Glad I’m Not The First To Say It

But New Jersey governor Chris Christie is fat.  Not just chubby, he’s fat.  And with his interest in the national race continuing, his weight has suddenly a fair topic to discuss.  And it’s not just me that’s being mean.  Others are too!  Michael Kinsey and Eugene Robinson have written about the New Jersey governor.

So what are my thoughts?  I couldn’t care less.  I don’t care that Bill Clinton was screwing around on his wife (pretty much all of our greatest Presidents have).  I don’t care that LBJ was a pyschopath who regularly employed psychological abuse to get the absolute most out of his staff.  I don’t care that FDR was immobilized from the waist down.  I don’t care about the private lives of our politicians.  That is, if they don’t give a damn about mine.  At hat point, their private lives interest me, because there’s a strong chance that the more vocal they are, the more likely it is that they’re just like me in a very certain way.  But, I digress.

So why am I writing about this?  Well, I have a theory.  The country always elects the better looking candidate.  Every time.  Dukakis?  Give me a break.  That was pretty much the only guy George H.W. Bush could have beaten.  He wasn’t precisely a looker himself.  Reagan v. Carter.  Clinton v. Bush.  Clinton v. Dole.  Bush v. Gore.  Obama v. McCain.  If you see a pattern emerging here, that’s because there is one, and it’s pretty strong.  Americans vote for the guy who looks good.  Take, for example, Rick Perry.  He’s not been completely written off, but in my book, his chance has passed.  Put simply, he was a Texas firebrand who was adept at throwing out red meat to the base, and not much more.  But damn, he looked good throwing that meat out.

I think Christie would make an interesting choice for the GOP.  But, he’s fat.  And in the long haul, that just doesn’t sell with the American electorate.  I don’t care, but apparently the country does.  And in terms of operational politics, that ought to be examined.

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Report: Shrooms Change People

No kidding.  But wait for it, this wasn’t from the collective anecdotes of a bunch of hippies at Burning Man, this comes from the Journal of Psychopharmacology.  According to the study, the study participants who had mystical experiences after having consumed the Schedule I controlled substance were notable for their increased sense of openness to number of different areas of life.

One of the authors of the study, Roland Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, posits that ‘shrooms’ may actually have a therapeutic application.  For example, the substance seemed to help those that had received recent diagnoses of cancer, or other serious diseases.

Well, will wonders never cease.  That we seem to be on the cusp of potentially medicalizing shrooms isn’t really surprising, but, I have to say, it sure is original.  If there are legitimate applications for them, have at it and bring it to the bedside.  Remember, cocaine has applications in anesthetics, crystal meth is used for narcolepsy, and marijuana is used for glaucoma.  Perhaps we are on the verge of finding something useful for shrooms, other than seeing people come out of the woodwork that aren’t really there.  Timothy Leary would be proud.

The More Things Change…

The more they stay the same.  So, with Jon Stewart describing the GOP hopeful field as a reverse version of American Idol, Romney’s back on top.  Following Perry’s recent disastrous debate performances, his hitherto commanding lead has evaporated, and has done so almost overnight.  I thought something along these lines would happen, but not with the breathtaking speed with which it’s unfolded.

The field of Republican contenders has had a flavor of the week nature to it, with Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Mitt Romney all alternating in terms of who’s taking the lion’s share of the media attention in any given 24 hour news cycle.  It’s still a far way off from Iowa, but Romney’s slow and steady approach, not to mention the fact that he’s already ran for President, is already bearing dividends.  He’s the most polished, he’s the most reasonable, he’s the most consistent (at least in this cycle) and he’s enjoyed the backing of the higher-ups in the establishment of the Republican party.  Those attributes have given him a leg up in the process, and that the polling has readjusted speaks to this.

I think that what we’ve seen thus far, the veritable merry-go-round of GOP hopefuls, speaks to the fact that news in America has increasingly become more much of a form of entertainment than actual news.  The term for this is ‘info-tainment.’  The reduction of the presidential election to what almost seems like a reality show is probably detrimental to the process, and the nation as a whole, but that’s just the way it is.

Though I wouldn’t classify myself as a Romney supporter by any stretch of the imagination, I think that his reemergence as the leader of the pack is good for the GOP.  He is, despite the protestations of the tea party, the most electable, and he poses the biggest threat to the President.  But, as with this story, and with all other polls, the proof will only be in Tuesday, November 6th, 2012.

Obama Jobs Plan: Economists Thumbs Up

So, apparently for being such a socialist in the eyes of the Republicans, the President’s jobs plan could well save the economy from sliding into the trough of another recession.  That’s not coming from a lefty rag like the Times, or even the Nation.  It’s coming from a survey of economists conducted by Bloomberg LP (not precisely a ‘pinko’ organization).  Far from being a socialist, Obama the pragmatic capitalist that he is, has shifted the onus back onto the GOP, because they will, inevitably, oppose his plan.  So, according to Bloomberg, Republicans, if they oppose the plan, are going to be opposing what’s essentially a booster shot to the economy.

