Going beyond the headline that you read

Arlen Specter Loses Senate Seat in Pennsylvania: Specter, one of the oldest men in the Senate and who has survived battles with killer cancers, could not ward off the conservative element in his own Republican Party. So he did the Democrats and himself a big favor and became one of them.

They were very grateful and when it was announced that a youthful representative, Joe Sestak, would primary him for the Democratic nomination, all the grateful Democrats came out to protect Specter. Hey, you have to respect the Democrats for keeping what was clearly an assurance to Specter when he crossed the aisle to join them and assure them of a majority in the Senate.

It all goes to show that it is very dangerous for anyone to cross party lines. The ones you are leaving will consider you a traitor and hate you and the ones you are joining won’t trust you.

In the meantime,

Rand Paul Wins in Kentucky: The tea party folks in this country love Ron Paul, Rand’s father. Many consider the elder Paul to be the father of the tea party movement.

This was an interesting race in which the conservative secretary of state, Trey Grayson, endorsed by Mitch McConnell and his fellow establishment conservative Republicans, lost. The problem for the conservative McConnell and his gang is that they are now victims of the same tactics that they themselves have employed. They can’t wait to accuse President Obama of irresponsible insider politics, but that’s what the tea party people have called the old right-wing crowd in suggesting that they are not conservative enough.

Since it is the right-wing party activists who tend to vote in the greatest numbers in otherwise ill-attended primary contests, the person who throws the most red meat to the carnivores is the most likely to win.

In the meantime, the New York Daily News is now reporting that Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams is on a similar tear, calling a proposed Muslim Mosque near ground zero to be ill-advised because, among other things, Muslims worship “the terrorists’ monkey god.” There’s nothing like a little jingoism and/or race hatred to bring people out into the streets. Nothing has really changed. You’ve only to look back at American history to find these creeps have always been around.

Mexican President Visits the White House: I know a lot of people who love Mexico. A whole bunch of them migrate south from the Berkshires to Mexico for the winter. The United States is Mexico’s biggest trading partner. President Felipe Calderone got full honors from the Obamas. He is deserving because of his seeming commitment to putting a stop to the drug wars. His efforts have not gone well, and I hope this man has a lot of security around him.

There are arts communities and beautiful homes in Mexico and Americans can live there fairly cheaply. However, the borders have become war zones; Mexican police departments and the military are rife with corruption. Being stopped for a traffic violation is always risky and can lead to demands for bribes and even imprisonment on the most trumped-up of charges. Obviously, the risk is greatest if you are one of the competitors for the drug money that feeds the insatiable American taste for illegal drugs. Nevertheless, it is always possible to be the victim of a stray bullet. My family has gone to Mexico in the past, but you won’t catch me there until things calm down.

Scientists Fault Lack of Studies Over Oil Spill: Now the finger-pointing really begins. Some scientists say that the Obama administration dropped the ball by not doing enough to determine how much oil was being released into the Gulf and where that oil was likely to go. The oil is heading around Florida and up the coast.

I may not know much but it seems to me that this is a huge, huge disaster. And we all pretty much knew — at least the media was telling us — that the figures on how much oil was released were misleading. Yes, we have to learn from this but the best minds in the country can’t seem to get a handle on how to contain the leak and we have all learned why off-shore drilling is a really bad idea.

Now is time for folks to slow down on the finger-pointing (there is plenty of blame to go around) and figure out how to stop the oil. In other words, let the eggheads act like scientists and less like dithering academics.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 5/22/10

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