. Most commonly, the some-of-my-best-friends denial was a preface to each expression white resentment.

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Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:26pm EDT

Karl Rove's newest questions about Hillary Clinton seem to be obvious missteps. He was quoted in a friendly paper, saying Hillary Clinton had suffered brain damage in a fall a couple of years ago.

He denied saying that. He had only said she had fallen, had a serious head injury, and had been seen wearing special glasses designed for brain injured people. That's all he had said. Very innocent.

Oh, and one other thing. You know, she's very, very old.

She'll be 69 by the time of the 2016 elections. She will be 77 if she serves two terms. And this ends up being an issue.

I would remind you, John McCain - here's the headline from U.S. News and World Report: "McCain's age and past health problems could be an issue in the presidential campaign". This happens every presidential campaign.

- Karl Rove, Fox News Monday, May 12, 2014

You might think Republicans would distance themselves from this one. Here's the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

I think that health and age is fair game. It's fair game for Ronald Reagan. It's fair game for John McCain. When people came at John McCain and said maybe he's psychologically not fit because he was a prisoner of war.

- Reince Priebus, Chairman, Republican National Committee, May 18, 2014

 

"People" said that, did they?

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Category:Political News -- posted at: 11:15pm EDT

Cybernetics is used across scientific disciplines. It is used to explain evolutionary development, to formulate mechanical engineering constructs, for neuroscience, and mathematics. It is used in pretty much anything that incorporates a feedback loop for guidance. I do x - or x comes from an outside event - and y happens as a result. That changes what my next action will be as I adjust.

Cybernetics happens a lot in nature. We experience it in our own actions. How many times have we been told that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result?

I've been thinking lately about how my limited understanding of cybernetics applies to politics and policy.

Republicans win their last election in 1928 until they learn to partially accept Social Security and finally win through the 1950s.

Democrats lose Presidential elections that don't involve Watergate from the late 1960s until the early 1990s. Painful introspection produces changes. Democrats get majorities of the electorate in five of the next six elections.

The Great Depression drags on and on. So a new policy, Keynesian economics, is devised and timidly applied. Things get better. World War II arrives and Keynesian economics is involuntarily amplified. The Great Depression disappears. So Keynesian economics becomes official policy for generations.

The Obamacare website doesn't work. So new experts are brought in. They work around the clock. Then the website works.

 

In recent decades, Republicans seem to have lost the capacity for change through introspection.

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Direct download: Republican_Cybernetics.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 8:16pm EDT

Okay, let's see if I've got this straight. The New York Times gets its first female Executive Editor in 163 years. Her bosses won't let her manage with the same level of trust and non-interference every male employee in her position has had. They pay her less than any male employee in her position has ever been paid.

And the frustration came because she was pushy on the issue? Pushy?

I'm not an expert on feminism, aside from wanting to be a good guy - fair on identifiable issues. I can be kind of a dolt on aspects to which I haven't devoted enough thought. I've had to be sharply corrected by close friends who know me well enough to feel okay doing it.

But isn't aggressiveness in business, in management, in journalism, thought to be an asset? At least for males? Pushy?

 

There is a denial: pay is not the issue. The salary is equal to that of previous editors. But it doesn't take much to see past that. Salary is often a small part of compensation. The denial is accompanied by an acknowledgement that other areas had been cut back.

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Direct download: First_Female_Executive_Editor_Fired.mp3
Category:sexism -- posted at: 10:48pm EDT

We live in a different world than the one presented to us when I was a kid. My childhood involved Saturday mornings in front of the family television. Cartoons were okay, but kids my age went to westerns and adventure stories. "The Rifleman" and "Superman".

Good was very good. Bad was very bad. The bad guys not only knew they were bad guys, they enjoyed being bad guys. They reveled in it. They laughed as they rolled about in evil, coating themselves with it.

Within every half hour episode, good and evil were definable, easily recognized. The journey toward adulthood involved a gradual discovery that clarity is seldom found in the real world, the grown up world.

