Fly the Flag

For Independence Day, I can never do better than this old story I love to retell as often as I can.  Enjoy the holiday!

The misunderstandings and suspicions melted away, as they always do, after a few litres of liquid bread that the Germans call “Bier”. Harald was very honest in his German way, a kind of honesty that was spelled out in long, silent pauses as much as words. “With all of these different people and cultures, what is it that makes you Americans?”

I swallowed my beer to give me time, and the perfect answer came to me:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

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Scalia Scowls – Take Notice

The Supreme Court has released a number of opinions, and it’s been a tough week for conservatives. Most of the focus has been on the big political fights – federal subsidy for state “Obamacare” exchanges was upheld and marriage equity is the law of the land in all fifty states. It was the latter that gave us the most blistering dissent from Justice Scalia:

“A system of government that makes the people subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy,” he wrote in one of the more coherent statements in his dissent.

But another ruling, striking down part of the Federal “Three Strikes” law, illustrates judicial activism even more clearly. All of this begs the question as to where Scalia’s logic was in the “Citizens United” ruling in 2012 that declared corporations to be people, too. There is judicial activism, yes, but it’s more about filling in the gaps left by years of a completely dysfunctional Congress. Someone has to be the adults – even one branch of government has to endure Scalia’s sometimes childish ranting.

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Glory, Hallelujah!

The Rebel Flag still flies in front of the South Carolina Statehouse. I’ve been slow to comment on this despite being very passionate about the issue as a Son of the New South for one simple reason – this is playing out in a very complex and different way this time. Change may be coming, and Dixie may finally be gone with the wind.

When Dylann Roof opened fire in Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, he was hoping to start a new Civil War, according to his manifesto. It seems that in some ways he did, and like the last Civil War 150 years back the result appears to be the same – a society built on the twin pillars of oppression and privilege must fall. The victims’ families, like the truest of Christians, forgave his actions but around them a movement has grown to insure that what Jon Stewart called the “racist wallpaper” is taken down, encouraging no one to follow suit.
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A New Democratic Platform

Robert Reich is a great leader in the Democratic Party.  After serving as Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997 he became a fixture in thoughtful magazines, speeches, and talk shows.  He is currently a Chancellor’s Professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UCal, Berkeley.

Reich has recently collaborated with moveon.org to create a series of short videos describing “The Big Picture” – things which need to be done to transform our economy into a more dynamic, fair, and productive new economy for a post-depression world.  Taken together, I believe these make up a new platform for the Democratic Party which must be a central organizing piece for the elections in 2016.

Whether or not you agree with Reich, he and this platform are a force to be reckoned with.

Since I have yet to see them presented together in one place as a coherent work, I have taken the liberty of doing so myself.  Each item is presented here with the title as a link to the original post on Reich’s blog, with the short video above it.  Please follow the links for more information in Reich’s own words.

Initially, this project was billed as “Ten Ideas to Save the Economy”.  There are now 12 videos in the series, branching out a bit into political reform.  If there are more they will be added later.

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Pop Inspiration

The tidbits of popular inspiration roll through twitter and facebook in a nearly constant stream.  You want your stuff retweeted or shared through the networks?  Come up with a bit of folk enlightenment, maybe put it into a jpg pic as a “meme” (a horrible mis-use of that word!).  Keep it simple – a quick saying or maybe a set of “tips” devoid of heavy philosophy that could wear down a bizzy day.  It could be a Bible verse or a simple admonishment to be a more decent person.

There’s nothing wrong with this sort of stuff, and it probably has been present throughout the history of human interaction.  But the volume and popularity of these sorts of things leads me to wonder if there isn’t a hunger for spirituality and connection that is missing from the ordinary grind of the day.  There appears to be a missing presence in the moment, a sense that ghosts float past our conscience whispering a calling to be a better part of the world.
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A New Generation’s Time

“A person who is not a liberal in their youth has no heart, but a person who is not a conservative by middle age has no brain.”
Attributions and variations attributed to many people, including Disraeli, Churchill, and Burke

Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) isn’t given much of a chance to become president by anyone, including his supporters. He isn’t photogenic and he isn’t a charismatic orator. But he has an appeal among many voters, particularly those with less than a third his 73 years of life. How did this come about, and why are so many people dissatisfied with the nominee apparent, Sec. Clinton?

The answer appears to come in the definition of what we call “generations” – a concept that actually has more to do with the economic and social climate someone is born into and nothing to do with their parents. This may tell us something about the rate of social change we can expect in the next few years, too, as this depression finally ends and opportunities open up for young people.

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Rockstar

For those of you who know me well, this is a piece from seven years ago which I have to re-use on a very bizzy day.

The study of word origins, or etymology, is often fascinating. Words come to our language from many different places and many different needs. The most interesting words, however, often have very obvious origins but mysteriously deep cultural meanings. One such “super-cliché” is the word “Rockstar”.

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