Saturday, March 31, 2018

An Apology -- And a Cautionary Tale

In theory, there is a lot we could talk about today.  We have Passover.   Easter.   The resumption of fighting in the Gaza Strip.   But in practice, there is truly but one suitable topic for this blogpost this morning.   Thanks to Laura Ingraham, I’m reminded of something I’ve needed to address for some time.  It’s called making an apology.

This week, Ingraham herself needed to apologize.  For reasons known only to her and whatever demon occupies her head on a frequent basis, Ingraham decided to take a shot at one of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas kids by accusing him of “whining” after being rejected by several colleges.   Rather than getting mad, that kid decided to get even.  He outed the corporations that buy advertising time on Ingraham’s television show.  Immediately, progressives began calling for the boycott of those advertisers.  Being the good progressive that I am, before knowing anything about the success of the boycott, I spoke to my wife about how we should stop buying products from those companies, which I realized would be a sacrifice because Hulu was one of the sponsors and that’s the network that airs “The Handmaid’s Tale.”   Not surprisingly, Ingraham’s sponsors began dropping her like a sack of potatoes at which point she took to social media and said that “in the spirit of Holy Week” she was apologizing for any pain she caused the MSD student or other “brave victims” of that school.   More recently, Ingraham announced that she would be taking off Easter Week to spend time with her family.

Trust me, I’d love to get on my high horse about this topic.  Thanks largely to Laura Ingraham and her fellow right wing talking heads, we are witnessing some of the worst fracturing of the American social fabric since the 1860s.   That playpen has given us words like “Feminazis” and “Libtards,” which to me are no less dangerous than the N-Word, the K-Word, the F-Word and whatever other terms were declared off limits when racism, anti-semitism, and homophobia were all we had to worry about.  People who listen to those shows might want to reconsider calling themselves “Americans” since it’s clear that they detest half of America.   The fact that there are liberals who share their hatred doesn’t make their problem go away, it only make its worse. 

Yes, it would have been such fun for me to write a blog focusing entirely on Laura Ingraham and right-wing talk shows and to imply that only the supporters of such programs are capable of taking public shots at kids.   Unfortunately, my home has mirrors, and I was forced to look at one.  I didn’t like what I saw.

Twelve years ago, the same year that I began this blog, I wrote a post that has haunted me for a long time.  My words would have been ugly if I had said them privately.  The fact that I said them publicly only makes the ugliness more profound.  Not once have I been called out for my disgusting comments.  The reason is obvious – this blog has never enjoyed the following of Laura Ingraham’s TV show, and back in 2006 it was hardly more than a pimple in the vast domain of cyberspace.   No matter, what I said was unacceptable whether it was read by five people, five hundred people or five million people, and I am compelled to issue a public apology, albeit a belated one. 

The topic of the post was American Idol, a show I never have liked, and in the paragraph at issue, I directed the poison of my pen at a 16-year old performer on that show.  Since the Empathic Rationalist began, I’ve written many hundreds of posts and surely said a number of things that, in hindsight, I might prefer to take back.  But nothing in those hundreds of posts bothers me nearly as much as that paragraph.  I am so sorry that I felt free to insult the musicianship of a singer who clearly had a powerful voice and no shortage of courage for standing in front of millions of people, week after week, and getting judged by strangers for what really is a beautiful act of self-expression.  

It should go without saying that when a minor inserts him or herself into the public eye either as a social activist or an entertainer, s/he deserves to be treated respectfully and compassionately and never – ever – snarkily.  Laura Ingraham violated that principle last week, but at least her notoriety gave her the chance to apologize for her sin relatively quickly.  My relative obscurity allowed me to wallow in my self-disgust for a long time.  Now, finally, she has given me the impetus to make a public apology without feeling self-indulgent about it.   So, I guess I have Laura Ingraham to thank.  Truly, her episode and mine are reminders that whenever you criticize another human being – publicly, privately, young or old – you might someday regret it. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The March for Our Lives Had a Subtext

“2001: A Space Odyssey” is one of my favorite films.  From start to finish, it’s brilliant.   Most fans of the movie like to talk about Hal, the demonic computer, or the bizarre scene at the end leading up to the Space Baby.  But for me, what is most notable about Kubrick’s classic is the juxtaposition between the “Dawn of Man” segment at the film’s outset and the next scene, showing a journey to the Moon. 