Racism was presented to us in cross burnings and bodies hanging from trees. It was white hoods and governors standing in schoolhouse doors.

 

My bet is that Cliven Bundy never participated in a Klan rally. My imagination tells me that, in his heart, he explains to himself that he likes and sympathizes with those he thinks of as Negroes colored folk. Donald Sterling has a documented history of contentious relations with African Americans. He sees them as unruly and unclean. My guess is that he likes them anyway.

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Direct download: Good_Racists.mp3
Category:Racism -- posted at: 11:43pm EDT

Cliven Bundy started as a conservative cause célèbre. He was surrounded by a small, brave, band of patriots standing courageously against federal tyranny.

Then came this:

"I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro."

Followup televised clarifications haven't helped him, but the very first interview endowed him with the green glow of conservative kryptonite.

And because they were basically on government subsidy – so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never, they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered are they were better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things? Or are they better off under government subsidy?

- Cliven Bundy, April 23, 2014

 

Even the wingiest of wingnuts have scrambled for lead shields. The gleeful aiming of firearms at fleeing workers from the Bureau of Land Management has gone from the subject of bombastic boasts to the subject of FBI investigations. Members of Cliven Bundy's well armed band of brothers are now the keystone cowboys.

 

Racial suspicion remains the undercurrent of American politics. But recognizable, overt, in-your-face, racism strikes a painful nerve. Conservatives have nurtured the myth that racism is over, that the only remaining racism lies within those who perceive racism.

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Category:general -- posted at: 12:37am EDT

North Carolina's new Republican nominee for the United States Senate, Thom Tillis, is Speaker of the State House of Representatives. He has worked tirelessly to cut back Medicaid in North Carolina. Folks in Thom Tillis' state who are seriously ill or disabled, and who cannot afford medical insurance, are blocked from receiving federal help.

Speaker Tillis refers to objections to the restrictions as "whining coming from losers." He is on video describing to an appreciative audience how he intends to appeal to those losers.

What we have to do is to find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance.

We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice in her condition that needs help, and that we should help. And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that make them dependent on the government.

- Thom Tillis (R-NC), October, 2011

 

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Direct download: Conservatisms_Emotional_Core.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:15pm EDT

Senator Lindsey Graham summarizes the memo, but he relies more on what he knows in his heart about motivation than he does on actual content.

What do you think they were worried about when she went on TV? Tell me about the property damage in Cairo? Explain the loss of the property in Cairo? They were worried about explaining the death of four Americans.

They knew America would be upset by losing the first ambassador in 33 years and other brave Americans. To say that this wasn't trying to shape the Benghazi story is inconsistent with the document itself, flies in the face of the facts, and yet another false, misleading lie.

- Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), May 1, 2014

Bill O'Reilly provides a motive for the conspiracy.

The President and the White House created a political agenda, saying a spontaneous demonstration led to the murders, not a coordinated terror attack. And they did this because the President was running for re-election on a platform that he had broken al Qaeda and any evidence to the contrary might have hurt his campaign.

- Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, April 30, 2014

It really is the coverup, isn't it, that implicates more than the crime that's being covered up?

 

The conspiracy theory does have a major flaw.

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Direct download: Benghazi_and_the_Smoking_Memo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:04am EDT

Although most opponents of civil rights laws through the 1960s were openly motivated by race, this was not true for everyone. Barry Goldwater had quietly opposed segregation in Phoenix. He later described his efforts as a series of private appeals.

The Goldwater argument against Civil Rights law was based on a largely libertarian interpretation of Constitutional rights. "You can't legislate morality." The liberal response at that time was "The Hell you can't!"

Author Jim Fedako adds a wrinkle with a sort of goose and gander logic. If customers can pick and choose which businesses they will purchase from, why can't business owners make similar choices about which patrons they will serve? If government is to restrict the right of a business to choose its customers, why not dictate to customers from whom they must buy?

