Archive for April, 2017

Out with the old

I’m a Sunday morning news show junkie. I hardly ever miss Meet the Press or Face the Nation. I just find the dialog of the analysts extremely interesting.

One of the main themes on Meet the Press today was “The first 100 days” of the Trump administration and what it had accomplished. Reince Priebus did a reasonable job of defending Trump’s record so far I thought. About as well as you could do for someone with a 40% approval rating. Then Nancy Pelosi came on and countered.

Just watching her reminded me of some things I have been thinking about for a long time. As a self proclaimed ‘lefty’, I probably agree with Nancy on 95% of her liberal policy positions. But at this point it doesn’t matter. I’d like to see her retire.

I’m not here to write about or otherwise add commentary on women’s looks, but it struck me that she just looked terrible. Not surprising when you’re 77 years of age and still getting up early on a Sunday morning to be interviewed in front of millions of viewers. I’m sure the makeup artists did what they could, and who cares what she looks like anyway, but it’s the first thing that struck me was that this country is being run by too many old people. It’s time for younger voices to start getting air time.

Pelosi is a polarizing figure. There are people on the right who HATE Nancy Pelosi. I do not hate Nancy Pelosi, in fact as I said, I probably agree with her on most of her positions, but I think if she were to retire and we could get a fresh, new, youthful liberal voice in there, it would energize the younger generation to get out and vote.

The same thing is true in music. I saw a picture if Iggy Pop on TV this weekend. The guy is still trying to look like what he looked like in the 1970’s, and it looks ridiculous. At some point it’s time to step aside and let the next generation take the stage. Bow out gracefully.

I can tell just from dialog from my children, the youth of this country feel disaffected and disengaged to some extent. The Boomers have held power for far too long and history will record that we didn’t do a particularly good job of stewardship with respect to fiscal policy, educational direction, or protecting the environment. Our foreign policy is dangerous at best.

I am a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders, but he’s 76 years old. Bernie did a pretty fine job of inclusion of the younger generation in his bid for the White House in 2016, but unfortunately, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, who I will never forgive, had her thumb on the scale in favor of Hillary Clinton and Bernie could not overcome the inside bias against his candidacy, though he came pretty close. Bernie embodies everything that needs to happen in the U.S. He’s got the perfect message in my opinion. But he’s too old now. He’s 75 and will be close to 80 in 2020. That’s just much of an age gap to run for President. I would love to see Bernie pick an heir apparent to the Democratic Socialistic movement and support that person in 2020.

I like Elizabeth Warren as well. She’s a fireball that doesn’t take guff off of anyone, and a true progressive. But again, at 70 years of age, she’s too old to be the messenger / leader of the younger generation.

It’s time to pass the baton to the next charismatic leader who can connect with our youth. We Boomers have had our turn in the barrel and it wasn’t a particularly great ride. “The Greatest Generation” as Tom Brokaw wrote in his book of our parents’ travels through WWII, we are not.

But I have witnessed the youth of this country up close and personal. In a previous role I went to college campuses and interviewed engineering candidates who impressed me to no end. There is no shortage of really smart, well educated, thoughtful, hard working youth in this country, contrary to what the right wingers will tell you. They get labeled the trophy generation for the way we raised them and for sure that approach didn’t help, but make no mistake, there are some high achievers in this group and we old fogies would do well to step aside and let them lead. It’s their future.

Leave a comment

Fox and the Far Right

Conservatives like to point out that when liberals look down their noses at them as imbeciles, this is exactly the reason Republicans won the 2016 election. It was perceived snobby elites vs. the lunch bucket crowd and this time around, the lunch bucket crowd bought the Make America Great Again sales pitch, such as it is.

I’m no literary genius as most of you are keenly aware, so full disclosure up front. I’m a life-long 3.1 student who underachieved in the interest of being a well rounded person with other things to do besides just read books.

I say this because the main theme of this post has to do with just how dumb average Joe Republican has become, but I don’t want to sound like an elitist, because I’m average IQ at best. I just think I’ve given these issues more serious mind-share than most Republicans have and am sharing some observations from my own personal experiences.

The best example of mindless followers are the evangelicals. These people give the pastor full reign over their brains to the point where he can stand at the pulpit and literally say “And the Egyptians used the pyramids for grain silos” while the faithful shake their heads in unison with agreement. There are some highly educated people in this crowd too, so go figure. But when it comes to once they get inside the chapel doors, all critical thinking goes out the window and they morph into sheep.

