Monday, June 9, 2014

Bitter Little Pill

Shorter Ross Douthat yesterday in the New York Times: “The only way for the Republicans to win in 2016 is if Hillary Clinton doesn’t run.”

He’s so cute when he’s so bitter.  It’s a snarky little piece even for him, unloading on Ms. Clinton’s as-yet unpublished book Hard Choices, where he labels it “chloroform in print” and says the “author” (his use of quotes around “author” implies she staffed out the job) intends to lull the reader into a state of unconsciousness until — ta da! — “the first … female … president” is standing on the steps of the Capitol taking the oath of office and presiding over the last remnants of the Democratic empire just as Franz Joseph did over Austria-Hungary the day before World War I broke out.

I really have no idea what proposals Clinton will run on, what arguments she’ll make. But as with Franz Josef, it’s not her policies that make her formidable; it’s the multitudes that “Hillary” the brand and icon now contains. Academic liberalism and waitress-mom populism and Davos/Wall Street/Bloomberg centrism. Female empowerment and stand-by-your-man martyrdom. The old Clintonian bond with minority voters and her own 2008 primary-trail identification with Scots-Irish whites. And then the great trifecta: continuity with the Obama present, a restoration of the more prosperous Clintonian past and (as the first … female … president) a new “yes we can” progressive future.

Like the penultimate Hapsburg emperor with his motley empire, then, she has the potential to embody a political coalition — its identities and self-conceptions, its nostalgias and aspirations — in ways that might just keep the whole thing hanging together.

But without her, the deluge.

It tells us a lot more about the Republicans’ state of decrepitude if their only hope for success lies in the other party not showing up.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Everything Old Is New Again

From Politico:

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Monday that when it comes to Hillary Clinton, Republicans will have a “truckload” of material to use against her, and it’s all fair game.

Gee what a shock you could have knocked me over with a feather oh my.

To run an effective campaign against anyone, you have to offer a viable alternative.  Sure, you can pound the airwaves and pixels with negative ads and really old stuff (“Monica!”) or contrived non-starters (“Benghazi!”), but you still have to give your audience someone to vote for, not against.  And who would that be?


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Keep It Up

First Rand Paul, now Joe Scarborough.

“If Hillary Clinton attacks the Republican Party’s handling of women, and treatment of women and disrespect for women, and suggests they’re misogynists et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, it does seem to be a fair question to ask right now, a few years out, does the media have a responsibility to say, ‘Well, let’s see what happened when you were in the White House, and how women were treated when you were in the governor’s mansion and the White House?’ Is that fair?” the ‘Morning Joe’ host asked Monday morning, as quoted by Mediaite.

The more Republican men talk about women and the more they try to pin the behavior of the husband on the wife, the closer they get to the event horizon of the black hole of political oblivion.

So just keep talking, Republicans.

Monday, January 27, 2014

News Flash: President Clinton Cheated on Wife

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has some breaking news.

The Democrats, one of their big issues they have concocted says the Republicans are committing a war on women. One of the workplace laws and rules that I think are good is that bosses shouldn’t prey on young interns in their office. And I think really the media seems to be — have given President Clinton a pass on this.

He took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an intern in his office. There is no excuse for that. And that is predatory behavior, and it should, it should be something, we shouldn’t want to associate with people who would take advantage of a young girl in his office.  This isn’t having an affair. I mean, this isn’t me saying, “Oh, he’s had an affair, we shouldn’t talk to him.” Someone who takes advantage of a young girl in their office, I mean, really, and then they have the gall to stand up and say Republicans are having a war on women? So yes, I think it’s a factor.

Wait a minute; Bill Clinton cheated on his wife with an intern?  How come we’re just hearing about this now?  Why didn’t the Republicans do something about it at the time?

Seriously, if the Republicans think they can win the war for women by attacking Hillary Clinton for her husband’s behavior, let them go forth and see how that works.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Benghazi Report

The Senate Intelligence Committee released their report on the attack on Benghazi.  They criticized everyone, including the State Department, the CIA, and the Defense Department, basically saying that Libya was a post-revolutionary mess.

