Archive

July 6th, 2016

A declaration against the war on drugs

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one part of the American people to affirm the political bands which connect them to the other parts, and to assume within the nation, the connected and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of their fellow citizens requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to affirm their connection.

    We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among us, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and, if they choose the path of alteration, to abandon old and institute new legislation, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing the powers of government in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

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July 5th

The Terrorists the Saudis Cultivate in Peaceful Countries

            First, a three-part quiz:

            Which Islamic country celebrates as a national hero a 15th-century Christian who battled Muslim invaders?

            Which Islamic country is so pro-American it has a statue of Bill Clinton and a women’s clothing store named “Hillary” on Bill Klinton Boulevard?

            Which Islamic country has had more citizens go abroad to fight for the Islamic State per capita than any other in Europe?

            The answer to each question is Kosovo, in southeastern Europe — and therein lies a cautionary tale. Whenever there is a terrorist attack by Muslim extremists, we look to our enemies like the Islamic State or al-Qaida. But perhaps we should also look to our “friends,” like Saudi Arabia.

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No More Bashing Of The Super Delegates

            Enough of this fuss about the role of the super delegates at the Democratic Convention. Just who does Mr./Sen! Sanders and the other complainers think keep the party going through thick and thin between the conventions?

            These super delegates are the heart and soul of the party. They do the day to day necessities of keeping the party operating. Bernie Sanders is definitely a "Johnny come lately" to the party. Until this election period, and arguably still, Bernie Sanders had not even proclaimed his allegiance to the party. In fact it is still somewhat in doubt. Yes, he mostly voted Democratic in Congress but it was not the dependability of those who actually stood up and admitted membership, those who could be counted on to support the party platform. Socialist is not another word for Democrat. It may be closer than Republican but it is not a synonym!

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Celebrating the nation that can't stay still

    It is the birthright of all Americans to be patriotic in their own way, something worth remembering at a moment of great political division. Instead of challenging each other's love of country, we should accept that deep affection can take different forms.

    There is, of course, the option of setting politics aside altogether on the Fourth of July. Anyone who loves baseball, hotdogs, barbecues, fireworks and beaches as much as I do has no problem with that. Still, I'm not a fan of papering over our disagreements. It is far better to face and discuss them with at least a degree of mutual respect.

     When it comes to the varieties of patriotism, I'd make the case that some of us look more toward the past and others to the future. Some Americans speak of our nation's manifest virtues as rooted in old values nurtured by a deposit of ideas that we must preserve against all challengers. Others focus on our country's proven capacity for self-correction and change.

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The Supreme Court really matters in this election

            For a half century, presidential candidates have routinely claimed that there are no bigger stakes in the election than the next appointments to the Supreme Court.

            This year, for the first time since 1968, the dire warnings could actually have an important effect on voting behavior.

            Since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February, the court has deadlocked 4-4 on four cases, including a few big ones. On a number of others, a single vote determined the outcome. In addition, Merrick Garland, the nominee to release to replace Scalia, will still be waiting for review by the Senate on Election Day; two justices will be in their 80s, and one will be 78.

            It is likely that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will have at least two or three appointments in a first term. And that will shape a number of important issues, ranging from immigration to racial preferences, as well as the role of unions and environmental issues.

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The GOP convention in Cleveland: Opportunity or hazard?

    The Republican National Convention in Cleveland two weeks away looms as an opportunity for Donald Trump to reverse his slipping fortunes. Either that or it may be a formidable new hazard on his path to the presidency.

    It all depends on which Donald Trump shows up. If he turns out to be the new Donald of smoother edges promised earlier by his new top strategist, Paul Manafort, following a script off a teleprompter, that would be one thing.

    But if the Donald in the spotlight proves to be the same free-wheeling barn-burner continuing his take-no-prisoners assault, that would distinctly be another matter. The evidence so far has not suggested much transformation, as Trump insists that the style of the old Donald has worked just fine so far.

    His previously demonstrated contempt for the buttoned-down Republican Party leadership and apparatus, as represented by conciliatory GOP National Chairman Reince Priebus, so far signals Trump's determination to march to his own drummer.

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'Hamilton' is better than its hype

            When singer/writer/rapper Lin-Manuel Miranda announced at a White House event five years ago that he was working on "a hip-hop album about somebody who I think embodies hip-hop -- Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton," everybody laughed.

            They're not laughing anymore.

            I was not laughing either, as I almost had to take out a second mortgage so my wife and I could sit wa-a-a-ay up in the back row of the balcony.

            Yes, "Hamilton" is a mega-hit, having won just about every honor it can. It has won eleven Tony Awards, a Grammy for best soundtrack album and a Pulitzer Prize -- one of only nine musicals to win in that award's century old history.

            We wanted to be, in the words of one of the musical's songs, "in the room where it happens" to see whether it earns the raves it has received -- and my ticket money, as one who is too impatient to wait for the movie version.

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The Utter Inconsequence of Hillary’s Veep

    I doubt that Hillary Clinton really wants to run with Elizabeth Warren — I doubt that she fully trusts her — but if that’s her calculated decision: mazel tov. They sure were fiery together last week, two blue devils raring to bedevil Donald Trump.

    Tim Kaine is totally sensible, mostly safe and a bit of a snooze: the aspirin of aspirants. But if Clinton is tugged in the Virginia senator’s direction, she should head there. I could certainly see him as the vice president.

    Then again I’ve seen Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the job, in HBO’s “Veep.” Clinton might as well pick her for all the difference it would make.

    Here’s what we journalists don’t like to tell you or even admit to ourselves as we furiously stir the speculation, breathlessly thicken the suspense and whet Americans’ appetites for the big reveal of who will round out the Democratic and Republican tickets: Its impact on the election is close to nonexistent.

    That’s particularly true this time around, and especially so with Clinton.

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In Paris With Boris, Donald and Lemon Tarts

            I did something in Paris last Saturday night that I’ve never done before.

            I went to a restaurant alone for dinner. I know, it’s lame that I’ve always been afraid to go out to public places at night on my own. I tried to get beyond this phobia by going to the movies by myself one Saturday night in Washington, many years ago, after a breakup. But when the lights came up, my ex was sitting in front of me with a pretty date. That cured me of the desire to venture forth solo for another couple of decades.

            But I was in France for work for the week and stopped in Paris on the way home. I spent Friday night eating the minibar — salt-and-vinegar potato chips, popcorn, nuts, chocolate and white wine. But by the second night, it seemed too sad to be cooped up in a dark room in the City of Light.

            So I worked up my nerve and made it as far as the hotel dining room. I was staying on the Left Bank at L’Hotel, where a depressed Oscar Wilde came to live in 1898, subsidized by the French government, after his release from Reading Gaol.

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A toxic meeting on the tarmac

    Attorney General Loretta Lynch's tarmac conversation with Bill Clinton wasn't just stupid, although it was certainly that. It was a colossal misjudgment on both sides, most especially hers.

    The encounter was toxic. It adds to the already settled conviction among too many voters that the system is, to use the essential word of the 2016 campaign, rigged. In this view, the fix -- political, financial and judicial -- is in, the playing field irrevocably tilted in favor of the powerful, the rich and the well-connected.

     Some of this cynicism may be justified, yet the end result is to further erode trust in public figures and their decisions. To those so inclined, the Lynch-Clinton tete-a-tete offers yet another example of this corrosive coziness.

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