Stupid to Slam Young Women

tumblr_nuivyqRpOD1uvablzo1_1280New Orleans    When real people get involved, predictions become worthless.

Take the Super Bowl as a good example. Many would have thought you had to be a sentimentalist or a hometown fan to really and truly believe that Denver with an injured, semi-geriatric quarterback and a team hardly able to score a touchdown in the red zone could beat the exuberant, almost undefeated Carolina Panthers led by an MVP QB who was larger at 6’5” 245 pounds than any player on the Green Bay team that won the first Super Bowl 50 years ago. The Manning family goes back to Drew, Mississippi and my mother’s roots and the Manning boys were raised in New Orleans, and I lived long stretches around Colorado, mainly on the western slope where my brother was also born, and in Denver for months at a time, summer after summer, so I was more Bronco than Panther and a sucker for a storybook finish, even as I understood that the Panthers and their star might be the future and a thorn in the side of the beloved New Orleans Saints.

In Iowa only 14% of the voters between 17 and 29 years old caucused for Hillary Clinton, while 84% went for Bernie Sanders. Like it or not, sports and politics fans, that means something. For all of the deserved criticism of football these days, there is never any confusion about winning and losing and whether the problems are on the field and not the stands. It’s the team, not the fans who shoulder the weight.

Like it or not, the same is true in politics. When asked many, many months ago by a reporter from The Nation to offer an opinion on how progressives saw Hillary Clinton, I felt lucky when the article didn’t mention my expressed concern on her candidacy: why weren’t women united and rallying as the bedrock of her base? Now more than six months later, the problems, if anything, are even worse and more worrisome.

An iron rule of organization is never blame the members. The same holds true in politics.What could anyone have been thinking to now encourage other women, almost surrogates to the campaign, to blame women, especially young women, for not supporting Clinton and instead being more excited about Sanders campaign? Is scolding and shaming supposed to change voters’ preferences and somehow mysteriously and miraculously move them to greater participation and devotion to Hillary? Hardly!

And, Gloria Steinem, longtime feminist speaker, writer, and activist, what the heck? For her to say on HBO that young women were essentially moving to Sanders not with their heads but their hormones because “that’s where the young boys are,” was belittling and, frankly, sexist. In the firestorm she has now ignited with this stupid and insulting comment, she has hurt not only Clinton, but women and the cause. In a retreat release, she now claims she misspoke and didn’t mean it and does believe that young women care about politics and more are feminists than ever before. Yeah, right, but for one minute does anyone believe that this was a slip of her tongue and that Gloria Steinem of all people didn’t perfectly plan that remark if the opportunity presented? Steinem is a lifetime veteran of the public forum and the fierce behind-the-scenes battles dating back to the National Student Association CIA Cold War days and certainly the constant debates of the feminist movement through the decades. She knew what she wanted to say, she said it to stir the waters and try to put a finger in the dike of young women’s slipping support for Clinton, and she said it as a decree from the pinnacle of the women’s movement that she firmly occupies and protects.

If Clinton and her team want to win, they can’t blame the voters. She has to convince and inspire them, not shame and scold. She has to be the vessel of hope for change and the future, not the finger waving teacher, coach, or parent, saying “get real,” settle for less, and be happy with what you have. Clinton has dreams, but she – and her team – have to make the dreams about others, not themselves, if they want to convince voters.

You win on the field based on how you and your team play, not by badmouthing the fans. Same for voters.

Two New Strikes Against the Video-Scammers – Is This Tactic Finally Out?

planned_parenthood_capitol_ap_imgNew Orleans    The anti-abortion fakers with the front organization, Center for Medical Progress, have been the right wing and Republicans’ cat’s paw for months now in their relentless attack on Planned Parenthood. Without a doubt they have cost the organization time and money, and curtailed desperately needed services in one community after another, because of their scurrilous sneak attacks and unsubstantiated allegations that Planned Parenthood was selling fetuses.

Politically, the organization has built up sturdy bulwarks against these smears. The Department of Health and Human Services has forcibly engaged a number of the states who tried to arbitrarily defund the organization. The threats to shut down the government were met with a more serious promise from President Obama to veto any conditions, and deals were made, House Speakers were switched out, and supporters held firm.

