For People Who Think

August 13, 2012

Making the Choice…by Dan Lynch

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4peoplewhothink @ 4:47 pm

We’re in the pre-season doldrums now. The real campaign for President won’t begin for months. You think it’s nasty now? Hey, just wait.

At the moment I have no clue who I’ll vote for. Before I make up my mind, I want to watch and listen to a campaign. I want to hear what these candidates have to say on issues important to me. I want to get a better sense of how the new guy, Mitt Romney, handles himself.

In the past, I’ve voted for both Republicans and Democrats, depending on the year, the circumstances and the candidates. Independents are like that. We vote for and against people, not political parties.

At this time four years ago, I was tilting toward John McCain. He wasn’t perfect – none of them are — but he was a genuine American hero who’d stood up for principle more often than most of these politicians do, and he showed some common sense in foreign affairs. Then he picked as his running mate the governor of Alaska, a state with the population of two Albany Counties. Predictably, she turned out to be an airhead who thought she was being picked on when somebody asked her what she read. (As it turned out, not much, apparently.)

That forced me to take another look at McCain. He was 72 years old. He’d had a couple of bouts with cancer. And this was who he was willing to put a heartbeat away from the presidency – this ditzy, loud-mouthed harpy who wouldn’t stand out intellectually in a flock of sheep?

At best, that was bad judgment. I learned in the Air Force that some fighter pilots, like some surgeons, possess a level of self-confidence that borders on psychosis. Their raw courage is admirable, but their sense of invulnerability can give them a flawed sense of risk assessment.

That’s not what you want in the White House, and it’s what I saw in McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin. That’s what iced my vote for Barack Obama, even though he struck me as distinctly green as a presidential candidate only two years out of the Illinois State Senate.

Now, four years later, I like some of what Obama has done and dislike other things he has and has not done. He gets points with me for doing something about the health care crisis. Whether what he did was the best thing remains to be seen, but that couldn’t be left alone. He gets big points with me for the Osama Bin Laden execution. I like the way he handled the Libya business.

I’ll give him some points for finally deciding to get American troops out of Afghanistan, but he’s doing that fairly late in the game. Too many Americans have been killed there for no good reason. Anything that we needed to do there could and should have been done with drones and special forces, not with an occupying army with no chance of establishing a stable government in a country that has never cared about having a stable government.

I also fault him on the job situation. Okay, Obama inherited a bloodcurdling economic disaster, and his stimulus package stopped the bleeding and led to some recovery. But not enough recovery, frankly. His stimulus was too small for the size of the problem, and it was primarily designed to keep public employees on the job while doing too little for the private sector. When the private sector failed to come surging back a good many of the public employees ended up losing their jobs anyway.

Meanwhile, over in Germany, the woman who runs things there, Angela Merkel, put government money into the private sector in the form of tax breaks and outright grants. She ended up saving jobs there and kept public employees on the job because that country still had private employees working and paying taxes. The result is that the Obama administration is now cheering because the U. S. unemployment rate has dropped to 8.1 per cent. Germany’s just dropped to 7 per cent. Yes, we’re a bigger country with a bigger economy, but it’s clear that Obama’s approach was less successful than Merkel’s.

In addition to that, nothing serious has been done to break up the big banks. If they screw up again, we’ll have to bail out their butts again. And they will. Just wait.

So, before I decide who to vote for, the first thing I want to see is who Romney picks as a running mate. If he selects some mouth-foaming loon to placate the Republican party’s increasingly nutball base, then I have a pretty good hunch as to where I’ll go. I also have to confess that I feel a considerable amount of sympathy for Obama for the demented attacks that have been made on him over the course of his first term. All the birther crap and the mindless criticism have turned me off in a big way. The guy would wake up in the morning and the Republicans would promptly fault him for opening his eyes and taking a breath. That’s not behavior that I’m eager to reward.

For me, then, there’s still much to see and hear, to absorb and turn over in my mind and to weigh and consider before I pick a candidate. The debates will weigh heavily in my mind. They’re largely show biz, but you do get a measure of a man in a situation like that.

I have reservations about both guys. Romney strikes me as sort of a Stephen King character, a shape-changer. The fact is, though, that the Republicans, in the end, didn’t pick a jerk, and they had plenty of opportunity to do that. Mitt Romney was a rich kid who became an even richer man through his own efforts and dedication. He seems to be a bit of a prep-school tightass, but I’m not interested in having a beer with either guy – aside from which, Romney doesn’t drink anyway. Except for the fact that anybody who wants to be President clearly has a screw loose, both these guys seem to be uniquely admirable men. They’ll be insulted and diminished constantly for the next five months, but both are intensely intelligent, intensely determined, intensely tough and extremely capable. Each, I’m certain, wants the best for the rest of us. Each wants to make a positive difference for his fellow citizens.

