Showing posts with label Ted Cruz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ted Cruz. Show all posts

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Back Room*. A short film


Image credit: Still from Gertie the Dinosaur (Windsor McCay, 1914)
FADE IN.

INT.     RESTAURANT – NIGHT.

We open in a smoke-filled private room of a high-end restaurant. We see a group of old white men in expensive looking suits sitting around a table. It is clear that they have finished eating dinner; they are now sipping cognac and enjoying Cuban cigars. Their body language shows that they are in the midst of a heated discussion and debate.  

Our meeting takes place a few weeks after Marco Rubio has quit the Republican primary race, after a humiliating defeat in his home state. 

Old White Man 1 
Kasich is pretty much out of this, it is now between Trump and Cruz... 

Old White Man 2 
…yeah, and THAT is basically why we are fucked and need a new plan... 

Old White Man 3 
...talk about being shit out of luck. How the hell could this happen. 
I was assured that Bush was a shoe-in. I mean who knew George W. 
would turn out to be the smarter son! Feel I should get my money back… 

Old White Man 4 
Oh, stop fuckin crying over spilt milk…
the question is how do we stop Cruz and Trump?  

Old White Man 5 
(EXASPERATED)
He is right. If we don’t stop them, then the gravy trains ends right here 
- for every person in this room…and that cannot be allowed to happen. 

Old White Man 6 
There is one way but it will require a united front… 

Old White Man 6 
(continuing)
We ALL need to rally around Ted Cruz. We need to do it publicly and loudly while also
making VERY clear that there will be no new establishment nominee inserted into the
equation, at the convention. 

Old White Man 2 
Ted Cruz - are you nuts? I mean that man is crazier than Trump. 
Cruz has a brain and an agenda, which makes him far more dangerous 
because unlike Trump he knows what he is doing…!!! 

Old White Man 3 
Yeah, that makes no sense at all. If I have to choose between the two, 
I would rather have a man who is bat shit crazy and has no idea what 
he is doing, than someone who knows exactly what he is doing  
– Cruz is far more dangerous to this party and our way of life. 

Old White Man 6 
Gentlemen, please! I understand the hesitation and fear 
in supporting a man whom none of us want in this party, 
leave alone to be the face of it. But this is the only way now. 

All the men look exasperated; some throw their hands up in despair while a few seem to be
muttering under their breath. 

Old White Man 6 
(continuing)
We need to let the race run out to the convention to kill this cancer. 
In states where Cruz has no chance Kasich will play spoiler 
and take votes from Trump. This way neither Cruz nor Trump will
have the votes needed to win outright… 

Old White Man 3 
(LIKE A LIGHT SWITCH HAS GONE OFF)
…and once we make it to convention, they will be on our turf… 

Old White Man 4 
…and that means they will have to play by the rules. 

Old White Man 6 
(WITH A WRY SMILE)
…and we know that neither Cruz nor Trump will ever
win a delegate majority in the first two rounds of voting… 

For the first time we see smiles all around the table; a triumphant mood prevails. 

Old White Man 5 
Eliminate Cruz, dump Trump, Rubio can come back into play;
But so can pretty much anybody else in the third round of voting… 

Old White Man 4 
…and if it gets really ugly and nobody can agree then we will be forced into finding a
consensus candidate to come in and save the party… 

Old White Man 6 
…now the first thing we need to do is get Paul Ryan to hold a press conference and assure
everyone that he is neither seeking nor will accept the party’s nomination
under any circumstances…

FADE TO BLACK.

*Note: this is a work of fiction. Please read and enjoy responsibly.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Open Letter to America: To Defeat Trump We Need To Be Better Than He Is



Many young people say they want to carry on Dr. King’s legacy. They want to battle racism, hate, and intolerance to level the societal playing field and unify us. It is for these reasons they want to stop Donald Trump and his supporters, believing they stand for the opposite and try to divide us. Yet, it seems in Chicago the other night they forgot about the “how” that Dr. King used to fight ALL bigotry and hatred.

