Remember When Calling A Politician A Celebrity Was A Republican Insult?

In 2008, Republican presidential nominee John McCain released this ad comparing then-Senator Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, calling him the biggest celebrity in the world, and questioning whether he was ready to lead.

In 2016, the most likely Republican presidential nominee is someone with no political experience, who is best known for hosting non-scripted TV shows in which his catchphrase was “you’re fired,” and who is a WWE superstar.

I guess if you can’t beat them, try to one up them?

It Gets Better

Z is four and a half months old.

He is currently napping in his crib.  That would not have happened a month or even three weeks ago.  Back then, he would only nap on dad or (much more often) mom, or in a carrier, or in his car seat on a drive.  It was not an easy or good situation.  Far from it, especially for mom.

He’s also sleeping much better at night.  He’s falling asleep on his own and staying asleep for much longer.  His mood has improved.  So has his parents’.

Being a parent of a young child–it gets better.

I think we need to be sure to tell struggling parents this.  Just as there is a movement to make sure struggling LGBT youth know that it gets better, there should be a movement to make sure struggling parents know that it gets better.  There should be videos of celebrities telling funny and horrifying stories of the difficulties they faced raising their children and how it gets better.  Watching Jennifer Garner read “Go The Fuck To Sleep” is fun, but it would also be great if there was video of her telling relatable stories about staying up all night taking care of a sick infant and how much easier and better it gets once your kid starts through the night.

Your constant pounding headache will go away, even if temporarily.  The enormous bags under your eyes will disappear, even if temporarily.  The irritations and frustrations will recede, even if temporarily.

It. Gets. Better.  I’ll say it now and hopefully more celebrity parents will say it in the future in inspiring videos for us.


Tell Us How You Really Feel, John (Cruz Edition)

John Boehner, a decades-long Republican United States House of Representatives member and former Speaker of the House, recently gave a talk at Stanford.  He had some interesting comments on the presidential candidates.

He said that he found Hillary Clinton to be very accomplished and smart.  He called Bernie Sanders a nice guy and the most honest politician running for president.

Boehner said that he had played golf with Donald Trump for years and that they were texting buddies.  He also said that John Kasich “requires more effort on behalf than all my other friends … but he’s still my friend, and I love him.”

Those comments aren’t particularly surprising.  A long-time politician having generally favorable things to say about other politicians isn’t exactly newsworthy, which is what makes what he said about Ted Cruz so incredible.

Boehner called Ted Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh” and said that he had “never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”  Boehner made a career of serving the Republican Party.  The front-runner to be the Republican nominee for president is barely even a Republican.  Cruz is in second place, and he is a longtime Republican and sitting Republican senator.  And the just-retired Republican Speaker of the House said that about Ted Cruz.

Boehner began serving in the House of Representatives in 1991 and retired last year.  That means he worked with, among others, Strom Thurmond (the white segregationist who fathered a child with a Black teenager who worked for his father and refused to verbally acknowledge his child for years), Newt Gingrich (the who cheated on two of his wives, once while one wife was being treated for cancer and and once while leading impeachment proceedings against President Clinton stemming from his infidelity), Dennis Hastert (a serial child molester who while in the House spoke of the need “to put repeat child molesters into jail for the rest of their lives”), Bob Packwood (who resigned after nineteen women accused him of sexual harassment), and Scott DesJarlais (the pro-life doctor whose ex-wife had two abortions and who cheated on his wife with coworkers and patients, including one whom he pressured to get an abortion when she became pregnant).

So Boehner thinks that Ted Cruz is worse than a hypocritical racist absentee father, a hypocritical unfaithful husband who abandoned a wife while she was undergoing cancer treatment, a hypocritical serial child molester, a repeat sexual harasser, and a hypocritical unfaithful and unethical doctor.

