Willful ignorance of the public and the old Southern Strategy has led to this…

September 27, 2015

It’ a crazy time in politics. I almost think that Donald Trump is working more for Hillary Clinton than the Republican Party.

He has done his part to throw the GOP into disarray, him and the reactionary Tea Party wing (and they are not the same thing, but they might as well be).

The GOP deserves what it is getting. I think Richard Nixon started it all long ago when he reached toward bigots in the South for support  because he was afraid of losing the presidency. It was called the Southern Strategy.

But of course bigotry and small-mindedness and xenophobia know no geographic boundaries.

And ignorance, and in many cases, far too many, a willful ignorance of current events and history and even basic civics, thrives in our society.

No thinking person could seriously support Trump unless they hoped he might screw up the GOP.

But even if it all was a plot – and I don’t really think it is, just seems like it – it would be a dangerous one.

Despite his bravado, I don’t think Trump could handle the job. He would quickly find out he did not know anything (he would not admit that of course) and people would not just do things because he said so. At that point he would want to quit or sue someone. We have had many weak presidents, weak either because that was their own nature or because they did not have political support. And you can’t get political support by insulting everyone you meet.

And having someone in the oval office who is ignorant of the world outside of his own domain is dangerous. We need only to go back to George W. Bush. He did not know one country from another and depended upon Condoleezza Rice for tutoring. Trouble was, she was a Soviet Union expert, but the USSR was no more. And he fell into the grips of the evil Dick Cheney. And that man personifies evil.

Some people think if you are rich you must be smart. But being smart enough to become rich has little to do with successful governing. Also, how did one become rich? Trump as I understand it was born into some wealth. That helps. He also was (is) involved in real estate development. That’s right up there with selling used cars. You stretch the truth, lie, bully, bait and switch, and most of all keep talking and keep your victims off guard. And the biggie in Trump’s way of doing business is Opium. No not the drug, but using Other people’s money (I’m not sure how you’re supposed to write that). You get others to invest, take your money off the top and pull out before it all goes sour and declare bankruptcy if you have to. I don’t see how that translates into being a good president.

And then we have Hillary Clinton as the heir-apparent on the Democratic side. But she is buried in the email scandal. And now the news this past week that more emails have been found when she had claimed all were turned over (and this is not the first batch of new emails found). And despite the fact she claimed to not have played a direct role in helping a family lawyer triple dip so to speak – simultaneously working for the State Department, the Bill and Hillary Clinton Foundation, and a private firm, creating a conflict of interest, it appears she did have a direct role.

Bernie Sanders seems clean (don’t know of any scandals), but what chance would he have, despite drawing large crowds (and getting big poll numbers)? Like I have asked before: would the electorate put a self-avowed socialist into office (even if forms of socialism are ingrained into our own system)?

I don’t think Sanders has yet put out a foreign policy statement, but I did see a video of him with the Des Moines Register in which he said that war should always be a last resort but it would remain on the table as an option if he were president. He opposed the Iraq War.

Certainly Sanders is for the working people. He is a socialist and he is an idealist, but from what little I’ve heard him say, a practical man, a realist. He apparently knows one must work within the system for change.

Despite the fact that the Clintons claim to be with the working people you have to remember the Clintons, neither one of them, have any history of being working people. It was college and law and politics, with politics always the top concern.

Besides having some odd jobs in his youth, Sanders began as a political activist, and has been in politics most of his life. And I have to remind myself, he is not a Democrat, but an independent who describes himself as a democratic-socialist (and although Republicans would have you believe all Democrats are socialists, that is democratic with a small d). Sanders caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate.

But anyway I think it is safe to say that Sanders has led a much more humble existence than the Clintons, who found out how to make millions in the name of doing good for the little people.

As to the crowd running on the GOP side, most of them are opportunists riding the reactionary wave with no clue as to how to govern. And the ones who do have their heads on straight, Bush, Kasich, Pataki, can’t seem to get enough attention and are for all intents and purposes rejected in the current GOP milieu. However, Bush might yet make it, Jeb Bush that is (I think he is the smarter one, not sure sometimes).

