Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

“The Greatest Threat to Democracy”

February 26, 2017

“The fake news media is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people.”

— Donald Trump, President of the United States of America.

“The first thing dictators do is shut down the press.”

— Sen. John McCain, R -Ariz.

“We must challenge this statement that the news media is the enemy of the American People. This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

— William H. McRaven, retired four-star admiral and Navy Seal, Commander of the bin Laden raid.

Truly news that really is “fake”is an enemy of a democratic republic,  but to apply that label to mainstream news organizations like CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post just because they ask tough questions is absurd. Without a free press a country cannot be free.

That is not to say that mainstream news organizations or any news reporters are above being criticized.  It also doesn’t mean I agree with the practices of some of them. However, to try to shut them down because they hold a presidential administration accountable and fact check what its representatives say, or oppose them editorially, in my view, is an unacceptable threat to democracy.

To me the most important amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the first one:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or of abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of  the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. 

(The Trump quote was contained in a Tweet. The McCain quote is from an NBC Meet the Press interview, and the McRaven quote is from The Daily Texan.)

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“Mind the Gap”

August 8, 2015

No not the gap between a London tube platform and a train’s car that signs warn riders to “mind,” but the very wide income gap between America’s wealthy and it’s shrinking middle class. That’s going to be the key issue in the  upcoming  presidential  election.  I didn’t hear it mentioned in the Republican debate Thursday night on Fox News.

One of the reporters did ask how Republican candidates are going to respond to Hillary Clinton’s claim, that, in essence, all Republicans care about are the wealthy. The main answer was that Republicans will grow the economy which will provide more jobs. Will  it? The economy has bounced back since the 2008 Great Recession. The trouble is that the improvement was soaked up by those at the top. The average worker’s income remained virtually flat. Money that could have been used to raise the incomes of employees and provide jobs went to the top. CEOs are doing very well. Just ask Donald Trump.

Wedge issues like Planned Parenthood and immigration got a lot of attention during the debate, but they didn’t derail President Obama and they won’t derail the Democratic candidate this time around, either.  Again, the main issue will be the economy. Growing it is not enough. Making sure that a fair share of that growth goes to America’s working class is the issue.  The Democratic candidate can win the  election, but will that solve the problem? Well, a Democrat has been sitting in the White House for almost 8 years now and the problem is still very much with us. 

The Hippie Effect and the Megachurch

April 14, 2013

Continuing my look at the phenomenon of the dramatic rise of the evangelical megachurch,  I’m going to t ell you about a Harper magazine essay Blinded by the Right? that had an interesting take on how the big shift started. According to T. M. Luhrmann,  who spent ten years researching American evangelism, Christian hippies “begat evangelical conservatives.” 

American evangelism goes way back before hippies ever arrived on the scene, he says, “but the hippies changed what it meant to be Christian in  America.”

As I attend Atlanta’s Mt. Paran services, I can observe the hippie effect.  The rock concert light shows that accompany rock and jazz Christian music all are remenicient  of the hippie era.  What has changed is the drug culture that went with the hippie music. The drug high has been replaced with the “Pentecostal spiritual high.” 

You would  never think that hippies would embrace the politics of the political right.  But, it seems most of those who  joined the Jesus People movement in the 1970s did, and  they, and their progeny, still do. 

I believe it is safe to assume that not all  hippies became Christian evangelical conservatives.   But, Luhrmann makes a good case that a lot of them did and had a huge effect on the movement.  Churches who adapted to that effect have grown impressively.  Perhaps there is a lesson in this for other organizations, organizations like symphony orchestras.  More on that in a future post.

 

 

And You Can Quote Me When I Say…

March 6, 2013

For some reason I am having a hard time deciding what subject I should entertain for a new post.  I know there is plenty to talk about.  For instance, I could weigh in  on the sequester thing.

Well, all right, I  will.

I’m sure there is plenty of waste in federal spending.  Of course, just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, one politician’s waste is another one’s necessity.

Perhaps the greatest waste in Congress is Congress.

I guess another subject I could tackle would be Jon Stewart’s decision to take four months off to direct a movie about a journalist being imprisoned in Iran.  The Daily Show is something I enjoy daily and I’m sure will still enjoy it while he is gone.  John Oliver will probably do a fine job as fill-in host.  I’ve always wondered why they didn’t just substitute a host when Jon was on vacation, especially since he was   on vacation so often.

