Sigh

November 25th, 2014

Really depressing. One of the great moral challenges of our time, and most in a position to pontificate or actually do some good merely look away.

Everything old is new again

November 24th, 2014

Tufts:

In the fifth year of the Peloponnesian war (427 BCE), Athens’ ally Corcyra fell victim to internal strife, a vicious struggle between the commons, allies of Athens, and the oligarchs, who were eager to enlist the support of the Spartans. The revolution began when Corinth, an ally of Sparta, released Corcyraean prisoners with the promise that the former prisoners would work to convince Corcyra to abandon its ally Athens and join the Peloponnesian side. These men brought Peithias, a pro-Athenian civic leader, to trial on charges of “enslaving Corcyra to Athens”. He was acquitted and took revenge by charging five of them in turn. However, these men burst in upon the senate and killed Peithias and sixty other people.

Shortly after this, skirmishes broke out in the city, between the commons, who enlisted the aid of the slaves, and the oligarchs, who hired mercenaries, which ended with the oligarchs being routed. The Athenian general, Nicostratus, tried to bring about a peaceful settlement and ensure an offensive and defensive alliance between Corcyra and Athens. Nicostratus agreed to leave five Athenian ships to defend Corcyra while five Corcyraean ships accompanied him. The commons tried to get their enemies to serve upon these ships that were departing with Nicostratus. Their enemies, fearing for their lives, seated themselves as suppliants to the goddess Hera, and eventually were convinced to stay on the island in front of the temple.

Four or five days after these events, Peloponnesian ships approached Corcyra and engaged the smaller number of Athenian vessels, while the Corcyraean vessels were ineffective due to disorganization. The Peloponnesians drove off the Athenian and Corcyraean ships, laid waste to the surrounding country, but chose not to attack the city itself . Disorder and panic were rampant through the city, as rumors reached the population.

The Peloponnesians eventual departed under fear of the approach of a larger Athenian fleet. The commons took this opportunity to slay as many of their enemies as they could get their hands upon. The managed to slay some of the men who had appealed to Hera as suppliants. The others committed suicide or killed each other. This was the beginning of the chaos in Corcyra and “the Corcyraeans were engaged in butchering those of their fellow-citizens whom they regarded as their enemies: and although the crime imputed was that of attempting to put down the democracy, some were slain also for private hatred, others by their debtors because of the monies owed to them.”

What’s up with this? Angelo Codevilla explains.

A mess then, a mess now, a mess until…

November 23rd, 2014

Clarice Feldman looks at the most recent immigration mess, created for no good reason, and possibly with counterproductive results, even if you think you’re in the business of creating Venezuela North, with a Silicon Valley offramp. What a mess! Of course, it’s been a mess for a long time; we only have to look back to 2007 when the bipartisan geniuses of the senate produced a bill with no effective enforcement mechanism. This is going to be a mess at least until there’s effective border fencing and a mechanism to immediately get rid of people who fly in and overstay their visas.

Hey, what the heck, let’s go all the way back to the early 1970′s.

That’s a nice country you’ve got there

November 22nd, 2014

Wretchard et al, with some minor edits:

No one knows if the administration will manage in the next five weeks to strike what many in the White House consider the most important foreign policy deal of all time: an accord with Iran that would forestall its ability to make a nuclear weapon. But the administration has made one significant decision: If agreement is reached, it will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress vote on it. Sneak it in the back door and declare victory. Nothing warms the cockles of his heart more than “it is so ordered”. But that has been the pattern for the administration. It claimed al-Qaeda decimated, maintained the attack on the Benghazi consulate was caused by a video, swore that the mandates were not taxes, that you could keep your doctor or health plan; it celebrated the fresh wind of an Arab spring that blew through Libya, Egypt and Syria. It claimed the doorman Putin has been put in his place. Which of these is true? But there are many who still believe. Unfortunately they may be surprised one day when all the dreams of grand bargains, resets, pivots, springs and a World Without Nuclear Weapons don’t actually come true. The disappointment may be a bitter one.

That’s a nice country you’ve got there; be a pity if anything happened to it. Also, Roger Kimball is upset for some reason.

Fun with numbers

November 21st, 2014

SacBee on Cal public pensions:

their “unfunded liabilities” – the gap between assets and liabilities for current and future pensions – exploded from $6.3 billion in 2003 to $198.2 billion in 2013. Moreover, that startling number assumes that pension systems will see asset earnings of about 7.5 percent a year – a number that some are beginning to see as unattainable.

