Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Memories

A re-post from last Christmas:

With Christmas behind, a few reflections:

It goes without saying that Christmas traditions vary era to era and family to family. (But I guess I said it anyway.) One constant, however, is the focus on the children.

Some parents, probably a plurality, create anticipation for the holiday by reading A Visit from St. Nicholas to their enraptured children. They help compose a letter to Santa or make a personal call on him at the local mall to work out an agreement on gifts. They change the car radio station from the classic rock station to the 24 hour Christmas music station, where the horns blare, the strings reach a crescendo, and Andy Williams croons, “It's the most wonderful time of the year.” (And for Andy Williams, it IS the most wonderful time of the year. It's the only time of the year that he gets  radio play anymore.) Eventually, those children grow skeptical of the claim that reindeer fly or that Santa can fit down the chimney flue.

Other parents create the anticipation for the holiday with advent calendars that countdown the days to the arrival of the Christ child. Their worship services at church begin to incorporate holiday themes. Perhaps a reading of Matthew and Luke's accounts of the birth of Jesus takes place Christmas eve or Christmas morn before exchanging gifts. The gift giving may be construed as an imitation of God's give to man or the gifts of the wise men to the infant Christ child. Later, some of these children, too, may experience a more psychologically traumatic skepticism about those accounts from Matthew and Luke to which they listened growing up.

An interesting change in the “sounds of the season” has taken place over the years. I mean the sounds on the street. I remember the sounds of carolers in the neighborhood in which I grew up. I cannot recall if this occurred every season or just the one that I still remember. One evening it moved several us to get our coats on go caroling ourselves. At least on one evening we did not make it very far. After singing outside the home of one of our friends, we received an invitation in to drink hot chocolate. Once we entered the house, our caroling itinerary ceased.

Another change in the “sounds of the season” manifests itself Christmas morning. The streets used to be a noisy place. Every Christmas morning, after the neighborhood kids opened their presents, they spilled out of their houses into the streets. Children were everywhere with footballs, baseballs, skateboards, mock firearms, remote control cars, bicycles, dolls, baby strollers, etc. Now the streets have an eerie silence. I know that kids live in my neighborhood; I see them each school day waiting at the bus stops. But Christmas morning no kids can be found anywhere.

I imagine they are sitting in front of their television screens and video game platforms or computers. Instead of skateboards, they own a Tony Hawk video simulation. Instead of creeping silently around they neighborhood with their plastic M-1 carbines, helmet, and back-packs or manipulating their G.I. Joes, they direct a platoon in Call of Duty or Halo. Instead of assembling a couple of teams for front yard foot ball, they coach an NFL franchise with Madden NFL Football. There is probably a video game out in which a young girl feeds and changes the diaper on a virtual baby instead of an actual doll. (Or else she has a REAL baby of her own.)

Its not just silent night anymore. Its silent morn.

Kids saving the world in the 1960s:

Kids saving the world in the 2000s:

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gun Control: Pragmatism and Principle

Although the occasion of mass killings by lone gunmen remains unpredictable, the reaction of the liberal  media, liberal entertainers, and liberal politicians is anything but unpredictable: repeated calls for a "national conversation" on gun control and the reintroduction of  legislation  to ban specific types of weapons.

Of course, in liberalese, a national conversation means one in which liberals lecture anyone who holds differing views and  attribute to them  the most vile motivations for holding those views. That's why no one took seriously Attorney General Eric Holder's call for a national dialogue on race.

On the question of practicality,  gun control seems not very feasible. The guns used in the Sandy Hook murders were legal under Connecticut law. In addition, we already had a national assault weapons ban in place after 1994. As writer Charles Krauthammer recently pointed out, with so many legal loopholes and 1.5 million so-called assault weapons in circulation, the law had negligible impact. We cannot  police illegal narcotics and illegal aliens; what makes us think we can control guns? (Krauthammer suggests we focus on control of the mentally ill. Other suggest banning schools, which would solve a host of other problems as well.) Short of provision that includes confiscation of privately owned firearms, no future weapons ban is likely to succeed. And that brings up the issue of principle.

On the question of principle,  what is really at stake is our rights. We possess a nature right to self-defense. For the last few hundred years, that means with firearms. This natural right was not given us by the Second Amendment to the Constitution; it is only confirmed by that provision.

