Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

Several months have been dominated by GOP shakeups, political theatrics in terms of who’s running for president in 2016, turmoil in the House of Representatives, scandals and other drama based on their words and deeds, not the least of which the 2 republican debates, who’s already dropped out. Well now it’s democrat’s turn, Tuesday 2 weeks ago they took the stage in Las Vegas to tell the American people where they stand on key issues that matter to the public; a much smaller field, only 5 of them including, front runners Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton along with former governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley, former senator Jim Webb and former senator Lincoln Chafee.  The night shaping up to be what was promised, a showdown between front runners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders who did not disappoint; Hillary satisfying pundits and opponents alike, even winning the praise of notoriously harsh rival Donald Trump. Social media winner of the night, apart from Trump and his stream of twitter commentary, Bernie Sanders while traditional polls show a boost for Hillary; everyone else seemed to disappear that is when they weren’t making gaffes demonstrating exactly why they are at 1%, proving they have no chance of being president and making some wonder if Trump confused some of his GOP competition with the lesser democrats on stage October 13th.  Highlights surrounded Bernie Sanders chief campaign issues social welfare weather it was explaining what a democratic socialist was in his eyes or comparing us with the rest of the developed world on topics like healthcare as a right, paid family leave for parents, handling Wall Street, breaking up big banks, distinguishing between casino capitalism and the entrepreneurial capitalism of small, medium sized businesses driving our economy. For Clinton it was reminding Sanders we aren’t Denmark we are the United States of America, shredding his ‘I come from a rural state’ comments on gun control coupled with a pro-gun record, exhibiting a command of the issues on college tuition, healthcare, jobs, foreign policy in what to do with Russian president Putin, diverging from the Obama administration on trade. Class act award of the night going to Sanders, when moderators asked her about the growing e-mail scandal and he stood by her saying in part, “the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.” Lowlights involved, no surprise here, lesser candidates O’Malley referencing his time as mayor of Baltimore supposed to be an example of leadership and good governance, experience; Baltimore being the city rocked by total unrest in the wake of Freddie Gray, top prosecutor there citing zero tolerance policies implemented by him as a facet of why. Lincoln Chafee trying to explain his record of voting for Wall Street, a key legislation allowing banks to get bigger and bigger told a sob story about his father having died right before the vote, being appointed to the position and basically saying he didn’t understand what he was voting for begging for a break, in other words the political version of the dog ate my homework. The rest of his on stage time, a Washington Post headline astutely called it, ‘How to Disappear Completely by Lincoln Chafee.’  Jim Webb stuck out in exactly all the wrong ways repeatedly whining for talk time, complaining fellow candidates got more room, more time though he mastered the art of talking while essentially saying nothing when he did speak; the one exception, his little noticed yet downright creepy answer on the political enemy he was most proud of. While his opposition named rival party members, foreign dictatorial regimes, the NRA, drug companies, health insurance companies and so on, he mentioned an enemy soldier in Vietnam who wounded him, but he wasn’t around to talk about it; leaving observant people, political analyzers saying wait did he just make a veiled reference to having killed a person, a smile on his face while doing it?  Post-debate analysis likewise incorporating the elephant in the democratic race for president, the will he or won’t he waiting game to see if Job Biden will indeed enter the already large presidential field; developments mid-week last week crushing some hopefuls when a final decision was announced, he will not be running in 2016.

