Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Why Jon Ossoff (and the Democrats) will lose

Why do I think Jon Ossoff, the Democrat seeking to represent Georgia's 6th congressional district, will lose to Republican Karen Handel in today's special election, even though he's raised far more money and seems far more popular? Because Republicans vote and Democrats don't.

Obviously, Democrats vote, but their turnout is typically far lower than Republicans', especially in off-year elections. And the 6th has been a reliably Republican district since the late 1970s, when Newt Gingrich won -- and held onto the seat for 20 years (to be replaced by two more middle-aged white males).

And despite what they may say or write about a Republican candidate, when it comes down to a vote, Republicans almost always vote for the person with an R after his (or occasionally her) name. So it's doubtful that Ossoff will have managed to sway 15 or 10 percent of Republican voters to vote for him, even if they don't like Trump or Trumpcare/The American Health Care Act.

Moreover, Republican campaign strategists are very good at staying on message and getting Republicans to the polls. Their strategy: fear. Vote for the Democrat and you'll be paying higher taxes! (They'll grab your hard-earned money and give it to lazy minorities and illegal immigrants!) Vote for the Democrat and you'll be less safe (cause they'll take away your guns and will let criminals roam the streets)!

And despite plenty of proof to the contrary, the strategy always works. Just tell the people what they want to hear, even -- or especially -- if it's a bunch of lies. Because who's going to fact check? Most voters don't read anymore, let alone check the accuracy of what they're reading, especially on social media, or what they see on TV. And when faced with any facts that contradict their beliefs, they cling even harder to their beliefs. So it's really a no-lose situation for Republicans.

So what can Democrats do? I think part of the solution has to be going back to grass roots, old-fashioned campaigning, like what Ossoff's been doing -- and what Obama did in the 2008 presidential race. Going to lots of events that "real people," not just wealthy donors, attend. Going door to door, and/or to supermarkets, and the local car wash; attending sporting events at local high schools and colleges; holding town halls. And making people feel that you're listening to them.

Democrats also need to come up with some catchy soundbites, because when it comes down to it, people don't read or remember or really care about policy positions anymore. They want something short and pithy that you can put after a hashtag.

And Democrats need to register young people to vote and make sure they go to the polls on election day. Because the only real way to effect change is by voting.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The right to bear arms but not bare breasts

With the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, getting so much coverage in the news this week, you may have missed another big story out of the greater D.C. area. I am, of course, referring to the ban against public nudity that the Ocean City (Maryland) Council passed in an emergency session last Saturday, putting an immediate stop to the threat that topless female sunbathers posed to our nation's, or at least Ocean City's, impressionable citizens.

The Washington Post, did not one but two stories on the ban, including this titillating expose titled "In Ocean City, Hooters, Thongs and Horror Over Topless Women on the Beach."

Yes, in 2017, in a country where there is currently close to a mass shooting per day, the right to bear arms is still considered sacred but the right to bare breasts is still considered sinful.

Except for those fembots in Austin Powers, I'm pretty sure no one, man or woman, has been killed or seriously injured by a female breast. Indeed, unlike guns, mammary glands nurture life, not destroy it.

But hey, I get the whole wanting to ban women (or certain women) from exposing their breasts in public thing. If I could, I would ban guys from wearing thongs at the beach and in public. (Seriously, no one wants to see your pale, flabby -- or tanned and hairy -- ass or your over-oiled beer belly hanging over that limp sack of flesh hanging between your legs.)

Getting back to Ocean City's topless bathing, or nudity, ban, though, it seems a wee bit hypocritical to shout about promoting "family values" when you've got a big ole Hooters on your boardwalk, as well as lewd t-shirts for sale and smoking and drinking in public going on (much of it underage). 

But that's America for you.  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Are you + the U.S. better off than you were 4+ months ago (before Trump made America great)?

During the October 28, 1980, presidential debate between President Jimmy Carter and then presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, Reagan famously called on Americans to ask themselves:
'Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was?'
It was a thought-provoking question. And the answer, or so it would appear from Reagan's victory, was "no."

I've been thinking a lot about that quote since Donald Trump took office, and promised to make America great again within 100 days.

