Wattree on Mandela: Homeward Bound
Richard Day: Cold in Minnesota, and in the Hearts of Men
Ramona On Martin Bashir
After every major gun-inflicted tragedy we're told by the pro-everything-that-shoots bunch that it's too soon to be talking about gun control. We hear again that guns don't kill people, it's the people misusing the guns who kill people. We hear that they could just as well be using knives or garrotes or box cutters or poison or 3,000 pound vehicles.
It's Saturday, the day after what will forever be known as the Sandy Hook School murders. Yesterday Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old man, broke into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and shot to death six adults and 20 small children.
We're all in shock and looking for answers. We're crying, grieving, mourning, and we want answers. We want gun control that actually controls guns. We want people not to blame the guns but the shooter. We want to know the names of the victims, and, as I write this, all news stations are on alert, awaiting a press conference where those names will finally be announced.
There are 300 million guns in America, which is enough to arm everyone. About half of households are gun owners. That includes the house I grew up with. It includes some of my colleagues and friends. It includes right wingers and left wingers. They're good people and to them, guns are objects and they have as much a right to them as they do to any other object in their lives. [Read more]
20 children have been murdered in Connecticut. This what you can do about it right now:
1. Write and call your Congressman. Writing to your Congressional representatives is the most important thing you can do, more important than writing to the White House. Write and call your House member first, and then your two Senators. You can find their contact information at house.gov and senate.gov.
So it has happened. Remember the other day when I wrote that Michigan had become a Right-to-Work state? It's not that I'm prescient or anything, announcing a done deal on Saturday when it didn't actually become law until yesterday (Tuesday), when Govnerd Ricky signed the two "Hasta la Vista, Union" bills hustled through the Republican-led legislature in a dazzling demonstration of warp speed. No, it's just that I've come to know those guys. No amount of talking, cajoling, coercing or begging was going to change the course of that bloody action, no matter what. [Read more]
From a spending standpoint one of the problems for Social Security, and for any retirement annuity or lifetime pension, is how to maintain purchasing power for recipients in a world of generally rising prices. It would be so nice, all agree, if prices could just be made not to rise so quickly. This is, unfortunately, very difficult to control.
Enter the Chained CPI. It's a measure of inflation that takes the substitution effect of consumers changing their buying habits in response to a rise in prices. If the price of steak goes up, the story goes, consumers buy more chicken and the government doesn't have to worry about making sure that retirees can keep up with the price of steak. [Read more]
Forget about Benghazi. The whole imbroglio was little more than an election gambit gone sour. Republican leaders, frustrated that their charges failed to wound Obama in November, have vented their fury on his choice for Secretary of State.
But Susan Rice's record as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. raises other more serious concerns. The New York Times published two articles today, a news story and an op-ed, which question Rice's judgment concerning several African dictators. [Read more]
Every ten years the British magazine Sight and Sound polls various cineastes to learn what they consider to be the greatest movie of all time. In 2012, Alfred Hithcock's Vertigo unseated Orson Welles' Citizen Kane which had been selected first in each poll conducted since 1962. Jean Renoir's 1939 classic La Regle du jeu (Rules of the Game) came in fourth. Below, I explain why I believe Renoir's film is demonstrably superior to Vertigo. [Read more]
Last week Michigan's Republican-majority legislature, with no committee meetings, no floor debate, in a rush to get this done before January when their control lessens, voted to add my beautiful state to a growing number of states--23 of them so far--that have been downgraded to what some have been led to believe is an assurance of a "Right-to-Work".
I stopped blogging for a while around Thanksgiving, partly because I was driving instead (I managed to log about 2500 highway miles in a week and a half), and partly because I needed to unplug both from national politics and from the unrelenting dailiness of office politics. (I go to more meetings at work than I used to, and answer a lot more e-mails.) The advent of winter holidays has always been a good time for me to step away from the noisy bustle and think more about what is durable. It's stepping out of the car after miles and miles of highway and looking up at the cold clear stars over New Hampshire.
