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The outrage expressed against Virginia governor Ralph Northam over racist photographs dating from his medical school yearbook in 1984, which as of this writing may or may not even be of him, may at first glance appear to be a perfectly warranted reaction to discovering a horrible bigot is wandering the halls of power. On the other hand, the furor may also be hysterical and wildly overblown, given that his actions as a public servant since then are completely inconsistent with being a hopelessly irretrievable racist deserving of nothing but contempt.
Now in the interest of fairness, if upon closer examination Northam does turn out to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan and has a long history of quietly working to undermine the black community…wait a minute. What am I saying? Of course he isn’t really a racist Klansman. The tragedy is that many people in Virginia, regardless of race or political affiliation, seem to understand this. But at the national level, there is a near total inability to process one basic reality: Ralph Northam did an unbelievably stupid thing over thirty years ago but apparently nothing more than that. This essential disconnect is the reason why we’re experiencing this national freak out to begin with. If it was clear that he was and is just a hateful bigot, then there would be no controversy whatsoever. It would just be good riddance to bad garbage. But apparently it isn’t clear. Not clear at all, and the insistence of Democratic party leaders and progressives in general to have his head put on a pike outside the Capitol building in Richmond as a warning reveals something far more ugly than any yearbook picture from the eighties. It shows a Democratic party, and perhaps the progressive movement as a whole, in a state of disarray and division. We may be looking at a nation desperate to lash out at anyone who can represent Donald Trump in effigy. It’s a perfectly logical reaction. The foulest bigot America can’t be stopped, at least not right now, but we can still make ourselves feel better by taking down anyone who may resemble him, no matter how shadowy that reflection. It will help contain our rage until we get to step into the voting booth again in 2020.
I have watched bemused while many of my fellow progressives are rubbing their hands together with self-righteous glee at bringing down another fine and long-serving representative of the people for an unsavory infraction committed years ago. What, Al Franken wasn’t enough of a sacrifice for you? I guess I’ll just have to wait until Cory Booker’s 2020 campaign is dismantled for being too cozy with Big Pharma. But simply organizing another circular firing squad is not enough for Democrats, although the formation of one was wholly predictable. There is also, understandably, a longing to return to a time when we our politics weren’t so toxic. But nobody is quite sure how to get there or even if we can get there. A good case in point is the obsession so may of us have with restoring credibility to Michelle Obama’s notion of “when they go low, we go high.” This idea, marvelous though it is, now seems almost ridiculously naïve when confronted with the reality that no Republican would ever resign under similar circumstances that Northam is facing, and that official would have the entire GOP, locally and nationally, backing him up. Even the most hardened progressive must concede that the hypocrisy of Republicans calling for Northam’s resignation while their party’s standard bearer is the most powerful racist the country has seen since the Civil War is enough to make the gorge rise.
Have we learned nothing in the Age of Trump? An elected official’s past, as checkered as it may be, is something people don’t seem to fundamentally care about, at least not anymore. Our recent electoral history has borne that out. Consider the President himself. The “Access Hollywood” tape came out, his whole racist past as a New York slum lord in the 1970s and 1980s was a matter of long-standing public record and we still gave him the keys to the kingdom. Never mind final vote tallies or electoral mathematics. He shouldn’t have gotten anywhere near 1600 Pennsylvania. Trump attacked a Federal judge because of his Mexican heritage. The manner in which he has consistently referred to women is far too disgusting to be given the dignity of recall by this writer. And you know what? It’s not just him. Look at how close a pedophile like Roy Moore came to beating Doug Jones in Alabama. The protests against Brett Kavanaugh’s ascendance to the Supreme Court evaporated once he was sworn in. People are even now completely ready to give Bernie Sanders a pass even though women kept coming forward to report sexual harassment and abuse while working on his campaign. There was a $30,000 federal discrimination settlement with two former employees of the Sanders campaign but no reproach from national Democrats. I could go on, but nobody wants to be late for their dinner.
Now Ralph Northam is the enemy du jour. Some say he must be resign or drag down the re-election hopes of future Democrats in the state. That’s a disturbing and frankly cynical thought, as it implies that this issue is not really about racial justice, but about legislators keeping their jobs. Or just as problematic, the presumption that Ralph Northam can personally and single-handedly brand the entire Democratic party of his state as racist by remaining in office. I hate to say it people, but this is Virginia. Elected officials here of both parties are and have been racist for a long time and without any help from the likes of Northam. Some people who are particularly dense are calling for his impeachment. Never mind that having a racist yearbook photo doesn’t even come close to qualifying as “malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty, or other high crime or misdemeanor” as stipulated in the Virginia Constitution. With progressives salivating daily over fantasies of Trump being impeached, it’s hardly any surprise that this has become a mythical panacea for all that ails America with respect to politicians you don’t like.