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Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 9:48pm EDT

You can't just poll voters, if you want to predict how voters will choose. You have to poll voters who will choose. If a voter isn't going to vote, that voter will not have much effect on an election.

It is hard to figure out who is going to vote. Some pollsters go by past elections, taking into account what percentage of different ages, races, income groups, and educational levels have voted. So, if you find you're over-representing left handed people with blue eyes, you just count their numbers less. It's called weighting.

But weighting depends on past patterns holding in the future. Patterns are getting tricky.

 

It's getting harder to figure out who is going to vote for another reason. Republicans have been taking steps to make it harder for minorities and college students and working class people to vote. At the same time, courts are beginning to take a harder look at voter suppression. So it's hard to predict who will have their voting rights taken away by conservatives.

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Direct download: Wave_Election_Polls_and_a_Tidal_Futu.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 9:58pm EDT

I confess to playing with those who subscribe to biblical literalism. A conservative in 1992 told me candidate Bill Clinton was among Satan's minions. I got a little impatient with that, so I asked him if he noticed that the acceptance speech given by President George H. W. Bush was exactly 66 minutes and 6 seconds long. The look on his face kind of mitigated the fleeting guilt I remember feeling. Because, you know, I had just made it up.

More recently, another friend insisted to me that Obamacare was designed by Satan to enforce the Mark of the Beast. A number would be issued to everyone. All business, even buying from supermarkets, would require that number. I suppose that, over the years, I have gotten a little bored with that sort of talk. So I succumbed to temptation yet again.

A number issued to everyone? You mean like the Social Security number you carry in your wallet? The startled realization that he was already among the doomed pretty much ended the discussion.

I got to thinking about religious paranoia as I read about the impeachment of Nixon. That is to say Jay Nixon, the governor of Missouri. Jay Nixon is a Democrat. The Missouri House of Representatives is dominated by Republicans. They are even more conservative than those national Republicans we all know and love. In fact, they erected a little statue in the Capitol Building in Jefferson City in honor of Rush Limbaugh. No kidding, they really did that.

 

Governor Jay Nixon is pretty popular in Missouri. But Republicans regard him as a horrible chief executive. They have three reasons.

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Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:29pm EDT

Professor Ian Morris of Stanford University knows how to sell his work. He has just published a book the central thesis of which is that war, over the long range, is good. The implication is that we should want more of it, because war brings peace.

He has written the short version in an article published by the Washington Post last week. His logic isn't hard to follow. War leads to to expansion, which leads to empire, which leads to law, which leads to order, which is ... well ... peace. What holds it all together is economic interest.

Empires were established to enrich those who ran the base countries. Romans wanted to tax dominated subjects. It was messy, but it worked. They put taxing franchises up for local bid in the conquered provinces. Those individuals who paid enough for the privilege were given their quotas. At tax time, they sent the required amount to Rome. If they collected more, they were allowed to pocket the difference.

That pretty much explains how tax collectors are viewed in the New Testament, and why the fact that Jesus would occasionally commune with them was a potent accusation. Tax collectors were not popular people.

 

But empires also benefited from trade. Trade routes were protected from lawlessness. Trade had the unintended effect, from the viewpoint of the rulers, of benefiting both sides of each bargain. The Empire was enriched, and so were those in conquered territories.

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Category:general -- posted at: 8:49pm EDT

Ukraine and America at War

Republicans, for the most part, seem to regard Mitt Romney as vindicated by the aggression of Vladimir Putin toward Ukraine. Not surprisingly, Mr. Romney takes his place at the head of the line.

Well, there's no question but that the President's naivete with regards to Russia, and his faulty judgment about Russia's intentions and objectives, has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we face.

- Mitt Romney, on Face the Nation, March 23, 2014

And, who can blame them? Barack Obama verbally beat Mr. Romney to a pulp during one of the debates in 2012.

Governor Romney, I'm glad that you recognize that al Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not al Qaeda; you said Russia.

The 1980s, they're now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years.