We women have had a rough few decades. The modern woman has to worry about pleasing their man or finding a man. We have to worry about children. We have to worry about our jobs and vaginas. But it didn’t used to always be this way. Since the great feminist uprising came and washed away our self-respect and dignity, we women lived a far simpler existence. We indeed had it all. [Read more]
Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element. The genial Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican. He brought the Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined to rescue the Frenc [Read more]
The way David Gregory framed his "fiscal cliff" question on Meet The Press today is extremely revealing. "What cuts," he asked his Democratic guest (I'm paraphrasing a little), "are Democrats willing to accept that will be truly painful?" The answer, by the way, was "farm subsidies." So, yes, the whole exchange was absurd.
But, let's focus on the question. Why the word "pain?" I guess one interpretation, unlikely, is that Gregory believes that the government is extremely well-managed so that any significant cuts to existing programs are going to hurt people in a real and tangible way. [Read more]
So, the Governor of Florida set up a Task Force on higher education, and they decided that humanities majors should pay more than science majors for a college education. The thinking is that Florida wants more technology grads, and fewer humanities grads, and can get them by making humanities degrees more expensive so that students opt for science, math, and technology instead. They call this approach "market based," but its ignorance of basic economic realities is startling. [Read more]
Ever since Rick Snyder soft-talked his way into the governorship in Michigan, throwing the doors wide open for his biggest donors, the Mackinac Center, ALEC and the Koch Brothers (All for One and One for All against the Rest of Us), I've grown used to reading the craziest stuff imaginable about my beautiful state.
I mean, it's been special.
Unconventional ideas need champions and they have to start somewhere. Today, Thomas Friedman pushes Arne Duncan, current Secretary of Education as the next Secretary of State. It's a quirky idea, but interesting.
First, though, Friedman has to deal with the very obvious problem of why he'd prefer such a contrarian pick over the front runner, current Ambassador to the United Nations and longtime Obama confidante, Susan Rice.
"I don’t know Rice at all, so I have no opinion on her fitness for the job, but I think the contrived flap over her Libya comments certainly shouldn’t disqualify her." [Read more]
My friends, America was born some 450 years ago in 1776 and has the documentation to prove it. Now, America has an expiration date – Dec. 31, 2012.
Yes, Christopher Columbus’ great experiment in democracy is set to sail over a cliff – a “Fiscal” cliff, as it were. According to economics experts such as David Gregory, the fiscal cliff is a combination of tax hikes and budget cuts that will paralyze the economy and bring about such calamities as a return of smallpox, forced incest and insects of above average size, according to economic expert such as Jake Tapper. [Read more]
Decided to torture myself with Meet The Press this morning. Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina was a guest. She admitted that taxes would have to rise on millionaires and billionaires. Then she made the familiar argument that families of four who live in high cost areas don't feel like millionaires when they make a quarter million dollars a year. Nobody challenged her on that. But, they never do. I'm used to it. And I'll bet you that Carly has probably had hard working executive assistants who she's paid in excess of $200k a year. It's not uncommon in big public companies and they're often worth every penny. [Read more]
"We must be vigilant," proclaimed Xi Jinping, China's new paramount leader. In his inaugural speech to the 25-person Politburo, he warned that rampant graft and corruption would "doom the party and the state" if it continued unchecked.
He has a point. From petty graft in far-flung villages to the regime-shaking Bo Xilai scandal, rampant corruption has fueled the social unrest that the long-toothed oligarchs fear so much. Payoffs have bumped China's vaunted high-speed trains off their shoddy tracks. Graft has nibbled away the roots of its famously fertile economy. [Read more]
Today my favorite Op-Ed writer of them all, Thomas Friedman, tackles the skills of America's workers. Based on the testimony of Traci Tapani, who inherited a small sheet metal company in Wyoming, Friedman has concluded that America's workers don't have the skills for what modern work requires. [Read more]