The political parties need to get stronger…

August 29, 2015

I already forgot the exact quote but something like they’ll let the whore into the church but they don’t let her lead the choir the first day. That was supposedly what Republican candidate Wendell Willkie was told after he switched from being a Democrat to a Republican. He was a businessman and a political outsider.

And I did not call Donald Trump a whore, it just seems like I implied that.

(As I understand it, Trump was previously a Democrat.)

I could see Trump going two ways if he ever got to be president:

A. Continuing with his egomaniac ways and trying to be the great dictator who will take care of all of us and finally flaming out or destroying all of us and the world too.

B. Settling down once he got elected and trying to govern within the confines of a democratic system with three independent branches of government.

I would bet on the former.

Meanwhile, thanks to my internet connection and C-Span, I caught Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Democratic Party confab last night in Minneapolis. Once she got warmed up it was a rip-roaring old-time Democratic speech. I liked it. But I am no longer sure I really like some of the Democratic line — but I like a fiery political speech, and I don’t mean the Trump style of trash talk which is not delivered in traditional speech form but more like someone hurling insults on the street and displaying bravado.

Hillary’s primary opponents are crying foul and saying the party is rigging things for her. They may be.

Now wouldn’t that be a strange turn of events. In my lifetime it has been the Republicans who get behind one candidate early and who have gone under the rule (no longer in effect it seems), “thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican”.

But I think the pundits are saying Hillary needs a primary fight to fire herself up and to make her reach out to those left of her and to in the end come up with someone (well Hillary actually) who the whole party can stand behind and get elected.

And in her speech she was unabashedly pushing women’s rights (equal pay, ect.) and, gasp! gun control (and I don’t mean holding the gun steady as the gun enthusiasts joke). I think she used a euphemism for the words “gun control” .

She and others have pointed out that Democrats lost majorities in the House and Senate by failing to get the vote out. Too many Democrats stayed home.

And I think that is the danger of the weak party system we have gotten ourselves into. There is a good reason to have political parties. Through political parties diverging ideas coalesce into workable policy. In the absence of strong political parties you get independent candidates who may not feel that they need to represent all of the people. And you get government in constant gridlock, powerless to do anything.

I’ll never forget watching TV crews interview stranded people in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina with the full forces of government, including the armed forces, unable to rescue them. What’s that all about? Even Communist China sends in the army in natural disasters — but we were tied up in the Middle East at the time (well we still are). We can unleash death and destruction half way around the globe but we can’t help people right here at home.

Yes, I know the military did take part in the Katrina rescue operation but it was an embarrassingly weak show led by an embarrassment of a president.

The whole reason so many people seem to be taken by the Trump rhetoric is that they see our gridlocked government as ineffectual, expensive but useless.

I’m rooting for both of our major political parties to have a good fight in the primaries and then come out with two worthy contenders in the general election.

I’m not sure that is going to happen.

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Biden was wrong on Bin Laden and he would be wrong to run…

August 28, 2015

Vice President Joe Biden advised President Obama not to take a chance and go after Osama Bin Laden — it was not 100 percent at the time that Bin Laden was where they thought he was and that the raid would be successful.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said go for it.

Just like capturing Saddam Hussein, who was hiding in a hole, was a coup for President George W. Bush and helped seal his re-election, killing Bin Laden was a high point for Obama — even if people so quickly forget it seems.

Well Joe, you can’t get them right all the time.

But my advice to you Joe is:

Don’t bother running for president. Spend more time with Jill. You’ve done your service to the country. You’re getting too old, quit while you are arguably ahead (family tragedy notwithstanding). You’ve had a rough time of it, losing your son and your first wife, don’t add to your grief and strain your marriage.

Also, I imagine you could snag a cabinet post — heck, maybe secretary of state. Or maybe a choice ambassadorship. To the Middle East — you’re such an expert on that area of the world (sorry, a little sarcasm, I couldn’t help it)…

I’m sure Biden is a good man but I don’t think he is presidential material, even though he is a heart beat from the job as it is. I mean I know in a pinch he would rise to the occasion, but his time has passed to begin a term anew.

