Now, I’m liberal, but to a degree
I want ev’rybody to be free
But if you think that I’ll let Barry Goldwater
Move in next door and marry my daughter
You must think I’m crazy!
Tanner Colby at Slate.com has written a thoughtful piece on one of the blind spots that most of us on the left share. We think that because we are on the side of justice and equality, our remedies must be correct. In the case of busing to achieve racially balanced schools, we had the wrong approach.
In the early seventies when the forced busing issue peaked I was single and concerned to see a fair solution to the problem of unequal education opportunities. As a liberal white guy, I thought busing was the only way. I watched the protests coming from the people who were "wrong". I wasn't at ease with what was happening, but like most, I didn't have to think too hard about it.
By the mid-eighties when my children were starting school my wife and I had to move to a new city. A good education for our kids was our main concern. We looked at the city boundaries and noted that it was under a court ordered busing mandate. We did what so many other middle class families did. We bought a house in the suburb with the best schools.
I didn't feel like a hypocrite. I felt like a responsible parent. And so I have to agree with Colby. We wanted what black parents wanted - good schools. Only we didn't know a better way to get them.
In the years that followed I had the opportunity to play in an over-50 basketball league with mostly African-American players. There were doctors and lawyers and guys who had done hard prison time. The whole spectrum.
We more than got along. We all shared the feeling of having come this far in life with our bodies in one piece and able to play at a decent level. And yet at the end of the day we got in our cars and went home to different neighborhoods.
We needed to come together forty years ago, but time proved that forced busing wasn't the way to do it.
I'm surprised I haven't seen anything here about a Salon column titled "Obama should have listened to Paul Krugman." It is an analysis of what went wrong with the Obama administration from the beginning from a progressive point of view. Author Walden Bello lists ways Obama failed to maintain the wave of passion he rode to election night in 2008, concluding:
"With his preference for a technocratic approach and a bipartisan solution to the crisis, Obama allowed this base to wither away instead of exploiting the explosive momentum it possessed in the aftermath of the elections.
"At the eleventh hour, Obama and the Democrats are talking about firing up and resurrecting this base. But the dispirited and skeptical troops that have long been disbanded and left by the wayside rightfully ask: around what?"
This last question seems to be the essence of the argument here at Kos over the Obama presidency. Sure we supported him over Romney, but only because Romney and the Republicans were so god-awful. It was all many of us could do to choke back our disappointment in Obama's performance for four years.
Of course, he achieved a few things, but he didn't give progressives what we desperately wanted - leadership.
Bello goes on to contrast the Republicans take-no-prisoners approach with Obama's confrontation-avoidance style. The book from which the article is excepted "Capitalism's Last Stand?: Deglobalization in the Age of Austerity" is out in paperback. It looks like a good read.
I wonder what life would be like if the Constitution had a Bill of Rights which said among other things "A well-regulated transportation system being necessary to a free state, the people's right to keep and drive automobiles shall not be infringed." Nobody would have a problem, would they? It would be very obvious that the intention of the framers was that individuals could own cars and trucks, but it would also be obvious that regulation by the government would be necessary and proper. We would not want to live in a place where anyone no matter what their mental state could drive an SUV anywhere, anytime, in any direction, as fast as they wanted and run into anything they chose.
Think back to the last couple of weeks before the election: All this talk about swing voters actually going to decide the next president. All these focus groups of clueless swing voters who just couldn't make up their minds about who would be the better president. Some of them had supposedly been paying attention for the previous two years, but they still had no idea who they would vote for. Really? No kidding? Were these people for real? At all?
Fittingly, swing voters went for Romney 50-45. Doesn't that tell you everything you need to know about the relevance and pertinence of swing voters?
Are swing voters simply disengaged people who wake up two weeks before an election and realize they have a civic duty to perform two weeks hence so maybe it's time to start paying attention? Are they people who go around telling pollsters they are swing voters hoping they will get interviewed by a network focus group and put on television so they can get their fifteen minutes of fame?
Or are they simply people who don't matter much in the first place?
