Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Polarized in New Hampshire

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These are strange days indeed. If you want to really understand the ideological divide that plagues the American political conversation, one needs to look no further than the results of yesterday's New Hampshire primary.
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I really do hope that Bernie Sanders is nominated at the convention this summer. All this talk about how the American people would never elect a gruff, Jewish guy from Vermont who speaks with a New York accent and buys his clothes off the rack doesn't hold much weight with me. That's what a lot of people said about a young black guy from Chicago when he had the audacity to announce his run for the White House nine years ago this month. "It'll never happen", they said. It happened. And are you ready for the punchline? He turned out to be a pretty decent chief executive. He could have been a little better for my money, but in the final analysts, Barack Obama was the right person for the job at that point in history. I've never regretted casting my vote for the man - not for a second.

I'm a realist. I understand that Hillary Clinton has the money and the power to eventually send Bernie back to the senate; I don't know how he's going to come through Super Tuesday without being beaten badly. He has too much of an uphill struggle - but I can dream, can't I? Perhaps his win last night in the granite state was a fluke, a tip of the hat to a favorite old uncle from neighboring Vermont. We shall see. Stranger things have happened.

The fact of the matter is that I just don't trust Hillary Clinton. That is not to say she would be a terrible president, it's just that I know that her attorney general - not unlike Eric Holder - will not be prosecuting the Wall Street bastards who have made a sport out of plundering the American economy these past thirty-plus years. It would be an entirely different scenario with Bernie in the White House. Hillary is a good woman, and no serious person doubts her intellect. But as a progressive her credentials suck. If she is the nominee I'll be voting for her come Election Day, what other choice will I have? Look for me at the polls; I'll be the one holding my nose.

Bernie is the only candidate for national office - since Franklin Roosevelt eighty-four years ago - with the courage to say the things that need to be said, things the people of this doomed country need to hear. In fact, in many ways he's gone beyond FDR. Frankie never came out in favor of gay marriage. Can you imagine if he had? That would have been interesting to say the least.

On the GOP side, things this week have been as bleak as they can possibly be: Ted Cruz in Iowa, followed by Donald Trump in New Hampshire: Two candidates so laughably extreme that the suits at the Republican National Committee are in complete and utter despair. As has been noted on this site a number of times in the recent past, these two guys are the price the GOP is paying for courting a class of voter in recent years that had historically been ignored by both parties: I refer to the terminally insane. Cruz is so completely loathed by his fellow Republicans that there is now serious talk among the party's movers and shakers to throw their support behind Trump for no other reason than to deny Teddy Boy the nomination. This is a party wallowing in pathos. Their biggest concern is that Cruz would lose them both the House and the Senate When he's beaten senseless at the polls in November. On MSNBC's Morning Joe today, Chris Matthews remarked that a potential Cruz administration would send America to "a very dark place". The man is a master of understatement.

These sure are interesting times.

I am beside myself with joy pondering the fact that I will be an eyewitness to the strangest year in American political history. Extremism in the defense of Librium. As Hunter Thompson once said, "It still hasn't gotten weird enough for me". 

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READING:

This essay by Thomas B. Edsall appeared in this morning's New York Times. It's well worth your time:

What About Ted Cruz?

Like the old song says, "Life could be a dream....Sh-boom!"

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Ted?


A few months ago - whether for spite or for fun - someone put me on Ted Cruz's email list. Late last night I received an appeal from Ted seeking a donation:

"Because you have been one of my most loyal supporters -- I'm reaching out to you first."

Sure, Ted, the check is in the mail.

???
Three years ago I wrote a piece called "President Cruz?". At the time it was obvious to me (as I'm sure it was as obvious to anyone paying attention) that, even though he had come to Washington only a few months before, the celebrated gas bag from the Lone Star State would be making his bid for the 2016 Republican nomination. So help me Mitch Miller, I never dreamed that the silly bastard would win a single primary. At the time, I neglected to take to account the rip-roaring stupidity of the GOP voters in Iowa. - which brings me to the question that is screaming to be posed:

"Why Iowa?''

