Nuggets of internet gold:
Ned Williams at WisdomIsVindicated laughs at those of us who have opinions about Arizona's law without having read the actual legislation. He is right, of course. Most critics of the law have never even bothered to read the 1935 bill in its original German.
- Jack Jodell, friend of the working blogger, at THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON POST is in the midst of family tragedy. We wish him and his family godspeed.
Have a safe weekend. Pray for someone in pain. Recovery gains traction, but it is very slow for many thrown out of work.
Every once in a while, politicians go against the voters, sometimes on issues that make no sense to a rational person. Politicians don't care how people feel. They care how people vote. Sometimes there is a difference. Think wedge. Wedge issues are often used to peel enough voters from the opposition to make a difference without losing other voters.
When Ronald Reagan was nearly assassinated in 1981, his Press Secretary, James Brady, suffered grievous head wounds. He and his wife Sarah campaigned for reasonable gun laws. And it looked like a winning issue. Huge majorities wanted lethal firearms restricted so that maniacs, kids, and criminals would have a harder time getting them. It was an idea whose time was long past.
But conservatives saw an opportunity. Those opposed to any restrictions on firearms got insane about it. The NRA went national with conspiracy theories and slippery slope arguments. Life long Democrats were switching.
So a huge majority wanted at least some controls over guns, but did not care enough about the issue for it to affect their votes. A small rabid minority opposed any controls at all and, boy did they vote. And vote. And vote. Democratic office holders today would rather chew on tin foil than even think about containing gun violence. A proposal to keep guns from suspected terrorists is going nowhere. No kidding! From terrorists.
Not all wedge issues go against conservatives. George Bush used his stumbling Spanish, only slightly worse than his English, to appeal to conservative voters of Latin descent. The Bush-Cheney administration were enjoying success in appealing to Spanish speaking Americans. Those who had migrated to the United States, and their children and grandchildren, are proud of their adopted country and often identify with those whose patriotism is voiced the loudest. Then Republicans appealed to popular fears.
Most voters want to crack down on immigration. Some are passionate about those who are here illegally, but resist any increase in legal immigration. Culture issues, language, and pretty much anything that identifies newcomers as different undergird prejudice. Fear about jobs is a big item, although the evidence is that even illegal immigrants benefit the economy.
Most Americans want to crack down on immigrants, but fall short of active hatred: Not enough, in itself, to cost many votes. But there are pressures in a shrinking party captured by the far right. Those who actively hate are courted by GOP candidates. Vote for us. Republicans hate those you hate.
But those conservative Spanish speaking voters? Their numbers are growing, and the work of Bush and Cheney has faded. Think about it. How much would it take to get you to vote for candidates who hate you?
All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian.
There is not a lot to like about Nikki Haley, if you are a liberal Democrat, like ... well ... me. She terms efforts to make health care available to those with pre-existing conditions as "unconstitutional takeover of healthcare." She wants, instead, to guarantee "access to healthcare using free market principles." If Adam Smith's hand leaves you out, too bad. She likes to bash immigrants. She wants to "reform" the tax code to put less of the burden on wealthy folks, and more on working people. And she is currently being attacked by a conservative blogger who purports to be a former lover.
The sex lives of public officials were once considered private. JFK's dalliances were known to a small group, and suspected by most everyone else in the press. But the ethic in those innocent days was that private lives were to be made public only when official performance was affected, or when it was pretty much unavoidable. Wilbur Mills (D-AR) went from powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to ex-powerful anything after being stopped for driving under the influence in 1974. His passenger, stripper Fanne Foxe, tried to run away and ended up taking a bath in Washington's Tidal Basin.
In the 1980s, the standard of none-of-our-business was trampled on the path to Gary Hart. In the 1990s Bill Clinton became the target. The argument against Clinton was simple. If he couldn't be trusted not to cheat on his wife, how could we trust him in office? One wit asked if we were afraid he might sneak off one night and, behind our backs, balance the budget of Belgium. Christopher Hitchens characterized such views sarcastically. It was none of our business, he suggested, what Bill and Monica did in the privacy of their own Oval Office. Voters were outraged, and in 1998, they turned out in droves to punish ... well ... Clinton's accusers. It was the first time in 176 years that the party of a sixth year administration gained seats in Congress.
