Tuesday, May 24, 2016

On Blackmail, Abortion,and Mercy: A Michigan Tale

Lee Chatfield is a Freshman Republican representing a district in Michigan that includes my low income county, Chippewa, along with some of the richest counties in the state.  His heart, he says, is with God, so naturally he ran as a Tea Party candidate.  He works with the Republican majority to undermine crucial social programs in our beleaguered state because, I don't know--tough love, boot straps, nanny state, the poor don't need it, the rich do, sin, punishment, retribution, all of the above.

He's young, good looking, clean-cut, has four small kids, a beautiful family, a nice life.  He doesn't look mean or judgmental or even clueless.  But he's a Republican in a state where meanness and intolerance are expected from his kind, so from what I know, he's toeing the mark, following the line, giving it all he's got to ignore the plight of the people he represents, justifying instead the GOP/Koch/ALEC/Mackinac Center assaults on the poor and the disenfranchised.

But something happened that should, by all rights, make him reconsider the need to go on the attack against innocent people whose backgrounds he couldn't possibly understand:  Last week his wife became the victim of a potential blackmailer.

On Friday, Lee announced on Facebook that his wife, Stephanie, had a secret that was about to be exposed.  When she was in high school she had an abortion. She went to a party, she doesn't know what happened, she became pregnant and she panicked.  She had an abortion and she's regretted it ever since.

I'm not here to judge Lee Chatfield's wife.  This is her own personal business and she deserves the right to keep it quiet.  But it's out in the open now and she and her husband handled it as well as could be expected.  In the statement included on Chatfield's Facebook page, his wife Stephanie talked about the shame she felt and still feels.  She talked about how her faith helped her through it. She talked about her pro-life stance and how it has made her more empathetic toward women who might find themselves in her shoes but who now need the kind of guidance that would keep them from having to abort their own babies. She asked for understanding.

What she didn't talk about was the fact that her husband is a hard-headed proponent of killing off Planned Parenthood.

Candidate Lee Chatfield at a Planned Parenthood protest.


Another protest view
 Last year the 26 year old Christian school teacher ran on a platform that included stopping Medicaid payments associated with the ACA, dropping protections for the LGBT community, and making good on a promise to defund Planned Parenthood.

In August, he headed a protest rally in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Petoskey, bragging it up about putting an end to the evils going on in there.

In November he won the election against Jim Page, the Democrat who ran on a platform of increasing funding to public education, increasing the minimum wage, ending Right to Work in Michigan, addressing environmental issues, and improving health care for all.  He won it by attacking all of those ideas, using the defunding of Planned Parenthood as the icing on the cake.

Lee Chatfield's wife has lived for years with her own perceived shame over an abortion. She has that right. It's her life. But when she joins her husband in his attempts to shut down Planned Parenthood, an organization celebrated for its work in helping millions of women with their reproductive needs, she infringes on the rights of other women.  While Planned Parenthood doesn't advocate abortion as the only outcome for an unplanned pregnancy, they do add it to their list of options. Options. They're not in the business of killing babies.  They don't sell baby parts. They don't deserve these wrong-headed, dishonest attempts to shut them down.

Stephanie Chatfield didn't deserve to be outed over her very private decision to have an abortion, either. I hope, when all this blows over, she can empathize with women finding themselves in her shoes and can finally understand that our lives cannot be subject to someone else's decisions about them.

Out of misery comes mercy.

I read that somewhere.

(Cross-posted at Dagblog and Crooks & Liars)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bernie Sanders' Ugly Break Up with the Party He Wooed




Yesterday, four days after a small riot took place at the Nevada State Democratic Convention over what Bernie Sanders' supporters say were rule changes depriving Bernie of FOUR DELEGATES and a win that was never going to happen because he had already lost Nevada in FEBRUARY, Bernie Sanders issued a statement warning the Democratic Party that there's a new sheriff in town and they've been really, really bad so whatever happens, it's on them, not him.

Considering that Roberta Lange, the hapless state party chairwoman who got herself into a bit of a mess over party rules, was being bombarded with harassing phone calls at all hours of the day and night, not to mention DEATH THREATS, some of us thought maybe Bernie would call for his people to just calm down.  Don't go there.  I'm telling you.

But, no, Bernie instead took it as an opportunity to blast the Democrats for not listening to him when he told them there was a revolution going on.  What did they expect would happen?  It's a revolution, dammit! R.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N!!

Now, okay, the Democratic Party--my party, if I haven't told you often enough--is in bad need of a shake-up.  I'll be the first (okay, maybe not the first) to admit that. We strayed away from many of the foundations FDR built for us more than three quarters of a century ago, and, in the process, allowed the Republicans to ride rough-shod over the entire country.