If you look hard enough, you can find a disqualifier for every legislator at all levels of government in this nation. There’s just one problem. Republicans aren’t purging their ranks of bigots. They didn’t even entertain the notion of calling for a vicious hatemonger like Steve King to step down. The GOP just stripped him of his committee assignments but the man is still in Congress. Democrats, on the other hand, keep eating their own and it’s liable to guarantee Donald Trump’s easy re-election in two years. Well, if we’re going to do down this path, and it appears inevitable that we will, then I would like to offer a word of caution.
I had better see all of the progressives calling for Northam’s head to be delivered on a silver platter working night and day between now and November 3, 2020 to bring down the occupant of the White House by hook or by crook because right now I don’t. I just see a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. I see progressives hoping and praying Robert Mueller will swoop down and save America. But he can’t. I see fair-minded, honest, hard-working Democrats announcing their bids to oppose Trump in 2020 only to have other Democrats begin long lists of why they shouldn’t be elected or have no chance to begin with. In two years, Donald Trump has done more to sow division and discord on the national level than any major political figure in the last half century. In addition to his record of discriminating against blacks that spans his entire career, he has ardently defended white nationalists, incarcerated thousands of helpless migrants, including young children, because they are poor and have brown skin, effectively banned people from entering the United States because they are Muslims and disregarded the destruction of an entire island with over 3 million Americans on it because they speak Spanish.
And yet many progressives, the vast majority of whom don’t even live in Virginia (full disclosure: I live here), are demanding the resignation of a good and reliable public servant because of a yearbook photo from over three decades ago and replacing him with someone presumed to be beyond reproach because of the color of his skin, which is in and of itself patently absurd because all of us are subject to being prejudiced, regardless of what color we are. We don’t want to believe that about ourselves, but it’s true. The only ones who get the moniker are simply the ones who get caught in the act. So if you believe that Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, or any of us, have stainless histories or minds completely devoid of hate and bigotry, you’re deluding yourself. Maybe we should do a full background check on Fairfax just to make sure a conservative website doesn’t dredge up some horrible skeleton he’s got tucked away in his closet.
Whoops. Too late, it already did.
Accusations of sexual assault against Fairfax as recently as 2004 resurfaced just days after Northam came under fire and by the same outfit that found those now infamous yearbook pictures. To make things even messier, Fairfax admits the incident occurred but it was consensual, a stance derided as a convenient fallback for the guilty. With the #MeToo movement in in full vigor grappling with this latest dilemma, suddenly just showing Northam the door and giving the keys to the Executive Mansion to Fairfax becomes a much, much less easy option. It seems clear that the Democratic Party in Virginia is being subjected to a coordinated hit job by conservatives with all the efficiency of a Russian social media attack. We probably should expect the GOP in Virginia to pose the question rather soon: “Who do Virginians want to be leading our state? Do you want the Democrat who’s a racist or the Democrat who’s a rapist?” The answer will be obvious: choose a decent, moral, God-fearing Republican, pure of mind and spirit, of course. And we are falling for it hook, line and sinker. Anyone care to bet on when something disturbing will surface on the evening news about Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring? Because if Herring can somehow be forced from public office, then who becomes the next Governor of Virginia? Why, Speaker of the House of Delegates Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) would. And he would get to work with a General Assembly controlled by Republicans. Fancy that.
One of the most craven spectacles I have ever seen was sitting there watching every Democratic politico in the country giving us the usual cookie-cutter statement in near unison: we must stand up to racism wherever we find it, the public trust has been violated and because we hold our political leaders to a higher standard, Northam has lost the moral authority to govern and must resign.
That is a steaming load of crap.
We don’t hold our leaders to any such standard. American politics is today about hate and hypocrisy. We wave signs that declare “Love is Stronger Than Hate”, but we know deep down that isn’t true. And then we lie to ourselves about it. Shame on us. “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Good advice. Especially in America 2019.
The Washington Post recently wrote that Virginia must heal and that Ralph Northam has an important part to play in that process. “But not as the governor of Virginia”. I have a few questions to ask about that. How will it help Virginia to heal if we excise either of these men from political life while simultaneously believing that they are both fundamentally good and decent? How does it help Virginia to heal if we replace an accused racist with an accused rapist? How does it help Virginia to heal if we keep finding reasons to despise each other when it is clear that both of these men want nothing more than to dedicate themselves to serving the people of the Commonwealth they both love?