The Republicans are seizing on the conclusion that the attacks were “preventable,” crowing over this as if this seals the end of Hillary Clinton’s hopes for the White House in 2016 because she was the Secretary of State at the time.

I’m no military strategist or anything of the sort, but haven’t we all learned that just about every surprise attack in the history of modern warfare was “preventable”?  Didn’t we have clues to the Japanese intentions on Pearl Harbor in 1941, or the Vietcong’s plans for Tet in 1968?  Oh, and what about the memo to President Bush in August 2001 that noted “bin Laden determined to strike within U.S.”?  Yes, hindsight is great if you’re focusing on someone else’s hind end.

I’m not trying to pull a Benghazi deflection on the Benghazi report; if the attack was preventable and people didn’t do their jobs, then they should be held accountable.  And as Bryan at Why Now? points out, there’s also the role that Congress played in not providing adequate funding for the security at the embassy.  But then since this report came from the Senate, they are, by necessity, blameless in all of this.

This report will now, as Charlie Pierce notes, deteriorate into a political skunk fight between the bug-eyed on the right (Gohmert, Bachmann, and Steve King), and the infantile obsession the Villagers have for the freak show that heralds a presidential campaign.  And none of that is preventable.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back/Looking Forward

Okay, campers, it’s time for my annual re-cap and prognostication for the past year and the year coming up.  Let’s see how I did a year ago.

- President Obama moves into his second term with pretty much the same situation in Washington and Congress as he has had for the last two years, so nothing will really get done.  The budget matters, including the fake drama of the Fiscal Cliff, will still be around in some form because it’s a lot easier to kick it down the road than actually do something, especially when you have a Republican Party that absolutely refuses to work with the president on anything at all.  It has nothing to do with policy, deficits or debt, taxes or revenue.  The reason is pretty simple: they don’t like him, and so like a kid in grade school who refuses to do his math homework because he hates the teacher, they refuse to budge.  You can pick your excuses, ranging from his Spock-like demeanor to his refusal to suck up to the Villagers, but most of it comes down to the unspoken reason that dare not speak its name: he’s black.  No one dares say that out loud, but get three beers in any Republican, and I’ll bet they’ll admit it by saying “He’s not one of us.”  How many dog whistles do you need?  A big tell was that in the last-minute budget negotiations, Mitch McConnell went to Vice President Joe Biden as the go-between the Congress and the president.  Why?  Because Mr. Biden was in the Senate and knows how to talk to them, and also because he’s the white guy.  So we will have another year of gridlock, and the new Congress will make the one just concluded look good.

That one was pretty easy, and I’m sorry I got it right.

- The Supreme Court will rule the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop 8 are unconstitutional.  It will be a very close vote, probably 5-4 on both cases, and they will narrowly rule on both cases, doing their best not to fling open the doors to marriage equality with a blanket ruling and leave the rest of it up to the states.  But they will both go down.  On the other hand, they will rule against Affirmative Action.  I also think there will be some changes to the make-up of the Court with at least one retirement, either voluntary or by the hand of fate.

Right on gay rights and marriage equality and a punt of Affirmative Action.  I had no idea about the decimation of the Voting Rights Act, but then who did?  And the court roster remains intact.

- Even if we went over the fiscal cliff or curb or speed-bump, the economy will continue to improve, with the unemployment rate going below 7% by Labor Day.  I know this only because I know that our economy, like the water level in the Great Lakes, goes in cycles no matter what the hand of Wall Street or Washington does… unless they completely screw it up like the last time and make it even worse.

A little too optimistic on the unemployment rate, but the economy really is getting better.