We didn't fight hard enough against them, which means we didn't fight hard enough for the people who counted on us. We thought we could work with those guys--constitution, common good, our country tis of thee, something, something--even though ever since Eisenhower they've made it clear they would just as soon grind us into guano as look at us.

But here's the thing about us Democrats. We're still better than they are. Way better. So much better, Bernie Sanders, the Independent Democratic Socialist Revolutionary, didn't feel the least bit ashamed about joining up with us in his quest to become the One and Only Democratic Party presidential candidate.

Bernie, as much as he would now like to disclaim any affiliation with us, or even affection for us, made the first move.  HE joined US.

He has a message and it's a good one: Let's do all we can to help people who are hurting, either  because of governmental policies now in place, or because of a lack of protective governmental policies. Who couldn't get behind that?  I myself applauded him for getting the message out loud and clear.  We, the Democrats, haven't done a good enough job.  Now we're in a position to change that, and Bernie wants to help us. Yay!

That was when the Democrats were still "we".  Now we've become "they". The accusations are flying; neither side wants to admit any wrongdoing.  Looks like we're heading for a divorce.  It could get ugly.

But wait!  Is that reconciliation I see around the corner? Bernie Sanders' go-to guy, Jeff Weaver, just said on national TV that no matter how much it looks like Sanders is trashing the Democrats, calling them corrupt dishonest establishment whores bought and paid for by Wall Street, and, even worse, "low energy", of course he'll do what he can to keep Donald Trump out of the White House.

Of course. Because if Bernie Sanders is anything, he's a uniter, not a divider. And if the Democrats don't agree, well, screw 'em.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Clinton to Trump: I'll Take the High Road and You Take the Low Road


Now that Donald Trump is the GOP presumptive nominee he's pulling out all the stops, going after Hillary Clinton, the Dem's presumably-presumptive nominee, not in ways that have to do with issues, or even qualifications, but in ways that only a blustery blow-hard of a presidential poseur would do.

Clinton, the savvy politician, says "bring it on but I'm not going there". Trump will see that as weak.  He'll see that as the woman thing.  What he won't see is the double-whammy already arcing toward him, lobbed by the many who are sick to death of his ignorant, childish bullying. 

What Trump still doesn't get--and maybe never will--is that for all his popularity he has many more haters than fans.  Those thousands filling every venue, cheering him on, are the same thousands who filled Sarah Palin's venues, cheering her on whenever she went on the attack against the establishment.  It fills a need, it satisfies an itch, clich├ęd beyond all reason ("I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"), but it does nothing to change what most everyone sees as a dysfunctional government.

The way to make change is to get involved.  In Trump's case, a first step might include a high school civics class.  The GOP nominee for president has built his case for being president by showing the world it pays not to know anything about being president.

He aced the test, not by studying or giving the right answers, but by blasting everyone who tried to tell him he's not ready to graduate.  He's the E-minus student running against the Valedictorian, having full confidence that he can bully his way to a diploma.

Everyone who has any sense left in their beaners is laughing at Donald Trump.  It's a serious issue when someone as ridiculously unequipped is this close to the presidency, but barring that, Trump is a joke gone hilariously awful.

Famously funny cynic Fran Lebowitz made an all-too-rare appearance on the Tonight Show, professing her newfound love for Hillary while eviscerating Trump: 
"[Being president] is a really hard job and the idea that they want someone who's not a politician.  It's like calling someone, saying "I have a horrible leak in my apartment.  Do you know someone who's not a plumber?"
But while we're laughing at Donald and scoffing at his equally windbaggish sidekicks, Hillary Clinton is diligently working at proving she has the chops to run the Big Things.

About Trump, she says, "I'm not running against him.  He's doing a fine job of doing it himself."  She's talking, now, about the primaries, but if she wins the candidacy she'll be running against a beast already boasting of the savagery to come.

He's less than one week into his presumptive nomination and it has already started.  The issue of Bill Clinton's affairs is like red meat to Trump the predator, so it was never a matter of if, but when.


From CNN:
"Donald Trump on Friday accused Hillary Clinton of being "an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler" of her husband's alleged affairs and accused her of destroying the lives of his accusers.

