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Political Hay

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Mitt Romney?

By 8.22.14

He wuz robbed. Admit it, you neo-cons, paleo-cons, compassionates, country clubbers and decline-to-states: right now, in a just, moral, ordered universe, Mitt Romney should be President.

He was right on Iraq and Benghazi, right on healthcare, immigration, and Russia. But he was so mendaciously smeared that voters possessed the ludicrous mindset that Mitt didn’t “care about someone like me.” Feckless Republican operatives allowed data-mining splashed with voter fraud to seal the defeat.

Twenty months later, numerous polls indicate significant voter remorse. This genuine sentiment has naturally provoked calls of “Run, Mitt, Run!” But, to other Republicans still traumatized by a loss that didn’t have to happen, the grace and decency of the man are his ultimate disqualifiers for a coming 2016 cage match.

The positive argument for another run is, like the man, straightforward:

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At Large

All For Want of a Good Five-Cent Cigar

By 8.22.14

Michael Brown lost his life after pursuing his unrestrained, but not unrequited, love for Swisher Sweets, which he heisted from a Ferguson, Missouri, shopkeeper without even the pretense of subterfuge. I despise his by-any-means-necessary passion for smoking Swishers. But who can gainsay the tobacco martyr’s tastes? Like Ulysses S. Grant, he died for the love of cigars.

Often stale, always sweet, Swishers smoke as the Cadillac of cheap cigars. Before such tobacco promotions became outlawed, I eagerly exchanged multiple proofs of purchase seals for a black T-shirt—worn proudly—with a red Swisher insignia and an uplifting message conveyed in smoky lettering: “Roll out the sweet times.” Say what you will of the decedent’s ethics. Michael Brown knew stogies. He could have stolen Dutch Masters or Phillies. He swiped Swishers. He chose right after choosing wrong.

As far as thieves go, Brown occupies the next-to-lowest rung on the ladder of larceny, right above the cowardly-in-the-crowd looters inspired by him. There is something basely admirable about the safe cracker, the swindler, and the museum burglar. They work hard for your money.

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Political Hay

Climate Dodge Ball

By 8.21.14

Tampa

Democrat Charlie Crist wants to be governor of Florida. He says global warming/climate change is one of the most important issues facing the state and the nation. He promises drastic action to cut greenhouse gas emissions if he is elected in November. He’s wrong about this. The actions he wishes to take would be disastrous for the Florida economy and would do nothing to improve Florida’s environment.

Republican Rick Scott, who is Florida’s governor and would like to be re-elected to this post in November, just wishes the issue would go away. He inartfully ducks questions on the issue, often using the pathetic dodge that he “is not a scientist,” and therefore can’t be expected to have a view on whether the Earth is warming and that terrible things will follow if we don’t ensure that the planet stays at a more seemly temperature.

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The Nation's Pulse

Quick Fixes and Lasting Grief

By 8.21.14

By the dawn’s early light, as they say, there’s the too frequent news in the morning about those who didn’t make it through the perilous night.

Drug overdose deaths, for example, in Allegheny County (a county containing Pittsburgh and surrounding suburbs and rural areas in southwestern Pennsylvania) are approaching 300 a year. Pretty soon, 1-a-day, like the vitamins.

In addition, the morning news about the previous night’s murders, the pointless killings in the predictable parts of the city and disproportionately linked to drugs, brings few surprises.

In “True Crime: Ferguson vs. Pittsburgh,” former Pittsburgh Tribune columnist Bill Steigerwald writes that Ferguson, Missouri, “roughly 65 percent black” and in the daily news with unremitting protests and looting following the shooting death of a black teenager by a white police officer, has a lower murder rate, rape rate, and robbery rate than Pittsburgh, “about 25 percent black.”

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Freedom Watch

The Constitution Lives in Ferguson

By 8.21.14

The Constitution lives. Even as the news is brutal — it instructs for those willing to pay attention.

American journalist James Foley has been beheaded by ISIS. And an American teenager named Michael Brown was shot dead by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer named Darren Wilson.

