Archive for February, 2011
When we get right down to it, the behavior of just about everyone involved in the Wisconsin budget controversy is reprehensible. The most obvious villain is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who is using the need for budget cuts as an excuse to bust public unions in Wisconsin, or at least the unions that didn’t help get him elected. Eliminating the right of collective bargaining goes way beyond any needs to control salary and pensions. In fact it has been documented that the unions are willing to compromise on salaries and pensions. That is not good enough for Walker who wants to make a national name for himself as a union buster.
The natural response to this power grab is to put all our weight behind any and all efforts to stop Walker. Unfortunately, neither of the two most newsworthy responses to Walker pass the smell test as appropriate. First, we have the Democratic State Senators who have fled to Illinois and other parts outside Wisconsin to avoid a vote on the budget in the Senate. Without a quorum, the vote cannot take place. To make matters more bizarre, the Senators can be compelled to show up at work if they are in-state. Hence, their decision to flee across state lines. This might make most liberals cheer but I find it plain irresponsible. Senators are elected to legislate. They speak their mind, they debate, and they vote. And the chips fall where they may. That is the way the system works. To sabotage the system by playing fugitive is juvenile at best and dereliction of duty at worst.
Of course the other newsworthy “protest” going on is that of the “people on the street”. But these aren’t just run of the mill people. These are not postal workers, or other public workers whose work would be missed but not to any great consequence in the short-term. These are teachers. When teachers refuse to teach, our kids don’t get an education. To make matters worse, they are not officially on strike. They are calling in “sick”. Don’t we teach our kids that it is wrong to call in sick to school when you are not sick? Not only are these teachers sending an incredibly hypocritical message to their students, they are encouraging students to protest with them. The students don’t belong in the rotunda of the State capitol, they belong in school. The teachers belong in school doing the jobs tax payers pay them to do.
In the 80′s when Ronald Reagan fired the striking air traffic controllers, I for one, cheered. There are certain jobs where there should not be the luxury of a walkout. Those jobs involve life and death issues (like air traffic safety, or doctors or nurses or police) and the education of our children. Collective bargaining is one thing and I believe in it but the threat to walkout should be off the table as a bargaining tactic.
Perhaps we are witnessing the consequence of a slow devolution of societal norms: whether it’s Joe Wilson yelling “you lie” at a sitting President of the United States during a national address or Christine O’Donnell making a career running for office to pay her rent or Democratic Senators playing hooky to hijack the legislative process or teachers teaching by example that if you don’t like the system just opt out. We no longer have any shame. Any tactic will do.
I’d love to just go partisan on this one. Clearly Governor Walker’s intent and methods are out of line. But I just can’t get behind folks refusing to do their jobs. Walker may be wrong but he’s showing up to work everyday. That puts him one notch above his opponents in my book.
After two World Wars, I think many of us have a concept of how WWIII would go down. Lots of us assume it would pick up where WWII left off, namely with the use of nuclear weapons. The real pessimists among us figure this would be the last World War since we would make the planet uninhabitable from nuclear decay by the time we were through.
Recent events, however, have me thinking out of the box a little. I think we may be witnessing WWIII right now but it’s not at all how we imagined it. This World War doesn’t involve countries banding together to fight other countries. This World War involves country after country exploding from within. It started in Tunisia. Then Egypt. Now the countries experiencing civil unrest have grown to include Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Algeria, Iran, Jordan, and Syria. Saudi Arabia’s leaders are supposedly very nervous.
Our “War Against Terror” has been supplanted by a war against tyranny. The Allied Forces consist of mostly young people, wired together through social networking. The “Axis” forces consist of government after government of decades-old despots and dictators. The United States which had no problem choosing sides in the first two World Wars has the dilemma of finding some of its friends on the Axis side.
All the more interesting is that ordinary working folk in this country are being supported in their civil protest by … Egypt. Will we explode from within also? Will Obama find himself part of the Axis while the people of Madison, Wisconsin join the Allied Forces? Will the United States become embroiled in WWIII, the War Against Tyranny?
Since we are in the midst of Black History Month, I thought it might be a good time to remember the words of actor Morgan Freeman on the subject and then suggest an equally offensive alternative.
The definitive statement on Black History Month was uttered by Morgan Freeman in an interview with Mike Wallace on the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes”. In the video, Morgan asks Mike why blacks should be singled out for this distinction. Why should black history be relegated to a month? Isn’t black history American history?
In another hat tip to Jonathan Swift, I have a modest proposal to present: an alternative to Black History Month, namely White History Month. But this is a very special view of White History. I propose that each February, every day one of 28 illustrious examples of White History be taught in schools complete with after school TV specials and NBC “The more you know” TV ads. Here would be some examples:
- 1619 First Africans to be kidnapped and sold into indentured servitude by white people.
- 1705 Slavery formally legislated in Virginia by white people.
- 1865 White supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan is formed.
- 1896 All white Supreme Court rules that segregation is cool in Plessy v. Ferguson.
- 1963 White Alabama Governor George Wallace stands at the entrance to the University of Alabama to block admission of two black students.
- 1968 White fella James Earl Ray kills nonviolent civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
And the list goes on. Then as a special treat, every four years on February 29 we celebrate white achievements in film and TV such as the white writers who created such characters as Amos and Andy, Stepin Fetchit, Buckwheat and Fred Sanford.
The greatest benefit of this celebration of white history is that no longer do we need to have conservatives label blacks and liberal whites “race baiters” who “play the race card”. All that pent-up grievance-based anger can be vented in one month instead of being spread across the year. Then for the other eleven months we can just treat people as people and forget about race. We can use February to get it out of our system.