It sheds some light on why the #NeverTrump movement is doing so poory.  It’s not easy to persuade people to pick a different option when main alternative is so shitty.  Also, what else do all of the men listed above have in common besides having served in the House of Representatives during Boehner’s tenure?  They’re all Republicans.  #PartyOfFamilyValues


On Politicians Being Fake (Cruz, Fiorina edition)

It’s a common story line that politicians generally are fake and people want authentic ones.  I don’t think I could give a good definition of a fake politician, but I can give at least two examples.

On New Year’s Day, with the Iowa caucuses a month away, Carly Fiorina, then in the running to be the Republican presidential candidate, tweeted: “Love my alma mater, but rooting for a Hawkeyes win today.”  Fiorina attended Stanford; Stanford was playing the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Rose Bowl, one of the most prestigious college football bowl games.  This showed the same strategic thinking Fiorina demonstrated at HP.  Actual sports fans have much more respect for a loyal fan of a rival than a disloyal fan of their team.  Disloyal fans, also often called bandwagon fans, are pariahs of the sports world.  Trying to win political favor by being one of them is not a smart move.  It turned out as well as an actual sports fan might imagine it would.  She was blasted online for her ridiculous position and then received less than 2% of the votes in the Iowa Republican caucuses.  She dropped out of the race shortly afterwards.

Just this week, Ted Cruz attempted to pander to Indiana voters by holding an event in the gym where the classic movie Hoosiers was filmed.  While at the rally, Cruz said, “The amazing thing is, that basketball ring in Indiana, it’s the same height as it is New York City and every other place in this country.”  The amazing thing is that someone could be raised, though not born, in the United States and reference a “basketball ring” rather than a “hoop.”  Anyone with any familiarity with basketball would call it a hoop.  Unsurprisingly, Twitter had as much fun with Cruz as it did with Trump.

This is why politicians are often thought of as fake.  It’s not a crime not to be a basketball fan, but it comes off as inauthentic if you pretend to care about basketball and apparently know nothing about it.

These faux paus are not a big deal, but they do indicate the disconnect between politicians (and their staffs) and normal people.  It’s not all bad news for these two, though.  Cruz is still in the race and today he named Fiorina as his vice presidential running mate.  I don’t think it’s a home-run pick, and I bet if I told them that they wouldn’t be insulted because they wouldn’t understand the reference.

“If Hillary Clinton Were A Man…”

Last night, after an impressive five-state sweep, Donald Trump said, “Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the women’s card.

This is bad on so many levels.

It’s bad because it’s so sexist and misogynist.  It’s not exactly shocking coming from Donald Trump but it is pretty shocking to think that the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party is so blatantly disrespectful to such an accomplished person that he tries to belittle her accomplishments by saying they’re all due to her gender.  It’s actually reminiscent of things Kanye West says about Taylor Swift, but at least Kanye isn’t running for president (yet).

It’s bad because it’s against the great weight of evidence.  This will come as no surprise to anyone who has any awareness of American history, but political candidates don’t do better because they are women, which might help explain the lack of a female president or vice president and the large gender imbalance in Congress and the Supreme Court, both historically and currently.  Polls show that significant percentages of the population believe that the U.S. is still not ready for a female president and that significant percentages of voters, particularly Republicans, wouldn’t vote for a female candidate and/or know people who wouldn’t vote for a female candidate.  Any female candidate.  Let that sink in.  That’s not saying that a female candidate would have to work harder to earn votes; it’s saying that it’s impossible for a female candidate to earn certain votes because of their sexist and misogynist views.  Yet Trump thinks Hillary is only as popular as she is because she’s a woman?  No.  And if being a woman was so helpful in presidential politics then Carly Fiorina would have done much better.

It’s bad because we have a similar scenario to evaluate the claim.  If Hillary Clinton were a man … she would have been an ambitious man who graduated from Yale Law School in 1973, worked in politics while being a law professor in Arkansas and advocating for children and education, and was known as a future political star.  If only there were a man like that … oh wait.  There is.  He was the 42nd president of the United States.  Obviously, Bill and Hillary are different people.  But it’s not unreasonable to think that Hillary made many decisions to put Bill’s career first because he is a man and she is a woman and if she were a man she’d be even more accomplished than she is, which is pretty incredible given that she’s a former senator and secretary of state.

