Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Republican Party is Dead

In the wake of Donald Trump's victory in the South Carolina primary last night, and Jeb Bush's withdrawing from the Presidential race; It is clear that Republican Party as it existed from 1860 to 1992 has died. I offer this brief look back on what has now been lost forever.

I remember that January day in 1989, when the newly sworn in President of the United States chose to begin his Administration this way:

"We meet on democracy's front porch. A good place to talk as neighbors and as friends. For this is a day when our nation is made whole, when our differences, for a moment, are suspended. And my first act as President is a prayer. I ask you to bow your heads.

Heavenly Father, we bow our heads and thank You for Your love. Accept our thanks for the peace that yields this day and the shared faith that makes its continuance likely. Make us strong to do Your work, willing to heed and hear Your will, and write on our hearts these words: "Use power to help people." For we are given power not to advance our own purposes, nor to make a great show in the world, nor a name. There is but one just use of power, and it is to serve people. Help us remember, Lord. Amen."

It was the last time the Leader of the Republican Party understood what the Presidency really is.  It is  Servant Leadership.   It is an obligation to use the power of the American government to better lives of its citizens, and be an example to the rest of the world.    We now live in a time where the Republican party is looking for leadership from a blustering oaf who talks about how rich he is, and how big  ego is.  

Long gone are the days when the Republican Party was led by people  who believed things like this...

"My friends, we are not the sum of our possessions. They are not the measure of our lives. In our hearts we know what matters. We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend; a loving parent; a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood, and town better than he found it. 

And what do we want the men and women who work with us to say when we're no longer there? That we were more driven to succeed than anyone around us? Or that we stopped to ask if a sick child had gotten better and stayed a moment there to trade a word of friendship?"

We live in a time where all the Republican Party wears  mindless, blind opposition to everything the current President has sought to do, as some bizarre badge of honor. 

Unlike the days when the  Republican Party was led by someone  who knew in his heart that America is only successful when we work together...

"To my friends, and, yes, I do mean friends -- in the loyal opposition and, yes, I mean loyal -- I put out my hand. I am putting out my hand to you, Mr. Speaker. I am putting out my hand to you, Mr. Majority Leader. For this is the thing: This is the age of the offered hand. And we can't turn back clocks, and I don't want to. But when our fathers were young, Mr. Speaker, our differences ended at the water's edge. And we don't wish to turn back time, but when our mothers were young, Mr. Majority Leader, the Congress and the Executive were capable of working together to produce a budget on which this nation could live. 

Let us negotiate soon and hard. But in the end, let us produce. The American people await action. They didn't send us here to bicker. They ask us to rise above the merely partisan."

We live in a time where the Republican front runners stumble over themselves to assure their base voters that they hate people who are different from them, just as much as they do.  Where campaign promises are not to expand the American Dream but rather to build walls, shred civil rights and marginalize minorities for political gain.    

Gone forever  now,  are the days when the Republican Party embraced the essence of the American experience "E Pluribus Unum" - Out of Many, One,

"A President is neither prince nor pope, and I don't seek a window on men's souls. In fact, I yearn for a greater tolerance, and easygoingness about each other's attitudes and way of life."

I had hopes that after 2012 the Republican Party would seek to turn away from the full speed rush off the cliffs of stupidity, bigotry and extremism, they have been on since 1992. Apparently that hope was in vain.

The Republican Party is dead. It is time to bury it because the stench is starting to contaminate all of American Politics.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Rachel Maddow on GOP Insanity....

2016 - The Republican Kamikaze Mission

The term “Kamikaze” generally refers to suicide attacks by military aviators from Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of World War II, designed to destroy warships more effectively than conventional attacks. If you search the Wikipedia about the Kamikaze pilots of World War II you will find the following passage:

“These attacks, which began in October 1944, followed several critical military defeats for the Japanese. They had long since lost aerial dominance due to outdated aircraft and the loss of experienced pilots. On a macroeconomic scale, Japan suffered from a diminishing capacity for war, and a rapidly declining industrial capacity relative to the Allies. Despite these problems, the Japanese government expressed its reluctance to surrender. In combination, these factors led to the use of kamikaze tactics as Allied forces advanced towards the Japanese home islands.”

If the last few days and weeks have demonstrated anything, it is that the Republican Party in the United States has decided to turn their 2016 campaign into a political and electoral suicide mission. In that context the above referenced Wikipedia entry could easily be rewritten as:

“This obstruction at all costs , which began in December 2008, was further fuelled by critical defeats for the GOP over health care, and the 2012 Presidential race. They had long since lost cultural dominance due to outdated ideas and the loss of experienced and principled candidates On a macro-political scale, the GOP suffered from a diminishing capacity to win Nationally , and a rapidly declining relevance relative to the shifting demographics of the American population Despite these problems, the Base of the party expressed its reluctance to accept any adaptation.   In combination, these factors led to the use of kamikaze tactics such as Government shut downs, mindless filibusters of all nominees, wildly radical candidates, and demands that THIS President not be allowed to use the powers of the office outlined in the constitution.”

