Sincerely, oh yes, sincerely

23 06 2015

Sincerity is overrated in politicians.

It’s not that I don’t care at all about the dimensions of their beliefs, but I’ll take a right act for the wrong reason over a wrong act for the right reason every damned time.

So, all those Southern Republicans who have had a “change of heart” and now support the removal of state support of the Confederate Battle Flag?

I don’t care what’s truly madly deeply in their hearts. I care that the flag of treason and white supremacy is finally, finally, being stripped of official honor.

~~~

Taking down the flag is one thing, not every thing, and in the long slog to dismantle white supremacy, certainly not the most important thing.

But that it is now, finally, being treated as a symbol of white supremacy by those who have long profited from the active denial of white supremacy, matters.

And if they don’t truly madly deeply believe, in their hearts, that it is such a symbol, and are now just pandering to distance themselves from those who might cause them trouble?

I’ll take “pander” for the win, Alex.





Brother, brother

18 06 2015

The names of the dead:

Clementa Pinckney, 41, the primary pastor who also served as a state senator.

Cynthia Hurd, 54, St. Andrews regional branch manager for the Charleston County Public Library system.

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, a church pastor, speech therapist and coach of the girls’ track and field team at Goose Creek High School.

Tywanza Sanders, 26, who had a degree in business administration from Allen University, where Pinckney also attended.

Ethel Lance, 70, a retired Gailliard Center employee who has worked recently as a church janitor.

Susie Jackson, 87, Lance’s cousin who was a longtime church member.

DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, a retired director of the local Community Development Block Grant Program who joined the church in March as a pastor.

Myra Thompson, 59, a pastor at the church.

Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, a pastor, who died in a hospital operating room.

—compiled by Andrew Knapp, The Post and Courier

~~~

Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s Republican governor, made a curiously obtuse statement on Facebook in the aftermath of Wednesday’s massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. “While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another,” the governor said.

[. . .]

On the same program, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani also confessed to being baffled about possible motives. “We have no idea what’s in his mind,” he said. “Maybe he hates Christian churches. Maybe he hates black churches or he’s gonna go find another one. Who knows.”

South Carolina Senator and presidential candidate Lindsey Graham questioned whether this was a “hate crime” and tried to suggest factors other than race were involved. “There are real people who are organized out there to kill people in religion and based on race, this guy’s just whacked out,” Graham said on the TV show “The View.” “But it’s 2015. There are people out there looking for Christians to kill them.” (Via)

“I have to do it,” the gunman allegedly told a survivor. “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

In response to the Boston bombing of 2013, Senator Lindsey Graham demanded that the government do everything it could to learn from the attack and prevent future attacks.

This man, in my view, should be designated as a potential enemy combatant and we should be allowed to question him for intelligence gathering purposes to find out about future attacks and terrorist organizations that may exist that he has knowledge of, and that evidence cannot be used against him in trial. That evidence is used to protect us as a nation.

[. . .]

Graham’s reaction to Wednesday’s attack on a black church in his home state of South Carolina was very different. . . .

“I just think he was one of these whacked out kids. I don’t think it’s anything broader than that,” Graham said. “It’s about a young man who is obviously twisted.” (Via)

Oh yes, and this:

Indeed.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: Never gonna get it

1 06 2015

Lindsey Graham for President 2016

Nope.





Same as it ever was

30 05 2015

There are three issues for which American presidents will always—despite campaign promises, previous votes, and party positions—go their own way:

Trade, energy, and security.

Presidents will always seek expanded trade agreements, greater access to energy resources, and whatever is necessary to secure what we now, alas, call the Homeland.

Democrats and Republicans will vary in how they go about this business—Dems may talk more about renewables and Republicans may project a greater hawkishness—but in the end, each of them, as president, will sign the trade deals, drill for oil and gas, and sop up every last bit of information flowing through the leaky pipes of cyberspace, all to “strengthen America”.

This cuts across interests in both parties. Environmentalists and labor activists will get screwed by Dems on energy and trade, perhaps placated with a few wilderness set-asides or anodyne words in trade deals; hawks and nativists will be unsatisfied by Republicans daunted by popular opposition to extended wars and willingness to open borders to both people and products, respectively; and (civil) libertarians will be screwed by presidents of both parties when it comes to the ever-expanding national security state.

