It’s not just Ted Kennedy, but the Kennedys just don’t have the best run of luck, or it could also be karma. However, the fact that President Obama is speaking in Ted Kennedy’s honor at Edward M. Kennedy Institute makes for a lot of distasteful humor because of one not-so-tiny, but selectively forgotten by Democrats and that is the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.

Ted Kennedy was driving the vehicle and Mary Jo was the passenger when it drove over a bridge at Chappaquiddick Island, and controversy has ensued every since then because Ted Kennedy didn’t report it for many hours later and somehow walked away without any responsibility and became a Senator for decades and now our President is singing his praises.

Obama said at the EMK Institute, “What if we carried ourselves more like Ted Kennedy?” Well, I bet a lot of criminals wish they carried themselves more like Ted Kennedy. Vice President Joe Biden said, “He was an anchor for many of us in our personal lives.” Oh the irony… Ted Kennedy’s Oldsmobile was also the anchor to Mary Jo Kopechne’s life.

You have to question the integrity and ethics of a person who praises and applauds a tainted character like Ted Kennedy. In the wise words of Dennis Miller, “If Ted Kennedy is such a gentleman, why does it take him nine hours to open a car door for a lady?” Now that would have been more of a truth for the President to say.

It’s been 55 years since Where The Boys Are; a comic novel about the then-new phenomenon of spring break, or spring vacation as it was called back then. The film based on the book became a huge hit for MGM and since then spring breaks have essentially been all about the money. And increasingly doing, or allowing to be done, whatever it takes to sell booze, hotel rooms, and cheap vacations for university students and others. That spring break has become increasingly outrageous and obscene over the years is no surprise: it merely collects in a confined space in certain tourist towns a concentrated sample of how people often behave nowadays when partying. And the reason is still quick profit. From selling alcohol to practically anyone who has the ability to ask for it, to condoning petty acts of vandalism. As well as lewd – as silly to many as that term may seem in 2015 – spring break has become increasingly violent. No surprise again given the no-holds-barred attitude on the part of those who profit from the booze-fed chaos.

Now we have 7 students shot at a party in Panama City Beach, in the Florida panhandle. Spring break of course, can be found anywhere a beach and reasonably warm weather in late March or early April can be found. Fort Lauderdale had endured decades of seasonal madness and has managed, starting in the late 80’s, to get rid of much of the excess by transforming spring break into a family friendly vacation time. Imagine that. Not in Panama City Beach however, where bar owners and their supporters on the local council have been loath to seriously crimp all the good times with some tougher local laws. Tougher? They rolled back last call from 4 AM to 2 AM, but were unable to build the political will to have bars close earlier than that. Maybe that will change with the shootings at a house party, but that remains to be seen. The house where the crime occurred has new tenants already, with cases of beer piled up on the porch, so the reports say.

Even if Panama Beach City does enact tougher bylaws, the great spring break wave will wash over to another beach town and the party will continue elsewhere. Drinking, or drugging, oneself into a stupor is seen, unfortunately, as a right by many today. And has been for decades now. And for many who lament the violence, the drinking and randy behavior is not the problem. It’s merely a matter of gun control from that point of view. The fact that out of control behavior can easily turn violent without a gun in sight is also overlooked by many. The only problem for them is that there was a shooting. So while Panama Beach City deals with the shooting, and the police there have done what appears to be commendable work, the underlying themes of how we feel we must enjoy ourselves will fizz for awhile in talk shows, 24/7 cable news, and social media, and then fizzle out. Because we can’t convince younger people to not behave the way many of us baby boomers did behave back when. It’s a genie that’s been out of the bottle for nearly 50 years, and 1985’s party animal, for example, now has to worry about whether his rebellious daughter stays safe on a beach somewhere. We don’t need Manichean confrontations in solving this problem – and it is a problem. We just need tougher local laws and less bending over to bar owners. That’s invasive for a sophomore who wants to let go after a rough winter term; yes it most definitely is. But if there ever was a slight justification for a nanny state, it’s to try and help keep kids barely out of their teens safe. Even as they ridicule us for attempting to do so.