- After the extreme weather we saw in 2012, at long last we will move to do something about climate change or global warming or whatever it is fashionably called.  It won’t be done by Congress, however; it will be because the people who make a living off the climate, such as agriculture and coastal enterprises such as fishing and tourism, will make it happen through their own efforts.  (Yeah, I’m being extremely optimistic on this one.  A year from now I will happily concede I blew it.)

Blew it.

- The extremism from the right that entertained us in 2012 will continue, albeit muted because 2013 isn’t an election year except in New Jersey, where Chris Christie will be re-elected and start his Howard Dean-like campaign for the presidency in 2016.  The GOP will refuse to acknowledge they have a problem, but as 2014 looms and the wingers that were elected in 2010 face re-election, they will find themselves scrambling hard for candidates that can survive primary battles where the nutsery reigns and then win the general election.  The only reason Governors Rick Scott of Florida, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and John Kasich of Ohio will be re-elected in 2014 is if the Democrats don’t move in for the kill.

Not muted, and did not see Ted Cruz coming.  That’s not because he’s a formidable force to be reckoned with, but I thought that even the Republicans have their limits.  I guess not.

- I’ve given up predicting the Tigers’ future this year.  Surprise me, boys.

They did pretty well, and it was fun to see them live at Marlins Park.  But I was happy to see the Red Sox come from the cellar to the dome to win.

- We will lose the requisite number of celebrities and friends as life goes on. As I always say, it’s important to cherish them while they are with us.

Losing Nelson Mandela, Peter O’Toole and James Gandolfini in the same year was a shock, but we all lost friends and loved ones who did not get a spread in The New York Times.  I hold them in the Light.

- Personally, this year looks good on a couple of fronts.  The Pontiac is due back from the body shop this week, and I have formally entered it in its first national Antique Automobile of America car show to take place in Lakeland, Florida, in February.  Things are looking better at work with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools getting a number of important grants, including a $32 million program from Race To The Top for math preparation, and the District won the coveted Broad Prize for Urban Education this past fall.  One of my short plays has been selected for production in May 2013 at the Lake Worth Playhouse’s Short Cuts series, and hope springs eternal for a full-scale production again of Can’t Live Without You here in Florida.  This time I have a good director who would love to do it if we can get a theatre.  I’ll be off to the William Inge Festival in May to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Inge’s birth, and plans are in the works for our annual trip to Stratford, Ontario, next summer.  My family continues to enjoy good health and good spirits.  The blessings continue.  (PS: No, I still don’t have a Twitter account.)

The Pontiac earned its first Driver Participation badge last February and goes for its second in February 2014.  Work continues to go on and the District is doing well: no F schools this year, a marked improvement over the last five years.  My short play, Ask Me Anything, has now been produced more times than any of my other full-length works (two on-stage and one directing project), and my writing continues.  It looks like our trip to Stratford in August was our last trip, simply because of relocation and logistics, but who knows?  My family continues to enjoy good health and good spirits.  And I finally have a Twitter account: @BobbyBBWW.

Now the predictions:

- Despite the terrible roll-out and start-up of Obamacare and the opportunity it handed the Republican campaign strategists, the healthcare law will not be as big an issue in the 2014 mid-terms that all the Villagers say it will be.  By the time the campaign hits the final stretch, the law will be so entrenched that even the people who claim they hate it — even though they support what it does — will have a hard time trying to run candidates who promise to repeal it.  Still, the GOP noise machine and Tea Party hard-core is locked in on re-electing their safe base and the morning after the 2014 mid-terms will show a House still in the hands of the GOP and the Senate closer to 50-50.

- Immigration reform and gun control will go nowhere because it’s the same Congress we had in 2013 and they didn’t do jack-shit.

- By December 31, 2014 it will be a foregone conclusion that Hillary Clinton will be running for president.  Joe Biden will play coy with the Villagers about running, but in the end he’ll demur to Ms. Clinton.  The Benghazi! non-scandal will be long gone except for the nutsery who still think Barack Obama was born in Kenya.  The GOP will be lining up its merry band that includes Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, and just for laughs, Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee.  President Obama’s approval numbers will be back up in the 50% range.

