1. Democrats and Aristocrats. For a long time I have been annoyed by politicians who insist on referring to the Democratic Party as the “Democrat Party,” usually with a sneer and a look down the nose. I guess the first problem was simply grammar. It seemed to me that people with law degrees should know the difference between a noun and an adjective, even if they were from Texas and especially if they happened to be the Speaker of the House or the Minority Leader of the Senate. Finally it’s dawned on me that they are talking about “democrat” with a small “d.” The implication is that being a democrat is something undesirable, and that’s why people who call themselves Republicans (That’s with a large “r”) have gathered in a separate party. I’m not aware of any specific political philosophy that is attached to the word “republican.” I think everyone in this country shares the idea that we are all members of a res publica, so republican wouldn’t be helpful as a description of members of a party. “Conservative” is used a lot, so much in fact that it is increasingly hard to understand what it means. I proposed some alternatives to a few friends and eventually it came down to a choice between plutocrat and aristocrat, with aristocrat winning the day. So from now on it will be the Democrat Party and the Aristocrat Party. Finally there’s a home for the 1% and all of those well –meaning people who want to rub shoulders with them.
2. Pious Baloney. I’m grateful to the Grinch for introducing “pious baloney” into the current political dialog. It’s such a useful term that perhaps we should give it its own acronym, “PB.” The Rev. Brad Atkins of the Southern Baptist Convention was peddling a wonderful slice of PB over the weekend, to wit: “This country was founded to protect religious freedom, not economic prosperity.” History is so inconvenient, and people who ignore it make it so easy. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s true that the Pilgrims and many other pre-revolutionary settlers came to America to escape religious persecution in Europe and also true that too many of them immediately set about setting up their own forms of religious persecution in the new world. Some are still at it. They pretty much leave Catholics and Jews alone these days, perhaps because they are pre-occupied with Muslims. The Founders were wise to include religious freedom in the Constitution, so that the states were no longer able to pick and choose among acceptable religions. And if you have the strength to go back and read about the causes of the American Revolutionary it is totally dominated by economic issues. First and foremost, Americans wanted to trade without the restrictions imposed by British colonial authorities.
3. The Firing Speech. I really enjoyed Romney’s firing speech. I read as much of the commentary as I could. It seems only Ruth Marcus got to the real point: What Romney said he wanted to do about his health insurance is exactly what Obamacare makes possible for the rest of us. How soon before we make “Obamacare” a positive term and a political plus?
4. Entitlement vs. Self-Reliance. I’m late getting to George Will’s recent column in which he sees some evil progressive plot to destroy our liberties. The Post printed three excellent letters which made him look, well, foolish. Clearly senility has set in. I love it when people talk about entitlement society vs. self-reliant society right next to pictures of Romney's four sons, all of whom went to Harvard. With that fine education and a modest inheritance of a few millions, I'm sure they will be successful and self-supporting members of society. Why is it that so many parents don't put their kids on the same track to success and self-reliance? As E.J. Dionne wrote recently, we need a serious debate about the nature of capitalism. Even Milton Friedman acknowledged that governments have a role to play in economies. Elsewhere I read that the results of a survey showed that the public prefers a pro-growth to a pro-equality message by 52 to 40 percent. Talk about simplistic. How could anyone ask such a question, much less answer it in an opinion survey?