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OUR WORST PRESIDENT

The chart of presidential greatness was nicely delineated into “Great”, “Near Great”, “Above Average”, “Average”, “Below Average”, and the two “Failures”, Grant and Harding.  As for the greats, in my memory those were FDR, Lincoln, and Jefferson.  Near greats were ones such as Old Hickory, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ike Eisenhower.  I was quite surprised that George Washington not only didn’t make the greats, he didn’t make the near greats, and I believe he had actually slipped down into the average group, I am sure to the chagrin of my elementary teachers.  Finally, about the time I applied for Medicare, I read a book which explained the phenomenon to me, so I’m hip to the jive now, but at the time America’s great myth had not been punctured to me.

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BERNIE SANDERS AND THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD

In 1972 one could buy a board game called Who Can Beat Nixon?  I never succumbed to the very real temptation, and I imagine that it might have been a nice investment for sale on eBay these days, but I suppose that each player selected a primary candidate and off you went campaigning.  That the game was thought to have commercial appeal is an indicator of how much Democrats wanted to get rid of Dick Nixon.  There has been something of that level of obsession in the party for succeeding Republican presidents, perhaps excepting Ford and Bush 41, but I think never with quite the urgency that I sense toward The Donald.  And, indeed, the polls, for now, are showing that Democratic voters are valuing electability over ideology.

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I LOVE A PARADE, OR, HOW MANY DEMOCRATS, PART 2

But punditry took this very seriously and reacted with a spate of commentary bewailing that the Democratic Party’s supposed leftward lurch had made it all too difficult for a ‘pragmatic’ Democrat to win the nomination (in case you’ve missed it, the media’s favorite dichotomy this year is ‘Socialists’ vs. ‘Pragmatists’ in the Democratic Party), a subtheme being that the head-in-the-clouds Socialists think, presumably mistakenly, that The Donald is so unpopular, so beatable, that a true progressive can be elected and get to work on a real Left agenda.

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HOW MANY DEMOCRATS IS ENOUGH?

I’m not sure how we even get to two dozen as of now.  Time featured fifteen of them on its cover last week, and even one or two of those weren’t actually Democrats—I’m never sure where to put Michael Bloomberg.  When one got around to the actual article, their fifteen plus everybody else who got even a passing mention didn’t really get us up to two dozen, but perhaps we’ll get a stray state legislator or two eventually.

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HAPPY OLD YEAR’S DAY 2018

Another year over, and what have we done? Yes, 2018 is at an end. We can look back at the past, and forward to the future, and celebrate an arbitrary date chosen to begin a new year – January 1. People will make (and break) resolutions, promise things will be better in the new year, and proceed to do the same things the way they always do them, because the new year isn’t magic. There is no reason to expect things will change, because New Year’s Day is an imaginary day…oh, the day actually exists, but there is no reason to believe things start over that day. It’s really just another day to which we have chosen to add significance.

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The Busies

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon of late (well, okay, that’s if “of late” means “the past 40 years”). Whenever I accomplish something, or do something that someone else admires, they are quick to tell me that they are “too busy” to do anything like that, but they really would if they had the time. The tone in which this is stated is designed to make a person who has just worked their ass off to accomplish something of merit feel like they have been sitting around all their life just trying desperately to fill time while their friend, colleague, or whoever happens to be speaking, has been working to make sure the world keeps running. In fact, I have discerned that the people in this world who accomplish the most are apparently only accomplishing stuff because they never do anything.

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RIGHTS – HOW DO THEY WORK?

At a meeting today, I was listening to a millennial give a speech about important things. Really important things. And he had figured out they were important, which is sort of what he talked about at the beginning of his very important talk. He stated that his generation doesn’t know where rights come from. They just think they were part of the natural process, and that they will always be there. I sat up and took notice. Why? Because that is a phenomenon I have noticed myself. Not just about ordinary rights, either, like speech or religion or not having soldiers quartered in my home (I use that one every day, I tell you. Just yesterday, I had to turn away an army who wanted to camp out in my spare bedroom.) They don’t understand about the specific rights that pertain to them, the amount of work that went into gaining those rights, and the danger to those rights if we are not eternally vigilant. They have no idea that rights were not always there, or that rights could go away.