In addition, hunting and sport shooting seem innocuous enough not to warrant government intervention.

Not to trivialize the tragedy at Sandy Hook,  crimes involving firearms are one of the costs of freedom.

It is possible that we might reduce the incidence of mass killings with "information control" laws. Surely the anticipation of achieving infamy must reside in the back of the minds of perpetrators of mass killings. Perhaps the knowledge that any potential  acts of savagery would go unreported might discourage them and move potential perpetrators to remain content with their relative obscurity.

A host of other social problems, too, could be solved by taking away freedom. For example, today throughout the world, 35 million people live with HIV and two million die every year from AIDS related causes. This tragedy could have averted if governments world-wide had quarantined carriers when they first identified the disease and its means of transmission. Such a policy conflicted, however, with modern notions of freedom.

Security is almost always a poor substitute for freedom.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sandy Hook: The Week After

Cable news networks and their affiliated news websites today note the one week anniversary of the mass murder of twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Headlines and leads such as "Remembering the Victims" imply that media coverage of the tragedy had moved on to other issues and now has returned to see how the families of the victims are fairing.

Media coverage of Sandy Hook never really left. Initial reports of the details of the events one week ago (including lots of speculation)  were followed in succession by introductions to the victims one by one, reactions by families, friends, and co-workers, re-introductions to the victims one by one as the funerals began, inquiries about the perpetrator, and the obligatory call for a "national dialogue" on guns.

That is part of the problem.

Obviously the outrageous crime was a newsworthy event. The combination of the natural human emotional reaction to suffering and the desire for viewer ratings have conspired, however,  to turn coverage into a 24 hour a day spectacle. This sets the stage for future tragedies perpetrated by lunatics like Adam Lanza.

No one knows why Adam Lanza  murdered a classroom full of children. We probably will never know. On a superficial level, Lanza and previous perpetrators of similar crimes seem to be self-absorbed youths possessing no social skills, enjoying few friends, wallowing in self-pity, and harboring an intense resentment that no one notices them.

After the commission of their horrific crimes, however, the mainstream media finds them simply  fascinating.

When all is said and done, isn't this really what it is all about?

If you can't enjoy fame, why not infamy?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Regime Change

With the Presidential Electors officially casting their ballots on last Monday, it is a timely occasion for a short observation on the electoral college: its time to abolish it.

It originated in the time when those men entrusted with political power arranged our institutions with maximum "filtration" of the popular will. They acknowledged that in a republic, power must rest with the people. Yet they also recognized that the people too often fall under the sway of their passions and act politically against their own long term interests. Consequently, most government institutions moderated the general will of the people.

The most obvious means was the separation of government powers into legislature, executive, and judicial branches. Most legislative branches were further divided into two houses.

A second means was the mode of elections. In the early republic, most voters faced property qualifications in order to vote. Because of the widespread holding of property, most male citizens exercised the right to vote. Many important offices, however, were not submitted to the voters. Under most of the first state constitutions, governors were elected by one or both of the state houses. On the federal level, the President was elected by a special "assembly" of electors chosen by the state legislature for that purpose alone--commonly called the Electoral College. And under the original provisions of the Constitution, United States Senators were elected by the state legislatures. 

Within a hundred or so years, the nature of the regime has changed. Gradually all property qualifications disappeared in every state. Eventually women received the right the vote. In addition, states amended their constitutions or wrote completely new ones that established popular election of the governors. Many states even expanded directed lawmaking authority to the voters through initiatives and referendums.

Government at the federal level changed as well. Amendment 15 established the right of black Americans to vote. Amendment 17 provided for the direct election of United States Senators instead of selection by the state legislatures. And Amendment 19 guaranteed the right to vote for women.

In short, we have expanded the suffrage and minimized the filtration of the will of the people.

Yet we still have the monstrosity known as the electoral college that retains the old system of "filtration" of the voters that has been bastardized by its pairing with popular elections and political parties.

It's time to do away with it. 

Most discussions of this issue involve partisan perspectives that seem most concerned with how the popular election of the President will effect the prospects of each political party. Who knows the answer to that question. Regardless of which party benefits, I think it will enhance the quality of our elections in two areas.

