1. It’s Thursday, January 18, 2018.

2. Today is mathematically correct. So was yesterday.

3. It’s the 236th birthday of Daniel Webster, one of those famous U.S. senators who never became President.

Webster was said to be a great orator – obviously, with no audio from the period, you have to wonder how he’d fare in the video age.

He also was a big fan of the federal government, butting heads a lot with Andrew Jackson and the Democrats. Keeping it together during the crises of the early 19th century dominated his career; he supported the Compromise of 1850 that staved off the Civil War for a decade.

The key words here are “staved off.” It didn’t prevent the war. While the compromise ensured that California and other parts of the West wouldn’t be slave states, it tightened fugitive slave laws.

In essence, if a suspected runaway slave walked down a street in New York City, law enforcement was obligated to go after him or her – and ordinary citizens could be pressed into a posse to help in the capture.

If you think this reeks of what’s going on with undocumented immigrants in this country, you and I are on the same line.

4. And if you think our stature as a world power has taken a deep dive in the 363 days of this administration, you’re right again.

A new Gallup poll of people in 134 countries finds approval of the United States plummeting to 30% from 48% in the final year of Barack Obama’s administration.

That 48%, by the way, is about as high as these numbers get – no matter what a powerful nation does, it’s going to piss somebody off. Just as an example, Germany now ranks as the most respected major power, with a 41% approval.

That’s followed by China at 31%.

You got that. China – of the human rights violations and expansionist notions – is more respected in the world right now than the United States.

And yet, there are people who think we’re doing something right by our aggressive so-called “America First” policy. But instead of standing tall, we’re driving our traditional allies away and making our power worthless.

Being mean doesn’t make you strong.

5. In the next few days, funding for the federal government runs out. Many Democrats want to use this moment to curtail some of the cruelty that has transpired in the past year.

They want to ensure that children of undocumented immigrants, promised stability in the only home many have ever known, are protected from deportation, which Trump seems determined to enforce in March.

Democrats also want to ensure that children have health insurance – a program, enacted in a bipartisan manner twenty-plus years ago, to provide that protection expired last year. Republicans in Congress were more hell-bent on tax cuts for their donors.

So many Democrats say they aren’t going to support government funding after Saturday unless those protections are part of it.

Republicans have thrown in one more wrench – the 2018 equivalent of strengthening the Fugitive Slave Act. They want the money for Trump’s idiotic wall on the Mexican border. A visible symbol that cruelty and antipathy are American policy.

Do Democrats act as Daniel Webster and compromise? Or do they force the issue in 2018 – thinking that they let the wall and increased deportations become a norm that would be hard to break in subsequent years?

I think the Gallup poll on stature gives the answer. The world wants to look to the United States for leadership. Somebody in this country should stand for that – it might as well be the Democrats.


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