Los Angeles’ city pension system dropped its assumed earnings, called the “discount rate,” last week. The board of California’s second largest pension system, covering teachers, was told last month by a panel of experts that its 7.5 percent assumption is likely to be under 7 percent for the next decade.

If a 7.5 percent discount rate, which is also used by the giant California Public Employees’ Retirement System and many local systems, is too high, the current $198.2 billion debt in Chiang’s report is, in reality, much higher.

If we only stick the people who think thoughts like this with the bill….

Coming of age with Nichols and May

November 20th, 2014

As a young pup, we have a vivid first memory of Mike Nichols as a cab driver and Elaine May as the passenger. Whether it was from Omnibus or Tonight or Jack Paar or TW3 or elsewhere we can’t recall; we formed the impression they were married, and that they seemed very nice. (We can’t find that skit, but here’s the lake scene, and here’s the $65 funeral.) We saw Cronyn and Tandy in the Gin Game, before that the Graduate and Virginia Wolff of course, and long after that, one of our favorites, Primary Colors. Here are the LAT and NYT obits of Nichols. Here’s the famous skit from the 1959 Emmys. The young pup couldn’t have imagined the complexities within the cab driver and passenger. Pretty amazing. RIP.

Stranger than fiction

November 19th, 2014

City Journal:

your personal unhappiness stems from larger political forces—anything from the suffocating nuclear family, the institutionalized oppression of women, or the supposedly ineradicable racism of American society—and that only vast political change can solve your individual problems, has been the guiding principle of de Blasio’s administration. His campaign slogan was the “tale of two cities:” one poor and minority; one rich, white, and determined to oppress the other New York with a racist police force bent on harassing minority youths with stop-and-frisk tactics based on racial profiling. A de Blasio administration would end stop-and-frisk, the candidate promised. It would then uplift the poor New York by taxing the rich one to provide universal preschool, whose lack is a key reason ghetto kids don’t succeed, he contended, and to hand out welfare checks without requiring recipients to do work in return, since institutionalized racism is the reason they have no jobs in the first place.

How could anyone believe this fairy tale after 20 years of dramatic, concrete evidence to the contrary? Revolutionary policing tactics under mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg cut the murder rate to one-sixth of what it was in 1991, while reducing overall crime by two-thirds. The result was not only the renaissance of New York as a glittering world city, pulsing with opportunity, wealth, and vitality, but also the rebirth of ghetto neighborhoods where fear of crime had extinguished ordinary civic life. You can’t have a community when mothers are afraid to send their kids out for a loaf of bread, and where they put them to bed in the bathtub, to protect them from stray bullets.

De Blasio, his wife, and Noerdlinger believe the myth because, as I theorized earlier in this space, it gives them a way of dealing with their own troubled and damaging pasts. De Blasio’s prep-school and Ivy League-educated father, a war hero who lost part of a leg at Okinawa, later came under a McCarthyite investigation that cost him his government job. Though he went on to get even more prestigious posts, his sense of grievance drove him to alcoholism, divorce, and suicide. After not one but two name changes to distance himself from his failed and absent father, Warren Wilhelm, Jr. became Bill de Blasio and turned his anger and sense of abandonment first to Sandinista and Castroite radicalism and then to the racial grievance that he absorbed from his wife, Chirlane McCray, until then a lesbian, who, as the only black in her New England high school and one of but few at Wellesley, felt herself an “outsider” who “didn’t belong” and wished she could have been “cute and angry, instead of an evil, pouting mammy bitch.” Because de Blasio considers McCray “my most important adviser”—“Understand Chirlane and you’ll understand me,” the mayor once said—he decided that she needed a chief of staff, and a highly paid one at that.

Enter Noerdlinger, until then the flack for Al Sharpton, the cop-hating racial provocateur, whose nationwide trumpeting of teenager Tawana Brawley’s lie that she’d been raped and brutalized by a gang of whites, including a cop and a prosecutor, made him famous and brought hatred of the police to a boil in much of black America. Noerdlinger has her own tale of disorder and early sorrow. Adopted by a white couple with two children of their own, plus a child from the father’s first marriage and another adopted black kid, Noerdlinger “was this child of color in a family that didn’t look like me,” she said. And it must have been a troubled family, too, for the mother committed suicide, like de Blasio’s father. Perhaps to solve her identity problem by choosing what she considered “authentic” blackness, Noerdlinger moved in with a man seven years her junior, who’d been in trouble with the police ever since he got out of prison (first for killing a fellow teen and then for interstate drug dealing). One of his encounters included a traffic infraction in Noerdlinger’s Mercedes—reportedly with Noerdlinger, her teenaged son, Khari, and a bag of marijuana in the car. Now 17, Khari, a six-foot-one, 215-pound high school football player whose supposedly debilitating car-crash injuries are the reason Noerdlinger gave for getting permission to continue living in New Jersey rather than in New York, where City Hall staffers are supposed to live, got arrested over the weekend for trespassing while he was drinking with friends in the lobby of an upper Manhattan building. The publicity convinced Noerdlinger and the de Blasios that she had to go, under the face-saving rubric of an unpaid leave of absence.