Joe Biden might enter the race yet. A wild card for sure.

With all of this I am taking a hiatus from this blog. Have more pressing business to take care of.

But give me a month or even sooner if I find I cannot resist.

And one more thing:

Some early predictions (in which my track record is 0):

Trump vs. Hillary, Hillary wins (if she can keep ahead of the email scandal, which she has not so far)

Bush vs. Hillary, Bush wins

Sanders vs. Trump (can’t predict, but maybe Trump? or the electorate wakes up, gets scared of the thought of Trump as president and relatively safe Sanders gets it)

Biden vs. Trump, Joe gets it

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And I maybe I should add:

Hillary vs. Carly Fiorina, close maybe, but with the email drip, drip, drip dogging her, Hillary might lose to Carly — certainly Hillary has more experience and more depth, but she is also Hillary

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p.s.

I didn’t even mention Dr. Ben Carson in my original post here, but I see him as dangerous as Donald Trump, even though he is a different type of character — I think he is way out of his game and caught up in the celebrity of it all. I don’t see any danger of him being elected, though. But then there is that poor track record of mine when it comes to political prognostications.

 


Dr. Ben Carson would have us fight over religion like in the Middle East…

September 20, 2015

I think the reality of politics is that Dr. Ben Carson never had a chance to win the contest anyway, but with his comment that a Muslim would not be fit to be president, he really ought to just pull out of the race himself.

I mean he is of course entitled to his opinion, but with his public profile, maybe that is an opinion better to keep to himself. And this is not political correctness I am talking about I don’t think. Does he really want to see our nation go the way of the Middle East where people vie politically and militarily over religion and sects within the religion?

That’s why we have freedom of religion and that is why our government and religion are supposed to be separate.

I actually kind of know what the good doctor is getting at. He said he did not think the Muslim faith is consistent with our values. I’m not sure what it is consistent with myself, but I realize that historically Christianity has had sway here since our founding.

Voters are free to think whatever they want and they of course can talk with one another about who they think should be president and maybe some people still look at religion.

But a candidate has to realize that if he or she should be elected then the job is to represent all the people.

So just put Carson in the class of Huckabee and his ilk, religious bigots.

Even Ted Cruz responded to the controversy by saying that he is a strict constitutionalist and therefore he does not support a religious test.

I think Carson just doesn’t get it.

Personally I am not terribly concerned about a candidate’s religion unless I think somehow the candidate is going to use it to bad ends — that is favoring one religion over another or pushing his or her religion on the rest of us. We are supposed to have freedom of religion (and even freedom from religion) and you cannot have that if the government is promoting religion or a particular religion.

(And yes, I admit if a Muslim were to run for president, just like back in 1960 some people wondered whether JFK might take orders from the Pope, some today might question whether a Muslim would owe allegiance to an ayatollah, but it is dangerous, nonetheless, to have a candidate fanning the fires of religious strife.)

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And just an aside here. I read that the city council of Coolidge, Az. has voted to only allow Christian prayer for their invocations at the start of their meetings. How can that pass constitutional muster?

———————

Meanwhile, Dr. Carson has been busy with his bigotry:

He said that being gay is a choice because guys coming out of prison have turned homosexual. Well first I am not aware that guys coming out of prison have turned homosexual. Sounds like something he just tossed out there with no supporting evidence. Maybe he is concluding that because we all know what goes on in prisons — men sexually attacked by other men — that such activity makes one homosexual. And this guy is a doctor? Maybe Carson is or was a skillful surgeon, but he must have a fairly narrow mind.

He also claimed that President Obama is a “psychopath”. I don’t even know where we go with that one.

I am wondering about the good doctor himself, though.

 

 


Fiorina helping to turn a myth to a meme?

September 18, 2015

If Carly Fiorina is for real, she just might be the best hope for the GOP going up against Hillary Clinton.

