Political Fix (18 June, 2015)

The Next Republican Governor

In the last issue of the Valley Voice I considered Tulare County Supervisor Allan Ishida the Republican sacrificial lamb to run for governor against the immensely popular Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.  But I forgot about Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin. She may not beat Mr. Newsom in 2016, but Democrats can’t win forever, and she may come out on top after he terms out of office.

Ms. Swearengin did not win her bid for State Controller last November, but she did get her name known throughout the state. That momentum has not waned. She declared in the State of the City address, “the nation is buzzing about what we’ve accomplished,” and Ms. Swearengin’s name is becoming synonymous with Fresno’s successes.

Ms. Swearengin shepherded Fresno through the worst economic times since the Great Depression. She has been instrumental in restoring lost services and was at the helm in revamping Fresno’s general plan that focused on revitalizing neglected neighborhoods. Fresno has also seen a huge decline in its homeless population while Visalia and Hanford have experienced an increase.

On the subject of revitalization, it will be Ms. Swearengin’s name that comes up when downtown Fresno comes back to life. She was an early advocate of High-Speed Rail, which will have a major hub in Fresno two blocks from downtown. In addition, construction is set to begin to return the pedestrian Fulton Mall back into Fulton Street.

According to The Fresno Bee Political Notebook, “The Atlantic magazine [section] called ‘American Futures’ chronicled Fresno’s comeback. She highlighted a January Brookings Institution report that ranked the 300 fastest-growing metropolitan economies in the world. It found Fresno was the fourth-best job-creating region in the world from 2013 to 2014, with a 4.5% growth rate compared to 1.9% nationally. She said the real estate website Trulia.com put Fresno among its top 10 housing markets to watch in 2015.”

Ms. Swearengin stated during her speech that she accepted The Atlantic’s praise for her. She said the magazine “was right in assessing my role in the comeback of Fresno’s downtown — the public champion for revitalization. When I’m finished serving as the mayor of Fresno, I want it to be said of me that I was willing to make any personal or political sacrifice, do whatever it took to turnaround our downtown and inner city.”

It also may be said of Ms. Swearengin that she will be the first Republican Governor after 16 years.

Michelle Bachmann Kills the Iowa Straw Poll

Is it a coincidence that Michelle Bachmann was the last winner of Iowa’s Straw Poll? On June 12, the Republican Central Committee of Iowa unanimously voted to cancel their straw poll in perpetuity, making her victory their last. Even Iowa’s governor at the time said that the poll had outlived its usefulness.

In August of 2011, America woke up to a picture of a smiling Ms. Bachmann holding up an Iowan newspaper declaring her victory. The rest of the civilized world looked on in shock and, in all honesty, Ms. Bachmann looked a little shocked too. Not long after, her campaign folded and now it looks like she took the straw poll with her.

Until all the publicity started swirling around the straw poll, the average American saw the event as a precursor to the Iowa Caucus. Many people didn’t realize that the event was actually a fundraiser for the Iowa Republican Party. Republican candidates were expected to bid for a spot to hold their barbeque and glad-hand voters, and that spot cost between $15,000 and $30,000. It was one of the state’s biggest Republican fundraisers.

Some say it’s a tradition that goes back to 1979. I don’t think six straw polls and 1979 qualifies as a tradition. But even so, “traditionalists” claim that every candidate who came in first or second in the straw poll went on to win the Iowa Caucus. So what? The only person to win the Iowa Caucus and go on to win the presidency was George W.

Cracks in the tradition of the Iowa Straw Poll started this year when presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio said they were going to skip the event. Surprisingly, Rick Santorum and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham also said that they would not participate. This is surprising because the straw poll might have been their only ticket to the debate stage. They have such low poll numbers that neither of them will be able to participate in the Fox News presidential debate. Nor will they be at the adults’ table during the CNN debate.

Jeb!

Sounds like Gov. Bush and Sen. Rubio are hankering to party like its 1959. Sen. Rubio wants the United States to go back to the days of shaming Cuba, and Gov. Bush wants to go back to the days of shaming unwed mothers. Gov. Bush has either been pining for the “good old days” or has been brushing up on his Quran.

In his 1995 book Profiles in Character, Gov. Bush stated that public shaming would be an effective way to regulate the “irresponsible behavior” of unwed mothers, misbehaving teenagers and welfare recipients. In a chapter called “The Restoration of Shame,” Gov. Bush made the case that restoring the art of public humiliation could help prevent pregnancies “out of wedlock.”

When asked by an MSNBC reporter if he still felt the same way now, Gov. Bush said, “My views have evolved over time, but my views about the importance of dads being involved in the lives of children hasn’t changed at all,” he said. “In fact, since 1995 … this book was a book about cultural indicators [and] the country has moved in the wrong direction. We have a 40-plus percent out-of-wedlock birth rate.”

In Gov. Bush’s official announcement that he is running for president, he declared that the Republican Party needs a bigger tent. I guess that tent doesn’t include single mothers.

Has the country moved in the “wrong direction” because we don’t parade unwed mothers through the middle of town and throw rotten fruit at them? Or could it be because 20 percent of college women are sexually assaulted and Republicans have successfully eliminated access to abortion services throughout the country? Could it be that so many African-American men have been incarcerated we have created an entire subculture of people who will never be hired and thus can’t support a family? Could it be that any cognizant male knows that his minimum wage job will barely support his car, let alone a child?

