Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hillary? They Call Her the Wagon Lady

Why do they call Hillary Clinton "The Wagon Lady"?

Because she has so much baggage that she needs a covered wagon to haul it around.

This is not a bad joke. It's a true and very sad statement. Very sad for those of us who really would like to see a woman be president.

The hard truth is, she ain't going to make it, folks.

We are all so caught up in the newest GOP cavalcade, Donald Trump shoving cream pies in the face of anybody who comes near him. We're all so caught up in this laugh-a-minute that we are losing sight of the fact that the show on the Democrats' side is not very encouraging, at least as far as the supposed front runner.

Hillary Clinton has some serious disabilities as a candidate. She is awkward. She is stiff. She comes across as a phony, too well-rehearsed, too rolling-the-big-eyes. This last problem is really a put-off. Mitt Romney was the guy at the cocktail party that you kept trying to avoid. Hillary is the hostess who comes down the staircase trailing her hand on the banister, beaming over-wide, and saying "Dahlings!"

You just want to go puke.

If she is the nominee, I will have to vote for her. But a lot of other people won't. Democrats are great at staying home.

People don't trust her, according to the polls. And that's not solely because she comes across as phony. Her actual behavior in office and on the campaign trail and as First Lady leaves a bad taste in peoples' mouths. What was she up to? With her own computer server? With those maybe-classified e-mails? With Whitewater? With the billing hours from her years at the Rose law firm? With grabbing  health care reform away from the Congress in 1993 and holding closed-door meetings on it?  I don't think these were criminal moves. They were just politically stupid.

"The appearance of propriety is as important as propriety itself."  This was one of my mother's sayings. Like all mothers she was absolutely correct. Grace Daley Kamer really did know whereof she spoke. When she was a kid in a Chicago Catholic school, young Richard Daley was always trying to kiss her on the grounds they were "kissing cousins". She cut him cold: "You'll not kiss me, Richard Daley! You're a bad boy. The nuns caught you smoking!" They were of course collaterally related but their strongest relationship was the bond of politics. The Daleys of Chicago were all political. They were Irish. My mother's father ran political campaigns among his other jobs, such as being chief of the detective bureau of the Chicago police. His brother James Daley was an alderman. My mother grew up at a dinner table where political talk came right along with the corned beef and cabbage

Obviously Hillary Clinton did not get this kind of coaching as a youngster. She keeps making things appear worse than they probably are. She is, as anybody's mother might say, her own worst enemy.

Rule number one: when caught stumbling, admit it. The computer server issue was something most people don't give a damn about. But she's made it into an ongoing story. She keeps TALKING ABOUT IT! People don't really understand the story, but the fact that it keeps going on seems to suggest it's important. She should've just said, "The security computer people thought it was a good idea. I'm not knowledgeable about computer servers. If it was a mistake, I sure do apologize. Can you explain to me the harm done because I really don't know about computer servers."

After all, Chris Christie got away with saying he didn't know anything about lane closures over that bridge. That's all he said: "I don't know anything about it." His closest aides did it, but he didn't know about it? How much easier to say you don't understand what some computer guys were doing.

Many people can dig that. Nobody knows about computer servers except young people. And they won't vote in the primaries or they will vote for Bernie Sanders. But the reliable voters, the seniors who should be Hillary voters, would just say, "What's a computer server? A guy who comes to fix it?" And the young voters would look at Hillary's age and say, "Of course, she doesn't understand it. My grandma won't even use a computer. Poor old darlings."  (I can say these things. I'm a grandma.)

But Hillary doesn't acknowledge, plead ignorance and move on. Instead age gets all huffy. She acts like she's being attacked by the press. John Kennedy made them his friends. She bridles at the mere sight of them. Hilary, honey, get this:  The press has a right to ask questions. It's their duty. You aren't privileged.

Rule number two: If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. If she can't stand to be questioned or criticized, why in hell does she want to be president?

Rule number three: If you run for president, be sure you have a good reason for doing it. I can't figure out why Hillary Clinton wants to be president. She has no message. Sure, she just cobbled together stuff about climate control, promising to go beyond Obama's targets. Why is she running against Obama's record? All of a sudden she's an environmentalist? No, she's not. We environmentalists weren't born yesterday. We haven't seen her around our causes, and her husband did nothing about the environment until the last moments of his presidency. Absent her ability to tell us why she's running, she comes across as doing it because she wants it for herself. This is a double risk, because she ran before and lost but is coming back for a second. That more than suggests a very strong, very personal desire. Maybe that's her only reason for running. It isn't enough, Hillary.

