Wednesday, June 17, 2015

U.S.S. Republican Ship of Fools

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It's difficult to keep track, isn't it? There are a few candidates missing here. Oh, yeah, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee are two and maybe Jim Gilmore and Peter King are two more. Do you think average Republicans can even identify all the candidates in this photo? 

As we watch all the hopefuls board the 2016 Republican Ship of Fools one by one, we have to shake our heads at how nonsensical the GOP has allowed its nominating process to become. There are some serious nominees here, including Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, maybe a few others. The rest are living in a world of fantasy, including Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, George Pataki (his great sin is being too mainstream), Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Lindsay Graham and oh, yes, the epitome of showboatism, Donald Trump.

But hopeless as their candidacies are, they can do some damage by making the Republican field look  stupid. Instead of Bush and Walker and Paul and Rubio sitting down for a real discussion of how they would handle the important issues facing the country, we will have Graham wanting to declare war on Day One of his presidency, Rick Perry wanting to building a wall four miles high and two miles wide between the U.S. and Mexico, Rick Santorum explaining how contraceptives are evil, Ben Carson opining that prisons prove gayness is a choice.... 

Instead of that serious debate among serious contenders, they will be dragged down having to match the Tea Party favorites to prove their conservative bona fides. The no-chance candidates will pull the potential nominees farther to the right than they would naturally go, much to their detriment in a general election. 

Meanwhile, Donald Trump will be the Genghis Khan of Republican field although he doesn't have a prayer of actually winning. He shredded them all in his announcement speech. Imagine how much bloodletting he'll engage in during the debates.

And who gets to make the decision about which Republicans will be allowed to participate in the debate (and, therefore, in the primary)? Why, Fox News, of course. The Republican leadership happily ceded its responsibility for vetting the candidates to good old Fox. (They are going by notoriously unreliable polling but they haven't revealed what polls they are using or what the criteria is). 

And, naturally, Fox is more interested in the entertainment value of the debates than in the actual goal of allowing voters to make commonsense decisions for winnowing the field. So, when you look at it that way, you can see that The Donald will definitely provide more bang for a news channel's buck.

Good old Reince Priebus, Republican Chairman, must be wondering where all his power went since Fox has more authority than the party in the nominating process and the Koch Brothers will have more money than the party in the election process. What does the GOP actually need a leadership for?

There has to be a better way of narrowing the field down to a few sane candidates who might actually have a chance of winning rather than watching them having to respond to the utterly fantastical assertions of the right-wing nuts so that they come to the general election weak and bleeding. 

Come on, Republicans, get with the program. The country is better off when we have a strong race of competing ideas. You're ensuring that your candidate will come into this with one hand tied behind his back. 


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

With Friends Like These......

                                      Image result for hillary clinton 2016 banner

Hillary's campaign is beginning to bring back bad old memories. I'm starting to be reminded of just why I disliked Rachel Maddow and Ed Shultz and Chris Matthews so much in 2007. I'm remembering my resentment of Ted and Caroline Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi, et al.

It's all coming back to me how they screwed over Hillary for Barack Obama and I'm seeing the same thing again now, only this time, it is Bernie Sanders.  Most of the MSNBC crew were naively beguiled by Obama. Who could support a female, who, granted, was hard-working and experienced, a proven warrior, but also middle-aged and somewhat dowdy, compared to a handsome, hip young black man? Hillary was so old news while Obama was fresh and optimistic. He was change they could believe in. He was hope. He was the recipe for being able to cross the cultural and political divide that existed in Washington. (Uh huh, sure thing, how's that working out for them?)

They didn't actually come out against her so much as they were dismissive. They exalted him and damned her with faint praise. She, they told us, sadly, was a terrible campaigner. She was too cold or maybe it was too emotional. She arrogantly took her position as front-runner for granted. She was an elitist. She this, she that..... Meanwhile, there was Obama floating above the fray clad in the robes of the savior. God, he's so cool!

Surprisingly, considering their accusations about her, she was winning Texas and Pennsylvania and Ohio and Florida and Michigan and California  and even states like West Virginia and Kentucky, but yet, they swooned when Obama won little western caucuses in states that hadn't voted Democratic in a presidential election for generations. She won Massachusetts in spite of the most important Kennedy's going for Obama.

And the powers-that-be in the democratic leadership made sure those little caucuses were as important, or even more important in the scheme of things, as the big populous blue states she won. They withheld Florida and Michigan's votes until Obama was declared the winner, then let those states switch their votes to him so it looked all kumbaya within  the party.

