Posts Tagged With: Chris Christie

AND ….THEY’RE OFF AND RUNNING

Probably, over 99% of Americans living outside of New York state have never heard  of George Pataki. Within the state of New York, perhaps about a quarter of the population still remembers that he was governor from 1995-2006. A pretty fair governor to be sure, but nothing that would set off a cavalcade of fireworks. Nevertheless, Pataki, at age 69, is putting together an exploratory committee to determine the feasibility of seeking the GOP nomination for president in 2016. His chances of success are about the same as mine if I ran for president. And why would anybody really want the job. Just the thought of having to deal with Congress would make me nauseous. Sure, there’s the fun stuff like getting to fly on Air Force One, or playing at elite golf courses, or hosting lavish state dinners. But every now and then the president has to deal with serious items such as combatting terrorism, Iranian nuclear ambitions, and budget and tax issues. The Obama presidency has seemed to focus more on the fun side such as playing golf, and as little as possible on world affairs such as the Ukrainian civil war and other other crises. But who needs all those headaches. I would probably do the same in Obama’s shoes.

In any event, with the election still more than a year and a half away, the race for the Republican nomination has attracted more than a dozen players, some whose chances of success are about as ludicrous as George Pataki’s. First off, like the ghost of Christmas past, Mitt Romney returned to the political arena figuring that the third time had to be a charm. It seemed for awhile that despite his losses in 2008 and 2012, His Mittness still had enough popularity amongst the GOP rank and file to secure the nomination for 2016. But as I’ve written many times before, financing is the name of the game in buying an American election, with the winning candidate usually being the most costly that money can buy. In our faux democracy, if a potential candidate can’t raise at least tens of millions of dollars, just for openers, he or she is usually toast. Romney did have huge money supporters until former Florida governor Jeb Bush figured that it would be a neat idea to follow the family heritage and become Bush number three to occupy the Oval office. When that happened Romney’s big money donors decided that the Busch name still had more commercial value than that of a previous two-time loser, and they swung over to Jeb’s side. Once Romney lost his major donors he knew it was all over, and time for him to get out of the game. The problem is, however, that Jeb Bush might be a tad too rational and sane to satisfy the looney-tunes element of the GOP which continues to grow even larger and more powerful.

The Rush Limbaugh faction in the Republican Party has focused on a number of potential candidates (excluding Jeb Bush) that would satisfy their far-right ambitions to basically destroy what’s left of the non-military portion of the U.S. government. First off, there are the holdovers from the 2012 Republican debates, such as Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania who is still seeking to criminalize social affairs such as birth control, abortion and gay marriage; as well as bible thumper Rick Perry, ex-governor of Texas, who couldn’t remember, last time around, all the government departments he would eliminate upon becoming president. Then their are new figures that  have lunatic fringe especially enthralled. One is Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, who pretty much was able to destroy public worker unions in Wisconsin that state employees belonged to, by taking away their rights to collective bargaining. He had to face a recall election because of that action; but thanks to heavy financing by the Koch brothers (whom I’ve written about before), Walker won the recall and is now the darling of the far, far right. He’s being hailed as another Ronald Reagan, their all-time favorite hero. With heavy money interests starting to galvanize in his direction, I would not discount Walker’s chances of securing the Republican nomination.

Of course he would have to contend with others that even the lunatic fringe considers lunatics, such as Rand Paul from Kentucky and Ted Cruz from Texas, who also have strong presidential ambitions. And, for the dingbat faction of the GOP, which is also growing in strength, there is always Sarah Palin who has mumbled something about entering the fray. I think more than half the fun of watching this circus unfold, would be lost if Sarah Palin didn’t have a go at the nomination. Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, was thought to have a shot for awhile, but his balloon seems to be deflating. Again, he seems to possess too much of that sanity thingy to be a viable GOP candidate. But, if you want irrationality,  there’s always Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, who traded in his Hindu heritage for a strict brand of fundamental Catholicism, and who would also criminalize abortion and gay rights. And the beat goes on with a slew of more aspirants, each seeking to outdo the others in their extremist views.

