Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Political update for September, 2015

I actually wrote a different post this week, one involving tattoos.  But, my inability to upload photographs on blogger, though it is supposed to be really easy, got too frustrating. I’ve even tried doing it on Word and then just pasting it on. I’ve tried uploading it directly on blogger (even worse – it freezes Internet Explorer), copying it directly from my pictures, but nothing works.

In any event, what’s wrong with just talking politics. There are 5 big issues as I see them right now.  Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump and the Iran deal. But, we can only talk a little about Trump and then, even if not as much in the news, talk about my take on some other candidates and then the Middle East.


Trump is short for trumpet, I think, and he must think so too. I’m not sure if outside of a pure entertainment situation have ever seen anyone as shamelessly dedicated to trumpeting his own worth. I’ve lost track of the things he will be the best at – I know the military and with Hispanic and with women, but there were so many others. You could probably make a similar list of people he has insulted and people he says he loves or they love him. I know he loves the Mexicans, the Russians and the Chinese all of whom he has insulted and complimented.

I stick with my original prediction. It might be that Trump stands for almost every negative aspect of a politician and possibly a person that I can think of – arrogant (“I’m very rich”), conceited (“super-genius”), a control-freak, a liar, bigoted, greedy, unnecessarily aggressive, angry, ignorant about things he pretends to be knowledgeable about, falsely pious (if his favorite book is really the Bible, I will eat my hat), unwilling to admit making mistakes or apologize and almost unbearably insecure (“My family likes me”). And beyond that, he is the greatest gift to the Democrats that could possibly exist. In 2012 his birther boondoggle, in which he pretended to have investigators in Hawaii finding things we wouldn’t believe, helped sabotage Romney even though Trump didn’t run. What gifts will he have this time by running and, possibly, winning the nomination. Not for nothing do some people suspect he is secretly in league with the Democrats.

Given all these traits, why is he doing so well?

First, he’s not. Let’s say he is somewhere around 25%, a little less than the realclearpolitics late Aug., early Sept. polls. That means 75% of those polled are for someone else. It is not rocket science to realize that as the legion of non-super heroes drop out one by one, his numbers will probably shrink. It is hard not to believe that those who prefer Cruz, Walker, Huckabee, Graham, Rubio and Santorum, if they drop out, will more likely head to Carson than Trump. And that may be true of the rest of them, with the exception of those few who like Carly Fiorina because of her business background.

Second, in my own anecdotal experience, those who seem to like Trump most are white middle class men, followed by white middle class women. Now, that is still the majority in this country, so it’s important. Why are these people so interested in him?

First, some people are simply sick of being called racist because they prefer the police to gangs or because they are offended by the Black Lives Matter movement. They are sick of being called a racist because they do not want people from other countries moving her illegally.

Second, some people are sick of political correctness. They want a president who ignores it or mocks it.

Third, some want someone who doesn’t respect the media. They don’t and they don’t like it when the politicians kow tow to them.

Fourth, some like that not only the media, but to some degree, some of the other candidates seem intimidated by him. If they weren’t, do you think that they would not be jumping all over his mistaking the Kurds for the Iranian Quds force?

Fifth, they buy into his fantasy about being economically superior.  Being a businessman is simply not the same as being knowledgeable about trade and the economy. They buy into his phony bologna narrative that his 4 business bankruptcies are a positive, that those who got stiffed were bad guys rather than investors and people who trusted in him.

Sixth, they buy into the fantasy that talking tough is the same as being tough. If we don’t like something China or Russia is doing – we just tell them “NO!” and they will love us for it.

I was watching Howard Dean on tv recently, and I couldn’t help but think, there’s a guy who must really be annoyed by the whole Trump thing. Dean was felled by a single squawking like “yeahhhh!” he gave to encourage some campaigners. Despite the fact that there was not the slightest thing wrong with it, he was so mocked it just destroyed him, and the Democrats were left with the pathetic John Kerry for a candidate. Yet Trump seems to be able to get away with almost everything. Life isn’t fair.

Slowly, I do believe though that, just as last time, enough Republicans came to their senses that Romney was the only one who had a chance, they will realize that Trump has the least chance in a general election and will self-destruct. Eventually, the ridiculous things he says will start adding up and a tipping point will be passed.

One thing I’ve learned about myself though watching presidential race after presidential race – I don’t know who the next president will be. The other thing I’ve learned, is that it does not stop me from making predictions.

So, here is prediction no. 1. Trump will not be the nominee. Obviously, I don’t know when he will fall, but I think when he does, it will be as big as he has been, and it will be like a crane falling on Trump Towers.


I don’t know what to make up him. Part of me believes he is a product of Trump’s rise, part of me thinks he would be right where he was anyway. His quiet demeanor and obvious intelligence are his strong points. As with Trump, his lack of knowledge on the issues does not seem to hurt him at all. I don’t think we know enough about him to make any kind of judgment.


