FairAndUNbalanced's podcast

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 EST

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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Direct download: Peace_Through_Forever_War.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:49pm EST

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 EST

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 EST

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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Direct download: Conservative_Guiding_Light.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 10:16pm EST

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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Direct download: The_Evil_Within_the_Gentle_Soul.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 12:16am EST

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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Direct download: Walkin_Lawton_and_the_Future_of_Bush.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 12:02am EST

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 EST

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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Direct download: Lincoln_Denial.mp3
Category:Political News -- posted at: 9:20pm EST

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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Direct download: Capital_Comedy_in_Congress_-_the_Voi.mp3
Category:Policy, Political News -- posted at: 11:16pm EST