So, in the end, the choice for me will not be made on the basis of all the lies, distortions and invective that party loyalists find so much fun. It won’t be based on who’s the perfect candidate in each and every respect. Instead, I’ll make up my mind on the basis of who’s more likely to do the better job for us in these uniquely difficult times. That, I think, is how sensible people should decide who to vote for.

But not many of us operate that way, do we?

July 24, 2012

In Years Gone By…by Dan Lynch

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4peoplewhothink @ 3:07 pm

The story began on the front page of the Washington Post, jumped inside to a spread on two pages and got more or less the play that might have been given a plane crash that had killed 200 people.

Its thrust? The story told the tale of a teenage Mitt Romney in 1965, while a student at a ritzy prep school in Michigan, deciding that one of the other kids in that school projected the wrong image in a school where all the students wore ties and carried briefcases to class. Romney didn’t like the kid’s longish, bleached blond hair.

So Romney marched out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut the guy’s hair. In a nearby room, they came upon the guy with the objectionable hair, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As the victim, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors. Later, as an adult, the kid who’d been given the crude haircut said that the event had been among the most traumatic of his life. Romney’s story to the Washington Post was that he doesn’t recall the incident but that he apologizes for it.

And just what are we supposed to make of this? Well, we can reasonably conclude that:

A) Romney suffers from some memory gaps. I would have remembered that; you would have remembered it, too, I think.

B) This story was fed to the Washington Post by Barack Obama partisans, who’ve inspected every conceivable aspect of Romney’s life and couldn’t come up with anything more salacious;

C) A major aspect of this story is that the victim later came out of the closet as a gay man, the implication being that Romney was a youthful gay basher. Romney said that he remembers the guy, but that he didn’t know that he was gay.

Bottom line? What does this have to do with a presidential campaign? What does a bit of youthful idiocy on the part of a 16- or 17-year-old kid have to do with his suitability almost a half century later to run the country? This is roughly equivalent to the story about Obama, as a little kid, dining on a dog in Indonesia. The statute of limitations on that long ago expired. Who cares?

Well, some people, apparently – the intense partisans. They care deeply about anything that might make the candidate of the party they oppose look bad, and the relevance of the issue at hand is incidental to them. Now, I have no plans to run for President or any other political office. Been there, done that; didn’t like it. The experience gave me far too vivid a display of human frailty to ever consider doing it again. Nonetheless, if anybody were to dig through my junior high school and high school years, they would find a few incidents that I should apologize for.

So, let me extend my most sincere apologies to Mr. Looney, the study hall teacher who wore a bulky hearing aid that went wild every time somebody rolled a penny across the floor of the classroom. I was the study hall’s leading penny-roller. I just loved watching Mr. Looney leap to his feet with his face red and both hands jammed over his ears. Sorry, Mr. Looney. That wasn’t nice at all.

Apologies also to Mr. Klausner, the young, ineffectual Spanish teacher; to the white rats in the biology lab, to Linda – hey, I really am sorry, Linda – to Gayle (it truly was an accident) and to little Steve with the big mouth. I should have just let it go, Steve; sorry about that.

My apologies to Tommy Hilfiger, who’s now a big-deal fashion designer. He and his brothers were little kids in the neighborhood who liked to throw snowballs at the bigger kids, like me, who would then run them down and wash their faces in the snow. Sorry, Tommy, although none of that seemed to keep you from becoming a skillionaire.

My apologies to Kathy, who never had the sense to close her bedroom curtains; to Mary Jane, who deserved to be treated more respectfully and to Mrs. Bode, whom I never expected would ever see that pencil drawing I did of her in my ring notebook. I apologize to Freddie, to Alan, to Janice and to Mr. Tripp. I apologize to Mrs. Ball. I apologize to Claudette. That was a bit later, but even so.

I think that’s about it, although I’m sure I’m leaving out a lot, purely by accident – things that were stupid or hurtful that I didn’t even realize at the time. I don’t know about you, but I can’t recall each and every moment of my life, nor do I want to. Nor do I think it’s fair or reasonable to demand that anybody, even a presidential candidate, to be called to account for each and every moment of his life – especially for actions that occurred a half century ago.

Meanwhile, we have about 13 million people out of work in this country, so let’s get on with this presidential campaign, okay? And I couldn’t care less about whose bra Mitt Romney unhooked in 11th grade or what Barack Obama had for dinner when he was 8 years old.

Be sure to visit my Web site at forpeoplewhothink.com.

June 19, 2012

Television and the Truth…by Dan Lynch

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4peoplewhothink @ 2:55 pm

Here’s a little truth about what you’re seeing on TV at the moment:

WHAT YOU’RE SEEING: Rick Santorum is being criticized on TV, mostly on MSNBC, for his lukewarm endorsement of Mitt Romney. Santorum is in big trouble, the MSNBC commentators are saying. Romney will give him nothing now.