“The Dawn of Man” revealed our roots in ape society and the value of tools (specifically, the weapon known as a club) in advancing evolution.   Once an ape recognized how valuable a club could be in killing his rivals, he became the ancestor of human beings.   Immediately after making that point, Kubrick whisks us far away in space and time to the future of man as an animal that is no longer earth bound.  Our hero is not an ape with a club but rather a PhD with a cover story.   Dr. Heywood Floyd exemplifies the intelligent, urbane and influential role model that contemporary man aspires to be.  He is tasked, however, with the unenviable job of informing an audience of scientists that what is actually transpiring on the Moon must be kept hidden from the public back on Earth, and that these scientists are expected to support a fictitious story about an epidemic.  In other words, Dr. Floyd, who is serving in the role as a teacher of the best and brightest, is simply peddling bullshit.  But boy does he look good and sound good when he does it.  Then, in the next scene, Dr. Floyd’s sophistication is matched by that of Hal, the supercomputer, only this time, we see the product of 21st century intelligence not merely lie but kill – and do so without an ounce of remorse.

Yesterday’s March for Our Lives in Washington DC wasn’t really about guns any more than Kubrick’s film was really about technology.  First and foremost, “2001: A Space Odyssey” was an essay about the human condition and how little human beings have truly evolved over the millennia.  Our technology has improved in leaps and bounds, Kubrick tells us, but as for our goals and our characters?   We have merely replaced unmasked aggression with sophisticated ways to lie and to destroy.   First and foremost, the March for Our Lives was about political bullshit.  It was about the consequences of living in a society run by politicians who have Hal’s conscience when it comes to death and destruction and Dr. Floyd’s skills when it comes to enunciating cover stories.   The gun laws these politicians defend are not the problem; they are but one of many symptoms.  The Generation Zers who put on yesterday’s program made this point crystal clear to anyone in attendance who cared to listen.

To those who weren’t in attendance, let me set the scene.  The event wasn’t so much a “March” as a “Stand.”  We stood for hours, 800,000 strong, on America’s main street, Pennsylvania Ave.  We all faced the Capitol Building – in fact, we could see nothing ahead of us but masses of people, a “March for Our Lives” sign and the behemoth Capitol.  To our left was a TV screen, but for the hours leading up to the speeches, we didn’t watch that screen; we simply listened to the sound system, which was high quality to say the least.  In fact, people were having a great time even before the speeches because the Generation Zers who put on this show figured out the importance of pumping great music over a great sound system.   I wondered why all the Boomers and Xers who’ve put on marches before couldn’t have come up with that idea.

At 12:08 pm, the March officially started.  The organizers gave us plenty of variety.  We saw songs performed on stage, heard plenty of speeches, and watched a number of pre-produced informational videos.   Pretty much everything was excellent.  No glitches.  I thought for a second we had witnessed a glitch when one of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students got sick on stage, but even she turned it into a triumph, saying “I just threw up on international television and it feels great” before continuing with her poem without missing a beat. 

In terms of the speeches, when we weren’t listening to the MSD students, we heard from African-American or Latino children who come from impoverished communities.  They were pointing out that gun violence has underlying causes, not the least of which is poverty.  Poverty begets gun violence, they taught us, but then again, gun violence also begets poverty.   If we want to stop this cycle, we need to devote resources to our poor communities, which is a point I have rarely heard made by the politicians who have come on TV to confront the MSD massacre.

As for the MSD students, they spoke as adults.  They asked to be taken seriously based on the logic of what they had to say and the emotions that they bring to bear on the gun issue, and not because they possessed some special status by virtue of their personal accomplishments in bringing the movement this far. Nobody on that stage – not the MSD students, nor the kids from Chicago or South-Central LA – wore their gender, race, sexual orientation, or youth as a badge.   We heard their personal stories but in a way that felt inclusive.  If anything was put at the forefront here, it wasn’t race or gender but rather socio-economic class and personal circumstance.   When I compare the way these kids communicated to, say, the Boomers or Xers on MSNBC, I felt that the former were being infinitely more respectful and substantive and infinitely less obnoxious.  They truly took a throng of 800,000 people and turned it into loving family.