I actually had felt that she was a little too reserved during Wednesday’s debate, even though she ended with a flourish, but much of the buzz seems to be about her.

However, I think Jeb Bush could do well against Hillary. That’s because Ms. Clinton is continuing to be plagued, rightly or wrongly, by the email flap, and by the continuing narrative that she lacks genuine personality, again rightly or wrongly, well probably rightly.

Bush comes across to me as a moderate to conservative, playing to the conservative crowd, as is the Bush family M.O.

But back to Fiorina:

One New York Times columnist was not so impressed, writing:

“She showed dignity when asked to respond to Trump’s put-down of her looks, and she showed a basic mastery of detail that anyone who spends a day googling world events could acquire.”

But of course that is what clever people do when they are new to something, they bone up.

I always am puzzled though when I hear that candidates, seasoned politicians, have to bone up on things. I mean where have they been? Why are we going to people who lack sufficient knowledge already?

But if Fiorina progresses and especially if she goes up against Hillary we will get a better picture of how up to date she is. She is an excellent speaker. And she seems to have a flair Hillary lacks.

Fiorina brought some chilling humanity into the Planned Parenthood controversy but I think she may have been using that old trick of conflating various pieces of propaganda into one claim that there is some horrible video out there with unspeakable acts on live babies somehow connected with Planned Parenthood, challenging Ms. Clinton and others to watch it.

Who would want to watch such a thing? But in trying to do a little research so I could know what I am writing about I could not find it. While I have to be somewhat relieved I did not, I am a little disappointed that Fiorina would use such a trick, if that is what she was doing.

It appears to me that she herself has never have seen such a video and is only going on the anti-Planned Parenthood narrative. What I found on the net was one video of people talking in a restaurant over a meal and wine and they were apparently talking about gathering stem cells from aborted fetuses that are used in medical research. Now that is a ghoulish subject and why these people would want to discuss it in such a setting is a puzzle to me. I guess to them it’s just business. And I think one of them was a plant from the anti-Planned Parenthood forces (a sting operation if you will).

This is an issue of course because Planned Parenthood is a major abortion provider and receives government funding. Planned Parenthood also provides other women’s health services. The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a bill to block Planned Parenthood funds.

There are apparently several videos cobbled together with stock footage and comments by someone claiming to have witnessed inhuman acts, but no actual footage of that.

The Planned Parenthood advocates claim that no profit is made from selling stem cell material to researchers and the anti-Planned Parenthood forces claim that the video or videos prove otherwise – at least I think that is how it goes.

But what I am getting at has nothing to do with pro-abortion or anti-abortion, it’s the political technique of implying or claiming something is out there, knowing few will check it out, and knowing that the falsehood or myth will just become a meme – a story believed to be true but with no basis of fact that just becomes part of the culture (something akin to the false notion that Iraq was responsible for 9/11 or had weapons of mass destruction).

Fiorina would not be the first politician to do such a thing and it may just prove she knows how to play the game or is a quick study.

Jumping as Fiorina did herself in her debate closing from one unrelated subject to another (her notes must have told her to make sure and get the key hot button points in):

I do support her idea of demanding that Iran allow unrestricted inspections on its nuclear facilities on U.S. demand. Probably not going to happen, but unless we are dealing from a position of strength as the world’s only super power that so-called nuclear agreement means nothing.

But some of these GOP candidates are a little too quick to go to war. That route has not been successful so far. And they know that the will of the American people to commit more ground troops is not there and that if they gain office they would have a difficult time mounting a credible attack. They’d be in the same position as Barack Obama.

And isn’t this how it went? Some time ago President Obama wanted to do an air strike on the Assad regime in Syria but the GOP would not back him up. And then when he did not, they criticized him. And I’m not expressing an opinion one way or the other on that plan, just commenting on the hypocrisy of it all.

As I write time and again, if you engage in something militarily, even with just air strikes, you have to be prepared for the eventuality of committing ground forces. It’s a tough decision few are up to making.

p.s.