As public piety became more pronounced, and bombastic morality became the rule, a new factor was introduced. Sex lives might not be the business of the public, but hypocrisy was. So those who touted their own morality, or attacked that of opponents, became fair game. Newt Gingrich had been an accuser of Clinton while conducting his own affair with an assistant. One Republican speaker after another was lost as private lives became public.
Three years ago, State Rep. Bob Allen (R-FL) an anti-gay activist was arrested soliciting oral sex from an undercover policeman. State Sen. Roy Ashburn (R-CA), another anti-gay activist, was stopped by police for DWI a few months ago as he drove from a gay bar. Outings got bigger. John Ensign, Larry Craig, Mark Foley, and Ted Haggard fell. After a while, the hypocrisy rationale disappeared and curiosity itself became the standard. Today, purse-lipped television personalities demand apologies from Tiger Woods.
There is little moral rant in the public presentation of Nikki Haley. Her accuser is a less than reputable conservative blogger with criminal history of domestic violence. She should be opposed and defeated. But only because she supports the mistaken policy positions of Nikki Haley.
You're here today because the president suffered a terrible moral lapse, a marital infidelity. Not a breach of the public trust, not a crime against society, the two things Hamilton talked about in Federalist Paper No. 65 -- I recommend it to you before you vote -- but it was a breach of his marriage vows. It was a breach of his family trust. It is a sex scandal. H.L. Mencken said one time, "When you hear somebody say, 'This is not about money,' it's about money." And when you hear somebody say, "This is not about sex," it's about sex.
- - former Senator Dale Bumpers (D-AR), January 21, 1999
At the Impeachment Trial of President Bill Clinton.
Senator Bumpers successfully argued that the case was about sexual
indiscretion and therefore none of our business.
Recall, the Congress passed a war resolution against Japan. Germany declared war on us two days later. We never formally declared war on Hitler's Germany, and yet we fought the war.
The speaker was J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, currently scaring all rational thought out of John McCain, as he campaigns for McCain's Senate seat. It was Norm of TV's Cheers joining in a bizarre mind meld with President George at his W. Bushiest. The US had never declared war on Germany?
We've all had experiences with clueless folk endlessly impressed with their own knowledge. He may never have actually said it, but Will Rogers is widely credited with a remark about a politician, "It's not what he doesn't know that bothers me ... it's what he knows for sure that just ain't so."
A work acquaintance once explained in detail how dinosaurs had disappeared because of a giant meteor. He reconstructed it in dramatic fashion. The big rock had hit the world with such force that plants all over the earth jumped out of the ground, uprooted, leaving the dinosaurs with nothing to eat. People hear things wrong and believe what they hear. Minor variations grow until they become urban legends.
But some urban legends are not the product of things heard wrong. Prejudice and malicious intent form the basis of much misinformation. Hayworth was in a serious policy debate, and was trying to demonstrate that declarations of war are a mere constitutional technicality, not needed in the modern world. He could have just looked up Article II Section 8, but why bother?
Common wisdom of the everyone-knows-it's-true-so-why-bother-to-check variety is what I hear in everyday discussion. Since much of the debate in my life has come from conservatives, I have come to expect it from the right. Thus, I have heard "everyone knows" that founders did not really want any separation of church and state, the federal government was infested with Communists after World War II, Joe McCarthy was a brave and solitary hero.
These neighborhood barroom opinions are now to be taught as fact in Texas and beyond. Texas' Board of Education has been captured by a hard-right group who will
They have not yet gotten around to teaching the Hayworth version of history. The US still declared war on the Nazis on December 11, 1941.
Those of us on the liberal side of the fence are still treating the Republican embarrassment at the naked lady place scandal, as Rachel Maddow delicately put it, mostly as a delightfully bizarre public relations development. It is that. Ohhh yeah, it is that! But what made it especially harmful was not that the general public started laughing at the GOP central committee. It is that the public started laughing at Republican contributors.
