Obama said he could win a third term in office, but the U.S. Constitution won’t let him.
“I actually think I’m a pretty good president,” Obama said. “I think if I ran, I could win. But I can’t … the law is the law.” ...TheHill
He's not wrong. I think he could and would win. But it's a dumb thing to say, even though it does rile the right ...and even though they deserve all the discomfort and annoyance Obama is in a position to throw at them.
But the cultural significance of a kiss may not be that widely shared, according to new research published in American Anthropologist.
Researchers at the University of Nevada and Indiana University found fewer than half of the world’s cultures kiss in a romantic way. Although many societies consider kissing to be a romantic or erotic activity, others have gone as far as to call it “gross” and ask why anyone would “share their dinner.”
The researchers studied 168 cultures over the past year and found evidence of romantic kissing in 77 societies, or 46 percent, but none in 91 others. ...WaPo
The reactions to everything from Fruitvale through Waller County to Staten Island are as instructive about America and where we rate on the human decency scale as anything our major media sources hire experts to assess. The comments section following reports and editorials in the New York Times are particularly useful. How about this comment from "Umar" in New York in response to the latest report on one east Texas county's glaring racism?
There is no racism if as a minority: you know your place, keep your head down and your mouth shut, laugh at racist jokes, nod your head to bigoted stereotypes and agree with the sentiment that "they got what was coming" for heavy handed police action.
For too long with we've confused "getting along" with "equality."
That, of course, is a characterization of the America we actually live in, not the one we fantasize.
Just a reminder: Waller County is one tiny part of a huge state.
Remove human settlement in Texas and you're still left with an astounding diversity of landscape and climate. There are seven (count 'em!) distinct eco-regions in one enormous state.
Add humans and you've got Asian, African, native Americans, Scots-Irish, German, Hispanic, Czech, French, Italians (15th century), Belgians, Scandinavians, Syrians, Greeks -- and whole fresh bunches of people in the 20th century and onward.
Texas produces some fabulous beer; "normal" men take their jeans to be professionally washed and starched to the point where those garments can stand on their own. (That's what keeps the men looking strong and vertical when the cold Canadian wind starts blowing in November -- and on through until May when the heat begins to settle in and no amount of starch can guarantee the sustainability of manliness.)
North of Waller County is the town of Farmersville. I avoid anything in the general vicinity of Dallas (except Fort Worth, a great town). So the news about Farmersville leaked through on public radio this morning. You can check it out in the Dallas Morning News if you like. An opener:
Jeb Bush is malingering at a mere 14% support and Scott Walker even less than that and most of the rest in that clown car are floundering in the single digits. What does this mean? Nothing. Unless you have the creepy sensation that Americans have dumped democracy in favor of entertainment.
The pundits love to talk about what Trump is really doing, because he can’t really be running to be president. Is he trying to boost his brand? Is he trying to make more money? But money-wise, this deal is a loser for Trump. He has lost his hit TV show and his Macy’s clothing line. Univision refused to air the Trump-owned Miss USA pageant. He is funding the campaign out of his own pocket.
What if—the most terrifying thought of all—the presidency, not approval or money or anything else, is what he really wants? “I’m in first place by a lot, it seems, according to all the polls,” Trump says, in his New York accent, with his usual facial expression: a sort of perpetually nonplussed duckface, like he is continually being impressed with himself anew. “We’ll see soon enough, but I think I’ll get the nomination.”
All of this leaves Ted Cruz -- who just knows he's what America really needs in the White House* -- pissed off and acting out. Also in The Atlantic, Russell Berman describes Cruz getting himself and his demon ego in trouble. He calls Senate Majority Leader a liar.
No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.
Cruz’s rant against his party leader was all the more notable because he has repeatedly refused to denounce Donald Trump’s critique of immigrants, or his later attack on John McCain, because, Cruz told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press: “I’m not interested in Republican-on-Republican violence.” That principled stand appears to have given way to Cruz’s desire for the votes that Trump is now hogging.
Thing is, the Republican party is in a state of embarrassing frustration. Just look at what they're up to:
On consecutive days last week, two Republican senators, both of whom are hoping to be the next President, released videos in which they destroyed stuff. First, Rand Paul went at a pile of paper, which he said was the United States tax code, with fire, a wood chipper, and a chain saw. (He wore safety goggles—he may be against regulations, but he’s also an ophthalmologist.) The next day saw Lindsey Graham attacking his Samsung flip phone with a cleaver, a blender, and a golf club. He also dropped a concrete block on it, threw it off a roof, and doused it with lighter fluid and ignited it. These videos suggest that Fox News, which is co-hosting the first G.O.P. Presidential debate, in Cleveland, on August 6th, should have in place firm rules regarding props, and that, perhaps, extra fire marshals should be deployed. With sixteen declared candidates, there is already a crowd-control problem; now the campaign threatens to be defined by demolition. ...AmyDavidson,NewYorker
Busy, busy, busy!
*Let me revise that. Ted Cruz is not likely to be satisfied with the White House. He has the look of a fella who just knows he's born and educated to be emperor of all he can see. The White House is just another short-term lake cabin rental for lesser beings.
Kevin Drum manages to offend... people on the right who could use more offending. Take their utterly ridiculous exercise of trying to nullify Obamacare. Take Senator Mike Lee (please) who somehow thinks attaching Obamacare to an unrelated bill to fund highway repairs will manage to kill a bill that gave Obama a political win.
So the plan is simple: have Republicans declare ex cathedra that repeal of Obamacare is germane to highway funding, and then pass Lee's amendment with 51 votes. It's brilliant! All that's missing are the sharks with lasers attached to their heads!