The answer is it doesn’t help. Not one bit. What we are witnessing are progressives looking for a pound of flesh that is not their own. It is the continuation of the search for someone to punish for a cataclysm we loosened upon ourselves. It is a reflection of how deep the anguish continues to run in a party still committing self-flagellation to atone for the sin of losing the 2016 Election to the monster who currently inhabits the Oval Office. This whole brouhaha isn’t about healing. It’s about revenge. It’s about electoral politics. And it’s about cowardice. It is far easier to come down mercilessly on a term-limited governor like Northam or a relatively obscure Lt. governor like Fairfax who can do little harm outside the confines of their own state (I’m looking at you Progressives who don’t live in Virginia) than it is to continuously rally, protest and demand the resignation of an autocrat like President Donald Trump, a man with a fanatically loyal and highly motivated base who just might assault or kill you if you oppose their Dear Leader.
That’s why you’re pissed off.
But if this is the way that Virginians want it, fine. Let Northam resign. Fairfax has already spoken out against him. Well, of course. Who doesn’t want a promotion? So when he eventually becomes the governor by reason of Northam’s resignation, making his predecessor the first Virginia governor to leave office early since Reconstruction, he better do a really damn good job and do it completely free of scandal or controversy, which is extremely unlikely given his own dubious past. If he screws up by one inch, in any way, shape or form over the next three years (possibly seven), or if the accusations leveled against him have even a shred of truth to them, I for one will call for his immediate removal from office by any legal means at the disposal of the Commonwealth.
And don’t say it’s not fair because under the current exigency, it is.
More than fair.
The Left has unwittingly enlisted a new soldier in the conservative media’s much ballyhooed yet illusory “War on Christmas”. This time, however, there actually seems to be a legitimate threat, although the target isn’t really in a position to mount any kind of defense. Many far left progressives, flush with the heady thrill of collecting political and celebrity scalps from the #MeToo movement, have now aimed their sights…on a holiday song.
Upon closer examination, it’s not really even a “Christmas” song in the traditional sense. There’s no religious angle, which is usually what gets conservatives’ hackles up when the Christmas holidays are supposedly under assault. The tune is actually played year round, but generally only during the holiday season because the action takes place on a dark and snowy night. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, performed by luminaries like Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles, as well as by contemporary artists including Vanessa Williams and Idina Menzel, was originally written in 1944 by composer Frank Loesser. The song became an American standard with the popularity of the film Neptune’s Daughter in 1949. But this cheerful tune, beloved by millions for generations, has now become a source of ire to many progressive activists: an emblem of America’s sinister and ceaseless effort to keep women sexually submissive and allow our insidious rape culture that permits men to be as emotionally, physically and sexually abusive as they wish to flourish.
OK, fine. I’ll buy that.
But, if we’re going to go after this song as being “rapey” (not my word), because I really don’t think anybody except the highly attuned, and hypersensitive, analyze winter songs this much outside of academia, then I’d like to add a few more ditties to our Stay Woke Christmas Song Ban List. If “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is actually a deeply disturbing anthem romanticizing date rape, then we have a lot of other tunes to jettison. Let’s start with John Denver’s “Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk on Christmas)” and it’s about exactly what you think it is. Don’t believe me? Look it up and play it. It’s horrible. And while we’re talking about rape, how about abolishing Jon Bon Jovi’s cover of Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa”, which I actually heard on a pop radio station during their annual 24/7 Christmas Music Bataan Death March. “They call me Back Door Santa…I make all the little girls happy while the boys are out to play. I ain’t like the old Saint Nick. He don’t come but once a year. I come runnin’ with my presents every time they call me dear.” Really??? And we all are supposed to admire this creep because he has a few stylish pay-what-you-can restaurants in New Jersey?
Why not take a closer eye at The Jackson Five singing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” because nothing says Christmas quite like the thought of a child thinking he is watching his father get cuckolded by a man who sneaks into your house in the middle of the night. Even if you accept the premise of “Oh, it’s OK…it turns out to be his Dad at the end”, one is still left with the uncomfortable thought that this voyeuristic kid is spying on his parents being intimate. Where else is he skulking about at night? Hiding in the bedroom closet perhaps?
