So much happens in the news. There is so much human foolishness and malice around that I should blog much more often. Only my colossal laziness keeps me from doing so.
Much of our recent attention, of course, has been on Charlie Sheen. Charlie Sheen is many things, but to me he is a monkey in a cage. People gather around his tube cage. He makes faces at them. He jumps up and down. He throws things at his viewers, and, above all, tries to make monkeys out of them.
There’s something interesting and repulsive about seeing a person self-destruct in public. Probably the best thing to do with Charlie Sheen is to ignore him, but I’ve just disregarded my own advice.
Bigger things happen. Japan is convulsed by a major earthquake. The conniving madman Mommar Quadafi struggles to hold on to power in Libya. The right wing seeks to get rid of N.P.R.
What the Ron Schiller of N.P.R. said was horrendous. Many human beings continue to make the mistake of hating groups of people. Schiller is anti-Semitic, and he should be thrown out.
But this does not invalidate the work of N.P.R., which has provided valuable news to us for a long time. N.P.R. is perhaps as neutral as news can be. If it leans a bit toward the left, it provides a healthy balance against the right-wing gabble that holds so much of contemporary radio. It’s in the public interest that N.P.R. be federally funded.
Finally, the Congress’s repeal of the ban against gays in the military should be commended. It was high time that this discrimination was terminated. My only regret is that Congress rather than the President ended it.
This goes back to Bill Clinton, who started the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. The president is commander-in-chief of the military, and it is his direct job to oversee the military. But Bill Clinton was hesitant to command the soldiers who considered him a draft dodger. So Clinton asked Congress to pass the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law.
Clinton, with many recent presidents, often disregarded the constitution. He would directly give money to foreign countries such as Mexico, although such appropriations are the job of Congress.
We, of course, live in a time when the constitution is little heeded. Recently the Governor of Wisconsin signed a law limiting the collective bargaining rights of teachers. The Wisconsin teachers are not the most sympathetic of victims, but collective bargaining rights stem from the right to make contracts, which, as the founding fathers and old-time judges realized, was a fundamental right under the constitution. Collective bargaining rights cannot be lawfully altered by statute.
So I should not be surprised when a president or governor now disregards the constitution. But it is particularly disappointing when intelligent former law professors such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama so dimly understand it.