If the Republican side of the coin has an over-abundance of candidates striving for the presidency, the Democratic side has decided to put all their eggs in one basket; which, of course, belongs to Hillary Clinton. Which is a very dumb idea to begin with. First of all, Hillary will be 69 in 2016 and has had health issues that could raise a number of red flags. Secondly, Hillary has enough political baggage to fill every flight leaving out of JFK for a month. Republicans, who are so much better than Democrats at practicing the politics of personal destruction, would immediately jump on husband Bill’s personal foibles from the 1990s and blame them all on Hillary. Already, they are printing up bumper stickers that say: “Monica Lewinski’s ex-boyfriend’s wife for president.” You can be sure that all of Bill Clinton’s prior misdeeds would be dredged up all over again. Also the Benghazi fiasco, where 4 Americans, including our Ambassador to Libya, were slain by terrorists on Hillary’s watch as Secretary of State, would be thrown in her face. Add to that, the fact that Hillary isn’t exactly the most dynamic or charismatic candidate around, and you can see that the Democrats are in a real pickle. The problem for the Democratic Party is, however, that they have such a thin farm system, who else could they nominate that would have a viable chance of winning the presidency.

My prognosis is that the election of our next president is the Republican candidate’s to lose. Which wouldn’t be the first time that they’ve snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Think back just to 2012 when Mitt Romney should have won by at least 10-15 points. In any event, it will be a fascinating spectacle to watch along the way, as the political scene unfolds over the next 18 months in our pretend election process.

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A VACCINE AGAINST STUPIDITY?

There’s been a lot of news, lately, about children coming down with measles because their parents refused to protect  them through vaccination against this sometimes deadly disease . A recent outbreak of measles that occurred in children visiting the Disneyland theme park in California was attributed to the fact that many of those in attendance at the park spread the infection to others simply because they remained unvaccinated. To make matters worse, the issue was then demagogued by 2 high profile Republican politicians, each desperately seeking the GOP nomination for president in 2016. Both Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, and Rand Paul, Senator from Kentucky both made similar pronouncements regarding the sudden outbreaks of of an affliction that is 99% preventable through inoculation. Each politician stated that it should be within the parent’s prerogative as to whether to allow their children to receive disease-preventing vaccinations. Never mind that children are far too young to be knowledgable enough to make such decisions. And that both men made sure to have their own children receive the full regimen of available immunizations against all preventable diseases.

Christie made his remarks because he fears that the right-wing looney-tunes element within the GOP is large enough to deny him the nomination if he appears in favor of too much common sense regarding rational decision-making. Which, unfortunately, it is. After all, you can’t have the government controlling the populace through a program of mass vaccinations, or some such fantasy, as their thinking goes. Christie later tried to walk back his comments regarding parental prerogatives in this area by pointing out that his children had all their vaccinations, but the damage was done regarding his flight into looney-tunesville. As for Rand Paul, he’s a resident in good standing within the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, so his comments were not a problem. But he’s also a physician, so, as I’ve said, he had his own children fully inoculated. But it brings up the larger issue of why parents are willing to travel into a parallel universe of delusional paranoia by denying their children, who are supposedly their most precious possessions, essential inoculations to protect them against some very ugly diseases.

Let’s start with the bible-thumpers. Those who are fanatically devoted to what they think is the will of God, as expressed in both the old and new testaments, are likely to avoid having their off-spring vaccinated. The fact that both bibles were 100% written by flesh and blood humans with zero input from God is of no concern to these zealots. The fact that it took committees of men over a period of centuries to decide what to include in the new testament, and more importantly, which of the many writings to exclude, is also of little concern. If it’s not dictated in the bible, it’s not going to happen. In 2013, two such zealot parents from Philadelphia were arrested and subsequently convicted of murder because they allowed their two young children to die from pneumonia (on separate occasions) rather than seek medical treatment. A common anti-biotic could have saved both children’s lives. But the parent’s religious fanaticism would not allow for outside medical assistance. One can only wonder how the human mind can become so warped.

