Monday, February 29, 2016

Super Tuesday Wondering

Super Tuesday Wondering

I wonder what it was like,
In Germany, in 1933, at the
Tail end of  Kampfzeit,
Before it was cast as
One man’s struggle:
A totem to a people’s angst,
A party wrested from
A corrupted establishment.

When he re-wrote history.
When they rabbled and mobbed.

I wonder what it was like,
In Germany, in 1934, on the
Nacht der langen Messer,
When political rivals
Were eliminated,
If not by long knives, by
Complicit intelligentsia:
Silenced irreparably.

When he destroyed institutions.
When they took part in his putsches

I wonder what it was like,
In Germany, in 1935, when the
Treaty of Versailles shattered:
Diplomacy disintegrated,
Power consolidated at home,
Pushed against the borders
Of reparation, against the
Others in their midst.

When he perpetrated massive fraud.
When they joined his army and invaded sovereigns.

I wonder what it was like,
In Germany, in 1936, when
America, itself imperfect, showed
The strength of diversity
In democracy, in the wake
Of Aryanist fervor:
Against impurity, against
Olympians and decency.

When he charmed the volk with blind hate.
When they drove the trains and guarded the camps.

I wonder what it was like,
In Germany, in 1937, upon
The opening of Buchenwald,
A holding place for “professional
Habitual criminals,” Jews and
Gypsies and gays and artists,
A template for extermination:
A blitz from ghetto to destruction.

When he systematically murdered a peaceful race.
When they turned blind eyes until their eyes were gone.

I wonder what it was like,
In Germany, in 1938, the dark
Kristallnacht stripping rights,
Breaking glass, breaking heads:
Broken commerce to purge,
Thirty thousand Jews and
Degenerates disappearing:
Emigrated, concentrated.

When he brought civilization to the brink of destruction.
When they brought civilization to the brink of destruction.

I wonder what it was like,
In Germany, in 1939, when
Peaceful borders moved,
When removal morphed into
Vernichtung; when neighbors
And friends and children
disappeared; trains to nowhere
Departed from next doors.

I wonder what it was like when:
He was elected.
They elected him
To make Germany Great Again.

I wonder, was it Super?

I wonder, was it Tuesday?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Bush It. Bush It Good.

Bush It. Bush it Good

First, let me get this out of the way regarding nominations: Hillary and, yes, I think President Obama should be able to appoint a replacement for Scalia; although politicization of the Supreme Court (google FDR court-packing) is nothing new, we need a fully staffed SCOTUS. This is the president’s constitutional right.

Anybody that knows me or reads my column knows that I am solidly anti-Trump and anti-Cruz. A Republican nomination of either of these candidates would absolutely shake my faith in the party; I would not—even against Bernie Sanders—ever vote for either. They are pernicious snake-oil peddlers whose dangerous rhetoric flows from a fundamental bastardization of Kennedy/Reagan optimism. They embarrass me, not only as a Republican, as an American.

I have indicated, previously, a tolerance for Rubio, Fiorina, and Christie all of whom have their negatives (preparation, private-industry skeletons, willingness to over-sacrifice liberty for the illusion of safety) that are outweighed by solidly well intentioned pragmatic conservatism; two-thirds of that choice has been made easier.

So, I’m left with Kasich and Bush. Kasich is appealing in many ways. He has a solid resume that spans success in Washington (part of Bill Clinton’s functional Washington that helped balance the Federal deficit for the first and last time in my life), success in business (he understands the tenets of, and has worked around the market-distortions caused by regulations, of American capitalism), and success as an executive in a consequential American state. He understands what makes America work and has expressed a fair and reasonable message of empathy with all sides in most science-faith-progressive social debates. He, in his words and demeanor, channels optimism: he isn’t unequivocally “anti” anything. The expression of his message is always upbeat and positive.

In 1994, I got my first view of Jeb Bush as a candidate for Florida governor and fell in like. I say “like” intentionally; love can fizzle. I wasn’t dazzled by soaring rhetoric or unachievable ideals. He was a businessman with a pedigree. Well educated, raised by heroic parents—a WWII veteran hero and a no-nonsense-yet-gracious mother—and married into a mixed-cultural, all-American hybridized family. He was a Jack Kemp conservative without high-flying generalities but with all the spirit nonetheless. He barely lost that election in 1994 to one of Florida’s most popular and cunning Democrat politicians ever.

