Thursday, September 22, 2016

Don't Blame Us, We Just Live Here

Last night, there was a candidate's forum at Johns Island Library.  The two incumbents, Tim Scott and Mark Sanford, refused the invitation to appear.  That left candidate for US Senate, Thomas Dixon, and candidate for House of Representatives, Dimitry Cherny.

Republican incumbents have a lot of power in this state.  We may be hearing a lot of trash talk about Hillary not meeting the press, but here in SC, republicans in office won't do anything that will shake up their cushy offices.  Take questions from the people?  Debate their opponents?  Actually allow us to hold them accountable, like for the worst Congress ever?

And they get a lot of help in staying in the shadows.

SCETV has refused to hold debates this season, claiming that the seats are not hotly enough contested.  Gee, that's an odd spin on democracy, isn't it?  Don't give the opposing party coverage and then claim it was because not enough people were interested.  Well, the "compromise" SCETV reached after receiving petitions with nearly 1,000 signatures, was that the Democrats could choose to appear on the weekly Palmetto Scene.  Some concession, right?

So folks like Sanford and Scott can go on making public appearances in the name of their offices, on the public dime, and with as much media coverage as they like.  Good luck getting any of the local TV stations to mention upcoming events, or past events, that involve a Democratic challenger.

What's to do?  For one, the SC Democratic Party, should not be acting like what it got for its candidates is a compromise.  It is merely a bone tossed to 1,000 hungry dogs.

Jim Clyburn is running for re-election.  We all know Jim Clyburn.  He has indeed in his long tenure done great things for the state and the nation.  But he has become fairly complacent.  It is unlikely that he will return an email, but his staff has become my de facto pen pal, sending me annoying emails that begin by addressing me by my first name, as though we are indeed buddies.  If they don't outright begin by asking for money, they ask stupid questions like:  "Hillary or Trump?" as a ruse for then asking for money.

We need Clyburn to get the hell out here and start stumping for our candidates.  We need his staff to alert the news media that he will be here with insert terrific candidate's name here.  He may like being a honcho in the House, but we need for him to have some good Democrats in there with him.

And the sad thing is that this year is about as close as we are going to get.  People are fed up by an obstructive Congress, but they don't know why.  They don't know that Tim Scott talks about how he is going to help us all and then votes against a living wage, extending unemployment, raising social security, making health care accessible.  Mark Sanford is the weasel who never actually takes a stand that isn't convoluted (He doesn't like the outrageous things Donald Trump has said, but he will vote for him if he shows his tax return.).  He shows up for public meetings and pretends that he supports whatever will be good for the community, and then goes back to Washington and votes for lowering taxes and cutting needed government services.

I talk about Thomas Dixon and Dimitri Cherny because I know them both.  They have put their hearts and souls into this campaign, into letting people know who they are and what they stand for.  They have done this in spite of a pathetic lack of media interest, lukewarm commitment from the state party, and absolutely no help from the most powerful South Carolina Democrat in Congress.

So when I get those dumb emails from Clyburn's staff, that sound like they want to know my opinion about something absolutely self-evident, I have begun leaving comments about what is relevant to me.  Yesterday I answered "yes" to Hillary over Trump, and then added under comments, "Jim Clyburn will win re-election.  He needs to come to SC and campaign for the other good candidates who are trying to be heard (insert your favorite candidate's name here)."

Or go ahead and call his office, or write, or start a petition.

I have also left a post on the SCETV Facebook page, which is tricky and a bit less satisfying than you might think.  First of all, it isn't easy to find the right SCETV page, so make sure you go to "South Carolina ETV."  When you leave a post it will go on the right hand side of the page.  I don't know if this means nobody at SCETV will bother reading it, but I did note that the comment just before mine was also expressing disappointment that SCETV was not providing the stage for debates.  Anyway, I also went to "message" and copied the same post onto it.  I believe somebody there does read those.

So please go to Facebook and post and message to South Carolina ETV.

And then there is the institution of the library.  Once was a time when Charleston County Public Library did an excellent job of providing not just every book written by quacks like Glen Beck, but also those written by more moderate and progressive authors.  We once had a world-class non-fiction collection.  These days, though, after more than a decade of cutbacks and more cutbacks,  bad decisions are being made about ordering, too few important books, too few copies if any.  And this has been extremely evident through this presidential election.