The remarks are the first time that Trump has raised the former president's alleged affairs and Hillary Clinton's behavior amidst a flurry of accusations since becoming the Republican Party's presumptive nominee. Trump had previously accused Clinton of being an 'enabler' to her husband's behavior, but he ramped up his rhetoric on Friday.
'She's been the total enabler. She would go after these women and destroy their lives,' Trump said, adding, 'She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler, and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful."
Trump did not expand upon what he believes Clinton did to 'destroy' the lives of those women."
If it were anyone else but Trump this might seem reckless, and in the real world, considering the rumors about his own checkered past, he would know enough to leave it alone.  But he's confident enough to go ahead because he knows he can always count on that tried and true standby, the double standard. 

Let me repeat: The sexist double standard, double standard, double, that's DOUBLE standard

Yes, I'm crying "sexism".  I'm not just crying it, I'm shouting it, I'm trying to figure out how to bounce it off the moon, sending it awash all over the planet. Blatant, ugly, corrosive sexism.

(And by the way, CNN got it wrong:  This is not the first time Trump has called her an enabler over Bill's affairs.  Back in January a group of GOP women urged him to drop it.  Fat chance.)

No matter what scandal Trump wants to use as ammunition against Hillary Clinton or anyone else who gets in his way, the real scandal is Trump himself.  His behavior is not acceptable, or even normal.  Most of the people voting for him wouldn't put up with him in their own living rooms for a single day, let alone four years.  I don't pretend to know what goes on in their minds.  It's one thing to be sad and disappointed and frustrated and angry at the perpetrators of what looks like wholesale destruction of the very fabric of our society, but it's quite another not to know you're backing a goddamn idjit for president.

From Paul Krugman, "The Making of an Ignoramus".
"Truly, Donald Trump knows nothing. He is more ignorant about policy than you can possibly imagine, even when you take into account the fact that he is more ignorant than you can possibly imagine. But his ignorance isn’t as unique as it may seem: In many ways, he’s just doing a clumsy job of channeling nonsense widely popular in his party, and to some extent in the chattering classes more generally.
"Last week the presumptive Republican presidential nominee — hard to believe, but there it is — finally revealed his plan to make America great again. Basically, it involves running the country like a failing casino: he could, he asserted, “make a deal” with creditors that would reduce the debt burden if his outlandish promises of economic growth don’t work out.
The reaction from everyone who knows anything about finance or economics was a mix of amazed horror and horrified amazement. One does not casually suggest throwing away America’s carefully cultivated reputation as the world’s most scrupulous debtor — a reputation that dates all the way back to Alexander Hamilton."
How many times have you seen me quote George Will, signalling that I actually agreed with him?  It's not a trick question.  This will be the first:
"Donald Trump’s distinctive rhetorical style — think of a drunk with a bullhorn reading aloud James Joyce’s “Finnegan's Wake” under water — poses an almost insuperable challenge to people whose painful duty is to try to extract clarity from his effusions. For example, on Friday, during a long stream of semi-consciousness in Fort Worth, this man who as president would nominate members of the federal judiciary vowed to “open up” libel laws to make it easier to sue — to intimidate and punish — people who write “negative” things. Well.
Trump, the thin-skinned tough guy, resembles a campus crybaby who has wandered out of his “safe space.” It is not news that he has neither respect for nor knowledge of the Constitution, and he probably is unaware that he would have to “open up” many Supreme Court First Amendment rulings in order to achieve his aim. His obvious aim is to chill free speech, for the comfort of the political class, of which he is now a gaudy ornament."
So, okay, enough about Trump.  (Oh, except, did you see that wild Twitter war with Elizabeth Warren?)

How is Hillary preparing to be president?  She's scouring the country, sitting down with actual people, lending her ear, even when she knows she'll get an earful.  She's  talking about issues and not innuendo. She's building a base of supporters, both inside and outside of politics. She's going out on interviews, presenting her qualifications, applying for the highest job in the land as if it really were a job and not a joke, a conquest, or a power trip.

We're still in the midst of the primaries so I need to mention that Bernie Sanders is still in the running as the Democratic candidate.  Bernie Sanders, to his credit, is not Donald Trump.  Donald Trump, to no one's surprise, is keeping his hands off of Bernie Sanders.  In fact, Trump gleefully announces to each and every audience that he's going to steal Bernie's best speeches against Hillary and use them as if they were his own.  (Because Bernie knows some words, I'm guessing.)

Right now, Hillary Clinton is running against two opponents and holding her own.  If she wins the nomination she'll be going against Donald Trump.  Trump's big threat is that he hasn't even started on Hillary yet.

Someone needs to remind him that he's running for president, not chief comical inquisitor.  It's serious business, and gotcha games are for kids.

But don't look at me.  I'm not telling him.  Not that he'd listen to a nasty old bag of a broad, anyway.


(Cross-posted at Dagblog and Crooks & Liars)