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Relax. It’s not necessarily the flu making you confused and feverish. Could be spatter from that big, thick, juicy, new, improved Civil War infecting the Republican Party. Yes, again. The Rebs inside the Reds are rebooting themselves for the umpteenth time over the past few election cycles. Have to assume these self- proclaimed frugal guys purchased their huge caches of defibrillators and CPR paddles in bulk. “CLEAR!”

Change may emanate from the top, but in a blast from nearer the rump of the totem, Karl Rove announced the formation of a brand new Super PAC. It’s the first of what might be called the Super Duper PACs. And a mere foreshadow of the Holey Moley The Hell is That Super Duper PAC to be unveiled immediately following the midterms. Initial reports have the man known affectionately as Turd Blossom and Bush’s Brain calling his Frankenstein fund- raising monster the “Conservative Victory Party.”
Sounds like a natural response coming from the guy who famously threw an Election Night Hissy Fit on Fox News because Mitt Romney wasn’t being properly victorious enough. “Wait, wait, wait. No, I’m telling you, it’s not over. There’s a cul- de- sac in a suburb on the outskirts of Shaker Heights that hasn’t checked in yet. Hey, oww. Let go. My arm doesn’t bend that way.”
Published in Guest Commentary
Friday, 15 February 2013 07:42

Our Atomic Dominoes Are Falling


Two more atomic dominoes have hit the deck.
At least a half-dozen more teeter on the brink, which would take the US reactor count under 100.
But can we bury them before the next Fukushima erupts?
And will we still laugh when Fox “News” says there’s more sun in Germany than California? 
Published in Guest Commentary


Admiral Miklos Horthy of Hungary is generally acknowledged to have been history’s first fascist dictator (that is an authoritarian ruler who was not royalty).  Following the overthrow of a Hungarian Communist government by Romanian royalist forces in 1919, with the acquiescence of his own King he was appointed “Regent” (for the King) in 1920.  He held that post until he himself was displaced by the Nazis in 1944.  Italy’s Benito Mussolini was appointed Prime Minister by the Italian King in 1922, and with the latter’s acquiescence by 1927 had become dictator of Italy.  (He invented the word “fascism” to describe his form of authoritarian government.)  So, we have two prominent fascist dictators in essence appointed by Kings.  It may surprise you to learn that the most prominent fascist dictator of them all, Adolf Hitler, got to his position by more-or-less constitutional means, in a Republic, not a Kingdom.

Following the end of the First World War, an attempted German Communist revolution was thwarted by the combined forces of the ex-Prussian Army and various right-wing paramilitaries.  With the cooperation of the right-wing of the German Socialist Party, the successors to the Prussian Hohenzollern Monarchy (the Kaiser having abdicated and fled to Holland), and other center and right-wing forces established what came to be known as the Weimar Republic. (Weimar was a small provincial city in central Germany chosen as the new Republic’s capital.) Those forces created the first republican constitution for Germany out of whole cloth.  The resulting Presidential/Parliamentary system governed Germany from mid-1919 until the Nazi coup d’état which took place in stages starting on January 30, 1933.

Published in Guest Commentary
Friday, 15 February 2013 05:53

How the State of the Union Worked


Political journalists have a job to do — to examine the SOTU’s long list of proposals. They are doing that job, many are doing it well, and I’ll leave it to them. Instead, I want to discuss what in the long run is a deeper question: How did the SOTU help to change public discourse? What is the change? And technically, how did it work?

The address was coherent. There was a single frame that fit together all the different ideas, from economics to the environment to education to gun safety to voting rights.  The big change in public discourse was the establishment of that underlying frame, a frame that will, over the long haul, accommodate many more specific proposals.

Briefly, the speech worked via frame evocation. Not statement, evocation — the unconscious and automatic activation in the brains of listeners of a morally-based progressive frame that made sense of what the president said.

(Photo: Courtesy of George Lakoff)

Published in Guest Commentary


How do I know this was President Obama’s best State of the Union speech to date? When Dick Cheney slithers out of the rotting woodwork of his underground basement, which happens rarely these days, to announce that “Obama is destroying the country” – you know that the President was saying all the right things.  As for destroying countries and global economies—now that’s something Dick Cheney excels at, indeed, you could call him the Master of Mass Destruction.