THE TRUTH: Santorum has nothing to lose by displaying such tepid support. Yes, he has to back Romney, since Romney will be the Republican nominee, but if Romney loses in November Santorum wants to be in a position to say, “See? The party should have nominated a real right-winger like me, and I’ll be seeing everybody again in 2016.” Moreover, Santorum was never going to get anything from Romney – not the VP nod, not a cabinet post, not the time of day if Romney wins. In addition, if Romney wins in November, Santorum is out of luck in four years. For Santorum, backing Romney in a big way is a no-win proposition. He probably won’t even vote for the guy.

WHAT YOU’RE SEEING: Fox News and the other Republican propaganda operations are bashing Barack Obama for making a big deal on the first anniversary of the killing of Osama Bin Laden for the Navy Seals having gotten this evil, evil man on Obama’s watch. Is Obama really “spiking the football?”

THE TRUTH: You betcha, as Sarah Palin would say. Wouldn’t you do the same thing?

WHAT YOU’RE SEEING: The White House is wringing its hands over Joe Biden coming out for gay marriage on “Meet the Press” the other day. Why is the White House so worked up about this?

THE TRUTH: Obama desperately wants to win both North Carolina and Virginia this year. If he can do that then Romney will have a hell of a time winning the election. But the polls show that a majority of North Carolina folks don’t like gay marriage, and Virginia is closely split on the issue. Since Obama probably has the bulk of the gay vote locked up in November, he doesn’t have to utter a word on the topic. Biden, though, is never comfortable not uttering a word on anything.

WHAT YOU’RE SEEING: Republicans are making a big deal about the shrinking work force – about people giving up on active job searches. Their pitch is that, okay, the unemployment rate is down and Obama has managed to add millions of jobs over the past four years, but if you add in all the people who are no longer looking for jobs then his record doesn’t look so good.

THE TRUTH: Older workers were among the biggest groups who lost jobs when the recession hit. They went on unemployment, made fruitless attempts to find work in a country where older workers really can’t get hired even in good times and, when benefits ran out and they became age-eligible, went on Social Security and retired. About 10,000 baby boomers hit Social Security age every day. That’s about twice the number of new workers entering the work force every day. End result? Fewer workers and fewer jobs – i.e, a shrinking work force.

WHAT YOU’RE SEEING: Democrats bashing Romney for being a rich guy who had bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. They’re trying to portray the guy as a rich bastard who has nothing in common with ordinary people who have to watch every dime.

THE TRUTH: The Democrats won’t stop pushing that line until election day. What you’re seeing now is just the beginning.

WHAT YOU’RE SEEING: Hillary Clinton is saying emphatically that she won’t run for President in 2016.

THE TRUTH: If you’d been through what she has been through – the name-calling, the abuse, the Monica incident, all of it – would you want to make another run for the presidency in your late 60s? And then have to serve four years? Yes, all these political people are nuts, just as all the Hollywood people are nuts, but Hillary Clinton seems somewhat less nuts than most of them.

May 26, 2012

ON TO THE CLIFF…by Dan Lynch

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4peoplewhothink @ 2:05 pm

What never ceases to amaze me is the extent to which the same things happen, time and again, and nobody ever learns from the past.

If you have the time, go back to the last blog I wrote, read the thing and then study the reader comments. People seemed to get fairly upset that I’d said pretty much the following:

1) The Republican party is largely dominated by white males;

2) Many of those white males hold some really nutty ideas, no matter how much evidence exists to demonstrate that those ideas are truly nutty. Many of them, for example, believe that Barack Obama is a practicing Muslim who was born outside the United States and is therefore ineligible to be President.

3) The percentage of white males in the population is diminishing rapidly, according to Census data, and

4) If white males want to remain at all relevant to American political life – and if they want to keep their Republican party alive – then they’d better abandon the asinine fantasies that underlie many of their political convictions. If they refuse to do that, their Republican party will simply fade away.

It’s not as though this hasn’t happened before. When the country was founded, the first President spoke against political parties and refused to join one. Very quickly, however, the politicians who founded the country split into two factions.

The Federalist Party was the first American political party. It was led by Alexander Hamilton and composed mostly of northern, urban bankers and businessmen who favored a strong national government. What the Federalists wanted, essentially, was the rule of proper gentlemen over the largely illiterate, unwashed bumpkins who’d aided them in ending rule by the English nobility.

Their political opponents were the Democratic-Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson. They were mainly planters and southerners who viewed the Federalists as too citified and snooty and out of touch with the common man. By 1801, they’d wrested control of the federal government from the Federalists, who managed to remain a party for only the next 20 years or so.