More recently the legal front has turned a trickle against these folks into a tidal wave. A female Republican prosecutor for Harris County, Texas, where Houston is located, agreed with the Lieutenant-Governor to investigate Planned Parenthood’s operations, but a funny thing happened after the grand jury “followed the evidence where it took them,” and instead issued indictments against principals with the California-based video-scammers for falsifying government documents and the like. We could hear the hot air escaping from Congressional balloons all over the country.

The beef on misusing government property rested on creating fake drivers’ licenses like they were teen drinkers or something. Their defense had been unusual. They claimed they were journalists and this was the way investigative reporters operate. Needless to say, such a defense was met with guffaws at best.

More seriously a federal judge in California has now issued an injunction that these folks cannot release anymore of the videos they took of Planned Parenthood in this manner. Furthermore the judge indicated that he had based his order on the fact that he had watched hundreds of hours of their videotape and could find no evidence that anyone “admitted to engaging in, agreed to engage in, or expressed interest in engaging in potentially illegal sale of fetal tissue for profit.”

Bam! You can hear misogynists, Presidential candidates, evangelicals, and other self-proclaimed moralists’ jaws flapping wide open when they hear that. Talk about much ado about nothing! They don’t have squat on Planned Parenthood!

After all of the James O’Keefe mess where his editing was malicious and his feet made of clay in recent years it seemed like this gotcha video tactic, begun in the assault against ACORN and continued against various progressive institutions from NPR to NEA and programs, might have finally played out. Now with the latest humiliation in the mayhem caused by the video-scammers and Planned Parenthood, can anyone ever believe any of this balderdash again? Has this tactic finally worn out its unwelcome role in the American political scene?

Let’s hope we don’t need a third strike to finally rule this out and say, lesson learned.

The Wall Street Journal Thinks Hillary is Too Close to Wall Street!

Wall-Street--Lower-Manhattan-53049New Orleans   Did the sun just rise in the west? Is down up and up now down? Did hell just freeze over? What’s up with the world?

Why do I wonder?

Simply put when the rightwing editorial page of the Rupert Murdock owned Wall Street Journal makes the case that Hillary Clinton is too close to Wall Street something is definitely topsy-turvy in the world as we know it. This is a classic case of the exception proving the rule. Normally, the editorial page of the Journal is the national equivalent of the society page in your local daily paper: a must miss feature! They run a hater nation page there with a heavy-handed Republican bias, and if their editorials are just snide and snippy, instead of hurtful and malicious, it counts as a good day.

All this is very worrisome, because if the Wall Street Journal thinks that Hillary Clinton is too close to Wall Street, where they butter their bread, then what are the rest of us to think? One can try to pry facts off of someone’s shoes, but it’s hard to get something that seems like gospel out of your head.

The Journal used the recent New Hampshire debate before the upcoming primary as the platform for their question about the $675,000 Mrs. Clinton had received from the financial giant Goldman Sachs.

“Host (CNN) Anderson Cooper asked her whether she really had to be paid $675,000 for giving three speeches. ‘Well, I don’t know. That’s what they offered,’ said Mrs. Clinton – to much audience laughter. She then tried the argument that every Secretary of State does it, and then settled on the unbelievable claim that at the time she took the money she didn’t know she would be running for President again. Mr. Cooper was so startled he asked her to repeat the point.”

Ouch! The Journal then piles on by following that very expensive blow with some cheaper shots, claiming that Clinton’s deal reflected the working détente between Democrats and Wall Street where the big Demo-dogs take their money, then mega-mouth attacks on them in public, while letting them get away with, well, everything let’s hope, but murder, in private. The Journal wants to believe that has to do with Wall Street trying to muscle out competition from elsewhere, but the rest of us worry, especially in light of the riches and ruin of recent years, that it is really about having them march in the constant favor parade whose big and small floats pave the way to even more of their riches at the expense of the rest of us.

