Political Fix (18 February, 2016)

Turning The Clock Back

The South Carolina presidential debate on February 13 made it abundantly clear that the only potty trained Republican on the dais was Ohio Governor John Kasich. I would have included Dr. Ben Carson on the list, but after he said the Pyramids of Giza were actually grain silos, I haven’t paid much attention to him.

Gov. Kasich, who stays on point and keeps his message positive, said that the Republican sandbox brawl practically handed the presidency over to Hilary Clinton. (Notice Republicans always assume Mr. Sanders is going to lose.) Gov. Kasich had just taken a surprising second in the New Hampshire Primary, and said during his “victory” speech, “there is magic in the air with this campaign.”

Magic is exactly what Gov. Kasich is going to need to catch up to Mr. Trump as he continues to dominate this election. Mr. Trump did a lot yelling but was spot on during the debate. He said, among other things, that it was a mistake to invade Iraq, that President George W. Bush did not keep us safe during his presidency, and maybe Barbara Bush should be running for president instead of Jeb.

Mr. Trump’s “hitting back” and Gov. Kasich’s maturity seem to be a winning strategy. But another popular tactic by all the candidates is to pummel President Obama’s performance during his last seven years in office. Every debate is filled with doom and gloom about how United States is about to fall off the side of the Earth. The sound bites are, “We need to restore America,” “rebuild the military” and Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

Mr. Trump’s slogan is a deliberate flashback to Ronald Reagan’s 1979 slogan, “Let’s Make America Great Again.” Not only does the campaign slogan try to put Mr. Trump on a level playing field as the Republican icon, it harks back to the days, in 1979, when United States citizens suffered through long lines at the gas station, high unemployment and inflation, all of which could be attributable to President Carter’s presidency.

Here is the problem. It could be argued that things were worse after four years of President Carter. But it cannot be said that the United States is in worse condition since President Obama took office. When President Obama took office the country was bogged down in an unpopular, expensive war and the economy had just entered the Great Recession after eight years of Bush’s laissez-faire economics.

Since President Obama took office the unemployment rate has gone down from 10% to 5%. The economy has added nearly 8.4 million jobs. The deficit has been cut by a third since 2013. The stock market has risen by 50% and corporate profits are up 166%. Real weekly wages are up 3.4%. Gas prices are down, from $4.11 per gallon in 2008 to $2.40 in 2015. U.S. economic growth, measured by the GDP, went up from -0.3% in 2008 to 3.7%. Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, once 19,000, are soon to be under 6,000.

So what do the Republican’s really mean by “bring America back again?” because I’m assuming they don’t want 10% employment and a negative GDP. Maybe they are referring to the fact that they would like to turn the clock back on Gays openly serving in the military? Maybe they would like to go back to the days when marijuana was considered taboo? Maybe they just want to go back to a time when Marriage Equality meant that dad changed a few diapers on the week end?

Maybe when they cry that President Obama’s tenure has been a complete disaster, what they mean to say is that they can’t turn back to clock on social reforms.

Where was Bernie Sanders When I Wanted a Longer Recess?

My family’s lawyer has a yearly Consultants’ Dinner at the Vintage Press where he gathers a variety of writers, politicians, environmentalists and agitators to share their thoughts on how we can make a better tomorrow. I thought I would take the opportunity to survey our diverse group on how they would vote in the presidential primary. Not all attendees were Democrats but even so, I limited the choice to Sen. Bernie Sanders or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Out of the 16 dinner guests, and our waitress, the votes were two undecided, five for Ms. Clinton, and ten for Mr. Sanders. Our little dinner party reflected the mood of the country – Americans are voting for a grumpy old socialist Jew.

Talking about Jewish, Mr. Sanders became the first Jew to ever win a primary in the United States. The “making history” moniker has always been Ms. Clinton’s for possibly being the first woman president, but Mr. Sanders has become quite a history maker himself. And he didn’t just win the New Hampshire primary, he crushed it, beating Ms. Clinton 60% to 38%.

So how did a socialist beat a member of the Democratic establishment? By doing what socialist do – give stuff away.

There he stood in front of a crowd of millennials saying after his victory in New Hampshire, “Who is ready for a political revolution?” Of course the crowd erupted in wild cheers. By political revolution he means, besides campaign finance reform and breaking up Wall Street, giving stuff away: such as college tuition, healthcare, forgiving student debt, providing for mandatory paid family and medical leave, and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Like a school girl I was cheering in front of the TV too. Mr. Sanders campaign reminds me when I was in sixth grade and every Friday afternoon the Cafeteria ladies would run out of big sticks ice cream pops. A boy ran for president of our school who promised more big sticks, so I voted for him.

So why am I not voting for Bernie Sanders? Let’s start with the free college.

Mr. Sanders has given few details about how he would pay for college. Many European countries like Germany provide free college, but there is a catch. Those European countries that offer free college have a much lower enrollment than in America. In the United States you don’t even have to graduate from high school to go to college. Getting accepted to college in countries where it is free entails getting very high test scores and graduating high school. The process is also is exceedingly difficult and selective. Meaning – I would have never made it.

Income tax rate in Germany is 49.3% while the average income tax rate in the United States is 31%. That probably answers how Mr. Sanders plans on paying for his plans, but it’s not free if tax payers absorb that cost.

As far as free health care Mr. Sanders has a point. It is really a black eye that the United States is the only developed country without universal health care. Currently under Obamacare it is said that 90% of Americans have health insurance.