Well, I don’t suppose this solution is what Morgan Freeman had in mind either. Perhaps the time has come for African-Americans and Polish-Americans and Italian-Americans to drop the longing for the homeland and just become Americans. Regardless of how we got here, we’re all stuck here together and we’ve got big problems to solve.
The history of the melting pot includes us all. Every month that inclusive history should be taught and either celebrated or used as an object lesson for what to avoid in the future.
Bush in 2012, Really
Rich Lowry’s penis has finally stopped making his decisions for him and he seems to have gotten off the Sarah Palin train. In a recent article in National Review Online, Rich offers eight reasons why Jeb Bush should run for President in 2012. I’ll paraphrase Rich’s points from a liberal perspective:
1. Nobody else worth a damn is running or as Rich puts it, it’s a wide open field.
2. By 2016, Jeb’s resume will be stale.
3. By 2016 the current crop of newbies (Christie, Rubio, etc.) will be seasoned enough to jump into the ring.
4. Brother George is enjoying a perverse sort of nostalgia right now.
5. Regardless of George’s stink, Jeb will still be a Bush in 2016 so he might as well jump now.
6. He’s not like Dad or Brother — see my additional reason #9 below!
7. Jeb might be a GOP uniter. This is where Rich throws Sarah under the bus (cue the moose death groan) saying she is too polarizing and implying that Romney is too bland.
8. Better to run too soon than too late. Of course this fails Rich’s own internal logic from reason #3. If it’s better to run too soon, why is he not advocating for Christie or Rubio now?
And now my two extra reasons for Bush in 2012:
9. Jeb was the smart one. From everything I’ve seen, read and heard, it was Jeb who should have sought the nomination back in 2000, not his dumb-ass brother. Jeb lacks George’s swagger and seems to have replaced it with some real intellect. If I’m not mistaken, he also speaks fluent Spanish.
10. It’s enough to give Presidential historians an orgasm. I’m a bit rusty now but I used to be a Presidential history buff. Jeb, if he won, would add another great first to the annals of Pres history. We have John Adams and his son John Quincy (so George 43 broke no records there), we had William Henry Harrison and his grandson Benjamin and of course we had Teddy Roosevelt and his cousin Franklin. Jeb taking the oath in 2013 would give us the first case of a President (George Herbert Walker) having TWO sons in the White House.
Honestly, I’d like to see a worthy adversary go against Barack in 2012 for one simple reason. I don’t trust this country not to throw Obama out for a knucklehead so if Obama has to lose to someone (and I don’t think that is a foregone conclusion), I’d like it to be someone I could minimally respect. And speaking of respect …
A Tasty Sip of Tea
Well ever since they took the oath in January in the 112th Congress, we’ve been waiting to see what those racist fear mongering Teabaggers would do and I’m shocked to say this but I actually respect their very first major move. So much so, I shall officially retire the term “teabagger” from my vocabulary. Yesterday, Tea Party caucus members were key players in not extending three provisions of the Patriot Act including warrantless wire tapping.
Who would have thought this early in the game that Tea Party members and liberals would be on the same page regarding civil liberties and government over reach? Heck, if not being able to spell and totally misunderstanding the Constitution gets these great results I may have to completely reevaluate my Tea Party stand. I think I’ve got enough bags left in my Red Rose box in the cupboard to start working on my hat. Oh and I’ll have to buy a gun. This sounds like the start of a great relationship.
While enjoying my morning dose of MSNBC chatter the other day I heard Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations say something interesting about the conflict in Egypt. He basically said that we’re all way too quick to declare which “side of history” is the right side and the wrong side. “Being on the right side of history”, Mr. Haass says, is an awfully overused phrase.
Being a card carrying liberal, being on the right side of history has always been one of my rallying cries. Mr. Haass’ remarks made me rethink that for a moment. In Egypt we have a leader who has clearly outstayed his welcome. However for the past 30 years, he has served America’s interests quite well. For that matter, we have no idea what follows should Hosni Mubarak abandon his office. So as I’ve said in a prior post, we are indeed between a rock and a hard place in how we react to this situation.
On a more philosophical note, where exactly do we get off telling any nation how to conduct its affairs and who should lead it? I don’t have an easy answer for this question either. Leaders provide leadership. The United States is a world leader. So is it incumbent upon us to provide advice to any country in time of crisis? Clearly, doing so can cut both ways. It has been noted that in an interview with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, Mubarak’s body language betrayed a frustration with perceived lack of support from his longtime ally, the USA. By the same token, it appears that the “people” demanding change are not satisfied with what they view as a less than full-throated advocacy from Obama.
Some conservatives and even some liberals are angry that Obama and his White House didn’t get on top of this situation when unrest first stirred in Tunisia. In the words of my blogger friend Gorilla of “The 800lb Gorilla”:
Obama’s failure to cool the situation and work in structured change with the leaders- using carrots and sticks- has allowed the situation to get out of control.
via Sleeping Through 3 A.M. « The 800lb Gorilla.
I have even heard the liberal media call the White House flat-footed when it comes to the Cairo uprising. Again, I have to ask myself what could we really have done and what should we have done? While Egypt’s future has tremendous impact on us, it is by the same token really none of our business.
So here we sit relatively helpless to effect a positive outcome in the Middle East. Hindsight is 20/20 and the only way to know you were on the right side of history is with hindsight. For the time being, all we really can do with any moral authority is ask the Egyptians to stop killing each other.