Maybe, if like the good ol’ days, a father could work hard and buy a house and send his child to college, the unwed birthrate would go back to what it was in the good ol’ days.

The Donald Is In the Swim – and We Don’t Mean the Duck

So what does a narcissistic, spoiled, reality TV star do when he gets bored of pissing on Rosie O’Donnell and Bill Maher? Run for president.

The Donald has threatened to run for president in 1987, 1999, 2004 and 2011, and has finally stopped just talking about it. In a speech that contained a strange mix of toxic aging and megalomania, Mr. Trump officially declared his candidacy for president of the United States on June 16.

After declaring that Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio “don’t have a clue,” he pronounced that he will bring America back.

Talking from his multi-million dollar Trump Towers he said, “The fact is, the American Dream is dead – but if I win, I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before.”

How comforting that a person born with a silver spoon in his mouth has such a deep understanding of the American Dream, unlike Sen. Rubio, born of immigrant parents, who attended college on student loans.

Mr. Trump had previously billed himself as the “most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far.”

“I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created,” he said.

Yet the issue he is most closely affiliated with over the last eight years has been President Obama’s birth certificate. And how does he intend to be God’s greatest gift to the unemployed? It’s a secret – just like his plan to rid the world of ISIS. If he told anyone it would blow his cover. Meanwhile, the cradle of civilization is being pulverized and plundered and thousands of people are dying. But, you know, The Donald comes first.

The difficult question, for which the Republican Party needs to account, is why a character like Mr. Trump gets as high as 5 percent in some polls while Sen. Rick Santorum, who came in second four years ago, can barely break 2 percent, jeopardizing his place on the debate stage. One theory is that, politically, Mr. Trump is best known for being a Birther. There is a large swath of Americans who have never accepted the legitimacy of Mr. Obama’s presidency. They cloak their racism by declaring that President Obama isn’t a real American because he was born in Kenya. Mr. Trump panders to the racist element in the Republican Party and in the polls.

And Finally…

Are there any ladies out there who are just a little peeved that Bruce Jenner got all the privileges of being a man for 65 years and now gets all the bonuses of being a glamorous woman? In addition to all of his male privilege, he conveniently decides to transform to a woman at an age when almost all of his children’s maternal obligations have been met and women are now experiencing their greatest freedom. That’s awfully convenient.

Bruce Jenner says that he has a woman’s brain and that they are different from a man’s. I’ll concede that men and women’s brains are a little different. If not, my husband would actually be able to find my jar of fudge topping in the fridge. But the differences between men and women’s brains are not genetic. The differences come from years of women being held under the dripping faucet of patronization. Women of my generation had brothers who weren’t expected to do the dishes, who dated throughout high school and were handed over the keys to a car as they went off to college. Men in the family had more money, more material things, and more freedom–all while skipping through life without any mention of their weight.

While Mr. Jenner was going to college on an athletic scholarship, something not available to women at that time, I wonder how much he pined to be a twenty-something working mother who couldn’t afford to go to college. Doesn’t every man dream of being yelled at by his boss all day then coming home to scrub some toilets, change diapers and do the laundry? Throw in a couple of snide remarks about your home from the in-laws and I have just described the American Dream for our young women in the 1970’s, and now.

As Mr. Jenner was crossing the finish line of the 1500 meter run in the 1976 Olympics to win the decathlon, was he really wishing he had a woman’s body instead of the amazing specimen he was born? I don’t think so, because he would not have been able to compete in the decathlon if he were a woman. They were not allowed to compete in that event.

Going through life, did Mr. Jenner always look in the back of his car before getting in? Always know if anyone was behind him or across the street while walking in public? After starting a family, did he organize the kitchen counters, finish loading the dishwasher, sign his children’s paperwork for school, and fold some clothes all while en route between the family room and climbing into bed? No? Then I guarantee you he does not have a woman’s brain.

In her interview with Vanity Fair, what Caitlyn Jenner is looking forward to most is being able to wear nail polish until it starts chipping off.

Really? The entirety of being a woman is painting her nails and then watching it chip off? I’d like to enlighten “Ms.” Jenner what a woman’s nails are for.  They are for scraping off the crusted remains at the bottom of a pan because a man put it in the dish washer without scrubbing it out first. They are for picking the food out of the drain because the kids washed their dishes on the wrong side of the sink. Nails are for detangling the thread while mending your kids and husband’s clothes or picking a thorn out of a child’s foot.

Now that I am done bitching, I will concede the fact that it’s not Ms. Jenner’s fault how women are treated. Nor is it her fault that that she was a born in a man’s body. So my final gripe is not that her “coming out” photo evokes the idealized body, hair and face of a 1950’s female who never really existed. My biggest gripe is that the first time Vanity Fair put a 65-year-old woman on its cover she has a dick.

Welcome to the world of being a woman, Ms. Jenner. Now can you clean my toilet?

One thought on “Political Fix (18 June, 2015)

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  1. And Finally…. you nailed it! The whole Jenner thing, i.e. all the publicity, angst, suspense (what’s her name going to be) was just too much! I loved, loved your comments. This was the best article ever about the whole circus! Thank you!

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