That’s a croc, and Mr. Sanders knows it and Ms. Clinton pretends she doesn’t. He knows that no one with a $6000 deductible is ever going to see a doctor. Also newly insured poor people with Obamacare aren’t going to see a doctor because few doctors will accept Obamacare. So Mr. Sanders wants to start from scratch.

What Mr. Sanders needs to scratch is the current American Medical Association (AMA) that limits the number of doctors in this country and keeps the cost of medical universities artificially inflated. If the AMA would clean up their antiquated corrupt practices, the United States would have an abundance of affordable primary physicians who don’t have to sell their first-born to pay off their student debt. Then we can talk about Universal Health Care.

And that brings us back to free college.

And Finally…

I don’t know how much cross pollination happens between Political Fix and the series of cat articles I wrote concerning Mooney Grove. But, for those who read both, my family has a sad anniversary this month. It was February 18 of last year that we lost “Echo the feral kitten.”

The Mooney Grove feral cat story developed the week between Christmas and New Year’s 2014. It was a slow news week so the editor said “go for it” when I wanted to write about our family cat.

My husband found Echo when she was no bigger than the palm of his hand. She was stuck in a bush where he and our son were gardening at one of our commercial buildings. My 250 pound, rugby playing son was put in charge of holding onto the kitten on the car ride home. But all five inches of her managed to escape his grasp. “She hissed at me,” he whimpered. She spent the next two days hiding in our Toyota Echo until we finally pulled her out from a crawl space under the passenger seat.

Somehow Echo survived our incompetence, beat the odds of being hit by a car, eaten by a coyote, or bitten by a rattler, and made it to adulthood. She mostly lived in the rafters of our carport and gazed down on us with contempt. She hissed at whoever opened the door to let her in to eat then immediately ran back outside. Echo was the worst pet in the history of pets and then one day she developed a skin infection and slipped away to die in peace.

I don’t know who was surprised more, Echo or me, but she didn’t die. She crawled out of her hiding spot, reduced to a head connected to a pile of bones, and managed to drink some water. Each day, she crawled ten more feet until she dragged herself up the stairs to our front porch. When she finally made it all the way to her food bowl in the kitchen she rarely left. Soon her stomach dragged on the floor and she had three chins. It took six months, but Echo did get back to her lithe, athletic self. She could hunt like a lioness and I looked at her in awe. She looked at me with disdain.

Then one day, completely out of the blue, she ventured beyond the kitchen and sauntered into the family room and began to roll around on the rug. She jumped on my husband’s lap, kneaded his belly, and rubbed her face against his. After going through eight of her nine lives, Echo, the feral kitten, became a domesticated cat.

Fast forward nine years later, it was February 18, 2014, that my five kids, husband, and myself packed up the moving truck and reluctantly left our family home for good. Through the grace of God, and realtor extraordinaire Darcy Staberg, we found the perfect home in which to relocate. And by the time the Academy Awards were on a few nights later, my big beautiful family were eating hors d’oeuvres in front of the TV and filling out our ballots just like we always did.

But one member of the family didn’t weather the move as well as us humans. Reverting back to her feral instincts, Echo darted out of the car as we pulled into our new driveway and disappeared into the orange grove populated by hungry coyotes.

Ironically, Echo’s life was cut short by the actions of a person who is one of Valley Oaks SPCA’s largest donors. In fact, I think she is one of two people in their “Golden Circle.” When this avid animal lover evicted us, her myopic goal was our house. It never dawned on her the human toll, or the toll it took on our animals, two of which died.

They say that humans and animals return to where they were happiest after they die. Echo’s spirit undoubtedly went back to her home in Lemon Cove. She sun bathed on our brick patio and rolled around on our combination Bermuda grass and weeds of our so called front lawn. She dominated her territory hunting mice and gophers like a lioness, even taking down rabbits.

I don’t know how thrilled I am about Echo’s spending her after-life with my mom, dad and step mom’s maid, who promptly moved into our home. In addition to that, the maid built a nondescript fence that blocks the best view on the little knoll where the house sits. It’s where Echo and I would enjoy late summer afternoons as we watched the sun set behind the foothills.

But my parents’ maid knew me and my kids and she liked us, so she was probably an unwitting participant in the whole unfortunate series of events. I liked and trusted her too so, I hate to say it, but Echo is probably just as happy there in her after-life as she was alive with me. Maybe even more so, now that she doesn’t have to wait for us pesky humans to open up the door to her kitchen.

3 thoughts on “Political Fix (18 February, 2016)

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  1. Its the third rail in Anglo journalism to say ‘Socialist Jew’. The Right cant handle israel being Socialist w/ universal hc and the whole deal.

  2. Left or Right….. Bernie Sanders IS a socialist Jew and he freely admits to being one. He also is old and most definitely comes across as cranky and he (and his wife) admits to that description as well.

  3. Economics is one of those subjects, like the Bible, that has so much complexity that it is essentially a Rorschach test to listen to others talk about it.
    And it it funny to watch the haters flop about like a flounder as they try to pin economic trouble on Obama and pretend that 2008 never happened.
    Presidents don’t really have that much control over the economy.
    The haters try to pretend that gas lines and stagflation never happened before Carter, but all one has to do is google “Whip Inflation Now” for the truth.
    The economic turmoil of the 1970’s was most directly attributable to Nixon withdrawing from the Bretton Woods Agreement (no choice-he had to) and Arab nation anger over US support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War of 1973,

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