Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Chris Christie, Moderate Like a Heart Attack

If one subscribes to the common political wisdom of the mainstream pundits, there is only one Republican who has anything resembling a chance of beating Hillary Clinton in 2016, and that person is New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Why? Because he's a moderate Republican.

Apparently, this pronouncement of moderation is arrived at not by studying something as painfully wonky as policy or voting records, but by the politician's ability to glibly banter with the Daily Show's Jon Stewart and be self-effacing and funny.

Take John McCain. Please. There was a time when we were constantly assured that the Arizona senator was a "maverick," that he bravely bucked his party's hardline policies and was really a moderate. Even Democrats were saying they'd vote for him. Sure, he talked about campaign finance reform and immigration, but this moderate tag was really due in large part to his Daily Show appearances, where it was obvious that Stewart had a man-crush on the elderly ex-POW. And because McCain could ad lib and be charming, in a reptilian sort of way, no one seemed to notice that he was one of the most conservative senators in the country. In fact, in 2010, McCain's conservative voting record received the highest score, matched by two other known moderates, Jim DeMint and John Cornyn. But his voting record was always among the most conservative.

Now the media has dubbed Governor Christie the new Straight-Talker, the new Moderate Republican. He's brash, aggressive, impolitic, easily angered, funny and nothing at all like Mitch McConnell, which in any universe is a huge plus. Not only that, he recently approved medical marijuana for seriously ill children and banned gay conversion therapy. Right before he vetoed a ban on .50 caliber sniper rifles that can pierce kevlar from a mile away. Yes, a mile. But he vetoed it moderately.

Christie also just moderately endorsed fellow Republican and Tea Party darling Steve Lonegan in his race against juggernaut Newark mayor, Cory Booker. Lonegan, it may be remembered, agreed with fellow Bagger Rand Paul that Hurricane Sandy aid was "over the top." And being a member in good standing of the Tea Party, he is also anti-union, anti-choice, anti-gun safety legislation, anti-marriage equality, anti-etc., anti-etc., anti-etc.

But back to moderate Chris Christie. He very moderately desires to cut taxes for the wealthiest in New Jersey while moderately fucking the poorest in his state. This he has moderately done already to great effect. He moderately supports the failed austerity model. He moderately opposes a woman's constitutional right to choose. He moderately vetoed funding for Planned Parenthood and equal pay for women. He moderately opposes gay marriage and gun control legislation. He moderately despises unions, especially the one for teachers, who he has a particularly moderate loathing for and 10,000 of which he moderately cut in his first year. He moderately opposes Obamacare and moderately vetoed the Medicaid expansion bill. He moderately and famously vetoed federal funding for the tunnel project and now moderately presides over some of the highest unemployment in the country, while moderately watching private sector jobs leave the state like moderately wet rats.

Yes Governor Chris Christie is a moderate. The same way Senator Ted Cruz is a moderate Tea Party member, because he doesn't wear a tricorn hat festooned with tea bags.

©2013 Kona Lowell

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rand Paul, Minority Rights Champion

Washington, DC. Recently, on a trip to Silicon Valley, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) sat down for an interview with Wired and, among other things, touted his credentials as a champion of minority rights. Said the senator:

"If you've seen or read anything I've ever written or talked about, you'll find someone who's been a great defender of minority rights, a great defender of those who wish to be different, those who are different, those who have different religious beliefs. Those who are of an ethnic group that may be a minority. You'll find no greater champion of someone who believes that you have rights, privileges and immunities that go beyond what majorities are allowed to do."

Move over Martin Luther King, Jr. It appears we have completely misunderstood Senator Paul. What we unfairly assumed to be simple textbook racism is in fact quite the opposite.

For example, much has been made of Sen. Paul's objection to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically his objection to the ban on racial discrimination in private businesses that serve the public. Many wrongly assumed this meant he was in favor of, say, a restaurant owner refusing to serve Blacks, when in fact he is entirely in favor of Black folk being served at restaurants throughout the country, with a side of hushpuppies.

Then there was the brouhaha regarding former aide, media director and co-author, Jack Hunter, who hosted a radio show as "The Southern Avenger," a persona that included a Confederate flag mask. And while Hunter railed against Hispanics and Blacks, compared Abraham Lincoln to Hitler and ritually toasts John Wilkes Booth's birthday every year, the former chairman of secessionist organization, The League of the South, is actually not a racist.

"I only wore that mask until my skin cleared up," Hunter said. "Plus I was tryin' to git a job as a wrestlin' villain, ya know, like The Iron Sheik or Sgt. Slaughter. And heck, that thing about comparing Lincoln to Hitler, it was supposed to be a compliment."

And now Senator Paul is being falsely accused of favoring voter disenfranchisement simply because he has no problem with Voter ID laws and doesn't see the need to restore the Voting Rights Act. As he stated:

“The interesting thing about voting patterns now is in this last election African-Americans voted at a higher percentage than whites in almost every one of the states that were under the special provisions of the federal government. So really, I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.”

So there you have it. And Senator Paul's idea of putting voting booths at the end of an American Ninja Warrior obstacle course is designed not to intimidate, not to disenfranchise, but to make voting more fun for everyone.

Meanwhile, Senator Paul is shopping for some good walking shoes so he can keep up with Rev. Al Sharpton and Congressman John Lewis as they link arms this coming weekend when they commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. We can only hope they have room for one more monument on the National Mall.

©2013 Kona Lowell

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Tea Party & the Utopian Left

As a liberal, it's very easy to look at the racist, ignorant yahoos in the Tea Party and feel superior. From the misspelled posters to their demands that the government keep its hands off their Medicare to illogically insisting that President Obama is a Kenyan Muslim socialist, they provide people like me with enough grist to keep the satire mill running 24-7.