Hillary hasn't learned that she cannot be everything: health care expert, computer expert, etc. Whatever it is, she jumps on it and tries to explain it, command it, be the boss.

What she needs to be good at is political campaigning. Sadly, she is terrible at it. And it's too late to start learning now. She learned nothing in 2008. She isn't going to learn now. We can't afford to lose in 2016, and Hillary is a loser. People just don't like or trust her.  Being a bad candidate is even worse than being a former Socialist. In this very strange political year, it looks to this old campaigner like former Socialist Bernie Sanders is a very good candidate. Oddly enough, this old gal—me, not Hillary— has come around to thinking we could win with a New York Socialist Jew. I happen to love New York Socialist Jews, but ordinarily those qualities would automatically mark a guy as a loser in American politics. Plus he's almost as old as I am. Nevertheless, of all people, Hillary Clinton has been the one to convince me to go with Bernie.

And not just by default. I think Bernie Sanders is a winner. I'll explain that next time.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Age of Obama? Yes.

All of the sudden, reality has struck.

The pundits are acknowledging that Obama is one of the best presidents in our history.

All along he has been beloved and admired by those of us who see him clearly, but he was still viewed by the smart set as somehow rather pathetic, the man of the "might have been". Even those who acknowledged he had done a lot thought he had done it all wrong. He had rescued the country from the recession but not spent enough on the recovery. He got a health care bill but went for it too soon and should have worked on the recovery longer. He should've been tougher with the GOP Congress except that he should have been nicer. And on and on. Then, like a clap of thunder, in this past week he has been suddenly granted the stature he should've have had all along. "Amazing Grace", indeed! It's like a Hollywood movie.

In this lovely scenario, it took only two decisions by the Supreme Court to raise him to the heights of acknowledgement. On one day last week the Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, by a resounding 6-3, against a challenge made on the slimmest of grounds. Four words had been put into the act by clear error that went against the entire plan of the rest of the act. Anyone who writes legislation, analyzes it for legislatures or administrators, or teaches it—all things I have done—knows full well that a correct interpretation of any section of a law must comport with the rest of that law. The snake must not eat its own tail.

In this case, four words out of a 900 page law were being used by the enemies of Obamacare so as to swallow the whole snake.  Unless the Court set aside those four words as the error they clearly were, six million Americans would immediately lose their health care coverage and another 10 million would be deprived as the dominoes continued to fall in the ACA's collapse. Probably of even greater concern to Chief Justice Roberts and his fellow Republican, Justice Kennedy, was the looming damage to the insurance industry.

In the second decision a couple of days later, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court again looked at some facts of life: that most of the states were permitting same-sex marriage and that opposition to gay marriage is collapsing among the public, with 60% of Americans instead supporting it. You can't go on denying a basic right to hundreds of thousands of Americans, perhaps millions, in a minority of states because a majority of the people in those states want to deny them that right. In a democracy the majority decides the laws, but in American democracy basic rights are never decided just by a majority. We are protective of the basic rights of even the one. Popular opinion does not protect your free speech, your right to a fair trial, your freedom from unreasonable search. The courts protect such rights. Among these basic rights is marriage. The pursuit of happiness.

The Court did not say that it was deciding these cases on the basis of undeniable realities. But that's what it did. Obamacare could not be forced into collapse; same sex couples cannot, as a practical matter any longer be denied the basic right of marriage because they live in the wrong state.

Whether it meant to or not, the Court also affirmed the position of President Obama as a "transformational" president, to use the term applied by the dean of the media political corps, Chuck Todd of NBC's "Meet The Press". The decisions "cemented" Obama's achievement of a "legacy" that would now make this "the Obama era".  These are all words used by Chuck Todd, today's version of Tim Russert and Walter Cronkite.

Somehow those who were previously stingy with praise for Obama now could not say enough good about him.  Jumping on the bandwagon it is called.  Almost all that was right in a remarkable week was perceived to reflect well on him. Long denied the gratitude and admiration that should have been his, he now benefited from things as diverse as the truly Christian forgiveness nine families extended to the man who had killed their loved ones. And the sudden  movement in the Deep South to take down the Confederate flag also seemed inexplicably to be to Obama's credit. When a spectacular rainbow appeared over the 50th anniversary celebration concert of the Grateful Dead, even some of that glow seemed to envelop the President.

For once he and his team seemed to have a sure grasp of something that has eluded them for 6 1/2 years: getting him credit. The exterior of the White House was awash in rainbow colors. And at the funeral in Charleston for the nine assassinated, Obama himself gently extended the nine families' grace to all of us and began singing "Amazing Grace".

