Tuesday September 02, 2014
May 4th, 2014
There has been a festival of commentary of late bemoaning the pusillanimous foreign policy of President Barack Obama. If only we had a president who rode horses shirtless, wrestled a tiger or took a bite out of a neighboring country, we'd all feel much safer. Your Honor, I rise in - partial - defense of Mr. Obama.
On the surface, the news that the nation's unemployment rate dropped last month from 6.7 to 6.3 percent would seem to be cause to conclude that the American economy is finally recovering from the Great Recession of 2008. Instead, the cautionary flags continue to fly.
The botched Oklahoma execution of Clayton Lockett has called our continued use of the death penalty in this country back into question. In many ways, the death penalty is an abhorrent attempt to sate an irrational cultural bloodlust, rooted in vengeance and barbarism and detached from data.
To be sure, Lockett was no angel. He was convicted of first-degree murder for shooting a young woman, Stephanie Neiman, and watching as accomplices buried her alive. And according to The Associated Press:
Republicans' response to health reform's success is to close their eyes and sling bad statistics.
On Thursday, House Republicans released a deliberately misleading report on the status of health reform, crudely rigging the numbers to sustain the illusion of failure in the face of unexpected success. Are you shocked?
"We are not final because we are infallible," Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson famously observed, "but we are infallible only because we are final."
Now -- actually, six decades later -- comes Justice Antonin Scalia to demonstrate that neither aspect of that aphorism is entirely correct.
Like the rest of us mortals, Scalia, it turns out, is fallible. He made an embarrassing whopper of a mistake in a dissent Tuesday.
Now that the National Basketball Association has banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Don Sterling for life over his racist comments, how about those Washington Redskins?
Sterling is getting punished for insults that he uttered in private. Washington Redskins' owner Dan Snyder insults Native American Indians in public every day that he refuses to change the team's name.
The widespread condemnation of the vile prejudice expressed by a professional-basketball-team owner and a Nevada rancher underscored the progress America has made on race.
There are two majorities in the country right now. One disapproves of President Obama. The other is still inclined to vote Democratic. The key question for the 2014 elections is whether voting this fall -- and Obama's approval ratings -- can come into line with the electorate's broader Democratic leanings?
There is also this: Obama's difficulties do not appear to be hurting Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the presidency in 2016.
This week's announcement that the Justice Department will expand the criteria for offering clemency marks a new, and long overdue, chapter in the politics of crime. Under the new rules, low-level nonviolent offenders who have served at least 10 years of their sentence, have no history of violence either before they went to prison or while serving in prison, and have demonstrated good conduct in prison, will be eligible to seek clemency and be released from prison.
Next November, the Republican Party is banking on the cranky.
Don’t laugh. This appears to be a very good wager.
Good enough to hold onto the U.S. House. Good enough, even, to take the Senate.
Democrats don’t want to acknowledge that possibility, but it is way beyond real, and for two good reasons: