Taking a Knee

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Is it ever acceptable to kneel while the national anthem is played? The controversy has deepened now that Trump has weighed in, saying that players who do so should be fired. He faulted the NFL as a unit over this just ahead of this week’s games.

The response from the league has been ferocious. And it is justified. After all, those who kneel are only answering the question with their own emphatic “No!” as is their right as a free people. It is a question we should all be asking ourselves and not the patriotism of those who answer it differently than we do. Anything less means that we are not, indeed, free.

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Life Support

The Affordable Care Act, ACA or Obamacare, has proven difficult to kill off. In the next eight days we will see if the last, final, we-really-mean-it effort suffers the same fate as the previous attempts.

It should die for even more reasons than the last attempt. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t actually be something of value in Graham-Cassidy which might lead us to even better healthcare in the future. If that fails, it could well lead us to a final calamity for the Republican Party.

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United Nations. Sort of.

President Trump spoke to the UN today. In all fairness, it could have been worse. And, in many ways, it was a re-iteration of what America has been saying for a long time – we have a big military and we intend to use it, but don’t ask us for money to keep the other operations going.

Yet it was bad enough in one singular sense – there is no place for globalism even as we realize larger threats to the entire planet at once. It was a summary of everything that he and his followers stand for in many ways. But what will it mean to the rest of the world?

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E-Z Reform

Republicans need to produce tax reform, but can’t agree on much.  Here is a post from two years ago which outlines an easy way to make something happen and claim victory.  It may even be good policy.

Tax reform is on the minds of many Republican candidates, and that’s a good thing. Donald Trump revealed a plan, suggesting he may be a serious candidate after all. This announcement came as his poll numbers were slipping, so we may have a hint what voters think about actual policies. Jeb Bush released his plan earlier this month with the distinction of being called “weird”.

The point is that we are talking about taxes and serious tax reform, which is good. No one should expect one plan to suddenly spring forward and cut through the elaborate mess we have. Then again, once the knife is out, you could carve a better tax code out of a banana. But what really is needed? What is “simplification” or “reform”? Let’s start at the beginning.

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Correctness? Try Politeness

Has “political correctness” run wild, threatening to destroy our language and culture? Certainly, it’s a pain to have to learn new terms all the time. And no one likes to be scolded for using the wrong ones. But is this all just a way of repressing free speech and making people more pliant and reducing the culture to nothing?

No. We are in the middle of a process of determining just what “polite” is.

That’s not to say it’s every gonna be easy. There is no “process” and no one gets to vote. It’s necessarily messy to clean up the language and make sure it works for everyone. We all have to agree at some point. And in the meantime, the one thing that far too many people seem to agree with is that politeness isn’t necessary at all. That’s the real problem.

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One Hell of a Show

A busy week calls for a repeat from 2008.  Besides, it’s that time of year again …

Football is the most intellectual of all the major sports in the USofA.  Go ahead, laugh, but it’s true.  All those breaks between plays are more than time for wagging commentary and the occasional Bud commercial, they are a chance for the coach to send in a play that one side will attempt to execute while the other tries to foil it.  Raw athletic ability is often thwarted by a clever plan or a quick wit that sees past it.  Amid the changing fronts of trench warfare that form the game, a good General is what it takes to win.

But there’s a lot more to football than that.  What we’ve learned from the NFL in particular is how important it is to set up a system where everyone has a chance and the rules are evenly enforced.  It’s America at its best.

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The Storms Behind, The Storms Ahead

How many disasters can we take at once? The short answer is that while the US is continuing to rebound nicely as the economy restructures, it’s still a very delicate process. Unemployment is low in much of the nation, or at least a lot lower than we have seen for a long time. But the process is uneven, bypassing rural areas and older workers unable or unwilling to essentially start over with entirely new careers.

Upsets like major storms are enough to put the whole process in jeopardy, especially when there are two right in a row. This should be the year when everything changes, but it hasn’t been working very well. A lack of leadership and a general sense of drift isn’t helping us take off. The storms? Big enough for a solid recession, without a doubt.

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