The strategy of pursuing the Independent Payment Advisory Board, named the ‘Death Panel’, was not the most ideal method for dismantling Obamacare. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, recorded by the Goldwater Institute in Arizona, who described the bureaucratic DC advisory group as prompting seniors’ passings. It was a pointless bit of theater. While the Independent Panel Advisory Board, or IPAB, obliges a supermajority vote in Congress to override its choices and that implies less balanced governance, its choices are truly about adjusting a legislature program – Medicare – with all its standards and regulations, and the passing board moniker appeared a pointless bit of dramatization. Medicare is without a doubt a tremendous piece of human services spending; in 2011 it represented around 47% of inpatient clinic expenses while speaking to around 15% of the populace. What’s more, that is the way it was intended to be; giving state backing of the matured. Who gets it, how they get it and how they pay for it has been a long-standing level headed discussion. Should Medicare be improved? The answer is evident however discovering a harmony between giving human services to seniors, and permitting decision and rivalry to apportion social insurance spending is demonstrating practically outlandish.

The claim will be refiled obviously. The lower courts decided that until the IPAB begins settling on choices any suit is untimely. One trusts that the Goldwater Institute, by hopping the firearm, has not hurt their essential case (the suit was part into two sections: one over the IPAB and the other over a patients right to ‘therapeutic independence’ or the privilege to pick not to have Medicare and to not be fined for taking that choice). On the off chance that the aim was to attract thoughtfulness regarding the IPAB, the case has succeeded. On the off chance that the purpose was to diminish the force of a board that is not sufficiently responsible to Congress, the jury, actually, is out until the IPAB begins settling on a few choices. At that point we can hold up until SCOTUS administers on the new claim which will be recorded sooner or later, and we can include another layer of guidelines and regulations to the brush of those as of now in presence.

House Republicans have really rolled up their sleeves and gotten to work and delivered a budget plan that would balance the federal government’s books in a decade. That’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, … what were we talking about back in 2015? In other words, they passed the buck and kicked the can way down the road in what is a modest proposal by any rigorous fiscal standard. Defense spending increases were given a thumbs up, and it’s hard not to argue that these times are even more dangerous than whatever normal level of danger is out there. Defense spending is also opaque by necessity, but that doesn’t excuse the industry from a reasonable level of compliance with fiscal responsibility. Ensuring that, however, means industry lobbyists and defense insiders will practically brand you as a traitor to be voted out of office at the next election. Democrats, on the other hand, would have raised taxes by trillions and ensured spending, especially entitlement spending, matched the increased revenue and thus added to the deficit. The Senate has a similar plan to the GOP House budget plan, and in April the detailed work of hammering out a compromise proposal with its accompanying theatrics will begin in Washington.

The last time the budget was balanced, it was almost by accident. Back around 1994-5, the Clinton administration had had no idea that a soaring tech-fueled economy would create so much tax revenue – thank you Herbert Walker Bush – over the following years. Newt Gingrich ensured that spending did not go out of control in such heady times, and lo and behold, endless surpluses were being predicted by 1998. Things changed really quickly, to say the least. So the question now is: what will it take for the US Federal Government to produce a balanced budget? And when might it ever happen? Unlike the Clinton years, defense spending is not going to get cut back, so what is the possibility that social spending will ever be seriously trimmed? Some sort of attempt at rolling back Obamacare will indeed happen, as political theatre only. It will be vetoed by the Obama himself and the GOP can claim “we lived up to our promises.”

And finally, is this all insider Washington scheming with taxpayer dollars, or do a majority of voters in America reject balanced budgets? Between the theoretical and generalized goal of a balanced budget and the particulars of spending cutbacks in any given congressional district, the particulars often seem to win out. Perhaps a majority of voters are indeed ready to endure a little relative austerity in fiscal matters. But it will take a courageous and convincing voice to sell that reality to those voters who don’t really have the time, energy, or inclination to spend their evenings worrying about deficits. Which is most of us.

