No. We are too tolerant. We encounter the latest insult to decency and the ideals of democracy and wave it off with “Well, that’s how he is.”

But. . . is that how we are?

If we do not criticize and challenge, that’s the way we will be.

Do not, however, take overt action — or complain vigorously without vast mounds of evidence — unless you have comfortable dacha in, say, Tula Oblast. And wishing for or even thinking about some debilitating circumstance affecting supreme leader could make things still worse. I recall that about fifteen years ago, when we were killing and being killed in Iraq, every evening I said a small and sincer prayer for G W Bush. Had anything happened to him, we would have had Dick Cheney in the White House.

Take a close look at Veep sometime, say, when he’s applauding a Presidetial bon mot. I am reminded of the old folk wisdom, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.” As you watch Pense in his beatific moments — he seems to have many — you might believe the original was “Better the devil you know than the angel you don’t know.”

Which was, in my recollection, the original.

They’re everywhere, they’re everwhere

Annoying phone calls. The robozos zeroed in on me a few months ago. Not too heavy at first, one or two calls a week. “Our records show that the exyemded service on your automobile is about to expire. We can add a four years extension on it with a simple call. Press one to contact a service expert who will….”

Really? An extended service contract on my eighteen-year-old CRV? What a deal!
Then there was help paying off the student loan, the one that cleared about fifty years ago. A new credit card, with rates as low as one-point-three percent. Et al.

For a while I let the voice go on to the first referent point, then hung up, and cited the calling number in my contacts as B S 01. Then B S 02. Etc. Was sort of a game at first, watching for repeats. When the B S count got up into the twenties, I blocked each one. Haven’t had any robo calls in nearly a week.

For a more detailed look at this suddenly-blossoming mercantile phenomenon, check this article in the Sunday New York Times. The most interesting — and discouraging — part of the story:

The federal Do Not Call List, which is supposed to help consumers avoid robocalls, instead resembles a tennis net trying to stop a flood. The list may prevent some (but not all) legitimate companies from calling people on the list, but it does little to deter fraudsters and marketers, some of them overseas, who are willing to take their chances and flout the law.

Looking East

One thing I discovered was the Manchester Guardian. Could be it’s no better than the Washington Post or the New York Times for general news coverage. Perhaps there’s something about the Brit accent, or point of view. Whatever it is, the place takes up more of my time lately. A couple of examples.

Rationale, going (I hope) forward

We are locked into a complex and perhaps irresolvable set of domestic and international challenges. Ignoring them will not do any good, but blathering on about them has not improved our chances, not that I can see.

Meanwhile, other issues, some predating our immediate drama and all threatening to extend beyond it, have been overlooked or down-played.

What I plan to do — in addition to re-arranging this site itself — is to focus on that other stuff, inner-page and second-section items. If it appeals to you, challenges you, join me in a closer look at some of them.

. . . it’s that time again, time to ignore tweaks in the Constitution

[note: Every five years or so, I try going back to basics. It won’t take long and you can quote most of it yourself. . .so bear with me.]

For a minute, anyway. Because they are afterthoughts. Compromises. Tweaks. In fact, that’s what the whole Constitution is, along with laws and legalisms generated over the past two hundred plus years. All of it, from Article I to the latest piece of recondite jargon snaking its way through subcommittees, all of it is fine-tuning, filigree, and fretwork.

You don’t need the First Article, or Citizens United, or anything in between, to figure out where we are and see how far that is from where the Founders meant us to be. All you need is the introduction to the Constitution. It’s the Preamble, where they introduced their goals, their rationale, their hopes. And they did it in just over fifty words

“We the people of the United States, in order to

  • form a more perfect union,
  • establish justice,
  • insure domestic tranquility,
  • provide for the common defense,
  • promote the general welfare, and
  • secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,

do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Six bullet-point clauses. You’d have thought they had PowerPoint. Stack that up against news of the day. We’re in shit up to our knees, and the answer is to buy more boots? Hock your grandchildren’s patrimony to money-grubbing rubber merchants?
What are we, crazy or stupid?

Go back and look at the Preamble again. Focus on a few key words. Words like justice, tranquility, welfare, liberty. Where did they go? How did they get lost between the Preamble and today?

Don’t ignore the Constitution, don’t challenge it; don’t even bother to amend it. All I suggest is that, for a couple minutes, we not get bogged down in minutiae, that we look back, and down, and up, at the basics. The framework. The essential ideas and ideals which were designed hold everything together.

To hold us together, not apart.

The right man for the job

An old Lincoln tale says the President refused to appoint a friend’s supporter as a local postmaster because he did not like the looks of the man. The man’s friends argued it was not fair to judge a man by his face. Lincoln said that, until forty, it might be unfair, but that after forty, a man was responsible for his own face.

With that in mind, I present Andrew Wheeler, nominated to the Environmental Protection Agency. What say you? Does the man Wheeler get your vote as Deputy Administrator of the EDF?

coal guy

It might influence your decision, so I hesitate a moment before adding Mr. Wheeler’s background in environmental issues.

OK, the moment is up. Mr. Wheeler

“Since 2009, Wheeler has represented the interests of some of the largest fossil fuel companies in the U.S. as a consultant and lobbyist, and national environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club oppose his nomination. According to an analysis of public documents by ProPublica, Wheeler has worked as a registered lobbyist for, among others, a major uranium mining company, one of the largest coal companies in the country and a refrigerant manufacturer.
Each of the companies has worked to shape EPA regulations in their favor….”