Political Fix (4 November, 2015)

It’s Like Watching Your Favorite Sports Team

“You know, I think Jeb Bush is toast,” said Nate Silver, political pollster, after the Republican debate. Besides his debate performances, Gov. Bush’s Chief Operating Officer just resigned, or quit, and he has had to cut 40% of his staff.

Is it just me or is everyone shocked how poorly Gov. Bush’s performance has been? No one gave Carly Fiorina a chance before her first Republican debate, she was even relegated to the kid’s table. And before Gov. Bush’s first debate everyone assumed he would be their party’s nominee. Now that scenario has flip-flopped and the three most inexperienced candidates lead the field over Governors and senators, with the exception of Senator Marco Rubio who is doing fairly well.

Gov. Bush started to lose my confidence when he did not have a coherent answer to questions about the Iraq War. How could a future president of the United States not be prepared for the very first question out of any reporter’s mouth? Then Gov. Bush totally lost me when confronted by a reporter about how Hispanics might take offense to his using the term “anchor baby.” Gov. Bush snapped back at the reporter, “Do you have a better term?” I wish the reporter had responded, “No dude. That’s your job. You are the one running for president,” which he seems to forget on occasion.

Whether or not you wanted to see another Bush run for president, which many Republicans did not, his underwhelming performance has been jaw dropping. It answers many people’s question as to how the other party boy, under achieving, unqualified son beat him out to the presidency.

Now with the establishment’s preferred Gov. Scott Walker out of the race, they need to start getting serious about their Trump/Carson problem. Sen. Rubio is a decent second choice, but his comments are laugh out loud ridiculous every time he says he is the candidate of the future. His position on social issues and Cuba scream 1950 as he accuses the other candidates of being “out of touch.”

The bottom line is Sen. Rubio is not going to be able to hold his own on the debate stage with Ms. Clinton, whereas Gov. Bush is a realistic Republican alternative. Gov. Bush has not performed well in a crowded Republican field. But to his credit, it’s hard to be heard when surrounded by a bunch of loose cannons. These fringe candidates complain about the debate moderators’ questions, but the questions are symptomatic of the caliber of candidates running for president, not the moderator.

Mitt Romney’s campaign strategist, Stuart Stevens, said that candidates are like sport’s teams, they are either improving or getting worse, not static. While watching the campaign unfold you should watch for signs that Gov. Bush is improving. If not, then you are probably pulling for a loser.

Big Brother – Where Art Thou? On the Republican Dais

During the last Republican debate the candidates tried to outdo each other with their small government chops. “I want the government to be so small I can barely see it” said Sen. Rand Paul.

I have two words for all those Republicans who claim to be small government – Terri Schiavo.

On February 25, 1990, Terri Schiavo, a young married woman who lived in Florida, fell into a coma and never regained consciousness. She remained in a vegetative state for 10 years when her husband, Michael Schiavo, asked a Florida court if he could remove her feeding tube. He said they had discussed the issue during their marriage and she had expressed that she would never want to be put on life support. The court agreed in February of 2000 that he could have it removed. After three years of legal wrangling with Ms. Schiavo’s parents, another judge made his final ruling that the feeding tube was to come out October 15, 2003.

The Governor of Florida in 2003 was Jeb Bush, and he decided to interfere with the state court’s ruling. He quickly passed “Terri’s Law” in the assembly and senate. On October 20, with Terri’s Law in hand, a police-escorted ambulance removed Ms. Schiavo from her hospice in Pinellas Park and took her to a hospital where her feeding tube was reinserted.

Terri’s Law was soon ruled unconstitutional by a circuit judge. This came as no surprise to the Florida lawmakers who knew the law was unconstitutional, but passed it anyway. In 2004 the Florida Supreme Court ruled Terri’s Law unconstitutional and in 2005 the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

By March 18, 2005 the feeding tube was removed again. But Gov. Bush wasn’t done. He convinced Congress in Washington, DC to pass a bill allowing Ms. Schiavo’s parents to ask the Federal Court to review the case one last time. His brother, President Bush, flew from his vacation home on Air force One at 1am to sign the bill.

The Federal Court looked at the freshly minted bill then said they would not review the case because it was unconstitutional.

Gov. Bush still wasn’t done. He ordered the mobilization of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to be ready to seize Terri Schiavo, if a court order allowed it. But the court order wasn’t allowed, because the judges again said no.

On March 31, Ms. Schiavo passed away. But Gov. Bush still wasn’t done.

When the autopsy report did not justify his obsession with Ms. Schiavo, he continued his attacks on her husband. Gov. Bush urged the top prosecutor in Pinellas County to pursue a domestic abuse case against Michael Schiavo. When the prosecutor got back to the governor and said that no abuse happened, Gov. Bush finally relented after putting the family through hell for two years.

The autopsy confirmed what the doctors and Mr. Schiavo had been saying for the last five years. Terri Schiavo was in a degenerating vegetative state and had lost half of her cerebral matter. Her cerebral cavity was filling with spinal fluid as her brain slowly disappeared. She could not see or feel pain as there were no remaining discernible neurons. Gov. Bush was basically forcing a feeding tube in a dead woman’s body, while claiming to be pro-life.

