Category Archives: Politics

President Coyote

Watching the presidential debates, it occurred to me that Donald Trump was Coyote. His legacy would be disruption of the Republican Party and, what troubled me, of our political norms.

By ‘Coyote,’ I’m referring to the character in various Native American tales – specifically those in which Coyote is at once tricky, buffoonish, eager, self-involved, persuasive, unreliable, and unfortunately consequential. Regardless of his intent, he engenders chaos, entropy, and lost opportunities.

Then ‘we’ elected Coyote to be president. Surprise! Continue reading

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‘With’ Sanders since Day 1, I’m voting for Clinton

On the day Bernie Sanders declared his candidacy, I contributed $15 to his campaign. He came closer to representing my positions than any politician I can remember. I made several other investments in fundamental change as the Democratic primary season wore on. I still think that Sanders was spot-on in his critique of Hillary Clinton and his complaints about party officials favoring her. But I also have no doubt about joining him in voting for her. Continue reading

A socialist is a contender? All bets are off

I’m just flabbergasted: I can’t remember a self-declared socialist (Bernie Sanders, duh) winning a primary – and basically tying in another. Of course, Obama, FDR, and others have been called socialists by detractors, but I think something quite momentous has happened when a person who forthrightly and unapologetically declares himself a democratic socialist becomes serious candidate in a nationwide contest.

And, hey, he’s Jewish, too – another first!

So any predictions regarding his ability to pass legislation seem dubious because, obviously, (almost?) no one predicted his success thus far. Continue reading

Je suis Charlie? I’m glad someone, not everyone, is.

“Je suis Charlie.” Your expression of solidarity reaffirms that we, the enemies of extreme intolerance, are everywhere. But, if you really were like Charlie Hebdo, then you would look for sacred targets – Muslim, Christian, Jewish, secular, left, right – to skewer in a highly public and provocative fashion. And you would do so in the face of actual death threats.

Are you still Charlie? Will you start being more like Charlie now, knowing that you could be gunned down? That you might lose friends and alienate family members? Continue reading

Cuba: Insanity, stupidity, and refusing to learn

U.S. Interests Section in Havana, apparently

The opposition to normalizing relations with Cuba reminds me that many people don’t know crazy from stupid. Here’s crazy:

“I used to think I was Jesus.”

Sitting in a cafe in Bisbee, Arizona, I once overheard a solitary man announce this, out of the blue, to a man sitting at a nearby table. Notice he said, “used to.” After being thrown in jail, he found out the truth. He figured a god could walk through walls if he wanted, so he tried to escape the Jesus way. In this he failed. Continue reading

Corruption kills kids, too

Outrage over the shooting at Newtown is rightly prompting many Americans to support stricter gun control. But why stop there? People have found so many ways to kill children and other innocents – drone attacks (perhaps 176 children in Pakistan), adulterated industrial products, and, here in Uganda, corruption. Maybe the technical term in Uganda is not “kill” but “prevent the prevention of death,” but the effect is the same. There’s blood on the hands of many people driving expensive cars around Kampala. Continue reading

Replace presidential debates with a reality show

The fallout from this year’s presidential debates makes it clear that too many voters use these events to decide which candidate to support or how strongly to support him. This is sad enough, given the multitude of information already available about the candidates. But what’s worse is that so many people change their votes based on criteria that have little to do with successful performance as president: Who can deliver the most zingers without seeming mean? Who can obfuscate his history and platform most pleasingly? Who’s taller? Who sweats less? Continue reading