Saturday December 07, 2013
November 21st, 2013
The battle over the meaning of Gettysburg has been going on for 150 years.
For Abraham Lincoln, speaking over the dead on Nov. 19, 1863, the power of the men's sacrifice lay in the "cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion": preserving the union and enabling "a new birth of freedom" encompassing all men.
In an interview with the BBC this week, Oprah Winfrey said of President Barack Obama: "There is a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs, in some cases, and maybe even many cases, because he's African-American."
The Republicans just can't contain themselves. Like spoiled children trying to get around a parent's "No," they try this way and that to to get what they want. Even when they get their way they are so busy throwing tantrums they don't know that the parental "No" has collapsed.
Many conservatives want farm bills to stop coupling food stamps to agricultural subsidies. They see the linkage as an unsavory deal between urban Democrats and rural Republicans to waste the people's money.
But not all conservatives are principled conservatives. Principled conservatives oppose the farm subsidies as a monstrous example of corporate welfare. The other kind thinks it can strip spending from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program while preserving the farm rip-offs.
The promise and the apology are the bookends of effective politics. President Obama has, tragically and perhaps irreparably, flubbed both.
Overpromising is every politician's temptation, every journalist's gotcha, every political opponent's handy club. A chicken in every pot. Read my lips. On the campaign trail, nuance is an unwelcome intruder.
President Obama is furiously fending off those "winter of discontent" stories, and it's not even winter yet.
The news about the health care law that is supposed to be his greatest achievement is almost uniformly downbeat. The public is unhappy with national politicians of all kinds. And then there are the polls, a currency that the political world -- despite ritualistic denials -- values more than any other.
It's no secret why the media loves a new political star. It's so much easier than digging into serious issues and doing real reporting. Last year, for 15 minutes each, they went gaga over Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain. But, no doubt about it, for the media this year's new political darling is Gov. Chris Christie.
Maybe Coach Scott didn't get the memo that in 2013, nerds are cool and geeks rule.
It seems that Michael Scott, the Annandale (Va.) High School football coach who allegedly kicked his school's marching band off the field to make room for his players at halftime, is in some kind of 1953 time warp, where the tough coach gives the kid with glasses a wedgie and they all meet for a rumble behind the gym after the game.
Most economists will tell you that workers displaced by technological progress and globalization should be able to find comparable employment elsewhere - or at least that the income losses of those who lose their jobs are more than offset by the broader gains to consumers as a whole.