Wasn't it just the other day that we were saying that the Not So Sweet 16 -- the Republican March Madness bracket of presidential candidates, also known as the Gone South Regional -- were trashing the GOP brand for good with unpopular, bass-ackwards views on everything from climate change to same-sex marriage. If so, then this probably won't surprise you:
PRINCETON, N.J. -- In the second quarter of 2015, Democrats regained an advantage over Republicans in terms of Americans' party affiliation. A total of 46% of Americans identified as Democrats (30%) or said they are independents who lean toward the Democratic Party (16%), while 41% identified as Republicans (25%) or leaned Republican (16%). The two parties were generally even during the previous three quarters, including the fourth quarter of 2014, when the midterm elections took place.
Actually, in this center-left nation of ours, Democrats have the edge of most of the time. But Republicans should have had some momentum. what with their gains in the 2014 election (aided by national Democrats, who stood for nothing) and President Obama's lame-duckness. But, to paraphrase Frank and Nancy Sinatra, then they had to spoil it all by saying something stupid like...what they stood for. When a majority of Americans were celebrating the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, the condemnation from the 16 Dwarfs was almost universal.
There's a lot of things that the Founding Fathers probably couldn't have imagined when they ratified the Declaration of Independence -- self-driving cars, cars, the iPhone, "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," houses on 500-foot poles (...wait, that was "The Jetsons," nevermind). They probably never could have foreseen how Philadelphia itself would fare in the distant future -- that another revolution called the Industrial Revolution would shape this town a lot more than theirs, and that America's founding city would ultimately lose that war.
Whatever July 4 celebrations took place in Philadelphia's far-flung, faded neighborhoods turned to more grief as darkness fell and Independence Day yielded to homicide, life on the streets. The pops of cherry bombs and gunfire blurred, and by sunrise four citizens had been murdered -- three by bullets and a 17-year-old female who was knifed to death.
It's important to place this in context. Four murders in one night -- especially on a joyous holiday to celebrate American liberty forged here in this city -- is an obscene number, but the city's overall homicide rate still remains at its lowest rate since the mid-1960s and, according to the police department's website, is down 44 percent from its baseline year of 2007 (the year before Mayor Nutter took office, in what I assume is not a coincidence). That's both a national trend and a credit to good tactical work under Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.
I guess Rick Perry realized he needed more than those new egghead glasses to stand out in the 2016 presidential race. I mean, there's what, 14, 16, 19 candidates? I've seriously lost track. After the fiasco that was the large Republican field of White House wannabes in 2012, and their inane debates, there's even more to dread this time around.
Or not. With so many candidates, there's actually incentives for some candidates in the lower tier to say something different than the usual Limbaugh-endorsed dittohead-isms, to made headlines and at least get enough attention to eek into the 10-person top debate tier. And so it was that Perry, the former governor of Texas, gave a speech today on the state of politics and race in America.
And lo and behold, it was good...the words, I mean. Remember, the pre-2012 Perry was so pro-Tea Party that he even said favorable things about Texas succeeding from the Union. When it came out that his family had owned a ranch with a, um, racially charged name, the tarnish -- perhaps unfairly -- stuck to Perry. Now he's singing a different tune:
This is a must-read piece for all Attytood lurkers -- especially folks with strong opinions on what it's like to be poor in America. It could change your mind!...but I'm guessing it won't. I'm working on other newspaper stuff and also probably need a blogging mental health day anyway.
Talk about this or Donald Trump or something.
It was not that long ago that Mexico's ambassador to the United States gave a speech to a business group in Chicago -- crowing about what a huge success the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, has been since its enactment in the mid-1990s.
Especially for Mexico.
One of his success stories involved a company called Mondelez, not a well-known name but the maker -- through a series of shake-outs in the food industry -- of some of the iconic brand names associated with Nabisco, like Ritz crackers. That company, he boasted, was spending some $600 million in the Mexican city of Nuevo Leon on what he called "the world’s largest cookie production plant."
OK, actually I'm pretty sure that Bree Newsome -- the Spiderwoman-y. Scripture-spouting superhero of social protest who shimmied up that South Carolina flagpole last Saturday and took down the Confederate flag, however briefly -- wasn't actually still in jail when she wrote this manifesto defending her actions. On the other hand, I do think you have to go back to the time of Dr. Martin Luther King and his travails in Birmingham in 1963 to find such a stirring defense of the act of civil disobedience.
Here's an excerpt:
We discussed it and decided to remove the flag immediately, both as an act of civil disobedience and as a demonstration of the power people have when we work together. Achieving this would require many roles, including someone who must volunteer to scale the pole and remove the flag. It was decided that this role should go to a black woman and that a white man should be the one to help her over the fence as a sign that our alliance transcended both racial and gender divides. We made this decision because for us, this is not simply about a flag, but rather it is about abolishing the spirit of hatred and oppression in all its forms.
UPDATE: Annnnd this pretty much proves my point. The business of America is business, and Supreme Court is still the business agent, even in the rays of "Liberal Spring."
When I think of the political zeitgeist in America in the 2010s, I think of one man -- Michael Bloomberg, the former non-partisan mayor of New York -- and of one night, October 1, 2011. Bloomberg was in Washington, D.C., that black-tie evening, hobnobbing with elites from President Obama to Sarah Jessica Parker and accepting a major award from the Human Rights Campaign for his tireless, outspoken support of LGBT rights, especially same-sex marriage. “In New York, government of the people, and by the people, is now for all the people – as it should be,” the billionaire mayor said in his acceptance speech. “No place in the world is more committed to freedom of expression – religious, artistic, political, social, personal – than New York City.”
At the very moment, Bloomberg was speaking, New York City's police force -- highly militarized, with its own spy outfit and even the ability to shoot down planes -- had kettled a huge march of peaceful protesters from the incipient Occupy Wall Street movement who'd been guided onto the traffic lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge and was throwing more than 700 of them in jail. The Occupy movement was a short-lived spontaneous combustion fueled by massive income inequality, and that was a conversation that Bloomberg -- currently worth an estimated $34.5 billion, a great protector of Wall Street -- did not want to have on his streets. The mayor who was swooning about "freedom of expression" in NYC had his cops from working tirelessly to crush Occupy, from the cops who protected Lower Manhattan's "Charging Bull" statue on Day One to the officers who crushed the Zuccotti Park encampment at the end. With his grey-flecked, practically Roman bearing, Bloomberg was almost a cartoon of the 21st Century benevolent dictator -- with zealous support of the liberal issues like LGBT rights, or handgun control that wouldn't topple a world order where almost all wealth flowed to the 1 percent.
Exit, stage left!
That was the rallying cry of TV's Snagglepuss (I'm speaking now in a frequency that only Baby Boomers can here..see below) but it also could be the motto of the Surpreme Court as it ends a fairly remarkable session, one where it drifted to the left almost as fast as a Tiger Woods tee shot.
Did the Supremes uphold Obamacare and affirm the Fair Housing Act of 1968, passed in the embers of the MLK assassination and riots, because it was just common sense? Or is the Roberts Court -- which is widely expected to affirm the right of gay marriage next week -- getting more...dare I say it, liberal? If so, why do many Republicans (Earl Warren, Harry Blackmun, David Souter, Reagan appointees Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O'Connor, and arguably even John Roberts) become almost progressive once they're freed of political considerations? It's almost as if smart people are drawn to liberal ideas!