Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Can this Obese Man Beat Obama?

In the five days following his feeble effort in last week's Orlando debate the right-wing punditocracy has been eviscerating Rick Perry in tones reserved usually for liberals.   Kristol,  Hume,  Coulter and Lowry are all clamoring for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to run for the Republican nomination.   Christie has repeatedly said he is not interested but insiders are reporting that the governor is giving it serious consideration.  Is the current field so bad that these committed rightists would turn to a novice like Christie?  Apparently so.

Chris Christie spent most of the previous decade as the United States Attorney for New Jersey before running for NJ governor  in 2009.  He has been on that job for less than two years and he has distinguished himself mostly for a particular NJ/NY obnoxiousness--aka he is a real asshole in the mold of so many natives of this region. He is Koch, Giuliani, Trump, but without the charm. 

A Christie run could make this year's GOP nominating contest rival the epic Obama-Hillary battle of 08.  But could Christie get the nomination?  And if he did could he beat Obama?
I think the answer on the former is maybe, and the latter a definite no.  That's why I'm hoping that Christie runs.   Ideologically, he isn't as right-wing as Perry or Romney but his style is very right-wing--meaning he is the boss you loathe.  He is pompous and arrogant though refreshingly blunt in comparison to most politicians.  

But Christie is playing in the minors and there will be much to pick apart should he jump in.  Experience, temperament are only two which will come up.  Another one which won't be discussed by the candidates themselves is the elephant in the room.  And yes, pun intended. Chris Christie is nearing fifty, and at a whopping 285 pounds on a 5:9" frame, he is morbidly obese.   Though he may in many ways look like the average American voter, particularly the further one travels inland,  people don't actually want to see themselves in our leaders.  especially when he would be the fattest world leader around.  

What can Christie do?  He looks like a Bay Ridge bouncer.   Every time I see his image, I start to do neck exercises as he see the fat rings circling his neck.  I know that I'm not the only one.  
He makes President Clinton (even at the height of his fat boy Bubba persona look svelte in comparison).   This country does not need to be led by someone so unable to control basic impulses.  Think of the always dubious image of America around the world.  Wouldn't Christie perfectly symbolize the bloated, smug, out-sized role of the United Sates?  Which leads me to conclude that Christie cannot be seriously considering a run since he doesn't seem to have bothered to try to lose any weight lately.  The right is so desperate to take out Obama that they will audition anyone to run even the seriously flawed and inexperienced.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Troubles of Rick Perry

Everyone left, right and center is piling on Texas Governor Rick Perry for last night's disastrous debate performance in Orlando.  The debate was remarkable on many fronts.  It featured Perry once again defending himself from attacks on his right for showing too much compassion when it comes to illegal immigrants.   But his worst moment occurred late in the debate when he bumbled a simple recitation of the many flip-flops of Mittens Romney. It was supposed to sound like one of those nice singing-songey litanies but instead came off just a bit less stupid than Shrub's infamous "fool me once, shame on--shame on you. Fool me-- you can't get fooled again." 

Romney was attacked by Perry for changing some damning passages in a book as it went from hardcover to paperback.  Instead of weaseling out of it the way he normally does, Romney simply lied.  He said he hadn't changed a thing.  Perry was left wondering which campaign staffer  had given him that line of attack.  If he was smart he would call Romney out on it immediately and change the conversation from his dismal performance.

The debate was also remarkable for once again putting the full-throated ugliness, pettiness, smallness of the right-wing mind on display. No, I'm not talking about the candidates (though they share the same impulses).  I am talking about the yahoos in the crowd.   In previous debates they cheered on executions and the denial of health care to the uninsured.  Tonight it was the creepy booing of an out gay soldier  serving in Iraq who asked a you tube question on DADT.  It was up to the vile Rick Santorum to once again use his podium to foment hate and lies.  This is the man who passed around his wife's dead fetus around to his small children after a miscarriage.  