First, popular elections will eliminate the claims of "mandates" by the winning candidates. The winner-take-all nature of the current process exaggerates the extent of the victory by the winning candidates. Even the most lopsided elections in U.S. history involved only a little more than a 60-40 split in the popular vote. Presidents typically use the claim of electoral mandates to pressure Congress into doing their bidding.

Second, popular elections will require that candidate focus on reaching as many voters as possible in all states. Currently, candidates "write off" states for which pre-election polling indicates a sure loss or a sure victory. Consequently, candidates devote their time and resources to the contested high electoral count "swing" states. Under a system of popular election of the President, candidates will be forced to "get out the vote" in every state.

With the popular election of the President, the campaigns will be more meaningful and the results will provide a more realistic picture of the desires of the voters.

It is time for electoral modernization.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Electors Cast Their Votes

Today the members of the Electoral College gathered in each of the 50 state capitals (and the District of Columbia officially signed their ballots for President of the United States. On January 6, 2013, these ballots will be counted by the Presiding Officer of the Senate (the Vice-President of the United States--alas, Joseph Biden) and the winner officially announced. Two weeks later the winner (alas, Barack Obama) takes the oath of office.

So how did we conceive such an unusual system of electing our chief executive?

It resulted from disagreements and subsequent compromises that took place at what is now call the Constitutional Convention during the summer of 1787. At that time, the United States functioned under its first constitution, the Articles of Confederation. Because of frustration over the inability to the government address the nation's problems, the Congress called for a convention to suggest amendments to the Articles of  Confederation. The states elected delegates to meet during the summer of 1787. They ended up writing an entirely new constitution.

The basis of the the new government was the so-called Virginia Plan, drafted by Virginia delegate James Madison. Its called for a two house legislature in both of which representation was based upon the population of each state. Only the lower house would be elected by the voters in each state. The upper house would be elected by the lower house. Then both houses together elected the President, who was eligible for only one term.

The debate at the convention about the executive branch had to disentangle a number of issues.Should the executive be a unity or a plurality? Should the executive be elected by the Congress or the people? Should the executive be eligible for reelection? Should the executive enjoy appointment powers?

James Wilson, a delegate from Pennsylvania (and later appointed a Justice on the first Supreme Court) proposed a unitary executive because it would provide the "most energy, dispatch, and responsibility" to the office. Elbridge Gerry (MA.) and Edmund Randolph (VA) opposed this idea, preferring that a council be annexed to the executive, calling a unitary executive the "fetus of a monarchy."

After postponing this question, the delegates turned to method of election.

Wilson  argued for election by the people at large. He pointed to the example of the New York and Massachusetts state governments. He added, "The objects of choice in such cases must be persons whose merits have general notoriety."

Roger Sherman (CT) suggested election by the legislature. Since the chief executive's job is simply to carry out the laws enacted by the legislature, the legislature should possess the power of selection. Moreover, according to Sherman, "An independence of the Executive on the supreme Legislature, was in his opinion the very essence of tyranny if there was any such thing." The following day he also suggested that the national legislature have the authority of remove the chief executive at will.

John Dickinson of Pennsylvania retorted that the legislative, executive, and judicial powers should be kept as separate at possible. Only this separation of power would protect against tyranny.

Other delegates suggested the election of the chief executive by the legislature would lead to corrupt bargains and backroom deals prior to every election.

After what proved to me temporary agreement on term of office and some other questions, Wilson suggested a compromised of sorts on how to elect the chief executive. He suggested that each state be divided into districts, in which voters would choose elector of the "executive magistrate." He left open the question of the number of districts and electors. Wilson argued that this method would give citizens more confidence in the executive than election by the national legislature. The delegates, however, voted down Wilson's proposal. Only Pennsylvania and Maryland voted in favor.

Only later did the delegates revisit the idea. They modified his plan by delegating to the states the method of choosing Presidential electors and apportioning the number of electors based upon the number of congressmen and senator to which it is entitled.

In the first few Presidential elections, the state legislatures reserved for themselves the power to chose that state's electors. After the rise of political parties and the spread of universal white male suffrage, the state legislatures began delegating this task to the political parties. Today, prior to each Presidential election cycle, each party  in every state names its slate of presidential electors, usually at the state party convention. After the popular vote is tallied, only the electors of the party that won the popular vote will case their official "electoral college" votes in their respective state capitals. That happened today.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Your Work is Done Here

Remember this quaint television commercial?