Recently, in a town hall meeting, North Carolina GOP Rep. Robert Pittenger ran head first into the Tea Party buzz saw when he declined to vote to repeal Obamacare for the 40th time. It seems that the Baggers in attendance were unconcerned about the reality of the situation, that being the fact that a repeal is impossible, and insisted he do it anyway to prove his conservative credentials. Reality be damned.

It would be easy to laugh at this futile stupidity, and I do regularly, but with the 2014 elections looming on the horizon, my laughter is tempered by the knowledge that we have not only the imbeciles in the Tea Party to deal with, but also those in the Utopian Left who are just as eager to derail the Democratic train and are busily involved in tearing up the tracks even now.

By "Utopian Left" I am referring to what some call the "Professional Left." These are pundits and journalists who are so pure that no Democrat living can attain to the lofty ideal they have constructed as well as that thirty-something guy named Tanner who, when not masturbating to the Che poster in his mother's basement (where he still lives), drags his djembe to every rally in Portland, whatever the cause, and refers to President Obama as "Obomber."

In other words, the Utopian Left are the idealists, the holier-than-thou purists, unaffected by reality, unclear on the concept of incrementalism, who insist it be all or nothing, see any compromise as surrender and are willing to wreck everything if they can't have their way. Exactly like the Tea Party.

These two disparate groups actually work towards the same end, by different means, that end being putting Republicans back in power. The Tea Party does this by rousing the base with misinformation, racism and fear. The Utopian Left by disheartening the base, claiming both parties are identical and that voting for a Democrat is pissing in the wind. This worked like a charm in 2010, and if you're enjoying the obstructionist House, please thank both groups.

Take Obamacare for example. The Tea Party hates it. The Utopian Left hates it, but for different reasons. The Baggers because it's "socialized medicine" (they suppose) and the Utopians because it isn't socialized enough. Obama, the pussy, should have demanded single-payer and since he didn't, they are willing to blow it up and take healthcare away from millions of Americans. There are no "first steps" for the Utopian Left. And if enough Americans die, maybe then things will change. Gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette. If the Republicans regain the Senate and the White House, both will have their way.

This same paradigm works on almost every important issue: The NSA, climate change, gay rights, women's rights, drone warfare, minimum wage, marijuana legalization, legal system inequity, etc. Neither group is happy with the direction being taken or the speed of progress, but all would be dramatically more god awful were the Republicans in charge. Sure, they might get rid of those immoral drones and then replace them with a full-on war with hundreds of thousands of dead women and children, and of course American soldiers. Would that make you happy? They can't wait, you know. It's part of the GOP DNA. We could see minimum wage outlawed. Abortion outlawed. Being gay outlawed. Voting while Black outlawed. Use your imagination. The sky's the limit. By the way, they hate the sky, too.

Look, I'm a lefty, not just a liberal. I hate drones. I hate the NSA spying on us. I want more done now on climate change, inequity in our justice system, voting rights and income equality. But I'm a lefty who lives in the real world. I see the obstacles the President faces, and they are not imaginary. I'll take some progress over none, or worse, ten steps backwards. Sniping at Obama from one's desk at a liberal website or banging on a djembe in a circle jerk, I mean drum circle, while chanting epithets as nasty as anything the Tea Party spits out will not move us one inch closer to Utopia.

©2013 Kona Lowell

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Republicans Cry Foul Over Hillary Movies

Washington, DC. Yesterday, hysterically-named dysfunctional chairman of the RNC, Reince Priebus, demanded that both CNN and NBC cancel their productions of films about Hillary Clinton. CNN has a documentary in the works while NBC is planning a miniseries starring Diane Lane, who should look pretty amazing in a pantsuit.

Priebus claims that the films are nothing more than a “political ad masquerading as an unbiased production" and that the projects amount to a “major network’s thinly-veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election." He is further horrified that executives from these network have donated to Democrats and are now acting as "Hillary Clinton's campaign operatives." Should the two networks not abandon this blatant attempt to gin up votes for Ms. Clinton, Mr Priebus offers this dire threat, “If you have not agreed to pull the programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meeting on August 15, I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor.”

Now sane people may have realized several things at this point. One, Fox functions as a non-stop anti-Obama, anti-Democrat bullhorn 24 hours a day and has actually had a number of presidential candidates on its payroll and Mr. Priebus is blissfully unconcerned about that. Two, the GOP is not known for being overly worried about election fairness. Indeed there are some who would suggest that Republicans are in the process of thwarting fair elections. Three, two less Republican debates are not going to be missed by anybody in either party (what did they have last time, 27 or so?). And four, the Republicans are not prohibited from making movies or documentaries about any of the candidates they intend to have lose to Hillary Clinton.

Fox can help with this last item. They have the production facilities, a built-in audience and the money. And there is a wealth of Republican actors to draw from. Dennis Miller could play a wicked Rand Paul, with the right wig and sedation. Victoria Jackson would make an excellent Marsha Blackburn or whatever bat-shit crazy person with a vagina the GOP intends to run as proof that they don't really despise women and as a reasonable facsimile (they will assume) of Hillary. And as for directors, Paul Johansson who directed the blockbuster Atlas Shrugged series (part III scheduled to be released on July 4th, 2014) would be an excellent fit and should have plenty of time to work in more schlock.

And here's the thing. We Democrats will not complain. We won't demand that these movies be canceled or we'll take our ball and go home. We would love to see these movies. We have a sense of humor. And if Chris Christie decides to run for president, we won't even demand that reruns of The Sopranos be taken off the air.

©2013 Kona Lowell