Sue Paterno to Chat with Katie Couric

Sporting News reports: “Katie Couric will have the first sit-down interview with Sue Paterno, the widow of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno.This will mark the first time that Sue Paterno has talked since the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal hit the Penn State campus. Joe Paterno died from lung cancer on Jan. 22, 2012. He was fired in November 2011 because of the Sandusky scandal. Couric’s interview with Sue Paterno will air Feb. 11 on her syndicate daytime show, Katie, according to her show’s website.”

“Obama Condoms” Sold At Inauguration; Tasteful Jokes Abound

Stamped with slogans like “Won’t break as easily as his promises,” and “Hope is not a form of protection,” condoms branded with the likeness of President Obama were hot sellers at Monday’s Inauguration events. (Or near them, anyway: The prophylactics weren’t officially licensed, relegating them to the street hawkers outside the big events.) A package of two costs $6, and provides as many President Obama dick jokes as you could ever hope for in this lifetime. Honestly, this seems more up Joe Biden’s alley. [Liberty Unyielding]

Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr.: It’s Complicated

If Martin Luther King Jr. had been allowed to live out a normal life—if he hadn’t been cut down by an assassin’s bullet before he even turned 40—he might’ve lived to see today: He might’ve been an 84-year-old man watching Barack Obama inaugurated as this country’s president for the second time.

History was not so kind. Instead, the country celebrates President Obama’s inauguration today, the same day we’ve also set aside to observe King’s birthday. And the confluence of the two events causes one to ask: What would the old minister have made of the young president?

Would Rev. King have praised Obama? Or criticized him with righteous fury?

Best guess? Probably a bit of both.

Surely, if King was a prophet, then Obama is—at least partially—the fulfillment of a prophecy. When our current president was born, the Civil Rights Act had not yet been passed, and interracial marriages remained illegal. To go from that status quo to a twice-elected African American president within a lifetime remains an astonishing, if imperfect, evolution for this country, and it’s one that King helped foster with his dream that in the United States, citizens “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Don’t forget, too, that King ended his life battling more over economics than on race: He was in Memphis in support of striking sanitation workers when he was assassinated. He likely would’ve celebrated Obama’s efforts to pass the Affordable Care Act. And though King was a Christian minister, let us guess that he would’ve sided with those seeking marriage rights for gays and lesbians in this country; at the very least we can claim that Obama is heir to King’s spirit on this issue, if not his actual position.

So there’s that. On the other hand…

King was a pacifist: It was central to his vision, and central the reason he’s lionized across the political spectrum today. That he was able to help bring about such massive change in American society and politics without resorting to violence was an incredible achievement. And King wasn’t fooling around with his pacifism: At the end of his life he was an opponent of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

So King might’ve lauded President Obama’s efforts to draw down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he probably would’ve been horrified at President Obama’s drone warfare in Pakistan and Yemen, and stunned by the assassination of American citizens without due process.

And as the not-occasional target of J. Edgar Hoover, we can speculate how King might’ve felt about a president who oversees an ever-more-massive electronic spying apparatus. As a man imprisoned for dissent, frequently, we can guess what he would’ve thought about the imprisonment and prosecutions of Bradley Manning, Aaron Swartz, John Kirkaou, and others who sought or told the truth about government activities.

Barack Obama has frequently invoked King, quoting him as saying that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Could you say the same thing about Obama’s presidency? For many of us, even those who have voted for him, the answer to that question is complicated.

Truth is this: Obama made clear long ago that he wasn’t bound by King’s vision. At the ceremony where he received (undeservedly) the Nobel Peace Prize, he made that plain—praising King and Gandhi as apostles of non-violence. Then he delivered the slap:

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone.  I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people.  For make no mistake:  Evil does exist in the world.  A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies.  Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.  To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

Four years later, the arrogance and condescension of that paragraph still sting. King didn’t face down “the world as it is?” King didn’t see that “evil exists in the world?” It’s nonsense: King saw the world as it is, lived among people daily oppressed by evil. He didn’t pick up a gun. But he won anyway. As a head of state, Obama might do well to ponder what that means.

If King had survived, he’d likely not be so beloved today. He’d probably occupy the same space in our culture that Bob Dylan does today, or maybe Rep. John Lewis, who marched with King, but whom some mainstream conservatives today brand as a “race hustler.” Do something great, you’re a hero. Die soon afterward, you’re a martyr. Stick around too long, and the great cycle of politics and life reabsorbs you, and brings you down again.

King died a martyr. Time and again, Obama has been brought down by the politics. Their lives are linked, but they are, in the end, very different men.

