Archive

June 11th, 2016

Dump the GOP for a Grand New Party

    If a party could declare moral bankruptcy, today’s Republican Party would be in Chapter 11.

    This party needs to just shut itself down and start over — now. Seriously, someone please start a New Republican Party!

    America needs a healthy two-party system. America needs a healthy center-right party to ensure that the Democrats remain a healthy center-left party. America needs a center-right party ready to offer market-based solutions to issues like climate change. America needs a center-right party that will support common-sense gun laws. America needs a center-right party that will support common-sense fiscal policy. America needs a center-right party to support both free trade and aid to workers impacted by it. America needs a center-right party that appreciates how much more complicated foreign policy is today, when you have to manage weak and collapsing nations, not just muscle strong ones.

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Can’t swallow ‘climate action’?; Do the right thing anyway

    This is for everybody who can read, except for a few idiots.

    Those excused from our conversation, based on the thickness and slope of their skulls, have been reported to troll the West in large and loud vehicles. So doing, they speak ill of many of us with their exhaust pipes.

    “Rolling coal” is what they call the practice. To spew hatred for environmentalists, they drive around in big-butted pickups specially rigged to pour extra-black exhaust into the air.

    I bring them up because regardless of political party or ideology, most of us can all agree on some things regarding the environment -- like not minding it if these eco-invalids went off-roading off yonder cliff.

    Several cities, including the one in which I reside, Fort Collins, recently formed Colorado Communities for Climate Action. The group’s aim: state, local and national policies that assist a planet in distress, particularly in summoning businesses to act more sustainably.

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Trump is a much worse threat than Brexit

    On June 23, Britain will vote on whether to remain in the European Union. On Nov. 8, the United States will vote on whether to elect Donald Trump as president. These elections have much in common. Both could yield outcomes that would have seemed inconceivable not long ago. Both pit angry populists and nationalists against the traditional establishment. And in both cases, polling indicates that the outcome is in doubt, with prediction markets suggesting a probability of between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 of the radical outcome occurring.

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June 10th

Ali forced you to take sides. I took his.

    In March of 1971, when Muhammad Ali met Joe Frazier in the Fight of the Century, I was in high school in Ithaca, New York. At that time Ithaca was a sleepy Republican town. But Ali woke things up. People who had no interest in sports were taking sides.

    Perhaps unfairly, Frazier had become the candidate of conservatives, the boxer who proudly carried the American flag, the man who would teach some manners to the mouthy antiwar upstart who had changed his name and (they muttered) should have been in prison.

    His supporters were eclectic. The students at Ithaca High were split. The hippies in their Earth shoes, the rebels, the greasers in their boots, the math nerds supported Ali. Everybody else was pulling for Frazier. That's what Ali did. He forced you to take sides.

    Muhammad Ali, who died Saturday at 74, was not only the dominant boxer of his generation. He was the transcendent sports figure of the 20th century, a lightning rod for controversy who became a beloved ambassador for peace, and whose tragic final years have probably hastened the end of the sport at which he excelled.

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Swiss rejection shouldn't doom basic income

    Nobody expected the conservative Swiss to approve the idea of a hefty monthly payout to everyone in the country without exception. The proposal for a universal basic income (UBI) -- a monthly payout of $2,560 (2,500 francs) -- was rejected by 77 percent of Swiss voters in Sunday's referendum, just as their government recommended.

    That's a shame because the idea of a UBI is not necessarily utopian; it just may be a bit before its time. With a less hasty, radical approach, it might still gain traction.

    The issue is now politically dead in Switzerland for many years to come; and its opponents want to put the idea to rest for good. "The organizers wanted a vote of principle," Socialist politician Jean Chistophe Schwaab tweeted after the results came in. "So it's the principle of UBI that has been summarily rejected."

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Muhammad Ali is the greatest counter to Trump

    It's just a twist of fate, of course, that "the Greatest" should die in the middle of Donald Trump's misbegotten campaign to Make America Great Again. But humans get a kick out of coincidence, and History indulges us time and again.

