What About Peace and Widely Shared Prosperity?

It would be nice if Democrats at every level decided to stand for peace and widely shared prosperity – and of course (key item!) do those things that would achieve the stated goal.  As it is, I’m waiting too.

Representative Don Pridemore Offers Beyond the Pale Advice

I’m not an expert in domestic violence and abuse. I would recommend victims get professional help. What I would never tell a domestic violence or abuse victim is “If [you] can refind those reasons and get back to why [you] got married in the first place it might help.”  That kind of advice puts the onus on the victim and likely re-victimizes them.

Representative Don Pridemore recently said his advice to domestic violence and abuse victims is to avoid divorce and “[if] they can refind those reasons and get back to why they got married in the first place it might help.”  I’d like to think this statement was a mistake – a not-well-thought-out comment on abusive relationships that Pridemore regrets.

Don Pridemore is Chairman of the Children and Families Committee in the State Assembly and his words as a public figure hold weight.  Those words, as they stand now, are cruel, callous and, based on professional opinion (see link above), wrong-headed.  Wisconsin, Pridemore’s constituents and most importantly victims of marital violence and abuse deserve an immediate and public retraction and apology.

Robert Reich on Morality and the Difference Between the 1884 and 2012 Elections

Robert Reich blogs about the difference between public and private morality – and how the GOP focus on private morality to the exclusion of public morality is itself immoral.  He’s right as far as he goes and implicitly notes Democrats have their public morality issues (notably Obama also ran on private morality (“personal responsibility”) issues in 2008 and for public morality see his deficit talk, debt commission etc.).  Most Democrats are better on public and private morality largely by not being reactionaries – that’s a pretty low standard.

One illustration of public versus private morality that Reich could have used was the election of 1884 – this is from a 2004 blog post of mine:

“In 1884 the Republican candidate James G. Blaine was found to have written a letter involving the taking of a bribe from railroad interests for legislation. The letter ended with the words ‘Burn this letter’ – it never got burnt. His Democratic opponent, Cleveland, who was a bachelor, had fathered an illegitimate child. These two events, one public, the other private, became the source of campaign slogans. The Democrats chanted: ‘Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, Continental liar from the State of Main, BURN THAT LETTER’, while Republicans shouted: ‘Hey Maw, Where’s my paw? Going to the White House, Haw, Haw, Haw.’

Their contemporary Republican Mark Twain observed of the Democrat Cleveland

‘To see grown men, apparently in their right mind, seriously arguing against a bachelor’s fitness for President because he has had private intercourse with a consenting widow! Those grown men know what the bachelor’s other alternative was – & tacitly they seem to prefer that to the widow. Isn’t human nature the most consummate sham & lie that was ever invented?’

Since Blaine’s private life was, so far as it was known, unimpeachable, while his public life was corrupt; and since Cleveland’s private life may have been immoral, but his public life had been good, Twain believed the right thing to do was to send Blaine home and Cleveland to the White House. Twain made the right call.”

The 2012 presidential election will offer alternatives – but they may not be as satisfying.

Right On The Money

(h/t Atrios) Barry Ritholtz right on the money.  “Works for pot, crack, robo-signing, and segregated account theft….”

A Nice (and Terrible) Thing To Say About U.S. Health Care Researchers

Yes, given the importance of health care in our economy (not to mention to our health), health care researchers should be held to a high standard.

Consequences of Mainstreaming “Arcane Voodoo”

As Atrios points out – it isn’t a surprise.  What’s impressive, scary and depressing (in both meanings) is the disjunction between democracy and the complete failure in results of governments implementing stupid policies.  Makes a person think democracy no longer exists in such places.  Just a thought.

Median American Household Income Dropping Since 70s

Today’s Bruce Bartlett post on Economix “Fanning the Flames of Class Warfare” gives some interesting basic information – using a calculator from the Economic History Association we can see that the median American family income in Bartlett’s example of 1974 ($13,000) ranges in income or wealth value (depending on what type of value you’re interested in) between $57,500 and $126,000 in 2010 dollars.  By comparison the median American household income in 2010 was $49,445 – even allowing for the depression we’re in (the 2010 figure is a drop of 6.4 to 7.1% below the prior 2007 and 1999 income peaks respectively) – we’ve lost a lot of ground.  It doesn’t improve much if you use the more exact Census figure of $12,840 for 1974 median household income (pdf).

The basic story is not new – but the figures help illustrate the ground lost.

Rick Perlstein’s Latest – Obama Compromises Win Battles, Lose War

Rick Perlstein’s latest on Obama’s political tactics and strategy is well worth a read.  I have some questions about it – and may revisit them if and when I get some answers.


Social Media Doughnut

“As you ramble on through Life, Brother, whatever be your Goal, keep your eye upon the Doughnut and not upon the hole” takes on new social meaning….

Busking Behavior – Neil Young, Joshua Bell and the Case for Public Art

This video of Neil Young busking in Glasgow in 1976 incognito before a concert is worth a look (especially if you’re a fan of his early work like me)

It reminds me of the Washington Post’s experiment with the great violinist Joshua Bell (very much worth reading/seeing the video).  In the experiment Bell, one of the world’s greatest violinists, plays some of the world’s greatest music on one of the world’s greatest violins in a Washington, D.C. Metro station – and those few drawn to his music (without recognizing him) are mostly the young (almost all of whom are interested) and adults with musical training.  The Post reporter Gene Weingarten quotes lines from W.H. Davies poem Leisure

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

and writes:

“If we can’t take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that – then what else are we missing?”

These are serious times of economic depression with salary and job cuts, education cuts, and cuts to health care services among other cuts.  It’s a tremendous amount to deal with – overwhelming.  But we should take some time from being overwhelmed to recognize and (where possible) to support public art and art education.  The arts (performing, visual, literary, etc.) are  among other things about life – they are a commentary on the human condition that transcends us and opens us to new possibilities.  The Depression has diminished the public worldwide in so many tangible ways it may seem frivolous to explore ‘what is or might be’ while you’re fighting for a paycheck – but if we aren’t to be diminished permanently, stunted as a public with a limited, reduced view of life, then we must fight for more than meager survival.  We (and our children) deserve more.  We should fight to survive and to thrive.  The arts help make both possible.


[Editor Update: Couldn’t find the full video of Joshua Bell in the Metro (I think it used to be there) – but the full audio is here.]