Last month I made what I called an “early unofficial” prediction, which is pretty funny because all my predictions are unofficial and I say early just so I can backtrack on it without too much embarrassment if I am completely wrong. Also, it is no fun for me if it is a prediction everyone else is making.  Hence, I’ll take a shot. If I’m wrong, me and lot of other people. If I’m right, who is going to have it in his blog? That’s right. Wealth, fame, the 7 o’clock slot on Morning Joe (I wonder if you have to put in a request for a specific kind of coffee). Or, nothing.

Nevertheless, one prediction was that Katich would be the Republican nominee.  Although it is still really early and unofficial (whatever that means), I see no reason to change it. Nationally, he’s polling in the middle, although far closer to the bottom than the top. That’s all right though, because Trump is a phenomenon I think will dissipate (though he disappoints every such prediction so far), the other supposed front–runners have been shown to be weak, and he’s doing well in New Hampshire, which will give him a bigger bump than Iowa, a state which is such a poor predictor of Republican victors that they cancelled their traditional Ames Poll this year to spare themselves the embarrassment. Like a long distance runner staying behind but in contact with the pack, I’m feeling okay about it. Not great. But, okay.


Why is it that most everyone thinks she will be the VP choice?  A poll which asks for second, third and fourth choices puts her clearly on top.  She was my early favorite before Katich jumped in. It’s not that I am especially in agreement with her about anything, or there is something about her that screams competency for me. It’s that she seemed relatively moderate and more articulate and intelligent than most of the other candidates and she wasn’t being particularly martinetish or obsequious to anyone or even going out of her way to be charming or likeable. Not that this necessarily makes a great president, but it’s a much better start than most of them have for me.

And the others . . .

If I had my way, most of the other Republican candidates would just go away. Not that I particularly dislike any of them, but they go from the ridiculous - Pataki, Jindal, Perry and Gilmore. Some aren’t ridiculous but have no chance this time – Paul, Christie, Huckabee and Santorum. Of those not mentioned above, Cruz, Rubio and Bush have some kind of shot given some seismic shift, but of the three, Cruz is unelectable in a general election. Of the whole group, whether I think they could win the nomination or not, only Carson, Fiorina, Rubio, Katich, Christie and Bush would have a real chance in a general election with a slim chance for Walker, who I think has hurt more than helped himself so far.

After Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina I expect the following people left. Possibly Trump, Carson, Bush, Walker, Katich, Fiorina, Cruz. Maybe Rubio, but I’m not sure. It would shock no one that after the Summer of Trump, if Bush makes a comeback. When Trump is out - if Trump goes out, everything changes.

However, since I stick with my litmus test that a conservative candidate who carries on about same sex marriage and doesn’t believe in either global warming (Me? Still agnostic about it) or evolution does not have a chance in a general election, we go down to pretty much Katich and Fiorina. However, it is possible that Carson would be an exception to the rule despite his position. I do not know about Jeb Bush. And, of course, it matters who the other nominee is.

Got it?


Despite Trump’s Teflon qualities, Clinton seems to share many of them. Until very recently, her numbers were actually better than Trump’s despite the seeming inevitable doom of the email scandal. As the revelations and problems come out (this week the guy who set up her server took the 5th and it came out from other staffers that she paid State Dep’t personnel to work for her on the server personally – talk about a conflict of interest. The email scandal is well covered in the news and I don’t feel the need to just review it.

No doubt, she still has her supporters, but I suspect that this week was the tipping point for her. Of course, as we know, just because someone gets crushed after being on top, doesn’t mean that they can’t come back. And, I tend to notice that this is more typical of front runners, at least of late.

There is one thing she has on her side. She’s a woman and identity politics is very important.  I think it has helped Carly Fiorina too, although she does not have a constituency or the media on her side to help. I think it is helping Ben Carson, as some conservatives will no doubt want to show that they are not the racists that the media and Democrats make them out to be. As I often say to liberals who accuse them of racism (not that some aren’t) is that there aren’t very many conservatives who would not be delighted by Clarence Thomas ran for president and we know that Herman Cain had his run before it turned out he had as much Bill Clinton in his make up as Ronald Reagan.

There are few things that will save H. Clinton if another loud shoe drops. It is always the nature of partisans to ignore as far as it is possible when one of their own transgresses. As is so often pointed out by resentful conservatives – “Can you imagine if this came out about George Bush? Every journalist. . . .” But, unlike Trump, other than her name recognition and femaleness, there is not a lot about her that makes people want to stand up and cheer. She is famously portrayed by Washington insiders as fun on a personal level, but more wooden in public than Al Gore was when he ran. Obama is president today because he was likeable in debates whereas she was just ponderous.


