Monthly Archives: January 2015

Rope-a-Dope

It was the Rope-a-Dope. Out of the jungle of Republican obstructionism, President Obama used The State of the Union to burst into action, knocking out one exhausted and confused lawmaker after the other.

It was great fun. “You unthinking political bozos, don’t you realize that we play into the hands of our enemies by looking for a military solution to every conflict? that our Cuban policy had exhausted long ago its date of expiration? that from Day One I’ve been working on the relationship between our safety and our privacy? that rich fellows shouldn’t just share in the blessings of our country but contribute their full share? that community college should be free?” On and on.

And then that devastating haymaker: “Remember those fools who said Putin showed how a real leader leads?”

Oh, it was a gas.

Magnificently sane -“I’m not a scientist either, but I can listen to them” – fully aware of his fallibility – “I’ve made lots of mistakes-” Obama reminded us he had a vision going back to 2004 – the vision of a community organizer! “America is one community. We are our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper.”

The prophet Micah said, “Without a vision, the people perish.”

Our President is taking his vision across the country. By persistence and, truth be told, political genius, the voice of reason echoes across our land.

America the Beautiful! My country. Yes, indeed.

Mine eyes have seen the glory!

State Actors/Non-State Actors

Terrorists are terrifying. They’ve been at it a long time. This week they killed 20 in France.

The West feels under siege. Understandably. The randomness is what is so maddening.

It is also a fact that these terrorists are non-state operators. They are criminal outfits, patched together from the four winds.

A mere 100 years ago, in 1914, the world came under attack by state actors. Like Germany and England and France.

World War One did not kill 20, it killed 12 million!

It was a war fought for nation-alist reasons. It went on, night and day, for four years.

A Political Diagnosis

This past week, I’ve watched the new Republican Congress begin the business of governing. So has Paul Krugman. In today’s New York Times, he begins his Op-Ed piece,

“Many of us in the econ biz were wondering how the new leaders of Congress would respond to the sharp increase in American economic growth. What would they say?”

To his astonishment, “Mitch McConnell, the new Senate Majority leader, says that he did it, that growth reflected ‘the expectation of a new Republican Congress.'”

Krugman then identified the problem:

“While Mr. McConnell’s self-aggrandizement is funny, it’s also scary, because it’s a symptom of his party’s epistemic closure. Republicans know many things that aren’t so, and no amount of contrary evidence will get them to change their minds.

“Congress is now controlled by men who never acknowledge error, let alone learn from their mistakes.

“We’re looking at a political subculture in which ideological tenets are simply not to be questioned, no matter what. Supply-side economics is valid no matter what actually happens to the economy, guaranteed health insurance must be a failure even if it’s working, and anyone who points out the troubling facts is ipso facto an enemy.”

Krugman ends his Op-Ed masterpiece by putting into a simple declarative sentence the melancholy truth C-Span made visible since Congress convened on Tuesday,

“We can’t have meaningful cooperation when we can’t agree on reality,”

Can psychoanalysis help us understand the Republican disregard of factual reality? I think it can.

STUART SCOTT

Stuart Scott, a brilliant sportscaster, died of appendiceal cancer on January 4th. He was 49. The cancer was discovered in 2007, recurred in 2011 and again in 2013.

In 2013, he told a Men’s Health magazine, “It recently came back a third time. To be honest, I’m scared. I’ve always been afraid of cancer, but this time feels different. My confidence is shaken. I’m a little more vulnerable, a little more aware of my mortality, a little more uncertain about my future.”

Then somewhere along the line, Stuart Scott made an astonishing discovery. “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”

Three out of four of us escape cancer. None of us escapes mortality. What does that have to do with how we live and the manner in which we live?