Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Democratic Debate: Tag Teaming Hillary Clinton

The Democratic debate rolled around again and it was a little more interesting this time because there were only three candidates on stage, the other likely contenders having resigned from the race. While this potentially created the opportunity to just increase the focus on the two ongoing leaders, Clinton and Sanders, it probably provided much more attention for Martin O'Malley, who was practically invisible prior to last night.

Diverse They Ain't

I have mentioned before that the Republican field of candidates is much more diverse than the Democrats' round up of the usual suspects this time around. A picture of the three contenders looks more like a klan rally than anything else.

OK, maybe that's a little unfair. After all, these three are only "white" in the very loose definition of race that exists today. Sanders is, after all, Jewish and O'Malley is Irish. The Irish were not really considered white even a century ago. Remember who was building the railroads alongside blacks and the Chinese in the 19th century?

Nevertheless, the GOP does come off with more points for diversity this time around. They've got multiple hispanics, a very viable black candidate and a woman.

How They Did

Hillary Clinton

  • The other Democrats finally took off the gloves and lashed out at Hillary. Many analysts have stated previously that Hillary was going to run away with this nomination unless somebody manned up and started criticizing her. 
  • Both Sanders and O'Malley were able to take the high ground diplomatically because neither of them can be tied to voting for the Middle East debacle. Clinton joined with other Democrats to vote for the controversial invasion of Iraq which undeniably led to the present chaos in that region  and in Europe.
  • They were also not afraid to bring up her ties to Wall Street. However, most seem to agree that her defense was adequate. Still, it was a defense and it shows that Clinton is no longer untouchable. She is going to have to defend herself if she is going to get this nomination.
Bernie Sanders

  • The biggest advance for Sanders came simply with his willingness to attack Clinton's record. Providing this contrast will undoubtedly improve his long-range chances of taking an electoral lead. 
  • He failed to utilize the email issue, though, and that is perhaps Clinton's greatest weakness. This sort of cooperation among the candidates stinks and leads me to wonder if the race isn't simply an opportunity for Clinton to air out a lot of issues publicly and make voters bored of them before her cakewalk to the national election.
  • Sanders also did not look good when Clinton ridiculed his idea of free college for everybody. She pointed out that this policy would use taxpayer money to pay for Donald Trump's kids to go to school. Hopefully that is the end of that piece of idiocy,
Martin O'Malley
  • Martin O'Malley wins big simply for having a lot of face time with the public. This was a great opportunity for voters to hear an option to Sanders and Clinton. He presents a major threat to these other two simply by showing up and potentially leeching off undecided or less fervent voters. 
  • He also joined in the attacks on Clinton. He called her a flip-flopper on gun control.
  • In particular, he benefits by having had nothing to do with her war record and her participation in regime changes, such as that in Libya which has obviously destabilized the country.

I am not a Democrat but I can say that the democratic race is finally starting to look exciting. It seemed like Clinton was locking up the race when Sanders asked everyone to ignore her email dilemma. She may still run away with this one but there is at least the appearance of a real race at the moment. That will probably improve the ratings and, after all, that is all American culture really has any more: Facebook likes and Twitter hashtags.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Let Their Numbers Be Diminished: The GOP Herd Thins

Ignore the man on the far right. Everyone else does.
The first primary is still months a way but a reduction in the numbers of GOP candidates seems overdue. I am not chiming in with Trump to harass underdogs into dropping out. According to the Donald, anybody with less than 1% of the average polling should have already withdrawn. However, it sure seems like some of the men running for office should have taken the hint a while ago.

Who's Out

If you have been paying attention at all, you probably know that the Republican field of presidential candidates was pretty large this time around. Technically, it is always large as there are scores of people running obscure campaigns every time an election rolls around. This time, though, there were about 17 or 18 with recognizable faces and some chance of actually being nominated to the official candidacy of the Republican Party.

Since that inauspicious start, there have been a handful of dropouts and or demotions. Rick Perry was the first major name to drop out. His end was particularly surprising because he made a stronger run in 2012 and seemed to have put much more effort into the race this time around. He even left his job as governor of Texas in January 2015, staking everything on this run.

Scott Walker dropped out a few weeks ago. His early departure was also surprising, considering his background as conservative stalwart and successful office holder.