It’s hard to say exactly how many degrees of separation exist between Senator Joe McCarthy and the teenage kid of a low-income single parent in 2015 who has just dropped out of high school and is on his, yes his much more than her, way to a life of petty crime and poverty or worse. Those degrees of proximity, to put it another way, have something to do with Hollywood’s decades long assault on the fifties and that assault’s relationship to the House Un-American Activities Committee that bullied Hollywood producers to compile and enforce their infamous blacklists of artists suspected, or falsely accused, of left-wing leanings. It’s hard to imagine that the blacklist did not have, and even still has, a profound effect on the movie and television industry. And so today, and for the last few decades, almost everything about the fifties has been portrayed as repressive and repressed.

America changed in the sixties and part of the enormous cultural (more than political) changes involved the disintegration of the family and the emergence of the single-parent family unit. And what may have seemed liberating according to radical academics, turned into a long-lasting problem, especially for the kids. In two separate studies reviewed by Michael Barone in the Washington Examiner, Robert Putnam and Charles Murray, each in separate books, analyze the disadvantages that a child of a single parent tends to face in America. They tend to do worse in school, are more likely to be involved in some sort of criminal activity, will earn less, and will be unhappier. Notwithstanding exceptions to this trend, it is none the less a real consequence for many single-parent kids. And what to do about it is a real issue.

Studies have shown that the divorce rates and single-parent statistics that accelerated in the 60’s and affected all classes stabilized and improved around the 80’s for middle and upper income families, but not for lower income families. That means that lower income kids face the additional hurdle of a lack of a stable nuclear family. And perhaps Hollywood has something to do with it. More with a possible solution, than as a cause. We celebrate and poke into the dark side of life in almost every corner of the media and entertainment worlds nowadays. Somehow authenticity is inevitably linked to violence, both emotional and physical, and conflict. We are all scarred apparently and anyone who presents optimistic outcomes in their storytelling is anachronistic and false. Perhaps that’s slowly changing. And perhaps more positive outcomes in Hollywood storytelling reflects a general fatigue with the stagnant and resentful emotional puddles we have been encouraged to wallow in for some time now. Its ok apparently to show happy endings in animated kid’s films, and perhaps we grown ups will allow ourselves the opportunity to share in stories that uplift us a little rather than drag us through endless nightmares. And maybe, just maybe, showing a stable nuclear family with it’s warts and all, as something good, rather than a repressive structure that has to be fled from by some teenaged hero or heroine, will start to be fashionable again. Hollywood should never forget McCarthyism. Hollywood, rather, should remember the nuclear family a little more. It might help us all, more than we realize.

Voteniks and Classic Rock


Filed Under Latest News on Mar 20 

If everybody voted, as Obama said during a speech in Cleveland, then Democrats would benefit and money would lose out. Aside from wondering exactly what money the President was referring to – K street over Wall street one would assume, but check with Hillary first please – there is the issue of how likely and how legal obligatory voting would be under the US Constitution. Among legal scholars, and constitutional experts, there seems to be a fair amount of agreement over the interpretation of voting rights that suggests there is no explicit guarantee of the right to vote in the US Constitution. There are several amendments – the 15th, the 19th, and the 26th – that prohibit discrimination against voters based on age, sex, and race. Some, like the Cato Institute’s Roger Pilon has stated that the right to vote is “so implicit as to be all but explicit.” But there is no explicit guarantee of the right to vote. And some critics have labelled the right to vote as the stepchild of American Rights, shivering in the cold outside the warm glow of the Bill of Rights, where it has no abode.

