Mar 27, 2016

Republicans Are Bad for Women, Unless...

Well, unless you want to live in the dark ages, when women knew their place and men decided what was good for them! Then vote for any of the leaders in this regressive Republican party, including the presidential candidates who presumably want to appeal to the majority of women in our country.

In the last several years, Republican governors and state legislatures are passing laws that restrict women's right to reproductive choice, shutting down health clinics, and defunding family-planning organizations. Gail Collins has an excellent op-ed piece in the NYT on this topic. Here's an excerpt:

One thing that all these guys have in common is a desire to put themselves in charge of the reproductive rights of the entire female half of the country. Trump used to be pro-choice, but he “evolved” at some undisclosed point in the 21st century. Ted Cruz opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest. John Kasich is willing to allow a troubled teenager to get an abortion if she’s seduced by her father, but not if the seducer is the next-door neighbor. This is why Kasich’s the moderate.

 And, here's "an angel of destruction" who'll destroy the GOP and tear America (and the world?) apart--as per conservative columnist, David Brooks:

That’s where the Republican Party is right now. Everybody talks about being so depressed about Trump. But Republicans are passive and psychologically defeated. That’s because their conscious and unconscious mental frameworks have just stopped working. Trump has a monopoly on audacity, while everyone else is immobile.
But Trump has no actual ideas or policies. There is no army of Trumpists out there to carry on his legacy. He will almost certainly go down to a devastating defeat, either in the general election or — God help us — as the worst president in American history.

Brooks easily forgets the truly bad Republican presidents in the last 50 years. Hopefully, we won't experience a Trump presidency, so the title of the worst president in the last 100 years (at least) will remain with G.W. Bush 43.

Mar 16, 2016

What's Obama's Game with His Nomination to the Supreme Court?

Many progressives are aghast at the president's nomination to the Supreme Court, for two main reasons. One, judge Merrick Garland is in his 60s, and two, he's a centrist. This is not the best we hoped for. Yes, he is qualified, and under an ideal environment whereas the Republican party was a centrist, and a Republican president would also nominate a centrist, Garland would be acceptable. Those days are long gone though.

President Obama may be in his moderate self, trying to reach across to the other party, as he's tried to do all these years. He should have learned by now, that moderation ain't working. On the other hand, maybe the president calculated that the obstructionist GOP senators will not budge and thus his nominee is a sacrificial lamb to highlight how extreme these senators are by not accepting even a reasonable nominee.  

However, I would not have advised the president to do this. Things can happen, like public pressure that may make the Senate give in and consider this nominee, and, who knows, he may get confirmed if the conservatives realize they may lose the control of the Senate and get a more liberal nominee under president Clinton. So, again, not a good idea to nominate Garland.

No matter what the Republicans choose to do, this supreme court's annual session will end by June with no new justice being seated. Soon after that, the conventions will take place, and there will be lots of national polls about the strength of the two presidential candidates. It's possible that, if Trump is being blown out of the water by Clinton, the Republicans might reconsider their stance and re-examine Garland's nomination.

But, I'm also betting these Republicans aren't acute enough to realize the gamble they're undertaking by not holding hearings for this nomination. And, they may be stubborn enough to be willing to lose control of the Senate too. If I were advising them, I would have called Obama's bluff when he leaked that he was considering a former Republican governor of Nevada for the Supreme Court. The conservatives should have said, yes, if he's the nominee, we're most certainly interested! They should take Garland, because they can't be sure they'll get a better one even under president Trump. (OK, I fell off my chair as soon I put "president" and "Trump" together)

What should Hillary Clinton do in this matter? Well, we all hope she'll nominate a much more liberal and younger judge--one who can stay on the high court for 30 years, like Scalia. I'd also argue that she should nominate--and already begin to indicate--a very liberal judge, because the democratic base will demand it, the public would be disgusted by the obstructionist Republicans, and it'll be natural for her to nominate an exact opposite of Scalia.

I think Hillary will be more politically savvy than this president, who wasted 1,5 years when he took office by delegating to Congress two of his top agenda items, immigration reform and health care reform. He lost his momentum. Political capital--and he had plenty when he took office--must be spend quickly or it evaporates. He should have told Congress that he's the new boss in town, having won by a landslide, that he wanted this and that and no less. Instead he squandered precious time and a Democratic majority in both chambers in Congress.

If Hillary wins there should be no wasting time and no need to compromise with a broken, dysfunctional Republican party. It is that party that needs to move to the center to be a partner of reasonable politics. The GOP as it is caters to the extremes, like the Dems did to the KKK in the 1920s. That Dem party killed the moderates, like Al Smith from New York, and eventually had to be broken up, until a new winning coalition was put together by FDR.

I may never vote for a Republican but I do want a sensible, centrist GOP; it'll be good for our country. The way our system is designed, with power dispersed among the branches, and that the executive doesn't have control of the legislature, compromise is often necessary; that's how we get things done. But compromise has to be among reasonable people who at least agree about reality. 

It's natural to disagree about priorities and values, but facts are facts, science is science, etc. Sadly, this Republican party is divorced not only from modernity but also from reality. All modern advanced liberal-social-democracies have a parties that form a consensus on reality, like science, education, environment, and many social safety net features. No, not our Republican party.

