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Monthly Archives: November 2015

 

If there’s one thing many politicians – although mainly Republican these days – are not, it’s meek. They don’t shy away from confrontation regardless of whether or not the facts support their point of view. And any politician’s inherent tendency is to lean towards political expediency rather than what is right or wrong. So it’s no surprise that these brash politicians when confronted with the many uncomfortable issues they must discuss, would rather pick fights with the media then actually debate certain topics. After all, the media is an easy punching bag these days, and as a group is a convenient strawman.

We’ve all heard it from the likes of Palin who can’t utter a sentence without blaming a vast left-wing conspiracy which she calls the ‘lamestream’ media. But can you blame her? They actually asked her tough questions when she was running for office, and she wasn’t able to handle herself. So, as many unprepared politicians do these days, she shot the messenger.

But in any democracy, a free and independent press is a necessary component of the system as a whole, and demonizing the very people whose jobs keep us all safe by exposing that which otherwise would remain obfuscated, is hardly the right way to go about things. In other words, demonizing the press for doing its job is bad for everyone – everyone but the unprepared politician.

Now, I’m not saying that the press should get a free ride. When asked whether he was running a comic book campaign for presidency, Donald Trump justifiably took umbrage. Now, I don’t like Trump. He’s a terrible person for a lot of reasons. But let’s face it, the question was bullshit, especially in that setting. But is the ‘lamestream’ media at fault, or was the specific person just doing a crappy job of moderating a debate?

The larger issue here is whether or not it’s okay to demonize the media, and lately the political right has made great sport of doing just that. But the media has a purpose, and if you’re running for office in the US or anywhere else, you should know how to handle an uppity reporter. It comes with the territory. And if you can’t, well then, perhaps you should seek other employment.

The same right wing politicians who criticize the media have also attacked the idea of political correctness. But let’s face it, this argument is just another strawman for an unprepared leader. Being politically correct is a good thing. It keeps us on the right path. For instance, political correctness keeps us from offending African Americans by not calling them negroes, blacks, or other offending terms. It keeps us from referring to the mentally challenged, handicapped and minorities with bigoted or demeaning language.

If someone is complaining about being politically correct, they probably offended someone and would rather not apologize. Probably because they don’t really care who they offended. When Trump was told that Muslims in America were a problem and that Obama was one of them, he was criticized for failing to correct the bigoted older man who asked the question. Instead of doing the right thing like John McCain in 2007, he defended his right to not correct every disparaging remark he hears about the President from his sophomoric supporters, and instead attacked the concept of being politically correct.

But in this case, isn’t being politically correct also the right thing to do in the first place? President Obama really isn’t a Muslim. Muslim as a group in the US really aren’t a big problem, and there certainly aren’t any known terrorist training camps. The problem here isn’t political correctness. It’s Trumps willingness to allow his idiotic supporter to continue to believe not only that President Obama is a dangerous Muslim, but that he’s actually looking into things that can be done about it.

To the logical, thinking person, this is a clear cut case of right and wrong. After all, how can it be right to allow a supporter and voter to remain in the dark about facts? How can it be right to purposefully allow falsehoods to permeate the voting public? Obviously it’s not, and doing so is indefensible, but Trump’s attack on the strawman concept of political correctness shifted the argument away from truth and that was the end of that. Now we’re talking about political correctness by the lamestream media, not Trump’s naked demagoguery and foolish supporters.

I think it’s time we drew a line in the sand. The media isn’t lame. It’s not always great, but it serves an invaluable purpose. If you’re not ready to answer any question a reporter hurls in your direction, then you’re not up for the job as a politician. And if you’re beef with the media at large is their focus on political correctness, you’re probably trying to change the subject from a sticky and uncomfortable position, you’ve taken. The media isn’t the problem, nor is the concept of political correctness. You’re the problem. Hopefully the voters wizen up enough to see that.

Trump would turn every Muslim in the US into a potential terrorist.

His talk of ‘drastic policy measures’ plays great to xenophobes, racists, religious warrior types, and ignorant gun-toting right-wing nutjobs, but warrantless wiretaps, shutting mosques and special identification cards? That’s a great way to sow hatred in a population that largely supports our way of life and point of view – at least for now.