To an enraged de Blasio, Noerdlinger’s forced exit results from “repulsive” personal press attacks, reminiscent, reports the New York Times, of McCarthyism—so there’s no need to wonder just what is the source of the mayor’s unquenchable anger that blazed into view at this moment. But if he is angry at the McCarthyism that began his father’s downfall, no one forced the elder Wilhelm to become a drunk and kill himself. Yes, he suffered injustice, but he made his own choices and could have made different ones. De Blasio, McCray, Noerdlinger: they all experienced painful childhoods that can only elicit sympathy. But they made their own choices about how to interpret their pasts and to live their lives, and where to place responsibility for their own fates. But if you bring up your child with a sense of victimhood and grievance and hatred of authority—and Khari Noerdlinger, who, like his mother’s convict boyfriend, also sends out cop-hating and racist tweets, including “All white people are the devil” and “Pigs always killing people,” has surely been brought up in just this way—what kind of choices can you expect him to make?

Self-righteousness and victimhood have always gone hand-in-hand, but it may have taken the media-academy establishment for snobbishness to be in the mix in the way it is today. What a world! Bonus fun: if you insist you are not a king or an emperor, what do you really think?

Worth a moment’s thought

November 18th, 2014

Brookings, 2006:

“You have already drawn some of the brightest minds from academia and policy circles, many of them I have stolen ideas from liberally…People ranging from Robert Gordon to Austan Goolsbee; Jon Gruber; my dear friend, Jim Wallis here, who can inform what are sometimes dry policy debates with a prophetic voice.”

Yes, it’s the one we don’t mention who is speaking, because, you know, words. But prophetic voice, what’s up with that? Can’t imagine using that phrase in a hundred years. Oops! We get it now.

Special fun bonus.

Everything old is new again

November 17th, 2014

So poor Peter Kassig apparently changed his name to Abdul Rahman, which did him no good in remaining capitated. Bizarro World immediately said that “ISIL’s actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul Rahman adopted as his own.” Well, what’s in a name? There was another Abdul Rahman a decade ago, and lo and behold, guess who was calling for him to be sent to the great beyond? BTW, even the NYT reported back than that our fine allies in Saudi Arabia did 100 or more cranial liberations a year for many offenses, particularly apostasy. We forget what apostasy means, something about getting a speeding ticket perhaps…

History, live and updated

November 16th, 2014

AFP:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that the Americas were discovered by Muslims in the 12th century, nearly three centuries before Christopher Columbus set foot there. “Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th century. Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus,” the conservative president said in a televised speech during an Istanbul summit of Muslim leaders from Latin America. “Muslim sailors arrived in America from 1178. Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque on a hill on the Cuban coast,” Erdogan said. Erdogan said that Ankara was even prepared to build a mosque at the site mentioned by the Genoese explorer. “I would like to talk about it to my Cuban brothers. A mosque would go perfectly on the hill today,” the Turkish leader said. History books say that Columbus set foot on the American continent in 1492 as he was seeking a new maritime route to India. A tiny minority of Muslim scholars have recently suggested a prior Muslim presence in the Americas, although no pre-Columbian ruin of an Islamic structure has ever been found.

Yeah, right, it was probably the Barbary Pirates. On the other hand, what is history? Just stuff and nonsense apparently. On the morning news they were celebrating a museum of Hello Kitty and Thomas the Tank Engine as a cultural wonder. Heck, those two probably discovered America.

The drips are dropping

November 15th, 2014

Rather than focus on the horrible (e.g., this and this), or the merry / silly but good, we’ll mention the pernicious but naive today. A fellow who was a year behind us in B school runs a very large company and has done very well for himself; he censored his media employees so they could not say politically inconvenient things, no doubt on many occasions (for which the BOD arguably should censure him). What’s up with that? No plausible deniability in case the worm turns (which it has)?