Is this is a problem that needs to be fixed? And can it be fixed, even assuming that it needs to be? According to Professor Atkins of Rutgers, opting out of voting is a matter of free speech and thus any legislation that proposed to make voting mandatory in America would face First Amendment challenges in the courts, and probably would receive a sympathetic hearing in the Supreme Court. According to most legal experts interviewed on the matter, obligatory voting is likely to remain merely an idea and it is very unlikely that any individual State, for example, would actually implement legislation requiring voters to appear at the polls. It seems almost certain that many voters would recoil at the idea of being forced to vote, and not just because it would take away the option of not showing up and letting all sides of any contest – state, local, or federal – know that a certain percentage of voters are unhappy with the general state of affairs. It would take away the positive individual motivation for any voter to get out to the ballot box because he or she feels they have a stake in any given election and any given issues around that particular election. It takes away a vital liberty: the liberty to choose to vote, or to choose not to vote. Under mandatory legislation, voting becomes an enforced act where the voter has to give a thumbs up to one of only a handful of options. Think of it as taking away the option of being a votenik. Like a pacifist refusing to do violence for his or her country; something Obama and most obligatory-vote supporters likely have a soft spot for. Under obligatory voting laws, a votenik would refuse to endorse any of the current contenders in any given election. Perhaps voteniks could burn their voter registration cards and sing classics like ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, before getting dragged off in squad cars and dumped outside their local polling station. Fortunately, the odds of such scenes being played out under the shadow of an obligatory voting law are next to nil. The freedom not to vote is an essential liberty in America and will likely stay that way.

Not everyone recognizes the smell of cannabis, but many if not most people in America do. That’s thanks to the 70’s where what was being done by a very visible minority of mostly well to do kids “experimenting” in the 60’s, became almost obligatory in many social events in the decades that followed. And if the current trend continues, then marijuana and it’s invasive odor will become even more familiar as more states, and perhaps the federal government, decriminalize, and even allow it’s recreational use in some cases. The battle between liberals and libertarians vs. institutions like the DEA and conservatives opposed to the drug will continue in the courts and in the jails as users get caught in the crossfire, and police and the courts continue to prosecute in many jurisdictions. The hypocrisy between the accepted progressive view that tobacco is evil, (a view supported by science), and that cannabis is perversely wholesome and somehow natural and beneficial, will increase and continue until science increasingly starts testing cannabis users to determine what diseases and other effects the drug produces.

Someday a Surgeon General’s report will outline the dangers and little by little bylaws and in its wake, perhaps a new moral condemnation will marginalize the drug once again. But that’s likely years away at this point. Imagine in Alaska, say, a mother going to pick up her 4 year old from daycare and noticing the smell of cannabis on the breath of one of the women charged with caring for the toddlers entrusted to her. Perhaps she will even have a medical reason for using the substance. The horrified mother will launch a complaint which will wind it’s way through the courts and perhaps the FDA and various departments of health and workplace safety will weigh in. A whole host of regulations, themselves to be challenged perhaps at a future date, will be crafted and BBC World reporters will rush to Anchorage or Juneau or wherever to gleefully report on the conflict. Between the science, and the regulations, and the ethics and morality, we still have a drug. How we classify it, and how we accept or reject it’s use will depend on changing social mores and the battle between the DEA and State governments that decriminalize cannabis. Let us keep in mind that, like tobacco, like alcohol, and yes like cocaine, cannabis is a drug. And that driver coming the other way on a 2 lane in winter who may have smoked some, will not be as good a driver. Nor will a nurse, nor will a social worker, or teacher, or your accountant getting your taxes right, display the same control and competence. If cannabis is to become recreational, and as the federal government considers decriminalizing it, the limits on it’s use must be severely clear to all. Because, as with alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, and other drugs, it is much more than a question of individual liberties. As cannabis is reclassified from schedule II to schedule I, we should remember that we don’t have the freedom to put anything we want into our bodies whenever and wheresoever we want, and for a good reason: we can harm others and ourselves in the process. The road to decriminalization and possible recreational use should be a long and winding one.