The protestors who went to the Trump rally were well organized. They came armed with inflammatory t-shirts and signs with the intention of pressing buttons and inciting Trump supporters. They have admitted as much. “They got the job done, Vickie Deanda, 54, an accountant from Chicago, said of the demonstrators. “Someone has to object to this hatred" (Source: New York Times article). They went there not to protest peacefully, which is their right, but to shut it down and prevent it from taking place, infringing on Trump’s right.

When I got on Twitter the evening after the rally was cancelled, many young people, who claimed to have been at the venue and part of the anti-Trump crew were gloating about how they had won; by ‘shutting down’ hate.  They were openly proud of the fact that they had forced Donald Trump to send home his supporters, and cancel a legally organized and permitted event. The irony is that these so-called champions and defenders of free speech did not seem to care that they had just trampled on someone else's right to it.

I am not writing to defend Trump, but in Chicago the actions of the demonstrators made him seem the victim and brought people who despise him, like me, to his defense. This while also emboldening his supporters by proving both that they do not have a voice in this country and that they get shutdown when they try to express it. So I ask you, what was achieved?

Trump has shown that he lacks both the maturity and the temperament to lead. He openly tells lies, bullies people when confronted, and uses reckless, irresponsible rhetoric to prey on genuine fears. That is not leadership; it is cowardice. Anyone can use people’s insecurities, fear and anger to rally them. True leadership aims to help people rise above.

That is the point I want to make to the next generation of America. To beat Trump we need to unite and rise above the anger, fear and frustrations he uses to rally his base. This means we need to first acknowledge the very real fears of many Americans; people who have lost their jobs to foreign countries and immigrants like me. We need to acknowledge their realities and struggles to make ends meet without the proper education, skills or training necessary to compete in a technologically-driven and rapidly changing world. And we need to offer them an alternative narrative to his hate, bigotry and divisiveness. That is how we beat Trump and win, not by resorting to his bullying, bashing and shouting.

Some of the young people on Twitter told me that we are at war; they compared Trump to the rise of Hitler. To them I say first we are not at war, but yes, we need to fight back. However, it is imperative we do so by upholding our values, beliefs and principles, not by compromising them by fighting on Trump's terms. Even during WWII we did not gas every Nazi soldier we captured, though many of us could have justified it, nor did we execute those responsible for setting up and running the concentration camps; we tried and sentenced them. Our actions when fighting and punishing them were not based on an emotional reaction to the heinousness of their crimes, but on our values, humanity, intellect and sense of justice.

One young man on Twitter asked me how we beat Trump. To him and every other young person angered by his hate-filled rhetoric, I say we do it by uniting; that is the only way. This is a time to look beyond party lines; there are no republicans or democrats in this fight. We are all Americans and irrespective of our political differences, we share the same values. 

Only by standing together, united as one nation, can we show Trump that he will not hijack a nation by misleading and playing on the fears and emotions of a small group of angry people. We need to show him that we are better than that. That we can put aside our differences when something greater is at stake and defeat a common enemy.

Trump is appealing to humanity’s basest instincts; we must appeal to the noblest.

Remember, that while we should be willing to die for our cause, we should never be willing to kill for it. This is what differentiates us from the people who are filled with hate. If we are to lose that distinction, we become no different than people we disagree with, even if our cause claims to be the greater one.

Friday, March 11, 2016

How the Grand Old Party came to reside in Donald Trump’s Trousers


“I mean, let’s be honest. Who wants to hang out with guys like Paul Krugman and Robert Reich, when you can be with Rush Limbaugh!”
Mitch McConnell, CPAC Speech, February 2009

That was the minority leader of the United States Senate arguably embracing a conspiracy-theory-brewing, hate-spewing right-wing entertainment radio jockey during a speech he gave at one of the most important gatherings of conservatives. A few months prior to the 2010 midterm election, and barely two years into Obama’s first-term he also declared open war when he told the National Journal’s Major Garrett that “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." (Source: Washington Post article).

There has been much consternation among political pundits, outrage from the so-called establishment and heated discussion on Fox News about how Donald Trump has managed to become the front runner in the Republican presidential primary contest. Nobody seems able to understand or explain why he was able to best the Koch brothers and many other powerful and well-funded candidates backed by the party intelligentsia, brain trust and even billionaire donors; Trump even managed to end the run of a powerful dynastic candidate.

