Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Melania Problem

When I'm on vacation I turn off politics, but I learned too late that both republicans and Democrats scheduled their conventions at the exact same time that I would be away.  How rude.

Anticipating high -- and low -- times at the conventions, I made an exception to my usual no-politics rule.  I informed friends and family of my plans and all were gracious about sneak peaks (republican) and full-on binging (Democrat).

On Monday night, we shared the reaction of the American viewers over Melania Trump's speech:  wow, she can use words to form actual rational thoughts.  A nice break from her husband, many of us agreed.  And with that low bar easily breached, there was a newfound respect for the candidate's wife (excuse me if I DO NOT say "potential first lady").

And then we tuned in the next morning.  Could it be that the Democrats were exaggerating when they said "plagiarism?"  But no.  There were the actual videos of Michelle's speech juxtaposed with Melania's.

Hilarious, right?  Even better than Donald coming onstage through the mist -- or was it steam?

But as the week went on, and was proceeded by the truly professional, intelligent and exciting performances during the Democratic convention, I had some thoughts about how we had reacted to Melania, and what it all means.

We didn't expect her to sound intelligent.  Beautiful (at least in the fashion world) and intelligent, and Trump's wife?  How did that happen?  And then, as the plagiarism was discovered and the Trump forces scurried around trying to get rid of the problem, many of us just accepted that Melania was an unwitting dupe.  But was she?

Melania Trump did not just starve and learn how to apply makeup.  She came from Slovenia for goodness' sake, got as far as college, became a successful model, and ended up the wife of a wealthy and powerful real estate mogul.  This took quite a bit more than fashion sense.

In Melania's world, the rules may be different than in the world most of us Americans know.  I imagine she had to be scrappy and tough.  She had to compete with other beautiful women.  She needed to not just learn the rules, but learn how to stretch them, how to test limits.  She needed to watch, closely, what others like her were doing, and she needed to take what worked and run with it.

In retrospect, it would not surprise me if Melania herself studied Michelle's words, from the speech that she gave at the same moment in her history.  Doubtless she saw Michelle as the epitome of what a presidential candidate's wife should be, based not only on the speech itself, but on the world's reaction to it, and in Michelle's successes and popularity as a first lady.

I am saying that we should give credit to Melania for having a mind of her own, and one that got her far.

Where Melania went wrong is the same place that Donald has gone terribly wrong.  The rules that worked in the game that they had been playing don't work in this one.  Up till now, nobody checked Donald's lies.  Bullying and name calling won high ratings, sponsorship deals and fortune.  People seldom looked behind the name "Trump" to find the con man.  If they did, it didn't matter, because there were always more chumps to rip off.

But after a year and then some of letting Donald spout his ugliness, mock his opponents, and make claims to dubious success, there is a new game.  This time the people he has taken on are smarter.  They know the rules.  And they won't be bullied.

The media, pushed around and insulted, are now confronting him with inconsistencies.  Democrats -- and those republicans who possess a moral compass -- are calling him on his anti-American rhetoric, his threats to the constitution, and his attacks on the American people.

Last week, even Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell, who love to play the game my husband would call, "Let's you and them fight," stood up and drew accurate contrasts between the Trump and Hillary.  And I must say that to date, our own Lindsey Graham continues to refuse to endorse Donald Trump.

I imagine it must be hard for Paul Ryan to sleep these days because he thought that what Donald Trump wanted was the presidency, and that he would do whatever he was told to do to gain it.  And then it was just a matter of telling him what to do when he got there.  But he is reminded, over and over, that Donald Trump is playing a different game.  He will take from Ryan and the other republicans who are tagging along, and, when all is said and done, stomp them out.

When Melania plagiarized Michelle, she hadn't realized the game had changed.  Donald hasn't realized it either.  And as it goes with bullies, when they are backed into a corner by righteousness, reason and fearlessness, he will either quit or come apart; we will see Donald Trump come unglued on the national political stage.

And then, in November, if this is the America I think it is, he will return to his golden walls and reality shows, leaving us all a bit wiser and a great deal more relieved.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Hypocrites on Parade

I have been pretty quiet lately, letting the insanity speak for itself.  But this morning I heard from Mark Sanford, and, well, I just had to share just how bizarre this was.