After considering that Hillary faces no opposition within her own party – Elizabeth Warren seems to have quietly moved away from any political stage from which she may have possibly, perhaps, launched a rival bid for the nomination – it begs the question of whether she actually welcomes the email scandal. At least it keeps her in the news and allows her base – make that wealthy donors and Democratic party stalwarts as well as voters who think she deserves a shot – to try and get riled up over something, anything. Byron York described her campaign as dead, as in how much teeming competitive life could be found anywhere near any of her carefully controlled public appearances. That’s in stark contrast to the packed field of GOP contenders who fight between themselves for every percentage point in the latest poll, and are continually forced to define who they are, and what kind of president they might be in front of an often hostile press. That’s basically a boot camp for the latter stages of the campaign – the sprint after the party convention.

Basically, Hillary seems tired. It’s not a question of age; it’s a lack of fire in the belly. Not a lack of anger or fastidiousness. She seems to have plenty of that. A lack of honest passion over the current state of politics in America. Elizabeth Warren seems to have plenty, but at this stage and unless she actually decides to run, it’s a mute point. So perhaps Hillary is grateful for the email scandal as it gives her a chance to practice what actually facing the press might be like. Her tactics, however, are those of a veteran lawyer, and not a politician. And there is a difference between the two. By attempting to avoid the possibility of controversy – a motivation behind her use of a private email server as Secretary of State in the first place – she unfortunately paints the picture of a someone who operates in a hermetically sealed star chamber with only trusted veteran aides allowed in. That’s hardly a surprising method when it comes to presidential candidates, but if you want to be president – and that means surviving the election campaign – that’s not enough. You also need to take the heat. So perhaps Hillary should start giving press conferences on the email scandal and test her mettle in front of the press. Before it’s too late.

Nothing is a surprise anymore. There should no longer be any question about the celebrity attention President Obama seeks. Last night, the Celebrity in Chief appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and participated in a celebrity segment called “Mean Tweets.” According to ABC, ” It’s important to remember that Presidents are people too.   From time to time, Jimmy Kimmel gives celebrities a chance to read some of the mean things people tweet about them.  And tonight, he extended that same courtesy to our Commander in Chief.  ”

It’s about time liberal media addressed the celebrity that is our President. You can watch the video to see the President preparing for his acting career in Hollywood at the end of his presidency. We have a President that turns America’s gripes into comedy, which is more insulting to viewers than humorous. Enough is enough.

Maybe two Harvard Law School graduates jabbing one another may not appear to be critical circumstances. In any case when it’s David Frum versus David French and the subject is gun control, then guns, life and liberty are all in play. As the Florida House passes a bill permitting School Superintendents to assign people to carry a concealed weapon on school premises, the spat between the two last year rings a bell. Concealed weapons are a right in every one of the 50 states be that as it may, as in the Florida policy which will need to go through an evidently unenthusiastic State Senate. The insights concerning the who and the how are significantly more laborious than the media leads on.

On the account of Florida, the people assigned by School Superintendents will need to have military and/or law enforcement experience and complete special training at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Basically, it’s about having the sort of protection at every school, that ordinarily arrives in squad cars minutes after any shooting or tragedy happens. The one Subcommittee member who voted against the proposition, requested to instead have an experienced cop designated to each school in Florida.

David Frum from the Atlantic depicted the NRA as an association that guarantees “to put the means of self-emancipation from a dangerous world right into one’s own hands.” That’s a direct Frum quote. David French writing in the National Review reminded Frum that we can’t be completely dependent on the state to secure us, or our companions, family, and neighbors, from this dangerous world. In the division between the defenseless protected, and the proactive defenders, David French defended the case of the defenders. Ultimately, French is stating that the state has failed to offer the local citizens a sensible level of security, and that the issue lies within the state itself, not the policy. Also the outcome to that will be that any endeavor at state control over individual firearm proprietorship rights is an attack on one’s liberty to protect one’s family and home. It’s hardly an optimistic or rational position. It is safe to say that it is a reasonable position to take in today’s circumstances? Obviously, David Frum would love a long and wonky argument on criminal logistics and gun ownership to attest that the NRA’s position is a misguided one.

