Thursday, September 17, 2015

In the shadow of The Great Communicator

 take the stage during the CNN Republican presidential debate ...
I suppose patience, being a virtue, grows even on me. Long chastised as the one who wants to hurry business along, who has no time for chit-chat, who gets to the point even if barbed by bluntness or tipped with frankness, this trait of mine may be at odds with my aloof quality and self-effacing mood.

Last evening, I watched the GOP debates, round 2. I had missed the preliminaries last month, when the candidates who garnered below 10% were relegated to the "JV" game. I did not even know it was televised. Apparently Carly Fiorina did well enough to get called up to the majors this time around.  She joined a sometimes tame, but often near-rabid, flock of hawks.

Perhaps it's as well I did not watch her in the first dust-up. Her look cut glass. So, when The Donald patronized her, she shot back the kind of glare all men know all too well from matriarchal millennia. We watching wondered if she was always like this. Having as Californians dismissed her in a failed gubernatorial run a few years back, I don't think I had ever bothered to hear her speak back then on tv. Despised for her termination of 30k workers at HP, and a disastrous takeover of Compaq, surely her appearance was ill-timed considering HP, crediting years later her tenure, prepared yesterday to lay off another 30k. But that's my dad's days term. Now we say "reduction in force" or "rightsizing."

Such muffled verbiage, however, was not the case when it came to more war. All rallied 'round the flag, boys and girl. At least semi- libertarian Rand Paul, like his father Ron, at least demurred to it as a last resort. He held his own when defending states' rights on an issue even liberals might support, marijuana decriminalization. Fiorina, defying my wife's insistence that if women ruled, we'd have no more war, proved herself at least in this man's world to be as hawkish as, well, Hillary herself.

A lot of people are distracted by Trump. I don't worry. At this point in '08, Rudy Giuliani was ahead; in '12, Rick Perry. We all know whom we thought would run against Rudy two elections ago. Beyond Trump's calculated, celebrity-honed, media-savvy bluster, there were ideas that he and his colleagues revealed now and then. I found as I listened, to the small debate of two hours between wild-eyed Bobby Jindal, patrician George Pataki (was he running even?), a rather subdued Rick Santorum, and a puckish Lindsey Graham, drawn in much more than I expected. With only four, they had room for extended confrontation. They had a great tussle over the Kim Davis clerk case, and her refusal to carry out the law. This was contrasted and compared to the "gay wedding cake" trope and bakers' rights. I find this all engrossing, as it pits the Establishment against the Free Exercise clauses. And, First Amendment issues, to me, have always been my favorite. In Civics, I loved the Bill of Rights.

Graham even raised Marbury v Madison. With some Carolinian humor and banter, he praised drinking and provided lighter relief. Pataki reminded me of some Rockefeller Republican, from an era before The Great Communicator dominated, as he has, nearly my entire adult life as a voter.

For, before the prop of his Air Force One, the Reagan Library (to me a desecration of Simi Valley's open space, but that's a cowboy actor from Illinois for you, another fake native of my Golden State) hosted the GOP rivals. They all paid homage to their icon. Many were lost in the shuffle this time. John Kasich (whom I found since the first debate worked 2002-08 for Lehman Brothers, hmmm) could not get in as much of a presence as before. A booming Mike Huckabee, a feral Scott Walker, a sly Ted Cruz, and even straight-talking, albeit crooked, Chris Christie got lost in the crowd. At least Christie told the grandstanders to shut up and focus on the issues, a page stolen from "the Socialist's" strategy that Bernie Sanders insists upon when refusing to attack Hillary Clinton. (We'll see after next month's debate.) Fiorina shouted above them, and then pulled the predictable pout card to hint that the gang was shutting her out. She slammed as hard as the rest of them, and sought to out-do Trump at times in presence--her blue dress and botoxed face, perfect hair and grimacing mien assisted this.

Lest you call me sexist, look in the aftermath at Arnold Schwarzenegger. His florid face, pulled back, revealed a plastic surgery disaster, as The Dead Kennedys called an album. Let alone his wattles. 

Along with Fiorina, Ben Carson is rising in the polls, but I fail to understand his appeal. He seems too understated, too disengaged. His prattle lacks substance, even as his doctor's manner soothes us. None of them had that slick ease Reagan and Hillary's husband had perfected before the cameras.

Marco Rubio, at 43 looking 23, has that Kennedy-esque boyishness that may appeal. He's been dogged by his flip-flop on his immigration stance, as he tries to court those whom his some of his opponents shun. But I do support his proposal (was it him?) to end chain-migration and instead favor those whose talents can aid us. Rather than giving priority to those who cut in line and demand their rights by proximity south of the border. On the other hand, he and Jeb Bush sought to reach out, unsurprisingly, to the "Hispanics." Bush called Trump out on the charge Jeb played favorites due to his wife's Mexican origins, but to me, objectively, this seems fair--we all are influenced by bonds to those whom we love or whom we invite into our family and friendship. I do credit Cruz, much as liberals mock him, for getting us all once again (as Fiorina said, for the past twenty-five years an ignored or at least failed issue) to discuss the impact of 11 million here who have broken the law.

In Europe, millions are trying to reach there from Africa and the Middle East. Generous welfare and resettlement programs abound. The plea is that the West is not reproducing enough, so "we" need the labor that others provide to shore up such programs. But is this not inviting many more beyond, and as with Latin American and Asia to North America, accelerating rather than decreasing pressures? 

For we born here have no say. We elect officials and as Pataki said re: Kim Davis, they are expected to carry out the law. But direct involvement is always removed, whether we want to overturn gay marriage discrimination, or control who comes into our country legally and who is best qualified. I know this separates me from most of my family and friends and like-minded fellow travellers. Yet, I am firmly convinced that reductions in population and incentives to immigrate will ease pressure on the planet, and promote a more sustainable economy and society than our crowded capitalist frenzy.

The birthright citizenship question emerging now is indicative of what we ignore. Paul claimed  (as did Trump to Bush) that the 14th Amendment granting slaves citizenship if born on American soil applied to those "under the jurisdiction of the" U.S. He and Trump (who started off the debate by insulting Paul for his "1%" polling) at least concurred that this wording had not even been adjudicated conclusively at the highest level. Whether this makes the children of illegal (undocumented? here without permission?) immigrants citizens by default is, once again, a topic I look forward to hearing serious debate about. The left decries any dissension as prejudiced, but I'd be as angry if Canadian Hutterites sauntered over the Great Plains and settled on Lakota reservations.

Nations may falter before multinationals, but for now, doesn't a country have the right on behalf of those who live there, not those who enter there without permission, to decide who gets to stay there?  None of us like gate-crashers in person. We are told that open borders are moral, but we do not practice the concept of pushing to the front of a line. Others have waited years for visas. Besides, 40% of those who come here, as the candidates admitted, are on visas that expire. Many shrug. Sanctuary cities are justified, families are caught up in legal limbo, and big business likes the cheap labor as much as the Dems welcome if not a present than a future "demographic." Until the next "reform" or "amnesty" fifteen years from now. No wall is big enough, no screening tough enough.

For too long--and it shows once in a while patience can enable me to agree with nearly anyone if only on one in a hundred assertions--the Democrats, pandering to their voter base, or non-voting if you look around where I live, have shut down any serious debate on this, with knee-jerk charges of racism. This frustrates me for ecological and practical reasons. Our "democratic" system enables a few who decide such issues, imposing or ignoring policy for the many. So, for all the silliness that the media and liberals assume swirls around the "clown car" of GOP candidates, I do rescue thought now and then. However brief. Otherwise, ISIS vied with Planned Parenthood as last night's demon du jour.

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