Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Political update for June, 2016

There's always the unforeseeable. Like if Trump and Hillary both choke on kumquats (a funny word, don't you think?) and Joe Biden and John Kasich are the nominees as I predicted way back in '15 - that would be unforeseeable (and make me look so smart). But, forgetting that, it looks like Clinton and Trump. Here are my predictions and comments.

I think Trump is going to win despite the stupidity of his recent attack on a federal court judge overseeing his case because his parents were Mexican. I say this with him still down in the polls. In any event, I think he is going to win because he will attack her vulnerabilities and she is not good at warding them off. And, frankly, neither is her husband so much anymore. He's not your grandfather's Bill Clinton any more. He's more like Grandfather Bill Clinton. And while I was dead set against the politicized impeachment, which was not only unfair, a debasement of our justice system and stupid politically for the Republicans, Trump is right - if they attack him on women, then it is fair game.

Also, Trump is all anyone talks about on most days.  Even if it is how crazy he is. If Hillary choked on the kumquat (still funny) alone, they'd cut to Trump at a town hall meeting with his hands crossed around his throat making choking sounds.  He is a bigoted, knuckleheaded guy who seems like he has no knowledge of almost anything relevant to being president. He is often obnoxious, demeaning and speaks gibberish fluently, changing direction mid-sentence more often than Sarah Palin. I just don't believe media-folk and his friends who say he is different in person. Charming? Why? Because he's a famous person who acts like he cares about them? Please. I'll wait until I see it. Of course, Clinton is often pretentious, smug and perhaps the most obvious phony among modern politicians. For whatever reason, he wears it better than she does. That may in fact be because she is a woman and life isn't always fair. Nevertheless. . . .

How many times can I say it. I don't want either of them for president, but if I am going just by who would be more interesting, of course it's him. It reminds me of an episode of the tv show Coach, I think back in the '90s. His girlfriend was talking to a guy who wanted to be her man (while Coach hid in the closet) and trying to explain Coach to him and why she was staying with him. I'm paraphrasing, but she said something like. "It's a roller coaster. (beat) But what a ride."


There is all the evidence in the world that our Supreme Court, which has always been political in highly contested cases, whatever they tell you, seems neutered. They are doing what they can to salvage their weakened institution. Clearly, the Republicans are not considering an appointee until they have a chance to win the election. If they lose, they may end up with someone more radical than the current nominee, Merrick Garland, obviously a very impressive judge. If not the first time, then the second time.  But this poor guy who cried when he was chosen for the honor of it can't even get a hearing. And I don't blame the Republicans. It is, in my opinion, within their constitutional framework not to select anyone. The president nominates and they advise and consent. He doesn't want their advice, then they don't have to consent. Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees is his promise to the right that they will get a pro-life and pro-business justice to replace Scalia. Of course, they can't trust Trump at all. They just don't know it well enough yet. I think they learned a little more this week with JudgeGate.


Do you know what would really disappoint me? If John Kasich agreed to be Trump's running mate. I have a lot of respect for Kasich. He was the most decent candidate this time. He was the most experienced candidate this time. He did stay clear of the childish fights in the Republican debates. And he lost, getting out after Cruz, when he realized staying in would destroy his reputation in his own party, because the party was going to back Trump, having no faith he could beat him.

And that has to sting. He could have beat Trump but for the belief of many Republicans that only Cruz could. I don't think Cruz would beat Ross Perot right now in a general election. I like Cruz personally. I don't like some aspects of his politics, particularly the view of the first amendment as subordinating the law to subjective religious beliefs (or Christian ones, anyway). But, he was a terrible candidate, popular with only a small portion of his party. But, he convinced people like Lindsay Graham, who said obviously Kasich was the right candidate, that only he could beat Trump. He convinced a lot of politicians of it. I think they made the wrong choice. Not because I like Kasich better. I liked Jim Webb best of the Democrats but would never say that he had a snow ball's chance in hell. But, I think had the party early gotten behind Kasich, instead of Cruz and Rubio, maybe the Republicans would have had a chance of beating Trump, who they now have to choke down.

But, anyone who agrees to be Trump's VP, which means lap dog, is not someone I will likely respect. Chris Christie has sold his soul. Carson, who I like a lot personally, but is not even as qualified as Trump to be president, sold his too. They can and I am not that disappointed (more so in Carson). I didn't respect them as much as Kasich. But, if he also sells his soul, I will lose respect for him, regardless of that cliche that when the country calls you have to answer.


