Sunday, February 7, 2016
Cynical Musings on the 2016 Campaign
There is enough here to make everyone mad.
Generally speaking, I had always understood that the main requirement for being a cynical curmudgeon was extreme old age and a decrepit body. These individuals, overwhelmingly men, had long since lost their sense of humor and viewed the human experience in general as a largely futile experiment being run by stupid young people suffering from grievous mental health issues. While I haven't reached the point where by body is falling apart, I must admit I beginning to hold some dark and grim views of much of what is going on in the world and this country.
Looking back on the “Good Old Days” of the 2008 presidential election campaign I must admit I now view it as a benign and slightly funny sitcom. Yes, I know George W. and Cheney were in the White House with the former bumbling around lost as the economy collapsed with the latter in his lair plotting new wars and snickering about prisoners being tortured. In the warm, golden light of hindsight the choices about the people who would replace them were glaringly simple. The Republican running for the nomination were an amazingly lackluster bunch, who while certifiably crazy and slaves to their rich benefactors didn't seem openly psychotic. Well, there was Frothy Rick Santorum who above all the others actually believed all his extreme religious rhetoric to the point he could have been a character in Margret Atwood's dystopic novel, “The Handmaid's Tale.”
Ultimately, all the 2008 clowns and fools were paired down to Senator John McCain. A genuine war hero who was tortured as a prisoner and who at one time could have been described as a “sane” republican. At times, I am tempted to think it is almost tragic the way he succumbed to the temptation for power while running for president like the creature Gollum who lost his soul and mind over that damn ring.
In a way McCain's fall could almost be excused since we're talking about about basic human nature and winning the White House, but along the way he did a really bizarre and comically destructive thing by nominating the Alaskan trailer trash queen, Sarah Palin as his vice president. Given that McCain unleashed Palin on an already frightened and neurotic population of scared white people fearful of numerous boogeymen, he'd have to save the planet from a zombie apocalypse or alien invasion before he would ever be okay in my eyes. Needless to say, with the election of Barrack Obama in 2008, the phrase that keeps popping in my head is that we dodged a seriously demented bullet.
Then came the 2012 presidential campaign with the Republicans not so metaphorically out for the president's head. That lineup sported a mix of old losers from the previous cycle and a few proto-megalomaniacs like Newt Gingrich who had a habit of abandoning wives like some toss empty soda bottles. Oh yeah, he also said during that campaign that if was elected president he see that the United States establishes a permanent colony on the moon. Now I was actually okay with such a suggestion until he also said that once it reached the required population it could apply for admission to the American Union. I can only imagine what Russia's Vlad Putin thought of that idea since he suffers from a perpetual case of penis envy when it comes to anything to do with the United States.
For reasons that that almost certainly prove the Republican party is an intellectually and morally bankrupt club dominate by semi-senile rich white men they go and nominate Mitt Romney for president. A bizarre throwback to the 1950's mentality, Mitt lacked any discernible human personality that at times made him seem more a bumbling character from a Monty Python sketch than a real person. Now he did possess a disproportionately large ego that allowed him to say with a straight face that his able body sons were serving their country by working for his campaign in the same way that soldiers and marines who were fighting in Iraq.
On election night back in 2012, I could help but to descend into a state of helpless laughter when I realized that despite the millions spent to defeat Obama a rather substantial majority of the American public clearly understood Mitt was a spoiled, flip-flopping little twit suffering from delusions of grandeur. What was curious though was just a few months after Mitt had his ass kicked, one of his sons told the media that his dad had never really wanted to be president. The first idea that came to my mind was that the guy was nursing a seriously bruised ego over the national rejection.
So, for better or worse we now stand at the beginning of the 2016 presidential race. Except this time the menagerie running for the Republican nomination is a political scientist's nightmare of Lovecraftian proportions.
Right off the bat, Donald Trump goes and proves the point that while Gingrich was a flaming asshole and Romney was born with both a sliver spoon in his mouth as well as a platinum rod up his ass, his ego almost defies measurement. It is extremely frightening to see how Trump's professed beliefs about immigrants and Muslims appeals to darkest, fascist side of far too many uneducated white people. Numerous times the media has interviewed the enthralled hordes waiting to hear him speak and they all more or less say that they are mad and that Trump says what they are feeling.
Why are they mad? Is it because they have bought into the stupid idea that multimillionaires and billionaires are “job creators” and that they should be protected and left untouched as they languish in underpaid jobs wondering if they'll get lucky and see a tiny pay raise? One night at work one of the boorish idiots I have contact with bragged about all the billionaires in this country and how that made us special because they kept the economy strong.
Normally when something is so monumentally stupid is said in my presence I just act if I hadn't heard it and continue on my way. Not that night, overwhelmed by a futile urge I told that guy that that what kept the American economy alive and strong was the ability of hundreds of millions of people to go out and buy things like televisions, cars, washing machines, and other big ticket items. Of course, that meant people had to earn enough money at their jobs so they could have something to spend after buying the basics of living like food and shelter. That the rich just park most of their wealth in banks and what they invest is often done overseas because if they can get away with paying next to nothing to their workers that is more money back to them. All through this, I hit on raising the minimum wage and how it might sacrifice a few crappy jobs but the overall increase in general wealth was sure to create more allowing those workers to think beyond their next paycheck.