Finally, the man and the moment have met. Hearts have been lifted by grace within tragedy. Hearts have been freed to marry. Terror of illness without health care has been driven away. There has not been such joy in the land since that golden night in Chicago's Grant Park when a million people came to cheer the miracle of an African-American president being elected in this country. That night tears ran down the faces of Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey and me. We knew, those aging warriors and I, as did the young dancing in the streets around the globe....we knew we had entered into a new era.

Now everybody else knows it too. It truly was the dawning of "the age of Obama", as Chuck Todd calls it. Since 2008, we have walked free of thirty-five years of Reagan conservatism into an era of hope for people who are sick and of change for those who yearned to marry the ones they love. There is even more to the Obama legacy. But I'll not review it right now. I have written about it before.

Yes, more praise is due Obama. Because his legacy is broader than what was acknowledged this week. A fine legacy, broad  and deep, intelligent and kind. He has gone from being a very young man to being a good father to all of us.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Surprise! The Surging of Senator Bernie Sanders

He's packing them in.

In an Iowa town of 240 total population, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont this week drew a crowd of 300. The New York Times reported that some people drove as much as 50 miles to hear Bernie speak.

In other Iowa towns he has filled halls to overflowing. There are photographs in the media to prove it.

This isn't supposed to happen. Just like it wasn't supposed to happen in 2008 when the mighty Clinton machine was supposed to roll over and crush the little-known one-term senator from Illinois.

The media have been babbling on for months about the invincibility of Hillary Clinton, dwelling on her mountains of money, cadres of hired guns, and a much more sophisticated campaign operation than the primaries in 2008.  Also she is supposedly "well-positioned as a centrist" but one who is "becoming a centrist liberal".

Meaning that she has changed her position on five major issues in a desperate attempt to catch up with a majority of American people and move away from the shenanigans that got her in trouble in 2008, such as voting for the Iraq war and having a President-husband who never saw a break for the rich that he could resist. We can thank good old Bill for much of the deregulation of the financial industry that led to the disaster of 2008.  She has also abandoned Bill's stance of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, apparently noticing that gay people are not only telling but are telling people to come to their same-sex wedding. And most Americans are glad to get the invitations.

So in typical Hillary fashion, she has run around to the front of the crowd in order to look like a leader.

The media acknowledges that Hillary "runs the risk" of looking "squishy". The word "squishy" is a term of art that I borrowed today from the New York Times. It's fine. But to say that Hillary runs the risk of appearing vacillating is to misstate the state of affairs. She isn't running a risk.  She has jumped over the cliff into "risk" canyon.  She is already up to her knees in squishiness and we have only just begun.

Can Bernie Sanders really pull this off? After all, Obama piled up his win against Hillary largely by winning caucus states. The much vaunted Clinton machine of 2008 had overlooked what any political science student probably knows: A lot of states have caucuses. The Clinton people will likely not make that mistake this time.  So can Bernie win without the Clintons being asleep at the switch? This will be a fascinating test case of whether a grassroots candidate like Bernie can muster enough local volunteers to get people to those caucuses who support him. Or will Clinton's paid troops do a better job than the volunteers?

Why, you ask, doesn't Hillary Clinton use volunteers instead of paid people? After all, volunteers generally are more acceptable to voters at the front door. My bet is that she won't use volunteers because no one wants to volunteer for her.

Why not? Where are those ranks of women who loved Hillary in 2008?

That is the subject of my next posting. In only eight years, America has changed.

Tune in next time to find out how and why there are no troops for Hillary anymore.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Can't We Please Have Some Real Candidates?

This is a nation of 350  million people. Out of 350 million people, why don't we have some really good candidates running for president?

If I just wanted something to write about, I should be glad that the Republicans are fielding approximately 17 candidates in the primaries who are either woefully cuckoo or woefully pitiful. They are a writer's delight. Where do they find these people? 

Let's take Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. He looks and speaks so much like goofy Kenneth on 30 Rock that it's very hard to take him seriously even if he would once in a while make some sense. Also noteworthy, Rick Perry is apparently going to come out of the wings on June 4, no doubt still trying to remember three things. Carly Fiorina is back too, though we don't know if her red-eyed sheep will come trailing in behind her.

I can't remember the name of the pizza guy, but I'll never forget his campaign manager who starred in the campaign ads by leering into the camera and blowing cigarette smoke.