What is much more surprising, though, is the identities of some candidates who continue to stagger along with absolutely no chance of winning. I mean, for the love of Pete, why in the fuck is George Pataki still in this race? He is like that annoying guy who shows up uninvited to your party and just never goes home.

Nevertheless, Pataki has been shown the door, even if he has not made any movement in that direction. The fourth GOP debate has been scheduled and Pataki, along with Lindsey Graham, is scheduled neither to appear on the main stage nor at the kiddie table where the second-string waits for an injury on the field to let their stars shine, These two have not officially recused themselves ( I am not even sure that Pataki is really alive. He may be a drone) but we can finally count them out and focus on the real contenders now.

Who's In

The big kids' table will now host just eight primary candidates.

  • Donald Trump. Of course, He still has about a quarter of the GOP electorate unwaveringly behind him and garners even more support on specific questions when it comes to who people trust with regard to economic or foreign policy issues.
  • Ben Carson. He was actually leading the Donald in polls out of Iowa just a week ago. Since then, though, there has been a barrage of attacks on his past and his presentation of himself. My gut instinct was to suspect the liberal media of going after a successful black man who was not in their camp. Now that I have given it more thought, though, I have to wonder if Trump is not behind these leaks and attacks.
  • Carly Fiorina. She's still running, even if the harridans on the View think she is ugly.
  • Ted Cruz. He resonated with likely voters at the last debate and has secured a spot at this table until the primaries come, in my opinion.
  • Marco Rubio. The young senator from Florida is surging after smacking Jeb Bush around at the last debate. I think we can also expect Rubio to stay among the leaders until the primaries really begin to cull the GOP numbers.
  • Rand Paul. This was a surprise. I have been daily waiting for him to throw in the towel but he has been given another prime time opportunity. It may be his last but, for the meantime, he is among the leaders.
  • Jeb Bush. His campaign is the very definition of fizzle but he has great big boatloads of money. No one should discount the staying power of cash, I really think that he is vulnerable this time around, though, and probably needs to make a good showing if he wants to be included in the next gathering of the cool kids.
  • John Kasich. Fucking unbelievable. I had even forgotten that he was running. Not sure how this GOP zombie secured a place among the frontrunners.

Who's on the Way Out

There will be just four candidates at the early debate for also-rans.

  • Bobby Jindal. Yeah, I don't get how he is still invited to anything. I have nothing against the man politically or personally but his campaign makes Jeb Bush's campaign look energetic and virile.
  • Rick Santorum. He must still be getting credit for pulling off a surprise win in Iowa some years ago.
  • Mike Huckabee. He seems like a friendly guy but he has made the most effete run for the presidency since Fred Thompson.
  • Chris Christie. His demotion surprised me. I am not a fan but he has sounded pretty good compared to the non-presences of guys like Kasich. If anyone returns from the kiddie table to the front of the pack, it will be Christie.

So the running has been reduced to twelve. I am expecting a few resignations in the wake of this next debate. It will be interesting to see who capitulates and who continues forward with stubborn obstinacy (I'm talking to you, Pataki!).

Monday, October 26, 2015

ISIS and Liberals: Working Toward the Same Ends

Hardly a day goes by that the news does not contain a glib reference to ISIS destroying some ancient monument or some other piece of our ancient history. This week, they managed to combine their two favorite activities, grisly executions and destruction of human cultural heritage, into one when they blew up three prisoners by tying them to historic Palmyran columns and just exploding everything all at once.

When I was younger, this might have gotten much more attention. Today, not so much. This event does not concern the modern American because he is already inured to human and historical destruction. You do not need to look very long at the comment section of any such story to see the ignorant screeds of today's liberals vilifying the killers as religious even as they ignore or even applaud the destruction of something from our common history (or ignore the destruction of a million fetuses every year in our abortion clinics).

Today's college kids secretly love this shit: History, after all, is sexist and racist.

One disturbing trait in the typical liberal today, even those who have allegedly been educated in our most respected institutions of higher learning, is the almost entire lack of any regard for the past. A columnist somewhere wrote that today's youth are basically technopeasants. They are enamored of their technology and think themselves very advanced but they basically have no knowledge of anything outside their computers and their phones. They disregard history (and most think that math is a school subject too hard to take seriously). As for great historic figures such as Agamemnon or Julius Caesar, they were probably sexists and racists (though any juicy tidbits about the pederasty of the Greeks and Romans are always enjoyed by this crowd.)