As I expected, the eyes of that dolt almost immediately glazed over with deep incomprehension, I might as well have been talking to the chair he was sitting because not a second after I finished he made some remark about an upcoming football game. This same dolt has also echoed Trump's remarks about immigrants and Muslims. No I didn't say anything to him, I've willingly jumped into losing battles before just for shits and giggles but the idea of trying to explain basic humanity and compassion as well as the inherent principles we Americans say we believe is an impossible task I don't want to try.
Then we have Ted Cruz who is so religious he makes George W. Bush look like a cynical atheist. I must admit, part of me has this idea that everything Trump says is just a rehearsed shtick to fool to mindless proles and that IF he won the nomination he would move sharply to the political center, and given the views he once held, maybe even a little to the left. As sure as bears leave steamy piles of poop in the dark and lonely woods you don't have that with Ted Cruz. He clearly believes every position he has spouted and doesn't give a rip about the consequences if he gets a chance to implement them. Hate the government spending too much, just block funding legislation until it defaults causing the American economy to collapse.
Far more troubling is Cruz's apparent view that working with Democrats is a fundamental betrayal of principles of the conservative movement. Without digressing to point out that numerous other politicians and common folk both on the right an left seem to have forgotten that compromise and deals are the essence of how democracy works. Yes, it can be ugly and often wasteful but we do not live in a narrowly defined and homogeneous nation with a few oddballs sprinkled throughout. Sometimes the greater good requires accepting a thing we disagree with or even hate with the hope conditions change in the future to allow that items removal.
All of this shouldn't take away from the fact Cruz is a dangerous religious nutcase whose ideas about how our government should be run isn't far removed from the followers of the Taliban, ISIS, or our old friends in al Qaeda.
“Nothing is more important in the next 18 months than that the body of Christ rise up and that Christians stand up, that pastors stand up and lead,” Cruz said. “In this last election, 54 million evangelical Christians stayed home. If we can simply bring Christians to the polls – is it any wonder we have the government we have – we have the leaders we have if believers stay home and leave electing our leaders to unbelievers. We get exactly what we deserve and nothing is more important that having people of faith stand up and just vote our values, vote biblical values and that’s how we turn the country around.”
I suppose I could write separate paragraphs for the also rans like Hukabee, Rand Paul, Frothy Pete, the New Jersey Fat Boy, and sad little Jeb, who at this writing has so underwhelmed that he is actually considering using George W. to bolster his dying campaign. I'm sure I have forgotten a few of these insane a-holes but it's time to prove just how much of a curmudgeon I have become and take on the Democrats.
I don't mean to be difficult but truthfully, I never really liked Hillary Clinton. Adding even more honesty, while Bill's administration did a great job running the country given the conditions he was forced to work around, his “antics” while in the White House did nothing to endear me to him. However, since George W. was the guy who followed him, I like many other Americans view Clinton's presidency as a kind of a golden age before the onset of the Bush dark age made far worse by the Iraq War.
My problem with Hillary can be summed up by the story she told during the 2008 campaign. Supposedly, she and Chelsea were sent to Bosnia on a goodwill mission during that country's bloody civil war. Hillary told the story that the plane they were on had to make a steep and fast landing to avoid enemy fire and once on the ground, the two were quickly rushed off because snipers had made the airport tarmac a killzone. The trouble was that someone dug up video of her and Chelsea calmly walking off the military plane being greeted by locals in colorful clothing carrying flowers. If I remember the video correctly, there was even a band not far from the plane playing music.
This fabrication by Hillary was bizarre in many ways because there was simply no reason for her to tell a falsehood. She was the First Lady and had in fact gone on that goodwill tour, which by itself meant she had more experience dealing with the outside world than most of the Republican bozos running for the presidency combined at that time.
This story and other apparent issues with her character have made her look untrustworthy to many people. However, Hillary has been the most admired women in the world for several years running, quite the contradiction of the evil witch the Republicans so desperately want everyone to believe.
And finally, Bernie...
In most ways, I like Bernie Sanders. He is the polar opposite of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in that he knows the middle and working class folks have been screwed over by the rich and their sycophants in government since Ronald Reagan became president. I like that he has no religious pretensions and has never claimed he had a direct communication with the Big Entity in the Sky.
Let me make this clear, while I am agnostic, I still feel that someone having religion does not automatically make them psychotic or a sociopath. For me it is far more important how a supposed religious person views the world and interacts with their fellow human beings. Quite frankly, while my spirituality comes from the idea that all life on Earth is connected by billions or years of evolution, I personally can't stand to hear someone like Richard Dawkins speak. He is as dogmatic and unbending as some of the religious people he criticizes. Long story short, I view someone like former president Jimmy Carter as damn near a saint, while I wouldn't piss on multi-millionaire preacher Joel Osteen if I found the man on fire.