- Florida Gov. Rick Scott will lose his re-election bid to Charlie Crist, the newly minted Democrat, and Marco Rubio’s star will be as faded in GOP national politics as Pauly Shore’s is among Oscar voters.  He’ll pick up a primary challenge from the far right, but he’ll be safe in 2016 because the Democrats have nobody to run against him.

- Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio, Rick Snyder of Michigan, and Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania will all face tough re-election campaigns, but Mr. Kasich and Mr. Snyder will probably squeak by.  Mr. Corbett is out, and just for laughs, the people of Maine will toss their gaffe-prone Tea Party guv Paul LePage.

- The national economy will continue to expand and the drive for the living wage movement will take hold.  The unemployment numbers will finally get below 7.0% and stay there.

- Marriage equality will spread to more states as more cases based on the ruling by the Supreme Court in 2013 are heard.  Indiana will vote on a ban on same-sex marriage in November 2014, and it will lose narrowly. But same-sex won’t be the law of the land yet, and I predict that unless the Supreme Court issues a sweeping ruling, Texas will be the last hold-out.

- The Supreme Court will rule 5-4 that Hobby Lobby or any for-profit non-religious corporation does not have the right “to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.”

- This will be a rebuilding year for the Detroit Tigers now that Jim Leyland has retired.  They’ll do respectably well and may even win the division again, but it’s time for a breather.

- Fidel Castro will finally hop the twig, and the slow thaw between the U.S. and Cuba will begin as the generation that is as old as Castro continues to fade away.

- We will lose the requisite number of celebrities and friends as life goes on. As I always say, it’s important to cherish them while they are with us.

- Personally, life will continue at its gentle pace in good health and good spirits.  In September I will turn 62 and begin the first steps towards eventual retirement, but that won’t be for a long time yet.  I’ve already started on my paper for the William Inge Theatre Festival in March, and I continue to write and produce blog posts.  My parents are happily settled into their “life enrichment community,” and I hope to visit them this summer.  I might even get a smartphone this year, but don’t bet on it.

- The Ford Mustang will turn 50 years old in April 2014.  That’s not the longest continuous run of an American car model — the Corvette started in 1953 — but it’s an impressive run for a car that re-defined the auto industry.  My prediction is that it will last another fifty.

- And of course, the usual prediction: One year from now I’ll write a post just like this one, look back at this one, and think, “Gee, that was dumb.” Or not.

Okay, readers, it’s your turn.  What do you predict will befall us in 2014?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Clowns To The Left of Me

Hillary Clinton isn’t running officially — but you know she is, amirite? — and she’s already drawing fire.

But not from the usual suspects.

The coming liberal backlash against Clinton has two broad sources, neither of which is generational. The first is financial regulation. Too big to fail is the great sleeper issue of American politics. Its power has never been exploited because of a quirk of timing. The 2008 election came so closely on the heels of the financial crisis that neither campaign, already committed to preexisting strategies, had the wherewithal to organize a populist response. The 2012 campaign occurred after President Obama had already carried out his policy response (Dodd-Frank) and Mitt Romney was essentially the candidate of Wall Street, for whom the less voters thought about high finance, the better.

Dodd-Frank has decreased the systemic risk posed by the financial industry. But it hasn’t eradicated it, and it certainly hasn’t satisfied the widespread, justifiable desire to minimize the economic and political power wielded by finance. There are proposals floating around Congress to break up the big banks that enjoy the simultaneous benefit of appealing to the Democratic left and appealing to the populist center. If Clinton doesn’t grasp on to such a plan, one of her opponents will, and she’ll have no response.