And back to the infamous Planned Parenthood video: one site I checked claimed that the video of the live baby exists and all those who claim it does not are wrong – but this site failed to provide it. I guess it’s just one of those things you have to take on faith.


Syrian refugee crisis points to need to confront ISIS

September 13, 2015

The Syrian refugee crisis presents a conundrum.

On the one hand, human decency demands that the millions of refugees, men and women and little children, be accommodated. They are fleeing war, and terror from an enemy as savage as the world has ever known (not more if we look back into history but as bad).

On the other hand, at some point the people of the Middle East have to fight back against terrorism unless they just want to cede their homeland (and eventually much of the world) to the barbarians.

(One has to wonder if those men among the refugees of proper age and fitness for military service should not be asked to join in the fight against ISIS, but that is problematic.)

One could argue that the West in its dealings in the Middle East and its move for hegemony or complete control there over the last century is somewhat responsible for the chaos there now.

But we cannot go back in time. This is now and what do we do?

And that’s the problem. There just is not an easy or sure answer.

The Assad regime in Syria murdering its own people on a grand scale and the ISIS terrorists also engaged in murder not only of a people but a whole cultural history (destroying ancient artifacts), together beg for some force to come in and deal with them.

ISIS of course controls portions of Iraq, a nation we invested so heavily in with blood and treasure in a nation-building effort only to be kicked out of (that is our leadership let them kick us out).

Recent efforts (over the past decade that is) to bring peace and democratic government to the region have brought nothing but failure to the U.S. and the West.

I personally think the U.S. just does not have the resolve to win anymore. It may be because the public does not see a direct connection to its own well-being. We talk the game, but don’t really believe it in our hearts. But meanwhile we sacrifice blood of our military and trillions of dollars from our treasury – and all borrowed money (much of it owned to China).

But when ISIS really does take over we will see the error of our ways. But it may be too late by then.

ISIS is not going to stop in the Middle East.

And probably part of the  problem in our military interventions is that the public assumes those in charge are taking care of things and will do what is necessary and no need for any sacrifice on its part — don’t bother us, handle it. And then when it all falls apart due to half measures and timidity on the part of our leadership everyone wonders what happened. But the leadership is afraid to suggest some sacrifice on the part of the public. Leaders don’t want to be thrown out of office.

In addition, some in the military have been looking too much toward their retirement or the next book or love affair and not the problem at hand.

(But those who do the actual fighting do sacrifice, along with their families.)

I was against the Iraq intervention or invasion both times. But I was mystified why we held back in Desert Storm and did not push on into Baghdad – I mean Saddam’s vaunted forces were surrendering to television cameramen.

So we wound up years later going back at much cost but got bogged down in a civil war that resulted from the ousting and eventual execution of the strongman. Yes, and I know, that is supposedly among the reasons or an excuse ex post facto for not going all the way the first time. But I don’t buy it.

I’m going off on a tangent here I know. But the problem is that since the Viet Nam fiasco we don’t fight wars to win.

We have to pick our battles for sure. But once we do, sending men and women into harm’s way and committing our citizen’s dollars to a cause in which we are afraid to win is a moral outrage.

That is not to say that every time we are involved in some type of conflict we have to throw everything in our arsenal at it. Situations differ, but we must at some point have resolve.

Oh, and I was against the Viet Nam War (and yet I served at the time in the army, albeit not in Viet Nam by fortunate chance), but like so many people I could not figure out why our leaders did not seem to be willing to commit the necessary resources and use the necessary tactics to win.

But back to today, to Syria and the fight against ISIS:

Perhaps we need to lean on our Saudi Arabian allies for help in putting together a stronger regional force to combat ISIS.

President Obama should have honored his own threat against the Assad regime for continuing to use gas and other weapons against its own people. He should have ordered attacks on the regime when he had the excuse fresh in mind, but he wobbled.