Meanwhile, Hillary’s numbers are falling they say, although polls confuse me, and numbers I see still show her with a comfortable lead in both the primary and general election. But her problems are partly due to a perception that she is, shall we say, less than candid and is evasive on things and that she seems to be scandal prone (White Water, Vince Foster, futures contracts, unsavory dealings of the Clinton Foundation, and of course emailgate). As to the later, as some of the facts come out about the way the State Department before Hillary handled emails it does not seem to me that she was much more careless than anyone else, including Republican predecessors, but that is not much of a defense. She really needs to get on top of this. She should have gotten ahead of it.

I’d like to see her get out there and make a lot of fiery public speeches and state her case and quit the phony faux-folksy meet Hillary stuff or whatever she does. Hey Hillary, everyone doesn’t have to like you (they won’t anyway), they just need to be convinced they ought to vote for you.

And while I don’t think she should dwell on emails, she needs to come up with a credible or plausible defense and quit insisting no one is talking about it, because I’m sorry, they are (I mean it may be driven by the unrelenting media coverage aided and abetted by her enemies, but that is how issues come to the forefront, that’s politics, and she of all people has to realize she must deal with it).

The Republicans meanwhile need a moderate who can capture the imagination of the splintered parts of the party — you have to be clever to do that. Jeb Bush has not proven too clever so far. Brother W. was better at that, who would have known? But keep trying Jeb, you could be as smart as brother George (a pretty low bar at that).


No way to stop gun violence, our guns and our Second Amendment are as sacred as the Bible…

August 27, 2015

What could be more horrific than to see two TV news people murdered on air?

Well noting except maybe a class full of school children mowed down or a movie theater crowd sprayed with deadly gun fire.

Nothing but all of the other senseless shootings that are a result of our wild-west attitude toward guns and the availability of firearms to deranged people, not to mention the criminal element.

I saw that video out of Roanoke, Va. Wednesday, showing the woman reporter interviewing a woman out in the field and then the shocked face of the news anchor back at the studio who could not yet fully grasp the horror before her eyes. I don’t know how much that original footage showed on live TV. But if that was not enough, the gunman posted a video of himself on social media shooting the reporter, and I think it showed as well the shooting of the woman being interviewed and the TV cameraman. The reporter and the cameraman died. The woman was rushed to the hospital (I don’t know her fate as of this writing). The gunman apparently committed suicide as the police closed in.

The assassin was a black man who had been a reporter at the television station in question and who had been let go and who had filed a discrimination suit. He reportedly complained he was discriminated against both for being black and homosexual — his former employer and co-workers saying he was always looking for things that he could label as discrimination but that in reality he was a troublemaker. We don’t know about all of that. But of course even if he was correct, the actions he took show he was crazy.

And I just read that he expressed admiration for recent mass murderers.

Unfortunately, in this country upset and crazy people have easy access to firearms.

But we are all powerless to stop it.

So we just shrug, or say, “how awful!” and move on, but somewhere the thought moves briefly through our minds, we could be next. We could all be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But the right to keep and bear arms (which really had more to do with the concept of an army of the people in place of one representing the ruler, rather than everyone having an inalienable right to tote a gun, always ready to react to anything that makes them unhappy) guaranteed in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution makes it impossible to control the alarmingly easy access to firearms in this nation.

To politicians looking for votes or not to lose votes, the Second Amendment is as sacred as the Holy Bible.

And maybe it’s just a trade-off between freedom and making sure we have guns to protect ourselves from bad folks and bad government (we can all rebel at an instant like the Minute Men) or to hunt deer on the one hand as opposed to suffering the tragedy of wild gunmen mowing people down.

Like I always say, I thought for sure the Connecticut school massacre, Sandy Hook, would be the last straw for the American public.

I was wrong.

P.s.