The Perry implosion is not good news for a White House privately hoping for a Perry nomination.  Instead, Romney keeps getting raves from the mainstream media as well as from Frank Luntz's Fox News focus groups.  Perry's Texas provenance makes him right-wing in all the right places except when it comes to Mexicans and like Shrub Perry courted them.  But that courting didn't cost Shrub in 2000, the way it seems to be costing Perry in 2012.  This is not an audience ready for compassionate conservatism.   But the big question remains is this: if Perry is not the answer, then will the wingnuts accept a patrician Mormon to carry the mantle of their insanity in 2012?   Some wonder if a Romney nomination will cause a Tea Bagger third party revolt.  Romney could head that off by running with a Tea Bag darling like Rand Paul or Marco Rubio.  

But before the coronation of Romney is complete, let's not forget that Palin is lurking--especially given the weaknesses of the Bachman and Perry candidacies.  I doubt she will do it.  It is shocking to witness the ineptness of Perry.  He has been a big-time big state governor for 10 years!  He knew the whole world would be watching.  Look for the Perry campaign to start the Romney Mormon cultist meme quietly in the coming months.  Cheer up fellow Dems, we ain't seen nothing yet.   Perry will not go down without a fight.  It will get really, really ugly.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Execution of Troy Davis

Last night, the state of Georgia executed convicted killer, Troy Davis.  Everyone knows the story by now and with so much controversy surrounding this case--witness recantations, no physical evidence linking Davis to the crime, it seems that the arrogance of Georgia officials from the corrections' officials, to the prosectors to the Governor himself prevented them from even considering a thorough examination of the new circumstances.

What was it about Mr. Davis that made his execution so necessary last night?  Not much it seems.  I have had my own conflicted feelings about the death penalty but I come out on the side that it should be the people's right to hold it in reserve for particularly heinous crimes.  The murder of off-duty officer MacPhail though cowardly and cold-blooded was not a pre-meditated act of hours and weeks of planning.   It does not meet the heinous criteria.  

In the meantime, serial killers, child killers and mass murderers escape the gallows.  In California, the all-time champion of serial murder, Randy Kraft  has been on death row since 1989.  He is part of a bridge club on California's death row with other serial murderers including Lawrence Bittaker (death row class of 1981) and Doug Clark (death row class of 1983).  Kraft himself  is responsible for perhaps 60 or more murders of boys and young men. This is the problem with the death penalty.  States have it on the books yet wield it in such random and arbitrary ways.

The reason I believe that the death penalty should be held in reserve is that sometimes death is the only reasonable punishment.   The only reasonable punishment for the Connecticut atrocity perpetrated by Steven Hayes on the Petit family is death.  Anything else is an insult to the victims, their families and society.    There is no justice to be meted out in any kind of fantasy afterlife.  This is it.  I hold no special sanctity for the life of vermin like Steven Hayes or Randy Kraft.  I wouldn't mind strapping them into the gurney myself.  But these are rare cases.   

The smugness of Rick Perry talking about the execution of Todd Willingham is repugnant.  Somewhere between the Troy Davis case and the laughable practices of the California penal system is common  sense and a sober realization that reform is needed.  And even though the United States is in the company of China, India, Iran etc. as far as Death Penalty states, it doesn't give me the willies that some Americans get.  

I like the fact that for violent crime the United States doesn't mess around.   We have a vast prison industrial complex because we have many more violent criminals than Europe.  I am all for rethinking the stupid and costly war on drugs and the hundreds of thousands of wasted lives serving time for non-violent drug offenses.  But as far as violent offenders I have no sympathy.  The era of mid-century era rehabilitation and early release culminated in the 
1970s and 80s crime wave that only ended with the changing demographics produced by factors such as the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973.  

The United States is one of the few countries in the world where a life sentence means a life sentence.  European and  Latin American countries frequently release murderers after 20 years because of cost and because anything after 20 years is regarded as cruel.   In the United States we now throw away the key.  That's fine by me, and in today's political climate why the last two Democratic presidents, Clinton and Obama both support the death penalty.