It’s bad because it continues a disgusting trend of downplaying people’s accomplishments and attributing it to demographic factors rather than hard work and talent.  There were the disturbing claims that people only voted for President Obama because he’s black–some went so far as to say blacks were racist because they voted for him only because he was black.  Unfortunately, claims like this are not uncommon, as anyone with an internet connection knows.  Whenever someone who is not a white man achieves something there are snide comments about that achievement only being because of demographic factors.  Trump brags about going to the best schools and claims he’s a smart person, and there aren’t conversations about him only being able to attend those schools because he’s a white man.  Yet many have argued that President Obama only was admitted to Harvard Law School due to his race, and that he shouldn’t have been admitted, regardless of the fact that he graduated magna cum laude and was editor of the Harvard Law Review, which are incredible accomplishments by any measure.

It’s bad because it’s another example for girls and young women that if they try to accomplish something great they will be critiqued and criticized throughout the process, including due to their gender.  It’s hard to ask them to lean in when they have to put up with so much more than guys do.  Be strong but not masculine.  Work hard but don’t be too ambitious.  Be a leader but not bossy.  Make your voice heard but don’t shout or be shrill.  Be a team player but don’t be a wallflower.  Look pretty but don’t dress suggestively.   Be intelligent but not obnoxious about it.  Know it all but don’t be a know-it-all.  Work hard but don’t look like you’re trying too hard.  Be compassionate but not too emotional.  And do it all in heels.  The standards for female leaders are ridiculous and we do ourselves and our future no favors if we discourage women, who now earn more college degrees than men, from taking leadership positions, especially in politics.  This election shows that if you’re a man you can be old and racist (Trump), old and disheveled (Bernie), inexperienced and robotic (Rubio), an obese bully (Christie), unpopular everywhere but your home state (Kasich), and historically unpopular among your peers (Cruz) and still have a chance at winning a presidential nomination.  If you’re a woman you have to be incredibly accomplished, smart, polished, and hard working with a life devoted to public service.  And you’ll still be told that you’re only getting votes because you’re a woman.

It’s bad because it’s a stupid statement from a candidate who should be trying to pivot to the general election and appealing to more people, not fewer.  Trump’s numbers with women are already horrible and this is only going to hurt them.  Romney beat Obama 56-42 among white women in 2012 and still lost in a race that wasn’t particularly close.  If Trump is going to have any chance of winning in November he is going to have to do even better with white women, not worse.  Statements like this won’t help.  Maybe Trump is just trying to solidify his base, many of whom are poorly educated and don’t have enlightened views on race or gender, but, thankfully, his base won’t be nearly enough if he actually hopes to become president.

Donald Trump has said a lot of stupid things, a lot of harmful things, a lot of hateful things.  Each new bad quote isn’t particularly surprising.  But each is disappointing.


Happy Baby, Happy _________

It’s a common saying, and generally a true one, that “happy wife equals happy life.”

Even more than that, happy baby equals happy parents equals happy life.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t rhyme nearly as well.  It is just as true, though, if not more so than happy wife equals happy life.

Recently, Z’s mood has been improved.  It’s unclear if it’s due to improved sleep, a more regular schedule, better weather, he’s maturing–or really anything or nothing.  Regardless of the cause, it’s been quite welcome.  He was never particularly fussy, but he’s been smiling and laughing more and more, which causes us to smile and laugh more and more.

It doesn’t mean that things are easy, but they are getting better and, hopefully, will continue to improve.

Death Threats, Rigged Systems, And A Path Forward

This Politico story frighteningly details the death threats Republican delegates are receiving from Trump supporters.  While Trump should not bear responsibility for everything that his supporters do, it is notable that in this election cycle violence has only occurred at Trump rallies and only Trump has supported violence at his rallies.  Candidates’ rhetoric matters.  It is clear that many supporters respond to the most extreme aspects of candidates’ statements and may take metaphorical statements literally, although it is always difficult to tell if Trump is speaking seriously, jokingly, metaphorically, or literally.  Certainly one reason Trump’s supporters are fired up is because Trump often blasts the “rigged” system of how Republicans nominate their candidate for president.

