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Bin Laden and the Celebration of Death and Violence: I’m a realistic idealist. In an ideal world, we would never gloat and cheer over any act of violence, no matter how “just,” and would never consider any act of violence more laudable than a regretable necessity. I accept the fact that we don’t live in that world, and that there was no way that this country wasn’t going to celebrate our summary execution of Bin Laden. I don’t know if it has any real effect on the real challenge of reducing terrorism: Maybe, maybe not. If it has any deterence effect, it is probably an effect too marginal to matter, since there are thousands lining up for martyrdom. If it offers any consolation to those who lost loved ones on 9/11, that is certainly a valuable benefit. If it’s folly, it’s folly that no one could possibly do anything to counteract. So I say: Okay, we killed Bin Laden. Okay, justice was served. But let it be served with some tiny shred of decorum. When we celebrate violence and death, any violence and death, we are churning the waters that produce it. Let’s show the world, and our children, that we are a civilized nation, that may mete out justice when necessary, but will not crow about having done so.

Birthers and Buffoons: The Dangerous Absurdity of America’s Far Right: First, let me be clear: Not all Republicans are irrational or malicious people. Not all people who argue for lower taxes and less spending are enemies of humanity. Not all people who identify with the Tea Party are full of hatred and ignorance. But we have reached a point in our history when we can no longer be polite about the growing problem we are facing, a problem that is not unique in human history, and one which, thanks to the lessons of the past and of the world, we know is far too serious simply to laugh off.

President Obama went on TV yesterday morning to announce the release of his long-form birth certificate, something he had to do because, due to the political exploitation of insanity, a significant number of Republicans and independents had doubts about whether he was born in the United States, despite the fact that there was never a shred of evidence that he wasn’t. Never a shred. It was a movement based on malicious fabrication, a reality created and thriving in the imaginations of its adherents, and motivated by a desire to destroy the credibility of our democratically elected president by means of a falsehood.

It’s important to recognize this tactic, to see it clearly and understand its historical significance without equivocation. It’s important not to dismiss it as “politics as usual,” as what we do in our political discourse, because it took a bad habit one step further, one level deeper, one leap closer to historical archetypes we rightly revile and fear. And the degree of commitment to delegitimizing Obama is one step beyond those that came before, not solely because of his policies, but because of the combination of his “otherness” and his apparent lack of real vulnerabilities to exploit.

The Loss of Colorado ASSET and More Irrational Rage Against “The Other”: I’ve been arguing on The Denver Post comment boards that facts, logic, and human decency actually should matter when we talk about the issue of illegal immigration and immigration reform. In two weeks of doing so, citing studies (by The Colorado Institute on Law and Policy, and The Bell) demonstrating that illegal immigration is a net benefit to both the Colorado state economy and Colorado net tax revenue (tax revenues collected from undocumented residents exceeding tax expenditures to or due to them); The Economist magazine’s frequent argument that it redresses our critical and rapidly growing demographic imbalance (with a collapsing population of workers supporting an exploding population of retirees); documented evidence of callous abuses of basic human rights in our detention centers (even toward small children); and a historical analogy between our current prevalent attitude toward this “foreign” population living among us that so many declare should be rounded up and removed, on the one hand, and, on the other, the most infamous modern historical episode in which another nation lost iself to a similar frenzy of dehumanizing a “foreign” population living within the larger nation, and calling for them to be rounded up and removed.

In response to these arguments, I received about 500 “thumbs down,” and a massive circling of the wagons against such heresy. Whereas the quantity of outrage and vitriol over the postion I expressed was quite extensive and passion, there was only one passing rebuke by one poster to one of their own who, in all seriousness, suggested that we should exterminate these “invaders” (all twelve million of them). As I said on that thread, apparently arguing in favor of reason and human decency is more worthy of angry outrage than calling for a Holocaust twice the size of the original.

In reality, Colorado ASSET, which would have provided unsubsidized in-state tuition to undocumented residents who graduated from a Colorado high school after three years in attendence, would have cost tax payers nothing, brought net revenue into our state universities, avoided our current policy of denying a large subpopulation any pathway to success and thus ensuring that we bear the enormous future financial and social costs that will inevitably flow from that, and, instead, helped to produce a higher proportion of productive members of society contributing to our collective welfare. The one and only argument against this obviously beneficial policy was that if we do not deprive these innocent children, de facto members of our society, any and all pathways to success, we will foster the impression that we are still a land of opportunity to which hardworking people from other countries should strive to join and contribute to.

Denver Mayor’s Race: As of this writing, it appears that the run-off will be between Chris Romer and Michael Hancock. As a resident of South Jeffco, myself a bit burned out on electoral politics, I didn’t start to pay attention until a couple of weeks ago, when I attend a FRESC forum in west Denver. James Mejia immediately impressed as a systemic thinker, a social entrepreneur who understands how various aspects of our social institutional landscape articulate with one another, and how making the right kinds of investments can ripple through those systems in beneficial ways. I loved his vision and his breadth of knowledge and his experience and his clear understanding of the systemic structure and dynamics through which  we must negotiate the challenges and opportunities we face. I hope we find a way to put James’ formidable talents, experience, and knowledge to good use.

While helping to launch (and co-hosting the first two episodes of) a Spanish language political radio show, I had the pleasure of interviewing both James Mejia and Doug Linkhart. Doug also impressed me as a very likable guy, with clear stands on the issues, and a background and knowledge-base that would have served Denver well.  I wish both James and Doug the best.

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