Friday, February 28, 2014

FEBRUARY 23, 2014

     I've written before about social change in this country--same-sex marriage, for instance.  Approved by one state or another, it's still illegal in most of them.  Now the Arizona legislature has jumped in with a bill which, as the Washington Post described it, "allows business owners wtth strongly held religious beliefs to refuse service to gays." 

     The next step is up to conservative Governor Jan Brewer (R) as she decides whether to sign or veto the bill, which she's expected to do this coming week.

      You'd think this would be a constitutional no-brainer, but hold on.  Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence said, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...."  But he left out women, presumably on purpose;  they didn't get the vote for more than a century.  And when he said "all men," Jefferson, a Southerner and a slave owner, certainly didn't mean he thought his black slaves were equal to him.  It took a bloody civil war and then the civil rights movement to get them them the vote just a few years ago.

     So we'll see.  Discrimination based on sexual preference seem bizarre to me.  But bizarre bad stuff hasn't always stopped us in the past.


FEBRUARY 21, 2014

      I think the Republicans in the Senate are planning a surprise attack.

      At least, that's the impression you get from a story in the Washington Post today.  It describes the campaign office--camouflage netting, sandbags, and a quote from one hero about being at war every day.  I guess the GOP hid the machine guns.

     Still, there is an election this fall and control of the Senate (now Democratic) and the House (now Republican) are prime targets. There are 435 House members, divided among  the states according to population--New York, many;  Wyoming, few.  All are up for election every two years. There are 100 senators, two per state.  They serve six year terms, so only a third are up this year.  The current lineup--50 Democrats, 42 Republicans, 2 independents;

     What are the chances of a GOP triumph?  The Republicans say, good, look at the mess over Obamacare.  Democrats can answer yes, the debut was sloppy, but people seem to like the bill itself;  good numbers are signing up.

      I wish I knew the answer, but I'm retired now, not out there campaigning.  If I had to bet, I'd bet on the Dems, but boy, would I be nervous.






FEBRUARY 19, 2014

     The National Spying on us Agency--I know, it's officially the National Security Agency, but I would feel more secure if it didn't exist--wants more.  It can already tap every telephone in America.  Now it wants to be able to track every automobile license plate too.

     The NSA, according to The Washington Post, wants a private company to do the actual work of tracking but that makes no difference;  the data will go back to the Agency anyway. "Joe Smith drove to Louisville for a weekend with a girl friend even though he's married? We can check that."  And so on, in annoying, salacious detail..

     The usual critics are out.  An ACLU spokeswoman said,  "This is just another example of the government's appetite for tools of mass surveillance."  That seems just right.  Barack Obama never impressed me as the kind of president who approved of spying on his people.

     I guess I was wrong.



Editor's note:  Mr. Morton's columns were delayed while his editor enjoyed a bout with the flu.  Apologies to you and him.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

FEBRUARY 15, 2014

       It's coming!  Yes, it is!  Thomas Boswell reminds us in the Washington Post that the traditional first notice has just gone out:  "Pitchers and catchers report to spring training."  The first exhibition game, he notes, is, believe it or not, just eleven days away. Yes, I can see snow out the window.  It's melting fast.  

     I think what makes baseball special is that players have to think.  The shortstop, who may have to field a ground ball--does he throw to second in hope of a double play or throw to first for the sure out there--and so on.

     I like football too--a graceful run or pass reception can be very moving, but there's something special about baseball for me.

     One thing I know--it has nothing to do with where I grew up.  That was Chicago, home of the Cubs--lovable losers is a local nickname.  The Cubs last won the pennant in 1945, more than half a century ago, last won the World Series, the grand prize--in 1908--more than--that's right, a century ago.

     But whatever it is, it works for me.


Friday, February 14, 2014

FEBRUARY 14, 2014

They said the snow would be big and bad.  Shut us in our houses, make us weak and sad.

It did snow, the ground turned white But it wasn't heavy; in fact it was light.

They said eight inches but I confess,
It always looked to me like less.
That's from my window, not outside,
But I think I could have gone for a pony ride.

It's all gone now; I may go out.
And to fierce winter I will shout,
You may come back but you won't stay,
Think of May this Valentine's Day!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Fwd: FEBRUARY 12, 2014

     The weather prophets are thundering from the temples:  "Winter storm alert.....winter weather advisory...perhaps the worst snow we've had this winter...." and so on.  That last one...worst this always tricky.  Some years we really do get snow here in Washington.  A foot, maybe more. This year, the worst was maybe two inches or a little less, but the word "blizzard" was widely used and the city pretty much shut itself down.

     I grew up in Chicago where it did and does snow big time.  I don't remember the schools closing, though they must have.  Chicago has now and had then excellent public transportation and a population that doesn’t flinch over a flake.

     So read this and smile.   If I"m a prophet, fine.  If not, well, try to feel sorry for an old gaffer who doesn’t like the snow and never lost a minute of sleep longing for Rosebud but knows enough to hedge his bets and stock the cupboard…just in case.



Fwd: FEBRUARY 11, 2014


      Tighten up, guys, it's an election year.  I know, it's not the big kind when we elect a president.  Even if it were, we couldn't reelect this one if we wanted to.

      There's some history to that.  Starting with George Washington, our first, no president ever ran for a third term.  It was legal, they just didn't.  Franklin Roosevelt changed that.  He ran and won four times, leading the country out of the Great Depression and within sight of victory in World War when he died.

     Then the voters changed the rules--two terms and out.  Does it matter this time?  You bet. Now, we have a Democratic president, Barack Obama, with about three years left; a Democratic Senate, 51--47 plus two Independents;  and a Republican House, 242--199.  That's where the fun starts..  With all three one party, the president can probably run wild.  Split, like now, the two parties must compromise or stalemate.

     They've done a couple of compromises, more--on immigration, say--are possible. No one wants a repeat of last year's sequester with budget cuts and layoffs.

    Listen in.  It's probably not as much fun as a good ballgame, but it isn't so bad.