Mark Sanford, who I believe has been himself keeping a fairly low profile this election season, came out in protest of Hillary being found not guilty of criminal charges.  We all expect the biggest liar in the country to call people liars, but when Mark Sanford contended that that not guilty verdict is "frightening," I did a double-take.  For so many reasons.

Mark Sanford, if you have forgotten (as so many red-blooded South Carolinians apparently have), paid fines of $74,000 for ethics violations, in which he used state funds to pay for travel and misspent campaign money.  We don't really have to go into the sordid affair in which he lied to his wife and sons while he was spending government money to see his gal.  But we should never, ever forget that while he was presumably "hiking the Appalachian Trail," the state of South Carolina was without a leader.  He not only took off to follow his heart and lied about his whereabouts, he left no way to contact him and no one in charge for five days.

Paul Ryan had the gall to call the courageous sit-in by House Democrats a publicity stunt.  It was apparently interfering with real  house business, like the bill that would block limits to financial regulations that would protect our retirement funds from Wall Street sharks.  Even worse than forcing Ryan to call this fake House session during the sit-in just to show who was boss was the fact that these damned Democrats were keeping republicans from beginning their 4th of July recess.  That was truly a shame because the House calendar mandates a whole 111 days of work for 2016.

Meanwhile, folks like Newt Gingrich are stepping up to kiss ass in order to get a piece of the political pie.  I do believe that a Trump/Gingrich ticket would be as close to the candidate being able to look into a mirror as possible, except that Gingrich uses bigger words.  They do both have the narcissism, cruelty and greed thing going on.  Gingrich I believe will actually challenge Trump in the category of deceit and treachery.  They both enjoy calling Hillary a liar in the most absurd terms, much like the posters of Obama with a Hitler moustache that turned up in '08 and the accusations by both that he was born in Kenya.  And they are both incredibly greedy.  I mean, incredibly greedy.  Always wheeling and dealing, book deals, consulting deals -- I don't think Newt sells meat, but he rarely engages in an activity that won't show a profit.  Together, a Trump/Gingrich administration will leave the White House and the American people with nary a silver spoon in the cutlery drawer.

The insincere bombast of Newt Gingrich will cause us all to miss the zany brainlessness of Sarah Palin.

I know I am merely scratching the surface of sleazy hypocrites in this post, but there is only so much time, and so many, many hypocrites.  So finally, I turn to the legacy of Henry Hyde.   There is a push these days from our women's rights leaders to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which was sponsored by Representative Henry Hyde in 1973 and prohibits Medicaid funding of abortion.  This was just the beginning as it was followed by a number of other prohibitions on government funding of abortion services.  Remember Henry Hyde?  He was the family values guy that was all revved up to impeach Bill Clinton when it surfaced that he had had a lengthy extramarital affair when he was serving in the Illinois legislature.  The Newt Gingrich House rejected his offer to step down from the Judiciary Committee that was investigating impeachment, and he went on to serve in the House for many more years.  It will give me great pleasure to see his hateful amendment repealed.

Unlike Hyde who at least offered to resign his post, these characters today, they are unable to be shamed.  Calling Hillary dangerous and a liar while they have their dirty secrets and flaunt their dirtier public lives.  Pretending to care about women's health and gun violence while serving only those masters that might get them re-elected.

I believe that the state of falsehood in our politicians is so ballsy, so egregious, that it is absurd.  You would have to laugh, but alas, Jon Stewart is no longer here to help us find the humor.

What we can do, however, is fact-checked every damned thing these creeps say, including the weather and what day it is.  The situation has become so blatant, I am happy to say, that even many of the more level headed on the other side are seeing the Risk in voting "R."  But when you hear falsehoods often enough, and from enough different people, it becomes harder to see the truth.  That is why you need to remember where they come from.  And next time Mark Sanford goes on about Hillary, ask him how safe South Carolina was when he was hiking his paramour.

I would like to leave you with this amazing tribute to "the Newt" by the Austin Lounge Lizards.