Thursday, June 25, 2015

Political update for June, 2015

I just love that Rodney Dangerfield line about being so unknown that when he quit, he was the only one who knew he quit.

But, no, I haven't quit blogging. I wrote this a few weeks ago and by the time I got back to it, it was old news. Then I did a post with pictures in it and blogger wouldn't take. I don't know why and I have never had any luck dealing with blogger, which is why you don't get bothered with advertisements. I can't figure it out.

Anyway, I give up and will post the following, written a few weeks ago when it was a little more timely.  More coming in the future (if anyone is actually reading this, of course).


Sometimes I wonder how the political pundits of the world know what to write about when I haven’t spoken in a while. Fortunately for them, I have something to say this month.

Murder most foul

Let’s start with the political ramifications of the acts of the monster in South Carolina who shot nine people to death in a church. I was hoping I was going to be the first to say I’m am actually not that happy about the forgiveness of church members or the family, but since I started writing this I’ve seen one commentator talk about the same thing on tv and read an article by another. Oh, well. I’ll try to change it into something a little different.
First - the idea is that he is a misguided racist and that explains his acts, for which they forgive him. Racism may be the obvious and stated reason for his acts, but I don’t think it is the real reason.  I know some white people who are to some degree racist (who hasn’t been accused? – I have), and they would never dream of shooting anyone nor think that blacks should have any lesser rights than them. In fact, some are even close to some blacks just like this nut. This guy is a psychopath and racism is just the cover for it, something he hooked onto recently that allows him an excuse to kill people. If it wasn’t that, he would have killed someone because his dog or Satan told him to do it.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think there should be consequences for this. Everyone who kills another person without a recognizable rational reason (there are good rational reasons, like self-defense, and bad rational reasons, like getting rid of your older sibling so you can be king) can be called crazy or insane. Arguably, you could excuse any murder by arguing that no one in their right mind would behave so and they need treatment, not punishment. The way most states do it, it is not his delusions that count, but whether he knows the difference between what we call right and wrong. The guy ran and hid. That indicated he knew what he did was going to get him in trouble and probably all that is needed to defeat the insanity defense. But, leaving that aside – does it mean we should forgive him? I don’t forgive him. At least not yet. Maybe if they give him some pills and I genuinely believe it was a chemical problem and he now recognizes he was out of his mind, I'll have second thoughts, but even then I’m going to be very cynical. I just don’t believe that is going to happen anyway. What should be the ramifications of insanity, anyway? Probably living in a controlled environment for the rest of his life like Hinckley. But I can wait until he proves that to me before I think about forgiveness.

If I believe that he was so out of his mind he literally was not exercising free will the way we think generally think about it, then there is no need for forgiveness. If he did exercise free will, then I will forgive him when I believe he is truly sorry and accepts responsibility. Until then, nope. After all, it’s not like he just had a bad day. Right now, I’d rather strap a bomb to him and drop him on ISIS. After a fair trial, of course.

Skipping ahead, the tragedy has empowered those who want to take the Confederate flag down from the South Carolina state capitol building. Nicky Haley, South Carolina’s governor – a Republican, has come around to thinking it’s time because of the tragedy, the conversations going on in America about race and maybe. . . maybe, smart politics.

The flag is, of course, a symbol, not a direct statement. I haven’t looked it up in the dictionary, but, I’d say that symbols are things that habitually evoke an idea of something other than itself in people.  It can evoke very powerful feelings, but not necessarily the same ones for everybody. To some, the Confederate flag represents their heritage and honor, not racism. For some independence or freedom. For me a period of history I've read about for decades with no good or bad sentiments attached.  To others, of course, white supremacy.

When symbolic values are important to people they feel insulted that others don't view it the same way and they often believe it is because of negative qualities in those who differ - confusion, stupidity, hatred, etc.

But, most people don't seem to care about all that philosophical stuff. They insist the symbol means what they say it means and nothing else. When it's enough people and the feelings are powerful enough, it causes unrest. Right now, the momentum is on the side of those who feel it is a symbol of white supremacy and I think the flag is going to the museum. It already has outside of South Carolina.

Politically speaking, it will be a good thing for Republicans in general if they follow Haley's lead and don't fight it. Some of them know that and some will fight it. As with same sex marriage, acceptance of evolution at least as a reasonable theory, global warming (whether you or I believe in it or not), holding to the course with the Confederate flag will help Republican presidential candidates in the primaries and cripple them in the general election.

What I don’t like is knee jerk reactions to mob behavior. Nothing a graffiti artist does can compare to murder, but I was outraged by the defacing of Confederate monuments, particularly with the Black Lives Matter motto that obviously is a cry of despair for those who believe in it but for me and many others it is a racist tirade born of a fraud which insists at the same time that others are racist and ignores the most overlooked fact in our racial history - that in modern day American the overwhelming amount of violence against blacks, particularly murder, comes not from police, but from other blacks. Trust me, no one in the media will care much. The defacement of art works will be compared to the history of suffering by minorities and in our society – now – the majority always loses. Mobs, ycchh. Whether they are minority or majority – ycchh.

When I lived near Lexington, Va. I would often go to Washington and Lee University to use their library. Lee’s chapel was there and down the road a cemetery where Stonewall Jackson was buried. Both were slave owners. Both were instrumental in the defense of the Confederacy. I took a number of people with me to see both. They weren’t racists (well, maybe one – the kind with black friends). They and I were interested in the history and aesthetics of the place. When the town had a day celebrating these local heroes, they made it clear in their banners that they were celebrating heritage and honor, not slavery. In fact, the university appeared to me to be as liberal in general attitude as other universities I’ve been to or worked at.