So how is Trump doing? Are we (or you) better off than we/you were 4+ months ago?

Speaking personally, the answer is no.

Since Trump took office, our health insurance has gone way up. The value of our house has gone way down. I lost my main source of employment -- and have been unable to find a new one (or one that pays anywhere close to what I was earning, which wasn't much).

I worry about whether we and our children and grandchildren will have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink and whether the Earth will wind up looking like Venus. I worry about Trump starting a nuclear war. I worry about the rights of women and blacks/African Americans and other minorities. And I worry that if I go see a doctor or mental health professional about my anxiety our insurance premiums will skyrocket -- and mental healthcare isn't covered anyway.

As for Reagan's last question, "Is America as respected throughout the world as it was?" The short answer is, no, not even close. In fact, in just over four months, the United States has become the laughingstock of the world, thanks to Trump, who is a constant embarrassment on the world stage. And countries, including the UK (which has its own problems) and Canada, two of the United States's staunchest allies, are distancing themselves from Trump.

Regarding whether it's "easier for you to go and buy things in the store that it was four years ago," I don't have an answer.

And while technically the unemployment rate is low, and was low before Trump took office, I know a whole lot of people who have given up looking for full-time, or even part-time, work, or who found work but now make less money than they did four or 10 or 15 years ago. And I don't see this changing anytime soon, despite what Trump said or says. In fact, companies are continuing to automate and shift jobs out of the country -- and hiring fewer people to do more. And many people who do have jobs aren't paid a livable wage, which Trump and the Republicans don't see as a problem.

Sure, some people -- namely the very rich -- are better off, at least financially, than they were four months ago (thanks to a surging stock market and the rollback of certain regulations). But is America really better off? Are you?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Meanwhile at Trump's Cabinet meeting yesterday...

For those of you haven't yet seen a clip of yesterday's Trump Cabinet meeting, here's what Trump's Cabinet secretaries had to say about him...

For those too busy or unable to watch the video, here are highlights from the transcript:

Mike Pence: "Donald Trump is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life."

Jeff Sessions: "Donald Trump is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life."

Rick Perry: "Donald Trump is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life."

Tom Price: "Donald Trump is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life."

Mick Mulvaney: "Donald Trump is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life."

Reince Priebus: "Donald Trump is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life."

Oops, I missed this quote from Sean Spicer.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Forget Comey. Trump isn't going anywhere.

To those who think James Comey's testimony before Congress yesterday is going to make any difference -- as in move Congress a step closer to removing Donald Trump from office -- think again.

We are at the point where, as Trump claimed back in January 2016, he (Trump) could "stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and... wouldn't lose voters."

Indeed, Republicans (assuming they still controlled Congress at the time of the shooting) would no doubt come up with a justification for the shooting and Trump would be made to look the victim.

"He's just new to this," House Speaker Paul Ryan would say. "He probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish how to use a gun."

Yes, this is where we are at in this country. As long as the man sitting in the Oval Office has an "R" (as in Republican -- or Russian agent) after his name -- and his party enjoys a majority in the House and Senate -- he can be a liar, an abuser of women and power, flout the constitution and ethics rules, allow a foreign power to influence foreign policy, and put his own special interests before the interests of the country he was elected to serve, because "when you're a [Republican], they let you do it." As long as you're for reducing taxes on the wealthy and allow Congress to pass laws favorable to wealthy special interests -- or undo regulations that those filling your campaign war chest or holding your debt want you to roll back.

And while no one enjoys paying taxes (except maybe my father, a registered Republican who always used to say to me that if everyone paid their fair share of taxes, we'd all pay a lot less in taxes), cutting taxes -- so-called trickle-down economics -- doesn't create more jobs or make the economy healthier. In fact, it does more harm than good. Just take a look at Kansas.

But that's where we are at here in the land of ME, ME, ME, WHAT ABOUT ME? Screw the sick (until you are sick). Forget about education. Fuck women (literally and figuratively). And to hell with the environment (which will soon resemble Hell if temperatures keep rising.) If you can save me a few thousand, even a few hundred, dollars a year in taxes, you have my blessing to do whatever you like, Donald and Republicans.

Sadly, it will be up to some future president to make America great again.