Two body blows (so to speak) landed. The first was the lost and found presentation for GOP campaign fund raisers. It had been left at the Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Grande, Florida and turned over to media people. It presented potential donors as two distinct groups. I like that premise. "There are two kinds of people. Those who think there are two kinds of people and those who don't." I vary between thinking of that and it's brother formulation: "There are three kinds of people, those who can count and those who can't." This one was so extreme it was, all at once, strange, repugnant, and funny.
Anyway, back to the two kinds of people. There are two kinds of Republican donors, said the GOP presentation. There are big blowhards with loads of money and huge egos, who can be flattered and stroked into giving. Then there are small, frightened, racially motivated little people who give the few dollars they have because they are scared of the word "socialist" and they hate the black guy in the Oval Office. Lest the point be missed, the word "socialist" was splashed across the screen to show how to scare the little munchkins into giving. And, not to put too fine a point on it, the President of the United States was shown in white face. So the GOP sees egotistical big shots on the one hand, timid little racists on the other.
Then the big bomb hit. A few donors were treated to a sex club featuring lesbian themed bondage shows. This was defended by one local Republican committeeman. When "dealing with young people, it's probably a good idea to go off the beaten track..." (OMG!) "...a little bit and do things you think they might like." Can it get worse? "...everything that's cool from a pop culture perspective is Democratic" opined another GOP voice. "If you've got a little insecurity complex, but you've got money -- what a cool group to hang out with." All funny. All demeaning to the Republican Central Committee.
Except embarrassing the party isn't what hurt. The clear message was delivered to everyone who briefly considered contributing to the cause. The GOP considered them to be egotistical, easily frightened, racially primitive, sexual deviants, who could be cynically manipulated. Now think about your willingness to contribute to your favorite cause if you discovered that sort of thinking. Imagine if that image of you was screamed to all your friends. The bottom line is that GOP cash on hand is about 70% lower than this time in previous election years.
So the party is now doing the smart thing. Weeks later, after a suitable silence, they are firing people. Top people. You see, there are two kinds of Republican officials. Those who never, ever humiliate potential contributors, and those who get tossed out onto the street. There is no third kind.
As you may of heard, the Chairman has asked for the resignation of Rob Bickhart and Debbie LeHardy from their positions in the Finance department. While we appreciate their service to the RNC and wish them well in future endeavors, the Chairman felt it was important to restructure the department in order to continue to improve on our strong fundraising numbers.
- - Doug Heye, Republican National Committee, May 7, 2010
Announcing two in a series of top level firings
I loved watching the show. It can't be an easy role, that of an ideologically motivated host interviewing an adversary, while maintaining an attitude that is unfailingly polite, transparently fair, even friendly. As interviews left a series of bloodied liberals, William F. Buckley still had no trouble attracting those he wished to skewer. I recall a dialogue with rock and roll personality, Murray the K. At one calmly pointed question, the guest stopped in mid-sentence and provoked sympathetic laughter from Buckley and his audience with a suggestion that the episode be renamed "The Genocide of Murray the K."
I like watching Rachel Maddow. She is Buckley's opposite in that she interviews from the left. But she is similar in one respect. She has made a fetish about being hyper-fair to guests. She allows subjects to answer at length and seems to bend over backward to allow clarification.
She does not allow her guests to dodge questions indefinitely. Most interview programs are conducted by those with little attitude for depth. Time is a big factor. Faced with a difficult line of questioning, an interviewee can give a sounds-almost-like-an-answer answer at length and get away with it. It is a form of filibuster. Politicians know how to run out the clock. Maddow listens patiently, sometimes even summarizing the rambling response, then, as the guest nods in agreement, hones back in on the missing answer.
The contrast with Fox is striking. President Obama's aides must have exchanged a series of high-fives after a recent appearance. His answers were not particularly newsworthy. The aggressive questioning was. With constant interruptions, and endless opining by the interviewer, the image of the President became one of exasperated patience.
Maddow interviewed Rand Paul and, as anticipated, honed in on the firestorm created by his answers to the Louisville Courier-Journal. He would have objected to the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it told private businesses they could not discriminate on the basis of race. He said he personally objected to racism and would have supported ending what he called "institutional racism," state law that told businesses they could not serve black and white customers together. Then came Maddow.