Certainly this debate was more sophisticated, actually discussed issues as more than an afterthought to the latest headline achieved by someone only news worthy because they are running for office, more adult, but also more of the same. More of the resounding chorus labeled can we have some better, different candidate choices rather than it’s either watch the junior, junior varsity team or be limited to 2 major candidates this early on?  Again it’s what happened after the debate coloring perceptions given during it, how much lesser democratic candidates mirror the most controversial republican ones, it goes without saying not in a good way; Jim Webb fast becoming the democratic version of Donald Trump post an abysmal night further insisting the CNN hosted debate was rigged for Clinton and Sanders, next announcing his frustration with the Democratic Party, withdrawal from it leaving the door open for an independent bid. ‘Extreme progressive,’ liberal media, nearly always spoken as if it were a string of profanity, the only ones to remark on his casual reference to killing a person, yes an enemy solider in combat, yes Vietnam being a totally different era but, apart from it having nothing to do with the contents of the question about political enemies, or the YouTube expressed idea he ‘put enemies in perspective,’ to smile while doing it, smile and half shrug that the soldier fighting for his own life in a combat he didn’t ask for either, probably felt he was defending himself, his government he was conscripted to, too isn’t around anymore? Implication because when you were wounded by him, you didn’t just kill him to defend yourself, your unit, those under your command, friends you fought alongside, but out of revenge for daring it injure you is what we want in a president? I don’t think so is the echoing line and exactly what they said, creepy.  At least when Trump spoke about bombing the heck out of Iraq his intended target was ISIS/ISIL whose stated goal is death to America, western culture they routinely name the great satan, whose tactics encompass beheading Christians and taking hostages for money to finance their terror operations, whose ‘religion,’ their interpretation of it oppresses women and exacts harsh punishments for benign things like makeup and being in the presence of a man or woman not a relative. Contrast Jim Webb’s answer to everyone else’s in the context, meaning of the question political enemies you are most proud of making while fighting for what you believe in, what you believe is best for the American people; when Clinton named the drug companies, the insurance companies she did so as a backdrop to fighting for more rights, healthcare options for people, one of the reasons she mentioned the Iranians, their government not citizens, is due to their nuclear threat and their consistent oppression of the population. One said succinctly republicans the same republicans whose budget cuts and ideology driven stances shut down the government, played chicken with the debit ceiling; another said the NRA obviously considering democrats position on gun control, the recent Oregon shooting, Sanders of course naming Wall Street, the big banks. Lincoln Chafee another familiar negative earning identical comments to Rand Paul only this time it’s not courtesy of Donald Trump, being schooled by Wolf Blitzer on when he should drop out (now) and why, because he would look silly otherwise and destroy his smaller scale career and reputation; only unlike Rand Paul, who despite his poll numbers, deserved to be on that stage because he was a known force in politics speaking out about our interventionist, get involved foreign policy, his work to reform criminal justice, his partnership with people like mayor Cory Booker to said ends, Chafee has no such recognition. Facts causing entities like The Young Turks news network hosts to call out his supposed selling point, he has had no scandals, reminding viewers he has also had no discernable career either; most wouldn’t know, remember his name if it wasn’t for his currently sinking presidential bid, holding a press conference late last week on the future of his campaign. We could imagine the funeral march being played in the background as we did with governors Rick Perry and Scott Walker, on the republican side, before they announced they were leaving presidential aspirations behind especially when an average person can, shortly and sweetly, articulate the message he should have given regarding his Glass Steagall vote. “Who is advising this man! The answer is simple: I did what the best economists of the day and 90% of my fellow members in congress did. And history has proven us all dead wrong. I’ve learned from those lessons and am damn-sure not going to repeat them.”  Not only does that response own his decision in a way he never did, it describes where we were, where greater heads than his were leaning at the time; making him the democratic counter to Ben Carson, Mr. unprepared, Mr. I need to bone up on explaining my record the same way Carson had to bone up on ‘presidential aspects.’

On the issues themselves it really was a sparring match between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton alone whether it was guns, foreign policy, the economy or addressing Wall Street; Sanders deemed the most on message, clear and concise communicating to people where he stands on issues. He was able to explain why he voted against key legislation meant to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people, explain what part of prior legislation he was for though he did not vote yes on entire bills. He admitted a need to revisit previously proposed gun legislation while respecting the rich history of hunting, sport shooting as well as people’s right to defend themselves subsequently detailing what he believes needs to happen now to prevent gun violence better than legal action against gun makers. Keeping guns away from criminals, the mentally ill and preventing straw man purchases (purchases where someone able to buy a gun buys one for someone ineligible to buy a gun due to age, criminal or mental history), despite despairing commentator reaction to ‘I come from a rural state.’ Drawing stark contrast between the law abiding, reputable, responsible gun shops who legally sold a weapon to someone, taking every precaution, who still went out and did something crazy; versus the irresponsible gun shop not taking mandated precautions, not paying adequate attention to who they sell guns to, possessing a long history of selling fire arms to criminals determining factors in a Wisconsin shop being held liable in the maiming injury of 2 police officers. Far better than little remembered governor Martin O’Malley who touted offices held in Baltimore, throughout Maryland as evidence of getting things done, working across partisan aisles to achieve gun control, bring down violent crime rates in his state, his city even when hit with the accusation about zero tolerance polices he supported leading to violence; here’s a hint reminding people a state you used to govern has recently been in chaos due to people cribbing off your notes is a bad idea. Sounds a lot like Jeb defending Bush 41 and his brother affectionately called W by critics on Iraq; more constructive criticism came from a commenter who noted his stance on something telling that viewer he was alive, has a pulse, making him the democratic Mr. low energy, a second negative strike for a debate already billed as boring. Similarly he (Sanders) was able to explain to Latino voters later why he was against the 2007 immigration bill when the Bush Whitehouse was onboard then saying he was for it in 2013; pointing out provisions in the bill that amounted to guest worker wages being akin to slavery, thus voting no. Next ‘feel the Bern’ Bernie pushed education and jobs over our current mass carceral state, arguing money be placed into those two things instead of building more jails, aligning ourselves with the rest of the world on social conundrums like healthcare, paid family leave for parents, giving rousing comments on the wrongness of income inequality not just related to the gender pay gap but to new wealth by the vast percentages still going to the top 1%. Though analysts believe he botched his definition of ‘democratic socialism,’ jumping off from those points he distinctly differentiated from casino capitalism practiced by Wall Street, the mega business and mega corporations we have allowed to form rebutting  Clinton’s support of capitalism via the small business, entrepreneurial spirit Sanders conceded should be left intact up  to the medium sized business. Confronting inevitable questions about how to pay for it, he emphasized the greater amount of taxes wealthy persons would be paying under his presidency and by default indicating if you raise the minimum wage, balance the tax code so the middle class are paying less commiserate with income, uber wealthy paying more also commiserate with income, create better trade deals for better paying job opportunities people will be better able to care for themselves needing less government help. For an older white male and all that stereotypically implies he was most eloquent in answering an on-line question do black lives matter or do all lives matter saying black lives matter and the reason why that phrase holds so much power, so much meaning, “Black lives matter. The reason those words matter is the African-American community knows that, on any given day, some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car and then, three days later, she’s going to end up dead in jail. Or their kids are going to get shot. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom. And we need major, major reforms to a broken criminal justice system.” Opposing Clinton and Obama administration strategy in Syria, no fly zones, aptly naming conflict there a quagmire within a quagmire listing groups fighting with guns against Assad, against ISIS, using guns from one group to fight the other and vice versa, advocating for a coalition of Arab countries to solve the problem in their own region U.S. playing a role of support minus ground troops costing American lives. Nor did Bernie Sanders, contrary to another analyst assertion, give up a significant campaign piece in agreeing with Clinton on her e-mails; his support went beyond class, beyond strength to refocusing viewers on issues, our social wellbeing as a nation, economic problems and their solution, the impact climate change will have on every man, woman and child, has been having on animal and plant lives that feed us, if we don’t work to fix it before it’s too late. Focusing people on issues tied to how we got here deregulation of Wall Street, what he would have done differently than the bailout while still keeping our financial system for collapsing; focusing people on how we combat income inequality, situations effecting people where they live not drummed up scandals long ago rendered without merit.

Hillary Clinton won points all night with audience members present and at home, assuaged doubts held by pundits about how she would do in a debate, could she be a little rusty not having been in a debate arena for years, throwing out harrowing statistics on guns, the 90 people we lose a day in this country to gun violence countering Sanders’ from a rural state explanation for his pro-gun voting record. Striking a chord with the people again getting ahead of Sanders in championing the economy-driving small business over the mega-corporation a worthy foil to his democratic socialist definition explanation; amounting to how she would achieve the same goals without that word and all its horrifying connotations, preconceived notions and no small amount of fear associated with it. Stoking American pride saying we aren’t Denmark indicating we need to find our own solution to providing healthcare; making it a matter of doing it, a perspective change identical to family leave, not a matter, as republicans have framed it, of can we pay for it, or more accurately, their resounding chorus of can’t we pay for it, the obstruction they have engaged in to ensure it doesn’t get done on their watch, the blatant fear mongering and misinformation they mobilized in response to initiatives, now laws, like Obama care. Clinton scored again toward the end of the night not by disagreeing with Sanders on breaking up big banks but telling watchers frankly big banks aren’t our only problem rather also big insurance companies such as AIG, Lehman Brothers, an investment bank who likewise received bailout money; forewarning they could be our next big problem, next source of an economic crisis, a rebounding great recession if not watched, appropriately regulated, her plan scrutinizing all of the above, the entire ‘shadow banking industry.’ Pushing leadership and communication coupled with standing up to Putin’s bullying in handling both Russia and Syria, Russian presence in Syria, advocating a no fly zone over that country and shying away from any ground troop involvement by Americans, the former as leverage to get Russia to the negotiation, cooperation table in being part of the solution in the middle east not another problem, effectively shutting down O’Malley’s and Sanders disagreement with a no fly zone. Independent all the outside talk about Benghazi, Webb’s assertion regarding our implied involvement in the Arab spring and naming what happened in Libya inevitable, she gave viewers long forgotten contexts to what was happening then, little known facts European allies were ‘burning up the phones’ begging for our help stopping what they saw a genocide by a, she reminded us once more, brutal dictator in Muammar Gaddafi, Arab nations in the region, probable U.S. allies, seeing a pattern here, Saudi Arabia and so forth backing our air support only intervention. Refusing to take the bait when Lincoln Chafee used her e-mail scandal to question her trustworthiness and integrity giving a firebrand one word answer when he asked if she had a response to his accusation, no, but not before refreshing everyone’s ADHD memories about the admitted to motivations of that committee Kevin McCarthy’s accidental stumble into the truth on national television bragging about downing her poll numbers. Testimony before the Benghazi committee that has since taken place yielding some interesting poll numbers on the topic itself; while beforehand a majority disapproved of her handling of Benghazi, afterward they also believed the committee was out to harm her reputation.  Important considering the American people’s continued distain for a dysfunctional Washington only interested in their own agenda; tack on the nearly 5 million dollar price tag to present no new information and no ideas toward what the committee said it was for, protecting diplomats abroad, preventing another Benghazi, and you have a recipe best titled how not to get voted for, if you continue this line of questioning, accusation and innuendo.

The problem for Sanders isn’t his socialist views taking into account what America has been through since 2008, it isn’t that to young people he is 74 years old and looks it, is essentially a dinosaur or the practical fear his vice president would end up running the country, a risk we are no longer willing to take today; it is fundamentally his campaign tackling the issues he’s talking about should not be one for president. Speaking to low voter turnout and things only changing when vast majorities of the American people by the millions rise up and take back their government from the millionaires and billionaires is something better achieved at the grass roots level; unaddressed, by any candidate, the huge amount of district gerrymandering often leading to the votes electing fringe extremist, ideology only candidates like Ted Cruz to office. Not to mention the so called low information, fringe extremist, ideology only voter who pulls the lever, fills in the oval for those type candidates.  Adjacently when asked about how things would be different after president Obama has already tried on a number of occasions reigning in Wall Street, setting new rules for banks, increasing lending cash flow for fledgling businesses while protecting the consumer, attempting to reduce college tuition costs, even make public college free, he said virtually the same thing hoping this coming election cycle the same obstructionist republicans will be voted out of office; meaning if they aren’t we are back to square one, regardless which democratic candidate we vote for. We won’t get tax code reform, minimum wage has been a state by state successful measure; family leave as well as the gender pay gap is better done by somehow, yet to be determined, changing the business climate in this country not necessarily by new laws alone. Because, we can have all the education we want, make it as affordable as we want and it doesn’t change anything if employers won‘t hire workers without a litany of skills, won’t be forthcoming about skills needed for in demand jobs, won’t coordinate with educational institutions to give students those skills, won’t reinstate internships, apprenticeships, rudimentary job training rendering degrees achieved viable in the workforce. Because, it doesn’t take a genius to see what will happen should public college education be made free, the only degrees that will them matter under the current system, current business mentality will be those of the Ivy League, prestigious, high reputation schools out of state persons will have to pay for; further,  not only do we need millions of jobs to get America working once more, we need businesses to hire workers for existing vacant jobs, we need employers to understand a job isn’t just an adult variation on an after school program, a time occupier to keep them from causing mayhem but a vehicle to you do work, you get paid money, you use that money to meet your basic needs food, shelter, clothing, medical care, retirement savings recreation, entertainment. None of which are reached by using the bully pulpit of the presidency. The problem for Hillary Clinton isn’t just her life as a career politician, her reputation as a walking scandal, her untrustworthiness, the e-mails being just the latest morass of bad press, her cold demeanor it’s her stance on issues; it’s recognizing the 90 people we lose a day to gun violence aren’t all lost to mass shootings but criminal gun behavior in gangs exc. committed by people who don’t care where they get their gun legally or illegally. Or that all the gun laws in the world won’t stop children from getting a hold of their parent’s gun and playing with it, killing themselves, a friend when improperly stored, increase proper storage, prevent kids, teens, relatives shot by homeowners believed to be an intruder, the other scenarios that cost us 90 lives a day; simultaneously do we want firebombing, the Molotov cocktail to replace the drive by? It is her perceived ties to Wall Street, unvarnished truth she is a member of the 1% who appears fake in her desire to represent the 99 compounded with obstacles facing either candidate in terms of what they want to accomplish as president, fringe tea party republicans who would rather ban abortion all together, defund Planned Parenthood, enact draconian cuts to programs we actually need while spending huge amounts as Mrs. Clinton said, funding the big government they want intruding into your lives the way they want.