I briefly taught high school classes after many years as a Montessori teacher in the elementary grades. It sickly amused me one day when my students disparaged historical figures about whom we were reading because they were so backward and "now we're more educated and stuff." My head nearly spun. The children in front of me were barely literate and knew next to nothing about anything outside their phones and their social media accounts. Nineteenth century farmers could have told them more about the world around them in an hour than they will ever learn in life.

Political correctness has erased critical thinking from our natural skill sets. Young people are finding it more and more difficult to integrate into the working world because it is a composite of cold, hard facts. It does not matter how you feel about showing up to work on time or what your perception of your boss is.

This is not to say that you should not have concerns about the way that your work environment is arranged. What handicaps young people is the idea that their feelings are real things. They are not. Justice is a real thing. An employer may be unjust to his employees and this is a real concern. That he is simply mean is...meaningless.

Today's young, liberal youth coming out of school would be much better prepared for the world if they had ever had to take seriously the lessons of our past. Greek sculpture, Byzantine painting and medieval Catholic art should be taken seriously not because you necessarily believe in their gods but because they are beautiful and meaningful parts of our history. You do not have to believe that the world is 6,000 years old to derive meaning from the story of Noah in the opening chapters of the Old Testament or accept Jesus as your Savior to appreciate the concept of mercy demonstrated in the Gospel According to Luke.

Unfortunately, these texts, as well as many of the great Greek philosophers and Roman orators, are practically non-existent for school children today. Publicly deemed too difficult (and secretly reviled by the PC police as sexist, racist, genderist and whatever the fuck else they can think of), these texts are increasingly hard to find in modern classrooms.

The PC police are no different than the extremists in the Middle East. They see themes in the work of the ancients that do not come to the same conclusions as they have in their multi-cultural religion. Like the ancient Christians whom they ignorantly and mistakenly accuse of destroying ancient works (when, in fact, they preserved those works for us), the antifas and the PC police eagerly erase or ignore cultural jewels from our past.

Politically correct censorship is just soft Jihad.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Democratic Debates: Clinton Uber Alles

While the Republicans have been stealing the show for months, thanks to the antics of Donald Trump, the Democrats are finally getting some limelight now that their own debates have begun. Before now, the democratic race certainly stirred interest among democrats themselves but their intrigues did not cross party lines in terms of excitement. Most republicans were entertained enough by their own party's three-ring circus.

The first democratic debate did not get nearly as much press and public attention as the republican debates but that may be due to predictability. In an interesting turn of events, it is the GOP that now holds more diverse views than the Democratic Party. With the exception of the largely-ignored Jim Webb, all democratic contenders hate guns and religion, love illegal immigration, higher taxes and homosexuality and are happy printing money for entitlement programs. Nevertheless, millions of liberal Americans tuned in to watch other people largely agree with them.

And the Winner Is...

I am sure many low-information viewers were confused as to the identities of the people on stage. The competitors really boil down to the First Two and the Other Three. While the latter group showed up, no one was really listening to anything but the presentations of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

In the aftermath, opinions vary as to who won the debate, though the MSM would have you believe that everyone agrees with them in thinking that Hillary Clinton won. Some polls, such as a Facebook vote, gave the victory to Sanders before being erased. The same happened with an early CNN poll. I am not sure why the Founders bothered to put safeguards such as the US Senate in the government to protect against fickle public opinion when they could have just relied on the media to do so.

Essentially, however, I agree with Clinton's victory for one simple reason. No matter how she and Sanders may weigh in the balances, Clinton wins because Sanders is such a hopeless beta-male that he cannot promote himself effectively.

During the debate, he exclaimed how sick he was of hearing about Clinton's emails and basically turned attention away from potential criticisms of her work as Secretary of State. With that possibility eliminated, the other candidates did not have any way to distinguish themselves positively. Remember, none of them have any real distinct ideas about domestic and foreign policy unless they are able to point out Clinton's vote for the war in Iraq and her questionable work as Secretary of State.