The next category of reality deniers are parents, mostly mothers, who allow themselves to be conned by junk-science, and thereby come to fear for the safety of inoculations. As a phenomena of our times, it has come to pass that many well-educated mothers have come to believe that the medical community urging them to vaccinate their children against measles, mumps, rubella, and whooping-cough is lying to them. But a has-been model and sometimes actress such as Jenny McCarthy, who tells them on afternoon TV talk shows that vaccinations cause autism must know what she’s taking about. I guess it’s due to Jenny’s impressive medical credentials and advanced degrees in micro-biology. In any event, in these days of over-dependence on electronic gadgetry and social networking, McCarthy knows that if she can plug her celebrity status into social media, her opinions will create an electronic torrent that will be virtually impossible to stop. The theory, however, that inoculations are somehow linked to autism in children has been thoroughly debunked in one scientific study after another. So who should we believe- the opinions offered by a fading model or the proof offered by the scientific community.

Not all vaccination deniers come, however, from bible-thumpers, government-haters or those conned by the electronic media. There’s a group of relatively wealthy elitists who usually support left-wing causes that also refuse to allow inoculations for their off-spring, because the vaccines are artificially produced in factories, and for the purpose of earning a profit. Vaccines must be either worthless or harmful if they’re chemicals manufactured on the assembly line, in companies beholden to their stock owners, rather than coming from plants grown in nature. And organic plants preferably, i.e. those plants harvested without the use of chemicals during the growing process. Such as organic poison ivy, or organic poison oak.  In some of California’s most affluent neighborhoods, school teachers have started noticing that between 5-10% of their students are showing up in class without the necessary inoculations. There’s no discrimination between poverty and affluence, apparently, when it comes to self-delusion over immunization.

When I was in high-school during the early 1950s, the polio epidemic was raging through America. I watched as a girl on my block in Brooklyn came down with this affliction and had to be transported from her house into an ambulance with the use of an iron lung. I gave thanks that it wasn’t me. Polio is an especially nasty infection wherein the virus usually invades the spinal column and paralyzes its victim for life. Everyone, at the time, literally prayed for a remedy. So when doctors Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin finally developed an inoculation against this disease, a huge sigh of relief could be heard throughout the land. People stood in line for hours to receive the vaccination as quickly as possible. But that was then and this is now. That was before people allowed themselves to get dumbed-down by the electronics revolution and social networking. When scientific discovery still had merit and value in the American psyche. Before Americans allowed their brains to become mush by that which was supposed to have made us smarter.

It leads one to believe that the next great scientific challenge is to develop a vaccine that prevents stupidity, especially when taking the necessary actions to enhance one’s health and well-being. That would really be the jackpot of all immunizations. I guess, however, that one can only wish.

 

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CRAZIER-THAN-THOU

The way I see it, the Republican Party is divided into 3 factions- crazy, crazier, and craziest. Off the charts on the far end of this spectrum in the craziest category are senators like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. They really represent the heart and soul of the Republican base as it exists today. If this base had its way, one of them would achieve the GOP nomination for president in 2016. However, deep in the hearts of most Republicans is the knowledge that these guys are just too lunatic to actually win  a national election for the presidency. So the next search is in the crazy set. Most prominent in the just plain crazy category is Chris Christie, Republican governor of New Jersey. Although he professes to basically believe in the essence of the Republican platform, (tax cuts for the rich, trickle-down economics, slashing government expenditures for the poor, the sick, and the elderly, etc.) he does exhibit a sliver of rationality and sanity every so often. Even just a tiny bit of such common sense may be too much for the Republican base to handle. Christie’s problem, therefore, is that while he could likely win a national election for president, it will be extremely difficult for him to obtain the GOP nomination. Can’t have too much of that sanity going on if you want to be prominent in Republican politics.

I rather liked Christie ever since he posted on his personal blog, a recommendation for a certain pancake house in New Jersey. I figured if there was anyone who knew good pancakes, it had to be Chris Christie. From what I heard, that pancake joint really does live up to its reputation. There are a few other prominent Republicans that are also in the just plain crazy category, such as governor of Ohio John Kasich, and 2 female senators- Susan Collins from Maine, and Lisa Murakowski from Alaska. (Interestingly, in 2008, if John McCain was looking for a conservative female from Alaska as his running mate, he could have picked Murakowski who actually has a brain in her head, instead of a mindless dingbat like Sarah Palin. Who knows, that might have just given him the election.) In any event, as I’ve said, just being crazy may not be irrational enough to secure the GOP nomination for president in 2016.