I personally am not in favor of repealing the Second Amendment, even though I feel it is so ambiguous, as to make it almost indecipherable in today’s world. But it’s just a unique part of the American experience. So far the high court has pretty much gone along with the notion that although there can be some amount of control, there is a basic right for virtually every individual in the country, with few exceptions, to own firearms.

There just must be a better method, not a foolproof one I suppose, of keeping them out of hands of the deranged and the criminal element.

For now, the gun lobby rules and a public jaded from violence being so commonplace moves on to something more positive to think about.


Jeb Bush politically inept; illegal immigrant and anchor baby problem overblown…

August 26, 2015

Jeb Bush seems to be politically inept. And that is disappointing because without him we have the threat of Donald Trump as president. I could see no other Republican candidate than Jeb right now who could possibly have the gravitas or name power to win the election, except Trump by the sole virtue of his polling so phenomenally well in the early running with his flying circus.

Of course it may be good news for Hillary Clinton. I think she could beat Trump (although who knows?) if the email scandal does not bring her down. There are more Democrats registered nationwide than Republicans. Crossover Democrats, such as the Reagan Democrats, I doubt would vote for Trump (even though he is compared to Reagan sometimes), unless maybe in the general election Trump toned down the hate speech a tad and put a little bit more reason into his arguments (but then he would not be Trump and would lose his allure to those smitten with him).

Sounding a little more reasoned, I did hear Trump say that it would probably be impractical to impossible to repeal the 14th Amendment. He has a problem with it because it is used to justify automatic citizenship by birth. He said or indicated, however, that it might be tested in court.

Meanwhile, Jeb, who supports the 14th Amendment, got tripped up and assured everyone that although he has a problem with the so-called “anchor baby” phenomenon– foreigners having babies here so that the offspring will gain automatic citizenship (under the 14th Amendment) and health care and other government benefits that go along with it — he was not referring to “Mexicans” as Trump has but instead “Asians”.

Jeb has a Mexican wife and Jeb is said to speak fluent Spanish and does what he can to use those credentials to lure the Latino vote.

So he tried to distance himself from the xenophobia of Trump by directing the accusations at Asians instead of Latinos.

Yeah, that’s an adroit political move: instead of raising the specter of being taken over by brown people, bring back the fear of the “yellow peril”. Way to go Jeb! And he was still figuring out how to answer that Iraq question — you know whether it was worth all the sacrifice his brother W. put the nation through. This guy needs to be coached.

Now some are commenting that really Jeb has a point and there are two different problems. On the one hand, you have migrant workers (mostly Mexican and other Latin Americans) coming over the border and having children born here, and on the other hand, you have well-to-do Asians (Chinese for example) booking special trips by agents who specialize in facilitating the anchor baby process.

I’m not sure I read what the difference is but I think the idea is that these well-heeled people are conducting an outright abuse of the system. On the other hand, the illegal workers are simply in search of survival and the 14th Amendment protects the children who had no say in where they were born — and the undocumented workers are contributing by doing honest and much-needed work. You know, they do pay taxes out of their paychecks.

(I think I also heard that having a baby born in the U.S. can sometimes help the parents in gaining U.S. citizenship.)

And then there is the term “anchor babies” which purportedly is some kind of racial slur (I don’t see that). It seems Jeb vowed not to use it and urged others not to and then went ahead and used it. But he could not come up with any other word. I mean words and expressions are created to convey specific meanings sometimes. I feel his pain on that one.

In reality I think the whole anchor baby phenomenon and illegal immigrant problem are way overblown.

I would say just enforce the laws that exist. Require all employers to use E-Verify, and then deal with the rest.

If great multitudes are coming out of Latin America there is a reason. They are looking for a better life. Isn’t that why our ancestors came here?

Put them to work. Tax them. Be done with it.

(And no I don’t think a large portion of our crime problem can be attributed to robbers and murderers and rapists flooding in over our borders — but of course if there is a problem then we need to deal with it while not punishing good people.)