For David French, it’s straightforward: in the event that somebody endangered you and your family, would you depend just on the police or opt to protect yourself as well? Progressively in today’s reality, whether right or wrong, self-protection is seen as a valuable right, in the same way as any other valuable right. There will always be debate, particularly in regards to public safety. While Frum may strike others as more rational, where personal or public safety is at concern, it seems French’s ideas prevail.

Despite the spreading scandal over Hillary’s private email account, and her much-delayed response of “trust me,” the recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has more voters saying she will provide new ideas as opposed to Jeb Bush. 44% say Hillary will bring new ideas vs. 27% for Jeb. And 51% say Hillary is a return to the past compared to 60% for Jeb. who has never been directly involved in federal politics to the extent that Hillary has as First Lady and Secretary of State, as well as Senator. Is Howard Kurtz right in saying that to the extent that voters are nostalgic, they prefer a return to the Clinton years rather than to the George W. Bush years?

Part of that difference is that the GOP race is wide open and Jeb Bush has to contend with everyone from Rubio to Walker to Carson to Cruz and even a Lindsay Graham who may prove to be credible contender. But it is more than just a crowded field, it’s Jeb Bush himself. Right now, big money GOP donors seem far more comfortable with Jeb’s centrist position on issues like immigration and education than do conservative voters. Some donors apparently have liberal positions on gay marriage for example, and even supported Obama in the previous election. In other words, some of the money funding Bush is far more liberal than many of the GOP voters currently are. So while Democrats and voters at large will have to deal with any discomfort over how secretive and controlling a President Hillary would be, GOP voters have to decide how conservative a President Jeb would be. And that means in terms of the policies he promotes. As an individual Jeb Bush is clearly a conservative, but an old fashioned one to whom the very word may mean something different than it does to a Tea Party supporter, for example.

And maybe that’s why big money is tending to support Jeb. They see him, as has been pointed out, as an antidote to the Tea Party, who get the blame for any GOP defeat at the polls, and get forgotten soon after any GOP victory at the polls. The Republican Party establishment wants Jeb Bush not just to win the nomination and the election, they want him to bury the Tea Party by showing that his centrist positions combined with a low-key pragmatic conservatism is what wins elections. So the problem for Jeb, as his donors see it and perhaps as Jeb’s team sees it as well, is not how to placate the Tea Party, but how to marginalize them. The latest polls suggest that Jeb and his team have a lot of work to do.

Of course Lindsay Graham is having fun. He’s not even on the radar as far as polling for GOP presidential candidates is concerned. So he can go to New Hampshire and wow them with his experience and his no-nonsense answers that ignore poll-friendly rhetoric, and be a more affable version of Senator McCain. He doesn’t have to deal with the tag-team attacks, like Scott Walker, by Washington Examiner journalists over his answers in Iowa on ethanol, always a tricky issue. Comparing Walker’s stance on ethanol to his possible weakness as a leader against terrorists like ISIS is like playing hardball before the lights have even really been turned on in the ball park. But that’s the way it should be for a front runner for the GOP nominee. And that’s the way it should be for Lindsay Graham as well. He has earned the respect and enmity of many for his bipartisan and independent stances on domestic issues and for his hawkishness on foreign policy issues. To somehow have charted an independent course as a GOP judiciary committee member during Clinton’s impeachment proceedings, for example, is a measure of who he is and who he might be as president.

The fact that hardly any voters or donors consider Graham a feasible candidate at this point is also fine. Lindsay Graham is a known commodity, at least as a senator, and a dark horse, to say the least, as a candidate. In some ways it’s the best of both worlds for the senator from South Carolina. He has the freedom to be who he is and say what he thinks. And little by little, he may actually start to appear in some polls. As his visibility as a potential contender increases, so will the tag team media attacks. At that point we will get to have a good look at Lindsay Graham the presidential candidate under fire. One hopes that he responds by doing exactly what he’s doing at this early stage in the nominee race: giving answers that are too good natured to be labelled blunt, unlike Ted Cruz, but are as about as direct as you can get. The process needs Lindsay Graham, if only as a reminder of what an optimistic and fresh approach, even if it comes from a veteran senator, is like.