I get why progressives love him. He demonizes wealthy people, particularly conservative ones, he promises free stuff for everyone, boldly calls himself a socialist and can be as outspoken, but not usually as personally insulting, as Trump is. And he is also a bit of a character, unlike say Katich, who is also doing well in NH right now.   I wouldn’t be all that excited if I were him though that he has overtaken Clinton in New Hampshire polls because he’s from Vermont, and the only difference between the two states in almost every way is which side of the black line they are on.

Sanders does have a chance in the nomination process if two things happen. First, Clinton continues to decline because of the email scandal and Biden doesn’t jump in. Which leads us to . . .


The Democrat prediction I was that Joe Biden would be the Democrat nominee. Naturally, the first step would be for him to actually run for the job. I believe him when he said he didn’t know if he and his family had the emotional fire to do it. He seems, giant smiley teeth and all, to be genuinely depressed by the death of his son. Who can blame him? Of course the same tragedy is what gives an emotional charge to his run.  The consensus right now is that this is not the Joe Biden of 6 years ago and I agree. That doesn’t mean if he gets the limelight for a few weeks, the old Joe Biden won’t be back. But, I don’t think so. And Democrats who want another liberal president to appoint new Supreme Court Justices and continue the trend to the left in our politics, will support him over Bernie Sanders, who will excite the far left but possibly not as much as it does the far right.

Like almost everyone, personally, I like Biden. Most candidates are for me too far left or too far right, and he’s too far left. But, not so far as others. And, despite occasionally outbursts of goofiness or harmless awkward behavior with women, he’s reasonably bright. It is hard to miss that of almost everyone in the belt, he, almost alone had the good sense to agree with me (and I’m sure I’m where he got the idea from) that Iraq was really three countries – though he would go no further than suggesting three autonomous provinces. To the contrary, the one time I saw him being just unbearable was a whine-fest during a Supreme Court confirmation hearing – I think of Justice Roberts. And he was out front in the administration turning towards supporting gay rights and what sometimes seemed like the only reasonably honest person in that administration, at least at the beginning. All these are good things. I probably would not vote for him, and he would not be my choice among the Democrats, but he would not make me think the world was coming to an end either.

And the others . . .

As for Webb and O'Malley, it is very hard to see a path forward, as they say. You never know. Webb strikes me as the someone I might be interested in. I've heard O'Malley speak a few times and he is probably not. His embarrassing capitulation to some young men and women of Black Lives Matter almost disqualifies him by itself.

All of these many predictions are of course subject to illness, some national crisis or scandal and gaffe. Those, no one can predict.


I have a little over a week until I have to vote on Iran. I’ve been giving it a bit of thought. I didn’t know what to think at first. I will say that John Kerry, who is among my least favorite politicians for a long time, and who I find disingenuous, too ambitious and often worse, has done his best work in defending (as opposed to negotiating) the deal.

In the end, if I had to vote on the 16th of this month, I’d vote no. This is why. First, I am not someone who favors filibusters in general as a regular legislative process. Though obviously a legal procedure, I see them as a weakness, not a strength of the Senate. Though of course there are things that I would not wish the Senate to vote for, the way it should work is up and down. So, I will be angered if the Democrats do not allow an up and down vote. And just for the record, I felt the same way when Republicans were blocking votes too.

Second, I have never been satisfied with Kerry’s answers regarding our political prisoners. He usually says that it was raised at every meeting. That means one of several possibilities must be true. He did not have a strong hand in the negotiations. Or he did not press hard enough. Or he didn’t threaten to walk from the talks on that account. Which was it? Someone should spend some time on this when questioning him and they don’t.

Third, I am not that worried about the timing of inspections, because my understanding is that the IAEF is very satisfied that even a significant delay – say two months or even more – will not deter them technologically. However, the knowledge of secret agreements between Iran and the IAEF, who I do trust, is not acceptable. As part of the negotiations, the waiver of secret agreements, at least to the leadership in congress, should have been paramount. No doubt Kerry and the others were aware of this and did not press it.

Fourth and most important, I cannot make head or tails of the sanctions regime. What we are being told is that sanctions are compartmentalized such that although we cannot sanction on nuclear grounds if they are in compliance, we can sanction on other grounds. But, it has never been clear that the language of the agreement states this clearly nor is it at all explained how to prevent Iran, of whom the administration say they have no trust, will not simply claim we are in non-compliance whenever they want.

I do not agree with critics that this is a path to the bomb (any country can violate a treaty or agreement whenever it wants) or that it does not reduce Iranian nuclear capacity – it does – but I do think that it is a situation where we had a very strong hand and did not play it or played it poorly. In the end, it of course makes Iran much stronger, and that is a problem for all of our allies in the neighborhood.


All of this pales in comparison with the news in the NFL, which I hope to get to before the season starts Thursday.

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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 . . . .