For a few years now there has been a good question of what will happen to the Republicans. In the 1850s they split off from the dying Whigs and soon became the most dominant party for many years (though, because Lincoln was a Republican and won the Civil War). It does not mean that a party which splits off now will fare as well. There are three large Republican factions now - cultural, fiscal and Trumpian.  I don't know if he really stands for any of their hopes. I don't know if he even knows what he stands for other than himself, his businesses and his family. The cultural Republicans have no counterpart on the left or among the independents with whom they could coalesce into a strong party. The fiscal or moderate group does. Though there are few Jim Webb/Joe Lieberman Democrats, there are some, but there are a lot of independents who would be attracted enough or at least okay with Republican economics and judicial desires, without the religious overlay. Of course, that also describes Gary Johnson.

I don't know that anything so dramatic will happen. It may be a slow death, or, the party may come roaring back with Trump or without him next time. Naturally, I hope for the middle road, as I prefer moderates, but, I can't call that a prediction. More of a fantasy.


Speaking of Trump, and he really is almost anyone talks about on political shows anymore, the NY Times hit piece on him about women really was pathetic. My first comment on their site they wouldn't publish. I've learned to restrain my criticism of The Times itself in my comments on their own site, as they will not hit the publish button, but, sometimes they will not publish anything that analyzes or takes apart any of their pet ideas. My second comment, which was shorter and started with a criticism of Trump (you have to reel them in sometimes) said mostly the same thing. A model who was offended by being told she looked good in a bathing suit and then who dated him for six months? That's their best argument. A beauty queen who got an eating disorder only when she was put in a press conference about her weight gain. It's not a condition that occurs with a pushed button. The first one, the model, quickly went on the offensive, going on tv to say that she had a good relationship with Trump and was promised it would not be a hit piece. It just made The Times look bad. They tried this with McCain too, claiming he had had an affair, which he took apart the next morning with enough confidence that he was widely believed immediately, and they tried it with Romney with some success, going back to his high school stupidity to insinuate he was a bully (and he was a bully then).

I love the NY Times. They are the greatest media outlet ever as far as I'm concerned. They are the only daily site worth reading on foreign affairs, science, art, books and many other subjects and they are at least among the best in national politics and business.  But, they have their failings. Their movie and tv reviews are written by people who have "taste" and don't seem to enjoy anything actually enjoyable and their admittedly biased liberal editorial slant makes anything they report with any political consequences open to cynicism; makes them refuse to report seriously on anything that reflects badly on the left (Black Lives Matter, rioting by Sanders' supporters, the "safe spaces" movement, etc.) and gives their opinion sections a very one sided slant - even their Republican writer, David Brooks, is generally a moderate. I like his work, but even if he is to the right of the reflexively left wing columnists, it is not even attempting to present a spectrum of opinion. The Times should not be the equivalent of Fox or MSNBC.

The hit piece just looked desperate, as if it was written by a group of kids who said - hey, let's get Trump good. Of course, they didn't get him good. And, as I pointed out in my comment, it would probably help him. It certainly made him look more sympathetic to me. And it was also grossly unfair, in a contest that includes Bill Clinton, not to at least write a token "Of course, this pales in comparison to claims that . . . ."


I recently visited Botetourt County, Virginia, where I used to live, for a few days. It's a conservative bastion to say the least. I think they were 70-30 Romney in 2012, as opposed to his 53-47 trouncing nationwide. Some research I did showed that they were heavily for Trump in the primary, though I would have thought they'd have been for Cruz, being in the Bible Belt and all. The number one answer of why they support Trump - The Supreme Court. No. 2. - he's not Clinton. Admittedly, I didn't have a very large sample, but it was not unexpected.


Are there any good political books anymore? I haven't seen any that caught my eye. The last one I read that I thought was fantastic was Robert Caro's fourth installment of The Years of Lyndon Johnson and that published in 2012.  Henry Wiencek's Master of the Mountain on Jefferson and his slaves was controversial, because it hits an American icon, and I thought excellent but that was also 2012. I loved Meacham's Jackson, but that was 2008! His Jefferson was 2013, but not as good, and, Chernow's Washington, 2010, is perhaps the best Washington, but nowhere near as good as his 2005 Hamilton. Game Change, on the 2008 election came out in 2010. There have been a few good books on economics I'm not going over here, but, what am I missing that was great?


