The Man of Commerce Map – Irreconcilable Differences, Democrats Are Adults, Republicans Are Brats

The Man of Commerce Map

“The Man of Commerce” is a detailed map that conflates human anatomy with the American transportation system. Published in 1889 by the Land & River Improvement Company of Superior, Wisconsin, the map promotes Superior as a transportation hub and shows the routes of 29 railroads across the United States. The outline map of North America is superimposed by a cutaway diagram of the human body. The map’s metaphor makes West Superior “the center of cardiac or heart circulation.” The railways become major arteries. New York is “the umbilicus through which this man of commerce was developed.” The explanatory notes conclude: “It is an interesting fact that in no other portion of the known world can any such analogy be found between the natural and artificial channels of commerce and circulatory and digestive apparatus of man.” Use of the human body as a cartographic metaphor dates back at least to the 16th century, to the anthropomorphic map of Europe as a queen in Sebastian Münster’s Cosmography (1570). This map may be the earliest application of this metaphor to North America. The cartographer was A.F. McKay, who in 1889 briefly served as the editor of the Superior Sentinel newspaper. The map was engraved by Rand McNally. The American Geographical Society Library acquired the map in 2009, aided in part by the Map Society of Wisconsin. The only other known copy of this map is in a private collection.

Most of the time regionalism in the U.S. – a kind of localized nationalism – is between friends or business. People take pride in where they’re from and the advantages of living there. This map took regionalism to  extraordinary heights. Mckay had to really extend his imagination to make Superior THE U.S. hub of commerce. Below is the Sebastian Münster’s 1570 map done in a similar spirit for Europe. In 1570 there was tremendous trade competition between Europe and the two giants of commerce, India and China.

Anthropomorphic map of Europe as a queen in Sebastian Münster’s Cosmography (1570)

As the presidential campaign heads into the summer I cannot help but wonder what people see when they look at Mitt Romney. As has been the frequently painful to watch spectacle of conservatives running for office on the morality ticket Romney can claim some traditional moral standards, like fidelity. Fidelity is a a moral issue, but more a personal one than political. If it is political certainly President Obama and the vast majority of Democratic officials can claim that moral ground as much as Mitt. Though these personal moral standards are not the only ones. According to one Gallop poll about morality there are only four issues that truly split the country, we all pretty much agree on everything else. There is a glaring omission from that poll: Obtaining money by nefarious means or outright stealing. To me that is a huge issue. If you’re at the median in income or below – half the country, if someone takes your laptop or smartphone, they are stealing work from you – the hours and labor you put in to make that purchase. That is in addition to the costs of the intangibles like personal information. When Mitt Romney and Bain raided corporations they always made sure they make money, lots and lots of money – sometimes taking government subsidies at tax payer expense and they made money whether the takeover resulted in the corporation surviving, making a profit after reorganization. This was all apparently legal, but was it moral. Was it right to lay off workers, outsource jobs and make still bill those companies for Bain’s “services”. Romney like to use the word freedom a lot in his speeches. Wonderful word freedom. yet in this Orwellian world we all know that words like freedom can be used by some malevolent characters to defend of egregious behavior. In that regard Romney is a typical Republican, use good words to mask deeply immoral actions. In terms of truthfulness and ethics, Romney may already have accomplished what would have seemed impossible just four years ago, surpassed George W. Bush in his magnitude of immoral behavior – and Mitt is not even president.

Ezra Klein write this editorial last year, Obama revealed: A moderate Republican

Take health-care reform. The individual mandate was developed by a group of conservative economists in the early ’90s. Mark Pauly, an economist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, was one of them. “We were concerned about the specter of single-payer insurance,” he told me recently. The conservative Heritage Foundation soon had an individual-mandate plan of its own, and when President Bill Clinton endorsed an employer mandate in his health-care proposal, both major Republican alternatives centered on an individual mandate. By 1995, more than 20 Senate Republicans — including Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Dick Lugar and a few others still in office — had signed one individual mandate bill or another.

