71 Lies in an Hour, About Average
According to the Huffington Post this morning, Donald Trump uttered 71 inaccurate, misleading or highly questionable statements during a one-hour (including commercial breaks) town hall with Anderson Cooper last night. You’d think that surely his supporters might see through some of these falsehoods, but they won’t because they get their news from Fox, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Breitbart, etc. Seventy-one falsehoods in an hour is probably just about average.
Link to the Huffington Post article:
Bigger Than ISIS
ISIS is a rocket whose guidance system is a direct descendant of the puritanical, anti-Shiite, anti-pluralistic Saudi Wahhabi ideology, and its fuel system is a direct reaction to Shiite Iran’s aggressive push to keep Iraqi Sunnis permanently weak. As long as Iran and Saudi Arabia are going at it, there will always be another ISIS. Which is why the “peace process” the Middle East needs most today is between Saudi Arabia and Iran. (Thomas Friedman – New York Times Op Ed. 3/30/2016)
Thomas Friedman accurately points out that ISIS is merely a symptom of a much larger, and more dangerous, disease. Through most of recent history, the world, and Americans in particular, have thought about “peace” in the Middle East as a resolution of the Arab/Israel conflict, but the truth is, it’s much more complicated. In fact, peace between Israel and its neighbors may not be possible at all until their neighbors make peace among themselves.
So, the question is: What role should the United States play in this conflict. My answer: Very damn little. Yes, we could achieve temporary successes, at great cost. But, until Shia and Sunni resolve their difference, conflicts will continue to erupt. Our mission should be to watch, stay out of the crossfire, and help Israel stay out the crossfire.
On Citizens United
"Merchants have no country," wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1814. "The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains." The former president was ruing the way New England traders and ship owners, fearing the loss of lucrative transatlantic commerce, failed to rally to their country in the War of 1812. 1
What was true in 1814 remains true today. The loyalty of corporations goes to the producers of profits and the reducers of wages and taxes. Yet, there has been one hugely significant change since 1814. The Supreme Court, in Citizens United, declared corporations and other entities to be persons, with an unlimited right to make political donations. Not only does this spending power influence the outcome of elections; perhaps more importantly, it influences the selection of candidates from which voters choose. While we can make the argument that the power of the ballot box can offset the power of money, that’s only true if good candidates make it to the ballot on election day.
1 This story first appeared on the TomDispatch website and republished by Mother Jones.
The Top Level of Government
The recent turmoil in the process of selecting a replacement for John Boehner as Speaker of the House of Representatives drove home to me the chaos at the top level of our government. In the end, a competent man, Paul Ryan, was selected, which is fortunate since the Speaker of the House is third in the line of succession to the presidency. There were other possibilities that were pretty frightening. I started thinking there must be a better way to do this.
Here is the idea I came up with:
On Term Limits
Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of Facebook posts advocating a constitutional amendment that would put term limits on members of congress. This is completely unnecessary. The constitution, as written, already contains term limits. It’s called reelection and it happens every six years for senators and every two years for congressmen. If you think your congressman’s time should be up, vote for another candidate. But, that’s not what the term limit movement is all about is it. No, it’s about people in Mississippi forcing people in the 12th district of California to choose someone other than Nancy Pelosi, or it’s about people in New York forcing Kentuckians to choose someone other than Mitch McConnell. I wonder how many of the people pushing term limits voted for a six term incumbent in the last election.
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