And back to The Donald:

I don’t want to keep writing about Donald Trump but I like to write and comment about politics and right now you can’t avoid mentioning him, but really over the past 24 hours all I have heard him say is the word “amazing”, repeated over and over again. He’s “amazing”. The turnout for him is “amazing”. People he likes (and I guess there are some) are “amazing”. He either does not have a large vocabulary or he is dumbing it down for the masses of asses. Kind of like that overused and wrongly used word “awesome” everyone seems to be saying, or at least all sales people and waitresses and others you deal with in daily commerce. I think you hear it at Back to School nights too.

(I’m old and some misused or overused words in the modern vernacular often grate on my ears. I mean “cool”, as in “it’s cool”, or just saying “cool” as a positive response when someone says something is slang but it has been around for so long  — at least a hundred years I would think — that it seems almost formal, but saying everything is “awesome”, is usually a gross exaggeration or inaccurate and always annoying).

I just saw a video of Trump before an Iowa crowd but turned it off after several minutes of him flattering himself as being so “amazing”.

Actually Trump may well be both “awesome” and “amazing” in some contexts.

But not necessarily in a good way.


Why do ordinary citizens claim that they can’t say what Donald Trump says?

August 24, 2015

What is it that Donald Trump is saying that ordinary citizens say they cannot but wished they could? And why can’t they?

And how can I comment on politics without mentioning Donald Trump? He has stolen the show. I mean I have from time to time watched what had been a liberal Democratic-favoring political commentary show called “Hardball, with Chris Mathews” (not exclusively, but among others, although I seldom suffer Fox News, only as part of a temporarily captive audience or if they are playing the debate).

When I do catch his show, or segments of it, it is a day late, it being repeated on his website on that schedule, but all I am seeing for the past several days is endless commentary on Trump. He seems enthralled, as is the rest of the press.

Somehow Trump has put a spell on them and like zombies they must follow and rebroadcast and comment on every utterance — usually highly simplistic, third-grade level language (and that is an insult to third-graders), with incomplete sentences, empty platitudes, racism, misogyny, and non-sequitars — not to mention no support whatsoever on off-the-cuff assertions (of course a lot of politicians do that last one, but Trump does it as an art form).

But in interview after interview people say they like how he “tells it like it is” (I’m not sure that means tells the truth, unless his brand of the truth suffices), and this really gets me: they say he says things they are not able or allowed to say. I ask what is it he is saying they are not able to say? And, why do they think they cannot say these things?

Now the only thing I can come up with is that Trump has been bad mouthing Mexicans or sometimes he qualifies this by disparaging illegals from Mexico (and see? there I used the term “illegals” which is sometimes considered politically incorrect, but I don’t mind using it and am not afraid to) and people are afraid that if they did that they might lose their jobs because they were somehow violating someone’s civil rights by using racial slurs in public or in the workplace.

And you know, putting down people because of race or creed or color or place of origin is not as popular as it used to be, in public anyway. Kind of like the old (now) comedy line of “drunk driving is not as popular as it once was”.

But aside from that what have people fooled themselves into thinking cannot be said?

If Trump really believes all that he says then I say hooray for him and let people judge accordingly (even if so many have poor judgment apparently). And now through the magic of editing after posting, I take that back. If the electorate has such terrible judgment as to elect Trump, we are in trouble as a nation.

At first Trump was viewed as nothing but a side show. And then he was seen as a distraction to the Republican message (being that he currently claims to be running as a Republican). But now many of the pundits, even the GOP hired hands, are cautiously predicting that he just might be nominated (the polls and the camera shots of the crowds don’t lie, or do they?). Others say that although he might get the Tea Party support or the reactionary support or the non-college educated support or the evangelical support (and he is not a religious guy or certainly not known to be, so I don’t know what that is all about), that he will never get wide enough support in the GOP to get the nomination.

So what to make of his seeming appeal to so many among the great mass:

We’ve already commented in previous posts on the mood of dissatisfaction with the status quo (both on the right and left) among voters.

But I think it may be part showmanship (well a lot showmanship) and partly due to the fact that there are a whole heck of a lot of folks out there who don’t take to nuance (these are probably the same ones who don’t get sarcasm or political satire). To them the conduct of life is cut and dried. The solution to all problems is black or white. There are no shades of gray.