Putin of Russia and the Iranian regime support Assad, but they cannot be comfortable about ISIS.

With the new Iran nuclear agreement under which Iran should have many or most of its economic sanctions lifted, maybe the U.S. could have some leverage there (although the agreement is pretty weak and may not be of much help).

And as far as Putin of Russia goes – we just need to stand up to him. He’ll blink.

The U.S. has much invested in the region. We need to negotiate with the powerful players there (well not ISIS).

It is a complicated civil war in Syria, with forces we support fighting against the Assad regime but joined by terrorist forces who are also fighting the Assad regime. And both the U.S. and Iran see ISIS as an enemy but find themselves at odds with each other.

And just like the Soviet Union before it, Russia wants to have influence in the region and vies for it with the U.S.

All very complex.

But being the world’s super power carries responsibilities.

And first we need to be responsible to ourselves.


All the jailed Kentucky clerk has to do is resign her post and she is free…

September 6, 2015

 

UPDATE: (9/8/15 2:31 PDT)

So real quick I see that the defiant clerk has been let out of jail. But she still maintains she should be able to defy man-made law by what she interprets to be God’s law. I need to study all this, but what I can say is that if every government official, elected and otherwise, and using their own interpretation to boot, were allowed to decide which public laws to follow, what a mess things would be and that would be the end of our democracy.

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Sorry, but I don’t get the story of the Kentucky clerk who opted to go to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to homosexuals.

I mean she had the option of fulfilling here duties in office and following the law or resigning.

She states that issuing licenses to homosexuals violates her religious beliefs.

It seems that some fundamentalists don’t understand that freedom of religion means that our government is secular. We cannot favor one religion over another or countermand laws passed by our legislatures or as interpreted from the Constitution by our judiciary based on the beliefs of one religion or sect thereof.

I ask: what would Christian religious fundamentalists think if a county clerk decided to act on laws out of the Koran or some other religious book because he or she followed that religion?

We have a secular government and that’s the way it is.

I do think sending the woman to jail is harsh and wished that could have been avoided. Actually, it seems to me she just should have been relieved of her post and that is that. It may be that under the legal system in effect that was not a possible route. And it is clear that she voluntarily chose jail to make a statement.

I just think that Christian fundamentalists only support freedom of religion when they feel it benefits them, but really feel that we are a theocracy. Or they believe that Christianity (and their form of it) is at least the de facto state religion.

The First Amendment  of our Bill of Rights reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

—————-

Now I’m not going to get into some kind of scholarly interpretation here, but I think the first sentence makes it clear or has been interpreted to mean that the government just stays out of religion — except to guarantee everyone has the freedom to believe as they choose. If you as a government official simply chose not to enforce laws that you feel are counter to your religion and your right to do so was upheld, the government would in effect be saying that such religion is the established religion. And put another way: we just can’t have individual office holders and bureaucrats deciding which laws to enforce and which not, based on religion or anything else.

But certainly I believe the Kentucky clerk in no way should be forced by the government to do something that violates her religious principles. But the remedy is clear: resign the post.

p.s.

Even though I am not officially religious, I have to admit in my upbringing Christianity seemed to be synonymous with religion or going to church, even though I recognized that there were other religions. And furthermore I saw that public institutions sometimes bent the rules a little with Christian prayers used to begin meetings, traditional Christmas celebrated in the school, and we even said a little prayer in my public school kindergarten before we had our Graham crackers and milk. None of this hurt anything, except that was then and this is now. I have not read yet that people have actually been forbidden to follow their religion on their own time, as long as they were not somehow involving others or forcing others who were not so inclined to do so.

I’m all for tolerance, though. My dad once told me when they were doing an invocation: “just look at the floor”.

 

 


“I was not thinking…” an awkward defense for Hillary…

September 5, 2015

Hillary Clinton has a rather awkward defense for deciding to use a personal server for all of her emails, both government business and private, upon becoming secretary of state.