Thus, the more ideologically-minded partisans on either side of the divide will be forsaken again and again, the everlasting Charlie to President Lucy.

~~~

As one of those ideologically-minded partisans, I have some sympathy for those who want to believe that this time, this time things will be different, and who disillusioned when they are not.

But as a fan of Machiavelli, I think it is better for us not to have illusions about power.

The promises are nice–necessary, even, to move us to canvass and call and get out the vote—but they go only so far as politics will allow them.

And on trade, energy, and security, that ain’t very far.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: Never gonna get it

28 05 2015

I’m so glad Rick Santorum is now officially in the race (which he’ll lose) for president.*

Why glad?

Because, while he has no chance of winning, he, like Mike Huckabee (who won’t win), can make some fun trouble for the candidates who do have a shot.

Carly Fiorina (who won’t win) might bless us with more ads featuring diabolical livestock, but is otherwise uninteresting, as is George (just plain “who?”) Pataki. And Ben Carson, who is a truly terrible candidate, will likely simply be politely ignored by the rest of the field before he retires to the Fox sinecure for which he’s auditioning.

Ted Cruz (who won’t win)? He might be fun to watch just to see how much he pisses off everyone else, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that Huckabee or Santorum will be able to needle him into a highly entertaining aneurysm.

On the Democratic side, I’m glad Bernie Sanders (who won’t win) is running. He, along with Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb (neither of whom will win), won’t give Hillary Clinton much of a workout, but hey, a few laps around the track are better than none at all.

In any case, I make no predictions as to who will ultimately prevail in either the Republican contest or the general election. Clinton’s a strong candidate, but that’s no guarantee of nothin': whoever the GOPpers pick will likely also be a strong candidate.

Which means that, a year from now, my sang froid will be gone and I’ll be reminding myself to Take deep breaths.

*Yes, it’s officially the race (which he’ll lose) to be the Republican nominee, but we all know the point of winning the primary (which he won’t) is to run for president.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: If you complain once more

15 04 2015

By the Fata Morgana, what is Peggy Noonan ingesting?

I don’t usually read Noonan—Charlie Pierce and Wonkette provide sufficient wrap-ups—but I caught an excerpt of her column in which she complains about the unfairness of the media:

Two points on the general feel of the 2016 campaign so far.

One is that in the case of Mrs. Clinton we are going to see the press act either like the press of a great nation—hungry, raucous, alive, demanding—or like a hopelessly sickened organism, a big flailing octopus with no strength in its arms, lying like a greasy blob at the bottom of the sea, dying of ideology poisoning.

Republicans know—they see it every day—that Republican candidates get grilled, sometimes impertinently, and pressed, sometimes brusquely. And it isn’t true that they’re only questioned in this way once they announce, Scott Walker has been treated like this also, and he has yet to announce. Republicans see this, and then they see that Mrs. Clinton isn’t grilled, is never forced to submit to anyone’s morning-show impertinence, is never the object of the snotty question or the sharp demand for information. She gets the glide. She waves at the crowds and the press and glides by. No one pushes. No one shouts the rude question or rolls out the carefully scripted set of studio inquiries meant to make the candidate squirm. She is treated like the queen of England, who also isn’t subjected to impertinent questions as she glides into and out of venues. But she is the queen. We are not supposed to have queens.

I honestly thought Pierce and the nasty good folks at Wonkette were exaggerating when they referred to her, uh, louche style, but now I’m wondering exactly how many lotuses she eats prior to laying down in front of her keyboard.

Marco Rubio had a pretty great announcement in that it made the political class look at him in a new way, and a better way. I have heard him talk about his father the bartender I suppose half a dozen times, yet hearing it again in his announcement moved me. I don’t know how that happened. John Boehner is the son of a barkeep.

I. . . it’s. . . Good goddess, who writes like this?

Okay, sorry, I got distracted by the vapors wafting off of her. . . thoughts. The real point in bringing this up is to bang away on one of my favorite pots: Fairness doesn’t matter in electoral politics.

It doesn’t matter if Noonan is correct in her assessment of the mild treatment of Clinton (she is not) and that GOPpers will be subject to the cruelest and most unusual punishment by the media (if only), because fairness itself doesn’t matter.

I get the complaints, I do—I hated Ronald Reagan and thought he skated from the ill consequences of his policies, and considered the press’s treatment of Al Gore juvenile (and I still don’t understand how Joe Biden gets away with what he does)—but in the long march to the presidency, the agita over media slights or mis-magnifications is itself misplaced.

Sure, it allows you (if you are Peggy Noonan) to fill column space with psychedaelia, but the candidates themselves can’t get bogged down in the media mire: whining about the news-meanies isn’t going to get the non-tribal voter to the polls.

And that’s the whole point of the campaign: to get the folks on your side to show up, and to prod those who aren’t on the other side (and maybe a few who are) to drag their asses to the polls and pull the level or draw the line or punch the screen for you.

Who knows, maybe in Noonan’s marmalade-sky world, slurring about fairness makes its own tangerine sense. But on that hard, hard campaign trail, it doesn’t matter.

Winning matters. That’s all that matters.

~~~

h/t Shakesville





If I’m so wrong

12 04 2015

Too many thoughts, not enough words.

No, that’s not right: too many thoughts in too many directions, words scattering after the thoughts.

I didn’t make the argument that pluralism is best protected by the one-law principle (I guess I’d call it), and have been stewing about how to brew up that argument.

David Watkins (aka “djw”) at Lawyers, Guns & Money had a couple of good posts, as did John Holbo at Crooked Timber—the comments are even more provocative than the original post—the latter of which spurred a multi-page effusion of thoughts that. . . led to no greater coherence of those thoughts.

So: more work to do.

One thing did seem worth mentioning now, however, and that is that I was wrong to assert that adherence to a one-law standard would be sufficient to protect and even promote pluralism: it would not.

I think it can protect pluralism, but not on its own. One addition might be a robust defense of one’s off-the-clock expressions against on-the-job discipline or punishments. That is, as long as someone performs her duties at work, what she says or does when not at work can’t be used against her by her employers.

There are issues with this, of course, in terms of salaried employees, or those for whom off-the-clock expressions might be fairly seen as relevant to the job (e.g., a fire fighter who hates Catholics or a teacher who argues that children of single parents are damaged), or for a boss or CEO who is to represent an entire company.

And that more is involved than just employers/employees implies that other principles/standards may be required.

As I said, more work ahead.








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