The kicker comes at the end as they wrote,

“When asked on CNN if she regretted her income windfall from Goldman, Mrs. Clinton replied, ‘No, I don’t, because, you know, I don’t feel that I paid any price for it and I am very clear about what I will do and they’re on notice.’ Mrs. Clinton is the one on notice that there is a political price to be paid for it…And because everyone knows why Goldman paid her $675,000.”

This isn’t a shouting match about emails that amount to making a mountain out of a molehill, but something a lot more serious, and these answers really aren’t enough to make any of us comfortable, even the Wall Street Journal.

Time to Make a Deal for Time Served for Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds a UN report as he speaks on the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on Friday. (Frank Augstein/Associated Press)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds a UN report as he speaks on the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on Friday. (Frank Augstein/Associated Press)

New Orleans    Remember Julian Assange, the founder and director of Wikileaks that back in the day, you know before Edward Snowden, released a Pandora’s Box of leaked information that brought down governments and exposed some of the nasty little secrets and weird dealings of so-called diplomacy? Well, the United Nation’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has declared that Assange has been arbitrarily detained by the actions of the British and Swedish government over sexual assault allegations back in the day as well. Assange is now better known for having been an asylum seeker holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, than he is for his Wikileaks’ work.

As organizing dictum always holds, you live by the press, you die by the press. Assange a master media mini-mogul in his own right had smartly declared the day before the UN report release that if the Working Group said he was NOT arbitrarily detained, then he would present himself to the British and be done with it. I imagine this was a cheap thrill of a headline since anyone who can mastermind releasing millions of pages of documents outlining the secret activity of governments around the world, certainly would have known ahead of time exactly what the report was going to say. Come on, man!

And, the British and Swedish governments didn’t yawn at the report, finding Assange aggrieved and wrongly restricted, as much as spit at the report and tossed it towards the garbage bin. Both stories were web-lines more than head-lines and virtually buried as footnotes to the news, rather than news itself.

The report actually was pretty clear that the Swedish prosecutors had botched the mess badly. There is still no clear allegation of a crime and in most countries even the accusation would not have necessarily been an offense given the largely consensual nature of the experience according to reports. I’m not sure there’s even a felony charge attached to this embarrassing and shameful mess. The problem, if you recall, is that the Swedes want to question Assange, and stubbornly refused to do so except on their own soil. Assange, convinced he is still on the Most Wanted List in the US, has argued that he would be extradited to the US if he went to Sweden, and round and round the merry-go-round goes. The UN group was clear that this is all past the pale, no matter what anyone’s opinion of Assange might be, and, essentially argue, let’s get on with it!

The press clearly doesn’t think this is news. The governments are just letting the clock run out on Assange until the Ecuadorians get tired of having him as a houseguest or President Rafael Correa loses power, and they can try a do-over.

In the United States it would be time for the lawyers to have a sidebar and maybe take a nolo contendere plea and call the Ecuadorian encampment “time served.” Like it or not, Assange should take the deal and get a life again and do the work. The governments have also made their point about their great power and impunity. Enough said. Let’s move on.

Uncle Sam Wants All of You and Will Freeze the Rest

mf-recruit-stationNew Orleans     As the United States attempts to adapt the military to a state of permanent war, the decision was obviously made by the top brass and the Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter that the “new” armed forces needed everyone on board with this, no excuses accepted. The all-volunteer army in a state of permanent war obviously requires some concessions for recruitment, and that’s where it starts to get very interesting, and somewhat bizarre.

If the generals and admirals had to accommodate themselves to gay and lesbian recruits, that was one thing. And, now if the old school brass had to accept the fact that women, if and when willing and able, are to be deployed in combat roles, then who is surprised that one of the latest recommendations from the generals is that all women should register for the draft, just as 18-year old men are required to do. Take that, sisters! Uncle Sam wants you, too.

Secretary Carter bumped up all of the military family leave to twelve weeks recently to send the message to the troops that the new armed forces are oh so family friendly. Some branches of the service even go past twelve weeks to eighteen weeks and counting.