Mitt Romney Got Marginally More Philly Votes Than We Thought

When it was reported last month that Mitt Romney received zero votes in 59 Philadelphia voting precincts, liberals chortled and conservatives cried voter fraud. No evidence of that, but it turns out the Dems’ victory dance was way premature. Counting absentee and provisional ballots, Romney came up empty in only 50 districts. Ninety-nine districts, for what it’s worth, cast one vote for the vanquished GOP nominee. As the Post’s Tim Haas had a little fun a few weeks ago at the expense of Republicans who refused to believe the news, I’d like to consider this post an apology. [Philly.com]

Obama’s Philly Visit Sets Stage for Tax Battle with GOP

Yes, the election is over, but it’s going to feel like early November 2012 all over again in Philadelphia today. President Obama is coming to the area to visit the Rodon Group, a suburban company that makes toy parts for K’NEX Brands, as part of his effort to rally support for a fiscal plan to raise taxes on the rich in order to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.” But Republicans are countering by unleashing an attack ad from California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, featuring Collegeville’s Gorski Engineering, and the owner’s complaints that higher taxes will hurt his business. Somewhere, though, Mitt Romney is wearing a T-shirt and letting his perfect mane of hair flow free, and maybe feeling a little grateful for leaving all the bickering behind.  [The Associated Press]

After Lunch, President Obama Should Steal Mitt’s Ideas

President Obama and Mitt Romney had lunch together on Thursday, and let’s be honest: The whole thing was for show. That’s OK! Some shows are necessary, and in America, the post-election show of unity is a fairly honorable tradition—signaling both to the world and ourselves that democracy still works, that we’re not yet to the point of spilling blood in the streets because of our disagreements.

But the show usually ends at lunch. Oh sure, there was talk about maybe Mitt contributing to the Obama Administration in some fashion during the next four years, but that probably won’t happen: The two men are ready to be done with each other. Read more »

Philly Democrats Are More Than Capable of Conspiracy

“Myth is the hidden part of every story, the buried part, the region that is still unexplored because there are as yet no words to enable us to get there. Myth is nourished by silence as well as by words.”

I remembered that quote by the late great Italian journalist Italo Calvino when I read Post contributor Stephen Silver’s “‘Massive Voter Fraud’ in Philly Is a Myth.” Read more »

Three Ways Republicans Can Suck Less

So, Republicans, you lost to President Obama. How are you going to win the next election?

Yes, two weeks have passed since the election, and yes, Mitt Romney appears to have begun his post-election shame spiral. (Look away, kids, look away.) And yes, all kinds of liberal commentators are out there giving you free advice about how to improve Republican prospects in the next election—especially among the non-white-dude voters who provided much of Obama’s coalition—most of which boils down to “be more liberal.”

Me, I’m liberal, but I think the GOP can expand its appeal by being true to its own beliefs and core philosophies. And I think three big efforts will go a long way toward expanding the party’s appeal.

• Pass The DREAM Act. You hate being called racist. Hate it. But look at the poll numbers again—Mitt Romney got the support of the white dudes and President Obama got everybody else. Those non-white-dude voters think you’re not on their side. You can gripe about the unfairness of it all, or you can resolve to win elections and address this.

And the easiest way to start is by passing The DREAM Act, which paves a pathway to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants who grew up in the United States, by requiring them to serve in the military or get a college degree. A big concern among anti-immigration conservatives is that the recent wave of Hispanic immigrants isn’t assimilating like previous generations did. That concern is way overblown, but the truth is that the kids covered by The Dream Act already have assimilated to a large degree—they’re Americans, they just don’t have the paperwork. You can continue to punish them for the sins of their parents (and perpetuate the idea that you just don’t like brown people) or you help them build better lives through service to the country.

Is this actually conservative? Well, The Dream Act originated with Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican. So I’ll say it can be conservative, if conservatives want it to be.

• Be pro-free markets, not pro-big business. Republicans spent a lot of the recent election cycle accusing Democrats of “crony capitalism,” cozying up to favored businesses and industries and helping them with the power of government. But the attack never caught on—even though it was sometimes fair—because everybody knows that the GOP is just as guilty of this particular sin.

Being pro-market means being against banks being “too big to fail.” Being pro-market means keeping banks small enough that the failure of one won’t upend the entire economic system—which means government can allow it to fail. Being pro-market means fixing copyright law so that it benefits more idea-makers and entrepreneurs instead of just protecting the revenue streams of giant corporations. Being pro-market means that if you really hate crony capitalism, you immediately weed out the system of corporate welfare before you ever again complain about the 47 percent of Americans supposedly looking for handouts.

Americans are fair-minded. They’re not prone to class jealousy, even when they maybe should be. Convince them you’re for a real level playing field, Republicans, and you might win their hearts back.

• Stop being crazy. Stop hanging out with Donald Trump. Stop hanging out with members of congress who believe President Obama has secret mind-control powers. Stop giving your approval to members of the Georgia Legislature who believe the U.N. is undermining American freedom with “Agenda 21.” Stop letting your followers rest easy in the idea that President Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim. Stop with the secession talk. Stop doing a million other things. Just stop.

This might be the hardest one to pull off, because it appears from the outside that the GOP identity is so closely tied to the most outlandish beliefs of its base. But the rest of the country looks at those beliefs and flees. But there’s no reason that “limited government” means “insane.”  There’s no reason that favoring a strong military means believing boogety-boogety-boogety. If you want the power and responsibility to govern again, then for the love of God stop hanging out with your weird friends.

If conservatism is what it says it is—colorblind, pro-market, pro-limited government—then these fixes shouldn’t be too hard. There’s no reason that Republicans can’t win elections again. They just have to be true to their best selves.

Did Dead People Vote in Philadelphia?

Once again, the voting process in Philadelphia is a joke told over and over again on national newscasts. Every four years, the fairness of voting in the city is questioned, and every four years, the suspicions and allegations swirl without investigation. Read more »

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