A Story Without Heroes

In a country split down the middle into two irreconcilable factions exacerbated by confirmation-bias readers and an Internet all too eager to please them, I look around and see a pretty hopeless situation. Let’s take stock of where we are, rewinding back about two years.

In March of 2015, Texas Senator Ted Cruz announced his intention to run for President. He was soon followed by Rand Paul of Kentucky. These were the first two Republicans to jump in the race. Both men were known for distinct philosophies about government. You might not like them but you can’t deny they stood for something. They were serious candidates. On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was the first to announce. Sadly, in that instance, we had someone with no convincing ideology and a party ready on day 1 to coronate her. Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chaffee and finally Jim Webb would step up to challenge her but in the end only Sanders posed any real threat and that threat was never really taken seriously by the Democratic party or the main stream media.

On June 15, after a prolonged tease, Jeb Bush jumped into the GOP race and was immediately assumed to be the front-runner. Despite the rocky presidency of his brother hanging over him, Jeb was still believed to be the “smart” Bush. Many were already predicting another Bush/Clinton face-off, the first being in 1992 when Hillary’s husband, Bill, defeated Jeb’s father, George HW Bush.

Just one day later, everything changed. A moderately successful real estate mogul, branding genius and star of a popular American TV reality series, descended the escalator in the building bearing his name, to the tune of Neil Young’s “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World”. He announced not only that he was running for President but that his core raison d’être was to keep illegal immigrants out of the country. His indelicate assessment that Mexico was not “sending us their best” but was instead sending us “rapists” threw the left into a collective conniption and made some on the right uneasy. Thus was born the presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump.

And at this time the dishonesty in the media also went into high gear. Trump’s attack, no matter how rude, was limited to people entering the country illegally. The media and the left in general immediately conflated this to anti-Mexican and anti-immigrant. You repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth. Trump was an anti-Latino bigot.

But of course, Trump didn’t stop there. It seemed almost every week was taken up with some new whopper thrown down by Trump either deliberately (McCain is not a war hero – “I prefer people who don’t get captured”) or via leak (“I can grab them by the pussy”). And it seemed almost every week, the media counted him down and out. In the meantime, the 16 men and one woman who opposed him, one by one dropped out of the race. Perhaps the most devastating admission of defeat came from Jeb Bush on February 20, 2016. The establishment candidate who many believed would carry on the Bush dynasty, was called “low energy” by a loud-mouth, know-nothing carnival barker and the label stuck. Other labels would define other candidates – Little Marco (Rubio), Lyin’ Ted (Cruz). In fact, even Cruz’s father was not immune from attack with Trump implicitly implicating him in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It seemed, the more outrageous Trump got, the more his base loved him and the more his party (it was never really his party) feared him and reconciled themselves to his eventual nomination.

On the Dem side, the contest came down to an idealist with pie in the sky plans for America that promised way more than a chicken in every pot and a front-runner who had been careless at best and criminal at worst in her handling of classified materials while Secretary of State. Supporters of the idealist, Sanders, could not convince the identity-politics driven elite of the Democratic party to abandon their first potential “woman President”. As a result, Hillary Clinton, one of the least trusted politicians in the country won the Democratic nomination – odds of winning be damned. The arrogant position that beating Trump was a slam-dunk set in almost immediately.

Then Wikileaks, the “truth telling” organization run by Julian Assange, started releasing little bird droppings all over the Clinton campaign, portraying the campaign as targeting Sanders’ lack of religious conviction and other unflattering revelations. The revelations were culled from stolen emails from the DNC and John Podesta (whose email password was “password”).  It is currently assessed (using proof we the people are not allowed to see) that Russian hackers at the explicit behest of Vladimir Putin were employed by Assange in an attempt to weaken Clinton’s eventual presidency (reports are that even Putin did not expect Trump to win).

In November of 2016 the woman who did not deserve to be President was defeated by the man who had no business running in the first place.

Fast forward to today. We have a President totally ignorant of how government works, with zero incentive to learn. His Twitter account which was amusing during the campaign has not been shut down and is now the source of accusations serious enough to either raise the question of criminality of the previous administration OR raise the question of the current President’s mental health.

Where is the hero, the white knight, who will rescue us from this fiasco? Nowhere to be found. The Democratic party unable to admit they chose the worst candidate in a century, has morphed Russian propaganda and influence on American opinion (to be expected) into “election hacking”. Let’s be crystal clear. Trump won this election fair and square. He exceeded the number of electoral votes needed to win – popular vote be damned. The Russians didn’t tamper with the voting machines. But you wouldn’t know that from listening to the Democratic party.

The media won’t help us either. Their lies throughout the Trump campaign were called out by the nominee and now President. Their reaction has not been introspection. They are defensive and doubling down. We have a mainstream media whose feelings are hurt and they are more interested now in bringing down Trump than getting at the truth. So, we really cannot depend on them to defend us from a serial liar who is very possibly mentally disturbed in a way that disqualifies him from the Presidency. The credibility of the media, upon whom we rely to get at the truth, is seriously compromised.

Last week, we witnessed the symbolic cherry on the shit cupcake.Ted Cruz once called Donald Trump a “sniveling coward” for humiliating Cruz’s wife and insulting his father. Last week he went to the White House for dinner with Trump. He took his wife and his kids with him. Truly puke-worthy.