Trump’s drastic security measures are a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you can create your own bogeyman, suddenly security becomes necessary and obvious – but I don’t remember the last time a roadside bomb went off in Cleveland. Goodness help us if he’s ever in a position to implement policy.

At least under Obama, American Muslims don’t feel singled out or marginalized or persecuted. It’s what makes our country great. You can’t say that about Muslims in France or much or Western Europe. It could reasonably be argued that Obama’s (and generally American) inclusive policies have had a positive effect by marginalizing the extremists.

But I guess Trump and his idiot supporters are aiming to change all that. Then when extremists finally attack here, these idiot gun nuts will blame Obama instead of the more-and-more Nazi-like Trump and his ‘necessary’ and ‘drastic’ measures, and use the attack as an excuse to loosen gun laws and implement even more repressive, rights-abusing policies.

Nevermind that loose gun laws make it possible for terrorists to easily obtain powerful, military-style weapons in the US just like everyone else. That’s just a detail.

To make matters worse, others right-wing politicians who previously have been more tempered in their political rhetoric are now trying to follow Trump’s lead. Ben Carson today suggested that Syrians are like dogs, some rabid, some not. Ted Cruz thinks we should have a religious test for admittance into the country. John Kasich thinks we establish a Judeo-Christian government agency.

I haven’t heard any craziness from the likes of Palin or Huckabee lately, but probably because the myopic lunacy coming from those with a bigger megaphone is sucking all the air out of the room.

See original referenced article here.

 

Let’s review the candidates as they stand today starting with Donald Trump. While he’s the so-called Republican front-runner, there’s very little chance he’ll win the nomination let alone the presidency. So let me be very clear about my prediction: Donald Trump will NEVER be the President of the United States. Period.

Why would I go out on a limb so early? First and foremost, you can’t be President and also a loose cannon – and Donald Trump is an unapologetically loose cannon. It makes for great political theatre as evidenced by his TV ratings, but you can’t win an election with 40% of the vote. Suppose for a moment that Trump was somehow (inexplicably) able to cinch the nomination. Now it’s just Trump and Clinton – all the other voices silenced in the primaries. How long do you think it will take Trump to say something stupid like he’s done so many times before – calling Rosie O’Donnell a pig, Carli Fiorina ugly, and Megan Kelly a bimbo. You can’t expect to get away with that stuff forever, no matter how brazenly unapologetic you are. And what works in primary season when only politicos care about the election is different from October of an election year when the rank and file voters start to get interested in the contest.

Next there’s his controversial immigration policy – if you can reasonably call it that. Threatening Gestapo-like tactics to round up and deport millions of illegals is a losing issue with the majority of the voters, let alone Latinos. You might find a few confused Mexican-Americans willing to vote for Trump, but most people are smart enough not to vote against their own interests when the consequences of an election would hit so close to home. In other words, what person would vote for a politician who advocates kicking their friends and relatives out of the country?

Trump is also weak on policy. He’s just a salesman with big, shiny ideas. But his ideas only appeal to the extreme right, and those folks don’t care about substance. It’s fine with them that Trump wants to build an expensive, impractical wall between the US and Mexico. They’d rather deport Mexican immigrants than worry about the cost or practicality of such an endeavor. But the voters at the center aren’t going to be so easily bamboozled and there’s still a year before the election where Trump is going to be forced to debate his ideas with more substantive policy positions. Telling us he’s going to have wonderful, talented people and amazing results will only take him so far and it’s only a matter of time before voters figure out he’s selling snake oil.

Moving on

Ted Cruz will never be president either. Nearly all his colleagues hates him and he’s far too extreme anyway. His tactics are slash-and-burn with a heavy dose of take-no-prisoners, and it will cost him. He’s far more knowledgeable than Trump when it comes to policy and will be a much better debater, but you can’t win from the fringe, and Cruz isn’t a pragmatist. Cruz has a shot at the nomination because he’s not stupid and he appeals to the republican base, so it’s possible he’ll the eventual nominee, but that’s as far as he’ll go.