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I’M NOT POLITICAL

There is a strange phenomenon that I encounter on a regular basis – people want to talk politics! Oh, wait, no, reverse that. I find it strange when people living in a democracy, or more accurately a democratic republic, say “I’m not political”. They clap their hands over their ears if you so much as mention the local school board election; if you get to the level of Senators or Presidents, they will rudely hum, sing, or burp until you stop. They treat you as a pariah, someone weird and out of touch, if you know who is running for the City Council, and if you can name both of your senators, you are regarded as ready for the insane asylum, complete with straight jacket. Don’t even get me started on what they want to do to you if you can name senators from other states.

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Politics, Society6 for 2
THE MYTH OF THE 40-HOUR WEEK

Who the hell thinks it is okay to ask anyone to work 80 hours a week? What happened to the weekend? The evening? Sleeping? Eating? Why is no one questioning the bald statement that faculty are going to be working 80 hours a week without so much as a “say what”? Why is no one stopping to calculate what the hourly rate would be for an 80 hour week at the average professor’s salary and wonder why the highly trained, highly skilled professionals are being expected to work for so little compared to others with a comparable level of education and a similar skill set?

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THE ROCK-Y HORROR SHOW

If you live in my town, which I realize you may not, the next time you go grocery shopping, you should look across the street at the Presbyterian Church and check out what’s up next with their Sermons on Song series.  Apparently the minister has decided the church needs to attract some young blood and is holding forth on rock songs.  So far he’s done “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Show Me the Way”, which means that he’s probably doing a good job of bringing in the younger set—the younger set that is trying to figure out how their Medicare works, that is.  If he’s going decade by decade, as it appears, I’m here to suggest as his topic song for the eighties “Da da da”, and for the nineties, let’s go with “Sex and Candy”, huh?

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THE ANECDOTE

There are a lot of people out there who need a lot of reality training. Take, for instance, this woman my mother met in the grocery store one day who said “What do we need farmers for? I get my food from the grocery store”. Or the women who constantly told my mother she was inferior because she was “just a housewife”. Or the….

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RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Does religious freedom mean the freedom to decide what kind of Christian you will be? Some people believe this – that religious freedom applies only to Christians. Others are somewhat magnanimous, extending that freedom to all the religious. Then there are actually those who think, gasp, that religious freedom extends to everyone, including the non-religious, and includes the freedom not to believe. (By the way, this is what the authors of the First Amendment believed, but you won’t find that in Scalia’s “original intent”).

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IS IT LIVE? OR IS IT CELLULOID?

It is common knowledge among theatre professionals that there are fewer good parts for women than for men. This is true not only in Shakespeare, but across the spectrum. Some may not be aware that, like in the movies, this increases with age. Middle aged women scarcely show up at all in stage plays; women seem to disappear between the ages of 35 and 65, when they are once again allowed as the voice of wisdom, someone to be mocked, or the kind and gentle old grandmotherly sort who picks up the slack when the younger woman’s mother (the you-know-what) runs out on her with the first trucker who accidentally slams the cab of his truck into the living room. And she takes the family dog, so everything is bad. That’s the woman we don’t usually see, or hear her side of the story, unless she comes back when she’s older, so that her now 20-something daughter can lambaste her with her awfulness and show the world how strong she is…oh, and reclaim the family dog.

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SHAME OF A NATION

Journey with me for a minute. Imagine a place where men could come in the door with the necessary qualifications, score an interview, and land a job on their merits. Now imagine a woman with equal (or better) qualifications coming into that same job, and before she can possibly get the position, she must fellate the boss. She must expose her breasts to the grinning pervert sitting in the chair. She must allow him access to her vagina. She must…you get the picture. Need I go on? She is not allowed to succeed on her qualifications. She is only allowed to succeed if the boss gets adequate satisfaction from her sexual acts.

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HAVE YOU BEEN SERVED?

The shunning of those who do not agree has a long history, dating back to as far as we have records. Refusal of service for those you dislike or disagree with has been on the Republican wish list for some time, and in a recent Supreme Court case, they got at least part of what they want (more on that in a later column!) when the court allowed a baker to refuse to make a cake for a gay couple. In addition, a number of so-called religious freedom acts have been enshrining the right of people to refuse service to those they disapprove of on religious grounds…usually same sex couples, but also women who want birth control, mixed race couples, trans-people, and any others who meet the definition of religiously unacceptable. Many on the left are using this as justification for refusing service – we’re simply doing to them what they have demanded. Just make it on religious grounds, some say. Others say they have an ethical imperative not to serve evil people.

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