Category Archives: Politics

THE REPARATIONS TEMPTATION

Donald Trump’s favorability rating is an anemic 41.8%. That bodes ill for his 2020 reelection prospects. But Trump has a secret weapon. It’s called the Democratic Party, an organization apparently determined to ensure his reelection.

Democratic Party

Democrats – including older members who should know better – fawned over the rollout of the so-called “Green New Deal,” the infantile brainchild of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This freshman representative believes that the world will end in 12 years unless drastic action, such as cutting back and possibly eliminating air travel, is taken. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scoffed at the “Green dream or whatever they call it.” But at last count, five declared Democratic presidential candidates have lined up to support it.

Then there is the proposal to totally eliminate private health insurance companies and replace them with  a fully government-run system, a move that would displace a half million jobs. It is supported by Bernie Sanders and, for about one day, by Kamala Harris.

And then there is the Party’s acclimatization to anti-Semitism. Last week, the Democratic Party proved itself unable to agree on an unambiguous repudiation of freshman Representative Ilhan Omar, who, for the third time, issued noxious anti-Semitic statements. Instead, the Party drafted an anodyne condemnation of hatred of all sorts. There was no mention of Omar – who justifiably characterized this as a victory. Three Democratic candidates — Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren— issued statements supporting her.

Almost lost amidst the din of self-destructive activity has been Democratic Party support for yet another controversial – and deeply unpopular – idea: reparations for the victims of slavery. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Politics

TAKING ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ SERIOUSLY

“I do think that a system that allows billionaires to exist when there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don’t have access to public health is wrong.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, N.Y. Times, February 10, 2019

When dealing with statements by Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, the maxim coined by journalist Salena Zito about President Trump is equally applicable: “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” In Ocasio-Cortez’s case, it tends to be Republicans who take her literally but not seriously. The press and her supporters (the two often overlap) take her seriously, but not literally.

Taking her literally, the statement makes no sense. Ringworm is a common skin disease, similar to athlete’s foot or jock itch. It’s easily treated by over-the-counter antifungal ointments, and incidence of the problem has little or nothing to do with access to health care.

Apprised of this, Ocasio-Cortez clarified her statement, tweeting: “For what it’s worth, I  meant to say hookworm.”

Alexandria-Ocasio-Cortez-1-e1534170511949

For what it’s worth, hookworm, a gastrointestinal parasite, is a serious problem, unlike ringworm. But contrary to a report in a leftist English publication claiming that the diseases is “rampant” in the American South — a report she apparently relied upon — the Alabama Department of Public Health released a later study showing “no evidence of an increased incidence” of the disease.

So it’s best to weigh her statement by taking her seriously, but not literally. Read that way, her message is: “A system that allows billionaires to exist while there is extreme poverty is wrong.”

Is it? Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Culture, Politics

AFTER KAVANAUGH

As this story goes to press, it is uncertain whether Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed to sit on the Supreme Court. But one thing is certain. The confirmation process itself is broken, and in desperate need of repair. Here are three recommendations. They may not necessarily fix the many problems manifested over the past few months, but they may at least moderate them.Panorama_of_United_States_Supreme_Court_Building_at_Dusk

First, the process needs a consensus among its participants on the meaning of judicial temperament. Everyone agrees that judicial temperament is a crucial qualification. No one agrees on what that temperament should be. Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Law, Politics

DisRESPECT IN DETROIT

Funerals are meant to be dignified occasions to honor the dead and to remember their deeds. Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, led a life that certainly deserved honor and memory. The first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she was also inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and received the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

It was therefore distressing – in fact, disgusting – to see the occasion stained by the presence of Louis Farrakhan.  Not just present, but in the front row, next to former President Clinton, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton.Farrakhan

We live in age in which terms like racist, sexist, and anti-Semite are bandied about so freely, that they have almost lost their meaning. Watch cable news. Listen to talk radio. Nearly anyone with whom one disagrees is labelled a “hater” in today’s over-heated climate. If one wants to witness true, sincere hatred – not the ersatz version paraded in the media – one need only read the words of Minister Farrakhan. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Culture, Politics

A NATION OF RAGE BOYS

He is largely forgotten today, but ten years ago, a furious, wide-mouthed Kashmiri protester caused a stir in social media. His name was Shakeel Ahmad Bhat, but he became known as “Rage Boy.”  Whenever cameras were present to record angry mobs protesting Israel, Pope Benedict, Salman Rushdie, or the Danish Muhammed cartoons, there was Rage Boy, demonstrating, in the words of the late Christopher Hitchens, “his piety and pissed-offness.”

Rage Boy II   Rage Boy I

 

 

 

After his identity was ascertained, Rage Boy became something of a cult figure. He was widely interviewed. His visage adorned posters, bumper stickers, and even boxer shorts.

Then he disappeared. No one knew what happened to him. Until now. We now know that Rage Boy emigrated to the United States, cloned himself, joined both political parties, and became the guiding spirit of American opinion.

Thanks to the absorption of Rage Boys into the body politic, rivalries today are less contests over ideas or ideology as they are competitions over who can lay claim to the sincerest, most deep-seated sense of rage. We have become a nation of Rage Boys. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, Politics

COMRADE DETECTIVE’S WELCOME PERSPECTIVE

Polls tell us that many Americans, particularly millennials, get their news from television comedy shows, such as Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show. The same probably holds true for their knowledge of history. If that’s the case, then thank the Lord (or, in this case, thank Lenin) for Comrade Detective, the buddy-cop export from the dark side of the Iron Curtain. Though the show is a spoof, it does an astonishingly good job exposing the ideological fissures of the Cold War.