That party says he does not represent true conservative values and that they do not support his blatant xenophobia and unabashedly racist comments. They say the that Republicans are not racist and have unequivocally disavowed the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups that have flocked to their party’s front-runner. Yet, nobody has asked that Trump be ex-communicated from the Republican Party. Sure Mitt Romney made a speech lambasting Trump but suggested they try to get to a brokered convention (rather than oust Trump) , and Lindsey Graham has also been launching into Trump, but nobody in the party has come out and said that he has crossed a line and that the party should disown him and let him run as an independent candidate because something bigger than winning an election is at stake. In fact, at the end of the last debate all the candidates on the stage pledged to support Trump if he became the party nominee.

It is not secret that there has long been a vocal minority within the Republican ranks that believes this country has been on an unimpeded road to liberal hell and damnation; dominated by feckless Democrats and lily-livered RINO’s (Republicans in Name Only). This group is blamed for enacting welfare policies and creating a culture of dependency through handouts, slowly destroying the once strong moral and God-fearing social fabric of America.

In the mind of this group, the attacks on 9/11 presented the perfect opportunity, and George W. Bush the perfect patsy, to implement an ultra-conservative agenda. One driven by a strike first and ask questions later foreign policy, and one that was to be followed by an audacious reversal and re-drawing of society and domestic policy to lead us towards the conservative promised land. However, as we all know this dream of a conservative utopia did not quite pan out, or come close to reversing sixty plus years of American policy in Bush’s two terms.

Reeling from the botched and hugely unpopular Iraq war, Bush started to distance himself from Cheney and the Neocons. He began to soften his rhetoric, seeking diplomacy in both North Korea and Iran, and seeking council from Condoleezza Rice over Dick. By the end of his tenure, the Bush presidency not only looked and felt like an unmitigated foreign policy disaster, but Bush had also presided over an unprecedented growth in the size of government, never before seen deficits (financed by borrowing from China), he had championed immigration reform, that would allow current illegals to stay, provided government handouts, the largest corporate bailout in history and even extended unemployment assistance. And there was no more tough talk or threats of war with Iran or any other axis of evil powers.

This betrayal of almost every dearly held conservative principle by Bush led to further disenchantment within the Republican ranks and gave birth to the Tea Party. The Tea Party called itself a grassroots movement and was founded on the promise of being anti-establishment, which was a good thing. However, it quickly became about grandstanding and portraying themselves as anti-government, anti-spending/bailouts/stimulus, anti-immigration and anti-compromise on every major issue, offering an ideological way or the highway.

Initially, the GOP establishment was happy to bring them on board, as it helped them win back the House. Party elders also likely believed they would be able to strong arm the Tea party into submission if they could not find middle ground with them. But on every issue – from reducing size of government, bringing down deficit spending, simplifying the tax code, to reducing personal and corporate tax rates and repealing Obamacare, the Tea party refused to compromise or discuss a jointly agreed path forward. It was clear that their only agenda was to block any hint of compromise with ‘liberals’ and in doing so also hijack the GOP by yanking them much further to the right.

Politics is about compromise; ideology is not. By holding a gun to the establishment GOP, the Tea party really only succeeded in making it the party of ‘NO’ and providing Obama a free pass; even though he has done little to reach out and seek compromise himself. This growing rebellion within the party also forced every GOP presidential candidate to lean further and further to the right in an attempt to appeal to the evangelical and extreme base of the party. 

We saw how John McCain’s VP pick, intended to placate this vociferous and growingly powerful base, turned out. We also saw a once moderately conservative and imminently electable Massachusetts Governor forced to expend considerable time and energy trying to prove that he was conservative enough to his base. Romney even embraced the ridiculous and racist birther controversy, born in conservative talk show land and pushed by Trump at that time.

The GOP welcomed this ideologically driven group into their fold, expecting to tame it, but should have known they were opening Pandora’s Box. There is a reason why not ONE Republican Senator or Congressman endorsed or lent support to Ted Cruz’s candidacy, prior to Donald Trump leading the primary race. Most members of his own party openly show disdain for Cruz’s views, his histrionics and zero-compromise political tactics.