It’s all about Hillary. Everything nowadays leads back to Hillary. Jeb Bush is now just behind Scott Walker in the latest Quinnipiac University Poll at 16% to Walkeer’s 18%. Why? The numbers also show that Hillary beats Bush 45 – 42 while she beats Walker 48 – 39. And Hillary leads Democrat presidential rivals Joe Biden 5 to 1 and Liz Warren 4 to 1, among Democrats. So we all know Hillary will be the Democrat nominee and we all know the GOP has to find someone to beat Hillary. And we all know donors want a winner, rather than a specific platform, as much as they might have certain issues they feel strongly about.

The problem is that the woman behind all this fuss is building a campaign shrouded in secrecy. The current email scandal is more an indication of how Hillary does business than a shocking revelation of some corrupt or venal act. And it’s how Hillary has always done business. From the failed attempt at Health Care reform in 93 – criticized by the NY Times for being secretive as well as self-righteous – to her refusal to release information to investigators during Whitewater, Travelgate, or the Lewinsky scandals, Hillary likes to keep any and all facts away from any prying eyes, whether prosecutors or journalists. It’s an obsession that may be founded in legal tactics, but has far greater implications if she comes to occupy the Oval Office. While Rep. Roskam, R-Ill, compared her habit of secrecy to Nixon’s habit of erasing compromising tapes, the comparison is a lively way of reminding us of how she does business, and nothing more. Richard Nixon was an accomplished statesman who had to manage the Vietnam War while balancing America’s relations with the Soviets and the Chinese. He accomplished far more than he is given credit for and had years of experience that he put to good use.

Maybe Roskam should have compared Hillary to LBJ. Also a great statesman whatever one’s opinion on his Great Society. Apparently he stripped Air Force One of it’s interior furnishings after landing in Texas for the final time. That compares nicely with stories about Hillary stripping the White House of valuable furniture and artifacts after the Clinton’s time in D.C. was up. That was despite concern expressed by White House usher Gary Walters that the items belonged to the White House. They were part of a 1993 re-decoration but the fact that Hillary ordered them with taxpayer money hardly means were her personal property. The first lady’s aide at the time, Eric Hothem, may have managed the removal and storage of these items back in 2000. Hothem is, interestingly, the person who was the registered owner of, the private server Hillary used for government business as Secretary of State. As long as the email scandal does not get too nasty, you can bet Holthem will be a key aide to a President Hillary. And that it will likely be a bad-tempered, secretive administration with a policy core that no one is really clear on. Like Hillary herself. The Iowa caucuses are almost a year away, but the political and media establishments seem to have decided that Hillary will be the Democrat nominee. And the GOP and their donors seem to have one goal in mind: beat Hillary. Let’s hope they have a clear and strong platform from which to launch their Hillary mission.

Here’s a nice new project John and Nancy can work on together, seeing they are getting very good at closing deals. As in legislative deals where Democratic Party votes help pass legislation for the GOP House Speaker. For example, Democratic Representative Michael Capuano D-Mass said “this bill is my idea of a perfect situation” referring to the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act, which does some cautious pruning of Amtrak’s money-losing lines and other reforms, and was voted nay by conservatives who said it did far too little in trying to save taxpayer money. So perhaps John and Nancy can put together a revised, revitalized, reinvigorated high-speed train from Monterey to San Antonio. There’s already rumors the long-planned project might be put back on track, so to speak. As Rep Cuellar, D-Texas, after a meeting with Transportation Secretary Foxx last August said, “I think we’re going to get it done.” And of course, customs pre-clearance is an important part of the project.