So with that as background, let me address the target of the March: politics as usual.  These kids called for a political revolution and, indeed, used that word explicitly.  “Enough,” they said, with politicians who take money from special interests, like the NRA, and then ignore the will of the majority and the dictates of common sense to advance the agenda of those special interests.   (Opposing bans on assault weapons would fall into that category.)  “Enough” with politicians who offer us their “thoughts and prayers” after a tragedy but don’t do anything to change the system that created the tragedy.   And “enough” with politicians who resort to doublespeak in order to dodge the fundamental issues that plague our society, whether they involve something specific like assault weapons or something more general like poverty.    It is not a coincidence that there were more allusions yesterday to Marco Rubio than any other politician, including Donald Trump.   Rubio epitomizes the kind of slick, smile-at-my-constituents but vote-with-my-donors politician that this group of Generation Zers was targeting yesterday. 

The MSD crew, the “Survivors” as they are known, have a deep, deep bench.  But they also have a rock star.  Her name is Emma Gonzalez.    Even as she walked to the stage, I could hear some of the girls behind me screaming like it was 1964 and they were about to see Paul and Ringo.  Gonzales proceeded to hit one out of the park by repeating the names of the MSD victims and various things that they would never do again, before standing silent and resolute for 6 minutes and 20 seconds – the same length of time it took the gunman with an AR-15 to shoot so many members of her community.    I knew immediately after she stopped talking that she would be leaving us to our own thoughts for 6 1/3 minutes.  And I made the most of it.  I simply stared at the image above her head, the image of the United States Capitol Building.  A place that has come to be associated above all else with obfuscation, hypocrisy (such as expressions of “thoughts and prayers” without a commitment to action), cynicism, unprincipled ambition, servile self-seeking, cowardice, phoniness, arrogance ....

Emma Gonzalez originally became famous for using the refrain, “We call BS,” in a speech delivered back in February.  Here’s an excerpt:

“The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call BS....  Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don't know what we're talking about, that we're too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.

If you really think such “BS” only applies to the way politicians deal with the gun issue, you’ve missed Emma’s point.  She knows damned well that she’s only addressing a symptom, but she also appreciates that in order to start a movement, you must begin by successfully acting at the symptom level. Banning assault weapons and requiring universal background checks are clearly needed reforms.  Only a bought-and-sold politician, or a true gun fanatic, could possibly oppose these measures.  Yet even when Obama had 60 Democratic Senators and a Democratic majority in the House we still couldn’t pass gun reforms.  So, as these kids pointed out many times, this isn’t just a “Red” versus “Blue” problem... the truth is that it’s a cancer in our political environment that’s metastasized.  Call it the cancer of Bullshit.  More specifically, we have become a society controlled by politicians who care most of all about getting elected, know that the path to electoral success is by appealing to special interests at the expense of their constituents, and don’t mind bullshitting whenever their actions are challenged. 

The truth is that Donald Trump was elected precisely because enough Americans who are older than the MSD kids became so alienated by politics as usual that they voted for a reality TV star who talks like the guy at the end of the bar.  Americans of all ages realize that our system is broken.  The questions are: (1) Can we fix it?  and (2) If so, how? 

I don’t have all the answers.  But I’ll tell you this.  We had better listen to those kids from Marjory Stoneman Douglas.  Because they are smart, they are charismatic, they are organized, they properly appreciate the cancer, and thankfully, they haven’t been infected with it.  Right now, they and those with whom they associate are my oncologists of choice.  To be sure, when it comes to this fledgling “We Call B.S.” movement, we older folks need a voice, but for now, let’s use our ears more and our mouths less.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The First and Second Laws of Litigation and Politics

I call it the “First Rule of Litigation.”  Thou shalt not underestimate your opponent.

It’s amazing how frequently members of my profession neglect this rule.  When colleagues forget it, I worry about the possibility of bad karma.  Pride goeth before a fall, right?   When opposing lawyers forget it – or at least act like they’ve forgotten it -- I get pumped up.  Few things cause me to put out total effort quite like an opponent’s arrogance or dismissiveness.  