It’s going to be interesting to see how well organized and vocal the liberals can be in an effort to derail the Clinton campaign, assuming there is one.  I’m all for a competitive process — coronations of a front runner this early is a GOP schtick — but who do they have in mind to run against her?  That’s not a rhetorical question: I really want to know.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hillaryarity Ensues

Adding to my casual observation yesterday about Republicans freaking out at the mere possibility that Hillary Rodham Clinton might glance at the White House as she walks by, RNC Chair Reince Priebus is warning both CNN and NBC to suspend plans to make TV projects about the former First Lady and Secretary of State or else the party won’t play in their yard.

In both letters, Priebus attempts to paint the Clinton projects as little more than lengthy and free campaign ads. In the letter to Greenblatt, he notes that David Cohen, who is an executive vp at Comcast, NBCUniversal’s parent company, has been a major donor to Clinton and other Democrats. “Your company has expressly stated that your choice to air the miniseries in the near future would avoid concerns of running afoul of equal time election laws,” Priebus writes in his letter to Greenblatt. “This suggests a deliberate attempt at influencing American political opinion in favor of a preferred candidate, not to mention a guilty conscience.”

CNN basically told Mr. Priebus to go jump in the lake.

CNN Films, a division of CNN Worldwide, commissioned a documentary about Hillary Clinton earlier this year. It is expected to premiere in 2014 with a theatrical run prior to airing on CNN. This documentary will be a non-fiction look at the life of a former First Lady and Secretary of State. Instead of making premature decisions about a project that is in the very early stages of development and months from completion, we would encourage the members of the Republican National Committee to reserve judgment until they know more. Should they decide not to participate in debates on CNN, we would find it curious, as limiting their debate participation seems to be the ultimate disservice to voters.

It also means that the RNC and their minions will — again — go after Ms. Clinton hammer and tongs, which, after the last twenty years, should be so old and tired that no one other than the cranks who still claim she murdered Vince Foster will even pay attention.  Yawn.

If there’s any conspiracy going on, it’s far more likely that the Clintons secretly engineered these stories just to get a rise out of the RNC and the nutsery so they’ll go on Fox News and carry on for their amusement.  After all, there’s nothing good on TV in the summer anyway.

HT to ThinkProgress.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Short Takes

President Obama will meet with Afghan President Karzai.

Alaska oil rig re-floated; towed to shelter.

Banks reach $8.5 billion deal with the feds over mortgage rip-offs; Bank of America is in it for $10 billion.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton returned to work yesterday.

The Supreme Court lets embryonic stem cell research continue.

Google North Korea and see what comes up.

They call Alabama the Crimson Tide… and BCS Champs, too.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hillary Clinton Recovering

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is still in a New York hospital being treated for a blood clot in her head after suffering a concussion in December.

“It did not result in a stroke, or neurological damage,” Dr. Lisa Bardack of Mt. Kisco Medical Group in New York and Dr. Gigi El-Bayoumi of George Washington University said in a joint statement released Monday.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to make a full recovery after spending a fourth day in a New York City hospital for a blood clot in her head that developed following a fall and concussion she suffered last month. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

“To help dissolve this clot, her medical team began treating the secretary with blood thinners. She will be released once the medication dose has been established.”

This is a standard and safe therapy for such a blood clot, according to a review published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2005. Dr. Jan Stam of the University of Amsterdam said the clots are rare – affecting 3 to 4 people out of a million every year. Some doctors fear that blood thinners for a clot near the brain could be dangerous, but it’s the best way to dissolve the clot. “More than 80 percent of all patients now have a good neurologic outcome,” Stam wrote.

Meanwhile, the vultures on the right are saying it’s either a conspiracy to keep her from testifying about Benghazi or that President Obama ordered a hit on her so she would never testify (I’m not making that up but I refuse to link to the site that’s saying that because my mom taught me better than that).  They’re also saying that it proves she’s too old or too frail to run for president in 2016 when she’ll be the same age as Ronald Reagan was when he ran in 1980.

I also don’t remember anyone on the right bringing up the fact that when he was nominated to be vice president in 2000, Dick Cheney had a long history of heart attacks (going back to the 1970′s), or suggesting that he resign or leave the ticket in 2004 because of continued heart problems.  That’s probably because he’s a man and men are stronger and can take the rigors of politics even if you have a heart problem… just walk it off.  But a woman?  Pshaw!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Short Takes

The E.U. toughened sanctions against Iran.