And thus ends this chapter in the story with no heroes. The country is at an all time low with no relief in sight. The story is not over but it does not look like we are in for a happy ending.

What do you think? The bar is open.

Finding Religion in Campaign 2016

This post is more a rumination than any sort of argument. I’m thinking aloud.

Have you noticed every election night during the primary/caucus season, we are told for whom evangelicals voted? More often the demographic is described as “white evangelicals”. When is the last time you heard Chuck Todd say “and the Jewish vote went to …”? Have you ever heard that? I haven’t. And I might not have even noticed it if it weren’t for the fact my favorite candidate is Bernie Sanders, a Brooklyn born Jewish Senator from Vermont.

The lack of any handle on Jewish preferences was not simply my ignorance. It simply isn’t well researched as documented in the Washington Post.

The reasons that Jews as a whole seem not to be enthusiastic Sanders supporters are multifaceted, and difficult to fully ascertain since most national polling does not report which candidates Jews have voted for in the primaries and caucuses, or who they say they will support. – Washington Post

When Sanders is asked about his Judaism in debates it has a feel of “why don’t you wear your faith on your sleeve?” Of course, with other candidates this is never a problem. They wear their religion in full view. Whether it’s Hillary’s references to “God given abilities” or Ted Cruz’s more ostentatious bible thumping, you never doubt these pols are God fearing.

Sanders answers the God question two ways. The two angles are dissected by Charles Krauthammer but Krauthammer allows one of Sanders’ answers to drown out the other.

Krauthammer looks at three perspectives on Jewish self identification. He speaks of practice – the actual religious practice of synagogue attendance and other types of worship. Then he speaks of Tikkun, basically the Jew’s inner liberal, a “do unto others…” ethos for living a decent life. Finally Krauthammer speaks of the H bomb – a visceral association with the Holocaust and its aftermath.

Bernie never talks about practice. By all accounts, he is a nonobservant Jew. So Bernie’s answer on the God/religion question is usually a mixture of Tikkun and the H bomb. But I think Krauthammer gets the mix wrong. He focuses on Bernie’s acknowledgment that much of his family was wiped out in the Holocaust. Krauthammer then uses this to ruminate on the folly of Jews being Holocaust-centric. However this is not Bernie.

Bernie is all about the Tikkun. “When you hurt, I hurt” has been Sanders consistent answer to his spiritual underpinnings. He only brings up the Holocaust to hone in on what many Jews might believe to be uniquely Jewish.

This gets me back to my query. Where are “Jews for Bernie”? Well, I did find a Facebook page with that title but clearly there seems to be no groundswell of support akin to black support for Obama or his new BFF Hillary Clinton.

Or is there? Maybe the lack of support isn’t so clear? How could we know? This brings me back to my original question about demographic tracking. If we do a bit of syntactical dissection, maybe we’ll find the reason why Chuck Todd never discusses the Jewish  vote.

  • Tracking Jewish voting patterns.
  • Tracking Jewish voting.
  • Tracking Jewish …
  • Tracking Jews

WHOOOOA!!!!! Sounds a bit Hitleresque, doesn’t it? Could it be that Jews are the one minority we don’t track very well because the whole idea subliminally summons notions of Nazi Germany?

Maybe I’m letting my sociological imagination get the best of me but it seems odd to me that in a year of the first potential woman President and the first potential Hispanic President, no one seems remotely interested in the prospect of the first Jewish President.

What do you think? The bar is open.

Did This Go A Bit Too Far?

Last Wednesday night there was no hiding the joy of the MSNBC anchors at the total and utter failure of the Republican attempt to bring the country to its knees over Obamacare. Schultz had his usual swagger. Maddow took the usual analytical approach and had an index card for every “ransom” demand the Republicans made and lost, reading each one aloud and tossing it in the air with a “didn’t get that” and a grin on her face.

But for sheer over the top drama betraying a clear animosity for conservatives, the prize must go to Martin Bashir. Martin quoted Oliver Cromwell from his address dismissing Parliament in 1653. Martin said the words apply today. I could not find a link to an intact video of Bashir’s closing moment of his show but I did screen capture the text of Cromwell that Bashir read from in his best theatrical British accent.

cromwell1

cromwell2

cromwell3

cromwell4

It is really hard to gauge how one should react to this. I viewed the Republican shut-down tactic as plain stupid. It didn’t really inspire any animosity in me. So at first blush I found Martin’s dramatic recitation absolutely hilarious. But if we bother to take Bashir seriously, then we must conclude he has a real hatred for at least part of the Conservative movement.

In fact, if we look at the entire “drop dead” reaction of the left to the Ted Cruz inspired revolt, one must draw a much bigger conclusion. The days of liberals saying “I’m a lover, not a fighter” appear to be long gone. We have a government in which each side (with exceptions of course) truly hates the other. While the people of this great nation just want to get up in the morning and go to work, our government is engaged in a multi-level civil war — Democrats against Republicans and Old School Republicans against the Tea Party. The only thing we have not yet witnessed (unlike in other legislative bodies around the world) is an actual fist fight breaking out on the floor of the House. At his point, I wouldn’t rule that out in the not-so-distant future.

Respectfully,
Rutherford