And now for the rest: Jeb Bush never had a chance. He’s a Bush. I know it seems simplistic in the general analysis of things to say that Bush can’t win because of his family name, but there’s a lot of truth to it. Also, he’s been so underwhelming in his overall performance that it’s difficult to see him climbing out of the hole he’s in.

Kasich, Paul, and Fiorina just don’t have the star power or support to present a formidable challenge for the nomination. They might as well have been on the JV debate stage with never-were candidates like Santorum and Huckabee. Meanwhile, Carsen, it turns out, is something of a whack-o and he’s not going anywhere either.

So who does that leave? Just Marco Rubio, the only other person with a credible shot at the nomination. The problem with Rubio is that he’s no more capable of defeating Hillary Clinton than Ted Cruz. He might be smart, relatively clean, and even able to lure some Hispanics. But when compared with Clinton, he’s going to come up short. She’s got decades more experience than the young Florida Senator and he’ll be out of his league competing against her in a general election. He might not lose some debates, but he’s never going to win any.

Assuming that Marco Rubio grabs the nomination, and putting aside Hillary as a nearly unassailable challenge, Clinton still has two weapons for which the Republicans have no answer. Not one, but two former, beloved presidents. Bill Clinton is still wildly popular with many Americans, and Barack Obama gets passing marks from the majority of voters as well. Both will campaign relentlessly for Hillary and their star power will mean something when it’s time to vote.

Meanwhile who among the Republicans compares to these two men? There are none who do. Former Republican candidates are weak, fringe, or controversial. George Bush and Dick Cheney are toxic. John McCain and Mitt Romney are both blah. Palin is a joke and hardly worth mentioning, except as an example of the ineptitude of the available Republican surrogates. Simply put, the Republicans are a rudderless ship.

So it’s difficult to see how the Republicans win the Whitehouse. This will be the third presidential election in a row where they have failed to field decent candidates. When it comes time to vote, it’s hard to see how anyone but Hillary will prevail.

After universally trashing the most recent Republican debate format, furious activity at both the various campaigns and the RNC ensued immediately. The RNC, in danger of being marginalized, suspended the next CNBC debate and named new people within the organization to help manage the process going forward. Frankly, these moves probably fall into the ‘too little too late’ category but the RNC had to do something given the loud chorus of disapproval and contempt coming from every direction.

Meanwhile, the campaigns – or at least of some of them – came together to try and work something out that would benefit the candidates. That lasted less than a week. Today various news sites reported that some of the campaigns have asked for such things as temperature controls in the debate hall not to exceed 67 degrees, and the prohibition of hand-raising (both of which presumably to shield the heavy perspirers in the group).

In reality, it seems pretty clear to me this whole effort was doomed from the start. This group of Republicans is not cordial, conciliatory or in any kind of mood for actual compromise with each other. Put another way, bomb-throwers and negotiating are anathema.

Let’s review why: The Republican front runner is still Donald Trump – at least for now. Who among us thinks The Donald actually negotiates with anyone? He dictates. When you have billions of dollars, you’re probably used to getting your way, not negotiating. The idea that Trump negotiates anything with other campaigns or TV networks is probably a big fat lie. He’s a big spender and he dictates his terms, take it or leave it. That’s not really negotiation in the classical sense of compromise, but clearly he doesn’t mind calling it that. I’m pretty sure those he ‘negotiates’ with might have a different word to describe the interaction.

Following Donald trump in the polls with the possible exception of the creationist Ben Carson is, well, everyone. And since the front runner has been so successful with his unapologetic xenophobic and misogynistic opinions, many of the other trolls in the race for the nomination have followed suit. The result is an unruly bunch of pseudo politicians with an ostensible mean streak and an inability to agree on, well, nearly anything.

So I wouldn’t look for a tremendous amount of agreement between the campaigns and my prediction is that the RNC will continue to manage the debate process. Not because they necessarily deserve it, but because this particular troop of ‘expert negotiators’ can’t come together to produce a consensus on the debate specs.