It’s a mad, mad, mad world

The craziness just keeps on coming… (or in case you missed these gems)

 

The last few months have been fun for most Democrats, with the GOP imploding in the most public of ways. Last week’s bombshell was Senator Specter’s defection and nothing topped that but that doesn’t mean the week wasn’t funny and strange.

  • Conservatives attack President Obama’s condiment choice: Arlington, VA residents were treated to a rare POTUS/VPOTUS visit when the duo went out for a ‘working lunch’ at a local favorite. Personally I thought the most absurd thing to come out of the stop was the amount of time MSNBC devoted to it until I read this: http://mediamatters.org/research/200905070031 Sean Hannity, and a host of his colleagues, were outraged that the President ordered his hamburger with mustard and not ketchup. I get that they have been trying to paint him as someone who is out of touch with the American people but is this really the best they have? Does anyone really think FOX News is ‘fair and balanced?’ What-ever.
  • Republicans attach each other over ‘listening tour’: In an effort to ‘re-brand’ the party, several prominent Republicans set out on their listening tour. The team, made up of Mitt Romney, Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Jeb Bush held a pizza party in northern VA. Now there is an inherent irony in having Mr. Cantor (aka ‘Dr. No’ to the people on the Hill for his obstructionist positions and rhetoric – he even got into an argument with President Obama regarding the decree John Boehner issued instructing all GOP Members of Congress to reject any Obama proposals even before reading them) speak about this issue but there’s more to this than that. Shortly after, Michael Steele, head of the GOP, told the press that moderates ‘are welcome in the party as long as they don’t change it.’ My translation: We are a big tent party as long as we don’t have to listen to anyone who doesn’t share every one of our views. The National Council for a New America has said they want to focus on the ‘traditional’ Republican values such as reducing the size of government, increased personal liberties (and probably responsibility) and supply side economics and move away from the cultural issues. For some reason this just reminds me of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. It’s as if some Republicans understand the menu that has won elections in the past (during the first W administration Ohio lost more than 300,000 jobs but the state went for him in 2004 because of gay marriage) doesn’t work anymore but others want to stay where they are. Mike Huckabee said this was a ‘sad day’ – maybe for them, it sure made me laugh. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22242.html

  • Ron Paul makes sense, sort of: I don’t often get to say that I agree with Ron Paul and think most of what he said about the flu is wrong, he did get it partially right. I did read a headline that indicated the former presidential nominee and Congressman thinks the federal government is hyping the flu for its own nefarious reasons and while I DO NOT believe that, a little less paranoia about it would be a good thing. Back in 2006, I was always talking about the bird flu and all my friends and colleagues thought I was crazy. Maybe I burned through all my flu fears then but I just cannot worry too much about H1N1. Should people be careful? Sure. Should we all stock up on three months of food and water? I don’t plan to and will not get vaccinated should a vaccine be developed. My only remaining concern is that the outbreak will subside in the northern hemisphere, it will come back next fall when the regular flu season begins. http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/05/03/swine.flu.react/

 

Compassion and the Court: A lot has been made over comments President Obama made about what he is looking for in a new Supreme Court Justice. He said he wanted someone who understands their rulings will impact people’s lives directly and therefore they need ’empathy.’ Apparently ’empathy’ is a code word for ‘activism.’ If there are two things that get conservatives all riled up, they are ‘activist judges’ and abortion. Supreme Court nominations provide them with a twofer of sorts for them. Senator Jeff Sessions was recently given the top spot for the GOP on the Senate Judiciary Committee (kind of ironic given that the reason he is in the Senate is that he was rejected when he was nominated to serve as a judge) has said he will not vote against someone because they are gay, there will be a big fight. Team Sarah, an organization that has been raising money and doing other things for Sarah Palin (they organized a call in against Kathleen Sebelious because of abortion, it didn’t work) will get back involved but I have gone off message.

 

It may seem counterintuitive to want a compassionate court. Aristotle said that ‘the law is reason free from passion.’ I agree with that but also understand the practicality and usefulness of empathy and have a rather strange example of why it is so important. If one country has proven they understand this principle, it’s Rwanda.

 

Fifteen years ago, Rwanda was the site of one of the worst genocides in history. In three months, nearly one million people were killed by their own friends, neighbors and even family and all this was done basically by hand. Many international organizations dismissed the country and decided peace was impossible there. They proved us all wrong. A big challenge they faced was that for the first time survivors and the killers would be asked to live alongside each other and many thought this would lead to more violence. The government responded by setting up smaller courts all over the country. In these Gacaca courts, the killers faced the survivors and in exchange for telling the truth, received much lighter sentences. This gave the survivors to confront them and get some justice. It also meant that previously unknown details of the genocide were uncovered. Moreover, the death penalty was abolished. While Hutu militants claimed the newly installed Tutsi president was having any Hutus who went home killed, they weren’t. It’s not perfect or pretty but has allowed that country to start to heal.

 

This is an extreme case, of course, but if they can work through their problems to achieve some normalcy via a better judicial system, maybe that’s a lesson we can learn here.

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