Secretary of State Clinton takes the responsibility in Libya attack.

Poll: Obama still has a slim lead.

F.D.A. warns of further risks from infected drugs.

Retail sales rose in September as people bought a lot of stuff.

Tropical Update: Hurricane Rafael is going to pass to the east of Bermuda before turning toward Europe.

The Tigers resume the ALCS tonight in Detroit against the Yankees.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Friday, October 30, 2009

Short Takes

Iran rejects the draft deal to send its uranium out of the country.

Secretary of State Clinton talks tough with Pakistan.

Somebody accidentally leaked a House ethics inquiry report.

The House puts out its own version of healthcare reform, public option and all.

Speaking of health insurance, Broward County Schools learns what it’s like to buy from an insurer who doesn’t face competition.

A spousal abuse claim could grant a woman from Guatemala asylum in the United States.

Colorado and Wyoming get hit by a big snowstorm, closing down roads, schools, and airports.

Joe’s turn — A few days after the president, Vice President Biden swings through Florida.

The Series: The Yankees beat the Phillies 3-1, tying it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Short Takes

Wait and See — The Obama administration is waiting to see what the release of the two Americans might mean toward further talks with North Korea.

Two more GOP senators — Bond of Missouri and Gregg of New Hampshire — say they will vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor.

Drug deal — “Pressed by industry lobbyists, White House officials on Wednesday assured drug makers that the administration stood by a behind-the-scenes deal to block any Congressional effort to extract cost savings from them beyond an agreed-upon $80 billion.”

Car deal — The Senate works out the kinks in re-upping cash for clunkers.

Hillary Clinton in Africa — The Secretary of State is calling on Kenya to clean up its act after last year’s tumultuous election.

Squeaky Fromme gets paroled.

Astroturfing in Broward attracts the usual suspects.

The Tigers win against Baltimore.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Short Takes

Mission accomplished — Former President Bill Clinton leaves North Korea with the two American journalists.

Meanwhile, the other diplomat named Clinton is talking to Kenya.

28 — That’s the number of GOP senators who plan to vote against Sonia Sotomayor.

The Senate is expected to extend the cash-for-clunkers program.

Bring ‘em on — Standish, Michigan, would love to house the Gitmo prisoners in their maximum security prison.

In the game — Former football coach Lou Holtz is considering running for Congress here in Florida.

Fewer hurricanes are predicted for the rest of the season. (Zero would be fine with me.)

The Tigers lost to Baltimore.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Short Takes

North Korea keeps sending mixed signals.

Secretary of State Clinton has a message for Iran on nukes: don’t.

Sarah Palin quit her job yesterday.

There are many ways to pay for health care.

South Florida employers have two small requests for health care reform: make it cheap and easy.

Honduras’s ousted president’s attempt to return isn’t getting much ground.

R.I.P. Florida State Sen. Jim King.

All’s Fair? — A candidate who lost an election is suing over an attack ad.

The Tigers let Chicago get four runs in the first inning and never recovered, losing 5-1 (on national TV). They’re still in first place in the AL Central.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Short Takes

Not in August — As the White House negotiates, the health care bill moves back.

The world likes him — Obama’s popularity overseas helps our image.

Organ recital — 44 people in New Jersey are arrested in a corruption scandal that involved the sale of body parts.

“Neener, Neener” — That’s pretty much the response by North Korea to Hillary Clinton’s comments on the hermit regime.

Brainless — A neurosurgeon and lobbyist here in Florida circulates racist photos and jokes about the president over health care.

Even Microsoft is facing tough times in the recession.

Another week, another family-values Republican caught screwing around.

Perfect Game — White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle does it against Tampa Bay.

Tigers lose to Seattle and fall into a tie in the division.