We saw the political analogue of the First Rule of Litigation in the fall of 2016.  The Clinton Campaign was ahead in the polls – so solidly ahead, in fact, that they forgot to campaign in the Rust Belt.  They didn’t take Trump seriously there even though he spoke far more like a Rust Belt “everyman” than Hillary did.  In that part of the country, folks don’t take to politicians who put their finger in the wind before choosing their positions on key issues.  They’d rather vote for a politician who has guts than smarts.  Hillary should have known she was vulnerable in those areas, but she couldn’t help thinking she was running against a troglodyte who appealed only to “deplorables” and desperate fools and who thus didn’t stand a chance of defeating her machine.  As a result, she didn’t even bother to crank up the machine where she needed it the most.  The First Rule will get you every time. 

When you think about it, the First Rule of Litigation (or Politics) ought to be obvious to anyone who doesn’t view hubris as a virtue.  What’s less obvious, but also vital, is what I call the Second Rule of Litigation – thou shalt not OVERESTIMATE your opponent.  It applies just as much to politics.

It’s important to remember the Second Rule (of litigation or politics) because at times, combatants really do screw up in a major way, and that opens up doors you might never have thought could be opened.   I’ll spare you the reasons why a litigator should keep the Second Rule in mind, but it should be apparent now why it might behoove a political party never to forget it.     Just think about the special elections we’ve seen over these past few months.   Absent the Second Rule, there would be no point for the Dems to contest those elections.  And yet, with the Second Rule firmly in place, so many more Red seats are in play. 

In a sense, the Democrats have an unfair advantage.  Because the GOP controls the majority of the state houses, the Governor’s mansions, and both branches of the U.S. Congress, not to mention the White House, people expect more out of them.  The Dems, because they’re the party out of power – the “dissenting” party -- can whine all they want and get away with it. The GOP, by contrast, is supposed to display leadership, befitting their stranglehold on power.  That means they are expected to (a) lead with competence, (b) lead with class, and (c) lead with vision.

They’re doing none of the above.

First, we saw Roy Moore.  In a display of political incompetence at the highest level, he referred to Islam as a “false religion,” compared homosexuality to bestiality, wondered if 9/11 was God’s way of punishing us for abortion and homosexuality, and during the recent Presidential Transition reasserted his belief that Barack Obama was born outside of the United States.    He acted like he was trying to offend people.  In the end, even the reddest of states rejected him.  He gave them no choice but to do the impossible: elect a Democratic Senator from Alabama.

And then there was the ever-classy Rick Saccone.   His district went for Donald Trump by 20 percent over Hillary Clinton.  Winning this election should have been child’s play for Saccone.   Surely, like most of his constituents, Saccone resented Hillary for her “basket of deplorables” line, and rightfully so.  But when given his own chance to show Hillary how a class campaign is run, he responded by saying, in essence, “Hillary, I resemble that comment.”  Here are Saccone’s exact words:  “I’ve talked to so many of these on the left....  And I tell you, many of them have a hatred for our country.  I’ll tell you some more.  My wife and I saw it again today -- they have a hatred for God.”  I can’t wait to tell the rabbis I know – nearly all of whom are Democrats – that they are God-haters. 

But the biggest problem of all for the so-called “Party of Lincoln” isn’t the lack of competence or class. It’s the lack of vision.  We saw this problem doom the Clinton campaign, and we now seem to be watching it doom Republican candidates all over the country. Yes, they had a vision of tax cuts, and now they have a bill to show for it.  It wasn’t a perfect bill – and in fact, I think it was a horrid bill – but at least it reflected some sort of vision.   Now what, though?  What’s their second act?  What exactly is it that unifies the Grand Old Party?   What kind of change can we, the American voter, expect if we continue to color this land red?  Armed teachers? 

Anything else?    


Soon enough, as a good Democrat, I’ll be reminding people about the First Law of Politics.  I won’t let favorable polls allow me to underestimate the party of Donald Trump.  Been there, done that.
But today, just for today, I want to remind you of the Second Law of Politics.  It has been known to cause wild swings at the ballot box from one election to the next.  Given the GOP clown car, there is every reason to wonder if we will see one of the wildest swings of all this November.  And believe me, that would be despite the Democrats, not because of them. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Interfaith Movement -- A Beautiful Antidote to What Ails Us

As Co-Founder and President of the Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Society of Washington (JIDS), I sometimes hear the question: “Is your organization part of the interfaith movement?”   The opposite way of asking the same question, albeit more provocatively, is: “Aren’t you guys just substituting one form of tribalism (Jewish solidarity or Muslim solidarity) for another (Jewish-and-Muslim solidarity)?” 