This move was classic Sanders. Several weeks ago, he allowed himself to be pushed off the stage by two Black Lives Matters representatives who insulted him and the entire crowd. He was unable to do anything but pump his fist for Black Power like the effete 60's radical that he is. One wonders what Sanders would do on the world stage when Putin or Xi tried to push him around.

The Other Three and the Shadow of Joe

Mention should at least be made of Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee and Martin O.Malley. They are really running for vice-president by now and their chances even for that scrap are slim. Maybe by now they are starting to get realistic and fix their sights on cabinet posts.

The real question at this point regards the possible entrance of Joe Biden. A lot of commentators think that Clinton's showing was strong enough to convince Biden to stay out. Of course, funding and Biden's proclivity for gaffes of all sorts may push him into the race anyway. Now that would make the debates worth watching!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Two Conflicting Sentiments in American Politics

A few years ago, something occurred during a biology class that I was taking which illuminated the modern political and social landscape of America. With just one comment made by a classmate, it was as if someone just turned on the light in a dark room and, suddenly, everything was clear. I knew right where I and everybody else was in that room with regard to political ideals.

A Biology Lesson

I own much of this illumination to the identities of the people involved. I am a middle-aged man who, at the time, was taking a pre-requisite course to get into nursing school ( I graduated a few months ago). The conversation which I was witnessing took place between my instructor, perhaps 5-10 years younger than me, and a young girl taking the class. She was probably 20 years old.

The professor was explaining the nucleotides that compose the very basic elements of our genetic structure. He remarked that errors in the layouts of these nucleotides were responsible for many diseases. In fact, he said, it was known that UVA radiation could cause thymine nucleotides to bind into units called thymine dimers. These mutations were the primary cause of skin cancer.

Then he said that it always pained him to hear about people using tanning beds. They were just increasing the chances that their thymine would mutate and cause cancer.

The young girl in the class spoke up. "That's awful. If I were president, I would outlaw those places."

The professor, God bless him, replied that there was something called the US Constitution and we were all still free to make decisions for ourselves, even if those decisions were not good for us.

The girl later went on to comment that she just didn't feel safe in a country where it was permitted to endanger yourself. As I recall, the professor turned us back to the lesson and the moment was left behind, only to live in my memory.

Safety versus Freedom

It occurred to me, as I tried to comprehend why I found the girl's comments so repulsive, that she represented one side of a dichotomy in American mindsets. It also revealed to me an explanation for the differences between the general nature of American and European political divides.

This country was founded and colonized by a wide variety of people. The Puritans were not the only ones to come over from the Old World. Yet those early Americans shared one quality or drive in life. They wanted to be free to live as they pleased. Their great common desire was to be left alone to pursue their destinies. They wanted to be free to create their own worlds and manage their own protection from the elements and from their fellow human beings.

Even later immigrants, on whom descendants of the earliest Americans looked down, shared a similar drive. They were escaping poverty or limitations of some sort in Europe in order to come here and find their own way.

In the early 20th century, the much-reviled Southern European immigrants were not coming to America to be on the dole. There was no welfare system. They fully expected to be left to their own devices when they hit the shore. As long as they had a chance to fight for their own prosperity in a land that seemed to have endless real estate and resources, they were content with the opportunity.

There is another social desire active in the world. This is the desire to be safe, to be protected. The semi-mythical contract that occurred between post-Roman Empire Europeans and the feudal knights demonstrates the centrality of this desire in the human psyche.

Allegedly, the feudal transformation of Europe occurred when villages of common people agreed to provide economic support for soldiers, typically led by the horsemen we would call knights now. in exchange for protection from the increasingly chaotic environment left as Rome's influence ebbed in Europe. I doubt any such exchange occurred as cleanly as that but I am also sure that there is a kernel of truth in it all. With banditry on the rise and the roads becoming home to crime rather than commerce, I am sure many people gave up their freedom to be safe.

Sound familiar?

As time passed, the boundlessness of US resources became somewhat less boundless. While this nation still retains an immense amount of open land, times changed during the 20th century. Urbanization increased, especially after the world wars. We became a people primarily living in cities, cities in which we were protected by police forces rather than a village posse or our own arms. Also, the generations that had come here seeking freedom passed away and were replaced by descendants who did not necessarily share their desire for freedom.