Aside from being mind-numbingly stupid1, it also won't work. Democrats will just filibuster the entire highway bill, or else they'll vote for it and then Obama will veto the entire mess. Result: Obamacare stays in place but our highways continue to crumble into dust. Nice work, Senator! It's good to see that the Republican Party remains committed to the sober, responsible kind of leadership that makes our great nation the envy of the world.
Senator Lee's latest foolishness comes down to a couple of footnotes contributed by Drum:
1It's times like this that I regret the recent banishment of "retarded" from polite conversation. Because I think we all know that it's the word that really fits here.2
2Though I suppose there's no reason to insult the developmentally disabled by comparing them to Mike Lee.
Some day, by the way, I'm going to boil over at our strange notion that banishing words also makes the offense they represent "disappear."
Hillary is slipping at an ever increasing rate in the polls while Bernie Sanders gains. Most discouraging for Clinton has to be the no-less dramatic upturn of her unfavorability ratings.
As Sanders gets better known, his popularity increases. Hillary Clinton is still ahead. But no longer written in indelible ink. What does that mean? Well, for now...
Clinton's national image has taken a slight turn for the worse, which is also evident in her image among Democrats. But she remains the only Democratic candidate for president with a national name, and Clinton continues to stand head and shoulders above her next closest competitor -- Sanders -- in popularity for the presidential nomination. ...Gallup
That's how we describe ourselves. But is it true? No, I mean apart from our crumbling transportation systems and schools, our unreliable application of justice, our income inequality?
How about our personal security?
On Thursday, in an interview with the BBC, the President stated, eloquently and succinctly, the basic circumstance of American case: “The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws. Even in the face of repeated mass killings.” He also pointed out that, in the years since the September 11th attacks, fewer than a hundred Americans have been killed by terrorism, and tens of thousands by gun violence. (One can only imagine what laws we would have instated had organized terrorists instead of random terror killed so many.) Indeed, Obama spoke to the BBC a few hours before the Louisiana shooting. Think of it: even as he was articulating his frustration at our collective failure to create common-sense gun laws to stop mass killings, another one was about to happen. Speak of gun deaths in the United States, and you are likely to superintend them. ...AdamGopnik,NewYorker
So we place a higher value on guns than on people. That's "advanced"? That evokes the image of "safety" and "security"?
First off: Are female police officers as guilty of bad arrests as males?
Then, too: Why don't we require traffic police to wear their own clothes -- no mark of "rank" that's implied in a uniform? Or, at least, a much lower-key style of uniform suggesting "fellow-citizen"? And in a color that's district-specific, not national in character?
And wear ID numbers pinned to their shirts/jackets? Readily visible to cameras?
And wear name tags with their own names and town-of-origin on their chests?
You think the '50's are long gone? Think again. Comparing Scott Walker with fellow Wisconsinite, Joe McCarthy, isn't a stretch. The same dangerous DNA is at work.
... He is not as outrageous as Donald Trump and Sen.Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), but his technique of scapegoating unions for the nation’s ills is no less demagogic. Sixty-five years ago, another man from Wisconsin made himself a national reputation by frightening the country about the menace of communists, though the actual danger they represented was negligible. Scott Walker is not Joe McCarthy, but his technique is similar: He suggests that the nation’s ills can be cured by fighting labor unions (foremost among the “big government special interests” hurting America), even though unions represent just 11 percent of the American workforce and have been at a low ebb. ...DanaMilbank,WaPo
Conservatives like to imagine that the great industrialists were the makers of American prosperity and the tradition is being carried on, today, by our "top ten percent." Actually, nothing could have been accomplished without the strong backs of nameless laborers. No oil. No coal. No steel. And no reliable and reasonably compensated labor without the union movement-- enabling increasingly prosperous members of the middle and working classes to buy the goods and give us a booming economy.
Scott Walker is out to destroy all this, entrenching a predatory corporate elite -- first in America and then, if he can pull it off, the rest of the world. He's ambitious and harbors little if any self-doubt.
Earlier this year, Walker likened the union protesters in Madison, Wisc., to the murderous Islamic State: “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.” ...DanaMilbank,WaPo
The New York Times is impressed by the content of the comments attached to its reports on Sandra Bland's arrest and death. This is probably the first time the editors have actually singled out comments and reprinted them in a fresh report. They make for some interesting reading -- interesting revelations about a very corrupt, very dangerous situation for the average American.
This comment is particularly eye-catching and one of the best comebacks for a defender of our criminal justice system. From "Moby" in France:
Let me get this straight : if one US citizen is assaulted somewhere in the World, then the US send its armies,its drones, its CIA, its NSA, its submarines, its aircraft carriers to right the wrong, and every one knows it.
But in the USA, its open season on US citizens by the ones with the badges, with 645 killed so far this year, with so many examples that are mind blowing when relating the cause ( minor offenses usually ) to the outcome ( death ).
What gives ? Try to imagine what would happen if anyone outside the USA were to kill 3 US citizens on a daily basis ... the media will be in a frenzy, and all hell would break loose. Nothing though in the US in those cases, with the occasional articles such as this one, but NOTHING done to prevent more of the same happening tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and so on.
What is puzzling is that not one candidate for the 2016 elections seem to see the need to address this issue forcefully : elected by the People for the People, but not caring one bit about the People. ...
Slightly exaggerated but largely true.
There must be a sea of difference between how a police officer should approach someone engaged in a violent crime, and someone merely driving their car .This is a major flaw in the law and in its enforcement ...This reminds me the answer M. Gandhi gave to a journalist who asked “What do you think of Western Civilization, Mr. Gandhi ?? “ The wise man responded “I think it would be a good idea “…