Now the Secretary has indicated they are going forward with a pilot program over the next two years before opening it up to everyone. In this program the US is willing to freeze your sperm and eggs and put them on the shelf for you in case you need them later. How about that? Overnight the US government will without a doubt fund the largest deep freeze operation in the world. What a deal?

I find myself stumbling over what a recruitment officer’s rap will be to new recruits though? Uncle Sam wants all of you, but will save some leftovers for later? How do they keep positive when they are explaining to a young man or woman thinking about signing up, that, oh yeah, we end up with a lot more folks surviving debilitating injuries and living with permanent disabilities because of the miracles of modern medicine, but, hey, here’s the good news, nothing may work again, but you’ll still be able to have children and soon as get your stuff unthawed. Sign up here!

Admittedly, it’s a more honest approach than telling a recruit that they’ll get career training for nonexistent jobs later or a chance to see the world, if they are interested in deserts and mountain ranges they never imagined. But, the way I always heard the rap it played on the fact that we were all young and thought we were bullet proof, despite all evidence from the body counts to the contrary. This freezing your junk option, pretty much forces everyone to come to grips with the odds that they could lose their reproduction and sex organs. Is the world so different now that an 18 or 21 year old is willing to take that deal and be satisfied with social media and a refrigerated future, rather than sex and the old do-it-yourself program?

Admittedly this is a pilot program, so we’ll see, but listening to the old men and women debate about this expenditure in the various Congressional defense and armed forces committees is going to make C-Span more popular than the Comedy channel for a while, despite the tragedy inherent in every part of the discussion.

If Rubio is a “Moderate” Republican, We’ve Got Trouble!

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a rally Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a rally Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

New Orleans   Ok, I called the Iowa caucuses for Hillary, based on the strength of her organization, and sure enough her organization pulled it out for her by a hair, though in delegates awarded it was a tie, and, maybe, we’ll see down the road, where she might end up with more in Iowa at the next levels. Sanders still looks good on my bet for New Hampshire, but after Iowa I’m scared to death. Clinton is still the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination, but the fear I’m feeling it is all about the general election. Entitlement doesn’t count in that contest and nothing crashes like a retread when it blows out. This could break very bad. Not just because of Clinton’s campaign and her posture as a candidate, which surely has to be corrected, but also because of this so-called Republican establishment and what it considers a “moderate,” especially when applied to someone like Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Nate Silver, who I still miss when his 538 blog ran in the Times, took a look at Rubio as a “moderate” almost exactly three years ago. Puzzle this, my friends, when Silver mashed up the polls on voting records and weighted the scores statistically he found Rubio had a score of 51 on the scale of conservatives, a couple of points to the right of the average in the Republican Congress. Yikes! And, more conservative than McCain, Romney, and George W. If he’s a moderate, what was Attila the Hun? Silver finds,

The last two Republican presidential nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney, had a score of 39 by comparison, meaning that they were more moderate than Mr. Rubio. Mr. Rubio is also rated as being to the right of Ronald Reagan, who had a score of 44, and George W. Bush, who had a score of 46. Among Republican presidential nominees since 1960, in fact, only the extraordinarily conservative Barry Goldwater, who had a score of 67, rates as being more conservative than Mr. Rubio.

Fast forward to today where Rubio is already legendary for reneging on immigration reform and a respected site highlights the problem on Rubio’s distinctly immoderate positions. Their short list includes these horror stories:

· He wants to permanently extend the government’s controversial spying programs.
· He has pledged to roll back marriage equality.
· He supports multiple voter suppression efforts.
· He doesn’t believe in climate change.
· He opposed federal action to help prevent violence against women.
· He believes employers should be able to deny birth control to their employees.
· He doesn’t think women who are victims of rape or incest should be allowed to get an abortion.

He’s young, he’s Cuban-American, his wife is not an ex-President, but an ex-Miami Dolphins cheerleader, and he’s from Florida, which is a must-have bellwether in a general election, and he’s Teflon with little backstory or record, and we could have big, big trouble. She can beat Trump or Cruz, but Rubio is dangerous.

Some of his Republican opponents slam him as being the “Republican Obama.” They may think that’s a slur, but I’m scared: that’s Clinton kryptonite!