Thursday, March 31, 2016

"HE did it!!"

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Anderson Cooper was taken aback when Donald Trump said that bringing wives into the primary fight wasn't HIS fault, that the Cruz camp did it first.  When Anderson pointed out that sounded like a childish response, Trump descended into greater childishness.

Am getting familiar with finger pointing within the GOP.  Particularly from politicos & pundits trying to finger someone, anyone, other than themselves for the rise & inexplicable glory of Donald Trump.  Michael Gerson is just one of numerous conservatives saying, "It's his/hers/their fault."  He lays blame at the door of Rush Limbaugh, but others have pointed to the Democrats, to the president - to anyone but themselves.   

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There's plenty of blame to go around.  Let's start with the GOP establishment, which for decades has made promises it knew couldn't be kept.  Add Fox News, who milked ratings by giving Trump a priceless platform.  Toss in the rest of the media - all of it - who allowed Trump to suck the oxygen out of the room by giving him media coverage that went waaaay beyond any other candidate.  Even the most liberal media outlets treated him like a lovable scamp.  Let's not forget an electorate that's become so suspicious of anyone whose well-educated, who increasing equate brains with cause for distrust, who have been trained to trust their gut rather than their reason - they're sitting ducks for a Donald who whips up their emotions.

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Tne phenomenon that is Donald Trump didn't happen because of any one person or thing.  He is the result of a perfect storm of people who've forgotten how to govern, who put ideology over public service, a media that revere ratings & have forgotten any concept of journalism as a means educating & informing their readers.    

And, folks - we ain't seen nothing yet!  The worst is yet to come. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Playing by the "rules"

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is steadfast in his commitment to the GOP-powered Senate refusing to meet with Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's SCOTUS nominee, to give the nomination any hearings, to refuse the candidate a vote.  As his explanation for such an extraordinary thumbing of the party's collective noses at the president's constitutional right, Leader McConnell righteously drapes himself in "the Biden Rule."

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It seems that the Leader & his cohorts consider the "Biden Rule" to be on par with the Hastert Rule.  So, am inviting you to do an online search of two political "rules" - the Hastert Rule & the Biden Rule.

You'll get interesting findings.

Hastert Rule - The Hastert Rule, also known as the "majority of the majority" rule, is an informal governing principle used by Republican Speakers of the House of Representatives since the mid-1990s to maintain their speakerships & limit the power of the minority party to bring bills up for a vote on the floor of the House. Under the rule, the Speaker will not allow a floor vote on a bill unless a majority of the majority party supports the bill.  

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It's worth noting that the "rule" was the invention of the GOP & only followed by the GOP.  Although named for now disgraced Speaker Dennis Hastert, it was followed by his predecessor, Newt Gingrich.

Democrats, never enamored with the "rule," chose to act quite differently when they took power.  Nancy Pelosi (Speaker, 2007-2011) condemned the "rule" when the party was out of power & declared when she took the gave in 2007, "I’m the Speaker of the House…I have to take into consideration something broader than the majority of the majority in the Democratic Caucus... I would encourage my colleagues not to be proposing resolutions that say ‘the majority of the majority does this or that. We have to talk it out, see what is possible to get a job done. And as I say, we do that together." 

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Biden Rule - Unlike the Hastert Rule, which has been referred to by that name for well over 10 years, the first reference to the Biden Rule was in the early part of THIS year of Our Lord, Two Thousand & Sixteen, by Sen. Chuck Grassley.  More precisely - last month.  Seriously.

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Yes, Sen. Joe Biden made comments in 1992 about picking a SCOTUS nominee during an election year.  MEGA CAVEAT - over the 20+ years since Sen. Biden made those comments, they were never cemented in anyone's consciousness as a "rule" on the same level as the GOP passionately embraced Hastert's doctrine.  

There is a word for Republicans elevating Biden's words to the level of supposed political doctrine - hooey.

Or possibly stupid - imagine what sort of SCOTUS candidate they can expect from a President Trump or President Clinton, especially if by willfully blocking any consideration hands control of the Senate back to Dems, a very real possibility with independents already fed to the teeth with the GOP putting ideology ahead of governing.  

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Obstruction only helps their opponents, but my guess is that GOP leaders can't help themselves.  


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Gone, baby, gone

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sigh...  The American media is hopelessly, haplessly stuck in a powerful vortex of denial.  I'm not even bothering with links to related articles & video clips - just too many.  

I will note that this posting was inspired by a Salon article on how Donald Trump has warped democracy.  Au contraire - the Trump candidacy is a symptom, not a cause, of one segment of the American electorate gone wild, the majority gone silent & a 4th Estate gone missing.

