Establishment …

Republicans or Democrats.  Both suffer from the same folly, thinking the old guard just needs to restore itself, that this election was just an aberration, Trump and Bernie were just flies in the ointment.  Let’s do a quick pass by Republicans and then focus on Democrats because they are going to win the Presidency.

Republicans (establishment) have always been in denial or at least walled off from reality.  They depend on their rather white working class base and they have ignored their needs.  That was not by design, but by utility.  Their policies can’t help the base.  The Republican primary season was a giant flashing light to establishment Republicans, yet today as the reality of the Trump defeat grows, they think they can reconstitute the old party, that the Trumpees have learned their lesson.  But the problem persists and those that supported Trump are not going away.  They want change and they don’t trust establishment (for good reason) Republicans to bring about that change.  I am leaving out all the racism, nativism, xenophobia, because both establishment and new Republicans seem to embrace fear as a motivator.

Republicans have to realize that the entitlements they so hate, are needed by most of their white base.  And here is the real kicker, flow down does not work for the base.  It just continues to increase economic inequality.  The Republican establishment’s primary problem is that while their policies benefit the status quo and the wealthy, their base gets left out in the cold.  We hear Republicans talking about new ideas (usually revolving around flow down/trickle down on steroids) but there really aren’t any.  To actually help the tea party base they so desperately need,they would have to become moderate Democrats in many respects.  They could not sell free ride policies like tax cuts that pay for themselves and wild growth.  They would have to stop blamming others and face some facts about their failed ideas.

So on the Republican side, they are going to have a battle royal to see where the party goes and if they can connect with the voters in the future.  One thing they are terrified of is that if Hillary could pass some of her agenda and it works, they are dead meat.  So that sets up another obstructionist dysfunctional Congress if the voters have not turned the real trouble makers away.  Okay, enough about Republicans.

Democrats face a similar problem from their establishment side.  In the Democrat’s case the establishment candidate won out over the real change candidate in the primary, but in doing so, Hillary had to move left on many issues.  Again, whether you are Republican or Democrat the underlying dynamic is change and rejecting establishment politics.  The Wikileaks release of emails is making it clear that what the Progressives worried about is true.  Hillary has surrounded herself with establishment Democrats who think we can go back to business as usual and that those pesky Progressives are “freaks”.  Leaks of John Podesta’s and others email has made it clear there is a lot of calibration going on.

Just as an aside, I would fire the lot because they did not see this email problem coming and use more secure communications.  It kind of puts the whole issue in a nutshell of last years thinking to get your emails hacked and not understand that what is in cyberspace will be hacked.  They are thinking like 1990’s Democrats as the establishment Republicans are thinking like 1990’s Republicans.

But what many have noted is that the Donald is such a flawed candidate (an understatement) that this should be a 50 state romp and it is not.  Hillary is a weak candidate and if you followed my blogs, the issue from the undecided, millenials and people wanting to reject the Donald is that they want real change and they want someone they can trust.  It is a given that they have rejected establishment thinking.  Hillary promises that change but has not closed the deal on trust.  Then we have the Wikileaks revelations that demonstrate that she has surrounded herself with the very problem people want to get away from.  When they did not get that when she described herself as a moderate, that was emphasizing politics as usual, you have to wonder what planet they are on.

Hillary is going to win and the only question is by how big a margin and what happens in Congress.  If it is a Republican Congress it is very likely we will get Obama 3.0 and in 2020 we will be seeing a much better Trump character running against her if she is not primaried.  But like the Republicans, after the election, let the games begin.  If she fills her important cabinet positions with establishment Democrats she is going to see major pushback from progressives who want to see changes in the way the White House deals with Wall Street.  

My advice to Hillary, which of course is now rapidly disappearing in the universe at light speed, is simply to get out of her circle and take stock.  She has good instincts if she is not captured by the Establishment where she is comfortable. What is driving this campaign is change, with people so desperate for it they support Donald, a dispicable human being, over her (or vote third party).  She has to make the case that she will bring change and that she will standup to Wall Street.  Surrounding yourself with the Establishment who according to their emails so distain Progressives makes a lot of us wonder if she ever got the message.  And what is really going to be interest as we are all focused on November 8, is what happens afterward, because the Democratic Party may also be facing a civil war.

One last thing.  The fact that this late in the campaign we (Progressives) are having this doubt about Hillary is the last thing she needs.  She needs everyone to get out and vote.  But the hack in my mind is self inflected, again.  And it indicates to many of us who have moved with the changing environment, that her team has not, and now they are caught with their pants down and alienating the ones who brought real excitement to this campaign.  I would fire the lot of them.