Andrew Jackson was the guy who led a split in the Democratic-Republicans to create the Democrats. The Democratic-Republicans promptly morphed into the Whigs and were taken over later on by the Republican party. The original Republican party of 1854 was urban and northern and bore little relationship to the Republican party of today. It was fiercely anti-slavery and, by the standards of political scientists, pretty liberal.

Over the next century and a half, the Democrats attracted the waves of poor immigrants who swarmed into the northern cities and broadened the party’s base to dominate urban areas. The Republican party, originally a fairly radical outfit, grew more conservative in the face of immigration, more rural and more southern. Today, largely because of concerns that the Democrats have become overly concerned with the welfare of minorities at the expense of whites, the Republican party is composed mostly of white people in an era when the country is becoming less and less white. In other words, modern Republicans are beginning to look in some ways a lot like the old Federalists.

What’s the logical outcome? Well, just do the math. The Republicans of today seem headed down the same path as the Federalists. Their one chance to survive more than a few more decades is to stop talking exclusively to one another and to begin talking to the rest of the country as well.

And, just maybe, to begin listening a little bit, too.

Only every indication is that too many Republicans just can’t bring themselves to do that. They are so furious over the changes in the country’s population – and with what they believe to be the concurrent collapse of the national social structure – that they can muster too little logic to subdue their ever-growing rage.

So, when they hold presidential primary elections, Republican voters force their candidates to take such intensely far right positions that those candidates have much to overcome every November, when it’s not just Republicans voting. The most suicidal example of that is the way the Republicans rail against illegal immigration. Only the furthest left of Americans disagree with them on the merits of that issue, but Republican rhetoric is so vitriolic and so poisonous on the topic that they repel the exploding percentage of Hispanic voters.

All the Latinos hear when the Republicans start in with their howls to build a wall between the U. S. and Mexico is, “We’ve got the keep those brown people out of here!” Guess what? Brown people who vote here get sort of pissed over that.

I don’t belong to a party. I’ve seen too much evidence that people join political parties just so they don’t have to think any more about public affairs. The party line is there; they’re happy with it, now what’s on TV? But I’m a big believer in a functional two-party system that prevents one party or the other from going too far, as each of them are prone to do without restraints.

At the moment, the Republican party — with all its nutty ideas about Obama’s birth and religion, about imaginary news media bias and women holding aspirin tablets between their knees, with its brown-and-black-people-bashing, with its totally fraudulent claims about this country’s history and what its Constitution says – are like a mob of frenzied lemmings heading right off a cliff.

And when you point that out to them, they just run faster and faster toward the edge in their crazed, suicidal rage.

Be sure to visit my Web site at forpeoplewhothink.com

May 22, 2012

The Law and Mr. Obama…by Dan Lynch

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4peoplewhothink @ 2:17 pm

I have no idea if the Supreme Court of the United States will sustain or overturn the 2010 Affordable Care Act – or, as the law’s opponents like to call it, Obamacare.

You don’t know, either. That’s because the whole business is immensely complicated. If you want an idea of how complicated, go buy a thin, densely written book called “The Commerce Clause.” The author was a U. S. Supreme Court justice named Felix Frankfurter. I read it when I studied constitutional law at Temple University. Just writing about that book makes me yawn.

But that’s what this case is about – the commerce clause. It’s in Article 1, Section 8 of the U. S. Constitution, a fairly brief document (4,500 words or so) that says a number of seemingly contradictory things throughout. Conservatives focus on a few words and phrases they like and ignore all the others. Liberals do the same thing. The true meaning of all those words and phrases, in their totality, is the foundation of most of the political warfare in this country. It’s also why we have a Supreme Court of the United States to act as a referee.

Here’s the language that constitutes the foundation of this legal dispute: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defence and general Welfare of the United States … to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States …”

The issue the court confronts is whether the mandate contained in the law – the requirement that citizens without health insurance buy it or pay a fine to the government – fits properly within the powers that part of the Constitution gives the government. You can tell nothing about how the justices feel on this question from their questions and comments during oral arguments on the matter last week. I’ve watched too many oral arguments in appellate courts to attach much significance to what judges say under such circumstances.

What judges often are doing in such sessions is laying the foundation for their own, private arguments with their colleagues. When some judge on the other side of the question makes an argument in closed deliberations, the judge who asked the hard question can say, “I asked about that during the orals, and the excellent answer I got on that was this …”

So, trying to predict a decision based on questions asked during the orals is generally fruitless. What’s a better guide to determining the outcome is paying attention to what various justices have said before on the respective roles of the lawmaking and executive branches of government and the court’s. That seems to be what the President was trying to say the other day in reference to the court’s more conservative justices, but he ended up saying it badly.

