Monday, September 1, 2014

AUGUST 28, 2014

We're having an election this year, not the big important one that picks a president (that's in 2016) but the state oriented ones that pick a third of the 100 member Senate for six year terms and of all of the 435 member House of Representatives for two year ones.  It's not the White House, but it matters.

     One of the worst things that can happen to a legislative party is a split. They depend on numbers for their strength.  When they split, as Republicans did over civil rights bills years ago, the party is hurt.

     You can argue--I would--that the bills were good for the country, but the split hurt the party.   The Republicans have a split this year too--generally between its moderates and its Tea Party members, its conservative core.

     We don't know yet what effects the split will have. But it's there.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

AUGUST 24, 2014

     Low income families struggle everywhere in America.  A story in the Washington Post notes that those who live here in Washington have we the second easiest time of those in any major city.  Only San Francisco beats DC in comfort for the poor.

     This is of course a story with all sorts of different implications.  Do we want poor visitors because they'll like it here and want to stay?  But then won't it be even poorer so we'll like it less and maybe leave?  And if we leave will the newly arrived poor maybe leave too?  And then could we come back?  And then....Pretty silly pretty quickly, huh?

    I don't know.  I like San Fran but I'm probably not poor enough to go there. Besides, I live right next to a big old stall market with fishmongers and cheesemongers and, well, you get the idea.

    So come grocery shopping,  just don't move here, okay?  Unless you want to be president, of course. Then you have to. 



AUGUST 22, 2014

     We have off-year elections this year.  That means elections for the Senate--a third of its hundred seats up for six year terms and all of the the House's 435 seats, for two year terms.  The District of Columbia won't vote;  we have no representation in the Congress.

     In a lot of districts the issues will be local--a bridge, an allegedly crooked pol.  It will be harder, I think, for Republicans to make President Obama's person or policies be issues because he and they have been moderate,

     I can remember when public anger was so strong here--during the Vietnam War or the Nixon impeachment--when perfect strangers would yell on the street at those of us who covered the news.

     There's none of that now.  It looks like a clean battle for November, followed by the big shootout two years later.



AUGUST 20, 2014

     This city, Washington, is in its August daze--hot, humid and helpless,  It maybe because I'm old now, but it seems a little more bearable.  Baseball is an example. In the olden times, when this city's team was in the American League, its slogan was, "Washington:  first in war, first in peace, last in the American League."  Today the team, the Nationals, leads its division and may well make the playoffs.  Imagine!

     If you want an enduring image of lousiness in baseball, try the team I grew up with, the Chicago Cubs.  Last won the pennant in1945, though even back then they had an outfielder whose nickname was "Swish" for the sound his bat made when it missed the ball.  My Cubs last won the World Series--none of us was born then--in 1908.

     I worried a little when this year's Chicago team was in last place, okay, but only ten games out of first.  Shouldn't have, they started playing down to standard and were sixteen games out the last time I looked.

     Lose, Cubs. It's what you do really well.  And I'll pull for you no matter what.  That is something I'm used to doing well.


Monday, August 18, 2014

AUGUST 17, 2014

     Years ago the championship of the National Football League was settled by a single game between the winners of its Eastern and Western divisions. In 1940, this elderly Chicago kid still remembers, his Bears humiliated the Washington Redskins, 73--0.  Yes, that's correct.  Yes, it's more than a point a minute.  Yes, it is hard to believe.  And yes, it really did happen.

     Nothing like that happens any more, of course.  Basketball deals in high digits;  baseball, in shutouts.  But nothing in sports offers both.

     It's not that it's impossible now just unlikely and one of the reasons why our stogy lives can sometimes be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

AUGUST 12, 2014

      "Obama vows limits as US airstrikes continue."  That Washington Post headline explains why peacekeeping is harder now that so many countries can blow others off the map.

   Once upon a time a powerful country could say to a weaker one, let us in or we'll beat you up.  Many countries, to survive, would submit.  Now even smaller countries may have some nuclear weapons and be tempted to to say no.
Negotiating has never been easy and is surely harder now.

     The only solution may be truly massive peacekeeping forces and even they may be truly at risk.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

AUGUST 1, 2014

     It's happened.  Republicans lost a vote in the House of Representatives on Thursday even though they have a majority there. They lost because their majority split in two--moderates versus more conservative, Tea Party types.

    This will make Republican politics more fun to watch, though probably less fun for actual, role-playing Republicans. "Got an ID card?  No, not those ugly orange ones. Ours are bright red," and so on.

     And if the GOP vote splits in the primaries, won't the Democrats have a better chance of winning back the House, which the GOP now controls?  And in 2016?  Three national candidates instead of two?

     On a good day, politics can be more fun than cards.


AUGUST 8, 2014

     I wrote the the other day about how difficult, maybe impossible, it is for the great powers to make or keep the peace.  I didn't need new proof, but the headline in today's Washington Post is, "Obama authorizes possible Iraq strikes."  Please, sir, not again.

   The story says the U.S. is already dropping food and other good things there and that's fine.  But please, nothing lethal.  That's how these blood feuds start. You got us out of Iraq once, please don't make an encore necessary.

     Enforcing our ideas of law and order in other peoples' countries seldom works well.  Please know this.