The Clinton Gaffe Machine

There are two statements that lead me to believe  the Clinton campaign is  falling apart, flailing desperately, and likely to collapse completely  even before South Carolina, except that the media (both  mainstream and social) seem far more interested in the  debacle of the Republican’s walking onto the stage at their debate.  Admittedly, it  was comical, and many people who saw it probably flashed back to an embarrassing  moment  in Junior High, but it was just a screw-up on the part of the  network.

Also, the two statements came from Clinton surrogates and not Clinton herself (she’s having a run of bad luck with her surrogates lately -note also Chelsea’s ‘President Sanders’ Freudian slip), but still…taken together they  show different angles of Clinton’s main  message, which is ‘vote for me, I’m  a woman,’ and they didn’t show it in a good light.

First, there was feminist icon (full respect  for that, I’m not being  snarky) Gloria Steinem, with her “Young women who support Sanders are just doing it for the boys.”

Then, there was Madelaine Albright,  who said “There’s a special circle of hell for women who don’t help other women” and since she was standing right next to Clinton at a Clinton rally when she said it, it’s pretty clear she meant “Vote for  Hillary or you’re  going to hell.”  This  is bad because it’s voter  intimidation, sure, but more because  it’s a  Republican  talking point.

Steinem  has since apologized for her statement.  Albright hasn’t,  yet.

We will see what, if any effect these statements had,  and  we’ll  probably see it as early as Tuesday.  I can’t imagine  the women of  New Hampshire are  impressed.

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He Expanded our Horizons

Edgar Mitchell died on Thursday.  I just heard about it today.  It wasn’t really big  news.  He wasn’t a rock star, or a famous actor, or even  a sports legend.  He was just an astronaut,  one of only 12 men who ever walked on  the  moon.  He was also the astronaut who was most outspoken about his belief in  UFOs, which makes him pretty cool in my book.edgar  mitchell

Astronauts from that era are dying off as quick as rock stars, and  it’s logical.  It’s the time line.  Of  the 7 surviving men  who’ve walked on the moon, all are over 80.  Within a decade,  maybe two decades if we’re lucky, we will have regressed to a point in time when there are no living human beings who have  been to  the  moon.

That’s a bit sad, symbolically  sad, but the space station is thriving, there will likely be a Mars colony in the future, and robot craft (which are much cheaper and more efficient and more expendable  than humans) are  exploring the solar system in a way that humans never could.  So, we’re all right.  I’d like to see space exploration proceeding at  a quicker pace, but  it is proceeding.

Rest in Peace,Edgar  Mitchell.  If  ever  a person earned it,  you did.

 

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Cops v. Homeless Guy

After I dropped Isabel off at school this morning,  I had to go to the Post  Office to  send a registered letter, and decided  to go to the main branch  because it was just as much on my way as any other.  I got  out  of  the Metro at Mustek, but went out the  exit at  Na Přikope instead  of Jindřišska, and  there was  a moment of disorientation.

One of the  beauties of living in a great touristic city  is that you see all these amazing sites at all times of  day and night, in all seasons.  Early mornings  are lovely, because there are almost no people about and,  as  all the shops are just  opening up,  it is both as  clean and  uncrowded as Wenceslas Square ever  gets.

As I walked  up toward  Jindřišska I saw a gaggle of  police harassing a homeless guy, which is  nothing  unusual.  He was obviously drunk, leaning on  some kind of post, and his hand slipped  and he  went sprawling on the sidewalk.  He hurried to scoop up the meager, and humiliating, contents of his pockets – a few wadded up tissues, some scraps  of paper -as the police chuckled.

On the one hand, that’s one thing  I hate about  cops.  If you are  in their clutches, it’s quite clear you’re having a horrible day, and they’re enjoying it.  I feel the same about  dentists.  On the other hand, it  was funny, and I chuckled, too, as I walked on by.  The guy was plastered.

But the scene stuck in my mind, and it made me think:  the law, in a kind, tolerant society, cannot be black  and white.  Sure, nobody wants filthy (oh, yeah, he  was filthy), drunken people sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk, certainly not there.  On the other hand, he  was probably not breaking any specific law.  He certainly wasn’t hurting  anybody.

I don’t know what they did in the end.  Probably just chased him away to someplace else.  That’s about all they can  do.  The homeless problem is never going to be solved by the police – or, for that matter, by laws.

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A Little Poem, in Context

Because I have a page called “Poems About Paintings” where I use paintings as writing prompts and actually am quite pleased with some of the writing  that’s inspired, I very often see posts from a site called “Artists Trying to Make a Living Making Art.”

I’m sort of a lurker there, though, for a couple of reasons.  One is I’m not, myself, an  artist.  My drawing ability  is  at the stick figure level.  I remember once, trying to demonstrate some point in English to a class of 5th graders.  So, I drew a dog on the board.  “This is a dog,” I began.  “No, it’s not.  It’s a pig,” one student objected.  “It’s a dog,” I repeated, and didn’t think it necessary to say “It’s a dog for the purpose of this exercise, you ignorant little brats” or “It’s a dog because I say it’s a dog, humor me on this one.”  However, the  class consensus was that it  was definitely a pig.  One girl, trying to be nice, allowed that it might be a sheep.

Another reason is that the site has about 30,000 members and I’ve noticed, through experience, that if you weigh in with a comment on anything, the thread will have hundreds of comments and you’ll get bored long before you can read them all.

Still, sometimes I comment without thinking and there was one thread today bemoaning modern art.  The canvas  in question was basically a solid red.  One guy had written a response to all the  people saying “That’s not art.”  “You’re a bunch of ignorant philistines,” he  said.  (I’m paraphrasing)  “Of course this is great art.”

