Posts Tagged With: Rand Paul

THE TRITE AND THE HACKNEYED

When Senator Ted Cruz announced for the Republican nomination for the presidency, (the first of what looks like to be about 2 dozen potential candidates), he used the phrase-“we’re gonna take this country back”- during his announcement speech. He didn’t say from who or what we were “gonna take this country back,” but it didn’t seem to matter to his gung-ho right-wing audience. Of course, Ted is by no means the first politician to utter empty platitudes on his way to political stardom, since Rand Paul and Ben Carson and probably all the other would-be candidates have also indulged in similar triteness. But in Ted’s case, since he’s a Harvard graduate, I figure he has to be a pretty smart guy; and to so unashamedly pander with such banality is, in my estimation, unforgivable. I believe Harvard should, retroactively, declare that Ted’s degree is null and void, as a warning to any other panderer that might be tempted to also orate with such hackneyed phraseology.

Of course politicians have been attempting to “take our country back,” probably since the beginning of the republic. I remember Ronald Reagan using that time-honored phrase on his way to swamping the hapless Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election. Who was he taking the country back from, poor old Jimmy? Whatever your opinion may be of the Carter presidency, I don’t recall Carter ever stating that he owned this country, lock, stock and barrel. When today’s politicians, (almost always Republicans) vow to ‘take our country back,” perhaps they’re referring to Plutonians that came down in space ships and took over the halls of our government after we downgraded Pluto from being a full-fledged planet some years back. Yes, that must be it. I mean, it took great hubris on our part to arbitrarily declare that Pluto was not a real planet, without us even bothering to discuss the matter with representatives from other entities in the galaxy. I can see where Plutonians would be angry and upset enough to initiate aggressive action. Otherwise, who else would we be taking our country back from. Well, you might say, there is Obama and the Democrats. The problem is, however, no matter how much you might despise them both, neither Obama nor any Democrat has laid claim to ownership of the United States. Obama will be gone in about a year and a half, and the GOP will almost certainly lock in majorities in Congress, and will also, likely, take over the White House in 2016. Talk about who will have ownership of this country then.

Another exercise in meaningless babble is the political infighting taking place over the illegal immigration issue. Earlier, Senator Marco Rubio managed to, rather heroically, have an immigration bill passed by the Republican Senate, that would, among other provisions, create a pathway to legal status for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. The problem was, that his fellow tea-party looney-tuners in the House became feverish and delirious at just the thought of even one undocumented immigrant in this country achieving legal status.  Their opposition was vociferous, and, in the end, Rubio had to disavow ownership of his own legislation in order to keep his presidential aspirations alive. So, the new mantra of meaningless babble emanating  from the GOP is that nothing will be done regarding the illegals until “our borders are made secure.” None of the candidates have defined how our borders are to be made secure, or how many more gazillion dollars they are willing to allocate for that purpose, above what we are already spending on border patrol. The only thing that matters is that our border, (at least with Mexico) ‘be made secure.”

So, since none of the Republican candidates are willing to discuss the details of what a secure border means, I will do it for them. The first thing you have to know is that our border with Mexico stretches for nearly 2000 miles. So securing that border would be no easy task. But if we really want to make sure that no illegal gets into this country, we would need to build a solid concrete wall across the entire 2000 miles. The wall should be at least 100 feet tall, and 20 feet deep, to assure that none of those sneaky illegals can tunnel their way into this country. We would also need to put electrified barb-wire on top of the wall just in case they have really tall ladders. Then we would need a few hundred drones constantly patrolling the area, as well as few thousand additional border patrol agents. All this could probably be accomplished for under another trillion dollars of additional debt. Think  the tea-party loonies will rally around this idea? Oh the dilemma.

To show just how racist the GOP immigration policy is, consider the case of Canada. Our Canadian border is just about twice as long as our Mexican border. All anyone has to do to enter our country illegally from Canada is to take a pleasant stroll through the woods. Yet our Canadian border, besides being twice as long, is almost unguarded.  Why is that? Because in the Republican mindset, Canadians are white like us, or most of us. They almost all speak English like us. For those that can only speak French, there’s an excuse for that too. I mean, French is so much more sophisticated sounding than mundane Spanish.

So the next time you hear some brainless politician tell you that he or she “is gonna take back our country,” or that the undocumented immigration issue can’t be addressed until “we secure our borders,” be on full alert. Those our just code phrases for the unthinking. In any event, with so manny politicians entering the Republican race, I’m thinking of throwing my hat in the ring as well. With the primary vote split among so many candidates, I might just be able to sneak in. Besides, someone has to take our country back, and secure the borders as well.

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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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