The old cowboy-philosopher Will Rogers was fond of saying he wasn't really telling jokes, he just watched the government and reported the news. At other times, Rogers claimed to be among the nation's largest employers: "There's no trick to being a humorist," he would say, "when you've got the whole government working for you."
They are generally referred to as "talking points," but are sometimes called "marching orders." They are instructions members of Congress, or candidates for same, receive from their party's headquarters or its congressional leadership to help them stay "on message." That means not only holding on for dear life and campaign funding to the substance of the message, but also clinging even to specific words and phrases, usually tested in polls and with focus groups. It's enough to make you think "talking points" are what Edgar Bergen gave Charlie McCarthy. Or what Joe Stalin gave Franklin Roosevelt.
I don't know who coined the phrase "race to the bottom" to describe how the U.S economy is beginning to resemble that of some third world nations. But when it comes to ranking Presidents of the United States, George W. Bush appears to be winning a "race to the bottom."
Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Congressman chosen to give the "official" Republican response to the President's State of the Union address, might have been the designated funeral director, but for the fortunate fact that the patient is, remarkably, still alive. In a dark suit, seated behind his Budget Committee desk, the chairman was instead the family doctor, doing his best to appear both solemn and hopeful as he brought us the grim news. The prognosis is not good. The nation's fiscal ills, with their "crushing burden of debt," could be fatal unless we stop consuming fatty stimulus programs and high-cholesterol health care mandates and begin to exercise fiscal discipline.
It was a lie from the beginning. Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, claimed her pregnancy was a result of rape. It wasn’t. McCorvey admitted the lie years later when she came out of the closet, so to speak, and joined the pro-life movement. But the lie served the purpose of the American Civil Liberties Union, which wanted a test case to strike down the Texas law that allowed abortion only when the life of the mother was at stake. By the time the U.S. Supreme Court had worked its alchemy on the Constitution, Roe v. Wade had become the vehicle for knocking down the abortion laws of nearly every state. On January 22, 1973, the Court declared abortion a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Some 50 million aborted babies later, the big lie marches on.
While President Barack Obama was lecturing China's President Hu Jintao about human rights Wednesday, prosecutors in Philadelphia announced they had charged an abortion doctor with eight counts of murder in the deaths of one woman and seven babies. The infants were born alive and then killed with scissors, prosecutors said.
Some eternal verities have outlived their usefulness. Okay that's a contradiction, which I cheerfully acknowledge. To be more accurate, some things that seem eternally true never were, and that becomes clear over time. One such truth is that, whatever one thinks about the wisdom of either starting or entering a war, once that decision is made the patriot's duty is to "support the troops," which is translated by the hawks to mean, of course, to support the mission. We must support what the troops are doing. Or, if we can't do that, we certainly have the duty to exercise the one provision of the Bill of Rights — other than the right to keep and bear arms — that Bill "of Wrongs" O'Reilly of Fox News fame reveres and insists on: your right to remain silent. Otherwise you are undermining the war effort, giving aid and comfort to the enemy and thereby committing sedition and possibly treason.
Old war hawks never die, they just beat new war drums. Columnist David Broder, New Dealer emeritus at the Washington Post, believes he has discovered the elixir for our stubbornly stagnant economy, one that has the potential to make Barack Obama "one of the most successful presidents in history." And, oh yes, it will be good for the country, too. Heck, it worked for FDR, didn't it?
For those who follow politics, in the hope that our politics leads somewhere, today is Election eve, the day before we get to choose between misfortune and catastrophe, each represented by one of our two major parties. But for many Christians in America and other parts of the world, November 1 of every year is All Saints Day, a time to remember and honor holy men and women for the remarkable contributions they made to the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth before finding its glory in the hereafter.
Often the most enjoyable humor is the unintended kind, as in the oft-quoted Yogi Berra line about an overly popular restaurant: "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded." Or when Archie Bunker said of live theater, "The age of entertainment is over! Today we got television."