I have blogged at length about how the Republican Party is no longer the party of Reagan, Ford, Nixon or even George HW Bush let alone Abraham Lincoln. On the eve of the South Carolina primary the Republican party is poised to nominate as their standard bearer, either Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. I can only assume that the base of the GOP, so demoralized by having lost to President Obama twice; Has decided to go out in a blaze of crazy, and try to inflict as much damage as possible on their own Party and the nation in the process.

This week we see  the latest Zero to take off from the deck of the GOP. The demand that the President of the United States, with nearly a full year left in his term, not be allowed to nominate a candidate to fill the vacancy on the US Supreme Court, resulting from the tragic death of Justice Antonin Scalia over the weekend. The republicans feel that fact the United States Constitution clearly gives the President the duty to nominate justices to the high court can be completely ignored because they don’t like THIS President. 

Lets be clear, that is what this is about. The Republicans still can’t stomach the fact that they lost to Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, They don’t believe he should be President, so they have done nothing but try to destroy his Presidency from day one.

The facts are appointments to the Supreme Court HAVE been voted on in an election year.  The facts are the Affordable Care Act (as imperfect a first step as it is,) is WORKING,  The facts are as President, Barack Obama has issued FEWER executive orders, and spent LESS time on vacation than any of his Republican predecessors.  Not to mention the guy was born in Hawaii and is a Christian.  

Facts, that in the face of which,  the base of the GOP has chosen to simply pretend reality doesn't exist, as they stick their fingers in their ears and yell "LA LA LA LA LA!!! I AM NOT LISTENING!!"  as loud as they can.

Instead the GOP's most faithful have decided to strap themselves to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and take a flaming nosedive at American Democracy.  Seeking to replace it with a right wing evangelical theocracy (Cruz), where being a Muslim is a crime (Trump) but not nearly as big a crime as being Gay or Lesbian (Rubio).  All while turning the entire American economy into a  funnel-up / Trickle-down dystopia where the top 1% have it all and everyone else battles it out for the nothing left over.
When the current crop of GOP Presidential contenders talk about "restoring America" what they mean is:  A country  where millions of Americans will once again have to choose between living in poor health or bankruptcy.  Where Civil Rights and Science are treated at an "attacks on religion" Where cities like Flint Michigan  face mass poisoning because it makes financial sense.   Where American men and women are disposable cannon fodder in an all new series of unending wars in the  Middle East  to either: 1) bring about the "end times" or 2)  get Oil back up above $100 a barrel.

Facing a world that is no longer is "all about them". Knowing that even legislative gerrymandering of Congressional Districts,( the GOP's great "firewall" to protect their Congressional majority), will inevitably fall to changing demographics. Unable to restrict voting rights for minorities outside of deep red states, the Republican Party has decided to go all in on Crazy.    

They see the choice for 2016 as literally victory or death for the GOP. They will win, or by gosh, they will destroy their own party while trying.

That my friends, is what the Republican Party in 2016 is offering to America.  A party that has lost its mind, sold its soul and has  a platform that is entirely based on insanity, hypocrisy and hyperbole. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sunday, February 07, 2016

2016 Expat thoughts: Going Home... the long way 'round?

There is a wonderful moment at the end of the 50th Anniversary special of the famous long running  science fiction series "Doctor Who", where  the Doctor (played by Matt Smith)  addresses  the subject of his characters seemingly endless wanderings through time and space,,,

Home... the long way 'round...

It is a sentiment that many of those who live the expatriate life can relate to all too easily. Maybe that is why I became such fan of Doctor Who. He really is the ultimate "expat". Wandering, travelling, but never homeless. Home is out there. He just hasn't found his way back there... yet.

I had my first "expat" experience when I was 15 and was a foreign exchange student in Germany. It is not an overstatement to say it fundamentally changed me, my outlook on, and future path in life. That lead to spending my gap year studying in Germany, and then spending all my Summers in college working at a Summer Camp in the Wetterstein Alps in Bavaria. Then after graduation from University, to my first expat work posting to Asia, in South Korea.

Now I live in London, not because of a work assignment , but because I fell in love with, and then married a Brit. And at the time, the Defence of Marriage Act, (DOMA) forced us, and many other same sex couples to leave the US in order to simply be with our legally married spouses. Now that DOMA has been partially overturned and those legal barriers to spousal immigration are gone, we are getting asked one question repeatedly..