Opposite Day x 2922

November 14th, 2014

If you like your Goober, you can keep your Goober. (It will be interesting to see if MIT cans him.) The greatest threat is climate change. The Supreme Leader understands the concerns of Iranians. Some allies get this; other countries get this. Wretchard asked “how can you break down the borders of your own country and expect it to end well?” Answer: you don’t. What part of fundamentally transforming an adequately performing society don’t you understand?

Without a doubt the weirdest thing about this parallel universe is that these guys and their fellow travelers are completely convinced of their own superiority, even though they are wrong on most issues and have no problem lying boldly to advance their reactionary agenda.

Religion in these times

November 13th, 2014

Mother Jones:

we’re familiar with some of the scarier potential impacts of climate change: Floods, fires, stronger hurricanes, violent conflicts. Well, here’s a new one to add to your nightmares. Lightning strikes in the continental United States will increase roughly 12 percent for every degree Celsius of global warming, a study published today in Science finds. If warming continues unchecked, that could translate into a 50 percent increase in lightning by the end of the century — three strikes then for every two strikes now. there are currently about 25 million strikes per year…

the increase matters because lightning strikes are the principle cause of wildfires, which are already predicted to become more severe due to global warming. In one 24-hour period in August, lightning in Northern California started 34 wildfires. The study doesn’t make any specific predictions about wildfire activity, but knowing about future lightning conditions is an important part of that equation…

to get a sense of how lighting patterns will change in future climates, scientists have to rely on “proxies” — third-party forces they can model that have a known relationship to lightning. Early lightning studies in the 1990s, for example, made inferences based on how the heights of clouds — thought to be one contributor to lightning patterns — are expected to change with global warming, Del Genio said.

This study presents a new proxy for lightning…precipitation and “CAPE,” a standard measure of the kinetic energy clouds hold as they rise in the atmosphere. Lightning is the product of electrical charges caused by ice particles of different densities colliding in clouds, so Romps chose factors that would be necessary for lightning to occur: Enough precipitation to form ice, and enough upward energy to keep the ice suspended. Taken together, those proxies accurately predicted 77 percent of actual lightning strikes observed in the US in 2011 by a national web of electromagnetic sensors.

More silliness here. Also, Lindzen on religious and other myths that captivate some of our confreres.

2030 is just around the corner?

November 12th, 2014

Bloomberg:

best argument against regulating carbon emissions from U.S. coal plants has always been this: If China won’t act, what use is it? Why risk harming the U.S. economy if the resulting drop in emissions isn’t enough to slow the worst effects of climate change? The U.S.-China climate agreement announced last night turns that argument on its head. Under the deal, China will aim to begin reducing its carbon emissions by 2030, and the U.S. will reduce its emissions by as much as 28 percent by 2025, compared with 2005 levels — “reductions achievable under existing law.” Translation: The U.S. can only honor its commitment if proposed regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, which aim to reduce power-plant emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, are allowed to proceed. So if some in Congress block those rules, they risk tanking the agreement with China, which in turn gives China a reason to back out of the deal. The EPA rules that previously looked senseless in the absence of Chinese emissions reductions are now, arguably, the single most important thing the U.S. can do

This is a parody, right? Possibly related.

Life then and now

November 11th, 2014

HuffPo:

Mia Love made history on Election Night 2014 as she beat out Democratic contender Doug Owens to become the first black (Haitian-American), female Republican to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. This is a stunning triumph in the predominately white and conservative state of Utah, where only 1.3 percent of the population is black. For many Americans unfamiliar with the significance of race, racism and inequality within our nation’s borders, Mia’s victory seemingly sends a clear message that America is truly “post-racial,” particularly if a black woman can get elected to office by a majority-white, conservative and religious constituency. Her white supporters likewise congratulate themselves, proclaiming that Love’s achievement is indicative of a more progressive and democratic society in general where tolerance and inclusion are on the rise, moving beyond the evils of individual bigotry. Starkly exposed since the election of President Obama in 2008, her GOP colleagues and supporters hope that her presence as a newly elected official will demonstrate how far the GOP has come, embracing difference that was so clearly lacking. Some believe her victory will do wonders for the GOP, which struggles to gain a significant share of the coveted “minority vote.” But will her election play a major factor in gaining greater access to black Americans, or is it merely a veil?