But who wants to think about old Dick Cheney after hearing President Obama’s inspirational speech last night?  The President seemed determined to wrestle with the most difficult problems facing Americans by setting an agenda to solve them, which range from lifting the middle class economy up, to ending voting inequities in which citizens are intentionally forced to wait in long lines in horribly cold weather for hours to cast their votes, to fixing an eroding infrastructure, to ending the wars, to boldly announcing once and for all that we must get off oil.   

Wait a minute!  Did I just hear Obama say we’re getting off oil for good? 

Published in Guest Commentary
Thursday, 14 February 2013 07:43

An Incubator for Peace


You’re young and prone to trouble. You get triggered quickly. Someone tells you that you’ve screwed up and you’re about to lash back. Then, instead, you think:

1. Look at the other person.

2. Say “OK.”

3. Stay calm.

This is what you do. And nothing happens, except that the moment passes and life goes on. Got it?

This column is another dispatch from Chicago, murder capital of America. How many of the murders — 506 of them last year — were committed by people who had no grasp of this particular social skill (accepting criticism or a consequence), or any of the dozen or so others tacked to the bulletin board in the peace room at Fenger High School?

Published in Guest Commentary
Thursday, 14 February 2013 06:54

No More Truthless Heroes


On February 11, 2013, the New York Times reported about the funeral of retired Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle, portraying him as a “warrior and family man.”  The highly politicized and massive public funeral, held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, points to the severe moral schizophrenia our nation has internalized. We see ourselves as the shining “city on a hill” and therefore a U.S. citizen who kills people in other lands becomes an unquestionably renowned hero.  This must appear offensive and ridiculous to many people living beyond U.S. borders.

Mr. Kyle was a man who professed “no regret” for killing 160 people during his four tours in Iraq.   A fellow soldier and former Marine, struggling with PTSD, murdered Kyle at point blank range while they were practice shooting for fun and “therapy” at a gun range in Texas.  Despite the bizarrely karmic nature of his death and setting aside the much needed conversation on gun culture and pervasive violence which our nation is being forced to address, I am just as worried by our collective need to construct a fig leaf cover up over the legacy of Chris Kyle.

Published in Guest Commentary


An Open Letter to Speaker John Boehner

Dear Speaker Boehner:

In the wake of a year teeming with incidents of heartbreaking gun violence, it came as quite a shock to see Congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX) announce yesterday that he is “excited to have a patriot like Ted Nugent joining me in the House Chamber” for President Obama’s State of the Union address. 

This so-called “patriot” has repeatedly threatened the life of the president. 

With a gun in each hand, Ted Nugent once publicly called Obama a “piece of shit,” saying he “told him [Obama] to suck on my machine gun” and suggested that Hillary Clinton “might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.”  In the same incident, he also threatened Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein with gun violence.

Published in Guest Commentary
Tuesday, 12 February 2013 07:50

How the Latin American Drug War Will End


As the underlying rationale for the war on drugs falls apart, some may wonder whether Latin America is really prepared to push back against Washington’s militaristic approach toward marijuana trafficking.  While such a prospect would have been unheard of just a few scant years ago, recent developments in the U.S. suggest that change could come fast at the hemispheric level.  Indeed, successful pushes for marijuana legalization in Washington state and Colorado brought together some unusual political constituencies, and that is putting it mildly. 

As I discussed in a recent article, pro-legalization advocates managed to cultivate support from women and even mothers by stressing family-friendly values like public safety.  As they looked north, Mexicans were probably surprised to find that a wide social spectrum supported marijuana legalization in Colorado including the NAACP, labor unions, physicians and even clergymen. Perhaps most surprisingly, however, Colorado campaigners also garnered significant support from the socially conservative Latino community which voted 70 percent in favor of legalizing cannabis.

Published in Guest Commentary


Overestimate the deleterious effect the latest Civil War will have on the Republican Party at your own peril. But for now, Democrats should enjoy the heck out of the dust-up Karl Rove initiated last week with the launch of his Conservative Victory Project. However, do not misunderestimate Karl Rove.

Whatever else you may think of Rove, you certainly have to admire the way he has deftly turned the conversation away from his embarrassing Election night tantrum on Fox, and the abject failure that American Crossroads and the allied Crossroads GPS had in the November elections.

Published in Guest Commentary
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