    Muhammad Ali, once America's most famous braggart, embodied much of what the Trump campaign has been organized to denigrate, delegitimize and contest. Ali's incessant claims of greatness were gigantic. They had to be: He was inflating millions of bruised and depleted egos in addition to his own.

    Trump is America's most famous braggart now. He's a great businessman. He makes great deals. He'll be "the greatest jobs president God ever created." In his own way, Trump may even imagine his self-administered superlatives performing a similar service to Ali's, raising up a broken and battered people while advancing himself.

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In remembrance of Muhammad Ali, let's not forget his true legacy

    It is common for archaeologists to find in the graveyards of African slaves in the Americas objects from their tortured lives. For the burial place became one of the few places where enslaved Africans could lay bare who they were and from whence they came.

    The immediate wake of the death of Muhammad Ali reminds that he - the progeny of Dinah, his great-great grandmother who was a slave - must be, like his ancestors, so memorialized.

    With the announcement from the World Boxing Association on Sept. 14, 1964, that it was defrocking him of the world heavyweight championship he'd won earlier that year against Sonny Liston because of his conversion to Islam, rejection of his given name Cassius Clay as, he said, a "slave name," and openly taking counsel from the militant Malcolm X.

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How Muhammad Ali transformed the image of Islam

    Boxing made Muhammad Ali famous, but his conversion to Islam -- and the meaning the world attached to it -- made him a global historical figure. Ali's conversion came to be understood as an act of transnational identification with the oppressed wretched of the earth. And through Ali, Islam itself was symbolically transformed for many observers from a conservative, quietist faith to a force for radical protest against Western power.

    This remarkable story says more about Islam in the last half-century than it does about Ali personally. Nevertheless, there remains something truly astonishing about how the first African-American athlete to achieve global celebrity could make that celebrity into a platform for religio-political activism, not patriotism or consumerism.

    When Ali was publicly accepted into the Nation of Islam in 1964, that remarkable movement was doubly peripheral. The numerically tiny Nation was very much at the margins of American religious life. In theological and social terms, it was almost completely alien to international Islam in its various mainstream forms.

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Hillary Clinton's long, hard climb to the top of the ticket

    Hillary Clinton has been part of our national consciousness for so long that it is easy to forget how far she has pushed the edges.

    It is not just that she has made history by becoming the first woman to claim the presidential nomination of a major party. Hillary -- known on a first-name basis, both by her fervent supporters and by those who despise her -- has been the avatar of a different way of thinking about women and what they can do.

    Hers was an earnest generation of feminists who decided that nothing was beyond them. They could choose their careers, build unshakable marriages and raise nearly perfect children. They could go out and change the world, yet still be there for their friends.

    A younger Hillary once said: "There is no formula that I'm aware of for being a successful or fulfilled woman today. Perhaps it would be easier . . . if we could be handed a pattern and cut it out, just as our mothers and grandmothers and foremothers were. But that is not the way it is today, and I'm glad it is not."

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'Fix' the U.S. political system at your own risk

    It's rare that President Barack Obama and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus agree. In recent weeks, they both have said that the presidential nominating process is not rigged.

    They are right. That hasn't stopped those displeased with the results -- establishment Republicans and Democrats who support Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders -- from insisting on changing the rules for the next election.

    Some tweaks are always in order, but both sides are trying to craft procedures that would have worked to their benefit this time. Like generals fighting the last war, experience shows this rarely works and often backfires.

    "Every time someone tries to game out this system," says Benjamin Ginsberg, the leading Republican election lawyer, "the great law of unintended consequences rears its head."

    For the 2016 elections, Republicans wanted to compress the initial primaries and limit debates so that an establishment favorite -- Jeb Bush for most --- could wrap up the nomination early. Concurrently, conservatives insisted on the early Southern contests -- what became known as the SEC primary -- to better ensure victory for an ideologically suitable candidate.

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