To many African Americans and other individuals engaged in politics who followed Mia Love’s House candidacy up to her historic victory, she is a paradox. As a black, female Mormon, her conservative ideals are deemed peculiar as she begins her office in the House of Representatives while balancing a triad of oppressive social constructs that are leveled against her. Not only have blacks historically and continually had to battle for their right to coexist as equals in U.S. society, but women have similarly pushed against a glass ceiling. Even today, women still struggle for equal pay, equal rights and equal protection under the law in the workplace. Mia, as a black female, represents one of the most discriminated-against racial groups in the country. To a degree, the same can be said for her Mormon identity, as the LDS faithful endured bitter hatred and state-sanctioned domestic terrorism in Missouri and Illinois in the 1800s. Mormons remains grossly misunderstood and often unfairly judged with respect to their religious views, while mainline evangelical traditions continue to wield Christian privilege at the expense of “fringe” religions like Mormonism. How does a black, female conservative and Latter-day Saint manage to negotiate so many foreboding white contexts?

Love’s political convictions show a strong support for values that do not necessarily represent her interests as a member in any of these oppressed groups.

We were somehow reminded of this from a decade ago:

Here is the signal fact of our progress in the last century. If you were born in 1900, your life expectancy was in the forties, and GNP per capita was about $4000. If you are born today, your life expectancy in about eighty, and statistically, as an average American, you are ten times richer. In reality you are a hundred or a thousand times richer, if you factor in your ability to be in Paris tomorrow for $500, your ability to watch events from fifty years ago as they actually happened, etc. – not to mention that your toddler’s severe pneumonia can be reliably cured in 48 hours or so. Only a little of this has to do with government.

Mostly it is because far more than 50% of everything ever invented in the history of humanity was invented in the last 130 years, and perhaps 50% of that was invented by Americans. Milton Hershey invented the candy bar, Carrier invented the air conditioner for a tire plant, Sears invented catalogue distribution, Henry Ford invented cheap cars, some guys from Texas Instruments commercialized the transistor. It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the invention and wide use of brand names, which communicate the quality and dependability of every product we buy. This alone deserves the Nobel Prize. And it was a large and growing market, the availability of risk capital, the development of standardized accounting principles, and protection of intellectual and personal property by the courts that made this possible

Moreover, in the years since we first wrote the paragraphs above, the following inventions and innovations have appeared on the scene: the iPhone, the iPad, YouTube, the World of Google, ubiquitous wireless, texting, twitter, tumblr, the cloud, and the entire universe of real-time, mostly inane interconnectedness

That HuffPo guy sure seems unhappy in 2014. Again we’re reminded that no one in America remembers what life was like without telephones, running water, indoor plumbing, cars, airplanes, central heating, or electric lights. A quote from Henry Adams is apt: “The American boy of 1854 stood closer to the year 1 than to the year 1900.” Vanishingly small numbers of Americans have a visceral understanding of what 1854 was like, and what the heck Adams was talking about.

How low we’ve fallen

November 10th, 2014

This meandering piece wanders around for a long time. It takes you into a world where there are no P&L’s, and where the trivial and the crucial are mere meeting times on a calendar. Some country you’ve got there.

WWE

November 9th, 2014

In which Orwell meets Kafka in a battle of the titans.

Thank you very much

November 8th, 2014

We’re referring of course to the song (first to use U for you?) by The Scaffold from the late sixties or so. As we mentioned a few years ago, we have a rather eclectic soundtrack playing much of the time in the background — elevator music for the mind as we go about our daily business. Often we misremember the lyrics (inky stinky parlez vous) but that’s okay. It’s all good fun.

There are many annoyances in modern life. No doubt the greatest of these is that when you’re trying to read a piece by Roger Simon, you now have to click as many as four times so that the advertising VP at PJ Media can report maximum page views to the sponsors. But right up there on our list is the pathetic offerings of classic rock radio.

We jog (decades ago it was run) for an hour every day and the radio helps pass the time. Sometimes it’s 90.7, 91.5 or 88.1. Sometimes it’s 640, 870 or 1150. Occasionally it’s 89.9 or 1070. (On Wednesday it was 77 WABC and News Radio 88.) However, when it’s 101.1 or 100.3, we’re not happy about what we’re hearing. Whatever algorithm is choosing the songs is an ignoramus (or perhaps we’re no longer the target demographic).

Where are the album cuts and one-hit wonders? Where’s Donovan, Duke of Earl, or Doors B sides? Answer: start jogging in a wifi area and ditch the radio. 60′s music radio is an iPhone app that links to a variety of good web resources, that is if you think good is Allan Sherman, Dusty Springfield or Bruce Channel. Bruce Channel?