It thus comes down to the crazier category whose leading figure is Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Well spoken, and with boyish good looks, I believe that Rubio’s core beliefs lie mostly in the extreme craziest portion of the GOP. But Rubio is smart enough to know that if he publicly  espouses the same looney-tunes babble about slashing government as a Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, it would also make him un-winable in the general election. So Rubio has learned to moderate his speeches and actions to the point where he sounds a little bit more crazy rather than craziest, in hopes of securing the nomination and winning the general election. He possess abundant charisma, and since he’s Hispanic, he would be in a perfect position to cut dramatically into the lead that Democrats have with Latino voters. Therefore, my money is on Marco Rubio being the next president in 2016. The Las Vegas sports books aren’t taking bets yet on the 2016 election, but if they were, I would be tempted to put a few shekels down on Rubio winning it all.

On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats are putting all their eggs in Hillary Clinton’s basket, which I think is a huge blunder. First of all, she would be 69 come election time; and let’s face it, she’s not aging all that gracefully. Men can generally get away with looking old and haggard; but women, not so much. Secondly, there are lingering questions about her health. She did spend about a month in the hospital after a seizure caused by a fall. But most of all, she has enough political baggage to fill every flight leaving out of JFK for a month. From the Whitewater scandals from when husband Bill was president, to the whole Monica Lewinski fiasco, to her less than scintillating performance as Secretary of State, which included the Benghazi disaster, there is sufficient ammo for the Republican smear machine to kick into high gear. And you can bet that GOP mudslinging will reach staggering levels in radio and TV ads, since Hillary is despised almost as much as Barack Obama. Yes recent polls show her leading potential Republican candidates; but that will likely change once the demonization of her begins in earnest.

I believe the Democrats would be better off looking for a fresh face. If they’re looking for a female candidate, Senator Elizabeth Warren from Mass. would be an excellent choice. A dedicated progressive with impressive credentials and little if any political negatives, all she needs is some national publicity to enable her to become a viable candidate. Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Martin O’Malley of Maryland would also be top choices. But they also need promotion on a national scale. However, no matter who achieves the Democrat nomination, I’m still going with my prediction that Marco Rubio will be the next president.

Of course, why anyone would be crazy enough to desire the presidency is beyond me. Yes, it does have its perks such as flying on Air Force One, or playing at elite golf courses. Its just that the governing part is so annoying. Just the thought of having to deal with Congress would make me nauseous. With a good portion of the world in flames, or at each others throats, and with all the dysfunction and polarization here at home, who needs such headaches. That’s why Barack Obama mostly plays golf or flies on Air Force One to fund raisers these days. It beats trying to manage the mess that world has made of itself. It would truly take someone crazier-than-thou to desire the job of becoming the next president.

 

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MORE AFTERTHOUGHTS

I know that some of you, upon reading the title, are shouting out-“Enough with the election, already. It’s coming out of my ears.” But I believe there are certain metaphysical and existential implications which haven’t been explored, but which greatly influenced the outcome. So if you’ll bear with me one more time, we’ll do a little exploring in those areas.

To recap what I wrote previously, Obama went into the campaign with one of the worst records an incumbent seeking reelection could have. High unemployment, an economy that was almost on life support, oceans of red ink due to huge budget deficits, and a weak foreign policy were just a few of the negatives on the top 10 list of reasons to not reelect him. In addition, Obama’s opponent was lucid, an excellent speaker, and looked presidential. But Romney was was also saddled down with a glaring set of negatives, not the least of which was being tied to the very large evangelical wing of the Republican party. If Romney was to curry favor with these religious fanatics, as he believed he had to, it basically meant owning a campaign that would be dissing minorities, especially Hispanics because of vehement anti-immigrant policies; women because of anti-abortion and anti-birth control policies; and the gay community because of the GOP’s basic homophobic fears. In addition, there was that core values thingy, where Romney was for universal health-care before he was against it, for legalized abortion rights before he was against them, for gun control before he was against it, etc. etc. I guess the GOP believed that most voters have short memories as well as attention spans, which is probably true.