- President Barack Obama, October 22, 2012

At the time, Mitt Romney pointed out that he had said no such thing. He had only suggested that Russia was one of several threats to the United States. He had, in fact, pointed to to Iran as the greatest threat.

 

But he did have one problem. Television can be video taped.

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Direct download: Ukraine_and_America_at_War.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:13pm EDT

Why Obamacare Will Not Work for Democrats in 2014

Republicans have been counting on Obamacare being a train wreck. It has been their number one issue, with number two being a blank. If the economy bumps up, if President Obama's popularity increases, it will help Democrats.

If Obamacare turns into a wild success, maybe election losses will be less than anyone now believes.

Well, keep not believing it.

The Fox poll says this:

Most voters say ObamaCare will play an important role in their vote in this year’s elections, and over half are more inclined to back the candidate who opposes the health care law.

- Fox News Survey, released April 21, 2014

Yeah, I know. Fox.

These are the same people who were so confident Obama would lose in 2012. They're the same folks who tell polling participants that President Obama and his administration are lying, then ask the polling question: why do you think they're lying?

 

Here's why they're right on this one.

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Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:15pm EDT

Conservative Guiding Light

Until recent times, it wasn't that hard to trace philosophical principles of conservatism going back hundreds of years.

American conservatism continued to hold Edmund Burke to heart long after British conservatives moved on. Perhaps it was because Burke was able to oppose the French revolution, but supported American independence.

There were other differences. Adam Smith, with his economic model of capitalistic self-regulation, the invisible hand, was more enthusiastically embraced in England, at first. Americans liked Smith, but with reservations. Hard to believe now.

The clearest separation between British and American conservatives eventually came over slavery. Conservatives in Britain became suspicious, then hostile, to the proposition that one human could own another. American conservatism has evolved, but has always been way behind the British curve.

There were other influences. David Hume went toward pragmatism, John Locke to personal rights. In more modern times, William F. Buckley became a guiding light. He shepherded American conservatism back to Burke and Hume.

Today, the intellectual moorings of American conservatism have changed to fit the times. The most vibrant of conservatives have little use for philosophical constructs from past centuries, or even past decades.

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Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:16pm EDT

The Evil Within the Gentle Soul

After three people were killed near Kansas City by a white supremacist who apparently thought they were all Jewish, a local television station went to a nearby small town to talk with those who had known the apparent perpetrator.

The televised segment went pretty much as you would expect. The man residents had known was a bit different. He was outspoken. You always knew where you stood with him. Nobody expected violence.

The mayor of Marrionville, MO, said the alleged killer had been a friend years ago. He spoke with a sort of understated irony.

He was always nice and friendly and respectful of elder people. He respected his elders greatly, a long as they were the same color as him.

- Daniel Clevenger, Mayor of Marrionville, MO, in an interview with KSPR-TV of Springfield, MO, April 15, 2014

Then came the one statement that went around the internet, endowing his honor the Mayor with instant notoriety:

"Kind of agreed with him on some things, but I don't like to express that too much."

Yikes.

It went from there. Mayor Clevenger went on to calmly speak out against Jews.

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Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 12:16am EDT

Walkin Lawton and the Future of Bush

Richard Nixon yelled to his audience and they roared back, furious at those disloyal enough to oppose him. It was a ferocious performance. He ended with a shout"Nobody is going to tear this country down as long as you are ready to cast your vote to build this country up."

And that was it. Americans were told that those who opposed the war, or were insufficiently angry at those who did, that they were willing to see the country torn down. And he was talking about me and those like me.

Historians tell us it was a continuation of the Nixon Southern Strategy, devised with the help of former Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond.

When Edmond Muskie spoke next, it was from an armchair in front of a fireplace. He spoke calmly, as if to each individual voter. He asked those about to cast their ballots not to vote against themselves. He characterized the tactics of the Republican campaign.

There has been name-calling and deception of almost unprecedented volume. Honorable men have been slandered. Faithful servants of the country have had their motive questioned and their patriotism doubted.