In the case of Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri remains in an uproar. The town is awash in protesters, both from Ferguson and outsiders. There has been a steady diet of rioting and looting. The President of the United States is involved. The Attorney General of the United States is involved, going to Ferguson personally just yesterday. The governor of Missouri, the lieutenant governor, and attorney general of Missouri are all involved, as is the head of the Missouri State Police and the state’s National Guard. Both of Missouri’s U.S. senators have weighed in, as have members of the state legislature. All of this in addition to the mayor of Ferguson, and the Ferguson police chief.

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A Further Perspective

The Media and the Mob

By 8.20.14

Those of us who admit that we were not there, and do not know what happened when Michael Brown was shot by a policeman in Ferguson, Missouri, seem to be in the minority.

We all know what has happened since then — and it has been a complete disgrace by politicians, the media and mobs of rioters and looters. Despite all the people who act as if they know exactly what happened, nevertheless when the full facts come out, that can change everything.

This is why we have courts of law, instead of relying on the media or mobs. But politics is undermining law.

On the eve of a grand jury being convened to go through the facts and decide whether there should be a prosecution of the policeman in this case, Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri has gone on television to say that there should be a “vigorous prosecution.”

There was a time when elected officials avoided commenting on pending legal processes, so as not to bias those processes. But Governor Nixon apparently has no fear of poisoning the jury pool.

The only alternative explanation is that this is exactly what he intends to do. It is a disgrace either way.

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Another Perspective

ISIS Horrors and Just War Teaching

By 8.20.14

The ISIS invasion of Iraq and subsequent horrors, for which Iraq’s dwindling Christian minority is a chief victim, has reanimated talk about Christian Just War teaching.

Citing the call by Iraq’s Chaldean Patriarch for military intervention, a group of prominent Christian thinkers, with others, has declared that “nothing short of the destruction of ISIS/ISIL as a fighting force will provide long-term protection of victims.” Urging U.S. and international help for local forces against ISIS, they assert that “no options that are consistent with the principles of just war doctrine should be off the table.” They want expanded U.S. air strikes against ISIS and U.S. arms for the Kurds, among others. The most prominent church official on this list is the Southern Baptist Convention’s chief public policy spokesman.

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The Trumped-Up Charges Spectator

Rick Perry Isn’t Guilty—But I Might Be

By 8.20.14

Governor Rick Perry is clearly not guilty of the charges in his indictment. I sure am, though. Anybody want to indict me?

Perry, of course, was indicted for vetoing the funding of the Travis County District Attorney’s Public Drunkenness/Integrity Unit after the unit’s chief public drunk proved herself to have none of the integrity she is charged with upholding. When she’s sober, D.A. Rosemary Lehmberg fires assistants who refuse to lie to internal affairs investigators and persists in unethical vendettas against Republicans such as Tom DeLay long after they’ve been exonerated. When she’s drunk, she drives all over the road, and then berates and threatens the officers who arrest her.

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Campaign Crawlers

Florida Air War

By 8.20.14

Tampa

The governor’s race in Florida is on and it’s ugly. But like our pathetic response to ISIS, it’s almost entirely an air war. Mostly throwing dirt high into the air to little or no effect.

Incumbent Republican governor Rick Scott, along with his Democrat (for the moment) challenger and former Florida governor Charlie Crist, plus the various groups supporting these two, are running lots of television ads. Most of these ads helpfully point out that the other guy is a villain, a blackguard, a knave, a poltroon, and a low-down suck-egg dog (or words to this effect) with neither the integrity nor competence to be trusted with the office of assistant county rat-catcher, let alone governor. If Florida voters believe these ads, this could be the first election for governor in which no one votes.

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Special Report

Neither Just Nor Peaceful

By 8.20.14

“No justice, no peace,” scream protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. Implicit in this menacing chant is that the rioting on display there for over a week has been justified. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, among other hucksters, disclaim the violence, even as they stoke it with reckless rhetoric. They aren’t interested in peace but power. Were they truly opposed to the violence, they wouldn’t coin chants that condone it.

“We’re not looters. We’re liberators,” says Sharpton. Liberating society from what? The rule of law? His view of justice is that the law be permanently suspended for the racially aggrieved. A police department can only satisfy his measure of racial progress by going soft on politically favored criminals. Sharpton is a “liberator” who enables looters.

It is clear that from his view of justice no peace will ever follow. It is a formula for new injustices and perpetually divided communities. It is “justice” without truth, giving rise to a culture in which facts, evidence, and universal standards don’t matter.

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