So there you had it; 2 candidates that turned out to be the abysmal and the the abysmaler. ( Don’t bother telling me that’s not a word.) The choice came down to picking the least abysmal contender. On some level the public understood that, and early polls showed the race was essentially tied. Then came the Democratic convention around Labor Day, and Bill Clinton gave a rousing speech on Obama’s behalf, which led to a bump in the poll numbers for the incumbent. Clinton who now goes around with a permanent halo over his head, (where’s Monica Lewinski when you need her) probably had more to do with Obama’s reelection than anyone else. In any event, Obama maintained a small lead going into the first presidential debate in October. Possibly because of that, Obama decided it was siesta time instead of debate time, while Romney came on like gangbusters. Democrats and Obama supporters in general, were beside themselves in anguish, believing that the President had forfeited the election with his anemic performance. Overnight the polls began shifting in Romney’s favor and continued is his upward trajectory. Obama tried to recoup in the next 2 debates but the damage was already done. It seemed like victory was within Romney’s grasp. And then, as if by magic, the metaphysical factor kicked in.

Days after the official end of the hurricane season, which is October 31st, a powerful storm named Sandy, after killing several hundred people in the Caribbean, came barreling up the East Coast. It smashed into the New York-New Jersey area causing well over 100 deaths, and massive devastation and destruction. Some people, even now, are without power. With about a week to go before the election, Sandy gave the President an opportunity to act…..presidential. Obama took the day off from campaigning and went to New Jersey, met with Republican governor Chris Christie, and pledged all available Government assistance to helped the people affected by this tragedy. Christie put his arm around the Obama, thanked him profusely, and was generous in his praise of the President. It should be noted that Chris Christie is one of the shining new stars in the Republican party. Earlier this year, even the grand duchess of right-wing whackoville, none other than Ann Coulter herself, had endorsed Christie for president and pushed for his nomination. Now here he was making kind remarks about Obama.

The next day, Republicans across the nation were outraged by the Governor’s kind words. They called in to talk radio, went on TV, etc. to express their apoplexy over Christie actually being civil to the President of the United States. Didn’t he know that when it came to Obama, it was every Republican’s mission to bash and demonize him? Being civil? How un-Republican was that? Christie, who is still working 24/7 in recovery efforts for the people of New Jersey, as far as Republicans were concerned, went from star status to the dog house. But the chance to act presidential was therapeutic for Obama. Romney’s momentum in the polls was stopped and Obama’s fortunes began to rise. The rest, as they say at Yankee Stadium, is history.  Polls taken of voters after the Obama victory, found that 42% stated that Obama’s presidential appearance with Governor Christie the day after Sandy struck, was a significant factor in making their voting choice. It was as if the universe was giving the middle finger to Romney, who until then, had led such a charmed and privileged life.

It should be noted, however, that being on the winning side of an election is a lot like being in the home town of the winning team of the world series or supper bowl. There is great euphoria the night of the victory, singing and dancing, and parades and celebrations for a few days after that. Then reality sets in with full force. You still have to drag yourself out of bed in the morning, and get stuck in rush hour traffic as you schlep your way into the office. The screaming little ones in your family have to get fed, the chores have to be done, the house has to be cleaned, food shopping is necessary, bills have to be paid, and your rotten-to-the-core teenager will continually remind you of how clueless you are as to what really matters in this world. People will get sick, some will die, and babies will be born. For almost everyone, the rhythms and patterns of their lives will continue unchanged no matter who is elected. In the end, most people will come to realize that their successes or failures, their joys or sorrows, and the end results of the lives they lead, will depend almost totally on the nature of their actions, or inactions as the case may be.

One last thing. The Senate race in Massachusetts resulted in the election of a woman named Elizabeth Warren. For those of you unfamiliar with her background, she was a Harvard professor who President Obama picked as the first chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. For the dying breed of true blue liberals in this country, she is considered a rock star. Except for Barack Obama in 2008, no one has been hailed as the true defender of the liberal faith since Bobby Kennedy, before was shot and killed in 1968, the way Elizabeth Warren is being hailed today by liberal followers. She is already considered as a powerful candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2016. (Don’t, for a moment, think that the race for 2016 didn’t start on November 7th, the day after the election.) In any event, wouldn’t it be neat, if the choice in 2016 came down to Elizabeth Warren for the Democrats, and Sarah Palin for the Republicans. Now that would be a race worth writing about.

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