That ABBA is reuniting after nearly 40 years comes at an uncanny time in my life. Last autumn I had a major ABBA phase, during which I listened to all of their albums in-full several times and gained an appreciation for them rivaling my other pop favorites, like Madonna. I like their standards -- like 'Dancing Queen' and 'Lay All Your Love On Me' -- and their deep cuts -- like 'Kisses of Fire' and 'Like An Angel Passing Through My Room.' I love their final three albums in particular (and their final pair of stand-alone singles), especially the disco-fest 'Voulez-Vous' and the bittersweet 'The Visitors,' on which a mere three songs can be called uptempo. I've seen 'Mamma Mia' in D.C. and in Las Vegas, and grew up with the incredible ABBA Gold album. So it's as a hardcore, lifelong ABBA fan that I say: I would really rather this not happen.
“Too much stagnation in the legislature is not good, but so is too much turnover. And, contrary to what the populists claim, Congress has seen far more turnover than normal during the past few years. Since 2006, Congress has been rocked with senior members of both parties falling like flies, and it has helped lead to a greater amount of dysfunction in Congress. Term limits have almost no chance of passing -- thank God – but if they did, it would likely make all of our current problems with Congress even worse.”
Meghan Markle is not royal family material by any stretch of the imagination, and it has nothing to do with her being biracial. Actually, her biracial background has been used effectively to silence any criticism – only racists who do not wish to modernize the monarchy could object to such a brilliant match! In reality, Meghan could be fully black or white and she still would be unsuitable. Also, it has nothing to do with the fact that she is a commoner. No blue blood flows through Catherine Middleton, but her family runs among the highest circles of British society, and both Kate and her sister Pippa were groomed to be the wives of aristocrats or upper class men. Meghan is not British, and thus no appeal can be made to the sentiment that any British girl can grow up to be a princess. She is unsuitable because she is a divorced, older, C-list actress with a dysfunctional family who has already provided many cringe-worthy moments for the monarchy, and is sure to provide more in the future. Her father’s last-minute health scare was probably planned to cover for the fact that he was never invited to the wedding --along with the rest of the family except for her mother – who is, frankly, its only presentable member.
Now, North Korea is trying to play on our fears again. They have promised nothing: they claim they will no longer pursue nukes (now that they already have them) and that they will stop testing nukes (now that they've already tested them). So what? Nothing has been promised in the way of denuclearization, let alone liberalization. Why should this psychotic slave-driver role-playing as the leader of a country be dignified by a visit from the President of the United States if he is not willing to make some kind of concession in advance? Let's take Hillary Clinton's 2008 warning and not allow our leaders to be used for propaganda purposes. There is nothing in North Korea's history that suggests it is acting in good faith.
In retrospect, it was very optimistic on my part –- perhaps naïve might be a more appropriate adjective –- to believe that Donald Trump winning the presidency would cause the GOP establishment to be more humble and willing to entertain some populist policies. It wasn’t so much that Trump’s victory was surprising. It was how he won. Trump didn’t just crack the so-called Blue Wall. He took it down brick by brick, in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and came very close in Minnesota. Trump did exactly what Republican strategists had said for many years the party needed to do: he expanded the electoral map and brought new voters into the Republican Party tent. The GOP should be one big happy family right? Not so fast.
Professional historians may continue to debate Reagan’s legacy, as they do with everyone (and even here they tend to remember him fondly) but the mainstream should prepare for a breed of Democrats that see Reagan in a positive light, just as so many Reagan voters saw the same in Roosevelt. To both voters, it was (or will be) a case of both men’s respective parties seeming to have lost their way. Reagan, after all, was one of those voters himself. He was a Democrat throughout Roosevelt’s entire presidency and for two decades later. And even after he switched parties, he still continued to admire him. Perhaps one day the nation will be transformed to a more Democratic one by a man who voted for Reagan twice and even continues to admire him long after that person became a Democrat. History, if nothing else, sure is funny.
"How can you say he's lazy? Look how much he has achieved in just one year," some will say. Well, nothing much on immigration -- that’s for sure. Tax cuts, deregulation, and conservative judges are all wins that any other Republican would have delivered. What we get with Trump is a lot of smoke and mirrors, lots of declarations of “winning” -- and then when the smoke clears, nothing much has changed. The latest example of Trump's laziness concerns the caravan of illegal immigrants making its way from Central America to the United States. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Trump cultists were all over social media declaring a “win” for the president, because the caravan had apparently been disbanded -- only to learn they have actually reached the Mexico-USA border and are climbing over the existing fence. Heck, the Trump cultists have already declared that peace is reigning over the Korean peninsula – let’s hope we don’t find out the hard way that it was more smoke by having a nuclear weapon land on our shores.
From the people who brought you the Terri Schiavo scam, poor little Alfie Evans became the center of the Great Right-Wing Dying Baby Scam of 2018. The scam is the lie-packed narrative that the parents in the case have had their baby sacrificed to a state death panel: proof at last that the statists will pull the plug on your dying baby if they think keeping him alive isn't justified by the costs. Virtually everything said about this case by the right has been a lie.
My attitude towards illegal immigration began to change three years ago when I read a story about a Dreamer who unfurled a Mexican flag at her graduation ceremony at the University of California – San Diego. The sheer stupidity and arrogance of the act stunned me. America was kind to let her stay, and had given her opportunities she would have never had if her family had stayed in Mexico -- and yet she chose to wave the flag of the country that gave her nothing. At the time, I was in contact with immigration reform activists who, to my dismay, cheered her self-defeating stunt. I warned them that such in-your-face tactics and a sense of entitlement was only going to backfire and turn Americans against the Dreamers. Their response was to hurl insults and hit the block button on Facebook.
The news will always be out to sensationalize, exaggerate, and scare. But if we are going to move beyond the propaganda of the Drug War, it means not only changing policy about drugs, but resisting fear-based propaganda like this. Because, hey -- tabloid trash can be as addicting as heroin.