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.