I still remember a sense of youthful relief. Even though the forces of angry intolerance were about to prevail, a calm voice had spoken against the tide. The case had been made. We could lose with some bit of honor. Someone had fought back with plain truth and crystal clarity.

One small hope flickered in Florida. Out-moneyed, outshouted, a mostly unknown state Senator had conducted an unusual, almost bizarre, public effort. He went hiking.

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Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 12:02am EDT

Love and Immigration

Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It’s kind of -- it's a, it’s an act of love. It's an act of commitment to your family.

- Jeb Bush, Commemoration of Presidency of George H. W. Bush, April, 6, 2014

Most analysts have looked at the statement from a political perspective, grading Jeb Bush's strategy and his calculation of its effect on the Presidential race of 2016. One or two mention a family tradition of tactically including Hispanic voters in political appeals.

I have yet to hear anyone, anyone at all, speculate that he may simply have been saying what he believes is right.

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Direct download: Love_and_Immigration.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 9:45pm EDT

Lincoln Denial

Well the reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution. I mean, it was like the conscience of the American people.

Unfortunately there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us back to "all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights" in the minds of God.

Former Senator Jim DeMint, Heritage Foundation, April 3, 2014

Sometimes I have to search my heart to know why I react as I do. I confess I don't really know for sure why that interview is so irritating.

It isn't the first idiocy uttered about slavery. In fact, it is similar to earlier presentations by others.

But we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.

Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN), January 21, 2011

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Category:Political News -- posted at: 9:20pm EDT

Capital Comedy in Congress - the Voice Vote

When the vote came, news outlets were ready for a train wreck. For one thing, the vote for the Doc Fix would require suspending the rules. So it would need a two thirds vote. No way could that happen in the Republican House of Representatives. A majority, yes. But two thirds? Keep dreaming.

But Republicans kept meeting all day long. Sometimes the leadership would dash on out to gather with Democrats.

Very mysterious.

Finally, it looks like the end of the road. Everyone knew there was no hope of a Doc Fix this year. Just like football fans sometimes leave early when their team is way behind or way ahead, members of Congress began heading for the door. Why wait for the inevitable?

Then it happened.

"So many as are in favor say aye."

aye.

"Those opposed no."

NOOoooo...

"In the opinion of the chair, two thirds being in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed, and without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table."

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Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:16pm EDT

Columbia, Tennessee promotes itself as the mule capital of the world. Every year around the end of March and beginning of April, they hold an annual celebration. Thousands of people come from all over to join in bluegrass, gospel, country music, with dancing and events. This year they tried a sort of take off on a rodeo, with guys riding sticks made up to look like heads of mules. It was like Monty Python for mule lovers.

They also have an annual mule parade. Four years ago, a local Republican candidate for Congress, a tea party favorite, was scolded by a parade organizer for some sort of safety violation committed by his campaign the previous year. The candidate, Zach Wamp, got really steamed. He was reported by the Nashville City Paper to have said a couple of things that make campaign managers attempt to fly from tall buildings.

"I make my own rules!" and "You can’t tell me what to do!"

Yikes. Way to go, Zack.

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Category:Political News -- posted at: 9:31pm EDT

Republican Tipping Points

When Bill Clinton won the Presidency in 1992, conservatives looked for whatever comfort they could generate from his low share of the vote. It had been a three candidate race, and Bill Clinton won with 43 percent.

George Will reacted with some degree of scorn, not toward Clinton, but toward Clinton's critics. He mocked the"delightful Republican attempt to build confidence on a rickety scaffolding of little numbers."

He stated two obvious facts.

One was that the President-elect would have won with a substantially larger share of the vote had the third candidate, Ross Perot, not engaged in a campaign that was self-financed by equal parts big money and big ego.

The other was that Clinton had ... well ... won.

"Clinton`s strong number is: He won 100 percent of the White House."

