Various thoughts on current events with an emphasis on politics, legal issues, books, movies and whatever is on my mind. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org; please put "blog comments" in the subject line.
Interesting as it might be at times, the talking heads like Rachel Maddow being concerned about the presidential election gets depressing after awhile. It is so sad really that so much time is spent over deciding among such an inferior crew. We are left with worrying about them since you know Obama isn't a lock of anything. The fact this is true doesn't make it much less sad. And, lack a Greek play, the ending (Mitt winning the nomination) is deemed preordained by most.
We are left with trying to find some pearls among the swine, like truth coming from the collision with error (what a mess). Chris Hayes over the weekend played a bit of Ron Paul answering a question about his infamous newsletters by (such a truth teller!) changing the subject by talking about his opposition of the drug war. Look at me, I'm really a friend of the blacks! Such is the best we can do -- someone sane about federal power on a few key matters, but then ruins it by not being on others.
To keep perspective, now and then, we see lists like this one:
Top ten reasons that claims that conservatives love freedom and small government are unpersuasive in the reality-based world:
10. Government surveillance
9. Starting unnecessary wars
8. The war on drugs
7. Regulation of reproduction
6. Government secrecy
5. Whittling the Fourth Amendment
4. Regulating the bedroom
3. “Your papers, please?“
1. [choose your favorite among the other contenders, such as corporate subsidies, defense spending, the guilt-optional death penalty, deficits, earmarks, red state parasitism, regulation of disfavored businesses and professions, school prayer, prison policy . . . ]
And, people like I (fwiw) remind that even Paul wants to regulate reproduction, repeatedly is anti-gay, is lax when various things that threaten liberty involve state power etc.
Meanwhile, per a book review over the weekend, we are reminded that all is not lost:
It seems to me that a Democratic president who gets us health care reform and tough new financial protection for consumers, who guides the economy through its roughest period in 80 years with moderate success (who could do better?), who ends our long war in Iraq and avenges the worst insult to our sovereignty since Pearl Harbor (as his Republican predecessor manifestly failed to do, despite a lot of noise and promises); a president who faced an opposition of really spectacular intransigence and downright meanness; a president who has the self-knowledge and wisdom about Washington to write the passage quoted above, and the courage to publish it: that president deserves a bit more credit from the left than Frank is willing to give him.
It is like when people how things used to be (both sides at times do this, including dreams about what the Founders cared about) and forget about various things that were worse. To continue from the book review:
Frank may also be a bit overly impressed by what the right has achieved. Evelyn Waugh complained that the British Conservative Party had failed to turn back the clock by a single second. Have the Republicans done much better? (Waugh was speaking long before the Margaret Thatcher revolution, which really did change British society enormously.) Conservatives have dominated the debate, and usually the government, for three decades now, yet they haven’t managed to abolish a single cabinet department or eliminate a single major entitlement program. Nothing big has been “privatized.” Somehow or other, against all expectations and despite a conservative Supreme Court, abortion rights and affirmative action have been preserved. Gay rights are advancing so fast that the Republican Party itself is probably ahead of where Democrats were a generation ago. The Constitution has not been amended to require a balanced budget or forbid flag-burning.
True, they’ve pretty much killed the union movement. While they are not to blame for the effects of globalization and technology on income distribution, they’ve done nothing to mitigate these. And then there are tax cuts — especially tax cuts for the wealthy. That we have had. In spades. Actually, all this tends to confirm Frank’s contention that what Republicans really care about, politically, is money, and all that other stuff is just prole meat.
So, they have done damage, but not as much as one might think from the rhetoric. This isn't quite of "they are starving in Africa" variety, but it might not impress some people deeply hurting at the moment or who rail against flying man killing drones from the sky or something. Still, it does help keep the knife away from the throat. To end with something, I was skimming Disturbing the Peace, a Q&A of Mr. Havel (RIP) from the mid-80s. He was not a big fan of political parties. Havel's ideal was to have parties as a type of debating society, but have individuals run on their own. Their party origins might be known to get a sense of their beliefs, but they wouldn't be so tied and restrained as if there was two or more parties in place.
An interesting idea, though who knows if it would work well. Our Founding Fathers didn't care much for "factions" but soon enough they manage to settle into two.
* The title is from the movie, which was on last night, Moonstruck. Another great line was from Nicholas Cage's character, after Cher's noted that it wasn't his brother's fault that an accident happened, one that created a rift between the brothers:
I ain't no freakin' monument to justice! I lost my hand! I lost my bride! Johnny has his hand! Johnny has his bride! You want me to take my heartache, put it away and forget?
What's dry logic next to that? Sounds apt in many Internet discussions.