Monday, November 7, 2011

On Herman Cain... Again

I've been watching the Herman Cain fiasco. Fascinating... truly. For a while I was not quite sure what to think. I know that he habitually says stupid things, so I didn't think it impossible for him to have said something stupid to a woman somewhere along the line. Stupid and offensive? Sure, I can see that. Easily.

Woman after woman "coming forward" supposedly with claims that Herman Cain sexually harassed them... (insert big sigh here). But nobody willing to put their name out there? Nobody willing to actually say what the man did? Hmmm... somewhat suspicious, but possible. Given my cynical nature, I have to assume that it's possible that Herman Cain did something terrible to multiple women. Of course, given the same cynicism, I also have to believe it perfectly possible that Herman Cain said something stupid to one woman and Cain's opposition is feeding the "story" with false accusations to take him down.

To be honest, I had been considering both scenarios to be equally probable. But now here comes woman number 4. Ah... yes. Sharon Bialek. I had to watch the press conference. Of course I had to see it. I heard that she was "represented" by attorney Gloria Allred. (Her website describes her as "Gloria Allred - Discrimination Attorney/Feminist Lawyer" on Google.) Ms. Allred has sued the Boy Scouts for excluding girls (huh?), and she sued a drugstore chain for having toy sections labeled "boys" and "girls." She litigated a lawsuit against Arnold Schwarzenegger for... wait for it... sexual harassment while he was running for governor. This lawsuit was later dismissed. She has represented numerous famous people in various predicaments (child custody disagreements, sexual harassment cases, she was part of the OJ Simpson mess, Tiger Woods' mistresses, ad nauseam...)

So... this I gotta see.

So... I saw.

And I don't believe.

The story is just... too much. Allred starts out the press conference by establishing that Bialek is a "registered Republican." She goes on to give a general report of Bialek's credentials and lifestyle. According to Allred, Bialek is a college graduate, has hosted a cooking show, and has spent the last two years as a full-time, stay-at-home single mom. (Again, HUH?) The "evidence" presented by Allred at the press conference consists of two pieces of paper she waved around of which she would not release any copies (supposedly of affidavits signed by "pediatrician" and "businessman."), and a copy of Sharon Bialek's business card from the time she was supposedly vigorously harassed (copies released of this, of course). "Pediatrician" and "businessman" are the only names we have for the evidentiary corroborative statement makers.

Bialek then took the stage and read a statement. She was smiley and perky throughout most of her statement. She accuses Cain of upgrading her hotel room, taking her to the "offices" of the NRA, and then (perkiness suddenly gone, slightly choked up) "he suddenly reached over, he put his hand on my leg under my skirt and reached for my genitals. He also grabbed my head and brought it towards his crotch. I was very very surprised and very shocked. I said, 'What are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend. This isn't what I came here for.' Mr Cain said, 'You want a job, right?' I asked him to stop and he did. I asked him to take me back to my hotel, which he did. Right away." She said she didn't file a complaint since she wasn't employed by the Association when the harassment occurred. (Conveniently mentioned in her statement is her supposed tea party activism as well.)

Sharon Bialek has shot to instant morning-show fame. She supposedly wants Cain to "admit what he did and move forward." I do not believe her story. Certainly not in its entirety.

But here's the rub. The press has a lot of power. Far more power than is healthy, actually. Because while I do not buy the story, I do suffer from Cain fatigue. There is a part of me, and I must admit it's a rather large part, that just wants the entire thing to go away, including Cain. As I've said previously, there are some things about Cain that gave me pause (his enormous lack of tact being one of them). So now I'd like to just see him go away. And that's sad. Even believing Cain to be the victim of dirty politics and lynching by the press I still don't have any fight in me. Just... just go away.

Perhaps this, too, is the result of an ever-increasing cynicism within me. I should probably be troubled by this, but I'm afraid I'm too cynical for that as well.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Edge of Insanity

I spoke with a friend yesterday regarding our country's social and political structure. I must admit, I am left with some serious concerns.

My friend describes himself as a "social democrat." I had posed a question to him a year and a half ago regarding socialism... my question being a relatively simple one: What to do about human nature? Under a socialist system, human nature being what it is, there will always be more takers than workers. Thus, the system quickly will run out of either workers or freedom.

He went on a gentle rant last night about the inequities in our system. The disparity between the rich and the poor, the ever-widening gap... the fact that the rich are getting richer and the poor are unable to rise out of their station, etc. Are the rich getting super rich while the poor are not rising at all? Well, no... not really. The poor in this country have better lifestyles than poor people ever have. Is it true that there is a widening gap between the rich and the poor? I honestly don't know, and I really don't care. If one person is getting far richer than another, how does this hurt? Is it true that a poor person cannot work hard and pull themselves out of being poor? NO. Is it true that many poor people have a mentality that gets in their way? YES. But there are examples of people who did not hold onto that same mentality, and they managed to work their way out of poverty.