What Obama said was, “I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress, and I just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is [that] the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint – that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”

He was wrong on a couple of points:

One, the Framers didn’t call for direct election of federal judges because they wanted them free from temporary political passions. Federal judges are not elected, but they are selected by both the President and the people’s representatives. That’s indirect election, but the selection of a federal judge is hardly the product of an antidemocratic process.

Two, it’s hardly unprecedented that the high court will overturn a law passed by Congress and signed by the President. They first did that 209 years ago. The Constitution doesn’t give the court that power in specific language, but records of the constitutional convention make clear that the Framers wanted the court to have it. Most of the states’ high courts had that power.

Obama’s real point, however, was that if you’re a conservative – if you believe that judges shouldn’t legislate from the bench but should generally defer to the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives – then you shouldn’t be too eager to see any duly passed and signed law thrown out. That, he seemed to be arguing, should happen only when that law clearly violates the dictates of the Constitution – say, when Congress passes and the President signs a law that says that nobody can criticize any government action without suffering a penalty.

That law clearly would violate the First Amendment. Whether Obama’s health care law violates the commerce clause is nowhere near that obvious.

You also should remember the words of another constitutional scholar whom conservatives worship. He said, “We are increasingly governed not by law or elected representatives but by an unelected, unrepresentative, unaccountable committee of lawyers applying no will but their own.” That was Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan’s rejected U. S. Supreme Court nominee from the late 1980s, talking about the federal judiciary. Obama went nowhere near that far.

Nor did he go as far as Newt Gingrich back in December, when Gingrich complained about “radical judges.” Gingrich said that Congress, if it dislikes a judicial decision, can subpoena a judge to appear before Congress to defend his or her decision and send out U. S. marshals or the Capitol Police to take into custody any judge who ignores such a subpoena.

That hasn’t kept the Republicans from howling like hungry wolves that Obama is a bully for what he said and is trying to intimidate the court. The fact is that Obama, whether he was correct or incorrect in his observation – and I can see where he was dead wrong on several points — didn’t say anything that Republican conservatives haven’t been saying for years now.

Let us all be delivered from such naked hypocrisy, and be sure to visit my Web site atforpeoplewhothink.com.

April 24, 2012

The Belief Factor by Dan Lynch

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4peoplewhothink @ 4:46 pm

When the time comes, I want my obituary to begin with these words:

“Dan Lynch is dead. Some people liked him, and some didn’t. He felt the same way about them. He did not believe in astrology, ghosts, vampires, witches, werewolves, that the government faked the 1969 moon landing or that Elvis lived on after 1976.

“He tried to maintain an open mind concerning Bigfoot, flying saucers and the Loch Ness monster, although he was acutely aware that no reliable evidence supported the existence of any such phenomena.

“He had his reservations about Barack Obama, but he did not believe that Obama was born outside the United States, that he was the antichrist or that he was in league with Satan.”

Why do I want these items in my obituary? Because, unable to speak for myself at that point, I want total disassociation between my memory and all the gullible nutballs who constitute so much of the electorate in this country – all the hopeless people who, as kids, probably went to school on the short bus and stubbornly grew up to be hopeless dolts despite the system’s best efforts.

Okay, that’s a bit unkind, but there are a lot of these people. Two in five of them believe in astrology. One in three adults believes in ghosts. One in four believes in witches. One in 20 believes in vampires and/or that the moon landing was faked. Bigfoot and Nessie are real to nearly one in five of us.

When it comes to Obama, though, things get really weird. One in four of us believes that he was not born in America – including nearly half of Republicans. They believe that even though In June 2008, Obama put pictures of his certification of live birth from the Hawaiian government on a website, Fightthesmears.com. They believe it even though Factcheck.org, a non-partisan news organization, examined the document and found it had an embossed seal, a stamp on the back attesting to its authenticity and met State Department requirements to obtain a passport.

They believe it even though, in October 2008, Hawaii’s director of health stated in writing that he and the Registrar of Vital Statistics had looked at and verified that the state “has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record.” The officials worked for Hawaii’s Republican governor, who also pronounced that Obama was born there.

People believe that crazy stuff even though two Honolulu newspapers ran announcements of Obama’s birth on Aug. 4, 1961. They believe it even though, for somebody to doubt that Hawaii was Obama’s actual birthplace, then that person would have to believe that in 1961 state officials and Honolulu’s two newspapers conspired to fake the birth, knowing that someday the baby would run for President.

It’s also worth noting here that about 15 per cent of Americans believe that Obama is the antichrist and that one in seven believes him to be in league with Satan. Why do people believe this BS? Well, here’s one reason:

If you took the time to click on this link and to watch this stuff, you may or may not have noticed that this is a severely edited tape. You may or may not have noticed that Obama’s lip movements do not match the sound. You may or may not have noticed that whoever put this together did so for the precise purpose of lying to you. You may or may not have noticed any of these things because you’re a …

… well, I’ll now work to suppress my basic outrage instincts and try to be kind here. Let’s let it go at this, okay?