So that transsexual thing. Uncomfortable. When it arose, I immediately felt sympathy for the people who were endlessly stigmatized for being who they are, even if I can't understand it. It's easy to call it sick or crazy, although that would draw the ire of many, but that doesn't mean they are dangerous. I thought about this one a lot and read the Charlotte ordinance, the State law and the federal letter to NC. I have to come out on the side of NC. They are right that the federal law is badly defined and when I read it, I don't see how men who think they are women are being discriminated against. And I do think it opens the door to abuse, not from transsexuals and not from many heterosexuals, but certainly from some. Are judges going to now decide who legitimately thinks they are a women and who is feigning it? Are parents of young girls going to have to go to the bathroom with men, even harmless ones? I guess that's the idea. Are businesses going to be fined and harassed because they want to protect a majority of their customers in a way that doesn't seem remotely like Jim Crow laws? It's already happening. The culture of identity politics, of doing away with gender (except in cases of rape claims in which men are evil and always lying) is one reason that as bad as Trump is, I can't imagine voting for Clinton.


I began with Trump, let me end with him. How politically stupid is he? I think that's the real problem. I actually don't believe he's as bigoted as he seems to the media or many others right now (a bigot yes, but my family thinks I'm a bigot). He really wasn't saying that a judge of Mexican descent is incapable of judging a non-Hispanic. He was saying that he feels this judge, who happens to be of Mexican descent but born in America, is biased against him because he wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. It's a unique situation and doesn't mean he thinks that a person of Hispanic-American descent is unable to judge an Anglo-American. That is logical, as was Trump's politically stupid remarks about abortion. It also doesn't mean he hasn't made other racist comments, which he has and this is a last straw type of thing - logic be damned.

His remarks on both though have hurt him a great deal with many in his own party.  I can't say it is true with his strong supporters, who will see only the logic in what he said and perhaps agree with it, and the others really have nowhere else to go unless they are okay with the increase in federal power, the increasing debt and more racial politics. Maybe they are and don't want to say.


Frankly, it is hard for me to listen to any on the right whine. At least, whether it is Clinton or Sanders, the left will get someone they like, because ideologically, they are more united on the far left, then Republicans, who are all over the place. They could have nominated Kasich. They could all vote for Johnson - who is the third party they are looking for, but, as usual for a moderate, a namby-pamby one who will behave civilly, not make rah-rah speeches and who probably doesn't have the political power to get in a debate. I think he got in one Republican debate in 2012 and did great. They were and are both standing right there, and are more traditional Republicans than Trump - the party agrees with them more than with Trump, more so Kasich, who also polled best against the Democrats. But, they were rejected because this time around illegal immigration is the right's raison d'ĂȘtre and they didn't make the right noises.

I'm awaiting the results for the last Super Tuesday. I'm hoping that Sanders wins California because I can't stand the nature of partisanship that demands only your candidate gets to speak and run. Sanders hasn't lost yet. He can hope for a Hail Mary because technically, he has lost nothing. But, if he doesn't win California, it will be more difficult practically to make the argument.

Still, it makes me feel good to see the party establishment being cautious about bashing him - afraid to alienate his young followers. Politics are disgusting, but, really entertaining.

POST SCRIPT - WELL SANDERS LOST, so that's really done unless by some miracle she gets indicted and I've said from the beginning, as long as she might be president - it isn't happening. As for Trump, the chattering class is going crazy, even Joe Scarborough, generally a friend of Trump (though not a supporter) and the host of my favorite non C-Span show. Still think he'll make it. 

1 comment:

  1. I see Trump vs. Hillary as a tragedy, not the comedy some see it being. Though I'm a Democrat, I'm not a big Hillary fan, but at least she has qualifications for the office. It kills me how low the bar is. But we haven't elected someone with the basic qualifications for the office since the other Clinton. It will be nice to have someone qualified even if I dislike her intensely and disagree with most of her positions. You, my friend are nuttier than a fruit loop, Trump lost his opportunity in the last few weeks, and it will sadly, be Hillary by a large margin. Remember, especially with a person like Trump, who women HATE, Hillary will get, rightly or wrongly, the sisterhood train roaring down the tracks. The vast number Trump will lose the female vote by is enough to spell defeat. I have spoken and will now return to my mountain.


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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 . . . .