Thu, 11 September 2014
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...
Mon, 1 September 2014
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.
Mon, 25 August 2014
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.
Thu, 21 August 2014
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.
Tue, 19 August 2014
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.
Sun, 3 August 2014
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.
Thu, 31 July 2014
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.
Sun, 27 July 2014
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.
Thu, 17 July 2014
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.
Sun, 13 July 2014
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.