Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Off to New York for the American Psychoanalytic Association meetings.   Have ticket to see the Broadway revival of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"   It has gotten rave reviews;  one critic called it the "must see" play of the season.

Back in a few days.


Why we need Hagel for DoD

The Republican neo-con hawks -- and their wealthy donors, like Sheldon Adelson -- are the ones behind the attacks on nominee and former senator Chuck Hagel.   The issues of an anti-gay statement he made in 1998, and his supposedly anti-Israeli stance (not true) are not the real issue, although for some people they are also real.

The most vehement opposition comes from those who see Hagel as chosen by Obama in order to help him broadly reposition our foreign policy as a clear break with the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive attacks and promotion of democracy in other countries, by military means if necessary.    Hagel represents, to them, a position of appeasement toward our enemies, insufficiently hawkish, and thus pushing America into a decline as the leading world power.   His support for cutting defense spending only adds fuel to their fire.  I think they are wrong about his positions;  he may be a threat, but it's to their neo-con policies that he is a threat.

He is a triple threat because he is a Purple Heart Viet Nam veteran, a Republican who initially supported the Iraq war, and a former member of both the Foreign Relations and the Intelligence committees of the Senate.  And thus if he, with those credentials, is anti-war and anti-interventionist, then it undermines their influence and power.  "They" being the neo-cons in Congress, the former Bush Vulcans, pundits like Bill Kristol, and think-tanks like the American Enterprise Institute.

Hagel would also presumably back Obama in his realist stance toward Israel and toward Iran.  He has affirmed his commitment to the state of Israel and its security, but he is also critical of some of its actions in building settlements and occupying Palestinian territory.  He supports diplomatic solutions over military ones regarding Iran.   These are not anti-semitic positions; many Jews, both in Israel and the U.S., agree with him.

So his nomination is being seen as an indication of the direction President Obama wants to go in foreign affairs and military policy, and Hagel is seen as the independent thinker and outspoken critic of the old ways, who speaks with uncommon honesty.

Those opposing him fear him as a threat to neo-con relevance, if not for their actual political survival.

And those are exactly the reasons that President Obama needs Chuck Hagel and why we, the American people need Chuck Hagel as our Secretary of Defense.


Remembering AJC's Eugene Patterson

In the 1960's, at the height of the civil rights turmoil, as the South was dealing with desegregation, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was a beacon of enlightenment.  As a liberal Southerner, I could feel some pride in Atlanta and its newspaper as "the City too busy to hate," was proclaimed by Mayor Hartsfield.

The combination of publisher Ralph McGill and editor Eugene Patterson, both liberal giants of journalism, made the AJC a positive force for change in a progressive direction in the 60's.

Patterson was editor from 1960 to 1968 and won a 1967 Pulitzer Prize for his editorial writing.   His response to the Birmingham church bombing that killed four little girls was so moving that Walter Cronkite invited him to read it on the CBS Evening News.

That editorial began:
"A Negro mother wept in the street Sunday morning in front of a Baptist Church in Birmingham.  In her hand she held a shoe, one shoe, from the foot of her dead child. We hold that shoe with her.

"Every one of us in the white South holds that small shoe in his hand. ... We who go on electing politicians who heat the kettles of hate. ... (The bomber) feels right now that he has been a hero. He is only guilty of murder. He thinks he has pleased us. We of the white South who know better are the ones who must take a harsher judgment."

Patterson went on from here to be the Washington Post managing editor, where he played a role in the publication of the "Pentagon Papers."   Later he had a distinguished career at the St. Petersburg Times, which he built into one of the best newspapers in America.

Patterson died this week at the age of 89.   We here in Atlanta owe him a huge debt of gratitude for appealing to our better selves, for helping our city find the right moral path through social turmoil.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Election stats -- revealing

Just saw a listing of the newly elected 2012 members of the House of Representatives.  Here's the breakdown by categories in each party:

    Men:              Dems   67% of its newly elected members
                           Reps    91%

    Women:        Dems   33%
                           Reps       9%

    Minority:      Dems    29%
                           Reps        3%

   Hispanics:      Dems   10%
                           Reps      3%

   African-Amer:  Dems    12%
                             Reps        0

   Asian:             Dems      6%
                           Reps        0

These numbers don't lie.   The Republican Part is the party of white men.   The Democratic Party is the party of equality and diversity.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Obama's gutsy side is showing

How refreshing to see Obama acting with guts in standing up to Republicans -- and not playing their games.

First, he made a pre-emptive declaration that he would not negotiate with them over whether to raise the debt ceiling.    It was a foolish exercise because it allows Republicans to pretend that it is Obama's fault for spending too much, so he is wise on many counts not to repeat that.

In fact, the debt ceiling is about whether the U. S. Government is going to pay its bills that have already been approved by Congress and already been incurred.   Republicans want to use it as a bargaining chip -- as a hostage, if necessary -- to force future spending cuts.

Obama is just saying "No" and sticking to it.   First he rejected the suggested end-run of using the 14th amendment, which gives the president the power to enact laws passed by Congress.   Some legal opinions have reasoned that Congress's approval of the spending authorizes the executive branch to pay the bills and, ergo, to obtain the money to pay them.

Now he's saying that he also will not use the gimmicky "platinum coin suggested by Paul Krugman and others -- that is truly a gimmick, but arguably justified as using one absurd gimmick to combat an equally absurd stance by House Republicans.

Obama says, in effect, 'No, we're going to handle this like adults,' and he's going to challenge the Republicans to behave like adults too.    'We have incurred these bills legally and we must pay for them.   Then we will have the debate about the budget, and spending, and revenue.'

Bravo !!!!    He's going to force the Republicans to face this honestly and above board.  We should give him the public support to back this up and "force" him to stick to his gutsy stand.


PS:  Obama is showing further gutsiness in pushing for gun control, for broad immigration reform, and for the appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.