Sunday, February 12, 2012


Any loyal reader of the Empathic Rationalist must know how scrupulous I’ve been over the years in ensuring that there is at least one blog post every week. For the next several weeks, we’re about to test that resolve.

My job is going to require me to be out of town and feverishly busy for the rest of February and much of March. So … I’m warning you now that you should expect very little if anything from this quadrant of cyberspace – at least not until “March Madness” really heats up in earnest.

In that vein, I have only the time today to give you some very cursory thoughts on the events of the week. Here goes:

1. Are you watching closely how the Syrian regime has been behaving? Does that give you a better idea of just how difficult it has been for Israel to make peace with all of its neighbors? That is not to say that all of these neighbors are equally difficult – Jordan, for example, has treated Israel in a much friendlier way over the decades. But the fact remains that what Israel wants is a full peace – not just the kind it obtained with the Camp David accords back during the Carter Administration – and that is no easy task, given the neighborhood.

2. Wasn’t it nice to see the way the Obama Administration handled the great contraceptive controversy? This was clearly an issue that required a compromise, for both sides could point to a strong interest on their side: reproductive freedom versus freedom of religious expression. In situations like that, you look for compromises rather than extreme positions. This is obviously what comes naturally for Obama. He’s a born mediator. Where he falls down is when it comes time to fight for a particular position, since he’s so often pushed around by the other side. In this case, there was no “other side” – just two groups of Americans with legitimate positions.

3. That said, I was personally offended when I was watching Cardinal Wuerl from the District of Columbia appear on the Morning Joe program and try to present the contraceptive controversy as if it were a one-sided issue. The Cardinal was asked his opinion of a proposed compromise in which Catholic hospitals would be directed to give patients a document stating how they can get contraceptive information from other providers. And he had the chutzpah to compare this to asking a school to give children a document on how they can find pornography. Really? This is the top ranking official of the Catholic church in your nation’s capital, and that’s the best analogy he can come up with? Comparing contraception with pornography for children? That’s the worst analogy I’ve heard since Santorum brought up “man/dog” sex in relation to gay sex. What century is this?

4. Speaking of contraception, how insane is it for the major breast cancer charity to take on Planned Parenthood? What millennium is this?

5. You’ve got to love that the new sensation for the New York Knicks played brilliantly in Palo Alto High School but couldn’t get a basketball scholarship so he ended up playing for Harvard … after which he was not drafted by the pros. Why didn’t the schools in the Pac 10 want him? His race (Asian)? His height (a mere 6’ 3”)? The fact that he didn’t carry enough weapons in the locker room, drive drunk, assault women, or generally act like a punk (see, e.g., much of the NBA)? I’ll guess we’re just left to speculate on that one.

6. It’s heart-warming to see Mittens win a caucus again, even if it was in his own backyard (Maine) and by the slimmest of margins. It’s important that he get some love and some votes. After all, from what I can tell, his entire candidacy is about nothing more than the desire to get love and votes. I can’t for the life of me figure out any other reason why he’s running – any agenda, any principles, any vision, any passion ... (See, e.g., the end of the movie “the Candidate,” in which the empty-suit politician played by Robert Redford, after winning the election, asks the proverbial question “Now what do we do?”)

7. Sorry about the Super Bowl prediction. Really, if you want to know which football team to bet on, just ask me before the game, listen to my analysis, and then bet on the other team. You’ll be rich in no time.

8. I can’t believe it took me until now to watch Tarantino’s Death Proof. As flawed as that movie is – and its dialogue is frequently insipid – when it’s good, it’s REALLY good. I haven’t seen a Tarantino movie yet for which I couldn’t make that claim. The guy has serious skills … in addition to his serious perversions. Both are all-too-obvious.

9. Today, I am planning on visiting the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum with a group from the Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Society of Washington. What would this world be like if every Muslim visited a Holocaust museum or Concentration Camp, and every Jew visited a city in the West Bank? How about if I stipulated that they visit them unarmed?

10. If I don’t have much to say over the next few weeks, please enjoy the rest of the “winter” despite the fact that it never seems to get cold. And the next time someone mentions “climate change,” just click your heels a few times, think about Kansas (or some other Red State) and repeat the magic words: “Climate change is a hoax. Climate change is a hoax. Climate change is a hoax.” There, doesn’t that feel better? No? Yeah, it doesn’t make me feel better either. So what do you say we don’t give up the fight; there’s too much at stake.

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