Then there’s the weather to talk about, and the networks have really been talking about it a lot.  So, it’s snowing in D.C., so it’s always snowing in D.C. where we get snow jobs year round.

You really want to get some idea of what’s going on in our nation’s capital? Go to C-SPAN.  There you get it unfiltered, instead of what some news editor decides you should get.   It’s sort of like reading the Bible yourself and not just getting it interpreted by some cleric. In both cases, some of it will astound you.

The Impossible Political Dream?

November 7, 2012

 

Courtesy: U.S. Government

Senator Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader in the Senate, can now focus on something other than making sure that President Obama is a one-term president. That issue has been settled. He can start making reasonable compromises with the president and Democrats in the Senate to do what is best for all Americans.   He puts the burden on the president, telling the Louisville Courier- Journal, ” To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we’ll be there to meet him half way.” That offers some hope.

Speaking of hope, let’s hope that more senators, Republicans and Democrats, turn more toward statesmanship, and less toward vindictive partisan politics.

Let’s hope it is not futile to think that reasonable  compromise can also become  the new norm in the  House, too.  It’s time to put the nation first, not the  party.

This may be too much to hope for, but if it doesn’t happen,  this country faces even tougher times.  The fiscal crisis cannot be solved without both spending cuts and increased revenue. The trick is to make sure those spending cuts don’t put more of a burden on Americans who need help right now, and to increase revenues without putting more of a tax burden on the middle class.  Taking more money from the middle class means it has less to spend.  Our economy is consumer driven, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what will happen if middle-class consumers have fewer dollars to spend.

The Network Evening Half-Hour Newscasts Leave Out a Lot

September 27, 2012

THAT”S WHY I ALSO RECORD AND WATCH THE PBS NEWSHOUR AND THE DAILY SHOW

Every night I record the NBC Nightly News,  the PBS NewsHour, and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  At one time I thought that if I watched one of the mainstream network newscast that would be enough to keep me basically informed. I have since learned that is not the case.

With just a half-hour –  well less than a half-hour because of all the commercials – the NBC evening newscast just can’t do the job.  For  instance, tonight there was nothing about the UN meeting going on in New York. The PBS NewsHour did have coverage, and last night on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart had a very informative interview with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on how the Arab Spring is affecting the Middle East.  There were some laughs, and the king got some himself; after all, it was the Daily Show. It was, though, a serious interview. Watching the NBC Nightly News definitely was not enough.

60 Minutes Does it Again

September 24, 2012

I have been watching 60 Minutes since the first program aired in 1968.  It is heartening to see that it remains so effective after all of these years.  Tonight’s interviews with President Obama and Governor Romney gave me the best insight into these two candidates for President so far, especially in the case of Governor Romney.  After observing the president for almost four years, I feel that I know him pretty well, but I didn’t feel that I knew his challenger.  I feel I do know him better now. 

Who will win? If the election were held today, I think the president would keep his job. Anything can happen between now and November 6th.  The debates could make the difference. We’ll get a better idea about that in ten days when the first one will be held. 

I’M BACK AND SO ARE THE DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS

September 11, 2012

WHO DO YOU THINK WILL WIN: OBAMA OR ROMNEY?

Since a couple of readers of my blog asked me why I haven’t posted anything for a while, I guess I’ll take the time to post something.

Moving and settling into my new digs have taken most of my attention for the past few weeks, and doing  things like going to Savannah for a weekend has also played a role in my lack of blogging. I have been doing some really short Facebook posts. It’s a lot easier to post things on FB. 

Both of the Republican and Democratic nominating conventions took place since the last time I posted. The event that stood out the most to me  was the speech by former President Bill Clinton.  He is probably the best political speaker to  come along in the last thirty years.  He knows how to phrase sentences in a direct, simple, human, and highly effective manner. He lied about Monica Lewinsky when he was president, but he didn’t lie about anything that I know of when he spoke last week. He appears to have gone to great lengths to get his facts right.  

What’s interesting, also about him, is that he apparently has been forgiven for his personal trespasses during his last years in the White House. He has an approval rating  higher than either President Obama or Governor Romney.   He is still  “the comeback kid.” 

