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TUSCON SPEECH MAKES IT ALL SOUND POSSIBLE, UNTIL YOU WALK DOWN PENNSYLVANIA  AVENUE’S  MEMORY LANE

Everyone has weighed in and it’s pretty much unanimous: the President hit it out of the park last night. Glenn Beck said it was “probably the best speech he has ever given.” Pat Buchanan called it “splendid.” A U.S. News and World columnist called it “Reagan-esque.”

Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post said the speech “seemed not to come from a speechwriter’s pen, but from the heart.”  Gail Collins joined a larger chorus who said the speech was transformation in his presidency adding,  “Maybe President Obama was saving the magic for a time when we really needed it.”
As much as anyone, I want to believe.  I want to believe there can be passionate and more civil political debate, one where there’s fighting and horse trading and deal-making and compromises and we all move the country forward.  Yes, I want to believe  the cynical political stand-off is over.  We are all sick of it.   Turns out, we’ve been sick of it for a very long time.
Obama is just the latest in a long line of presidents calling for a return to civility. Read the rest of this entry »
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AFTER THE ARIZONA SHOOTING, GRAPPLING WITH POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM AND THE MEDIA BLAMESTORM

Jared Lee Loughner, Independent, hasn't voted since 2008

I’ve now listened to three full days analysis of the tragedy in Arizona which left six people dead, 14 more injured including Rep. Gabriella Giffords who’s still fighting for her  life.  The 72-hour blamestorm seems almost as crazy as the events of Saturday,  drowning out just about everything reasonable citizens should really be debating.  But instead of looking at gun laws that allow an unstable student  to buy an automatic weapon in 15 minutes or less, we’re talking about who besides the shooter has blood on their hands.

Paul Krugman, for one, wrote in the Sunday New York Times that the toxic rhetoric from the right is to blame.  He specifically named Michelle Bachmann, Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly among those who stoke the anger.  Krugman connects the dots from a 2009 Homeland Security report that warned of a rise in right wing extremism to a 300% rise in threats against members of Congress.  He writes that many threats were made by those mentally disturbed, and then offers this premise: that something in America is whipping up a great number of them  to act out their illness with violence.

Paul!  The Nobel committee is calling.  They want their prize back.  Your argument doesn’t even factor in, uh, the impact of the economy on mental health. Read the rest of this entry »