Meet the New Democrats, Same As the Old Democrats

Human beings are naturally drawn to bold statements, and, concomitantly, to overstatement. Nowhere is that more visible than in politics, and nowhere is politics more prone to it than when it involves the President of the United States. Such overstatement is dangerous no matter who it comes from, as it reinforces illusions about the world in which we live. Even if the result is more CNN than FOX News, it’s still dangerous.

Bombast like that of the outgoing president is easy to spot and criticize, especially when you vehemently disagree with the person spewing it. More moderate overstatement is just as damaging and common, but it is less obvious. This more subtle bombast has gone into overdrive in 2020, in large part as a reaction to Donald Trump’s term in office and savage attempt at reelection.

As liberals sigh with relief at Joe Biden’s imminent assumption of the Oval Office, we see comments such as this, from J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami (full disclosure: I have known Jeremy for many years, and, despite significant political differences with him, I like and respect him): “I know you’ll agree: January 20, 2021 cannot come soon enough. Beyond that lies hope inspired by broad vaccine distribution, economic recovery and a new day for our nation marked by new leadership and new direction.”

I certainly agree that January 20, 2021 can’t come fast enough. The reasons are obvious, and virtually all of them have to do with Trump’s exit, not Biden’s entry. But he does not symbolize hope, he is not “new” in any way, and he does not offer either a new direction or a way out of our current morass.  

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Don’t Make a Hero of Snowden — Yet

Edward Snowden must not be made a hero! That probably comes as a surprise to anyone who read my previous two pieces on PRISM,

This guy gets it

This guy gets it

but it’s a genuine concern. The question of Snowden as hero or traitor threatens to derail the much more important conversation that we need to have in the United States.

Bipartisan attacks on Snowden are already being leveled. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Bill Nelson, both Democrats, and the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner have all called Snowden a traitor. Others are praising him as a hero. And, as the go-to newspaper for lobbyists, POLITICO has already pointed out, the debate itself is precisely what President Obama wants. While we debate the pros and cons of Ed Snowden, we’re not discussing PRISM. Continue reading

In Guns We Trust

This article originally appeared at Souciant, where I have a weekly column

The United States is the only country where owning a gun is considered a God-given right. For some, perhaps, it is merely held to be a constitutional right (in this, it stands with only three other countries: Guatemala, Haiti and Mexico.) But whatever level of divinity is bestowed upon it, the gun is American culture’s Golden Calf. Continue reading