Let’s also acknowledge that “Do They Know it’s Christmas?”, the 1984 fundraising song by the “supergroup” Band Aid is, for all its good intentions, something that is truly awful. Especially when you consider that we’re all supposed to be more aware of issues like racism, poverty and famine in the 35 years since the song was released. Think about it. It’s a bunch of white British pop stars singing in turn about how nothing good happens in Africa. You know, that dreadful continent that Britain and most of Europe held in thrall for centuries? The one with Ethiopia, who can trace its Christian roots to 341 CE, more than three centuries before Britain did? So yes, Ethiopians know it’s Christmastime. But what does that matter to us? “...There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime. The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life. Where nothing ever grows. No rain nor rivers flow…” Not to worry, though. You can assuage your colonial guilt by buying our record. It’s easy to spot. Just look for the one that has the enormous wreath, hobby-horses and cheerful English tots in bright period costumes with two starving black African children front and center. “Tonight thank God it’s them instead of you” sings the ever socially aware Bono of U2. Wow. Nostalgia sure isn’t what it used to be, is it?
Anybody want to take shot at Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby” or any of the other numerous Christmas songs that glorify our self-centered, greedy and consumerist society? No? Tell you what. Let’s go full out and stop playing “The Coventry Carol”, written by an unknown composer in the 16th century, which is about the slaughter of Bethlehem’s first born sons by Herod as told in the New Testament. It’s 2019 after all. Infanticide and brutality against children is all the rage in America today. Just check out the southern border to see it in action.
Alright, if I’m completely honest, I really have no strong objections to any of these songs, including “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. I suppose I’d be more inclined to understand the outrage against it if there weren’t so many other tunes we don’t give a second thought to that are far more deserving of our disdain during the holidays. We scrutinize and single out Loesser’s Academy award winning opus perhaps because it is merely a cause célèbre that our Woke Culture warriors bring to us every holiday season. Or maybe because we just look for things to irritate us. I would also be far more likely to take a hard look at the song, but any conversations we could have around issues such as sexuality, rape culture and society’s gender power structure collapsed when people simply wanted to ban the song…or change it to something more palatable to people on Facebook and Twitter. It’s easier to confront a song from the forties than confronting any real current issues that song might bring to the forefront. Out of hearing, out of mind.
As a final note, I can’t help but notice that when people on social media wail and moan that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is still being allowed on the air, most if not all of them have also reserved a special place in hell for “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. The hatred for that song seems to far exceed any of the bile reserved of late for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, which is something I just don’t get.
So let’s ban the rape song…and Mariah Carey, too? This is why we can’t have nice things.
Let me make this perfectly clear. You can vote for whatever third-party candidate you want to. It’s your right as an American to vote for whomever you please so long as they meet the qualifications set forth in Article II of the Constitution. But here is your quandary. None of those candidates have any mathematical hope of winning the Presidency and that is an inescapable fact. A protest vote in this election is crazy, petulant and above all extremely dangerous.
In case this frightening reality managed to elude anyone, Donald J. Trump is the Republican nominee and he may very well win. It’s easy to say “If not now, when?” OK, that’s a fair question. How about when you don’t have a certifiably crazy demagogue who demeans and insults every person he comes into contact with, calls for racial profiling, banning all members of a religion totaling 1.6 billion followers worldwide from entering the U.S., building a wall on the southern border and forcing another country to pay for it, punishing women who exercise their right to choose and holds foreign dictators in high esteem as models for “strong leadership”? Do it when Paul Ryan is the Republican nominee in 2020, that’s when.
Has anyone else noticed that so many people who want to cast a “protest” vote are young, mostly white and can’t imagine that a Trump presidency will be all that different from the 44 that preceded it? Well, it’s easy when you have enough advantages or privilege granted to you from birth that you feel insulated enough from the machinations of Donald Trump and his ilk. It’s easy when you’re somebody like Susan Sarandon and can watch society burn from the comfort of your penthouse in New York because you have enough money to shield you. It’s easy to shout slogans like CORRUPTION! OLIGARCHY! CORPORATE MEDIA! It’s easy when you think a Trump presidency won’t affect you that much.
Believe me it will and not for the better.
Yes, yes, yes, we all know that money is the root of all evil in politics. But let’s also be a little realistic. You need it to run an effective campaign and neither of the two major “third” parties have much of it. As of August 22, 2016, Jill Stein and the Green Party had $1,876,899 in their campaign coffers. You can purchase two taxi medallions in New York City with that but it’s going to be awfully hard to run a full-blown presidential campaign with the same amount. The Libertarians don’t fare much better. As of the same date, they have $2,953,292 in their campaign war chest. That’s less than the amount of money proposed to upgrade the public swimming pools in Lexington, Kentucky.