“I was not thinking a lot when I got in (to the office)…”

Now in her defense one might say this widely-reported quote is a classic example of taking someone’s words out of context. But the NBC news video is available for all to see on the internet. I watched it a couple of times.

She was saying the job ahead of her was so near overwhelming that she did not stop and think about things like email servers.

Now if she was simply talking about something only a computer nerd would know, we could all understand this defense and accept it I would think. But someone in her position — and she being a lawyer — has to understand the requirements and ethics involved when doing the public’s business.

Admittedly, she does not have to know exactly what a server is or how it works.

She often maintains that emails she received and sent on her private server were not classified, that is at the time. Later some were (she leaves that out), although I have also read that those reviewing the gigantic trove of emails have noticed how classify-happy the government officials are. They classify things that are already in the public domain.

Something that really bothers me in all of this is that I have read that she had some of the emails destroyed before any of them were turned over to investigators. But she and here staff just say: trust us, no government business on them, just private stuff, I guess like who’s bringing the wine to the party tonight?

(Usually this is called destruction of evidence and carries penalties.)

This email thing could be her downfall.

Her best hope at the moment may be a Trump nomination, and I wished I could keep myself from mentioning his name every time I make post on politics.

 

 

 


Trump, the male version of Sarah Palin…

September 5, 2015

It seems that Donald Trump had a Sarah Palin moment on a New York radio show this week in which he revealed some ignorance of foreign policy facts, although I have to admit what he tripped up on is not common knowledge, except probably among Middle Eastern policy wonks. He did not appear to understand the difference between the Kurds, a people residing mostly in northern Iraq, and the so-called Quds Force, a special Iranian military unit. It was also apparent that he was not familiar with who the leader of the Quds Force is when the talk show host asked about him, although the Donald tried to bluff his way through. (He’s Qasen Soleimani; not exactly a household name I know.)

This was on the Hugh Hewitt radio show in New York (he is described as a “conservative” radio host).

Of course Trump’s reaction was to accuse Hewitt of using “gotcha questions” and berating his abilities as a talk show host.

(In the world I’m used to such a childish reaction would not speak well of you, but maybe in Trumpland it’s considered proper. There are more adroit and civilized ways to defend yourself.)

Another GOP political newcomer reportedly tripped up foreign policy knowledge-wise on the same show. Dr. Ben Carson didn’t know, and now I forgot what he didn’t know, but does it really matter? Only maybe if they were to be elected president. But what do you expect? Both of these guys are public and foreign policy newcomers. Why anyone would think either one on them is qualified to be president I don’t know.

Dr. Carson is supposed to be a brilliant pediatric neurosurgeon. So why doesn’t he just stick to the operating room?

Trump is just a charlatan, enough said.

It may well be a lot of the current crowd running for president is ignorant on things beyond our borders. That’s the American way. It’s almost as if the nation prides itself on being and island onto itself.

But it can be catastrophic to have someone in the White House who is ignorant of the world beyond our borders.

The only evidence I need to offer in that regard is George W. Bush.

It is fairly apparent that he had not a clue about the Middle East and probably none of the rest of the world either, although he did look deeply into Vladimir Putin’s eyes — and I don’t know what that was all about.

Only an ignoramus such as he could respond to the worst attack on this nation since Pearl Harbor by attacking the wrong nation or at least putting the major thrust against the wrong nation (Iraq instead of concentrating on Afghanistan where the perpetrator himself hid out for nearly a decade).

That Bush blunder cost the U.S. dearly in blood and treasure and further destabilized the region making it fertile soil for the rise of terror groups such as ISIS and leading to the refugee crisis affecting Europe today.

Yeah, neither you nor I have to know the minutia about the Kurds and the Quds and such (except we all have a duty as good citizens to keep up on current events at some level), but the occupant of the oval office needs to know a thing or two – and don’t give me that “I will seek out the best advisors”. Ignorant presidents can be led down the wrong path.

I should mention that Carly Fiorina got the gold star on the show for answering all her foreign policy questions to the satisfaction of the host.