The speech that stood out  the most to me at  the Republican convention was the improvised comedy routine performed by movie star Clint Eastwood. The image of his talking to an empty chair representing President Obama remains the most vivid one  of the GOP gathering. Economist Paul Krugman said Eastwood symbolized the Republican base:  old white men. 

When Pat Hart and I co-ficilitate a current affairs class called “What’s Happening?” for the Columbus Academy for Lifelong Learning for the Fall Quarter we are going to ask class participants to anonymously write down who they think will win, not who they hope will win.  We’ll compile the percentages to see how well they guessed when the election is over. You’re invited to do the same thing here. Just click on the “comments” button and write either Obama or Romney, and we’ll see how close our prognosticators come.

Weapon Words

January 29, 2012

When Rush Limbaugh first went on the air, I listened to him a lot to find out what he was all about. After a while, I totally understood and realized that I didn’t need to listen to him any more because I knew exactly where he would come down on any issue, and because he was repeating himself.  However, the talk I have been hearing recently about being conservative or liberal, and what those words stand for, reminded me of one of his early conversations.

The man he had on the line said he didn’t think it was useful to label people. Rush totally disagreed. He said in such a way – I don’t remember the exact words – that it said to me, No, wait a minute, bub. you’re not going to take that weapon away from me.

And that reminded me of what a salesman and air personality who worked with me at WBML in Macon, Georgia in the early 1950s when I was going to Mercer University, told me about the late racist Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge.  The salesman said he had worked as a broadcast consultant for Talmadge at one time.  He told me that he asked Talmadge about his race baiting on the campaign stump, “Why do you do that? You can win without  it.” He said Talmadge told him, “That’s my ‘weepon’, son. I can’t give up my ‘weepon.'” “Weepon” was his faux-country dialect for weapon, of course. Eugene Talmadge spoke the flagrant racist redneck of the time, but definitely knew better. He had a degree in English from the University of Gerogia.

I think for most people labeling is often misleading.  Not everyone who is conservative or liberal on some things is conservative or liberal on all things.  Most conservatives I know are definitely for tax supported public education.  They are also for public highways, street lights, traffic lights, libraries, and, actually, it’s hard to find a conservative who now admits he or she is opposed to Social Security, Medicare or Medicade, though conservatives fought them tooth and nail and called them socialistic when they were passed into law.  All of those things could come under the socialism rubric. Does that make conservatives who now support them  socialists?

The truth is that most of us support some things considered socialistic and some capitalistic.  We have, and have had from the beginning of this country, a mixed economy, part capitalistic and part socialistic.  Yes, it has trended more in one direction or the other during certain time periods.  But, as  far as I can discern, it has never been totally one way or the other.

I guess what it boils down to is that some people like to think in terms of things being either black or white, and others realize that most are really in shades of grey.

However, that doesn’t mean the politicians who really know all of that are going to give up their weapon words. I don’t know if that will ever happen.

The Putting-Country- Ahead-of-Party Issue

January 9, 2012

Jon Huntsman

Mitt Romney’s debate attack on Jon Huntsman for having been President Obama’s ambassador to China opened up a can of worms for all of the Republican candidates for the presidential nomination, except for Huntsman.

After Romney’s attack,  Huntsman drew applause when he said such attacks are the reason the nation is split right now. “This nation is divided because of attitudes like that. The American people are tired of the partisan division. They have had enough.” He went on to say that he has always put country ahead of party.

This prompted other candidates to claim they can work across the aisle, too. Newt Gingrich, for instance, pointed out how he and President Clinton worked together to reform welfare, balance the budget, and create jobs.

So now, the issue of putting country over partisan politics is out there.  That could end up to President Obama’s advantage because of Republicans in congress saying their number one goal was to make sure that Obama is a one-term president. Any member  of Congress should have as the top goal doing what is best for the country and putting defeating a sitting president above doing that could backfire.

If Huntsman does well In New Hampshire, and, as one TV pundit said today, his billionaire father decides to kick in a hundred-million dollars to his PAC, there is a chance he could win the nomination. The South Carolina polls now show Romney ahead, and that is surprising, because religion plays a big role in South Carolina politics and Romney, as you know, is a Mormon and not really their choice, but they appear to have decided that electability is paramount, and if they decide Huntsman, also a Mormon,  stands the best chance,  he could nail down the nomination.