Also, consider this. There are 8,163 Federal, state and territorial offices in the United States, starting with the President, Senate and House of Representatives all the way down to state and territorial governorships and seats in their respective legislative bodies. Do you know how many the Green Party holds? Zero. The highest public official in the United States who is a member of the Green Party is Bruce Delgado, who is the mayor of Marina, California. How about the Libertarian Party? Nope. They don’t have any either. Libertarian Robert Stephens is the mayor of Springfield, Missouri. A third-party needs to have far more candidates at the local, state and Federal level if they want to begin building coalitions and working with Democrats and Republicans to get effective and positive legislation passed. Just shooting for the top office isn’t enough.
It would also help to not have candidates who appear as crazy and unprepared as Trump. Libertarian Gary Johnson doesn’t know what or where Aleppo is and was under the impression that nobody was hurt in the recent bombing in New York. These aren’t gaffes. They’re ignorance. Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein, the ultimate liberal conspiracy theorist, states that Donald Trump would be better than Hillary Clinton or even Barack Obama, that unemployment figures are manipulated as part of a government cover-up to oppress the masses and is more concerned with childhood vaccines and GMOs than how to combat terrorism. Come on, people. You can find more qualified candidates than that.
Here’s something else. Do you know how many electoral votes the Green Party has won in their entire history as a political party? The answer is none. How about the Libertarian Party? They can boast one electoral vote and that was courtesy of an unfaithful elector in 1972. But any third-party can sure throw a monkey wrench into an election with disastrous consequences. Just ask Ralph Nader.
I can sympathize with many eager revolutionaries who were crushed when Bernie Sanders wasn’t the nominee of a party he eschewed for the whole of his political career. But let’s be honest. He was as cold and calculating a politician as any of the other big-ticket candidates for President. His campaign was pure political calculus. He remained either an Independent or a member of the old Liberty Union Party stretching all the way back to 1981 and became a Democrat in 2015 solely because he knew you can’t win the White House as an independent. But for so many people left enthralled by his campaign, they came to the conclusion if they vote third-party, even at this most dangerous time in our history, you could conceivably have everything you and the rest of the country is entitled to: free education, a decent place to live, free medical care, good jobs, etc. because they have it Denmark, right?
This Isn’t Denmark.
An old colleague and I were having breakfast this morning when he looked up at the news (I can’t remember which network …MSNBC, I think) and noticed a split screen of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. He lamented long about how terrible both candidates are in this election and I guess we just have to choose the lesser of the two evils or, as he put it, “…put on a blindfold and just pick. It doesn’t really make any difference.”
And that’s when I went off.
I am really sick and tired of people saying both candidates are equally horrible choices, how much America thoroughly hates both of them to the core, that there’s not a single positive trait in either one of them and wow, if only we had voted for that guy behind the deli counter or the neighbor’s cat, America would be WAY better off.
Fuck you. Fuck the deli guy and fuck your neighbor’s cat.
There are only 2 candidates who stand any mathematical chance of prevailing in this year’s election and one of them is, in fact, eminently qualified to become the 45th President of the United States, perhaps more so than any of the other 44 previous office holders. She (that’s right…SHE) has been dedicated to public service in one capacity or another since 1971. Her accomplishments are tremendous. To name a few (edited from the list once provided by Daily Kos for space):
- First ever student commencement speaker at Wellesley College.
- Distinguished graduate of Yale Law School.
- Editorial board of the Yale Review of Law and Social Action.
- Co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.
- Former civil litigation attorney.
- Staff attorney for Children’s Defense Fund.
- Faculty member in the School of Law at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
- Former Director of the Arkansas Legal Aid Clinic.
- First female chair of the Legal Services Corporation.
- First female partner at Rose Law Firm, the oldest and one of the largest law firms in Arkansas.
- Twice named by The National Law Journal as one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.
- Former First Lady of Arkansas.
- Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983.
- Chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession.
- Created Arkansas’s Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youth.
- Instrumental in passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
- First Lady of the United States.
- Promoted nationwide immunization against childhood illnesses.
- Successfully sought to increase research funding for prostate cancer and childhood asthma at the National Institutes of Health.
- Worked to investigate reports of an illness that affected veterans of the Gulf War (now recognized as Gulf War Syndrome).
- Helped create the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice.
- Initiated and shepherded the Adoption and Safe Families Act.
- First FLOTUS in US History to hold a postgraduate degree.
- Helped create Vital Voices, an international initiative to promote the participation of women in the political processes of their countries.