Not possessing even the rudimentary musical talents of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, a motley assembly of members of the United Auto Workers recently chose a different way to express their enthusiasm for their union and the benefits it brings to the American worker:

What we are witnessing is the reaction that many people display when they recognize that what has been an integral part of their life is now a dying way of life.

Union membership has declined for years; now in Michigan the legislature has swapped  the "closed shop" for "the right to work."

Unions in some ways are the victims of their own success. Those original goals--the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike, workplace safety, end to child labor, establishment of minimum wages, and  limitations on hours--all have been enacted in federal, state, and local laws.

Unions have hurt their own cause, too. Contracts which award wages based upon seniority rather than performance and make it difficult to terminate employees reduced the competitiveness of their company. It does not seem to dawn on union leadership that the well-being of union members depends a great deal upon the well-being of the company that employs them.

In other ways, Unions have fallen victim to developments beyond their control. Union membership and influence peaked in the years immediately after World War II. And so did America's share of the world's GNP. There is  a reason for that.  Europe and Japan lay in ruins and rest the rest of the world remained undeveloped.

It was not long, however, before Europe, and Japan began to  flex their industrial and technological might in competition with America. This competition has led both American and European companies to seek an edge by lowering labor costs. Production based upon unskilled and semi-skilled labor has moved to the underdeveloped nations. (One irony is that much of this production ended up in China. Who knew that capitalists in search of a working class to "exploit" would be enabled by the CPC and the communist workers' paradise that they run?)

 This development  is good for the people who live in those desperately poor countries. But it has eroded the industrial base that since the 1800s made Americans the most prosperous people in the world. With the reduction of this industrial base went the American union.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Messed Up on Drugs

In the most recent election cycle, several states reformed their  marijuana laws. Following the example of other states, Massachusetts legalized marijuana for medical use. Perhaps setting the example that other states will follow in the future, Washington state and Colorado legalized marijuana for private use.

These developments exacerbates the already confusing legal and moral questions on drug use.

First, and what should be the easiest confusion to clarify, concerns the question of federalism. Law regarding controlled substances really should remain in the hands of state legislatures. The Constitution provides no role  for the federal government in setting and enforcing laws about consumption of narcotics. As a matter of border control, the federal government has the interdicting the importation of marijuana from outside the country. And the commerce clause empowers it to regulate any transportation of marijuana across state lines. That seems about it. The federal government, through Congressional action, presidential executive orders, and judicial activism, acts as if it has the legal authority to rule on anything and everything. Consequently, the federal government has asserted jurisdiction over marijuana and other controlled substances that conflicts with many state laws. The federal government opposes marijuana for both medical and recreational uses.

Second, the legalization of so-called medical marijuana seems to be a scam to erode resistance to legalization for so-called recreational use. In the first place, whatever medicinal value of marijuana has been capitalized upon by drug companies. The production of Idrasil should have ended the question of "medical marijuana." Legalization advocates, however, claim Idrasil is not as effective as raw weed. (Perhaps this means that the pill comes without the "side effects" that are really the "intended effects" for recreational users.) In the second place, some preliminary data suggests that the primary users of medical marijuana are not elderly stage four cancer patients under intense pain, but 25-34 year old males who need "relaxation."

Third, the legalization of marijuana for recreational use creates a whole new set of problems. In spite of the cannabis  countdown that took place in Seattle,  public consumption of marijuana remains illegal in both Washington and Colorado.

The law merely legalized possession. It remains unsettled how marijuana will be sold, regulated, and taxed. (The opportunity for increased tax revenue is about the worst argument for legalization.) Schools and employers will still possess the right to exclude marijuana from campuses and workplaces.

Finally, there is the more complex health and  moral questions. Like other drugs, marijuana has negative side effects. Reefer reformers claim it is no more dangerous that cigarettes or alcohol. But why should states legalize one more substance that negatively impacts the health of its citizens?

 And smoking marijuana seems just a little bit morally vicious. Again, reefer reformers liken it to alcohol. One supporter noted that now that marijuana is legal,  people can go to marijuana instead of alcohol. By "people," this advocate meant those addicted to the vice of excess regarding their alcohol consumption. Those "people" now enjoy an alternative source for excess.

