Back in Ukiah, there’s this pond near by house. In truth, it’s not really a pond; it’s just a reservoir for the nearby vineyard. It’s been dry for most of the last few years, but this spring break when I returned I saw that it was incredibly full – almost overflowing! Such good news.
I’m no fan of Marco Rubio. In many ways, his policies are even more extreme than the vast majority of the Republican Party, despite his favored position in the establishment (he opposes abortion even in the case of rape, for example). However, I thought he gave a very powerful (and surprisingly gracious) concession speech after losing Florida to Donald Trump in last night’s primary, particularly this line:
“In our veins runs the blood of people who gave it all up so we would have the chances they never did. We are all the descendants of someone who made our future the purpose of their lives.”
Interesting despite the fervent anti-immigration sentiment currently popular among people participating in the GOP primary this year, two of the three candidates left are children of immigrants and the third one is the grandchild of immigrants.
The New York Times on Hollywood’s “inclusion problem,” a problem that goes far beyond not nominating any minorities for the Oscars:
“The study found that women and girls made up less than 34 percent of speaking characters in movies and scripted series. The share was worse in films: About 29 percent of the parts went to female actors.
Minority groups represented a little more than 28 percent of speaking characters in films and series, about 10 percent less than their share of the general population, according to the study. Just 2 percent were identified as L.G.B.T.
Women were heavily outnumbered by men behind the camera, making up about 15 percent of directors, about 29 percent of writers and about 23 percent of series creators, the study found.”
There used to be a common saying (that I hear less of recently) – “my head is with Hilary, but my heart is with Bernie.” The notion was that while us progressives wanted policies that looked like Bernie’s, we knew that they were unrealizable dreams. I used to think that, too. But I have recently come to realize how thoroughly unworkable his plans are, and honestly, I don’t even think I want his policies as dreams.
The independent Tax Policy Center conducted an analysis of Sanders’s tax plan (emphasis mine):
“He estimates his “Medicare for all” health plan alone would cost nearly $1.4 trillion annually. To help finance it, he’s proposing a 6.2 percent employer tax, which he calls an “income-based health care premium” (and which would likely be passed on to workers). And a 2.2 percent income-based tax on most households. And income tax rate hikes on income in excess of $250,000, with a top rate of 52 percent, a level the US has not seen since 1981. And big rate hikes on most investment income, which would be taxed at the same rate as wages. And he’d expand the estate tax and cap the value of deductions at 28 percent for those making $250,000 or more.
And even with the wildly optimistic tax revenue projections his campaign releases, there’d still be a big revenue shortfall that would have to be covered by other tax increases. Politifact also notes:
“With Sanders’ proposed taxes, costs would need to be trimmed by roughly 42 to 47 percent — a tall order when “the most generous estimates of how much you could cut cost are on the order of 20 percent,” said Sherry Glied, a professor of health policy and economics at New York University who’s served in the George H.W. Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations.”
As a fiscally conservative progressive, there’s just no way I could support Sanders with a clear conscience.
Justin Keller, founder of the start-up Commando.io (never heard of it) wrote a highly objectionable blog post complaining about the plight of the wealthy tech workers who have to endure the sight of the “riff-raff” in San Francisco (emphasis mine):
“The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.”
Complaining instead of showing compassion? Check. Not considering one’s own role in the process? Check. Having loads of self-entitlement? Check.
From Janell Ross at the Washington Post on the Spanish fracas between Cruz and Rubio:
“There is a dark period in American history. It’s one to which some Americans seem eager to return. It’s one when people were barred, shamed or even punished for speaking languages other than English. That was especially true outside the home.
Speaking a foreign language or limited English was very widely believed to be an indicator of suspect national loyalty, limited intelligence or ability. Speaking a foreign language simply was not regarded as a useful skill.”
If there’s one thing that’s consistently baffled me since I came to this country, it’s the weird attitude towards foreign languages many people have. Bilingualism just isn’t emphasized to the same extent in America as it is in Europe or post-colonial Asian countries.
The L.A. Times on the new proposal to teach the issue of “comfort women” in Californian history textbooks:
The new language on “comfort women” marks the first proposal to teach what has been a long-contentious political issue in East Asia in high school classrooms in the U.S. It has the potential to widely influence how textbooks address the topic.
The guidelines recommend that the subject of “comfort women” be taught to high schoolers “as an example of institutionalized sexual slavery, and one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century.”
Personally, I hope that secondary school history teachers spend more time encouraging students to understand the complex nature of history rather than essentializing an incredibly complicated time period down to one or two paragraphs. Yes, it’s important that more Americans know about the issue, but no one’s going to get a good understanding from the small side blurbs Asian history is usually reduced to in American history textbooks. Furthermore, it ignores the long and intimate relationship wartime soldiers had with prostitution and potentially coerced sexual services.
Much has been written about the sheer amounts of money flowing into political campaigns in the post-Citizens United era. However, to a certain extent money’s role is still heavily circumscribed by the fact that people actually make decisions and don’t necessarily believe every ad they see and hear (something I keep telling my far-left friends). The individual’s role is still present in the modern political system, I believe. Certainly not as prominent as it was in say, Lincoln’s day, but then again fewer individuals could vote then.
“Cruz’s third-place finish also reflected badly on Rubio and Bush. Cruz spent less than $600,000 in the state yet finished ahead of fourth-place Bush who, between his super PAC and campaign, spent as much as $36 million on television. Rubio spent about $15 million and finished in a close fifth.”
Based on the numbers coming in from the NYT with 84% of precincts reporting, that means Jeb(!) Bush and his associated SuperPACs spent upwards of $1,200 per voter and still came in fourth. Rubio spent a comparatively frugal $560+ per vote. And Cruz? Just north of $20 per vote.
I don’t know many fellow progressives/liberals who read conservative sites or publications, but I do occasionally. It’s always interesting to get a feel of the conservative zeitgeist as this reality-TV-show-like Republican primary continues.
Jonathan Last of The Weekly Standard had an interesting take on Jeb(!)’s frequent comparisons of Rubio to Obama. At the time of running, both of them are young first-term senators that straddle the divide between party elites and a more idealist electorate:
“One wonders how effective the comparisons of Rubio to Obama are. After all, Republicans might not like Obama’s accomplishments, but liberals are thrilled with them. Seen by liberal lights, Obama was spectacularly effective as president. If you offered most Republicans the chance to have a conservative version of the Obama years, I suspect they’d take that deal in a heartbeat.”
“[Chinese] places could and should be filled with worthier immigrants — Europeans, who would take the oath of allegiance to the country, work both for themselves and for the commonwealth, fraternize with us, and, finally, become a part of us. All things considered, I cannot perceive what more right or business these semi-barbarians have in California than flocks of blackbirds have in a wheat field; for, as the birds carry of the wheat without leaving any thing of value behind, so do the Confucians gather the gold, and take it away with them to China, without compensation to us who opened the way to it.” * Hinton Rowan Helper (1829-1909)
(Funny thing, given that Helper was a noted abolitionist. The number of times I’ve had to remind people today – just because one was opposed to slavery did not mean one did not harbor prejudicial views.)