Rand was prepared. He supported the end of segregation that had resulted from the 1964 law. Maddow listened, then asked about private businesses. Rand said he opposed institutional racism. Maddow listened, summarized, then asked about private businesses. Rand said he personally objected to racist practices. Maddow listened, acknowledged that he did not like racism, and asked about private businesses. Rand said he did not like southern states telling businesses they had to discriminate. Maddow appreciated that, and asked whether it was okay for businesses to discriminate voluntarily. Rand said he objected personally to racism. So it went, until Rand explained that, yes, he disagreed with telling private businesses not to discriminate.
Conservatives say Rand Paul was ambushed with trick questions.
Um ... No. He wasn't.
Rand Paul Explains
Rand Paul Admits
I developed health concerns several weeks ago. Sitting at my desk, things became hard to see. My vision darkened completely and, for just a few short seconds, I was blind. Then my vision was back, and it was as if it had never happened. The entire episode came and went so quickly the word "blind" did not come to me right away. "What in the world was that?" was about as far as my thoughts went for a moment or two.
I made the mistake of mentioning it to friends and family, who politely requested (okay, nagged) that I visit the doctor right away. Two scanning tests and some discussion led to a conclusion. I'm pretty much fine. The episode could have a dozen innocuous causes. We'll see if it recurs.
So I was okay. But, still, it was a bit of a wake up call in a couple of respects. I set about trying to be sure relationships were in good repair. Family members found themselves encouraged to take up endeavors they had always intended but always put off. I pray daily, and those prayers assumed a new quality. And, at church, I took a new look at my duties. Were there people who could back me up if my activities were interrupted?
I sing in church, but I also write introductions for songs, spoken by singers. The words are my attempt to tie in songs to the theme of each weekly message. One song is the prelude for our traditional service. Six or seven others are for contemporary service, which is more musically oriented. This week is a bit of an experiment. I asked speakers to take a hand at writing short introductions themselves. I've helped a little but they are surprising themselves at how good they are. Their messages are about hope, acceptance, and leading lives of active discipleship.
I got around to reading some of the usual suspects and I was surprised to find advice from my brother-in-Christ Gary Bauer. He tells me that I, and at least two of the speakers this week, are not really Christians. His comments were primarily an attack on the faith of Nancy Pelosi and liberal politicians. But we were certainly included. His definition of "the left" includes all of us who do not support the Republican agenda. The left "cites God only when they believe it bolsters their policy preferences." Wow. I just hope our pastor doesn't find out.
For many decades the phrase used to describe Protestant Christianity was "the Republican Party at prayer." The vision was reinforced by those who actively sought to politicize faith along conservative lines. Jesus loves you and joins in your hatred of Hillary and gays. That was before President Obama was added to the list of those Jesus hates. Mainstream media remains complicit. The more radical the talk, the more likely a national spokesperson will appear on television representing the faith.
The argument began between Peter and Paul about whether our Christian duty was to invite people in or lock them out. New convert Paul wanted inclusiveness. Peter changed his mind after a dreamed discussion with the Lord. Brother Gary hasn't gotten the memo - or the dream.
Would Jesus sign the immigration bill? He'd sign it so fast it'd give you a nosebleed.
- - Bryan Fischer, host 'Focal Point' radio on AFR Talk, May 21, 2010
On Christ's mission to keep illegal outsiders out of Arizona.
AFR Talk is a division of the American Family Association.
Ned Williams at WisdomIsVindicated likes GOP history, rejoicing the Texas requirement that school books around the US must teach kids that creationism and Joe McCarthy represent historical truth and the UN, Social Security, and Separation of Church and State are evil.
Slant Right's John Houk is angry over an analysis of the evidence that finds possible signs of moderation in Hezbollah. Houk's reasoning seems to be that, since we know in our hearts that can't be true, it is outrageous that anyone would examine evidence.
- David Everitt-Carlson of The Wild Wild East Dailies in Munich has discovered the secret to successful blogs. Beware automatic music on your PC speakers.
Have a safe weekend. Pray for those in pain. Pray for the environment. Pray for recovery of America's out-of-work workers