This analogy between alcohol and marijuana, however, is not so clear. Beer, wine, and even distilled spirits contain alcohol, classified as drug. But they are more of a food than they are a drug. They are consumed for nutrition and the pleasure of their taste. They only become a vice when consumed in excess. Marijuana, however, is not consumed for the pleasure of a bong burn. Marijuana's use is for the same effect of alcohol's abuse. Most thoughtful people acknowledge the moral vice of the temporary physical and mental debilitation through intoxication by alcohol; the same should be true for becoming blazed by blunts.

Ultimately, this raises the question of to what extent a state should take an interest in the moral character of its citizens.  This is why I am a conservative and not a liberal or a libertarian.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Gamble

The Obama Administration and House Republicans remain deadlocked in budget negotiations. At issue is the extent to which the Bush tax cuts will be retained. Obama wants to extend them for those making under $250,000 a year. Republicans want to extend them for everyone.

It is puzzling why the Bush tax cut, enacted as a temporary measure, have evolved into a sacred cow to Republicans. The cuts are just one more bit of residue left by the fiscally irresponsible Bush administration. Republicans claim that the increase in taxes will harm the already weak economy. Sometimes Republicans appear to oppose tax increases for any reason.

In addition, the Republicans see the tax policy as the only leverage they have to reduce spending. So far, however, they have been unable to leverage anything. The Social Democrats already have ruled out any cuts in so-called entitlements, the largest threat to fiscal solvency. In an earlier post, I suggested granting the President his wishes, perhaps by voting "present" on tax provisions. Then they can fight on the spending side of the government ledger. If they fail to secure significant reductions in spending, perhaps they can rally around the "debt ceiling" fight that will come in January. That will not really reduce existing the amount of money budgeted for specific programs, but it will stop to government from borrowing to fund those programs. Perhaps this will force the government to prioritize its spending and reduce it. 

Another option is to call the administration in its threat to go over the so-called "fiscal cliff.."

"Going over the fiscal cliff" simply means implementing the provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011. This will force both severe spending cuts and steep tax increases. This entails some high stakes risks.

First, no one is certain what this will do to the economy. On the one hand, conservatives claim that government spending, especially that contained in the various "stimulus packages," does not create jobs. If this claim is true, then cutting government spending through sequestration should not adversely impact the economy. On the other hand, Republicans claim tax increases will hurt the economy. The question is if either reduced spending or increased taxation--or both--will send us into a recession.

Second, the political fallout must be considered. On the one hand, the last thing Obama wants is a recession in his second term. His first term proved pretty pathetic, but voters decided to give him more time. A recession would consign his presidency to that large class of Presidential mediocrities. On the other hand, polls show by a 53-27 margins that Republicans would carry the blame for failure to close a deal with the President. That might portend trouble for 2014.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pearl Harbor Day

President Roosevelt called it "a day which will live in infamy."

British Prime Minister Winston Church, who had been leading Britain in a fight for its life for two years,  later reflected:

"No American will think it wrong of me if I proclaim that to have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. I could not foretell the course of events. I do not pretend to have measure accurately the martial might of Japan, but at thes very money I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death."

"So we had won after all!

"I went tot bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Season of Giving Wisely

As the season draws nearer to Christmas, television media and the internet inevitably will publicize increasing numbers of stories of "random acts of kindness." Sometimes these stories will hype faith and the religious angle; sometimes they vaguely refer to "the spirit of giving" or restoring another kind of faith--"the faith in humanity."

One recent example of the latter  featured the kindness of a New York City police officer. Patrolman Larry DiPrimo purchased shoes and socks for a homeless man on Times Square.  A tourist from Arizona snapped the photo. She happened to be there because she, too, planned to help this man by giving him some change.

As it often the case, things are not quite what they seem. Jeffrey Hillman may be shoeless, but he is not homeless. He has an apartment that he pays for with veterans benefit, social security, and federal assistance. Moreover, he has accumulated a records for petty crimes going back twenty years--including assault, menacing, possession of stolen property, grand larceny, forgery, reckless endangerment, and resisting arrest.

And within a week, Hillman was seen on the streets without his new shoes. He says he put them away for safe keeping, which probably means, he  swapped them for some Mad Dog 20 20.

