Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happy Colonels

I will take a break from the broad brush of the Happy Society to note a specific happy thing in our little world:  the Centre College football team has been invited to play in the NCAA playoffs in Division III (the most sensible division, I think).  This is the first time the team has ever been in the NCAA playoffs, since the last time we were invited to post-season play - the 1955 Tangerine Bowl - came before the NCAA division system was in place.

Kickoff is at noon in our own stadium against Hampden-Sydney.  I will give an update after the game.

Go Colonels!  Play with dignity!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hopeful News from Burma

Burma is ruled by the world's weirdest military dictatorship. They have been isolated, oppressive, and just odd for decades.

The democracy movement in Burma is led by one of the world's great moral leaders, Aung San Suu Kyi. She was given the Nobel Peace Prize to recognize her party's work for peaceful change, and to encourage the military junta to let democracy happen. Her party did win elections in 1990, but the junta ignored them.

ASEAN, the development partnership of several Southeast Asian countries, is one of the few outside ties that the Burmese government has cared about. Burma was to have taken over the rotating chairmanship in 2006, but protests by the other governments made them decline.

Lately, the government seems to want to join the world. They released some political prisoners last month. They lifted a ban on "convicts" - former political prisoners such as Aung San Suu Kyi and most of her party's leadership - from participating in elections.

The thaw is so hopeful that the opposition has said it will try again to register as a party and take part in local elections, which it is expected to win. ASEAN, for its part, voted to allow Burma to accept the chairmanship when its turn comes again.

President Obama, who is at the ASEAN summit, announced that he will send Secretary of State Clinton to Burma to help encourage democracy and normalization.

And if, at the end of this long process, President Aung San Suu Kyi says that the country really should be called Myanmar, as the military government named it, I, for one, will accept that Burma has really been freed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Republican Split in Boyle County

I wish to call attention to an interesting exit poll conducted by my colleague Ben Knoll. During the recent election, his students stood outside every polling place in Boyle County, Kentucky, where Danville is located. Boyle County is a very centrist place - it has a Democratic registration edge, but often votes Republican in national elections.

So Boyle County is a good place to ask about support for an establishment Republican, a Tea Party Republican, or neither. Specifically, voters were asked "Considering Kentucky's senators, which best represents your views?"

Mitch McConnell 20.6%
Rand Paul, 24.8%
Both equally, 7.8%
Neither, 42.8%

So, in a centrist county in a conservative state, we find about 25% establishment Republicans, 30% Tea Partiers, and over 40%, neither.

As Rand Paul himself demonstrates regularly, the Tea Party is almost as unhappy with the Republican establishment as it is with the Democratic Party. If the Tea Partiers are not enthusiastic about the Republican presidential nominee, they may not show up next year. And that does not bode well for establishment Republicans in Boyle County.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Are Any Presidents Acceptable to the Political Extremes?

My Tea Party friends object to President Obama as a socialist.

My left-wing friends object to president Obama for giving in to corporate interests. 

My questions to each group are parallel.

They are genuine questions - I really want to know, and I do not know the answers.

Is there any president who you think was not a socialist?

Is there any president who you think did not give in to corporate interests?