As we all know Obamacare is basically the same plan Romney signed into law in Massachusetts which was modeled on health care reform advocated by the far Right conservative Heritage Foundation. There are really only a couple of issues driving this election cycle. Most of them can be put under the general heading of the economy. The other is Right’s desire to destroy the health care reform plan that was modeled on their plan. There is a temptation to think that old canard about life being like high school is kind of funny, but not true. These men and women in Congress are serious people with good mature adult reasons for taking the positions they do, right? In regards Conservatives, life is like a high school where everyday is like playing king of the hill. That is why they are hell bent on repealing the ACA. President Obama and Democrats will get credit for doing something they did not have the political courage to do. Republicans support Obama’s health reforms — as long as his name isn’t on them

What’s particularly interesting about this poll is that solid majorities of Republicans favor most of the law’s main provisions, too.

I asked Ipsos to send over a partisan breakdown of the data. Key points:

* Eighty percent of Republicans favor “creating an insurance pool where small businesses and uninsured have access to insurance exchanges to take advantage of large group pricing benefits.” That’s backed by 75 percent of independents.

* Fifty-seven percent of Republicans support “providing subsidies on a sliding scale to aid individuals and families who cannot afford health insurance.” That’s backed by 67 percent of independents.

* Fifty-four percent of Republicans favor “requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance for their employers.” That’s backed by 75 percent of independents.

* Fifty two percent of Republicans favor “allowing children to stay on parents insurance until age 26.” That’s backed by 69 percent of independents.

* Seventy eight percent of Republicans support “banning insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions; 86 percent of Republicans favor “banning insurance companies from cancelling policies because a person becomes ill.” Those are backed by 82 percent of independents and 87 percent of independents.

* One provision that isn’t backed by a majority of Republicans: The one “expanding Medicaid to families with incomes less than $30,000 per year.”

“Most Republicans want to have good health coverage,” Ipsos research director Chris Jackson tells me. “They just don’t necessarily like what it is Obama is doing.”

I’d add that Republicans and independents favor regulation of the health insurance system in big numbers. But the law has become so defined by the individual mandate — not to mention Obama himself — that public sentiment on the reforms themselves has been entirely drowned out. It’s another sign of the conservative messaging triumph in this fight and the failure of Dems to make the case for the law.

Its like your mom and dad both made the exact same PB&J sandwich, but you liked mom’s best. There has been quite a bit of analysis written about how Democrats frame their messages. Time and again if you ask the public about a specific policy or piece of legislation without including labels, Democratic policies always win. On the issues the U.S. is left of center. So what kind of message do you formulate for adults who see the same two PB&J sandwiches and reject one because Democrats made it. Obama and Democrats did use mostly Conservative messages – health care reform will save the country money ( confirmed by the CBO). The mandate which the conservatives cited above championed, was the responsible thing to do. Yet Republicans are willing to increase the deficit – which they suddenly started caring about in 2009 – by $230 billion dollars. Romney, the guy running as a weirdly moral candidate promises to repeal the ACA, thus increase the deficit as part of his first 100 days as president. Moral Mittens will repeal legislation that Republicans support as long as it is known as Obama’s or Democrat’s legislation. We are not now or in the near future going to have one those mature serious and civil public debates about issues like health care reform, or the deficit or anything else because one of the participants in the debate is a diaper wearing, perpetually pouting brat.

That an ATF agent died, as well as hundreds of Mexicans makes Fast and Furious and its predecessor program tragic. Yet the political circus around it is ripe for satire. The Real Scandal of Fast and Furious

Actually, despite silly headlines like this, it’s not a complicated story at all. Operation Fast and Furious — hey, let’s give guns to bad guys, what could possibly go wrong? — was a bad idea, poorly done, and thus not unlike hundreds or thousands of other poorly conceived and executed government plans of recent memory. (Like the Iraq War, for example). The Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration before it, deserves no small measure of blame for thinking that such a dangerous, unwieldy sting could be completed, successfully, without a great deal of unintended pain and sorrow.

To the right, the story has been an election-year blessing, a roiling melange of: (1) gun righteousness; (2) antipathy toward Holder, and; (3) fear and loathing of Mexico and Mexicans. When Colbert mocks the vast “conspiracy” the right sees in all of this — what’s the matter, good old-fashioned bureaucratic incompetence isn’t good enough anymore? — it’s hilariously funny until you realize that tens of millions of people evidently believe the plot to be true. “If I lie in a lawsuit involving the fate of my neighbor’s cow, I can go to jail,” Walter Lippmann wrote in 1919:

But if I lie to a million readers in a matter involving war and peace, I can lie my head off, and, if I choose the right series of lies, be entirely irresponsible.