Unless you are Chris Christie making a ruthless run toward national Republican prominence, that 100 percent of any elective office means you would not be willing to block lanes or break heads to get a few more points past 60 percent. As long as you get enough past half to avoid a nail biting recount, who cares?

That's why it was hard for me to take seriously the Huffington Post headline a few days ago:

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Direct download: Republican_Tipping_Points.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 11:15pm EDT

Will Massively Wealthy Elites Save the Republican Party?

Voters in their mid-twenties will remember just one presidential campaign in which the Republican got more votes than the Democrat. That happened in 2004 as President George W. Bush was cast as the anti-terrorist President.

Elections in which the Democratic candidate got more votes:

 

  • 1992
  • 1996
  • 2000
  • 2008
  • 2012

Elections in which the Republican candidate got more votes:

 

  • 2004

A trend can be seen in non-Presidential races. The line is not straight, but it wobbles along, generally in one direction. The oscillation does continue. Republicans are victorious, then Democrats win. But Republican victories are becoming narrower over time. Democrats, when they win, achieve greater margins.

What began happening in 1992? Why is it continuing?

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Category:Political News -- posted at: 12:56am EDT

How the Republican Party Plans to Survive and Prevail

Republicans are more resistant to self-correction because the internet and television cable offers a cocoon of reinforcement. No need to change direction if you can surround yourself with a thousand voices all chanting that you and those like you are awesome. Republicans are becoming more extreme and losing members as a result.

One disturbing part of the accompanying collateral damage is that Republicans are now going where fair minded people have not gone for a generation. They are trying very hard to deprive legitimate voters of the right to participate in elections.

It started as what Republicans said was an attempt to address a serious issue that could strike at the core of a democratic society. Voter fraud was the danger. Democrats have protested that voter fraud pretty much does not exist.

Elections are not stolen by ineligible voters or people voting multiple times. They are stolen in the backrooms of election halls, where tallies are changed, and boxes are stuffed.

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Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 9:13pm EDT

My Defense of Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly's comparison has to be taken in context.

The O’Reilly haters are pretty much the people that have no idea what I do. And I like that — I mean, I don’t have any problem with people disliking me, and I’ll tell you why. I’m not comparing myself, but who was the most hated person in Judea 2,000 years ago?

Many, many loved him, but just as many despised him. They’re always going to do that. If you speak your mind, you’re going to have some who like you and some who hate you.

Bill O'Reilly, March 21, 2014

I happen to disagree with O'Reilly about the cause of the crucifixion. His opinion has been shared by antisemitic bigots for centuries. It has caused much suffering among persecuted Jews. I don't think Jesus was killed because he was widely hated. He was targeted, at least in part, because he was way too popular in the nation of Israel.

That does not detract from the point Bill O'Reilly was attempting to make. 

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Category:Political News -- posted at: 10:12pm EDT

Private Association For Private Benefit Without Interference

It is the central argument of traditional economic conservatism. It has been for centuries. The ability of individuals to form voluntary associations for their mutual benefit without outside interference remains the core.

It tells us a bit about the future of economic policy as envisioned by Republicans, should they return to governmental power in Washington.

The idea is a simple one. Establishing a moral balance in public life is a slippery principle. Conservative economist N. Gregory Mankiw of Harvard illustrates that, in an article he was invited to write by the New York Times. He defines the interference by government in the market as "utilitarianism":

The job of policy makers, they argued, is to do their best to maximize the total utility of everyone in society. According to utilitarians, taking a dollar from Peter and giving it to Paul is justified if Peter’s decrease in utility is smaller than Paul’s increase, as would plausibly be the case if Peter is richer than Paul.

N. Gregory Mankiw, in the New York Times, March 23, 2014

He provides a couple of classical hypothetical case studies, thought experiments, to illustrate the problem of deciding benefits based on the greatest good for the greatest number. One involves killing a healthy individual in order to harvest organs to save multiple patients.