To put this in perspective, Florida executed 21 prisoners when Gov. Bush was in office. He aired attack commercials in 1994, a campaign about his opponent going soft on the death penalty.

Now that Gov. Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign is on life support, maybe someone could return the favor and shove a feeding tube into it. But like Ms. Schiavo, I don’t think it is going to recover.

The one thing I hate more than my rights being violated, is when I see someone else’s rights being violated. The Terri Schiavo case outlines a basic difference between Republicans and Democrats. While Republicans get monthly score cards on how well they fight for second amendment rights, Democrats fight for Americans’ first amendment rights.

A Millennial-Boomer Road Trip

Millennials are going to change the United States and have already started. They are the Libertarians that the Republicans claim to be, but never were. Millennials do not care who you marry, what or if you smoke, or how you choose to die. They may not all agree with abortion, but are furious if everyone is not given the choice. Millennials also don’t get involved in the debate about climate change because deniers are akin to the Flat Earth Society. They are self assured and fearless.

So what does scare a Millennial?

A map.

My high school daughter, Mercedes, and I flew up to Portland for her fall break to visit, Teddy, my oldest daughter. Teddy picked us up at the Portland airport and we were off on a girls’ road trip to Vancouver. The first thing that happened when we crossed the border into Canada was Teddy’s GPS stopped working. So I reached into my backpack, and did what most boomers do when they need to get somewhere, I opened a map.

I cleverly bought a map of the Pacific Northwest, but unfortunately the insert of Vancouver only had every tenth street, this in a town crisscrossed with impassable rail lines and intersected by several bays and inlets. I was left to navigate our route in ever smaller concentric circles until we finally found our apartment building. After many illegal left turns and near misses with pedestrians who do not understand the concept of a “crosswalk,” Teddy was not impressed with my map or my navigation skills. We parked the car until it was time to go home.

We threw our bags in the apartment and settled in the cafe on the bottom floor of our building. Sitting there people watching, we were rather grateful for our impromptu tour of Vancouver. I booked our apartment through airbnb.com in the European section of the city called Gastown, and it was clearly the best location to stay. Downtown was messy and filled with impersonal high-rise apartment complexes. Gastown was incredibly picturesque, like old Europe without the kitsch. Beautiful inlaid brick sidewalks, cobblestone streets, outdoor cafes, lots of fashionably dressed young adults and hip stores, where those who were out walking their dog were men by a ratio of 10 to one over women–a strange thing we noticed every “morning” while enjoying our coffee.

It ends up that we didn’t even have to leave the comfort of our cozy apartment building to experience Vancouver, which is fortunate because we never did before noon. The feel of the apartment was the same vibe in all of Vancouver’s buildings we entered. Clean lines, no clutter, very modern architecture and interior design. Their minimalist style is the antithesis of a decade’s old trend in the United States of “shabby chic” where crafters were known to go prowling garage sales and dumpster diving to find used “treasures” and turn them into home décor.

Walking around Gastown after dinner the first night in Vancouver, I did something very un-Boomer, I bought a selfie stick. I have to admit it is a pretty impressive gadget. I don’t have a phone with which it would work but Teddy and Mercedes had a blast. I get a constant litany how Boomers can’t take pictures with Millenials’ sophisticated phones and the selfie stick relieved me of some of that criticism. I have in the past tried to explain to Mercedes that I am at the tail end of the Boomer generation and don’t really relate to them. I am actually a Generation Xer. All explanations fall on deaf ears once Mercedes has made up her mind about something, which brings me to another Millennial characteristic – you can’t tell them anything, especially when it comes to technology.

It was raining the next day so we went to the mall, and discovered where every foreigner in British Columbia went on Canada’s Thanksgiving Day. Metrotowne is the second largest mall in the country and was conveniently only a 10-minute cab ride away. The girls’ faces glazed over when the cab driver and I chatted about how his family fled the Iranian Revolution and settled in Minnesota. They perked up when the cabbie said that pot was legal in Canada and that there were 160 pot dispensaries just in Vancouver.

Mercedes tried to convince Teddy to buy her some pot. I was about to dispense my motherly advice to be careful if anyone ever offers you edibles because they can be unpredictably stronger than a joint. I realized Millennials didn’t want to hear a Boomer’s practical advice on drugs, and Teddy was just ignoring her, already thinking she might want Chinese for lunch.

We got back to our apartment with enough time for me to make my deadline on the paper. Millennials can entertain themselves with their electronic devices for hours, and that is exactly what they did, the following night. But this night they chatted, sang, put on makeup and wrestled at the foot of my bed as I tried to write. It was late and the streets were still wet from the rain and the red brick was glistening under the street lamps, so I convinced them to go downstairs and take selfies in the carless streets. They eventually did giving me a little quiet time.

The next day was sunny and we walked through Canada Place and along the Sea Wall. The similarities of Vancouver to San Francisco don’t stop. The average price of a home is one million dollars, it’s an isthmus connected to the rest of Canada with bridges and ferries, there are beaches, a huge homeless population and Vancouver has the second largest Chinatown in North America with an ornate entrance just like in The City.

During our three days in Vancouver we strolled for hours, took dozens of selfies and ate gourmet chocolates, some of which actually made it home to my husband. We laughed until we cried several times, and like all good Americans we made fun of the Canadians, but not much because they were so nice.

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