Super fun bonus: Hinderaker vivisects Gail Collins.

A meeting in Manhattan

November 7th, 2014

For some reason we happened to keep a copy of the Tuesday, October 20, 1970 city edition of the New York Times for all these years. The story pictured above was below the fold, in the lower left corner. Construction work on the north tower began in August 1968, though site preparation began earlier. So from the time that construction began until the WTC became the tallest building in the world was 2 years. Now it’s 13 years since 9/11, and the replacement for the north tower that had been “expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2013″ just opened. Our sclerotic America.

We had a meeting at 200 West Street on Wednesday. As we went down the FDR Drive we of course looked to the right as we passed the Brooklyn Bridge, because in the old days you saw a dramatic view of the WTC. (You know whether an SVU episode is 2002 or later, because they changed the clip of the Bridge so you’re looking further north than in 2001 and earlier episodes.) The new WTC is a dramatically better looking building than the ugly muthas. Then you go a couple more miles and into the Hugh Carey tunnel to the West Side. When you come out of the tunnel on to West Street, you’re at Ground Zero, and a minute from our meeting location.

It’s an emotional thing to see this new building which shouldn’t be there at all. In the old days we enjoyed the creepy shaky elevator ride up to Windows on the World for client dinners. We recall the young Dinokids looking out those same windows late one spring morning in 1998. The were familiar with the buildings from the Simpsons episode of a year earlier (later pulled, now back in syndication). Time and life move on.

A program — offered seriously — for 2014-2016

November 6th, 2014

The Nation has an agenda for 2014-2016:

immigration reform. Announce a serious executive action. Go to the South Valley of Texas and/or the Arizona border, and make appearances with some of the little girls and boys who are trying to come to the United States to avoid their dangerous, hard-scrabble lives in Honduras and Guatemala…

Cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. Then elevate climate change as an issue…Meet with China and India on climate issues, before the next round of global climate meetings. Set aside big chunks of public land and ocean, and hold photo ops in spectacular natural settings as you do so…Host a national teach-in with real climate scientists, on C-Span, and use it to drive a nail in the coffin of the fake, corporate-funded, “climate denial” science. Pull together a meeting of coastal mayors to talk about what “resilience” steps to take to prepare for the next Superstorm Sandy — this is not only necessary, it’s a good way to raise the issue of needed infrastructure spending. Take the climate disruption issue head-on, and make it part of the legacy. No previous leaders have met the challenge of global warming, a threat that affects both national and world security…

Go up to the edge of normalizing relations with Cuba. Send the Attorney General down to Havana to work out the details. I understand that current law prevents fully normalizing relations with Cuba, but there are a series of executive actions that would weaken the embargo, increase American prestige in this hemisphere, and help stabilize working relationships with Cuba on a series of bilateral issues. Even better, take these executive actions just before the entire hemisphere meets at the Summit of the Americas in Panama in May, actions that will enhance America’s reputation across Latin America.

Use changing national attitudes on marijuana to weaken the wasteful and ineffective war on drugs. Better yet, use executive power to weaken our harsh and racist criminal injustice system. Reclassify marijuana as a less-dangerous drug. Commute sentences of nonviolent pot prisoners (a disproportionate number of them young African-Americans!). Appoint a blue-ribbon presidential commission on drug reform and criminal justice reform, with a mandate to report back quickly on issues from marijuana legalization to curbing police brutality to eliminating three-strikes-and-you’re-out policies to reforming harsh sentencing to ending the militarization and weaponization of local and state police departments to stop and frisk to racial profiling.

Nominate Tom Harkin to the Federal Reserve Board…

issue a Good Jobs Executive Order that would reward companies that pay their workers a living wage, allow them a voice at the workplace without having to go on strike, adhere to federal workplace safety and fair labor standards and limit the pay of their chief executives to some reasonable ratio to that of their average workers.

Nominate a diverse set of progressives to fill every judicial vacancy at every level, and then make this a huge national throwdown fight when they are not approved. Given the poor public view of the runaway, activist, Citizens United–tainted Supreme Court, judges could become one of the big issues of the 2016 campaign. Be the change you want to see. Sí, se puede.

That’s a winning platform alright! Perhaps there’s a reason for all the drug talk. And this from Patterico. Hinge, hinge, unhinge.

Bonus fun: compare George Will’s recommendations with the Nation’s. Questions? Anyone?