Thursday, August 11, 2016

Three Visions of Government


From David Brooks interview with Charlie Rose on Tuesday (you know how much we moderate Democrats love Brooks).

We have one liberal movement that believes in using government to create more equality. Then we have a conservative movement to reduce government to enhance more freedom. But in American history there's been a third movement... Hamilton, the Whig Party the early Republican Party through Teddy Roosevelt... which was using limited but energetic government to enhance social mobility, to give poor boys and girls a change to rise and succeed..that tradition is out there, waiting to be embraced.

Maybe that movement will arise from the wreckage of the Republican party after the election. Then again, maybe not.


Friday, August 5, 2016

A Little History


A few summers ago I read Stacy's Schiff's excellent biography of Cleopatra. It's a life Hollywood couldn't have dreamed up. The ancient queen, singlehandedly withstood the relentless pressure of the greatest empire in history, mostly by enthralling the supreme warrior of that empire in a prison of eroticism and desire. With Caeser's murder, alas, her destiny reversed. Marc Antony  proved to be an effete champion, and an idiot tactician in choosing  to battle Augustus at sea.

For this reader, Schiff's account of the Battle of Actium is instructive not so much for the details of the battle itself but for the relentless and decisive effect of Augustus' pressure beforehand. Large parts of Antony's force were only in it for the money; as his chances grew dimmer,  the desertions increased in tandem. Cassius Dio writes:

Philadelphus, king of Paphlagonia, and meanwhile Gnaeus Domitius... transferred his allegiance also... he created the impression that it was because of his disapproval of the situation on the side on which he was that he had deserted to the other, for many others followed his example...

In the critical moment Antony fled the battle with Cleopatra, breaking through Agrippa's line for Alexandria. A year later, he paid for his choice with his life.

The anniversary of the battle of Actium is September 2. By then, how large will have grown the abandonment of the Antony of our day? How great will his cowardice prove to be?


Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Choice


Republicans across the country , including several of our loved ones, continue to struggle mightily with the increasingly ominous implications of their party's nominee for President. I don't need to add to the Greek chorus of voices predicting the maelstrom to come should Trump ascend to the Presidency. And I have no desire to denigrate the conservative's sense of horror and disgust should Secretary Clinton be the chosen one. That is what many millions of my countrymen believe. It's a fool's errand to try and convince them otherwise. Even this Hilary supporter won't argue; her flaws are numerous, her character, at least her public character, remains hard to embrace.

But the events of the last few weeks have placed the Hobson's choice for Republicans front and center. The choice isn't about their beliefs; their candidate has none save his own insatiable need for self-aggrandizement.. It isn't about the end of their way of life, which won't change much. It isn't about the ongoing economic agonies of white working class America. They are unlikely  to improve if Mr Trump takes the oath next Jan 20th, and perhaps not if Mrs Clinton does.

It is simply, about this; will they take the unprecedented risk of placing the full power and promise (yes there is still plenty of promise in America) in a fellow so devoid of conscience or basic decency?


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Calling Bill Moyers


From CNBC:

Donald Trump asked a foreign policy expert advising him why the U.S. can't use nuclear weapons, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough said on the air Wednesday, citing an unnamed source who claimed he had spoken with the GOP presidential nominee.

"Several months ago, a foreign policy expert on the international level went to advise Donald Trump. And three times [Trump] asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked at one point if we had them why can't we use them," Scarborough said on his "Morning Joe" program.
Scarborough then asked a hypothetical question to Hayden about how quickly nuclear weapons could be deployed if a president were to give approval.

"It's scenario dependent, but the system is designed for speed and decisiveness. It's not designed to debate the decision," Hayden said .

So many excellent ways to attack Trump. This one is ripe for Bill Moyers.