Certainly, the level of vitriol today cannot be blamed entirely on the GOP. The democrats have done nothing to change the tenor of the conversation or offer olive branches; they too resorted to personally attacking Bush and each other in 2008. The result of all this has been eight years of vitriol, no compromises, government shutdowns, a mainstream embracing of conspiracy theories and open attacks on elected leaders character’s, and not their policies. But right now the Democrats do not have a potentially authoritarian demagogue as their leading candidate.

Night after night on Fox News, I have watched the likes of Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs show open disdain for Obama, the man. This while the network has also been routinely whipping up frenzy about terrorism and Muslims; many times with half-truths and even pure falsehoods - like their reporting that many cities in Europe had become Muslim ‘no go zones’ (Source: Washington Post article).  Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana, even mentioned the same blatant lie during his brief and ill-fated run in the GOP primary (Source: Guardian article). A report by 2015 PundiFact found that on Fox and Fox News an alarming 60 percent of the claims checked have been rated Mostly False or worse.”(Source: PolitiFact article).

Republicans have long been playing a dangerous game, while the plight of most working class Americans has continued to worsen in this hi-tech digital economy and world. The party has spent much time and energy trying to block everything Obama did, almost always unsuccessfully, while their base has continued to grow angrier about the loss of jobs, stagnating wages and has continued to become more and more disillusioned with their seeming inaction. Consider that during six of Bush’s eight years, the GOP controlled the House and the Senate (also for the last six years of Clinton’s term). They won back the House after Obama’s first two years in office, and have controlled it for three quarters of his presidency; and they won back the Senate in 2014.

It does not matter that GOP leaders have never used Trump’s blunt language or xenophobic vitriol, but the fact that they have never distanced themselves from the extreme voices within the party and media surrogates like Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter and most of the shows on Fox News makes a difference. Even Rubio has consistently and angrily decried that Obama is willfully and consciously destroying the principles and values that America was built on – and this has the same effect of making the man an enemy, not a political opponent.

So, I for one do not understand why the GOP is now behaving like they are surprised and shocked by the rise of Donald Trump and the immense popularity of Ted Cruz (who is right of Trump on a number of issues). Both men are attracting and energizing the anger within the base, one that the party has quietly and dangerously coddled, ignored and nurtured of extremely conservative, evangelical, angry, non-college educated and predominantly white men.

Trump is merely a manifestation of the cancer the GOP created and then failed to treat. Instead of scratching their heads and feigning ignorance or deluding themselves into believing that they can somehow ‘control’ or work with Trump - they need to disavow him. Even if that means breaking up the party (which is more likely to happen if he wins) and losing the election.

This is a moment in history when a party needs to put country before self. This is not just about another election; Trump has made it about the kind of country America wants to be in the future and the belief and values it holds most dear.

Monday, February 1, 2016

2016 Presidential Candidates as Movie Characters

Whether you identify as a conservative, a liberal, a socialist, a libertarian or an independent there is one thing we will all be able to agree on this election season; the fact that we have never before witnessed such a colorful and stodgy, unhinged and funny, frightening and unconventional, inane and insane set of candidates before in US history.

What better way to celebrate this motley crew of candidates than by thinking of which movie character they most remind me of…

Enjoy and happy voting!


















Friday, December 25, 2015

Political Correctness and the Rise of Donald Trump


“I got a feeling about political correctness. I hate it. It causes us to lie silently instead of saying what we think.” 
Hal Holbrook

There has been widespread condemnation, from across the political spectrum, of Donald Trump’s latest outlandish suggestion of barring all Muslims who are not US citizens from entering the United States. This is not the first time he has tread heavily into the territory of race, religion and ethnicity. Mr. Trump launched his campaign pronouncing that all Mexican immigrants were rapists and drug dealers and should be shipped back to Mexico. Since then he also has offended women, blacks, news anchors, the wider Hispanic diaspora, and the list goes on.