As I’ve followed the story — and so much of it has been told so well by my CBS News colleague Sharyl Attkisson — I keep thinking about the mission and the frustrations of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. The folks there are, unsurprisingly, apoplectic at the week’s events. A Republican-dominated Congress that has done nothing to stop gun trafficking on the Mexican border all of sudden is concerned enough about gun trafficking on the Mexican border to quickly hold contempt hearings and a floor vote?

This might be some kind of record, the first and last time conservatives suddenly cared about dead Mexicans. Its a brilliant game. Issa asks for documents – thus far Holder has handed over 140,000 which you know darn well Issa has not bothered to read. Every time Holder hands over more documents Issa, like a knee jerk reflex replies this is not enough, you’re hiding something. If Holder took Issa by the hand to the record archive at the DOJ and said here, go for it. Issa would claim Holder has buried what he wants in some secret hiding place. All of this egged on by the NRA who claims Holder is using F&F to pass some Draconian gun laws. The only obvious problem with that is that neither Congressional Democrats or the President has introduced even one new gun law. The Bush 41 gun laws against assault style rifles was allowed to expire without the slightest attempt to renew. We still have the gun show loophole or as some call it the loophole for terrorists courtesy the Bush 43 administration where any wacko r terrorist in a hurry can buy their gun without a background check. That is another issue on which Democrats get a thumps up from voters – they want background checks. Would Founders like James Madison really support selling a 9mm semi-automatic to a convicted rapist.

The Madness of Justice Antonin Scalia

For what seems like decades a conventional wisdom, built largely by a handful of Supreme Court correspondents, has held that Justice Antonin Scalia is the high court’s most brilliant, disciplined, albeit ideological, member. He is also, according to this conventional wisdom, deliciously witty.

[  ]….In a piece for Salon, Paul Campos, for instance, is not mincing words about the tottering justice. Scalia, Campos writes, “has in his old age become an increasingly intolerant and intolerable blowhard: a pompous celebrant of his own virtue and rectitude, a purveyor of intemperate jeremiads against the degeneracy of the age, and now an author of hysterical diatribes against foreign invaders, who threaten all that is holy.”

Campos was referring to Scalia’s concurring, dissenting opinion issued in Arizona v. U.S. where a majority of the justices invalidated three of provisions, and weakened a fourth, of Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant law. In his opinion Scalia not only railed against alleged dangers undocumented persons pose to Arizona, but also ruminated about state sovereignty and took a shot at President Obama’s actions on immigration policy.

As Campos and others note, Scalia simply cannot contain his partisan leanings. Campos thinks the justice “no longer cares that he sounds increasingly like a right-wing talk radio host rather than a justice of the Supreme Court ….”  

In part, Scalia complained in his dissent that if Arizona does not have the power to secure its borders with unconstitutional laws, “we should cease referring to it as a sovereign state.”

During the ACS Supreme Court Review, former U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger also challenged Scalia’s off-the-wall take on state sovereignty.

Calling it the most “striking question” asked this Term, Dellinger cited Scalia’s question to the federal government, during oral argument in Arizona v. U.S. “What does state sovereignty mean if it does not include the right to defend your borders,” Dellinger read Scalia’s question from the oral argument transcript.

Well that implies, Dellinger said, that New York could forbid people from New Jersey “from coming into the state.”

The states, however, are not sovereign in the sense Scalia sees them, Dellinger said.

For instance, he noted, “They can’t coin money, they can’t have an army, they can’t have a navy, they can’t engage in treaties, they can’t make a compact with another quasi-sovereign, without the express permission of Congress. Those are not attributes of an entity that has sovereignty. But the notion that a justice could think that controlling the borders of the state is an attribute of sovereignty that a state has, fundamentally transforms, I think, the nature of our Constitution.”

When it comes to state’s right  Scalia, like a lot of the wacky Right, seems to forget their version of sovereignty was rejected in a little confrontation called the Civil War and the Constitutionalists won, and the treasonous Confederates lost.

P.S. Over the years I got a couple of interviews with Nora Ephron and saw her movies of course. She seemed like such a warm, smart and funny woman. Writer and Filmmaker With a Genius for Humor.