I was furious about all that at the time because I felt like the woman had been treated pretty much the way women are always treated in this country, we who belonged to the women's auxiliary rather than the main group, which would, of course, be run by men. Always destined to be the cookie makers and the tea pourers.

And now, we have Bernie Sanders. And don't get me wrong. I really like Bernie Sanders but I'm hating, once again, seeing the liberal news crowd putting him on a pedestal compared to her.

Rachel Maddow pretends that she just wants a competitive primary ("that's even good for Hillary") but you can tell that below the surface, her heart goes pitty-pat for Bernie. "Really," you can almost see her hoping, "is there a possibility he could actually win?"

Chris Matthews had a panel that dissected Hillary's campaign with rather petulant dissatisfaction. She's staked out some strong liberal positions on immigration and voting rights and gay marriage but none of it so far, is enough to please the liberal pundit class.  

And she went to Texas on a fund-raising trip. Oh, my. Because money shouldn't be a factor just because the Republican, whoever he is, will have barrels of Koch money and Adelson money, as well as other millionaires and billionaires too numerous to mention.

I'm come to the conclusion that Hillary simply isn't pure enough to please the left. She's extremely bright but face it, she's a slogger. She's a worker bee. She puts her time in to learn the issues and concisely express where she stands. She is noted for being strong on women's and children's concerns, but face it, these aren't what the media finds glamorous.

Hillary, like her husband, will work with anyone if it means getting something done. Bill joined forces with the Bush's on various catastrophic events and developed a real friendship with them. He welcomes anyone to join his Foundation if they'll give money to his pet causes. Perhaps, he hopes they'll find enlightenment but if not, at least, he has their check to build a school or combat AIDS or immunize children or rebuild a community hit by tragedy.

I think Hillary is the same. She's practical, realistic. She knows everyone won't love her but maybe they can still find some common ground to achieve a common goal. On the other hand, she'll fight if she has too. She's engaged in hand-to-hand combat with her enemies before.

The Republican candidates are piling on. They aren't wasting a lot of time worrying about Bernie Sanders, no, they are making every effort to destroy Hillary's credibility and while they are doing so, the lefty media is sniffing contemptuously.

With friends like them, Hillary doesn't need any enemies.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bruce or Caitlyn? What Difference Does It Make?

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Oh, man, I don't really want to do this but it almost seems obligatory for one who writes about social issues since it is the "Story of the Week".

Caitlyn Jenner, aka Bruce Jenner, made her big reveal, her transition from a man to a woman, in the splashiest way possible, appearing in a corset on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. At the same time, Caitlyn's Twitter page debuted and garnered over a million followers almost instantly.

I don't really care much about Jenner as an individual but the sad fact is that there are a lot of transgender people out there, miserably trapped in bodies that don't agree with with who they are in their heads. In a time when society is so much more accepting of homosexuality than it used to be, most transgender people are still deeply closeted, knowing the kind of contempt and vituperation they will receive if they announce themselves as what they are - from family, friends and the public, at large.

So, often, it takes a celebrity, someone famous and rich, like Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner to take on a controversial issue such as this one. No newspaper or news show would pay much attention if Joe Nobody tried to explain his position or state his case. In fact, the media mostly pays attention to transgender people when they commit suicide, brought to despair by their conflicted lives and lack of compassion from those around them.

In fact, Joe Nobody would never have the opportunity to sync his mind and body as Jenner has done because it is expensive to transition from one sex to another. It is especially costly if you have significant reconstructive surgery in an effort to be attractive in your new role.

Jenner's very public sex change has been carefully orchestrated, of course, from the first interview with Diane Sawyer to the pictures of a semi-transitioned Jenner and then to the heavily advertised article and photos in Vanity Fair. There is also a reality t.v. program looming on the horizon.

It all seems rather crass and commercial but it is probably also the only way it could be done to accomplish what Jenner wants to accomplish which is to draw attention to transgenders and their struggle to be accepted for what they are.

And, really, why should it be anyone else's business? If you are a man living in a woman's body or vice versa and your most heartfelt wish is to integrate the two parts of your self into one coordinated whole, why should anyone care?

I, personally, don't care. Life is all about trying to discover yourself and and doing so with the most integrity and honesty possible. If changing sexes is what it takes for you to do that, more power to you. If you have the wherewithal to help make it easier for others not so fortunate as Caitlyn Jenner is doing, hurray for her.

My life will go on exactly the same with Jenner is Bruce or Caitlyn and so will yours.