I have to stop there. In all honesty, even with the return of some of my favorite clowns,  the GOP wannabes for 2016 are not as bad as the crop in 2012. Nothing particularly clownish leaps to mind about Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or Ron Paul. More frightening is the fact that their seriously held ideas and stance are per se idiotic. Unlike the others they have clearly thought through what they are saying. It just happens to be trash. 

What stuns me is that two of these men—Cruz and Paul—inexplicably want to be president of a government they are dedicated to abolishing. As for Rubio, I can't figure out if he's interested in anything except telling us over and over that his parents were immigrants. All of our parents or grandparents or great-grandparents were immigrants. Get over it, Mario.

I haven't listed all of the potential GOP candidates because it's hard to remember them. They're undistinguished, small people with very small ideas, mostly about making the American government small. And, yes, they hate Obama. 

In this field of dingy dreams, one disappointment particularly stands out. Jeb Bush, billed as the candidate supreme, a man of confidence and experience, has turned out to be a jerk on the campaign trail. This past week he first shot himself in the head by saying that, even in light of what we now know about Iraq's nonexistent WMD, he would nevertheless have invaded Iraq as his brother did. With that bullet in his brain, he was yet able to shoot himself successively in each foot and then one hand, giving three additional answers during the next week to the question of invading Iraq in a dismal parade of ineptitude.

Well how about the Democrats, my dear old Democrats? So far, not good. The media is handing the nomination to Hillary Clinton just as it did in the run-up to 2008. The consensus is that the Clinton machine will run over everybody else. You know, just as it did with that little-known one-term senator from Illinois. 

Except maybe this time she really will sweep the field. Not because of the vaunted Clinton machine—the Clintons were never able to put together anything that worked, winning in 1992 only because George Bush Sr. was very unpopular and as much of a jerk on the campaign trail as his sons. No, if Hillary wins it's because nobody is running against her for the nomination. She's sweeping an empty field. Elizabeth Warren says she won't run and seems to mean it. Bernie Sanders is running but is he a real threat?

Well, just maybe. Hillary is eminently beatable. Almost anybody who has it together could beat her. She's a terrible candidate. She's a phony. The big, wide-eye thing. The exaggerated expressions of all kinds. Well, you've seen her. She's a creepy phony. Plus she's a terrible speaker. Tell me one memorable thing she has ever said! 

No matter how much money you have, you can't win if the voters don't like you. Hillary is not likable. She tries and tries. The more she tries, the creepier she is.

Plus she's carrying enough baggage to be a Red Cap union local all by herself. Further she did nothing to burnish her standing by her tour as Secretary of State. She scored zero in accomplishments, as far as I can recall.

There are probably some who think that Hillary HAS to get the presidency because it's high time a woman did. But oddly enough no women I know are saying that this time as they did in 2008. It appears her time to "ride the woman wave" has come and gone. I believe we should have a woman president, but that's no reason to make Hillary the one. She didn't make it on her own. She coat-tailed on Bill, standing by her man so she could ride him into the White House as First Lady and eventually as President. I fought my own way and so did a lot of women. What does it say about Hillary that she did what she did?

For me, the worst thing about Hillary Clinton is that she does not understand politics or power. That's a very dangerous trait in a president. When she grabbed the health care issue as her own as soon as Bill was sworn in, she made several colossal mistakes. First of all, it wasn't hers to grab. No one had elected her to anything.  It was an outrageous power grab. It was also a slap in the face to all the members of Congress who would be necessary to get universal coverage enacted. It was their job, not hers, to create this important legislation for the American people. Congress drafts and enacts the laws, not First Ladies. She compounded this error by then holding closed door hearings. This blatant secrecy allowed the insurance industry to scare the bejeebers out of the American public with those unforgettable ads starring Harry and Louise. A Democratic Congress that could have passed a good law let her ill-starred effort die a quiet death. The saddest thing is that, since then, tens of thousands of American, even hundred of thousands, have died because she destroyed our chance 22 years ago to get health care reform. We knew one of those who died because of Hillary. His name was Steven and he was only 40 years old.  

Nothing since then has shown Hillary Clinton to have any better grasp of political realities. She behaved yourself more decorously in the Senate, but let's ask ourselves—what good did that do her or us? What has Hillary Clinton ever accomplished politically anywhere at anytime for the public good? She seems to want power but has no idea what to do with it when she gets it. 

That is an extraordinary failing in a would-be president. The last time we had a president who didn't understand the use of power we had Jimmy Carter. And the less said the better about that four years. But Hillary's failings are even worse. She not only doesn't understand the use of power; her grab of the health insurance issue shows a strong inclination to the abuse of power.