Donald Trump has "written" over a dozen books, and CCPL appears to carry nearly all of them.  They also purchased a bunch of anti-Hillary garbage, with titles like "Crisis of Character," "Clinton Cash," and "Unlikeable."  But as well-reviewed books about Donald Trump come out, despite requests for purchase, those books have not yet been ordered.  Granted, in these parts there will be more people craving lies about Hillary than the truth about Trump.  But even so, as with SCETV, to refuse to make available important information about a candidate this year is truly an abuse of power.

Here are the Trump books:

Gilded Rage by Alexander Zaitchick
Trump Revealed by Marc Fisher & Michael Kranish

(To be fair, they did get in The Making of Donald Trump by the amazing David Cay Johnston.)

I know we are all busy.  We may not have time to read all these books.  But there are people out there who will read them if they are there.  So please help by calling your library and asking them to purchase those two books.  I made a purchase request on 8/31, and the election is speeding towards us.  Help me get these books to the people of Charleston.

Information.  That's what it is all about.  You can't blame us for stupid voting if we don't have it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Orange-Haired Dog CAN Learn New Tricks

Kellyanne Conway, Trump's newest campaign manager, is indeed the woman behind the man.  She is shrewd.  She tells him what he needs to do in that soothing manner that women have when attempting to tame their abusive, raging partner.  You know, the manner that makes the beast want to change and feel flattered for his cleverness at the same time.

She does it well.  Listen to his recent speeches.  He is not only reading well-written speeches off the teleprompter, he is reading them flawlessly, more so than W. did in his day.  His message is no longer about rage, it is about what he can do for the American people.  You know, those folks who have been mistreated by Obama for eight years.

The Trump method of projecting his hate (back in the day, we used to say he's so good at projection you could run a film through him) seems to be working.  If Hillary calls him a bigot, he calls her a bigot.  I know, it seems simplistic, and it is, but for those who have been fed small doses of anti-Clinton rhetoric for decades, this is just what they are primed to hear.  The first few times I heard it, it made my head spin; now it is just more noise.  And that is what gives it power.

And here is something that I realized just today, an hour before I heard that the gap between Trump and Clinton continues to narrow.  It is the thing we have been missing, as Conway trains Trump to appeal to the more rational of his supporters.

I was scheduling my next appointment at my rheumatologist's office.  I don't even know the nice woman's name, but as she scheduled my appointment, we were commiserating about getting on Medicare, and the expense of the drug benefit plan.  She said to me, well, we may not have to worry about it depending on who gets into office in the next couple of months.

It took me aback, and not just because we have never had a political conversation of any sort.  The best I could respond was that it wasn't likely that Congress would want to spend any money to make drugs more affordable for us.  But with that small exchange, a light went on.

I have not been listening to the new Donald Trump, really.  And neither has the media.  But those long-time republicans out there have been listening carefully.  In the beginning it was the absurd message that getting rid of Mexicans would get us all better jobs.  But it has lately become a list of all the things Donald Trump will give us if we elect him (his newest theft from the Democrats is the line that he will even help those of us who don't vote for him).

The new Donald Trump isn't claiming he will make us millionaires like him.  But he is promising that he will give us good-paying jobs and take care of us in retirement.  He is going to protect the cops and the rest of us from criminals.  And he will make sure we all have good health care.

It doesn't matter a whit that he is not offering any kind of plan, financial or otherwise, as to how he is going to do that.  People are hearing what they want to hear.

So maybe Trump isn't going to build a wall or get rid of Muslims (nudge-nudge, wink-wink, the "deplorables" know he can't say it now, but he'll do it once he gets elected).  Maybe he is just going to be a reincarnation of Bernie Sanders, making sure we all have all kinds of security.

And TODAY Trump lays out his plan to give us all affordable childcare!  No matter that republicans have fought any kind of assistance for childcare whenever a Democrat has brought it up.  No matter that he has no idea how he will fund it.

No matter.  All those middle class republicans who have been feeling dealt a bad hand are hearing that help is on the way.  And Donald Trump is a businessman, and a millionaire, so he will know how to get it done.

This is what the Democrats need to tune in to, quickly.  When he is attacked by Hillary for his gang of deplorables, Kellyanne and her crew will twist it around quite satisfactorily so that it sounds like Hillary is the meanie.  And sure enough, Trump's speechwriter will have his candidate stand up to defend all those good Trump supporters.

Trump, the man of the people.  He thinks he is, and now he is convincing America.

I imagine that Hitler's speeches had that same ring of, "I will take care of you all."  And if you believe strongly enough, you can almost miss the sound of the jackboots.