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We're where we are due to YEARS of a media & seemingly intelligent people opting to embrace the Fox News notion that Dems went toe to toe with the GOP in confabulating political mores, in promoting flagrant fantasies in place of mundane facts, in boorish behavior that worthy of ideological hooligans & thugs. Pardon me - if they did, it was an outlier, not the norm.  

The current climate of seething resentment & hair trigger emotions can be chalked up to Joe Wilson, Justice Alito, Speaker Boehner & their ilk - each helped open the door to dissing the notion of civility having any place in politics.  Leave us not forget the inner circle of GOP leaders & big wigs who staked out their claim to making politics very personal, agreeing on the very night of President Obama's first inauguration to deep six any legislation he advanced.  And it's hard to top Dr. Ben Carson, who made his conservative bones by trashing the prominently present president at the annual Prayer Breakfast.

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The slams & overt insults hurled at the president are too numerous to recount.  The level of unmasked animosity is unmistakable - unless you are what passes these days as a conservative.  To such as they, the facts be damned; the shoe is totally on the other foot.

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Well, I've had it with people laying blame for the current sorry state of affairs at Donald Trump's door.  He is a canny businessman who read the lay of the land & used it to his advantage.  Sure, he's manipulating just about everyone in sight, but he is not the cause of our polluted political landscape.  That blame is laid rightly at the door of Fox News egging on the conservative base to embrace being political dunces & dullards, on Establishment Republicans who garnered votes by promising social revolution & not delivering, and - as noted before - a segment of the American electorate gone wild, the majority gone silent, a 4th estate gone missing.

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Semper vigilans - always watchful

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Semper vigilans - always watchful.  Important words to remember over any election cycle, imperative during this one. 

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Yesterday, someone wrote a Facebook comment sharing what he acknowledged upfront was an unsubstantiated, possibly incorrect, report about a candidate.  Then proceeded to treat the suspect story as fact.  

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There have been times that I've whipped off a posting about something that seemed to be true, but wasn't.  Not once have I shared something with the cautionary that it might not be completely accurate, let alone proceeded to ask a question based on the potentially erroneous report.  

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Anyone who's on Facebook has the ability to do an online search.  I pledge to embrace semper vigilans as a personal credo.  No matter how much something makes my blood boil, I'll first confirm that it's being INDEPENDENTLY* reported by more than one reputable source.  (*What look like multiple sources can turn out to be rehashes of one report.)  I know from my own sorry experience how easy it is to indulge in "sounds true" gossip.  

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This year, more than ever, we need to be responsible, do all we can to be an accurately informed electorate.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Gossip down the lane - American Electorate 2016

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Welcome to the first in what I expect to be a series of bipartisan postings about the current electorate.  This should be fun.  Or depressing.
Someone commented on a friend's Facebook entry - "From what I understand, Sanders was on welfare when he was elected to the Senate. (I just heard that - could be completely inaccurate). His net worth is $300,000. He's been in the Senate for years. Where did the money go?"

Welcome to Gossip Down The Lane, Politics 2016 version, made possible by social media. 

The person acknowledges that he has no idea if the statement he reports is "completely accurate" (by which I suppose he meant to include "if at all"), then proceeds to ask a question that presumes that the statement is true.

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Oh, the value of doing an online seach...

Bernie Sanders had been serving in the United States House of Representatives for over ten years when he won his senatorial seatIt would have been quite a scandal & a hissing had a congressman been on welfare & certainly would have precluded him being elected, even by Vermont's wild-eyed liberals.  

Had the gossip monger bothered to surf the internet, he would have discovered* that Bernie Sanders had a net worth of $188,504.00 in 2006, the year he was elected senator.  His lowest financial ebb since serving the good people of Vermont was in 2009 (post-financial meltdown), when his worth was pegged at $105,003.00, an amount he more than tripled the next year.  

Am grateful for the fellow's strange comment, as it inspired me to take the time (60 seconds) to discover the answer to what strikes me as sloppy thinking & an irresponsible query.   No worries - Keep 'em comin'!

The American electorate 2016 - scary, but endlessly intriguing. 

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*According to Center for Responsive Politics and Money Nation data:

  • Bernie Sanders Net Worth August 2015: $528,014
  • Bernie Sanders Net Worth May 2015: $440,511
  • Bernie Sanders Net Worth 2014: $330,408
  • Bernie Sanders Net Worth 2013: $330,506
  • Bernie Sanders Net Worth 2012: $460,506
  • Net Worth 2011: $308,005
  • Net Worth 2010: $429,004
  • Net Worth 2009: $105,003
  • Net Worth 2008: $219,504
  • Net Worth 2007: $345,503
  • Net Worth 2006: $188,504
  • Net Worth 2005: $128,001
  • Net Worth 2004: $115,501
the inimitable Sasha Silveman