More than nine in 10 Americans, according to the polls, believe in God. If you’re one of them, then you must believe that God created you with certain pieces of equipment because He wanted you to use them. He gave you eyes so you could see and appreciate the glory of his creations. He gave you a voice so you could speak out against injustice. He gave you hands so you could use them to perform good works.

Just try to bear in mind at all times that God gave you a brain as well. Why did He do that? My guess is that He did that because He wanted you to THINK!!!!!! My guess is that God wants us to use our brains to absorb information, process it rationally, to observe fairly and to arrive at our conclusions in a logical fashion.

And I never cease to be amazed at how many people just refuse, refuse, refuse to do that.

April 17, 2012

Keeping the Bullies at Bay…by Dan Lynch

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4peoplewhothink @ 9:19 pm

Life overflows with uncertainty. Unexpected events occur all the time. You never know what’ll happen.

One thing we all can be pretty certain of, however. Rick Santorum will never be President of the United States.

Not that it couldn’t happen, but the great likelihood is that the vast bulk of Americans would never permit a total control freak to take over one-third of the federal government. And, like far too many people on the right and left in this increasingly divided country of ours, that’s what Santorum is – a control freak of truly terrifying proportions.

Rick Santorum wants to control what you read and watch and what you do. He feels a powerful, benevolent obligation to protect you from your own baser urges. He wants control over your sex life. He doesn’t want you using birth control pills, condoms or any other birth control device. He doesn’t want you having sex outside marriage. He wants approval over who you have sex with and how.

In his ferocious control urge, Santorum isn’t all that different from the liberals who couldn’t care less what you do in your sex life but want control over what you eat and what you think and say. It’s the liberals who are pushing Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers to drop his talk radio program, on which he expresses points of view they find objectionable. It’s the liberals who pushed through campus speech codes and hate crime laws that punish people as much for what they think as for what they do. It’s the liberals who want control over every morsel you put in your mouth. If they had their way, you could eat only liberal-approved foods and only in the quantities that liberals deem appropriate.

It’s the liberals who want to ban tobacco but legalize marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

I don’t know about you, but I find these control freaks – these nasty, intrusive, meddling, moralistic bullies who lust for dominion over the thoughts, personal activities and diets of other people – simply appalling. They represent a long tradition in American life, though, from the Puritans of early New England who branded adulterers with the red letter A to the beer-barrel-bashing of Carrie Nation to the gay-hatred festivities of Anita Bryant and company. They all have one thing in common: They just can’t bring themselves to leave other people alone in peace and privacy.

Santorum, though, is the first one of these sanctimonious crazies to get close to the presidency in a long, long time. He just posted on his Web site a promise to crack down on the distribution of pornography.

In the statement, Santorum says, “The Obama Administration has turned a blind eye to those who wish to preserve our culture from the scourge of pornography and has refused to enforce obscenity laws.” If he gets to the White House, Santormum promises, he’ll “vigorously” enforce laws that “prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier.”

As President, controlling the U. S. Justice Department, he could do that, too. He could shut down U. S.-based porn sites and push for legislation requiring Internet service providers to use “a mandatory filter set up by the government…”

I’m not defending pornography any more than I’m defending race hate, sexual promiscuity, boozing until you barf or gluttonous overeating. What I am defending is the first right of every American – the right to keep a prying, tyrannical government out of our private lives. I’m defending every American’s right to keep the bullying, self-appointed moralizers at bay, the right to be truly free.

Conservatives are supposed to worship liberty, but not, apparently, where sex is concerned. Too many of them want every aspect of your sex life controlled by the government.

At the moment, Rick Santorum is the poster boy for that point of view.

April 4, 2012

Fun, Fun, Fun…by Dan Lynch

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4peoplewhothink @ 12:47 pm

They’re both very bright guys – old friends with terrific educations who’ve been hugely successful in life, much more successful than I’ve been. We were sitting around the other day, just talking.

THEM: What do you think of the presidential campaign?

ME: It’s entertaining, at least. I have all kinds of problems with Obama, but all this primary season has done for me has been to tell me who not to vote for. Gingrich is a multi-millionaire influence peddler who’ll stick his legs in the air and say anything to get the nomination. Gas at two-fifty a gallon? Dreamland. Ron Paul is perfectly happy if the Iranians get a nuclear bomb, and Santorum isn’t running for President. Instead, he seems to be running for Pope. So, those guys don’t do much for me.

THEM: You didn’t mention Romney.