Four years later, Jeb Bush won. Over the next eight years while governor, as his brother—A TOTALLY DIFFERENT PERSON!—felt his way through the Presidency, Jeb over-delivered for the people of Florida. The minority gap in education decreased as performance in reading and math, for the first time truly measured, increased overall; Florida’s high school graduation rates rose; the economy grew faster than the national average; Florida added 1.1 million jobs which was more than any other state (even CA which is twice our size); the state achieved AAA credit rating. Meanwhile he led us through the swirling winds of increasing partisanship and some eight natural disasters. Let’s not overlook that he mentored and helped catapult the third-most-qualified candidate in this year’s Republican presidential field, rosy-cheeked Marco Rubio. Admittedly, Jeb was goaded into some ill-advised political fights, but he was scandal-free and left on a high note. He was groomed, credentialed and ready to be president.

I have been waiting ever since, biding my time through the Obama experiment. If America needs anybody now, it needs Jeb Bush to be president. Since he left office, Jeb has been think tanking, advising, and living an example of how to move the means of capital toward the promotion of good ends. He’s spent more time obsessing about education and its importance as both a cause and a standalone solution to flagging international competitiveness than any other candidate has, D or R, in decades. He understands that education is the civil rights issue of this generation but won’t pander to those who think that knowledge and skill come without civic responsibility.

I would be shirking my own responsibility to Watermark readers if I did not address Bush’s stance on issues that affect the LGBT community. The Bush family, Jeb included, has quite unapologetically embraced LGBTs as friends, colleagues, and closest-circle advisors. GHW’s and Barbara’s recent participation in a gay wedding was a carefully orchestrated demonstration that the Bush family has tacitly evolved to accept the new law of the land, replacing postured judgment with love and acceptance.

In Jeb’s own words, following the Obergefell decision,  “It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience AND also not discriminate.” Although the standard Republican approach to issues of constitutional ambiguity is to defer to state hegemony, Bush further argued, "I don’t think you should be discriminated [against] because of your sexual orientation. Period. Over and out.” As to the Kim Davises, "She is sworn to uphold the law, and it seems to me that there ought to be common ground, there ought to be big enough space for her to act on her conscience and—now that the law is the law of the land—for a gay couple to be married in whatever jurisdiction that is.”

I feel confident in asserting that a President Jeb Bush would not work to actively overturn recent Supreme Court decisions. He would not actively push an amendment to redefine marriage to the exclusion of LGBT. He may not have “evolved” as quickly as Hillary or Obama, but is not far behind. Jeb Bush will not reignite the culture wars which have flamed, out of control, over the past 7 years under the administration that should have put much of the old fights to bed. He understands that an educated electorate rife with economic opportunity will spread wealth, help neighbors, and protect the rights of all Americans; he understands, like his family, that (speaking specifically about the June 2015 SCOTUS marriage decision), “In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side.” Classrooms, grocery stores, and playgrounds are where acceptance is bred and flourishes, not in the halls of a disconnected congress or in the marble chambers of nine (or eight!) largely unaccountable jurists.

But, as he’s said, it’s settled, “Period. Over and out.”

Jeb may not get the nomination, but he would certainly make the best president for all of us. Jeb Bush gets it for all of us which is why he gets my unembarrassed endorsement.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Law Passes

The Law Passes

The last of the trues is passed,
Past into the origin,
Into the text itself,
To the root—radix—of our Law.

Beholden to none but the rule,
Answering only fathers,
American and heavenly,
Radical and Conservative both.

Chosen by God, by Reagan,
Approved without dissent,
Flesh made one with right,
Flesh made whole: staid whole.

Unwavering, inflexible, scathing,
In prayers and pledges,
And oaths as yet spoken,
Eschewing the unspoken.

And yet passed by, eclipsed
By a living Constitution,
By activists: occupations:
Insinuators of a new world.

Justice’s scales tip again,
Unbridled now by anchors,
Life, love, rights, wrongs:
Irreparably tipped: Lost.