As for the third "super Tuesday" Trump not only won most states but he was fortunate to lose Ohio to Kasich. The latter will stay in the game and in the next 17 winner-take-all states, Trump only needs the plurality to win all the delegates.  

Some other random thoughts

  • Kasich is not a moderate, only appears so compared to the extremists of his party;
  • I can't decide if I want Trump to win the majority of the delegates before the convention or watch hand to hand combat later at the GOP convention if he's a little short of the majority. I think of all the candidates of both parties, some 20 of them, only Trump puts himself above his party, which means he may break the party up if he's denied the nomination.  
  • I used to believe that Cruz would be a more beatable Republican in the general election since he's so bat-crazy. I also thought that the GOP might change after suffering another crushing defeat with a true conservative as its nominee; they would own the defeat with Cruz  as the nominee, but not necessarily with Trump--who may be dismissed as not a true Republican. 
  • I now think Trump spells bigger problems for the GOP, so I'm looking forward to an entertaining campaign season. However, I wish this charade didn't take place. We shouldn't have charlatans, con artists, and gutter politics in such prominence; they belong in the lunatic fringe.

Mar 4, 2016

The Summoning of Drumpf. The Cons(ervatives) Have A Monster of their Own Creation

I endured another Republican debate last night for some low-grade entertainment and since my expectations were very low on the IQ spectrum, I wasn't disappointed. A true spectacle starring "Little Marco", "Drumph" and "Lying Ted", oh, and another know, that governor whose opposition to recognizing death certificates of spouses in same-sex marriage led to the Supreme Court historic case (Obergefell v. Hodges).

Fox News anchors made an effort to challenge Trump's inconsistencies, generalities, and bogus economic arguments, but debates aren't meant to truly examine issues in depth. The court of public opinion relies on the judgment of the public to evaluate a candidate and his arguments. In a court of law, there is the legal structure, and a judge that instructs the jurors and oversees the debate, but in politics there's none of that. 

In a way, it can be argued that collectively we get what we deserve. This is the problem of democracy--it relies on the quality of the people involved, leaders and citizens. No, I am not advocating authoritarianism; I'm merely pointing out the obvious, which has occurred many, many times in the past.  Indeed, if Trump didn't have many millions of Americans behind him, he would have been in the lunatic fringe. 

Though, another argument can also be made that the lunatic fringe has been petted, entertained, and even cultivated by the Republican party in the last 30 years. The Trump phenomenon is not new; it just happens that an arrogant egomaniac has a megaphone through which he expresses what a significant size of Republicans already believe and say. Yeah, even the third-grade language (no complete sentences), insults, vulgarity, ignorance of issues, and prejudice of the ..angry base have found a loudmouth to be uttered in the political debates of the elites.  As I said before, this is not good for our country and the way we should conduct our political discourse. 

Now, how should the Democratic nominee deal with Trump? To begin with, he has to be taken seriously--a lesson the Dems are learning today by watching the GOP's contest unfolding. To rely on the news media to challenge Trump's inconsistencies and voodoo policies isn't enough judging from history. Ridiculous claims must be addressed; don't rely on the media or the public to dispel them.

I don't think it'd be hard to get under Drumpf's skin and then watch his go unhinged. But, his appeal should not be underestimated. He has a message. His logo--Make America Great Again--is the only one people can recite. I doubt most people know what the other candidates' logos are! He's simplistic but that's easily understood (it doesn't have to be an intellectual understanding) by anyone, especially the low-information voters.

A couple more observations. The country is moving in a progressive direction, despite the loud noises coming from the conservatives and reactionaries. The Supreme Court will soon take a more progressive path. What was radical 20 years ago, it's mainstream today. Even the world "liberal" is now adopted as one of their identifiers by the majority of Dems in all states, except Oklahoma, though it's strong there too. Back in 2008, the majority of Dems didn't want to identify themselves as liberals.

This election, like many others, will be decided by turnout. The more people vote the better for the Dems. We've heard that Trump has brought in millions of voters, which is probably true, but he carries very high negatives, which alienates many conservatives who may stay home on election day. Despite the low(er) numbers in the Dem primary, the groups normally supporting them will be energized next Fall, especially if Drumpf is the GOP nominee. He has alienated some of the Republican base, many of the so-called independents, the Hispanics/Latino, Asians, and women. 

Here's a view from the conservative elite discussing Romney's intervention against Trump and why some Republican don't like him. Or, "why this Republican party must die".... [link, CNBC]

The Dems are more united and generally happy with either Clinton or Sanders. The SCOTUS issue is big and will loom even bigger this year given the obstructionist Congressional Republicans. The battle for the Supreme Court can energize both parties' bases, but here the Dems have an advantage in numbers, especially among women. Did you hear that single adults are now the majority of Americans? Given that women are the majority in the US, then single women are a powerful political block. Why "political"? Because they're motivated by political issues of great concern to them, like health care, education, reproductive choice, etc. They are overwhelmingly pro-choice, for example, and they care about other issues liberals/progressives champion.