When he finished his rant, I pointed out that he still had not really answered my question regarding human nature. His answer? He doesn't want a perception that human nature is flawed to get in the way of change. Also, he doesn't believe that human nature IS inherently flawed. My friend is a humanities teacher -- I pointed to history and asked him to show me a time when we were able to clearly see that humans, at some point, operated without flaw. I then went on to say that one cannot rationally argue that human nature is not flawed. "Ah...," he says. "I am not a rationalist." I asked him, "So what does that make you - a wishful thinker?" He laughed and said that he prefers "dreamer."

My concern: There is a group of people who are wanting to change the entire social and political structure of the world. These people appear to wish to deny reality in order to hold on to their dream of a utopian society. To eschew rationalism in favor of dreaming is the height of foolishness. To see reality and refuse to admit it's real because it doesn't fit with what you would like to be real is folly.

An even greater concern is his assertion that the fix to the world's problems is "literacy." He specified that he meant real literacy -- not just the ability to read and write, but the ability to digest and think about information, drawing conclusions and coming up with real results. Yes, yes, YES! But... but... how can one claim to be literate in such a fashion if one is rejecting rationalism? Can a person be a literate thinker while living in a dream reality that denies the existence of what is really real? It seems to me the person who believes such a thing is possible is tip-toeing to the edge of insanity.

The stakes get higher and higher all the time.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Herman Cain

I like him... Herman Cain. I do. I'd vote for him - and gladly. Are there some things about him that give me pause? Sure. There would be about anybody, I suppose. But generally speaking, I like him and I trust him. Trusting a candidate is a rare commodity these days.

The WaPo had an interesting article on him in today's paper. Fascinating stuff they write in the press!! As if I needed something to destroy the last vestige of faith I had in the media, they come out with a new genre -- let's call it "political fiction." In the beginning of the article (written by Sandhya Somashekhar), it is stated, "Four years after Barack Obama campaigned for president, steering clear of provocative statements about race, Cain has floated to the top of presidential polls doing just the opposite." Either Sandhya Somashekhar was sleeping through Obama's election bid or she is being disingenuous or the color of her own skin has colored her vision. Obama did not steer clear of provocative statements about race.

The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn't. But she is a typical white person who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know, there's a reaction that's been bred into our experiences that don't go away, and that sometimes comes out in the wrong way, and that's just the nature of race in our society.
-Barack Obama, March 2008

But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
-Barack Obama, March 2008

Michelle Obama, in January of 2008, said in an interview that race is an important issue in this country -- and went on to say that a disproportionate number of African American women are dying of breast cancer because of "health disparities."

In my view, these are provocative statements.

The difference between the Obamas and Herman Cain is that the Obamas see race as an issue that holds back black people. They take skin color very seriously... and the fact that Barack Obama sees a "typical white person" as somebody who is naturally afraid of any black men they don't know is telling. Herman Cain has a sense of humor about race, he calls out the black community for mindlessly voting Democrat, and refers to himself as a "black walnut."

Cain doesn't believe that racism is something that holds people back. Black people don't care to hear this, according to Edward DuBose of the NAACP. Edward accuses Cain of "engaging in very dangerous, irresponsible...rhetoric" and goes on to say that Cain is doing this in order to be accepted by white people. But why would Cain think that a person's skin color holds them back?? He's a black man who has been a successful businessman, a preacher, and now a presidential candidate. I think his life is a testimony to the accuracy of his point of view.

Herman Cain is not perfect - nobody is. He is not the "ideal candidate." He has his folksy 9-9-9 plan. While I support a fair tax (i.e., a tax in which all citizens would participate), it seems that his 9-9-9 plan would leave in place a tax on income as well as instituting a tax on purchases, which would leave the door open for extreme taxation in the future.

I have a natural aversion to a "progressive" tax code. I don't think that success should be punished with higher tax rates. I don't think that any particular class of people should be allowed to pay no taxes, and I certainly don't think that there should be a government check coming to you if you didn't make "enough money." I just don't know that the 9-9-9 deal is the best answer to a real problem.

Another count against Cain is his lack of diplomacy. Some of his statements have caused me to wonder what he would say while dealing with foreign dignitaries.

I left that Democrat plantation a long time ago, and I ain't goin' back.
- Herman Cain

The liberal mainstream media... they are doubly scared that a real black man might run against Barack Obama.
-Herman Cain

By the way, it's OK to call me black... I am an American black conservative. An ABC. OK. It's OK. It's OK. I'm not hyphenated.
-Herman Cain

I'm ready for the "gotcha" questions and they're already starting to come. And when they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan I'm going to say, you know. I don't know. Do you know?
-Herman Cain

Yeah... not so sure about that.

But here are my choices... do I want someone in office who might offend some foreign dignitary, but will stick to our Constitution? Or do I want someone in office who will bend over backwards NOT to offend, but will inflict damage of all kinds on our country? Do I trust Mitt Romney? NO. I'd have to be a complete fool to trust that slick son-of-a-gun. He's an opportunistic politician. Do I trust Rick Perry? NO. He's a step up from Romney, but still playing politics rather than trying to solve problems. And when he does "try" to "solve a problem" I don't think I care much for his methods. (Forced immunization against sexually transmitted diseases for tweens anyone?)

No, Herman Cain is not the perfect candidate. But, so far, he's the one I like the best.