Still as a voter Hillary Clinton gets my vote less because she would be the first woman president, not because she is younger than Sanders lessening the chances of a VP serving the rest of the coming presidency and because she is right on significant topics like reining in the whole Wall Street financial sector, not singularly big banks. She is the only candidate to remark on forcing colleges to keep their costs down not stopping at taxing Wall Street speculation to lower interests rates on collegiate loans, costs repeatedly several times inflation; both telling me, at least, she has the vision to anticipate the problems listed when and if college education becomes mostly free of charge, the underlying problems between education and jobs and by extension our criminal justice system, where Sanders does not. He believes the more money, focus we put into education and jobs, the better things will get for everyone dismissing the people who did well in school, went to college, and their biggest problem isn’t just their gargantuan student loans but the reality they continue working minimum wage, when they can get a job at all, being told they’re overqualified for medial labor, job for the sake of a job work, and under qualified in their field usually for want of experience few businesses will give. As a person who will never reach their full potential exactly because of this I vote for someone trying to change it; Hillary too was the only one to, however briefly, mention early childhood education i.e. preschool. And seeing my friend’s for kids all get jerked around by preschool screeners, hassled by kindergarten teachers, thought less of because of their no access to preschool languishing on waiting lists I will vote for someone who is for increasing access perhaps down the line making preschool mandatory.  If she can see all these things clearer than Sanders, a straighter more publicly and politically palatable, feasible path to passing the necessary laws, regulations and shifting perspectives here; she is the best shot parents, working mothers, those starting a family, adding a new addition have for actually getting paid family leave, seeing, benefiting from a change in business attitudes regarding the gender pay gap, who qualifies for work and where. She is the prime person, considering her support of Planned Parenthood in the wake of their own manufactured scandal, to tweak Obama care, federal laws governing doctors to remove restrictions, unnecessary guidelines pertaining to women who want their tubes tied; distilling it to if you’re 21 and want it done it is, no red tape, no you have to have so many kids under age X before a doctor will do it prior to age Y. How my friend has 4 kids, feeds them on food stamps and is cannon fodder for republican rhetoric even though she is married, all her children have the same father and she’s ‘living right; her and society would be better off if she could have made her own reproductive choice stopping after her first. On foreign policy, contrary to Mr. Webb’s out their commentary all night, I remember the Arab spring was begun by the Egyptian people who no longer wanted to be ruled by a dictator and did something about it; what would America be, known as the free world, the bastion of democracy, if we don’t throw our political support, political weight behind people seeking freedom, desiring democratic government?  I remember, U.S. air support in Libya was joined by others, NATO countries to be exact, and that the Libyan people, not Americans, not others dragged and beat Gaddafi through the streets possibly shooting him with his own gun, certainly with theirs; what happened in Benghazi was indeed inevitable but not the way he characterized it. Inevitable in that European allies would have done it without us and sent in their own diplomats, who in turn could have been killed the same way ours were, or worse, they go in, they establish diplomats there, they get killed and Europe blames us because they wanted our help, thought we had better diplomatic chances and did nothing.  Relatedly I too am an American who doesn’t care about her ‘damn e-mails,’ her use of a private server, have written several times on that and the new revelations from republicans on the goals surrounding formed committees; neither do I care about the NSA ‘spying programs.’ I was one of the first in my blog work to peg Edward Snowden an extreme zealot in all probability psychologically unbalanced, and Hillary Clinton is right, he should come home and face the music no matter what his information awakened in the American people. Getting this many things right how can you not vote Clinton ensuring she gets the democratic nomination?