There’s been a lot of talk recently about ‘empathy’ in politics. Several very prominent politicians have made notable changes in their positions specifically on gun control, health care and gay rights based on what they each call a new found ‘empathy’. In all these cases they claim that their new feeling for others came about from the personal suffering of a relative; a loved one; someone closed to them. In short, they had never been able to identify before until the issue came home to them.
I want to submit to you, dear reader, that such is not true empathy and whether or not I agreed with their new position, they have immediately and permanently lost my vote. In fact, such change of heart is nothing better then the same old bullshit tribalism that humans have been struggling to rise up from since the time of Abraham. God has been calling us to put something larger ahead of ourselves and our ‘tribe’. So far, we’re not getting very far.
If you suddenly develop a new respect for gay people because your daughter is gay, or you change your position on health care because your dear grandmother needs her Medicare, or you decide that gun control is not a bad idea because you had a loved one shot? None of those is ‘empathy’. And I would never vote for a guy who changed his vote that way.
What you want? A guy who[...]
So Cyprus has re-negotiated their bailout plan with the EU after the initial attempt failed so badly. Supposedly this is better than the previous attempt, which was going to fleece all those poor pensioners as well as the nasty Russian oligarchs. But I’m going to suggest to you that this is really a shiny penny trick. My guess is that, within two or three years, it will turn out to have been a gigantic windfall for the very offshore investors who are supposedly being punished right now for their dodgy behaviours.
Remember back in 2008 and all the screaming from investors about the bailouts of AIG and General Motors? How everyone was going to lose their shirt? Well let’s take a look at how things turned out. Note that all the banks, the auto companies, and AIG, have all repaid their loans. With interest. Ahead of schedule. Supposedly, they repaid ahead of schedule to show just how aggressively they were reforming themselves and how seriously they took the government intervention. But if you look closer, it turns out that all those investors who screamed so loudly about ‘government takeovers’, have actually made money. A lot of money.
And yet they repaid ahead of schedule. If they were in such dire straits how could they possibly repay ahead of schedule? When you are I get into financial trouble, we take every second of every minute of every hour of every day we[...]
I would highly recommend that everyone listen to today’s audio transcript from the Supreme Court oral arguments regarding the Defense Of Marriage act. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear oral arguments like most of us think of when we think of judges and robes. I think the justices are aware keenly aware of it, since they are making the audio available the same day—which almost never happens. They are dealing with a squishy issue and they know it. So, if you care about how the government works, come n’ get it!
For background, I would also recommend Antonin Scalia’s fascinating book Reading Law. This was the most interesting read, fiction or non, I had all last year. I have my issues with Justice Scalia (frankly I consider him quite the hypocrite) but his intellect and clear description of how he believes the court should work is simply amazing. I think almost any liberal this side of a true socialist would find his arguments eminently reasonable. In other words, he is not Saruman. His message is simple: the Supreme Court does not exist to deal with issues of ‘fairness’ or to judge ‘right and wrong’. The Supreme Court exists to decide the constitutionality of a statute. It is the lower courts that do the work that most of us would call “judging”, that is, deciding what is fair and unfair. The Supreme Court is simply around, to[...]
Americans don’t cotton much to memory. Maybe that’s the defining trait–everything is always new. Ask any kid what’s their -least- favourite class? History. When you hear talk about reforming education? There’s never talk of ‘history’. And perhaps that’s why we seem to make the same mistakes over and over every few years.
I mention this because it’s Dr. King’s birthday and I wonder how many people really dig what he accomplished. Because I’m not sure the average person accepts how truly crappy things were for black people in America until -real- recently.
You ask the average person when slavery ended and they’ll say, you know… 1860 something. Rubbish. The civil war didn’t end until something like… what 1965?
I’ve heard a lot of people talk about ‘hyperbole’ with regard to civil rights but that’s another failure of memory. I went to high school with LOTS of kids who wore rebel flag clothing and used ‘the N word’ as freely as ‘like’ and ‘ya know’. And not behind close doors either. Right out front. In Detroit. In Chicago. In NYC. Everywhere.
Ya know what’s cool about Germany (there’s a point here). They -get- guilt. They have a national guilt about WWII. They don’t resent it. They acknowledge it. But without obsessing. Because they don’t feel ‘special’. It coulda happened anywhere.
And it has happened anywhere. It happened -here-. We inflicted as much pain and suffering on as many people as did Hitler. AS HITLER. We brutalised[...]
#10 Inauguration Day
Today is the high holy day of our civic religion: Inauguration Day. I heard today that the -real- inauguration actually happened yesterday; which kinda saddens me. There is something touching about seeing the ‘real deal’ swearing in–even when they kinda flub it as happened last time.
That we take the transition of power for granted (enough to doa re-enactment for the cameras) just goes to show how fabulous is our system. I’d go so far as to say that the reliable as clockwork passing of the baton (twofer metaphor!) is -the- ne plus ultra of our nation.
We tend to forget how tenuous and fraught are these things in most other places. Even today. Even in -big- places, they get just a little nervous whenever you go from Guy A to Guy B.
That’s why Washington will always be, for me, our greatest president. By setting a tone for the office, and leaving on schedule, he did more than anyone else to define our government. You can have all the rules and lofty ideals you like, but somebody has to show how the game should be played.
And you have to admire the fact that every president (and his team) have worked their guts out to make sure that every such transition has been carried out -exactly- to the letter of the law. Look how often pretty Machievellian deals have been concocted by members of all three branches in order to ‘save the[...]