Me – if I were given the power to make the decision? I’d probably take the flag off the capital. I probably would have done it a long time ago. It’s not that one group’s view of a symbol is any better than another’s. I just prefer not to offend so many people when there is at least some basis for their opinion. That’s a pretty vague standard, of course. But, the Confederacy was a government based upon the idea that slavery should exist and the confederate states did, worse than elsewhere in the United States, continue the legacy for a long time. Some stay still, but I really don’t think so. State houses are for everyone. As for private individuals or businesses - that's their choice, and if there reason to keep it is to be obstinate or to not sell them is poor business reasons - it is still their choice.

In any event, they are coming down.

The Donald

Oh, God, he’s back. What a jerk. What a great campaigner. What a clueless moron. What a great strategist. What a disaster for Republicans.  His announcement was a masterpiece, because he said things you aren’t supposed to say, insulted people, made ridiculous claims about what would happen when he was elected (not like others don’t do that), was pompous beyond words and told us over and over what a nice guy he was. He also doesn’t seem to be able to finish a sentence without going off on at least two tangents.

Despite all that, it was enervating to hear a politician be unscripted and not carping, to say he wanted to destroy our enemies and compete with our competitors, whose leaders he said were smarter than ours, and call out the current administration. I wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump, but when he pointed out the obvious, that John Kerry is no negotiator, I wanted to cheer.

That’s why his performance put him into the number two position in the polls. I thought, eventually, he will say something crazy – like he still thinks that Obama was born in Kenya or Hillary killed Vince Foster and he knows the best investigators and they are on the job. Crazy stuff. I cringed when I heard him speak about Mexicans, but I didn't realize he already had crossed the line.

What does it mean that I can’t wait to see the debates if he is in them? It may be like watching Curley Howard selling caskets to widows, but it will be an event.

More likely, sooner or later, he is going to say something even worse that will get him huge cheers from conservative audiences, but make them all seem like fools and perhaps cripple their chances. If you doubt it, remember his birther speeches.


George Pataki is running for president.

Lindsey Graham is running for president.

Ted Cruz is running for president.

Rick Perry is running for president again.

Bobby Jindal is running for president.

Oh, Rick Santorum is running for president again.

I don’t see it gentlemen.

As for the lady, I don’t want to laugh yet that Carly Fiorina is running for president although perhaps Trump has completely stolen her thunder as the business person in the group. I like her. She’s gotten, if not great funding and polling results, critical acclaim – almost like an art movie. I have the smallest of hopes for her.

On the Democrat side, the list is of course much smaller.

Bernie Sanders is running for president. I heard him speak the other day. I’m sure many liberals love him as he calls himself the most progressive senator today. I saw in one poll that he was 24% in Iowa, which is HUGE, considering Hillary, still the front runner, is the competition. Then it was 33%.  Now I hear that he is almost even in New Hampshire, but that is home territory.  He is very close to being an avowed socialist, something he has called himself before. I don’t think by socialist he means what it used to mean, but if you listen to his ideas, it’s not just a chicken in every pot – it’s five chickens to a pot and we’ll make the Koch brothers pay for them. I doubt that even the greater part of the Democrat Party is ready for that. Still, in primary politics, where the extremists are the norm, he may increase the inroads he made. He is not a laugher. I give him a 20% chance to win the nomination if Hillary self-destructs.

Lincoln Chafee is running for president. Chafee was a Republican and one I admired because of his moderation. Now he is a Democrat, which you cannot be with any success if you are not very liberal and he has run in that direction. When he speaks, you expect that the person next to you will suddenly say – who is he again?

Martin O’Malley is polling almost as low as Chafee though he makes a much better appearance and was first in. I actually think, if Hillary stumbles, he is a more likely contender than Sanders, who far outpolls him now and definitely better for the Democrats in a general election.

How about a Trump v. Sanders debate. That’s a must see.

But, if Hillary did stumble badly or fall out completely – would Biden get in? With the sympathy factor so high because of his son’s death, he might have a new gravitas. Would John Kerry jump in again too?  I don’t put anything past him. And, if you think the Obama Administration was bad, you are going to be crying if he ever takes the Oval Office. I would.

Will Hillary win because it seems so natural to call her Hillary and everyone else by their last names. I tried to call her Clinton, but that’s her husband.


There’s not much to say about this that so many others have already said. Maybe nothing. It looks like a train wreck. Even some of his own past advisors have now come out warning Obama he’s failing. I can’t imagine two politicians less able to negotiate with our global enemies. Their smugness, duplicity and seeming desperation and carelessness in running towards any agreement for which they can declare victory makes Donald Trump look like a statesman. Apparently, they are willing to pay Iran for the privilege of having an agreement with him. I'm afraid that’s what we are going to see. From what I understand, Iran has upped the ante - demanding an end to the arms embargo. And, according to the White House spokesman, it hasn't been rejected.

I didn’t know what was going to happen by June 30, 2015, when there was supposed to be a deal. We know how the president is with red lines. They aren’t red.  They put it forward, of course. Will they again. I'm not sure.  We may hear today.

It’s almost like a television show – you may not know exactly what is going to happen, but you know it isn't going to end well.  If I'm wrong, and they make a good deal, I'll say it. I just doubt it.

That’s it.


1 comment:

  1. Curly Howard selling caskets to widows. One of the best lines ever.


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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .