Saturday, November 3, 2012
Here are scattered thoughts which have accumulated for so long that I had to purge half the list to keep its length only slightly unreasonable. They're not all about the election or even politics. They include some impassioned excerpts from one of my favorite Democrats, Orson Scott Card.
Without further ado . . .
Katrina II: I've been watching news stories about storm aftermath in New York and New Jersey. I won't belabor the point, but we see again why it is folly to rely on the federal government for disaster relief and responsible preparations for it. And it doesn't matter which party holds the White House when the trouble hits; in a sense, where disaster relief is concerned, the only difference between recent presidents of the two parties is style.
No Seal Left Behind?: The other day, in the context of post-Stormageddon disaster relief, President Obama said that Americans don't leave anyone behind. I guess we could debate whether National Command Authority's despicable conduct during the Benghazi attack is un-American, by that definition. But if what happened is anything like what now appears to have happened, even if you don't count the clumsy cover-up, Benghazi is grounds for impeachment, in the unlikely event that President Obama wins the election. I'm no friend of Barack Obama, but I don't speak of impeachment lightly. The offense is far beyond Bill Clinton's perjured testimony, and the cover-up is far beyond Watergate. The partial timetable lately released by the CIA is too late, offers only a partial picture at best, and already is drawing fire from people who were on the ground in Libya (actually drawing fire). If a Republican administration had done this, reelection would be a virtual impossibility -- and impeachment would rightly be on the table.
On the Big Screen: I saw Won't Back Down the other day. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis play parents whose children are betrayed by the local public school in Pittsburgh. For biographical reasons, I like Pittsburgh movies. (The City of Pittsburgh is my favorite character in the first few minutes of Groundhog Day, too.) Yes, it was schmaltzy. Yes, it was upbeat and optimistic, and it underestimated, if anything, the herculean task of taking control of a school. I enjoyed it too much to be able to judge whether it's a good movie or not. But I left the theater thinking it's a dangerous movie, if it helps a couple of great ideas to catch on: that parents really can do something about failing public schools, and that teachers unions are the arch-enemy of school reform. (For more, read Andrew J. Rotherham and Glenn Garvin.) The unions take issue with the film's claim to be "inspired by true events," because no one yet has successfully taken over a school using "parent trigger laws," which exist in several states. On the other hand, it is based on millions of true events, or millions of variations on a single event: parents discovering that a failing school is chronically unresponsive to the needs of a student.
I Love Defense: I love great defense, on a basketball floor or a football field. So I loved these lines in a recent Daily Herald article about BYU's football's excellent defense this season:
It warms the heart.
The Author Probably Didn't Write the Headline: It's important to realize that the people who write news articles and op/ed columns usually are not the people who choose the headlines. Here's a reminder, in an article critical of Mitt Romney from The New Republic. More noteworthy than the content is the headline. Amy Sullivan here talks about the unfortunate appearance of "Mitt the Man" in the second presidential debate. She doesn't like Mitt the Man at all, but she never once calls him a jerk. Nevertheless, whoever wrote the headline decided to juice it up a little: "Mitt the Jerk: A Woman's View of the Debate." (Often TNR offers sound thought from the left, but sometimes it's just cheap.)
The Battle, not the War: There's a Facebook meme out there with this text: "I apologize if my caring about the direction of our Country is getting in the way of other mindless status updates. Don't worry, after November 6th we can go back to talking about vital issues like Pop-Tart recipes, Katy Perry, and whether Crocs qualify as 'shoes'." Whoever wins the presidency, the people's vigilance and involvement will continue to be absolutely crucial.
A News Division's Purpose, Left Version: The Left's despair after President Obama more or less phoned it in the first debate, and got his clock cleaned by an intelligent, articulate, human Mitt Romney, was something I enjoyed more than I probably should have. One piece of the Left's response sticks in memory as an indication of how they expect these things to work. You'll recall that Jim Lehrer of PBS was the moderator. I appreciated how he let the candidates address and respond to each other; it was closer to a real debate than most such events in recent years. But afterward, a couple of the talking heads criticized Lehrer for "letting Romney win." You see, in their view the moderator is supposed to insure that the Democrat wins. This is the proper role both of the Big Media Acronyms and media stars chosen to moderate debates.
You Can't Make This Stuff Up: (Or "Nothing is Too Mediocre for the Children," or "How to Give Fairness an Even Blacker Name," or "How Combating Quality Promotes Equality.") To promote fairness, a Swedish lunch lady was ordered to stop serving good food. Here's an excerpt from Daniel J. Mitchell's recent column:
Speaking of education, see also the French President's desire to abolish homework in public schools. You see, it's not fair that some children have parents who expect their children to do their homework, and some don't.
Closed circuit to my friends in the Alpine School District: When you see this sort of foolishness here, don't bother labeling it socialism or communism. Call it stupidity or idiocy and leave it at that. You'll be more persuasive.
Speaking of, Ahem, Socialism: In all the Republican hand-wringing and rabble-rousing about so-called Death Panels (example here), which will make care and cost decisions under ObamaCare, very few Republicans are discussing the fact that Death Panels are perfectly logical, when government is footing the bill for health care. We'd all prefer it to be loved ones making the difficult decisions, with sound medical advice, but it makes sense that it would be the entity which is paying the bill. What doesn't make sense is for the government (that is, taxpayers) to be paying the bill. Even our present, pre-ObamaCare system radically increases costs by the degree to which medical decisions and payments for medical care are made by different people or entities.
Still Watching: I'm still watching for widespread stories of people finally snapping under the barrage of political ads and assaulting their televisions. It seems inevitable. I thought us to be on the verge a few days ago.
Finally, I Play the Card Card: Orson Scott Card is one of the smart Democrats -- politically smart, I mean. Democrats smart in other subjects are a dime a dozen (but worth much more). Sometimes I fantasize about how productive our political debates might be if Democrats like Card were debating smart and reasonable Republicans (of which I consider Mitt Romney one, provisionally) within the policy process. His blog posts tend to be even longer than mine, but I find them gripping for two reasons. First, it's that smart Democrat thing. Second, this is Orson Scott Card, and he can really turn a phrase. I suggest you work your way (before the election, if possible) through four recent blog posts, for the substance as well as the passion and the art: "What This Election Is Really About," "'Barrage of Lies'," "Let's Unlose This War," and "Obama Dithered, Americans Died, And Then Obama Lied and Lied." Here are excerpts.
From "What This Election Is Really About" (original emphasis):
From "Let's Unlose This War," after a point by point comparisons of Barack Obama with Neville Chamberlain, and Islamists with Hitler (my emphasis):
From "'Barrage of Lies'":
He ends that piece with a list of things we can do about the problem, which I commend to you.
Closing Heresy: We Republicans, even the smart ones, aren't enough to accomplish what we must do, both on and after Election Day. We need and should welcome my "smart Democrats." We should welcome them in droves.
Copyright 2012 by David Rodeback.