I responded, saying “O.K., smartass,” (I didn’t actually say smartass, although  my tone may have been a bit  passive-aggressive), explain how that is art.

This led to a rather spirited discussion about what  art is  and what it should be, and someone made a comment I liked, which was that there is nothing inherently beautiful about  a waterfall, that’s just  water obeying natural laws, the beauty is all in the eye of the beholder, so I wrote this poem, which  I’m kind of pleased with:

The beauty of a waterfall
is not within the waterfall
that’s only nature following nature’s plan
But, the beauty’s very real
it’s what we see, it’s what we feel
there are whole worlds within the mind of man

It was a good day for poetry.  It was a good day.

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Bernie Sanders, Movie Star

First, in the name of journalistic integrity, a quick  update on yesterday’s  blog.  Clinton won  6 coin tosses in Polk County (Des Moines) precincts, but there  were several precincts state wide decided by  coin toss, and Sanders did win  some of them, so  it probably was a coincidence and not  fraud.

But  this is the video that made my day.  At first I thought  it was  a joke. ‘Watch Bernie Sanders playing a rabbi in  a 1999 comedy.’  Yeah, right.  I expected it to be some old Jewish  guy who looked and talked a bit like Sanders, which might or might not be funny, depending on how close it was.  As I watched, I thought, Dang,  that guy does look like Bernie Sanders, and talks like him, too.  In his  wacky wedding speech, where he goes off topic and starts ranting about baseball, it actually had the  same cadence  as one of his political speeches.

So, I looked it  up on  IMDB and, sure enough, it’s him.  Certainly a funnier  scene than Ronald Reagan ever did.  If he hadn’t gone into politics, he  could have been an  actor, or even done  stand-up.  Now, I want to see the movie.

It reinforces  what I really love about Sanders.  Sure, I agree with most of his policies, and I like him for that.  He has been fighting  for  civil rights since he was a college student, and  I  respect him for  that.  He has tremendous intelligence, and character, and political experience, and I admire  him for that.  But, I love it that he’s kind of a funny, old, Jewish guy.  It’s going to be a bit like  having Mel Brooks for president.

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6 Rolls of the Dice

Hoo-boy, that was close.  Iowa’s Democratic precinct caucuses last night (I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what happened on the Republican side.  Those people are just crazy.  We’re going to have to deal with  one of them eventually, but it doesn’t make a great deal of difference which one.) were close like Florida, 2000;  close like Hayes-Tilden in 1876, Jefferson -Burr in 1800, or Bernie Sanders first election as mayor.

Close elections do happen.  But the difference between Clinton and Sanders was like .3%.  Not 3%.  .3%   But that percentage is not what counts.  What counts is  the  number of delegates selected, and that process has just begun.

Iowa will  send 44 delegates to the national convention.  Those delegates will be selected at a state convention, delegates to the state convention will be chosen at county conventions (99 of them), and delegates to the county conventions were chosen last  night.  Clinton got 701 of them, Sanders got  697, and O’Malley  got 8, but since he’s  dropped out  of the  race his  delegates can vote how they like at the county conventions.  So, Sanders could  still  technically finish ahead, although it’s almost certain that  the final delegate slate  will  be split 22-22.

Now, here’s the strange part: 6 of those delegate slots were decided last night by a coin toss, and Hillary won every single toss.  It could happen, I suppose, but it is a seriously bizarre coincidence.  The odds are way against it.  So, many Sanders people are claiming fraud.  Sanders is not.  No way to prove it, it’s a fight  we don’t need.

But why?  Why would she  risk the charge (even if it’s just from  camp Sanders) of vote tampering, when it’s not likely to affect the final delegate count anyway.

Symbolism.  Hillary really couldn’t afford to lose Iowa, and  she needed at least a tie to allow her to declare a win, which she did, loudly  and enthusiastically, and the press played along.

At any rate,  we now  know we are  in for  a  long, brutal and crooked  fight;  one we might need to win by an overwhelming margin in order to win at all.

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Caucus Night

My plan was to stay up until I get some caucus news from Iowa but that’s ridiculous, there won’t even be hints until 2 a.m. (Central European Time), and I want to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for my Gymnasium students tomorrow, where I’ll probably talk about the caucuses, but I guess I’ll just get my news  in the  morning like everybody else.

It’s not as if I can do anything about it.

I’m fairly confident in a Sanders win, but that could just be wishful thinking or, in new age terms, confirmation bias.  I want it, therefore I see evidence of it happening.

Sanders has been drawing crowds everywhere he goes in Iowa, and unless all those people have confused him with a rock star and just want his autograph, they’ll turn out to caucus for him.

Or maybe not, people are weird.

Hillary seems to be depending on her reputation (bad move, Hillary) and a lot of high power endorsements.  Bottom line, she’s a lousy campaigner.  In the beginning, she thought she had it in the bag, because she had the name recognition, but name recognition only gets you past the starting gate, once the race is on everybody gets that name recognition and advantage fades.

Bernie’s got all the momentum, and it’s clear that Hillary’s  feeling the pressure.  That whole “You will never, ever have single payer health care” line should have killed her campaign right there.  It was far more damaging, potentially, than Howard Dean’s scream, but the newspapers and TV stations aren’t going on and on about it like they  did with  Dean- inescapable conclusion: big media wants Hillary.

That’s O.K., we’re winning in social media and nobody believes the New York Times any more.

Good night.  Go, Bernie, go!

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