My glib response is “Oh yes, we consider ourselves part of the interfaith movement.  We always say that our organization serves three groups – Jews, Muslims and Allies.”  The addition of the word “Allies” is meant to suggest inclusivity, while also reminding people that there are plenty of folks that do not fall into those three categories.  But perhaps instead of being glib, I should offer a more complete answer to the question.   Let me take a stab at one –

I see the interfaith movement as a major antidote to what ails our society and our world.  But I don’t see interfaith as a way of erasing the existence of separate faiths.  In other words, I don’t see interfaith AS A MOVEMENT as a way of establishing a melting-pot culture; I still prefer the salad bowl metaphor, where there are cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, green peppers, etc., and we can appreciate the unique beauty of each of these elements, while also loving the result when they are combined together. 

For the interfaith movement to be successful, it must respect the “particular” as well as the “universal.”  It must acknowledge that same-faith activity, whether it involves ritual or study, can be extremely enriching.  After all, same-faith activities can be among the deepest explorations of spirituality, building on the fact that those who partake in these activities often share a common language, a common culture, and a common set of intellectual concerns.  We can ill afford to ignore these opportunities for depth of thought and emotion, for that is precisely what allows the religious project to compete for our attention in the 21st century world.

So yes, we must celebrate the “particular.” But when this leads to an extreme form of “tribalism,” we have gone way too far.  Without the “universal,” religion can lead not only to tunnel vision, but even to violence.  We see this truism play out on the global stage on a daily basis – or should I say, we see the violent elements, and yet behind all that violence is an incredible amount of ignorance.  It’s the ignorance of not being intimately familiar with other cultures or other faiths, and without such intimate familiarity, we create a dangerous dichotomy.  Those who are not steeped in interfaith see their own culture/faith with rose-colored glasses and strawman the other cultures/faiths into something far less desirable.  (More specifically, they think of their own culture/faith in ideal terms, whereas the competing world views are conceived “realistically” in terms of how far they fall from any ideal.)  As a result, tribalists feel less of a need to venture out intellectually beyond their friendly confines and are often willing to write off the “other” – with potentially fatal or, at least unjust, consequences.

We need the universalism of the interfaith movement every bit as much as we need the depth of same-faith activities. 

So where does JIDS fit into the equation?  We attempt to provide the best of both worlds.  Judaism and Islam are in some respects eerily similar.  These are not merely examples of faiths that extol “ethical monotheism.”  These faiths share similar languages and rituals, interlocking cultures and histories, common stories/myths, and a profound iconoclasm when it comes to worship.  By making these two faiths the focus of our meetings, JIDS can summon many of the same depth advantages that I’ve discussed above in connection with same-faith activities. 

Yet JIDS is hardly conducive to tunnel vision; quite the contrary.  We’re all about lovingly and respectfully confronting the “other.”  In fact, JIDS has two overarching themes, both of which are universalistic.  First, we stress all human beings are cousins (members of the family of Adam and Eve), and Jews and Muslims, together with Christians, are the closest of cousins (members of the family of Abraham).  Second, we stress that enlightenment resides in embracing both the similarities and the differences among faiths/cultures.  To ignore or otherwise whitewash those differences is to create what I call “Kumbaya-Interfaith,” for which we at JIDS have no patience.  We prefer instead to recognize that our faiths have real differences, even conflicts, and they provide some of our best learning opportunities.  By understanding how Judaism differs from Islam and other faiths, I come to understand why I’m a Jew, but I also gather new, complementary tools that can be used to supplement my Judaism.

Ultimately, JIDS inspires me to learn more about Judaism, Islam, Christianity and, yes, other faiths as well.  Currently, I’m reading a book about the ancient roots of Hinduism and absolutely loving it.  Notably, before I came to JIDS, I saw Hinduism primarily as “polytheistic.”  Now, I see it primarily as “monotheistic” – just not as iconoclastically monotheistic as Judaism or Islam.  That’s a concrete example of how we can come to recognize both similarities and differences among faiths.

For those of you who have no interest in religion or spirituality, I’m not sure the interfaith movement would have much to offer.  You probably have to steep yourself in a faith to a significant degree in order to partake in this movement.  But for those of you who already have an interest in a particular faith, I can’t recommend the interfaith movement strongly enough.  Go find a group in your local area and see what it’s like.  If what they’re up to is “Kumbaya-Interfaith,” politely take your leave and start another group of your own – one that isn’t afraid to confront reality.  I did that nine years ago, and I’ve never for a second regretted it.