- Two-term New York Senator and the first ex-FLOTUS in US History to be elected to the United States Senate.
- Served on five Senate committees: Budget (2001–2002), Armed Services (2003–2009), Environment and Public Works (2001–2009), Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (2001–2009) and the Special Committee on Aging.
- Member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
- Leading role in investigating the health issues faced by 9/11 first responders.
- Worked with Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York on securing $21.4 billion in funding for the World Trade Center redevelopment.
- Former United States Secretary of State.
- Brokered a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas in 2012.
Go ahead and try to show what the other candidate has done in the public interest during his whole worthless life.
You can’t and why?
The other candidate who is supposedly “equally bad” is a real estate developer and television personality who was born into a family whose wealth has been estimated to exceed $300 million and makes racism, sexism, misogyny, nihilism and ultra-nationalism the pillars of his candidacy. So far he has called for:
- Building a wall across the southern border that Mexico is supposedly going to pay for.
- The deportation, by force if necessary, of 11 million undocumented immigrants (and stop saying “illegal”, you jackass).
- Banning and deporting all members of a religious faith that total over 1 billion adherents worldwide, even if they are American citizens, because “everybody knows” they’re just a bunch of murdering terrorists.
- Lists among his associates known white supremacists and eugenicists.
- Speaks admiringly of ruthless foreign despots and encourages espionage against the United States by hostile governments.
- Ruminates about not defending our NATO allies against Russian invasion.
- States openly and freely that using nuclear weapons should always be an option simply to make him more “unpredictable”. That’s not a strategy. That’s insanity.
Did I mention his blithe refusal to offer concrete policy proposals on how any of this neo-Nazi wish list could possibly be achieved? And all the while still finding the time to be rude, nasty, loud, mean, cruel, hateful and boorish.
And it’s still August.
But they’re supposedly “equally awful” and “everybody hates them both”. Yes, you can’t vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump because, you know…emails. And Benghazi. And Foundations. And Wall Street. And secret assassinations. And pantsuits. And, and, and.
OK, listen up. Nobody cares about emails that show Bono wanted State Department assistance to stream his music from the International Space Station. You should thank Almighty God and Jedi Jebus he failed. So far all we have seen is a public official in extraordinary circumstances who should have known better demonstrate “extreme carelessness” to which I believe she has owned up to sufficiently and which, by the way, no wrongdoing was ever uncovered even after a year-long investigation by the FBI for the love of God. We all know that trustworthiness is important in a President. But if absolutely no slack is given at all, and I mean none, if this is how we treat people who make public service their life and profession, then you will always get “crooks” as politicians because who in their right mind would want the job? It’s like being a firefighter. When there’s a fire everybody runs out. You run in. It’s a maniac’s job but it has to be done so let’s have the best do it and not get wrapped up in what amounts to paperwork. That’s all this really is. Paperwork. You would rather stay at home or vote for someone George Orwell or Edgar Allan Poe couldn’t have dreamed up over emails? Then you’re even dumber than you look.
Furthermore, I want to know why everyone has their knickers in a twist over the tragic deaths of 4 State Department personnel in Benghazi in 2012 when nobody raised a peep about, count ‘em, 241 armed and ready US servicemen who were blown to bits by a suicide bomber in Beirut in 1983? Well? WHY NOT? We all know why but I won’t denigrate the deaths of brave people serving their country in the diplomatic corps and the military while performing what is often a filthy and difficult job. But other people love to bring it up as often as possible as a political weapon. They want you to believe she is some kind of cold and diabolical monster without any concern for the lives of people who often must work in really dangerous places in the name of peace and diplomacy. That is also a load of steaming horseshit and if you spread it around then you ought to be ashamed to show your face in public. So please stop. Now.
I know, I know. Damn it all! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just forget all of that pesky accomplishment stuff of hers and remember that what really matters is the thrill of waiting for indictments which makes for great television? That way we could finally “lock her up” and enough with these stupid women who think they can run a country. Well, enough out of YOU, you moron. This isn’t the lesser of two evils. This is a choice between one great and qualified candidate for the nation’s highest office who you really should be excited about and a dolt with a bad toupee who if you were honest with yourself you wouldn’t trust to manage a Dairy Queen much less the Oval Office.