Getting back on point, despite all the claims by Republican idiots about how America is the best place on Earth we have huge issues that are literally eating away at the heart of our Republic. Our education system is crap with many rural and urban schools left to rot both physically and figuratively with their white-dominated counterparts getting all the money. There are times I want to beat the hell out of some redneck or ignorant ass who thinks black kids are just lazy criminals waiting for their moment to become drug dealers. Poverty and crime feeds on itself with each new generation becoming more desperate to find a way to survive.
Through a combination of unlimited money being funneled to politicians for their campaigns and outright old fashioned bribery our elected leaders very rarely work for the people. In many ways I consider the 2010 Citizen United decision by the Supreme Court to be the fall of the American Republic. Yes, money is a form of free speech but to paraphrase George Orwell's, Animal Farm the amount of money available to a group or individual makes them significantly freer than the rest of the public. I find it funny and disingenuous as hell that Republicans like to point out how labor unions have “a lot of money” to influence elections suggesting they are a counterpoint to business groups and rich conservative individuals all the while working desperately to undermine their very existence.
I could go on about environmental issues, our crumbling infrastructure, student debt, the rabies-like gun violence sweeping the country, and many other issues that I feel Bernie understands needs to be addressed. But instead, and this will make some extremely angry, I'll just switch over to why I don't think he has a snowball's chance in hell being elected.
Bernie Sanders is a great and good man, the only problem is this is the real world and the senator from Vermont has made some choices in his life that I am sure teams of Republican strategists are working even now to exploit should he become the nominee.
First of all Bernie applied for and received conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War. Small potatoes you might say given that is essentially the ancient past. Yes, I totally agree and when you weigh in how such Republican stalwarts like Cheney, who received several deferments during those same years, I would say it's a none issue. The trouble is that most of the nebulous mass of the American public don't yet know this fact but you can bet carefully scripted political commercials have already been written portraying Bernie as a traitorous coward and unqualified to be Commander-in-chief.
The nasty truth is that the Republican party is chocked full craven little pissants that somehow never found their way into the military but yet are fully ready to send American troops off to some war. It will be blatantly hypocritical to point out Bernie's Vietnam era decision when they themselves never served, but for Democrats to ignore this point is to court disaster.
Another knee jerk reaction that is sure to cost a possible Sander's nomination dearly was his honeymoon to the old Soviet Union and his other trips to communist nations. A lot of Democrats have become numb to all the tired and false accusations that President Obama is secretly a socialist out to destroy America. But for Bernie they have is own words saying he is a “democratic socialist” and well as speeches he gave while visiting communist nations delighting in their society. For any Bernie supporter to discount this ample and politically damaging amount of ammo is to prove the point that many on the left live in another reality.
Truth of the matter is that despite the grievous economic injustices here in the United States that greater nebulous mass of Americans I mentioned earlier don't give a rip. They are all nice and cozy in their McMansion suburbs living off credit cards while getting fat and watching their two-hundred satellite channel televisions. The vast majority have never served in the military but have a skewed view that they are patriotic citizens and that anyone who rejected the military service is either a coward or unamerican. Their attitude about war is that of course America should bomb the living crap out of all those nasty people who hate our freedom but my son or daughter shouldn't serve since I don't want them to die. Fighting and dying for the United States is something other people's kids do, especially those poor folks who can't afford to send their children to college.
Like I said before, I'm sure this will piss off some people but should Bernie be nominated he would be defeated in such a landslide that it would make the beatings McGovern and Mondale got seem mild.
One thing that my fellow lefties like to parrot is that “choosing the lesser of two evils is still a choice for evil.” Yeah, but one thing these naive and yes, ignorant people fail to realize is that this is THE REAL WORLD! Good doesn't always win in the end and in fact true one-hundred percent good is a myth on par with the universe being six-thousand years old. Human civilization swims in an ocean of gray with the shades between white and black all relative. Countless times I have been called naive for stating a hope that at some point Homo sapiens pull their hairless primate heads out of their asses but if that ever occurs I will be long dead.
I wish like hell that the American public was mature enough to elect Bernie Sanders but in general they are a paranoid and scared bunch whose time at the top of the world mountain has created an idea that our shit doesn't stink. Truth always hurts but I see absolutely no evidence that a majority is ready for anything approaching the truth. Unlike the last two previous election cycles there was room for comedy when considering the Republicans running for the highest office in the United States, but not anymore. Everyone of them have the unbelievable idea of reinstating the policies of George W. Bush but strangely never mention his name.
So here comes the part where I continue to piss off my lefty friends, if I have any remaining, because I refuse to reject the possible in search of some unrealistic idea of perfection I will be voting for Hillary Clinton in both the South Carolina primary and more than likely the general election in November. If in fact Bernie gets the nomination, I will vote for him in the general election, but with no expectation he will win.