The incident does present every citizen confronted by panhandlers with an ethical dilemma: to give or not to give.

For those who take the words of Jesus seriously, Jesus did say "Give to every man that asketh of thee" (Luke 6:30). This command comes with the promise that it will glorify God and it earn a reward from him in the future. It seems to imply that God's concern is withe the motive of the giver, and not with the  efficacy of the act. The giver will be rewarded for his faithfulness; the receiver will receive his own judgment for what he does with the gift. I guess that makes sense in the minds of those who believe such things.

For those who do not believe, Aristotle provides some general guidance for the financially liberal man in Book IV of Ethics.

"Virtuous acts are fine, and are done for a fine end; so the liberal man too will give with a fine end in view, and in the right way; because he will give to the right people, and the right amounts, and at the right time, and will observe all the other conditions that accompany right giving."

To give foolishly reduces the resources available to give wisely:

"He will avoid giving  to any and everybody, so that he many have something to give to the right people at the right time and in circumstances in which it is a fine thing to do."

So while Christmas is seen as the season of giving,  there should never by a  season of giving foolishly.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Food Stamp Challenge

Today Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker begin his so-called "Food Stamp Challenge."

Booker and several of his followers on Twitter plan to live for a week on the monetary equivalent of food stamps. 

(These days the program comes through EBT cards, not "stamps.")

I have not bothered to spend much time in an internet search of stories to learn how the Mayor calculated the  amount of money he plans to spend. I suspect it will differ from the amount most of the food stamp customers who shop where I work. 

Most of my food stamp customers do not overtly display signs of economic hardship. I have observed quite a few customers pass through our check out lines purchasing large quantities of shrimp and crab from our fresh seafood department.  The only restriction is that the food cannot be cooked. That regulation does not stop a few customers from trying. Knowing the law, many make their purchase first, and THEN return to the seafood department to have it steamed with some Old Bay seasoning.

At least one of our seafood lovers occasionally provides a nice shrimp luncheon for her friends. One day a customer arrived to return some shrimp for a refund because it was not as fresh as that to which she was accustomed. Demonstrating her experience at working the system, she also demanded a full refund for the trouble of having to go out of her way to return the product. Of course, she punctuated her demand with a threat to call the corporate office on us if we failed to comply. When she produced her receipt, we saw it was for an  EBT purchase. She explained that  she was returning it on behalf of her best friend who actually made the initial purchase. Hmmmm, I thought, now the taxpayers are funding shrimp luncheons for the economically oppressed. 

One of the more interesting  dynamics of EBT is the impact their use on business trends. In our particular region, our business analysts have noticed a correlation between EBT clientele and the sale of pre-made decorated cakes in our bakery departments. And it is easy to understand how this developed. 

Why spend only two dollars on a box of Betty Crocker Cake Mix and another two dollars on frosting and actually have to WORK by mixing it and baking it, when the taxpayers will purchase a $50 or more fully prepared, fully decorated cake from the bakery.

Cory Booker: 
Having your cake and eating it, too?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Like White on Rice

The anticipated nomination of Susan Rice seems to be on hold as Republican senators remarked that they grew even more disturbed about the government's reaction to the terrorist attack in Benghazi AFTER began her own apology tour.

In another example of the ever diminishing quality of our political discourse, the Washington Post published an editorial speculating that racism and sexism motivates Republican opposition. They note that white males from the old Confederacy constitute the heart of the opposition.

The Post's sensitivity was not so evident back in 2005, when another black female, Condoleezza Rice received the nomination for Secretary of State from President George Bush. Similarly, she came under criticism for misleading the public about the circumstances leading up to the invasion of Iraq. She,too, claimed that she depended upon information provided from the intelligence community.

Spearheading the opposition to Condoleezza Rice were ex-Klansman Senator Robert Byrd and ex-passenger of Mary Jo Kopechne Senator Edward Kennedy. If there were any two that might emit the stench of racism and sexism, it was these two. She won the nomination 85-13, but twelve of the negative votes came from MEN.  The Post's olfactory senses failed them back then, however, as they assumed the best of motives from Senate Democrats.

But at least in their recent editorial they conceded that they, unlike the  fluffers at MSNBC, cannot read minds.