When Jon Stewart hosted right-wing stooge and pretend historian David Barton on The Daily Show, Tuesday, May 1st, a number of diarists here were upset that Stewart had not pounded Barton into submission, or at least kicked him in the groin once or twice. The next night Stewart kissed up to right-wing stooge and pretend economist Senator Tom Coburn, and nobody said a word. I submit that Coburn's stupid yet prevalent beliefs about the national debt are a greater threat to the welfare of all of us than Barton's Christian Dominionist rantings will ever be.
The point here is not to bash Stewart. Stewart is a comedian, just as he has always claimed. He brings guest from right, left, and center on his show to sell their books or promote their cause. He does not attack them except to point out a few inconsistencies and get a few laughs. But he treats guests politely - and relatively even-handedly. He has to, or else guests from across the spectrum would not come on his show.
Compare Rachel Maddow, who runs a news and commentary program. Right wingers won't come on her show (with a few exceptions) because she will show them up for the idiots they are. Think Rand Paul. If he came on the Daily Show, Stewart would hold up his book, ask a few pointed questions which his audience would appreciate, get a few laughs, and let him go on his way.
Maddow is catch a fish and filet it. Stewart is catch and release. Some people didn't seem to get that. I wonder why. And I especially wonder why they were so infuriated when the fish was a slick-talking fundamentalist who claims to have the founding fathers all figured out in the born-again glory they never professed.
We won't know for sure that the Supreme Court will rule against the Affordable Care Act for a couple of months, but the right-wing majority on the court knows they are electing the next President and they are not going to miss an opportunity to appoint their man. It's what they do best.
Legal arguments are not going to matter to the conservative majority, just as they didn't matter in 2000. They will find a way to excuse their actions because they know the voters could care less about legal arguments. Undecided and independent voters are watching the way they watch a football game between rivals. One side will win, the other will lose. And whoever wins gets cheers and the credibility. Right now, Romney and the Republicans are woefully short on credibility, and the Court's majority is ready to turn the tide.
My predictions for the future are no better than anyone else's, and not much better than random, but one thing I said a year ago still stands - moderate Republicans (what's left of them) should support Rick Santorum. I said then and believe now that whoever the Republicans nominate will get creamed in November, and if it's Romney, moderates on the right (what's left of them) will be flushed down the toilet for good.
Once upon a time there was a Republican party that provided a certain amount of balance to the political scene. Although I firmly believe that America needs decisive progressive leadership, I see a responsible conservative voice and loyal opposition as ultimately beneficial for the country. Unfortunately, we have to go back to the days of Everett Dirksen and Charlie Halleck to find that sort of thing.
I have questions I would certainly like to know the answer to: Are women going to take it? Is this all going to run through the two-week news cycle and be forgotten? Do women care that Republicans hate women's freedom so much that they will threaten to jam something up a woman's vagina without her consent just because she had the temerity to seek pertinent health care?
I admit I hate the radical right-wing agenda, and I have for years. It was distressing to see people so indifferent to the consequences of not voting in 2010. Did they really believe that Republicans would ignore their base's desires, fix the economy, and improve the job situation?
Sam Harris talks about a number of moral and ethical issues in a 54-minute video on his blog site. One of the issues most relevant to Kos contributors was the matter of how rarely people change their minds under pressure. People do change basic views, but they tend to do so in private after - sometimes long after - they have been confronted with persuasive evidence and reason.
About a year from now President Obama will call Republican leaders into the Oval Office to make them an offer. He will point to the polls to show them of his continued popularity, he will assure them that no candidate they can put up stands a chance against him, and he will remind them that he has given into them on every issue. But, he says, even with his re-election he will not attain what he has always said motivates him - a united country.
If you didn't see opening segment of the Thursday, Nov. 4th Rachel Maddow show, you missed the essential reason American voters reinstalled the discredited Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Basically, the Republicans won because a substantial majority of voters can't see beyond the end of their nose, they have no capacity for critical thinking, and they are open to manipulation by a propaganda machine that cons them into acting against their own interests. If you think that is hyperbole, watch the segment and explain how I am wrong.
I don't know why it takes the likes of a Dianne Feinstein to tell us that the Democrats in the Senate would never get rid of the filibuster. We saw the power the filibuster gives individual senators when they have enough votes for cloture. How many senators would give up that kind of power? Not enough to vote to eliminate the filibuster, we can be sure of that.