So much news to choose from this week that it’s difficult to know where to start, but I think I’ll start on a very positive note by sharing link to Sheryl Sandburg’s awesome, and inspiring, post on grief that she posted on Facebook last Wednesday – no need to say anything else about it. Sheryl Sandberg – Today is the end of sheloshim for my beloved….
Then, because the Duggar family news refuses to go away, and because they were clearly in the wrong (yes, I’ve formed a full opinion over the past week), but seem to want to play the victim card in spite of the fact that they made the choice several years ago to put their entire family under a media microscope, I bring you Breitbart.com. Now this is odd, both because I and Breitbart very, very seldom agree on anything (& no, I don’t entirely agree with them here, either), and because Breitbart is coming from very far on the political right – but overall – they are correct. And for those of you still defending Josh Duggar, it is worth a read. It Is Time to Dump the Duggars – Breitbart.
While I’m still on the subject, loosely, of sexual controversies, there’s Caitlyn Jenner. Until recently, she was known as Olympic gold-medalist, and all around super-athlete, Bruce Jenner. Is there anyone out there that has managed to not see the Vanity Fair pictures? Well, anyway, I also assume that we all know by now that the Facebook meme about the Arthur Ashe Award runner-up was bogus, and we can skip over that particular bit of outrage. For what it’s worth, I think there are many types of courage, and that it was courageous of Jenner to open herself up publicly. We can be cynical about being in a position where she could financially afford to transform, but the bottom line is that she is performing a service for transgendered people by taking her story public. Granted, there’s more reality TV money to be made here, and I am a cynic, but I also recognize that there is cultural value to be found in celebrities taking their internal struggles public. Because we live in a sound-bite culture, overloaded with celebrity-based reality television (and celebrities created from reality television), it becomes possible to help a broader range of people understand the issues – and that can only help those dealing with similar issues that don’t have the same appeal – or resources. I know that many of my friends, family, and readers don’t share my feeling that transgendered people have the right to be themselves as they know themselves to be, and that’s okay – I understand and respect those views. What I don’t understand, or respect, is the hate and vitriol that sometimes accompanies those dissenting opinions.
And while we’re still in the realm of controversy… In one of my posts a couple of months ago, I mentioned a highly questionable law that Arizona passed requiring doctors to inform patients seeking abortions that drug-induced abortions were reversible if the second pill is not taken (Arkansas has since passed a similar law). In the first step to what will certainly become a constitutional challenge, a suit has been filed by three physicians and Planned Parenthood seeking to block the law from taking effect on July 3. The legislative chairwoman for the Arizona section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Dr. Julie Kwatra said “This is junk science. There is no credible evidence that abortion reversal is possible. And to base a standard of care recommendation on that is completely anti-ethical.”. According to the suit, the law violates doctors’ First Amendment rights because it forces them to convey “a state-mandated message that is not medically or scientifically supported.”, and also that it violates patients’ Fourteenth Amendment rights because they being given “false, misleading and/or irrelevant information.”. To counter the argument that the law is merely intended to make sure that a patient is given all possible information, it has been noted that the law does not require the doctor to also explain that there is no evidence that the effort at reversal works.
As for bad governing? Kansas Governor Sam Brownback famously said in 2012 “Our new pro-growth tax policy will be like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy,”. He was very wrong. Instead, Kansas, which is the new poster child for everything that is wrong with massive tax cuts aimed at businesses (supply side economics at its worst), passed legislation today defining all of its state workers as ‘essential’ so that no one gets furloughed while they continue to try to figure out how to make up for three years of lost revenue without raising taxes. They are completely broke at this point, but are still refusing to consider anything that might actually increase revenue (wisely a sales tax increase was passed up – those types of taxes tend to hurt the people who can least afford it). At this point, they’ve cut everything so far that they are resorting to silly things that won’t fix the problem – no tattoo purchases with food stamp cards, $25 ATM limits on those on welfare, etc. It’s past time for those in power in Kansas to own up to the fact that they f’d it up & get busy fixing it – instead of looking at an increasingly smaller pool for things to cut. Obviously the tax cuts were not the business draw you wanted, and I’m very sure that any further school cuts will make it very unappealing for anyone thinking of relocating. Sadly, their solution may well be income tax increase for residents, rather than reversing the business tax breaks. And that is unlikely to be enough. To compound Kansas’ problems, there is an ongoing battle going on between the Legislature and the State Supreme Court because the Court has determined that the state’s education budget disproportionately harms poorer districts, and has ordered the legislature to fix it. Instead, the legislature is essentially threatening to withhold judicial funding. Which would be a violation of the state’s constitution, and a pretty clear violation of the separation of powers. Strange days, indeed.
With more potential for bad governing, here are my thoughts on some of the more recent entrants into the pretty hopeless 2016 presidential pool:
Rick Perry – former Republican governor of Texas, social conservative, tough on immigration, totally lacked focus in 2012 – might do better this time, but the broad appeal nationally is probably not there. He may have a shot at the nomination, though, if he can keep it together this time around, but he has much competition with similar views.
Lincoln Chaffee – the former Republican senator (having the distinction being the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the Iraq war), turned Independent, then became Governor of Rhode Island, then Democrat, announced pretty much out of the blue that he was running. I have no idea why. But he has less of a chance of pushing past Hillary Clinton than Bernie Sanders does. But he does want to bring us in line with the rest of the world with the metric system.
Linsey Graham – Republican senator from South Carolina. Very seriously a foreign policy hawk, and, like John McCain, seems to have never met a war that he didn’t like. Ironically, he may not be socially conservative enough for his party. Which might be good in the general election, but will kill him in the primary, so we’ll never see.
George Pataki – former Republican governor of New York. Another out of the blue announcement from someone who seems to have no particular strength. As a New York resident, I can attest that he was not horrible, and is one of the few remaining moderate Republicans, but he, like everyone else, totally failed to deliver a budget on time, or to clean up a seriously ethically challenged state government. So besides a bad case of “George who?”, I think he is not nearly conservative enough to survive the Republican primaries.
Rick Santorum – former Republic senator from Pennsylvania, and strong contender in 2012, he is extremely socially conservative – perhaps even more so than his Catholicism can account for. He has said himself that he needs to avoid saying irrelevant “crazy stuff” to win the nomination. Based on past performance, I’m betting he can’t. And even if he did, his extreme views will do him more harm than good in the general election.
Martin O’Malley – former Democrat governor of Maryland, and former mayor of Baltimore. One more out of the blue announcement, he is a moderate across the board, and actually leans socially conservative, but he would have had a very hard time pushing past Clinton for the nomination on a good day. The recent riots in Baltimore, and the systemic problems that surfaced, have made it highly unlikely that he will be able to push past his own background.
“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
John Quincy Adams