(For more info about JIDS, go to our website -- 

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Will the Democrats Grow a Pair?

Diane Feinstein will be 85 years old when Californians go to the ballot box in November to elect their new senator.  She has already held her seat for more than a quarter of century, during which time she has amassed a record that is distinctly to the right of center relative to other Democratic Senators.   Given that she hails from one of the nation’s most progressive states, it should not have been shocking that Feinstein’s re-election campaign failed to gain the official endorsement of her state’s Democratic party.  It should also not have been shocking that mainstream Democrats are concerned about “crazy progressives” kicking to the curb one of the party’s most credentialed women leaders.   So, for example, this morning in the Washington Post, readers are treated to a cartoon in which Feinstein, briefcase in hand, is standing on a dock labeled “Left Coast” while a bus labeled “California Democratic Party” drives insanely into the Pacific. 

Personally, I welcome the challenge to Ms. Feinstein.   I don’t relish the idea of our nation’s most populous and most trend setting state being represented in the Senate by a center-left nonagenarian.   By the end of this weekend, there is a reasonably decent chance that I’ll be a grandfather, and I can’t understand why my party is being run by people old enough to be my parents.  But the age issue isn’t the biggest problem.  Bernie is old, and I had no problem voting for him in the last Presidential primary.  The real problem is that I don’t know what these mainstream Democrats stand for other than whatever the Gallop Poll tells them to stand for.  They even boast about how their policies are invariably more popular than the Republicans’.    Believe me, that’s not something to brag about.  What they should brag about is when they have the guts to stand against the majority and fight for something unpopular and righteous.  That’s the quality I’d be looking for in whoever is challenging Feinstein for the nomination in Cali.

I’m going down this road because of an article I saw in the newspaper a couple of weeks ago.  It pointed out that now, for the first time, the polls are saying that the recent tax reform bill is supported by over 50 percent of respondents.  As a result, the article said, Democratic insiders are re-thinking whether their candidates should be including opposition to that bill as part of their platform in the 2018 election.  Such opposition may be too risky, the argument goes.   It was the same argument that caused Democratic politicians like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to oppose gay marriage even when vast majorities of their political base supported it.  In fact, it has been an unwritten rule of Democratic leaders since William Jefferson Clinton took over the party in 1992 that you virtually never should support any position unless it polls over 50 percent.  If memory serves, Clinton might have violated the principle on occasion when necessary to maintain his African-American base (I’m thinking of certain affirmative action policies), but other than that, he went wherever the majority went.  The fact that Bernie bucked that trend and frequently took on conventional wisdom is the main reason why his candidacy skyrocketed in 2016.  Is it a surprise that the states that voted Trump into office also supported Bernie in the primaries?   These voters didn’t get the memo that somehow being afraid to take on the Gallup Poll is a political virtue. 

I say, the hell with obsessive poll-watching when it comes time for leadership.  I’d find it galling if a Democratic candidate for office lacked the balls to take on the tax reform bill.  Isn’t it obvious that this bill is a major giveaway to the nation’s wealthiest citizens and comes largely at the expense of people like my grandchild-to-be?   The fact that most American taxpayers can expect to gain a few pennies tomorrow doesn’t take away from the fact that they will be paying a whole lot more than that in later years.  And to what purpose?  To make sure that yacht owners can buy an extra boat?  Or so those with a second home can soon afford a third?    Notably, the Democratic legislators in Congress were unanimous in their opposition to this tax bill when it came time to vote.  So why shouldn’t they have the guts proudly to denounce that bill on the campaign trail?   Why are Democrats so afraid to campaign as Democrats, instead of tucking back into their technocratic shells and campaigning as robots?

We saw Michael Dukakis campaign as a robot, Al Gore campaign as a robot, and John Kerry campaign as a robot.  Where did it get them?  Then we saw Hillary Clinton campaign on an “I’m not like that idiot but I don’t exactly have a vision for change” platform, and where did it get her?  If Democrats hope to start winning elections, they need to start speaking their minds and speaking their hearts.  There’s no shame whatsoever in losing such a race.  But more to the point, there’s plenty of nobility in winning this way.  You might even get to change the world after you get elected.