December 24, 2013
We are justly proud of democracy in America. But what makes a democracy morally great and what makes it successful?
Many countries have elections but aren’t successful democracies. Their elections are about which families will reap the spoils of election victories. Successful democracies focus on taking care of the whole peoples of their countries. Lincoln spoke about government “of the people, by the people and for the people.” Speaking about democracy, we often concentrate on government “of … [and] by the people.” But Lincoln’s last clause – “for the people” – defines the difference between success and failure; between government and kleptocracies; between governments that get things done and governments that imitate the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, robbing from the poor to pay the rich. Read the rest of this entry »
October 22, 2013
Should we fight against the brush fires or tackle the whole enchilada? I’ve often wondered about that. People find it easier to tackle the little pieces. I’ve heard that Napoleon, retreating in Russia, broke the retreat into a series of small objectives to keep up his men’s confidence. But then we know the man in charge had his eyes on the big picture – getting out of Russia before he lost his entire army.
There is no guy in charge of the whole world. Americans like to brag that we’re the greatest. And many of them think we can accomplish anything and, if we don’t, the president’s to blame. I don’t share that misconception. Even in the U.S. no one is really in charge. Politics, democracy, is about conflict and compromise. And no one is in charge.
So how do we deal with environmental problems before it’s too late? Read the rest of this entry »
November 9, 2011
Earlier today the Court heard arguments in United States v. Jones. For a solid month, the feds tracked Jones with the aid of a GPS device hidden on his car. And they got him. He dealt drugs. The feds figured it out and convicted him. Why should anybody care? GPS data can be very revealing. Shouldn’t we cheer? Read the rest of this entry »
July 26, 2011
I’m going to be away for a few weeks and it looks like all heck will be breaking loose in Washington while I’m away. Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to figure out President Obama’s options. Read the rest of this entry »
July 19, 2011
I’ve had a lot to say recently about the economic snake oil being poured in the House of Representatives. I’ve been talking about it because it’s so current. Mishandling the economy has become a Republican trademark since the Great Depression, and they’re so impressed by their foolishness that they keep repeating the same time-tested mistakes. I’ve been talking about it because it is going to do so much harm. But the truth is, it is not what I think is the most important issue facing us. Read the rest of this entry »
May 17, 2011
The Republicans are playing hardball. They want Democrats to cut the budget, repeatedly, without raising taxes, and without cutting military expenditures. And in return they’re willing to give nothing.
The story is that the Democrats cave. But it’s more insidious. Read the rest of this entry »
February 22, 2011
Let’s separate the wheat from the chaff. Lots of Americans are angry. The tea party is angry about taxes and spending. Workers are angry about not having jobs or prospects. The middle-class is angry about getting squeezed. And they are all right to be angry. It doesn’t follow that the anger is directed at the causes of their problems. So let’s sort it out. Read the rest of this entry »
February 22, 2011
After noting that China and India are “investing in research and new technologies,” President Obama made investment a major theme of his State of the Union Address. The first Soviet space launch in the 50s spurred us to invest in research and education. Obama wants us to ” invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology – an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.” Other countries, he added, are investing much more in infrastructure.
The appeal of that way of thinking obviously bothered Republicans. Read the rest of this entry »
November 2, 2010
I’ve been thinking about my retirement account. From the time George Bush entered the White my account has been flat – even though my employer and I add to it every pay period. Read the rest of this entry »