They want a strong man (and probably the emphasis on man as well as strong. I’ve even seen women say before the camera he is what we need, even though he has a history of disparaging women and treating them rough (men will be men, Mad Men).

Trump makes it sound so easy. He won’t have to make political deals (and he will not be beholden to special interests, he not caring and being so independently wealthy). He’ll just direct something be done, and through his superior business-style management skills and by way of the captivating spell of his personality, thy will be done (by order of the president, the King, der Führer).

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And this just in: even as I write this, Politico is reporting that Donald Trump, despite vowing that he would receive no special interest money, has received money from family connections and is actively soliciting donations from big donors. Of course I imagine Trump would say Politico is just a bunch of stupid journalists, but maybe they are just “telling it like it is”.

———————————————-

I’ll just get to the point: I don’t like Donald Trump. I had thought he was a tad entertaining, though, but he has grown stale, and I think a Trump presidency would be a disaster for the United States of America and the world.

I honestly think that some hope he will win the Republican nomination just to screw the Republicans.

But that could be as dangerous as playing Russian Roulette.

Okay, I will give Trump this:

If he can force others to tell it like it is, not mince words, and simply state the facts as they see them and not just worry about what is “politically correct” or what will please a certain demographic calculated by political operatives, then I guess he does serve a useful purpose.

But he does not impress me in the least. Scare me, well yes.


Tomorrow is today when planning for retirement…

August 23, 2015

I can’t afford to retire.

When did I figure that out?

Well I always knew it really.

I never planned for retirement.

Always thought that was in the future — I’ll take care if that later.

Later came and went.

Quite by accident I did manage to save a few bucks back over the last several years but not nearly enough for a bona fide retirement.

But that is not stopping me — so far.

I’m into my second day of at least semi-retirement. And I can’t write that without feeling self-conscious or that I have to make the pun because I’m retiring from driving a semi truck.

Been doing that for most of the past two decades — had to take some time off for cancer treatment and associated hospital stays, but other than that it’s been nearly 24-7 on the big truck. Well I did have that one job where I was home each day but an interruption caused by my cancer ended that, so it was back out on the long road.

I took a month off and went to Spain last year — actually two weeks in Spain total, the rest prep for and then doing other things after that.

But at 66 and with an incurable form of cancer — albeit in essentially what is remission — that could come back at any time, I feel I need to live life a little before I can no longer live life.

But on this second day, realities of continuing family responsibility (I’m a widower but have two adult daughters), as well as the reality that I still have to pay fairly expensive apartment rent, and all those other pesky living expenses, I’m wondering if I should not save my place back at the old job if I can or work more than I had planned (if that is even an option for me). I was almost in a panic mood about all of this yesterday but no as much today. Too much personal information I know.

No particular message here. Maybe just that sometimes we don’t appreciate our work for what it is — survival!

I’m jealous of those who planned wisely for their retirement. But I could have done that. Like so many, I know, I always thought I could not afford to put back extra for retirement.

Okay, no more about that. I am in good health and am thankful for that. And did I mention? I’m going to Spain again.

This time I’m set to enroll in a Spanish language course there. I know some Spanish already — took three semesters of college level Spanish and have used it somewhat on my job — Spanish light you might call it. I can order a meal, do greetings, make light observations, so on.

Some people have sports; I have language — and politics of which I often write — as a kind of hobby or even avocation.

So I’m looking forward to how my form of retirement works out.

If you are younger than I and have not planned out your retirement income, take my advice: don’t make excuses. Also make sure you study up on Social Security. There are some pitfalls having to do with when to claim it, even possibly using a spouse or ex-spouse’s claim, and so on. While the folks at Social Security may help you it is up to you to understand it all and make it work for you. You have to read their booklets (available online of course) and then re-read them, and then maybe go to a secondary source for more explanation possibly. I made what may be a blunder, which I will not go into. But if you study all that before early retirement age and before full-retirement age, you will be in good shape. And it has to go without saying, you virtually cannot depend upon Social Security alone.