ME: I don’t know yet about Romney. He’ll probably be the nominee, as near as I can figure. Bright guy and all that, but all he’s doing now is sucking up to the nutball Republican right wing so he can get the nomination. I have no idea what he really stands for. I’ll have to see how he handles himself in a general election campaign before I can make a judgment on him.

THEM: What’s your problem with Obama?

ME: Well, let’s start with Afghanistan. We have 125,000 people there, directly in the line of fire, and to prop up that sleazy government? Our people are getting killed every week over there, and for what? If the idea is to keep terrorists from establishing bases there, we can do that with special forces and drones. You can ask Bin Laden about that. Well, no, actually you can’t do that, can you?

THEM: Obama didn’t do enough about jobs. He did too little to fix the Wall Street problem.

ME: I agree. The stimulus stopped the job loss, but it wasn’t big enough for an economy and a crisis this size. The jobs aren’t coming back quickly enough, either. He should have spent some of the money differently. In Germany, instead of middle-class tax cuts, they gave money directly to big employers to keep people on the job. They gave them low-interest loans and outright grants. It was cheaper than paying unemployment benefits, and it kept the Germans from having unemployment go as high as it did here.

THEM: It’s the Wall Street stuff that gets us. Obama just gave the banks the bailout money without any strings.

ME: He didn’t do that; Bush did it before Obama took office. But Obama hasn’t done much since he got in the White House to break up the big banks. The top 10 banks have assets equal to 80 per cent of GDP. In Europe, they did take steps to bring their banks under control so maybe the bottom won’t fall out again, but Obama didn’t do what they did. I don’t know what Romney would do on that score if he gets in, but I’ll be listening to hear what he has to say about that once these crazy Republican primaries are over. I also don’t like some of Obama’s appointments.

THEM: Like who?

ME: This guy Geithner, the treasure secretary. He was right there as boss of the New York Fed when everything got out of control on Wall Street, and his job was supposed to be to control that stuff. I would have named Sheila Bair, the woman who runs the FDIC, as treasury secretary, not him. I wasn’t consulted, though.

THEM: Who do you think will win in November?

ME: Who knows? It’ll be close, though. This won’t be any wipeout, like Nixon-McGovern or Reagan-Mondale. By all rights, the Republicans should be able to stomp Obama this year with the unemployment thing, the Afghanistan thing, the Wall Street thing. But the Republicans candidates have been catering to the screwiest members of their party as they go about selecting a candidate, and they’ve been so shameless about it that I’m not sure that any of those guys can win in November.

THEM: It’s all pretty sad, isn’t it?

ME: Yeah, for all of us in the great unwashed mob it’s sad. All of them to be having a terrific time, though. For the politicians, it’s just the usual fun and games.

March 30, 2012

Foot in Mouth Syndrome…by Dan Lynch

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4peoplewhothink @ 3:31 pm

It’s so easy to say something stupid.

You’re in front of a microphone and on the air for three hours a day, babbling on and on about public issues. You’re live and mostly unscripted – just winging it, day after day. You’re trying to get your point across in an interesting way. You want to entertain listeners as you do it.

And – inevitably, if you do talk radio long enough – you say something incredibly dopey. You blare out something so outrageous that it manages to offend just about everybody. How do I know this? Because I did talk radio for about a decade.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself, “Damn, I shouldn’t have said that.” Luckily, I never said anything as dopey as Limbaugh did, but if you do talk radio long enough – and if you run a program that tries to make a point about serious issues – you’ll do it sooner or later. You’ll say something really, astonishingly, breathtakingly stupid.

Ask Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who did talk radio for 30 years. She went off the air two years ago after saying something extremely dopey. I don’t know Limbaugh, but I had dinner with her once. Nice woman. She just did something fairly tricky and dangerous for too many years.

That’s what Rush Limbaugh did. He apologized for what he said, but he did that only after advertisers began to bail on him, so nobody took the apology seriously — especially the young law student whom he’d described as a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she’d said something on a political issue that Limbaugh disagreed with.

It’s also worth noting that just about everybody who has jumped on the Bash Rush Bandwagon has pretty much had it with the guy. The Democrats find him infuriating and want desperately to shut him up. Conservatives tend to care not at all what liberals say on the air or in print, but liberals live for the chance to shut up people they disagree with. That’s just the truth.

The professional Republican leadership isn’t that fond of Limbaugh, either. They’re annoyed at the influence Limbaugh has over a big portion of their party membership. Until this incident, the GOP pros kissed his butt every chance they got, but many of them found this incident positively heartwarming. Now, they figure, he’ll have less sway over their party faithful.

Limbaugh has been doing talk radio for 28 years. He began working in that format on a station in Sacramento and went national four years later. I first caught his program during the Gulf War in 1991. He was clever and amusing. Over the past 20 years, though, he has become less fun to listen to as he has begun to take himself more and more seriously.

