Sunday, July 31, 2016

More Reflections and another Convention

More reflections on events near and far . . . 

A finance website ranks Las Cruces 12th “best-run” among 150 cities on factors including financial stability, education, health, public safety, economy, and infrastructure/pollution. Although the city council doesn't control all those areas, the ranking suggests our local government ain't the disaster some critics claim it is.

Meanwhile our local political embarrassment, County Treasurer David Gutierrez, is threatening to sue the county. I doubt he's that dumb. Frivolous lawsuits can boomerang. Judges can order plaintiffs to pay for legal fees their bogus claims cost defendants. If he sues, and the county wants some volunteer legal help, I'm in. You harass an employee by offering a $1,000 for sex, refuse to resign, fire your chief clerk, and cost us healthy settlement payouts to both your victims, then complain when the county wonders if you should pay something? 

We're two nights into the Democratic National Convention. Someone reading my last column, which touched on the Republican Convention, urged me to write on this one, too.

Is Hillary Clinton my favorite politician? No. I disagree with many of her stands, including her initial support of the TPP. I also dislike the way party machinery apparently took sides in the primaries.

But I have to respect her for surviving not only Bill's very public infidelities but literally decades of expensive efforts to prove she killed Vince Foster or called off forces that could have saved lives in Benghazi, or committed various other crimes. (Enemies' repeated allegations, despite failures to prove their truth, have damaged her reputation. Closest call? Aware that the state department server was a poor security risk, she used a private email server, much like what previous secretaries of state did. Against regulations. She shouldn't have done it. But if I'd been advising her, I might have advised her to do it.

Even before Bill's reminder Tuesday night, I thought back to how she began: a young woman trying to make things better. Briefly she thought Barry Goldwater was the way. Then she became a Democrat, fighting poverty and protesting a stupid war. Trying to improve people's lives. While Donald Trump was getting a $7 million head start from his father. Fred also co-signed loans essential to Donald's first big project, then bailed him out a couple of times with more millions, before Donals put six companies through bankruptcy and bragged to the world about what a great businessman he was. Come again?

Do I think Hillary lost her way somewhat? Yes. Big bucks for speeches at big banks the government needs to rein in? Not good.

For a moment Monday night during Elizabeth Warren's speech, did I wish she were the candidate? You betcha. Clearer, cleaner, purer. (I also think Trump, who says whatever comes into his head, poses a unique debating challenge that Warren's style would crush.) 

But which of us hasn't lost our way somewhat? I was a civil rights worker and antiwar leader, but got distracted for decades frittering away my abilities representing corporations against each other in huge lawsuits. Fun; intellectually challenging; comfortable; but not the best contribution I could have made to the world. So I won't judge Hillary too strongly.

This election pits a party of inclusiveness, tolerance, even love, against one running on hate and fear-mongering. Oversimplification? Sure; but with a fair quantity of truth.

Trump's a pathological narcissist with no ideas beyond self-aggrandizement and no program beyond divisiveness. Hillary's a well-intentioned lady, experienced and imperfect, who has dedicated much of her life to improving our country. I see a major difference.
[The column above appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News this morning, Sunday, 31 July 2016, and on the newspaper's website, and will presently appear on KRWG-TV's website under News --> Local Viewpoints.]
[The column was written after the first two nights of the four-night convention that ended Thursday night.
First, aside from which party one sympathizes with, the Democrats put on a much tighter and professional show.  That's partly a difference in skill or dedication or funds, but also reflects what each party had to deal with.   
Notably, each party had to deal with a level of internal dissension unusual in recent presidential conventions, although it used to be quite the norm. 
Among Republicans, you saw a lot of delegates who passionately loved Trump's candidacy, but also many who sat on their hands; Ohio Governor Kasich refused to attend the Convention, though he was in Cleveland; Ted Cruz said what he said; all the Presidential and would-be Presidential Bushes stayed away.  In Philadelphia, much of the first night belonged to Bernie Sanders; some of his delegates were clearly angry about HRC's nomination, as they had every right to be; but Sanders gave a strong endorsement speech and most of his supporters responded strongly to Hillary. 
Folks could reasonably argue about why there was such a difference.  Cruz is the most hated U.S. Senator among other Senators and is a strange fellow, while Bernie has been in Congress for decades working with all sorts of people he doesn't always agree with.  One could argue that Cruz's hurt feelings were anomalous in politics -- or that Trump's vicious personal attacks were the anomaly.  Trump called Cruz "Lyin' Ted," talked about Cruz's wife, and followed the National Enquirer's lead in suggesting Curz's beloved father was in cahoots with Lee Harvey Oswald; and he said unusually vicious and personal things to several other candidates, some of whom brushed them off.  My own view, of course, is that Trump represents a unique danger among U.S. Presidential nominees and that anyone with good sense (including every man who's sat in the Oval Office and most Republicans who've been nominated for the office) would have declined to endorse Trump.  Thus you can't necessarily fault the folks running the Convention.  It's easier when your party's current former presidents are solidly behind your nominee and the two whose health allows them to attend are also great speakers; by contrast, Republican convention organizers weren't going to convince Romney or McCain or either President Bush to show up -- just Dole, who looked kind of lost, but grateful to be remembered.)  (I do think Trump's Republican competitors should have declined to take the "Pledge" to support any eventual nominee.  Early on, they were so desperate to keep Trump from running as a third party candidate that they all pledged their support -- despite the obvious fact that Trump's word would mean nothing and that  he himself, if not the nominee, would keep or break his word based on what he felt like doing at the time.)
One should also note that the Democratic organizers had a handicap: they had to deal with all the justified anger about the released emails and Ms. Wasserman-Schultz. 
Beyond those division, the Republican convention seemed disorganized, kind of sad, and bereft of real stars, while the Democratic convention was a powerful, unifying eventWill the difference be as big in get-out-the-vote efforts?



  1. Not an endorsement of anyone or anything.

  2. Not an endorsement of anyone or anything.