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Posts in Politics
MEET 5 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

Don’t worry about my health or losing sleep.  Despite the affair beginning at my supper hour and continuing on past my bedtime, thanks to the miracle of the digital video recorder, I didn’t lose a minute of sleep; in fact, I may have gained a few minutes when Bernie Sanders started in explaining what he meant by democratic socialism.  So, herewith, my report cards for all five of them, presented in order of appearance, which I’m guessing was a pyramid with the most popular in the polls getting the middle spot and working downhill to my suppertime and bedtime for the less popular.

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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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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
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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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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THOSE DAMNED COASTAL ELITES

Hi, there, “coastal elites”. A message for you from flyover country. I’ve been living here for most of my life now (like, decades!) and I have been watching with fascination as the pundits have been fingering you for being out of touch, misguided, and contemptuous of those of us here in the heartland. I would just like to add my voice to the mix, as someone who has actually lived in flyover country (unlike most of the people writing the pieces about flyover country, who have mostly flown over, and decided to stop over for a night or two and talk to the first six people they met before they hopped back on the plane to write a piece about flyover country from the enormous experience they had just acquired).

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THE DOVISH WING OF THE WAR ON TRUMP

About that time, I found myself wondering whether these street protests were going to become a regular feature of the Stable Genius’ tenure in office, as with the Vietnam and civil rights era protests; extended campaigns such as these require a considerable attention span and public stamina, qualities which meseems are difficult to find huge quantities of in America today.

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YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP

I was reading an article related to the Janus case – you know, the case working its way through the Supreme Court related to unions. The gist of the matter is whether unions can collect fees from non-union members to cover the costs of negotiations, since non-union members benefit from the negotiations. In the past, the Supreme Court has upheld this practice, and 21 states currently have that provision. This case is asking them to reconsider it, alleging that it is a violation of the free speech of non-union employees who might object to the political activities of the union. The money collected for the fees is supposed to be used solely for the purpose of negotiations.

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THE DONALD AND THE SLIPPERY SLOPE

Logicians tell us that the “slippery slope”, an argument which posits that one seemingly reasonable concession on societal values, or most any argument, will lead to  less reasonable and more destructive consequences, is a weak one.  And it causes this writer considerable discomfort to admit that our President got something right; thus, this post begins life with two strikes against it.

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LOOK, POPPA, JUNIOR’S A PUNDIT!

Last week my inner political junkie kicked in, and I decided to watch some late-night C-SPAN.  What they offered me was watching a young lady with the same unusual surname as a well-known ABC financial reporter holding forth on the administration’s regulatory policies.  I had just finished reading a magazine column by a man with the same unusual surname as an even better-known CNN anchorman.  My apologies to all concerned if I jumped to an incorrect conclusion, but it occurred to me that these might be relatives, perhaps even children, of their entrenched media celebrity sires.  That’s called nepotism, and it’s still nepotism even if you’re the finest political analyst of your generation.

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HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER

Whenever one happened by our neighborhood grocery store all summer, parked there in the outlying area that employees use was a pickup truck decorated with stickers of the Confederate battle flag and captioned with the friendly reminder that “If this offends you, you need a history lesson”.  Now, I’m not sure that the stickers offended me, exactly—“annoyed” seems the more appropriate verb—since, having earned somewhere north of 125 college credit hours in history, I’m certain that said stickers were not directed at me, as I’m sure the owner of the truck would agree if he were informed of the fact. 

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