Sunday, October 15, 2017

Václav Havel's Speech to U.S. Congress

Jeff Flake mentions this speech in his new book, Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.  I think it warrants being re-printed and read.
Dear Mr. President, dear senators and members of the House, ladies and gentlemen:
My advisers advised me to speak on this important occasion in Czech. I don't know why. Perhaps they wanted you to enjoy the sweet sounds of my mother tongue.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

White Collar Crime

Think Equifax and Wells Fargo.

Millions of American people were compromised, tens or hundreds of thousands were inconvenienced, and thousands were damaged beyond repair.

When a poor man steals an apple from a grocery stand, he earns himself a month in prison.  When an addict gets caught with the goods (cocaine, marijuana), in some states he is locked up and they throw away the key.  When a corporate big shot gets caught in a national scandal affecting millions of people, he may resign, but he still receives his golden parachute and he doesn’t forfeit any of his ill-gotten wealth.  And he never goes to prison (two Enron officials excepted).

Monday, October 2, 2017

Las Vegas Shooting

I’ll be brief.

One more massacre on American soil, committed by a crazy man with an automatic weapon.  But he may not have been crazy until he went crazy (we don’t know his story yet).

The Second Amendment reads: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Many Constitutional “experts” like to disregard the first thirteen words, a dependent clause.  I am NOT arguing that the people should NOT have the right of armed self-defense (against a neighbor, not a foreign military power), but I am

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Repeal and Replace

Repeal and Replace (especially replace) has proved so damn difficult, nay impossible, for a really simple reason.   Because, if ever Republicans had wanted to provide “health care for all,” they would have designed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka the ACA, aka Obamacare.  And I say this not merely because Obama liked to say that it was a copy of Massachusetts’ Romney Care, but because Obamacare is really Republican thinking.

Does any real Democrat like Obamacare?  No, only elected Democrats in Washington, DC and they have their reasons.  REAL Democrats all prefer Single-Payer Medicare-for-All.  The government is the insurer, not private industry.  And everyone is covered and paid for by the taxes we pay.  Simple.  But not Republican thinking.  No, Obamacare’s true beneficiaries are private health insurance companies and Big Pharma; what a Republican Congress and White House would have designed.

It is the nature of politics that if the Democrats in power legislate Republican thinking, that particular Republican thinking changes its label to Democratic thinking.  Real students of politics, like yours truly, have always to keep on our toes for how one policy and another switches labels for no damn good reason other than … well … politics!

Good Luck to the Republicans, figuring how to replace what they would have designed themselves, with something even more … Republican.  The best they can do is to accept some Democratic thinking, call it their own – and re-label it Republican!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

On Capital Punishment

As a truly independent thinker, I tend to come down on the side of liberalism more often than on the side of conservatism because the conservative side often seems rigid and uncompromising whereas the liberal side seems more flexible and tolerant.  For example, abortion: conservatives say no abortion from the moment of conception, not three months into a pregnancy, not a week, not a day, not ten minutes, but the exact moment of conception.  I recognize that if a soul is born in that instant then it must be protected from that instant.  Nevertheless, …   Another example, capital punishment.  Conservatives approve it while liberals do not (for the most part).  There is something pretty absolute and final about a death sentence.  I recognize that they believe in an-eye-for-an-eye justice but once again, it is pretty intolerant.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Tax Reform


As I am not running for office, I can tell the truth: we need to collect more tax revenue.  Why?  So that our National Debt doesn’t reach Mars before we do.  No politician ever won an election saying that he wants to raise your taxes, even though it is what we must do (and in your mind, if not your heart, you know I speak the truth).  But I am not running for office.  So, here goes nothing.

It is the case that in the last 15 years, the federal government has run deficits, not surpluses, in every year.  It is the case that in the last 47 years, the federal government has run deficits in all but 4 years (so, 91% of the time).  It is the case that since 1952, in the last 64 years, the federal government has run deficits in all but 7 of those years (so, 89% of the time).  We are addicted to deficits because we don’t want to pay for what we want to have, but we never elect anyone who wants to raise our taxes so that we could pay for what we want.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Planet of the Apes

I love the Planet of the Apes movies, especially the recent ones with Andy Serkis playing Caesar, the first of the “smart” (or chemically modified) apes.

We root for the apes against the humans, don’t we, not because they are different, or inferior, or stupider.  We root for them because the humans treat them unfairly, for whatever reason (“they are only apes”).  I think this is true for every movie where the “star” is non-human (Bambi, Flipper, King Kong, ET); and humans always treat them as expendable, worthless.  But we in the audience relate to them as though they are human, as though they are victims, and as though they are heroic and worthy of our respect, and our love.