And don’t assume it is too late — I mean it might be, but give it a shot.

 

 

 

 

 


Yeah but will they actually vote? A little more fire Hillary…

August 21, 2015

My question is: are all the reported multitudes rallying for Donald Trump actually going to vote?

Avowed socialist Bernie Sanders seems to be really catching fire, and I have an idea that those who follow him would be more likely to vote.

Of course I have no way of really knowing any of this, just a hunch.

The common observation among many observers now seems to be that although Trump and Sanders appear to be political opposites, Trump presumably on the political right and Sanders certainly on the far left, they have both tapped into a deep discontent in the electorate with business as usual.

I have read, though, that some polling has indicated that even potential voters who say they like Trump also indicate that when it comes down to the actual voting they would go with someone else — it’s like they just want to make a statement to the status quo.

In trump’s case it seems to be working to some extent. Reportedly some of the Republican primary candidates are trying to out-trump Trump.

But meanwhile, several of the, and what is it again? 17? Republican hopefuls are just scared to take Trump on for fear of being publicly lambasted by Trump (Rand Paul or Lindsey Graham style) and subject to the scorn of his followers, and of course why bother creating even more publicity for Trump? Everyone, Republicans (the non-Trump ones that is) and Democrats alike, thought, hoped, that he would self-destruct by now. But the zanier he gets, the scarier he gets, the more following he gets, or so polls indicate.

But that kind of indicates to me that a lot of these responders are just blowing wind. I don’t care what they may tell pollsters, they may well be people who seldom or never vote.

I’ve had the displeasure to get into arguments with a few people in my life who seemed to have all the answers and followed the reactionary right and come to find out they never have voted in their life, or maybe once.

But then again, ignore people like Trump (as if you could) at your own peril. I have said it before, Adolph Hitler was elected.

And now Bernie Sanders:

I have not personally listened to any of his stump speeches (in full anyway). But I don’t think he stresses in them that he is a socialist (although that of course is no secret and he does not try to hide that, and I think he has described his brand of socialism as basically western European style). But he does stress that the system is rigged by big money interests, by big business, by the banks too big to fail, and so on. And unlike other candidates, well particularly Republicans, he calls for increasing Social Security, not reducing it or eliminating it. I believe he is also calling for single-payer national healthcare.

He proposes making government work for the common people, so to speak. Seems doable to me in that there are more of us than the others. But by that last sentence I did not mean I am favoring Sanders. There is something called the establishment or the established way of doing things. And the establishment has been a coalition of sorts among disparate or contrasting groups who endeavor to get their individual interests to the fore while maintaining stability in government and society.

There have been times in my life where I think the establishment has actually produced things that have benefited me and so many others. I’m not sure I am any more ready for Bernie’s Revolution (from the left) than a Trump strong-man dictatorship.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is being dragged down by the email scandal and her own lack of genuine personality.

She might learn something from Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who is on the TV circuit promoting her new book. McCaskill is a highly-savvy politician who somehow simultaneously exudes warmth and toughness.

(She’s so savvy that she spent more to get one of her opponents nominated by his party than he did on himself. She figured he’d be the easiest to beat and he was. Hey, now that I think about it, maybe the Clintons are secretly backing Trump — hmmmm.)

Of course Hillary has to be Hillary, she just needs to let the ice thaw a little, and maybe hold back just a tad on the sarcasm that makes her seem as if she is always suffering fools (I mean she is, but don’t let it show). And please, don’t let me ever read again that she has a moving rope line around her as she wades through a crowd. And if you are afraid of the press, who else are you afraid of?

I think Hillary is a highly-intelligent woman and probably would be a good president and would work better for all of the people. I don’t think she should try to be anyone else but herself — but a little more fire would not hurt, possibly.

People want to get excited about something.

And then there is Jeb Bush. Slow, plodding, boring at times, establishment written all over him. He just might persevere if he can ever figure out how to answer that Iraq question.