And by the way, don’t give me any of your crap about Bernie, Martin, Ted, John, Marco, Jeb, Chris, Rand, Carly, Ben, Lindsey or any of the others because they aren’t running anymore. And I certainly don’t want to hear some fantastic load of tripe about Gary or Jill because they can’t win either and that’s simply the way it is. Deal with it. Those two are just like all of the other hundreds of people legitimately on the ballot to become President in November who are never going to get within spitting distance of the White House. Ever heard of Rod Silva? Me neither, but he’s running for President on the Nutrition Party ticket. Don’t believe me? Look him up. Here’s the bottom line: only two people can win and it’s not going to be anyone on this Rogue’s Gallery of wannabes…or the guy behind the deli counter or your neighbor’s cat so wake up.
We have a great opportunity here, people. We also have the potential for real catastrophe and that’s not being hyperbolic. You know damn good and well which is which.
Don’t be stupid.
The following is from a letter sent to the alumnae/i of Vassar College and to the parents of the students currently attending the college from President Catherine Bond Hill prior to a discussion to address “…current issues and tensions within our community related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” This writer is taking no sides in the current debate (yet), but feels that all sides require an airing out, since constructive engagement is clearly the only thing lacking at this juncture. As such, in the words of Shakespeare, “Judge when you hear”:
Vassar has as an abiding principle of “going to the source.” As you likely know, it comes from history professor Lucy Maynard Salmon, who at the turn of the 20th century encouraged her Vassar students to use primary sources to do their research. With so much being written in the media and on social media about these issues at Vassar, much of it without the benefit of primary sources at the college, we want to provide our alums and parents the opportunity to hear what is really happening on campus.
I would suggest that the op-ed about Vassar earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal fell far short of the principle of going to the source. It would have been useful for the authors to come to campus to find out for themselves what is actually going on before writing the piece. I have extended an invitation to them both to come to campus next week to meet with students, faculty, and members of the administration during our annual All College Days.
If they accept, they will see a vital community, grappling with some of the toughest issues of our time. Activist students, supporting a variety of issues, are not necessarily committed to dialogue. And, encouraging balanced programing and opportunities for discussion has been difficult. But, we are making some progress.
Earlier this week, Bassem Eid, a Palestinian human rights activist and political analyst, spoke out against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to a supportive audience. Late last month our Jewish Studies program sponsored a lecture by anthropologist Aomar Boum, who discussed his research at the United States Holocaust Museum detailing a partnership between North African Jews and Muslims to fight racism and anti-Semitism.
In late January, with support from my office, the elected leaders of our student government, the Vassar Student Association, along with members from a variety of student groups with differing views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, attended a training provided by the National Coalition Building Institute on addressing difficult issues. These kinds of events make us hopeful for even more productive and respectful exchanges.
This is not to say that we do not face difficult issues, we absolutely do. And, this includes incidents of anti-Semitism. Such incidents are in violation of our college regulations and policies and we do not tolerate them. We denounce them. A recent e-mail I sent to the community denounced anonymous anti-Semitic comments on the social media platform Yik Yak, and our Dean of the College emailed students this week, urging them to treat each other with the respect that is called for by, and is central to, our code of conduct as a community. I have called on our students to think about the impact of their actions on others in our community. I also have asked our community to call out actions that offend and harm others.
The recent speaker to campus who has attracted so much attention has also spoken at Harvard, Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania, and Wellesley to name only a few institutions both in the United States and abroad. As academic institutions, we must be committed to academic freedom and free speech. Just as I objected to the call for the American Studies Association boycott of Israeli academic institutions, I will defend the faculty’s right to bring speakers of their choice to campus. I also will let the faculty who invited the recent lecturer speak for themselves.
Along with many others in the Vassar community, I am dissatisfied with the range of perspectives being presented on campus regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we are working to fill this gap. While many people on campus work hard to do this, the megaphone effect of those who think they know what is going on but really don’t, damages those efforts. As I have said before, Vassar deserves, and demands, better.
The real tragedy here, of course, is that Vassar College needed to have this conversation at all. But it is foolish to assume that in the great halls of academia where freedom of thought, inquiry and opinion reign that prejudice does not exist. It does. It always has and it always will. Perhaps some important perspective will be found in the days and weeks to come and perhaps not. One thing is certain. A great institution of higher learning has some explaining to do. Such explanations, however, will do little if people of good will are unwilling to listen. This is essential as listening is the foundation of understanding. It is necessary as understanding leads to healing.
We must remember, however, that bigotry, hatred and anti-Semitism are intolerable in a civilized society. As such, if there is a cancer in this place which so many of us love, it must be cut out, as surely as if were afflicting our own bodies. But a biopsy must nevertheless be done to determine how extensive the problem is. Is it a powerful malignancy comprised of many or the benign idiocy of a few? This we will determine. Some have suggested the patient is already too far gone; that we should now turn our backs and focus our efforts on those still worth saving.