With Obama’s executive action on amnesty still standing, and with DHS fully funded, think of the reduction in border delays offered by a new high speed rail line linking Mexico with Texas and the rest of the country. You could have a steady stream of illegal immigrants whisked into the heart of Texas and putting their hard-earned pesos to work helping to subsidize the enormously expensive project, instead of paying coyotes to take them across the Rio Grande. Perhaps the Chinese and the French could provide consulting services. Now the only detail to be cleared up, aside from who will get the enormous construction, engineering, and design sub-contracts, is how to make pre-customs affirmative and fair and welcoming. Let’s be honest. Who else in Monterey would get aboard a train to Texas aside from illegals hoping to start a new life in America? The people with money in Mexico will drive or fly and tourists and train lovers could go the other way south. But it will be illegals, working hand in hand with taxpayers who will help subsidize their voyage north on the rails, who will be the principal customers of a new high speed rail line. So let’s get to it John and Nancy. You have a wonderful long-term legacy-building mega=project beckoning on the US-Mexico border. How can you resist?

It’s good to know that worker health and safety advocates are looking out for porn industry actors. A Los Angeles county law that requires actors in X-rated films to wear condoms was promoted by the Aids Healthcare Foundation and its president Michael Weinstein hoped that, in the case of a further appeal by Vivid Entertainment, which lost a challenge in the lower courts, that the courts would “rule once again in favor of worker safety.” In other words, the issue is one of health and safety regulations essentially, and obscenity is for all intents and purposes irrelevant. There are limits to the First Amendment of course, but they are being pushed and stretched and broken with each passing decade, under the banner of “community standards.” The Miller test from the Supreme Courts’ 1973 case seems quaint today: “the average person, applying community standards, would find the work as a whole appeals to the prurient interest.” Give me a break. The porn industry exists because it caters to the prurient interest. The second part that assures the work does not depict offensive acts against state laws still carries weight but the third clause that the work lacks serious artistic, as well as literary, political, and scientific value is laughable. You rent, buy, or download porn for prurient reasons. There is no other value, nor is there intended to be.

But the overwhelming preoccupation with preserving free speech trumps all when it comes to porn. Even laws that attempt to defend children from the horrors of child pornography have to ensure they do not offend the free-speech absolutists: as in Ashcroft vs The Free Speech Coalition, which invalidated the Child Pornography Prevention Act, because it allowed prohibition of child pornography that did not depict an actual child. Think about it. For it to be prohibited you must have a small child, defenseless and under the power of very sick adults in some sort of sexual situation or a depiction of such a situation. An absolutist defender of all forms of free speech is an idiot and a dangerous idiot. Society’s wisdom should consist in choosing where to defend free expression and where to censure. We do so with hate crimes, with discrimination in its many guises, and with defamation, with far too much concern on the latter. But when it comes to pornography, the defenders of absolute free speech see themselves as knights-errant in a Manichean struggle of well, absolutes. But they are mistaken, delirious in their self-appointed struggle. Placing limits on pornography does not mean the Taliban is around the corner in Los Angeles or Nevada, or Texas or New Jersey, or any state. It means a considered choice by society, made through the legal system, to place limits on something that can be both degrading and dangerous. I suspect the founding fathers would recoil at how the legal machinery they set in motion has arrived at rulings like Ashcroft vs. The Free Speech Coalition. But we have no choice but to use and turn that machinery towards something more just, more protective of families and children and to keep clear limits on X-rated entertainment for consenting adults. Because it never stops at consenting adults. Within the industry, and within society at large, porn is, in the words of Martin Amis, an attack on love and a repudiation of the significance of sex. The industry exploits women, drug use is a problem, and AIDS can and does infect the participants. And that’s just in the adult world. Daddy on the laptop viewing hard core porn. Young teens using the language of pornography, both physical and verbal. And worse. There is no liberation, no freedom from Victorian constraints, only instant gratification and alienation from real, nurturing relationships, and degradation in small and large degrees. Someday we will have justices that realize and advocate this.