Fox News is a master exploiter of this level of blind faith / ignorance that exists in the evangelical community. They cater their message in the same way the paster’s do and the sheep get in line.

In the 2016 election, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity should have been credited with an assist for the election victory. Hannity just spews vitriol for 60 minutes and is not a serious journalist but he does have a following and they eat it up. O’Reilly would literally try to use his on-air time to ‘coach’ Trump into managing his campaign in ways that would benefit him. He was not interested in a deep policy probe, it was all about helping frame a strategy that would beat Hillary Clinton. To his credit – and our detriment – he was successful. After today’s news of his unexpected departure from Fox, it’s too little too late. The damage is done.

But my main point is that there is a lack of critical thinking that goes on, especially in the Republican party. I know some pretty smart Republicans and they vote GOP for their own reasons, but they are in the minority. The vast majority are people who are easily fooled into voting against their own self interests. Things like tax cuts for the rich / trick down economics. The American Health Care Act ( Paul Ryan’s baby ). Climate change. Military spending. Women’s health issues. Even though all of these things have been debunked by the experts and will hurt them personally, the Duck Dynasty crowd likes to back the candidate with the GOP moniker. I haven’t been able to figure out other than to resign myself to the dumbing down of America. I ain’t no Robert Reich with a PhD, but I listen to him as well as Dr. Krugman to try to learn from truly smart people. That’s why I can’t get into debating the Duck Dynasty crowd. Colossal waste of time.

Leave a comment

Town Halls

A Facebook friend recently ‘liked’ a post about a friend of theirs who was lamenting the fact that recent Greg Walden town halls in The Dalles and Hood River were difficult to listen to because there was so much shouting.  I was tempted to chime in but it wasn’t a Facebook friend of mine so I decided to keep my mouth shut (yes, every once in a blue moon this happens).  But I really wanted to chime in.   I deserve some credit for resisting the temptation.  Seriously.

I have no sympathy for Greg Walden.  Zero.  None.  Nada.  Zilch.  He deserved every ticked off constituent he had to face.  To his credit he faced them – unlike Marco Rubio who begs out of town halls altogether because they are too contentious.

His constituents are trying to send a message to him that if he goes back to Washington D.C. and gets behind Healthcare legislation that screws the common man in favor of yet another tax cut for the 1%, stands up there smugly with Paul Ryan on the national stage and pretends the bill is a ‘good deal’ for the average American, he’d better think twice because he’s not representing the interests of the people who put him in office.

The Affordable Healthcare act of 2009 turned out to be not as affordable as everyone had hoped.  Yet more Americans are covered than ever before and many literally depend on keeping their coverage to stay alive.  It’s recognized by both parties that there are obvious ‘fixes’ that can make it better.

Are the Republicans interested in fixing The Affordable Healthcare Act?  No.  Their primary intent is first and foremost to destroy any positive legacy from the Obama Administration.   As an example, selling across state lines has been proffered by both parties as a way to improve competition and lower prices.  Do you think this idea could possibly get any traction for the good of the American people?  With the Republicans governing, not a chance. To me it’s laughable that the bill failed the House because it wasn’t abhorrent enough for the so-called “Freedom Caucus.”

The primary thing that crossed my mind when I read “Why can’t we just listen to each other better” were scenes from my own childhood.  Remember a few times when you got in trouble with your mom?  Like, really in trouble.  You were getting a what-for for a reason.  To prevent future what-fors.

Walden’s support of Ryan’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) – which benefited the top 1% and kicked 24 million people off of covering under the canard of ‘choice is better’, was worthy of a tongue lashing from Mom.  His constituents gave him an earful and he deserved every rude interruption he received.

Normally I would be supportive of civil discourse.  If it were just a disagreement over a policy issue, sure.  Be polite.  Listen.  Wait your turn and voice your opinion.  But this is different.  Walden sold out.  He chose party over Country and he was getting called out for it.  I couldn’t be happier about that.  I only wish I could have been there.  I would have participated in making him as uncomfortable as possible.

I’m sad to say we’ve reached the point where civil disobedience is a reasonable option.  When the sins are so egregious that lives are at stake, courtesy can go out the window and I’m fine with it.  Sleep tight Congressman.  And welcome back to Oregon.

Leave a comment