David Souter’s Prophetic Words

Rachel Maddow brought us this clip of ex-Supreme Court Justice David Souter describing where we are today in what is an uncanny prophetic prediction of Donald Trump and the demise of our democracy in a talk he gave in New Hampshire four years ago. Here are most of his words followed by the clip:

“I think some of the aspects of current American government that people on both sides find frustrating are in part a function of the inability of people to understand how government can and should function. It is a product of civic ignorance…an ignorant people can never remain a free people. Democracy cannot survive too much ignorance…You can’t keep it in ignorance.

I don’t worry about our losing republican government in the United States because I am afraid of a foreign invasion. I don’t worry about losing it because there will be a coup by the military as has happened in other places. What I worry about is that when problems are not addressed, people will not know who is responsible.

And when the problems get bad enough as they might do for example with another serious terrorist attack, as they might do with another financial meltdown, someone will come forward and say give me total power and I will solve this problem. That is how the Roman Republic fell.

…If we know who is responsible, I have enough faith in the American people to demand performance from those responsible. If we don’t know, we will stay away from the polls, we will not demand it, and the day will come when someone will come forward and we and the government will say take the ball and run with it. Do what you have to do. That is the way democracy dies. And if something is not done to improve the level of civic knowledge, that is what you should worry about at night.

And here we are with the ignorance of the undecided and the misinformed chasing Donald Trump with only bluster and promises of fixing it while we have cowardice in going third-party (in effect staying away from the polls) when if you understand who has obstructed us, if you understand how our government has been obstructed by Republicans (civic knowledge) then the choice is clear. The danger Justice Souter warned of is extreme in the candidacy of Donald Trump and those that enabled him (Republicans). Oh how prophetic Justice Souter.

The Debate – Issues

Note that this is about issues and not scoring points so what were they saying they stood for, so I am writing mostly not about who made a better point while saying it, but where they stood on the issues. I do try to point out the blatant lies.  Sorry for the length, but if you had to listen to this whole thing again and take notes, you would forgive me. She who must not be mentioned here had to go in the other room.

Topic – The Supreme Court

Wallace:  What direction to take the country and is the Founders’ words to be literally interpreted or a living document:

Clinton:  Stand on the side of American people, not on the side of corporations. Support women’s rights, LGBT community, say no to Citizens United, not reverse marriage equality, not reverse Roe versus Wade, repeal Citizens United, upholding the rights of Americans over the powerful.  Can be and must be reasonable regulation.  Background checks, close gun show and internet loopholes, and others.  Defend Planned Parenthood.

Trump:  Uphold the second amendment (what does that mean? Code for no control on guns), which is under absolute siege (not true), pro-life, conservative bent.  Interpret the Constitution literally, the way it was meant to be (in whose mind). No limits on any gun laws.  Court overturn Roe Versus Wade.  Go back to states (State shopping?).

This seems to fairly straight forward for me.  They are clear on where they stand on the issues here.  The only point I would make in Hillary’s favor is that she did not misrepresent the facts and the Donald did both on the second amendment and late-term abortions (not have the government decide for women). You have a clear choice, unregulated guns and a woman’s right to choose decided for by big government or you believe that guns can be regulated and a woman has a right to choose.  How could you be undecided here?

Topic – Immigration

Wallace:  Mrs. Clinton, you are going offer us a plan within 100 days that includes a path to citizenship and Mr. Trump, you are going to build a wall.  Please explain.

Trump:  No amnesty.  Violence and drugs coming into the (rapist and murders again).  Single biggest problem is heroin, and strong borders will prevent.  I want to build the wall.  Bad people out.  At a later date make a determination as to the rest.  Every undocumented person will be subject to deportation.  President Obama has been moving people back out.  Unfair to allow those who cheat to get citizenship. Trump goes off the rails here with Putin, Wikileaks, nukes, and Muslims at the borders.  But he is clear, close the borders, kick out everyone.  He did have a point that Putin has outsmarted Obama in Syria although not on topic.

Clinton:  Trump’s policies would separate parents and families and she does not want to rip parents apart from their children.  Does not want a massive deportation force in action in our country.  This would require a massive law enforcement presence rounding up people, and is not in keeping with who we are as a country.  Her plan includes border security, but only focus on bad actors.  A wall is not the answer, comprehensive reform is.  Bringing undocumented workers out of the shadows will help everyone.  No more exploiting of workers and is a better way to safeguard America.