Comrade_Detective_title_card Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, Politics

THE TRUMP MAGNET

During the Republican presidential primaries, 16 of the 17 candidates differed and bickered but agreed on one thing. They all agreed that Donald Trump was not a true Republican.  Trump, of course, won the nomination anyway.  And then he won the presidency. And then, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, the 16 made their peace with him.

While a few Republican activists and intellectuals, known as “Never-Trumpers,” have steadfastly opposed him, most have supported him or kept silent.

Why? How has a man who has renounced long-held Republican positions on free trade, international relations, American exceptionalism, and a host of other fundamental issues managed to attract the loyalty of those who have long espoused those very positions?

Trump’s magnetic appeal to traditional Republicans can be analyzed the same way any magnets can. Magnets either attract or repel.

MAGNETS

The simplest explanation for Trump’s appeal to traditional Republicans is magnetic repulsion. Republicans are not so much attracted to Trump as they are repelled by his opponents. They are not so much pro-Trump as they are anti-anti-Trump.

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Culture, Politics

WHY WE ARE NOT THROWING AWAY OUR SHOT: A BRIEF HISTORY AND MODEST DEFENSE OF DUELING

 

The phenomenal success of the rap musical Hamilton has acquainted many theater goers with the custom of dueling.  Three duels take place in the story. To ensure the accuracy of their depiction, Lin-Manuel Miranda consulted Joanne Freeman, whose book Affairs of Honor he deemed “indispensable.” Dueling did not lead to a happy ending for the show’s namesake, or for his son Philip. But that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to be said for the custom. A respectable – and not entirely facetious – argument can be made for its revival.

dueling-pistols01 Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, Politics

DISREGARD ON BROADWAY

Sam: You’re a very rude young woman. I know Douglas from the Rotary, and I can’t believe he’d want you treating customers so badly.

Cashier: I don’t think I was treating her badly.

Sam: Then you must be from New York.

Sam Burns (played by John Lithgow) in Terms of Endearment, the 1983 Academy Award winner for Best Picture.

 

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump supporters attempted to paint their opponents as coastal elitists out of touch with and contemptuous of the nation’s heartland. Now comes an event on Broadway —  possibly the bluest thoroughfare in the bluest city in the country – that portrays liberals as … well … as coastal elitists out of touch with and contemptuous of the nation’s heartland.

hamilton

Last Friday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence took his daughter to see Hamilton, the hottest show on Broadway. As they took their seats, audience members booed. Pence took it in stride, telling his daughter: “That’s what freedom sounds like.”  After the show, as Pence and his daughter were leaving, they were treated to a lecture  by Brandon Victor Dixon, the actor who portrays Aaron Burr. Pence stopped and listened. The next morning, he told interviewers that he was not offended, and he encouraged everyone to see the show.

.pence

Although some commentators have dismissed the incident as “dumb news,” it nonetheless deserves examination. It tells us much about the current state of division in our country, and perhaps even a little about how that division propelled Trump to the presidency. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Politics

GO WASTE, YOUNG MAN

“Don’t waste your vote.”

That’s the message conveyed to the electorate in this, the autumn of our discontent. Vote for Hillary Clinton or vote for Donald Trump. A vote for a third-party or write-in candidate is a wasted gesture.

It’s a difficult message to stomach because in Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the nation has the worst electoral menu in its history. Just look at how their more articulate supporters justify their preference.

disgust

William Bennett served as Secretary of Education in the Reagan administration. He supports Trump. In a November 1 piece for FoxNews Opinion, Bennett and co-author F.H. Buckley called  Trump “a Sam Slick who seemingly has taken every legal advantage offered by the Tax and Bankruptcy Codes. And you expected something better from a New York City businessman?”

On the same day that column appeared, Conor Friederdorf, political staff writer for The Atlantic, offered this ringing endorsement of Hillary Clinton: “There are so many politicians, many Republicans among them, that I would rather have as America’s president. If not for Trump, I would not even consider voting for her.”

That’s what their supporters are saying, so one can understand the vitriol spewed by their opponents. Not surprisingly, the New York Times reports today that more than eight out of ten voters are repulsed rather than excited by the campaign.

But wouldn’t a vote for anyone other than these two tawdry products be wasted?

In fact, the opposite may be true. Voting for Hillary or Trump would be wasteful because neither will be in a position to accomplish anything after winning the election. Both will face congressional or judicial investigations. Trump is scheduled to go on trial later this month for fraud concerning Trump University. If elected, he will face investigations into his Foundation, his taxes, and his supposed ties to Russia. Meanwhile, Hillary already faces investigations into her family Foundation, as well her private email server.

Neither candidate is likely to find Congress cooperative. Trump will not only face the unified opposition (and disdain) of congressional Democrats, he will also face opposition from his own party. At an October meeting of Republican activists and intellectuals at the Hoover Institution, the consensus was that the Party is “in for a pretty long civil war” after the election. Meanwhile, Republicans have already begun discussing grounds for impeachment of a President Hillary Clinton.

But even if a President Trump or a President Clinton is unable to accomplish anything, why vote for an alternative who cannot possibly win?

Well, not so fast. One outsider actually does have at least a theoretical chance. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Politics