Now? Well, who knows? He has no immediate plans to leave the air, but he’s in his 60s now, and his bosses had to have been thinking already of how they were going to replace him down the road. This incident is likely to prompt more immediate consideration of that question.

I dislike rather strongly Limbaugh’s kind of show. Extremists, right or left, give me the willies, and he just works to make the crazies crazier. He does the same show, hour after hour, day after day. That’s one of the things talk show hosts have to do – repeat themselves, over and over again in different words. Nobody has ever been better at that than Limbaugh.

Limbaugh has been perfect for his medium. The talk radio audience tends to be white, male, middle-aged and older. That’s who the conservatives in this society are. They love to hear somebody express veneration for their beliefs and to castigate their enemies. So, Limbaugh, who comes from a family of Republican lawyers in Missouri, has been Mr. Conservative on talk radio, totally comfortable in that role.

Too comfortable in recent years, as it turned out, and not nearly as clever or entertaining as he used to be once he began to believe that he’d become the very fount of political wisdom. His success made him way too arrogant.

I spent most of my career in print journalism. I always used my show to give listeners fair, accurate information and to encourage them to think about the issues. Limbaugh was better at what he did on the radio than I was at what I did. Conservatives were much more attuned to his messianic message than they were to my more balanced, fact-based approach.

But I never got the idea that the world was hanging on my every word. I made my share of boneheaded remarks, but I never believed that I could get away with saying absolutely anything. After all those years on the air, Limbaugh did.

And that arrogance caught up with him.

Be sure to visit my Web site at forpeoplewhothink.com.

March 20, 2012

The Content Thins…by Dan Lynch

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4peoplewhothink @ 8:16 pm

One of the things that drive me crazy when it comes to the “base” of both parties is that they tend to be made up of people who have willingly suspended all process of thought. They believe anything that supports their biases, and they accept with no critical thinking whatever any crazy thing said by any politician or political operative from their party.

I’ll never forget that poll after 9/11 reporting that some staggering percentage of Democrats – 40 per cent of so, as I recall – believed that George W. Bush was either behind the Al Qaeda attack on New York City or that he’d known about it in advance and had let it happen just so he could start a war for oil in the Mideast.

That absolute refusal on the part of the base of either party to engage in rational thought is largely what the birther nuttiness is about. It’s what the fiction that Obama is a Muslim is about. It’s what drives the fantasy belief that higher taxes on really rich people will solve all this country’s economic and debt problems. That’s why all these nutty political E-mails that I receive from just about everybody I know are so disturbing. They’re crammed with bizarre distortions and outright lies, and purposefully so, but people in the base gleefully spread them around like the smallpox virus without ever checking their accuracy.

If, like me, you’ve spent most of your life trying to give people the best, fairest version of the truth you would despise this stuff as much as I do. What people in the base refuse to get is that politicians are not in the truth business. They’re in the persuasion business. They don’t care about what you know. They care about what you believe.

If you were ever curious about how so many Germans before World War II came to be Jew-haters, blaming the Jews for every problem Germany had in the 1920s and the 1930s, you should look up a guy named Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels. He was a smart, profoundly evil guy with a doctorate who served as minister of propaganda in Adolf Hitler’s government. His job was to demonize the Jewish people, which he did with great skill that led ultimately to the Holocaust.

Get on line and look up this guy sometime. You might do that right after you read one of those lying political E-mails. Goebbels would have absolutely loved the Internet. He would have thought he’d died and gone to Heaven – which, incidentally, was not where he did end up, I’m sure, after he killed himself in 1945.

The current distortion floating around relates to the country’s job picture over the past three years. It says that the country lost 3.4 million jobs during the first three years of Barack Obama’s presidency and that the drop in the unemployment rate is due largely to people getting out of the work force because they can’t find jobs. The implication is that the recovery is phony and that things got worse under Obama.

Essentially, the numbers are accurate, but that story lacks a thing called context. By that, I mean that you can’t accept it as truth without taking other factors into account. Here are a few of them:

First, the work force, on average, grows by 150,000 people every month as young people reach working age. That means that the work force grows by 1.8 million people a year. Over a three-year period, the work force will grow by 5.4 million people.

Second, the Baby Boomers are the single largest segment of our population. Every day, 10,000 of them become eligible for Social Security. That’s more than 3.6 million people a year who become eligible for a steady income without working. Over three years, that totals nearly 11 million people — many of whom, not surprisingly, decide to retire.

So, what you end up with, because of the age distribution in this country, is more people leaving the work force for retirement every year than you have entering it. The end result is a reduction in the unemployment rate and a reduction in the number of jobs as well.

Goebbels knew all about that context thing. He made a point of always ignoring it. He figured that context would just confuse people and, maybe, keep them from believing what he wanted them to believe.

Guess what? That’s what the base does, too.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.