I have read many social media posts and news articles dismissing Trump as “un-American” and as someone who does not reflect American values. Yet, Mr. Trump’s poll numbers and popularity have remained largely unaffected and his support continues to grow. A recent poll indicated that 68% of his Republican base would support him if he ran as an independent (Source: USA Today) and he has 37% support nationally.

It is easy but would be dangerous to dismiss Mr. Trump and his passionate band of followers as crazy right-wing republicans and white supremacist bigots. Or to consider them a passing anomaly that has nothing to do with the growing fears and frustration of a large percentage of the American’s. I have heard journalists like Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity try to argue the merits of some of Mr. Trump’s assertions, and I suspect that fears about Islam, terrorism and immigration are main stream, even if the hate rests in the fringes. It is just that the majority of people are too scared to express even reasonable views freely for fear of offending someone and being branded a racist.

I am not suggesting that we seriously consider any of Mr. Trumps’ proposals, but to simply dismiss them and the fears of a growing number of Americans would be far more dangerous. If we do, these frustrations will only continue to fester, turn to deeper anger, and come out in even uglier ways. The question we need to ask ourselves is why does Donald Trump exist as a political force?

Trump is part reality TV star, part American dream, part frustration with politicians and lack of leadership, and part a product of political correctness gone awry. Trump is a cancer built from all the problems we have swept under our carpets for far too long in an attempt to create something resembling a society where nobody is ever offended.

Think about the fact that his greatest appeal is that he says, does, and sounds like most normal people do; like your politically incorrect grandfather, father and uncle. He routinely makes gaffs, says dumb things, lashes out in anger, but never does he come across as scripted or disingenuous politician trying to sound politically correct and thus totally unnatural. 
 
I am sure that political correctness, when it started on college campuses a few decades ago, was well-intentioned and genuinely meant to educate us, make us more aware and sensitive to other people. It was meant to help us become accepting of other beliefs, faiths and cultures. But today it seems to have become about trying to mould everyone into thinking, sounding and saying the same things. It has become the default weapon to shut down all alternate world views and is being used to prevent people from speaking their minds.

The point is that we all do and say stupid things and we all have prejudices and biases. We always have and we always will; that is part of being human. Today, it feels like political correctness (PC) in America has metastasised into a way to chastise anyone and everyone who does not fit some random litmus test. But all we are succeeding in doing is shutting down alternate viewpoints and muzzling people who do not think the same way, or agree with our views. It is this avatar of PC that is in large part responsible for creating and unleashing the monster we now call Donald Trump.

This is a very dangerous thing in a democracy that claims to value freedom of thought and speech above all else. Because freedom of speech also means allowing people who view the world differently to air their views, no matter how offensive, hurtful or heinous we might find them to be.

Not everybody thinks the same way about homosexuality, global warming or taxation. However, there is a stark difference between someone who spreads hate and someone who simply disagrees; and not all disagreement is rooted in hatred. We need to start making those distinctions and respectfully disagree with people, but not try to muzzle or force them to change their views by shaming them. Instead, we need to show people a better way through our actions; that is the only way you to change someone’s mind and long-held beliefs.

We need to make sure that the mainstream voice is more powerful and thus drowns out the hate. Think about the fact that there are still many Nazi sympathisers and active members of KKK, but the power of the mainstream has driven them into the wilderness, and made sure they stay ostracised and in the fringes of society.

We need to accept that everyone lies, fibs and says things that are sexist, racist, and homophobic. This does not make you a liar, racist, misogynist or a homophobe. We are human and will never be perfectly polite or politically correct because part of being human is doing and saying dumb and hurtful things – sometimes in anger, sometimes out of frustration or pain and very often in a misguided attempt to be funny.

I do not want to live in a world that is so superficial and forcibly sanitised, that we have to worry about everything we do and say. If we continue down this obsessively political correct path, all we will achieve is to alienate friends and family, and fuel the hatemongers even more. One day we will wake up to find that we have stopped independent thought, free speech, social experimentation and personal growth.

Our greatest ability, as humans, is not to be perfect in everything we say, do, feel and think, but to learn and change, after we have been shown a better way by others.