I hope I'm wrong about everything. But right now I'm afraid 2016 could give us a GOP president or else a Democratic president who would be very scary. 

I sure hope that God still loves dogs, drunks, and the American people. As things look right now, we may be needing some outside help.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Break Out the Champagne and Toast Obama! Then Let Us Weep for Kenya.

I've been gone for months with a vision problem but what a challenging day to come back.  This is a day of great good news. It is also one of stunning sorrow.

Good news first: Obama has done it again!  He has saved our bacon big-time.

Today he got a strong agreement that blocks Iran from making nuclear weapons. Even some of his critics  -  not the anti-Obamas who oppose whatever he does, but those who are educated and savy  -  have rejected their own prior criticisms and have good words for this agreement

In less than a year he has saved us from two threats of annihilation that were looming over us. First, he got a crucially significant agreement with China to reduce carbon pollution and thus avoid turning our planet into Venus. Now he has staved off the other nightmare: nuclear cataclysm. 

If Iran had made a bomb......! All this world needs is a nuclear arms race between Sunnis and Shiites or between any other divided segments of the Muslim world.  No matter the division, we would have a nuclear arms race. A reignition of bitter religious wars dating from more than a millennium ago, with each side armed with the worst killing capacity there has ever been.  Saudi Arabia was poised to pick up its side of the contest if these talks failed and start its own bomb-making. Already it has come off the sidelines in recent days to fight against Iran and its proxies in several places in the Middle East. With Iran and Saudi Arabia squaring off with conventional weapons, these are not the best of times.

But with a nuclear weapon in Iran's hands, these would certainly have become the worst of times. From Iran where could the bomb have wandered? For that matter, the more countries have the bomb the more likely that ISIS and other extremists groups will steal it.

But as great as is Obama's halting of Iran's bomb ambitions, we cannot rejoice as we would like because of the tragedy in Kenya. No, I misspeak. It's not a tragedy when gunmen invade a college campus and methodically execute over a hundred non-Muslim students and staff.  It's murder.

Sure, these fanatics really believe their warped religious doctrine that drives them to kill, but they are nothing more than cheap vicious criminals who must be caught and jailed if possible or killed on sight if necessary. A plague is lose in the world. We are seeing the early stages of infection which, bad as they are, could be nothing compared to the next phase that could be developing, i.e. Sunni vs Shiite all across the Muslim world and the worst of the extremists groups being fueled by the major antagonists.

That is how the great good news today ties in with the sorrowful news of today. The gunmen who invaded the Kenyan college and massacred people were allied with an Al Quada group. Country by country the infection keeps growing.

We must keep nuclear weapons out of the Muslim world to keep them out of the hands of the extremists. Those who burn people alive and film it and slaughter college students in their beds would never hesitate to unleash a holocaust of atomic weapons should they get them. We should in fact get rid of all the nuclear weapons. It's a miracle that in 70 years since the bomb was developed it has never strayed into the hands of crazy groups or been set off by crazed individuals in the military of one of the nuclear countries as in "Dr. Strangelove".

There is another connection between the good news and the bad.  Kenya is the land of Obama's father. By the strange paths of fate, a descendant of the wonderful country of Kenya today built a major wall against violence while at the same time violence was being inflicted on the people of his father's homeland. Indeed Obama still has relatives there. 

Remember too that Obama is a college professor and those who died today in Kenya were college students. We college professors and other teachers love students. That's why we teach. We love students wherever they are.

As our world gets smaller and smaller, the hurts cut deeper and deeper. We would never dream of asking for whom the bell tolls. We all know too well that the bell tolls for each of us. Today my daughter-in-law in Norway expressed on Facebook great sadness "for all our friends in Kenya."  She means actual friends. She and my son visit in Kenya. We are our brothers' and sisters' keepers, and our brothers and sisters live all over this world.

Thank you, President Obama, for today making the world safer for all of us.  I wish you could have also saved the Kenyan students. I know you wish the same.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


On Tuesday I go to a better eye doctor, and I hope for a good outcome.  So much is happening in politics and internationally that it's frustrating to be sidelined now.

Please be patient. I shall return. Thank you all for your loyalty.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Not Forgotten

I haven't forgotten you. I shall be back soon, for sure. My eye is progressing well.

How does one thank such a loyal readership?  In spite of my absence and there being no new posts in quite a while, this past month was one of the highest readerships since I began this blog.

Thank you. You make an old lady feel damn good!