Why is this state so crucial to the primary season? With respect to the Republicans, they have not once in their history picked someone who went on to win the nomination - forget about the White House. A state that houses more white people than any other place in a nation that is becoming more-and-more brown by the minute has lost its relevance - assuming it ever had any. The people who decide these things ought to reconsider that states' significance to the electoral process. Just a thought. 

Which brings be back to Teddy Boy: I'm not at all alarmed at the prospect of a Cruz candidacy - amused, yes, but hardy alarmed. In fact, I hope he gets the nomination this summer. There is nothing in the realm of the most twisted possibility that I can foresee that would be as delightfully weird as Ted Cruz playing the part of the right wing's standard bearer for 2016. The guy is so extreme and vulgar that, for people like me who thrive on this stuff, a Cruz run would be a demented dream come to life. Oh, please, fate....

Here is something that is the worst kept secret in Washington: His colleagues in the senate can't stand him. Think about that just for a second. A party that has lowered the bar so far in recent years as to what constitutes "statesman-like behavior" finds Ted too insufferably obnoxious for comfort. That takes some doing. When a right wing politician becomes too extreme for the GOP even, it's time to prescribe some lithium. Seriously.

I don't suspect that Ted is going to be taking the oath of office on January 20, 2017; then again, early in the candidacy of George W. Bush, I never dreamed that one day he would be living in the Executive Mansion. Shit happens, you know?

Should that unthinkable scenario ever come to pass, I'll learn to live with it. As bad as a Cruz administration would be for the country and the world, at least it would never be boring. We must seek these silver linings behind the darkest of clouds.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READING:

The Last 100 Days
by John Toland

This chronicle of the winter and spring of 1945 is a page-turner. It's always oodles of fun to read about the personal, political and psychological implosion of Adolf Hitler! Althouygh written in 1966, the book is still in print and can be ordered off Amazon.com:

The Last 100 Days

Mucho recommended.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Stinky Water in Flint



Image result for protests in flint michiganBack in the day they would herd "undesirables" into gas chambers. Things are a bit more subtle in 2016. Gee, we really do live in interesting times. We really do!

Less than two years ago, in an effort to save Michigan a few bucks, the right wing government of that state decided that it would be a perfectly grand idea to switch the drinking water of the city of Flint from the Great Lakes to the Flint River - an industrial sewer. The result of this brilliant decision by Governor Rick Snyder is that the children of that doomed city have effectively been poisoned.

Keep voting Republican.

Image result for protests in flint michiganEmails and documents attained by various journalists via the Freedom of Information Act have proven - beyond a tainted molecule of a doubt - that, almost from the very moment they switched the pipes, the elected officials of the state of Michigan were aware of the magnitude and scope of the environmental catastrophe they had unleashed on the poor citizens of Flint. For a year-and-a-half they worked round the clock to cover up their complicity in the crime. Concerned mothers who sought desperately to seek answers to the questions they asked about the declining health of their children were dismissed as psychos, beggars and thieves; the most vulnerable, the children and the elderly, continued to bathe in and drink of the poisoned water.

This would not have happened if Flint had been a community of affluence. This would not have happened had the residents of Flint not been predominantly African American and poverty stricken. The message could have been clearer had it been etched in gold: 

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth"?

Nah!

To hell with the meek.

Don't try to kid yourselves into believing that this was some sort of industrial "accident". When their plans for the water of Flint were made public, alarm bells were sounded from all corners. It didn't matter as far as Governor Rick was concerned. There were a few bucks to be saved and - come hell or rancid water - he was gonna save 'em.

Are we at the point yet where we can agree that conservatism is destroying this country? How far into the abyss are we willing to hurl ourselves? These people aren't merely incompetent politicians; they're criminally insane. When are we going to wake up and smell the elephant shit?

This is dark comedy at its darkest.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

SUGGESTED READING:

This piece by Flint native Stephen Rodrick, is in this week's Rolling Stone. It ought to be read by everyone with a pulse:

Who Poisoned Flint?/

Was this a great country or what?

AFTERTHOUGHT, 10 PM:

Interesting. I went to the atlas on my blog tonight. It tells me where in the world I am being read at any given time. At this hour I am being read in the towns of Snohomish, Washington and Schwenksville, Pennsylvavia. Who would have dreamed?

A tip of the hat to the kind people of Snohomish and Schwenksville!