Just my opinion here but when Wallace challenged Clinton on open borders and open trade, she should have said yes like we have between states in the United States, but we are not anywhere near there now and we have to carefully regulate our borders*.  Okay once again on the issues, immigration, Trump wants to close the borders, end immigration as we know it, and does not address our need for immigrant labor, still on a wall he can’t build.  Hillary wants to work on a common sense immigration plan recognizing we need to embrace our undocumented labor workforce.  Pick your poison.  Nobody mentioned that there is no real flow at the border anymore.  So once again if you are undecided, you have a clear choice.

As an aside they got off on nuclear weapons, Putin, Middle East ect., and I thought Trump was ranting especially when he said she lies about everything and the reality is, he does.  He denied our own government’s pinning the Wikileaks emails on Russia, and denied he said we should allow nuclear proliferation, which of course he is on record as saying.  Still undecided?

Topic:  The Economy

Wallace:  Secretary Clinton in your plan you see more spending, more entitlements, more tax penalties.  Mr. Trump you want to get government out, lower taxes, less regulation.  Please explain to me why your plan will create more jobs and growth for this country and your opponents plan will not.

Clinton:  My plan is based upon when the middle class thrives the economy thrives. Growing the economy to give middle class families more opportunities, a jobs program, jobs in infrastructure and advanced manufacturing. New jobs in clean energy, to fight climate change (note only time climate change was mentioned), help small business.  Raise the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, education system that starts with preschool and goes through college.  More technical jobs.  Cut cost of college (under $125K).  Wealthy and Corporations would pay fair share.  Donald’s who plan is to cut taxes to the wealthy and corporations and could cost jobs, adding $20 trillion to our debt.  Trickle down economics on steroids. Not raise taxes on anyone making $250K or less and not add a penny to the debt (debatable). I do have investments, that are paid for.  Invest from the middle out, not from the top down.

Trump:  He is going to do a lot for college tuition (what?).  Her plan will double your taxes (not true). Then he goes back to questioning our protecting Saudi Arabia, Japan, Korea. Why are we protecting them, and they have to pay up (Most of them do pay up, but who needs facts).  Free trade, but horrible deals so we are going to renegotiate NAFTA or cancel it, cut taxes massively, cut business taxes massively (many don’t pay any now), we are going to hire people (how?).  Bring offshore money back.  Even Wallace points out his plan does not add up.  Trump claims we can grow at astounding rates, but does not tell us how except giant tax cuts and cancelling trade agreements.  Statements about NAFTA are not supported by economists.

So what we have here is are we going to invest in the rich (tax cuts, less regulation) or invest in the middle class.  On trade agreements we have no idea how he would renovated them. Again a clear choice.  How can you be undecided?  From my point of view we have been investing in the rich and what we have is record levels of economic inequality, but the choice is stark.

Topic: Fitness to be President.

Wallace: Asks Trump about the women and his denial of his sexual behavior, and asks Mrs. Clinton to defend her actions when her husband was accused.

Trump:  Long story short, sticking to his denials.  He went on a rant about the Clintons hiring people to cause violence at his events.  Then he makes a leap and says this is a plot by the Clinton. Both are fiction. Then brings up the destruction of emails and lying to FBI (not true or misrepresented). Big distraction.

Clinton:  Pointed out Donald said he did it and then women came out to document it, then denied it. Points out the Gold Star attack, Mexican Judge attack, and shows pattern

Wallace: Asks about the Clinton Foundation/Trump Foundation, donations, and pay for play.

Clinton:  Denies anyone got pay for play and has been totally investigated,  Then launches on the Clinton Foundations good deeds which is a distraction from the trust/change issue and I think hurts her.  She compared the Trump foundation who used funds to buy a portrait of the Donald, to the Clinton Foundation who invests 90% of all donations and is highly rated.

Trump:  Clinton Foundation is a criminal enterprise.  Taking money from countries who have bad human rights records.  Give back the money. He is asked directly if some of the money was used in the Trump foundation to settle lawsuits and he lied about it.

Then it went off to taxes and not taxes with a ridiculous claim that as a United States Senator Hillary could have changed the tax code. Finally on Character Wallace asked Trump about his claims of a rigged election and whether he would accept the outcome,  to which he replied:  “I will look it at the time.  “Claimed Hillary should never have been allowed to run (by whom?). Hillary responded: “That’s horrifying.”

The choice? Misogynist and liar or a women who tried to protect her husband much like Trumps wife is now doing. The destruction of the emails was wrong, but Hillary did not do it and the FBI fully investigated. Again, undecided? The choice is stark. What was on display was fairly easy to judge. And with Trump’s statement that if he loses he might not concede should be defining about his character and the level of a fantasy land he lives in.  On character once again the choice is stark.  How can you be undecided?