Trump isn’t the only one who believes the system is rigged.  Bernie supporters, spurred on by Bernie, have also complained often and loudly that the Democratic system for nominating their candidate for president is rigged.  Thankfully, there have been no reported threats of violence from Bernie supporters.  Their only threats have been not voting in November if Bernie isn’t the candidate.  This is a far more reasonable (and legal) method of political protest.

Nonetheless, I think it’s misguided.

There are a number of specific arguments regarding how the Democratic primary unfairly benefits Hillary.  A lot of these are either based on misinformation or lack support.  For brevity’s sake, let’s just look at the most recent primary in New York.  One of the first issues that Bernie complained about was that Hillary was maybe not going to agree to a debate in New York.  And then she did.  Then Bernie supporters complained that Hillary was trying to steal the election because New York has a closed primary with onerous rules for changing party designation.  But as a I previously wrote about, those rules have been in place for years and have nothing to do with Hillary.  There were also complaints of an extremely large number of voters in Brooklyn being left off the voter rolls for the primary.  This is a travesty and should be investigated, as it is (the Board of Election’s chief clerk has been suspended without pay during the investigation), but it would be a very odd strategy for Hillary to purge voters from Brooklyn.  She won Brooklyn 60%-40%, an even greater margin than she won the state.  If she had the desire and ability to purge voters, it probably would have made sense to purge voters from areas that voted against her (and not do it in a way that would lead to an investigation).

The larger point, though, is the thinking of Bernie supporters that the system is designed so only Hillary could win.  It’s designed to benefit her and not Bernie.  The Clinton Machine is rigged.  It’s an unfair fight.

The Democratic system for nominating a presidential candidate is not perfect–far from it.  There are certainly ways it should be improved.  But the arguments that an upstart challenger cannot win the Democratic system, especially when the system wants a Clinton to win, overlook one huge thing: just 8 years ago, during the last Democratic primary, an upstart challenger defeated Hillary.

Bernie’s supporters seem to ignore that during the last Democratic nomination Barack Obama, faced with all of the same challenges that Bernie is–the Clinton machine, some states with caucuses and some states with primaries, the mainstream media, etc. etc.–beat Hillary.  The simple truth, as difficult as it may be for Bernie supporters to admit, is that he just doesn’t appear to be a good enough candidate to beat Hillary.  The exact reason(s) (too liberal, too old, too negative, not wonky enough, seemingly not interested in anything other than economic inequality) don’t particularly matter.

What matters is how Bernie and his supporters and Trump and his supporters act moving forward.

Hopefully Trump’s supporters won’t resort to violence.

Hopefully Bernie’s supporters won’t sit out the general election.  Bernie has exceeded many expectations with his campaign.  He has done many admirable things.  He has pushed Hillary to the left.  He has brought economic inequality into the national spotlight.  He has made Citizens United and campaign finance important issues. But if he is to have a positive legacy, he needs to accomplish something.  Other than a few amendments, his legislative record is not particularly inspiring or memorable.  He could become a footnote in history, and perhaps an exceptionally negative one, if his attacks and failure to support Hillary if she wins the nomination (as it appears overwhelmingly that she will) lead to a general election loss.  He could be remembered and remembered fondly, however, if he brings his impressive grassroots supporters and fundraising to help bring a Democratic sweep of Congress and the Presidency.  As a senator, and perhaps the most important one in such a scenario, he could lead a progressive agenda that would make him and his supporters proud.

Here is a video of Hillary at the 2008 DNC convention.  This is how to lose with grace and do what’s best for the progressive movement in the United States.  I can only hope Bernie feels the same way and does something similar if he doesn’t have the delegates in Philadelphia.