Instead, they wanted what those medieval Europeans wanted: protection from crime. These new Americans were increasingly less armed than their forefathers. They wanted to enjoy urban prosperity, learn new trades and even go to school to study the liberal arts rather than forge a new life in the wilderness or build a business from scratch. In order to do these things, they wanted government to take on the job of keeping them safe while they pursued these new goals.

They were willing to give up certain things, such as the right to bear arms, in order to create a protected environment in which they could pursue these goals. In short, they valued safety more than freedom.

That doesn't sound so awful. However, I think that this new desire for safety rather than freedom has again morphed with the latest generation into something that does, in fact, sicken me,

That girl in my biology class did not simply want to make a calculated decision to sacrifice a specific freedom in exchange for another social good. She wanted to live in an environment in which she no longer had the ability to make bad choices at all. Rather, she wanted someone else making those decisions for her. In essence, she wanted to be a perpetual child and she wanted her political leaders to act as pseudo-parents. She wanted Barack Obama to be her father and simply refuse to permit unsafe things in her home environment.

Women's Suffrage and the Infantilization of America

Something else occurred in America during this last century which I believe had a huge impact on its political and social transformation. Women became full-fledged citizens with the right to vote.

Now, the move to give women the vote was ostensibly done by forces which might be characterized as conservative today. There had long been a liberal movement to give women the vote in the Anglo Saxon world. However, the granting of voting rights was really done in Western states in order to hurry the process ending in statehood. These territories suddenly had many more voters and possessed more "statelike" populations in terms of size.

I posit that this had a big effect on the increasing concern with safety in this country. Prior to this, I am sure that most American men wanted, more than anything else, the space and opportunity to live out their lives.

Women, though, come into the world with completely different mindsets. Contrary to pseudo-lesbian feminist beliefs, women are born with family on their minds. I am not one of those who believes that women are naturally more nurturing or more gentle than men. Anyone who has been married knows that this is simply not true,

However, by force of millions of years of biology, women do tend to think in terms of family and children. They are more naturally comfortable with children. To their credit, we probably owe much of our rise from the animal kingdom to women's incessant chattering with children, which helped develop those children's minds with regard to language.

I think that this sudden preponderance of women in the voting bloc (they are over 50% of the population) explains much of the recent past politically.

How much of our political conversation, especially since the onset of the Cold War, has been dedicated to the cause of protection? We wanted to be protected from the Nazis. the Soviets, the terrorists and now,increasingly, people who say "mean" things. Women have been all too happy to throw out freedom of speech in order to prevent feelings from being hurt. This reminds me of a mother forbidding her children to broach certain topics just because she doesn't want to deal with another familial eruption.

Of course, it is not just women who engage in this kind of thinking. Men do it, too. That is, they think this way until they become men. Boy children want to be protected from harm as much as girl children until they begin to develop. Then they begin to fight, explore, seek their own way in the world,

I think an additional phenomenon explaining this conflict in American politics is not just the addition of women to the voting bloc but also the pacification, feminization and infantilization of many men. Or, rather, it is that many men never really develop into men but remain in a stage of early adolescence which leaves them all too ready to seek safety rather than freedom in life.

Other Groups in America and in Europe

This thinking has helped me to understand why conservatives in Europe often have distinctly different views on social and economic issues when compared to American conservatives. Many conservatives in Europe consider a certain amount of socialism to be natural and even desirable.

This makes sense when you remember that they are the descendants of those peasants who chose to stay in the Old World and embraced the idea of being protected by government. The democratic governments have simply replaced the knights and nobility of centuries past.

It also explains to me why other groups in American politics never seem to embrace "American ideals". Africans did not immigrate to this country seeking freedom to live as they please. They were abducted, sold and transported here against their will. It makes sense that they do not have any genetic impulse to seek freedom over safety since their ancestors had no desire to cross the ocean to be here in the first place.

How this applies to Latino immigrants might be a good topic for another essay. This article is already too long.

However, in closing, I think that this concept helps to explain a lot that is going on in American politics now and even applies to the ascendancy of Donald Trump. Again, this is a topic for another article.