Other philosophers have contrived more stark, metaphysical examples. In the late 1800s, Fyodo Dostoyevsky suggested a fictional community blessed with universal health, prosperity, and happiness purchased by torturing to death a small infant.

Wow.

That makes N. Gregory Mankiw a bit of a philosophical piker, don't you think? Perhaps the next step might be to imagine a world in which adult women become wards of the state in order to protect the possible existence suspected microscopic fertilized eggs.

Conflating liberalism with utilitarianism provides any number of false examples. Everyone is a utilitarian in some circumstance. No one is a utilitarian in others.

Conservatives could come up with better arguments, with some effort. Pretty much anyone could.

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Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:48pm EDT

What Richard Nixon Teaches Me

I realized the Secret Service was becoming more and more concerned as we saw the crowd begin to mount.

President Richard Nixon, via Dictabelt (mp3),   May 13, 1970

The dictabelt recording is filled with clicks and a consistent background hiss, but the voice of Richard Nixon is audible.

I was a college student, a participant in anti-war activities, when I heard about the incident.

The turmoil of those days is painful to recall, even four decades later. The expansion of the Vietnam war into Cambodia had been announced a week earlier. Then four protesting students were killed at Kent State by National Guard troops. We didn't know then that more students would be killed soon after at Jackson State University in Mississippi.

A restless President had been roaming through the White House as late Friday became early Saturday. At 1 AM, he telephoned Nancy Dickerson of NBC, waking her at her home. At 4 AM, he put on loud music in a sitting room. A sleepy employee wandered out to see what was going on. President Nixon invited him on a late night excursion.

A few months ago, news outlets ran retrospective stories as a Nixon private recording was made public. Richard Nixon had dictated his account of that restless night. Students against the war were camped nearby at the Lincoln Memorial. The President seemed to think of himself as bold, even a bit heroic, as he traveled that short distance to convince the young protesters of the error of their position.

Direct download: What_Richard_Nixon_Teaches_Me.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:23pm EDT

Ukraine: Beware the Lessons of History

The problem with foreign policy that depends entirely on analogy with the past is that it ignores current reality. We fight the war just ended.

The lesson of World War I was that events can spiral out of control. Treaties made at the drop of a hat are sometimes paid for so many times over, the original tripwire becomes meaningless in comparison.

And so Neville Chamberlain learned the lesson and declared Peace in our Time as he left Munich.

The lesson of Munich was that appeasement never works. Lines must be drawn and never compromised.

And President Johnson drew that line in Vietnam against the monolithic Communist conspiracy to rule the world.

The lesson of Vietnam was that war and peace were not simply in the hands of two superpowers. There were other players in a world of client nations.

President Bush and Vice President Cheney applied the lesson of national sponsors of terrorism after the al Qaeda attacks in New York and Washington. They searched for the culprit among smaller nations and found Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Direct download: Ukraine_Beware_the_Lessons_of_Histor.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:26pm EDT

Bringing Back Freedom To Throw Black People Out

State Senator Phil Jensen (R-SD) is one such Republican. He has introduced legislation that would allow discrimination against gay people. He's adamant about the right to throw gay people out of a place of business.

They have that right, as a business, to do that. And yet thy're getting bullied and harassed by the gay-lesbian community for something that is a personal, deeply held, religious belief of theirs.

- Phil Jensen (R-SD), recorded by KOTA Radio News of Rapid City,   February 1, 2014

But, like a growing number of Republicans, Senator Jensen goes a little farther. He not only acknowledges the similarity to discrimination against black people, he embraces it. The free market would do a good enough job of eliminating racist practices.

In an interview with the Rapid City Journal, he explained:

If someone was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and they were running a little bakery for instance, the majority of us would find it detestable that they refuse to serve blacks, and guess what? In a matter of weeks or so that business would shut down because no one is going to patronize them.

State Senator Phil Jensen (R-SD), March 16, 2014

 

Direct download: Bringing_Back_Freedom_To_Throw_Black.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:01pm EDT