I defy this notion.
Until Vassar College is dead and relegated to history, I, for one, will not allow those who seek to rip us apart because of our religious beliefs, who want wholesale bigotry to define this community, who have already decided that it is an irretrievable cesspool of prejudice or want only their side to be heard and no one else’s any semblance of victory of comfort.
We are Vassar. We are many and we are strong. Do not fuck with us.
One observer noted in regard to the New Hampshire Democratic debate on MSNBC: “The debate was revealing, but the questions were even more so; arguments about how to arrange the deck chairs gave way to the realization that the Titanic is sinking.” It is heartbreaking to admit, but it now appears that the Democrats as a party are at least as splintered and dysfunctional as the Republicans are and perhaps even more so. This is especially agonizing as progressives have long been pointing and laughing at the GOP as a hopelessly fractured party; one that is ripping apart at the seams as more moderate factions within it are beaten mercilessly into submission by Tea Party extremists, rendering the entire GOP as impotent on the national stage. Democrats have become complacent in the Obama years as they have watched the right often flail in the wind as they attempted to impede progressive causes such as the Affordable Care Act, voting rights, environmental protection, gun safety, violence against the African-American community by police, reproductive rights, gay marriage and other important issues.
Now it appears that the shoe is on the other foot and it could not have happened at a worse time. In this election cycle, it is the Democrats who are becoming useless and impotent as their party becomes more and more splintered. Moderates in that party are now being beaten mercilessly by extremists on the left and to make matters worse, Democrats seem to believe that having the party collapse beneath their feet is a good thing, equating implosion with “robust discussion”, because you know…”The Establishment”! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! Cue horror movie theme music with the deranged killer ripping off his mask to reveal the face of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Make no mistake. The Republicans are beginning to smell blood in the water and bile on the beltway. They realize that this is the moment they have waited eight long years for. They know that despite the handshakes and smiles on TV between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, their respective supporters loathe each other. On the GOP side, the vitriol generally comes from the candidates themselves. On the left, it comes from supporters of the two candidates against each other and few are willing to acknowledge the consequences if this behavior continues. Now, Democrats will of course say they want so-and-so to be the nominee but will support whoever is eventually on the ticket.
Anyone who believes that is delusional. It’s their candidate or nobody. Well, guess what? Nobody is going to wind up being a Republican. When Inauguration Day in 2017 comes, that man will have nobody to thank more heartily than progressives who hate each other more than a man who wants to take America to a 1950’s television sitcom world that Republicans believe was real but never actually existed.
I have seen nothing in the press, social media or polling data to even remotely suggest the Democrats will unite around their eventual nominee. This isn’t 2008. Each campaign’s supporters are using the tactics that the GOP developed and each is following that playbook to the letter. To Sanders supporters, Clinton is untrustworthy, endless scandals make her too much of a liability and offers nothing except what amounts to an Obama third term. Besides, she’s in bed with corporations and Wall Street. Clinton’s supporters say Sanders is an avowed socialist who Americans simply will not support in a general election with a plan for massive social programs that will never get past Congress. Besides, does he give any indication he’s the guy you want when that phone rings at the White House at 3AM? Karl Rove would be proud to call himself a Democrat today.
I hate to be a whinging pom, but it seems to me that Sanders supporters will not have any qualms about staying home on Election Day because they can find nothing positive about a Clinton presidency. In turn, Clinton supporters will all too gladly stay at home on Election Day because they can find nothing positive about a Sanders presidency. But I guarantee you the Republicans will not stay at home. They may not like their eventual nominee, but their blinding hatred of the Democrats is far, far stronger than the Democrats inevitable milquetoast support of their eventual nominee. Beware the power of the angry, white, male voter. He is a conservative who never liked Hillary Clinton and sees Bernie Sanders as a Communist and has far more fight left in him than the mainstream media is prepared to acknowledge. His fury, and those who feel as he does, will surely rocket the GOP all the way to the White House in 2016 as Democrats bludgeon their own to the point where it will be only a weak, battered and exposed shell of a candidate who actually makes it to Philadelphia this summer. The social media and beltway press infighting among progressives is exactly what the conservatives have been dreaming of.
“I,Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God.”
Don’t like it? Get used to it. It’s probably going to happen.Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States unless the Democratic Party begins to find something good, genuine, decent, intelligent, positive and exciting about one of their candidates and begin to coalesce around that person. Not later in the primaries.