So, GOP, have at it.  Continue on your crazy fest.  It’ll do you about as much good for your electoral prospects as it’s done for the economy.

Strauss Kahn: I Did It, But You Can’t Sue

Talk about arrogance.  Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the IMF and onetime French presidential hopeful, claims that he possessed diplomatic immunity in a civil suit lodged against him by Nafissatou Diallo, a Guinean immigrant he had sex with this past May in a Times Square hotel.  This boils down to the classic ‘he said-she said’ conundrum.  DNA evidence conclusively demonstrated that a sexual encounter did indeed take place, but the bone of contention boils down to consent.  Strauss-Kahn labeled his actions a ‘moral failing,’ and Diallo says it was rape, pure and simple.

I wasn’t in the room.  I don’t know precisely what happened.  I think that the Manhattan DA’s office dropped the criminal charges because there were doubts about her credibility, particularly given the fact that Strauss-Kahn would have hired the best criminal defense attorneys in the nation.  And let’s face it, if you’re rich in this country, you’re able to buy a better brand of justice than your average Joe.

But the argument of diplomatic immunity is a bunch of malarkey.  If he weren’t  making those claims during the period when he was facing the criminal charges, why would he be entitled to them now?  He’s not a diplomat, he was a global banker.  That he was a French national while he was the managing director of the IMF does not figure into this calculus.  Strauss-Kahn is just trying to worm his way off the hook for his ‘moral failing.’

So, we’ll see where this goes.  What is for sure is that he’s not going to be the next president of France.  What’s not sure is how many more women come forward in the near future with other claims of sexual aggression on his part.  Because where there’s smoke, there’s likely a fire.  Strauss-Kahn, instead of campaigning for the French presidency, will likely be fending off more such claims in the near future.  And while for the victims, this probably falls far short of justice, taking him down not just a notch, but into this media abyss in which he finds himself is a form of justice, in and of itself.

Big Apple Air Force?

Ray Kelly, the New York City Commissioner of Police, was on Sixty Minutes, this past Sunday.  On it, he claimed that the New York Police Department had the capability of taking out enemy aircraft.  Oh really?  Experts have cast doubt on his recent claims, saying  that theoretically, yes, perhaps the department might have it, but kind of in the way that I have the ability to be President someday.

The fact of the matter is that the NYPD is the largest, best funded and best armed city police force in the country.  But while in theory, they may be able to take out an enemy aircraft over Manhattan, one, should it do so, and two, does it have the policy authorization to do so?  As critics have noted, doesn’t that authority belong to the Department of Defense?  And also, let’s think about this for a minute: Is having the NYPD shooting an airplane over New York City such a hot idea?  The short answer: hell no.

The New York Police Department has neither the experience, nor the expertise to successfully down an enemy aircraft, either in terms of the command know-how, the execution, or how to handle the fallout.  Put simply, Kelly was bluffing.  He wanted to make New York look like a harder target to hit than it actually is.  For would be suicide bombers, I don’t see how this is even a deterrent, as they’ve resigned themselves to death anyways.  It was a piece of braggadocio, pure and simple, and should he ever give the order to down an aircraft over the city, he ought to be court martialed for it.  Leave this sort of thing to the Air Force.  They’re the ones that are trained for it.  Not the average Joe from Staten Island.

The State of Gay Marriage

For gay men and women in the United States, this has been a year of unadulterated progress.  And thank God for that.  The first openly gay man was approved by the Senate to become a federal judge, New York legalized gay marriage, and the long dysfunctional policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was finally relegated to the ash heap of history.  Gay Americans are making striking progress on every front of civil rights, though that final, not to mention elusive, Holy Grail of gay rights is dangling within our reach:  gay marriage.

Litigation regarding the state of gay marriage is working its way through both the various state court systems along with the federal judiciary.  And it’s nearly guaranteed that the Supreme Court is going to have to pick up the issue, as neither side in the process will concede defeat in the process.  That decision is likely to come in 2013, observers say.  Various lawsuits, filed both by the House of Representatives and gay couples wishing to get married are in play, and they take different strategies in both calling for a continuation on the clearly unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (ironically signed into law by former President Bill Clinton), and constitutional arguments based on the premise that the exclusion of the franchise of marriage to same-sex couples is a constitutional anathema.

So where is this going to go?  In short, I don’t know.  That this country could theoretically be on the cusp of legalizing gay marriage across the nation is breathtaking progress, a feat that was largely unimaginable in the late 1990s.  With the so called ‘millenials,’ those people born in the 1980s largely in favor of gay marriage, as opposed to the older, more conservative generation of baby boomers, I think the issue is inevitably trending towards legalization.  It’s a question of when, not if.  It could happen as early as 2013, but, if Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote on the narrowly divided court, comes down on the side of conservatives, it could take another decade.  But I think that’s a conservative estimate.  Making predictions in politics is, like Mary Poppins stated, like making a pie crust.  Easily made, easily broken.  But she was talking about promises.  In politics, beware the man who promises too much.  You’re likely to end up with a pie crust.