Monthly Archives: April 2016

Gun deaths and public life

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 4/23/16

In the midst of election turmoil and craziness, it can be discouraging to pay close attention to what goes on in public life. There is so much self-interest, hypocrisy, and meanness. But then, we need to remember that real issues underlie elections and we can take our lead from those candidates and activists who promote a genuine vision of the public interest.

Among the most noteworthy of these, to me, are individuals fighting to prevent gun violence in this country. After years of carnage, our senses are dulled by so much shooting. Where was that shooting? How many dead in that one? What kind of gun? A relative accidentally shot a 4-year-old girl in Philadelphia and someone killed 8 sleeping members of a family in Ohio (Daily Local, April 16 and 23). In a few days, we won’t even remember.

But we all surely remember in 2012 when a deranged 20-year-old killed 20 elementary school students and 6 school staff, after killing his mother (who had enabled his gun habit) and before killing himself. The even worse news is that that one morning of terror accounted for only about one-third of this country’s average of 90 gun deaths a day. (More than half of those are suicides carried out by people who should have treatment, not access to guns.)

Many people in the Sandy Hook community, including parents who had lost children in the massacre, banded together to try to save others from having the same tragic experience….

continue reading at Politics: A View from West Chester

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Filed under Guns, violence, crime

The Endgame of 2016′s Anti-Establishment Politics

by Robert Reich, 4/25/16

Will Bernie Sanders’s supporters rally behind Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination? Likewise, if Donald Trump is denied the Republican nomination, will his supporters back whoever gets the Republican nod?

If 2008 is any guide, the answer is unambiguously yes to both. About 90 percent of people who backed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries that year ended up supporting Barack Obama in the general election. About the same percent of Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney backers came around to supporting John McCain.

But 2008 may not be a good guide to the 2016 election, whose most conspicuous feature is furious antipathy to the political establishment.

Outsiders and mavericks are often attractive to an American electorate chronically suspicious of political insiders, but the anti-establishment sentiments unleashed this election year of a different magnitude. The Trump and Sanders candidacies are both dramatic repudiations of politics as usual….

continue reading at Robert Reich

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Filed under Progressive movement, US President

Netanyahu’s Mind – An Analysis (22 April 2016)

by Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analyses

Part I – The “Fresh Perspective”

Dan Illouz is an Israeli lawyer and a former legal adviser to both the Knesset’s leadership coalition and the Israeli Foreign Ministry. He is also a big fan of Prime Minister Netanyahu. On 13 April 2016 he wrote an opinion piece for the Jerusalem Post entitled, “A Fresh Perspective: Understanding Netanyahu’s Mind.”

Among the many synonyms of “fresh” offered by your average on-line dictionary are “unusual” and “undeveloped.” Though Illouz would certainly not agree that these terms fit his effort to explain the prime minister’s consciousness, it turns out that they actually do. For instance, there is his unusual claim that “Netanyahu is one of the deepest thinkers among world leaders.” At the same time Illouz emphasizes that Netanyahu comes from a “very ideological” background bequeathed to him by both his Revisionist Zionist father, Benzion Netanyahu, and the American neoconservative worldview. As we will see, both outlooks are undeveloped one-dimensional frames of reference.

It is true that our perceptions reflect a worldview structured by the aspects of family and society we choose to embrace, or rebel against. It could go either way. According to Illouz, Netanyahu has embraced the restricted worldview of a brand of Zionism that teaches that, if the Jews are to survive in the modern world, they must be militarily all powerful and remain unmoved by any and all calls for compromise with alleged enemies. Also, according to Illouz, Netanyahu sees the world through the myopic lens of the American neoconservative movement, which preaches that both the United States and Israel are allies in a never-ending battle of good against evil. …

continue reading at To the Point Analyses

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Filed under Lawrence Davidson, Palestine & Israel

On endorsements and superdelegates: let the people decide

By Nathaniel Smith, Columnist, The Times of Chester County, April 19, 2016

I don’t need elected officials to tell me who to vote for

I try to be appreciative of elected officials and the work they do. And I wouldn’t want their jobs, not for the money and perks, not for the fame and glory. But right now I’m annoyed.

Officials elected by vote of all the people of the state should, in my view, once elected, continue to represent all the people of the state. Those officials belong to one of the two major parties, of course, because with rare exceptions, Independents can’t hold public office (thus shutting 1 in 5 Americans out of the system; no wonder people are disgruntled). But I don’t think those statewide officials ought to engage in partisan campaign operations. It just doesn’t look good.

Therefore, I don’t think they should serve as unpledged “superdelegates” at political conventions and put themselves in potential conflict with the will of the voters in their own party. All that power is tempting, but they should resist it. In the presidential convention, 10% of the Pennsylvania Democrats’ votes will be at the whim of the superdelegates. That’s less than the total convention with 15%, but still could make a big difference… against the will of the people.

And those superdelegates particularly should not try to play kingmaker by endorsing candidates for office. Candidates work hard and many are committed to the public welfare, possibly even more than those who hold office currently. People donate money to candidates and work hard for their favorites. Many voters are very concerned about particular issues. Americans should be encouraged to run for office, pay attention to issues, and vote-not to follow the desires of their current elected officials.

Here is the immediate cause of my annoyance. I now have received two missives from Senator Bob Casey endorsing Katie McGinty over Joe Sestak, whom I greatly prefer for many concrete reasons. So I went to Senator Casey’s web site, as our elected representatives always plead with us to do so they can “serve us better,” and I wrote a brief objection….

continue reading at The Times of Chester County

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Filed under 2016 election, US Senate