"So.. When are you guys moving to the U.S?"

That is a difficult question, for a lot of reasons. Not the least of which is purely logistic. The lengthy, and complicated process of my move from the US to London over 5 years ago was physically, emotionally and financially exhausting. So the prospect of packing up our lives all over again to move half way across the world is a bit daunting. Yet the question keeps being asked, don't I want to come home?

Oscar Wilde once said the United States and Great Britain were two countries separated by a common language. While there so much about life in the UK that is similar to life back home, it is at the end of the day a foreign country, and I am, at the end of the day a foreigner here. A resident alien. So make no mistake, I miss home, as much as  I love our life here in the UK,,  having the clerk at the supermarket say; "Oooh! I just love your accent! Where are you from Luv?", is amusing the first ten times it happens. But when it happens every single time, it gets very old, very quickly.

So the  answer to the question do I want to come home  is, yes of course I do, and eventually I will be heading home,   I'm just going the long away 'round.     Yet as I watch the 2016 U.S. Presidential race take shape, its hard not to feel that going home again, wouldn't be such a wonderful thing after all.

I will be supporting Hillary Clinton in this next election, Friends of mine who support  Bernie Sanders say that he would be a stronger advocate for the LGBT community.  I know he has struck a strong populist cord with many, but his elect- ability is highly doubtful.   Also, I should I am really looking for what will get us closest to a third term for Barack Obama.  Or at least the nearest equivalent thereof.

The  GOP is not, and never could be an option for anyone who cares about civil rights. As a party  they have run  full speed off the cliffs of insanity deciding that the GOP platform would be not to give Americans something to vote for, but rather try to fear monger voters in to what and who they should vote against. (Gays, immigrants, women who want to control their own bodies, people who are not white conservative evangelicals.etc. etc.)

So when I see and hear  ALL of the current Republican candidates for President talk about the need to take away my civil rights, and how using the power of the executive branch of the federal government to forcibly dissolve my marriage  would be one their first priorities upon winning the oval office.  Along with claiming that allowing people and businesses to discriminate against me in the public sphere is "protecting religious liberty";   I can't help but feel that way home growing longer  and longer by the day.    

Living overseas sounds exciting,  friends back in the United States always say how much they envy the life I have. But they don't see the whole picture.   Yes  living as an expat is an exciting and culturally diverse adventure.   Yet at the same time  you are all too aware that should something happen to a loved one at home, like a serious illness or accident,  you are, (under the best of circumstances), at least a full day's travel away, if you are lucky.     

My parents are thankfully both in good health,  but I am all too aware of the distance  from here to there,    My husband being here in the UK,   was unable to get back to Malaysia to see either  his Father or  Mother when they each suddenly took ill and passed away.  I would be lying if I didn't admit that scenario at times wakes me up in the middle of the night. 

So  this next Presidential election will determine just how long that long way 'round actually will be. A President Hillary Clinton would certainly  give us greater options to shorten that journey.   

After all, there's no place like home...

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Sound of My Silence...

Many of you have wondered why I have been largely  silent over the past few months, and  have not been blogging  on the  2016 US Presidential race.   The reason is pretty simple.

There is only so much crazy I can tolerate.  

I have watched the  unfolding events  around the  2016 American Presidential race with a growing sense of despair.    I had hoped that after  the 2012  election the Republican Party would find  that mindless factless, and patently racist obstructionism was not a path back to the White House.

Apparently  that hope was at best a fantasy.    The Republican Party  as it had existed throughout American history beginning with the election of Abraham Lincoln, is  dead.    It had  been in a coma since 1996, but now it is long past time  to declare the GOP  officially brain dead.

When the core platform of the GOP is to once again, make pre-existing conditions a reason to deny a person health care, and to take away civil rights from thousands of Americans by forcibly divorcing them from their husbands and wives;  You have to wonder at the basic sanity ,  let alone decency of the cirque d'insanity that  calls itself the Republican Party in 2016.   Let alone  their  current clear  front runner.

Seriously...  this  is what passes for a front runner in Republican Presidential politics in 2016.  But ok... lets pretend for a moment that Donald Trump is not the face, (and Id)  of the modern day GOP, who is next in line?  

That would be this guy...

Lets pretend for just a moment that  the guy who just won the GOP race in the Iowa Caucus is not a serious contender for the  GOP presidential nomination.   So who else is there?   Ladies and Gentlemen ,  meet  the guy who is next in line...   Marco Rubio.

There is no  reason  for any sane, decent patriotic American to even consider voting for any of the current crop of  GOP Presidential candidates.