Topic:  Foreign Hot Spots

Wallace asked about the attempt to take Mosul and what happens the day after.  Will you put U.S. Troops in this vacuum?

Hillary:  Points out indigenous force doing the work supported by U.S., but will not support U.S troops occupying again.  Putting troops into the area would encourage ISIS.  To continue to push forward into Syria.  Syria is a problem.  No fly zone and safe haven in Syria.  Clinton explains the strategic approach in Mosul and why it is important to defeating ISIS.

Trump:  Does not answer the question.  It is all Clinton’s fault for withdrawing from Iraq (forgetting George Bush negotiated the withdrawal and Iraq would not compromise on it). Then went after Obama administration for announcing attack on Mosul.  He does not understand the Caliphate needs land and this represents a failure of their ideology.  Making point we are all stupid.  Then goes to Iran and how the agreement makes it easier to get nukes (also not true).  Note the whole diatribe did not answer the question and simply said everything we did was stupid, but not what he would do.  Does he have a policy? Then he launched on Wikileaks.

Wallace: Asks about Aleppo and points out Russia is busy fighting ISIS and the fact is that the Russians and Syrians are the ones attacking the city.  Would Trump like to clear that up?

Trump:  Does not answer question. Blames Aleppo on Hillary.  Assad much smarter than Obama and states a bunch of semi facts and some absolute falsehoods.  ISIS aligned Syrians in America is Trojan Horse.

Okay, let’s cut through all the noise, what where their policies for the area.  Hillary said what she would do and not do.  Donald just complained about everything we have done, stupid decisions, but absolutely no policy on how to proceed in the Middle East.  After this debate I have no clue what his policy would be except to cozy up to Russia and cancel the agreement with Iran to reduce nuclear weapon productions.  So on policy do you have a choice?  Well based upon tonight’s performance you have no clue what Donald will actually do.  Still undecided?

Final Topic:  The National Debt

Wallace:  Our National Debt as a percentage of GDP is now  77%.  Is the highest until just after WWII.  Debt would rise to 86% of GDP and under Trumps plan 105% of GDP.  Question:  Why are both of you ignoring this problem? Entitlements is 60% of our federal spending.  How do you plan to fund Medicare and Social security with tax increases and benefit cuts?

Trump: He is going to create tremendous jobs and bring from 1% up to 4% (but not how other than tax cuts, etc.).  Claims of what would be the result without a plan to do it other than renegotiating trade deals.  Claims we use political hacks to negotiate (actually corporate hacks).  Everyone will go back to work and everything will be roses.  On entitlements grow economy and repeal and replace Obamacare (replace with what).  He did not really answer the question about how to fund other than wild growth and repeal Obamacare with no plan for replacement.

Clinton:  First criticizes Trumps criticism.  Claims she pays for everything she proposes.  Has detailed plans complete with a way to pay for them, not running up the debt.  We are going to ask corporations and wealthy to pay fair share.  Growth will come from the middle class not with the wealthy.  On entitlements, on record to put more money into Social Security Trust fund and will raise taxes on wealthy to do it (raise cutoff limit).  She will not cut benefits.  Enhance benefits especially for low-income workers and women. Points out that Obamacare extended the solvency of the Medicare Trust fund (she knows her facts, Donald is clueless).  Recommends going after long-term healthcare drivers.

So Trump did not answer the question except he is going to grow the economy so it’s not a problem, yet independent estimates say his plan will run up massive debts that will require cuts in both Social Security and Medicare.  He will “save money” by repealing Obamacare with no replacement identified.  Hillary has a plan to invest in the middle class not the rich to get the economy going, plans that may or may not pay for themselves and will raise taxes to pay for our benefits and will try to increase them.  As an aside, what is the problem with the debt?  If it was a problem we would have sky-high interest rates or if we were printing money to pay it off, inflation.  Seen either?  So again one is pie in the sky growth through cutting taxes that has never worked or detailed plans for investing in the middle class.  Again the choice is stark.  How can you be undecided?


So did Trump win most of the points as some Republicans claim? Only if you want unlimited guns, take away a woman’s right to choose, think we need to build walls and punish even the children of immigrants, want more flow down economics and an increase in economic inequality with unrealistic budgets, and of course massive cutting of entitlements.  So they listened with a partisan ear to hear their hot buttons, not whether what they want would solve any problems.  They had already decided that Hillary’s progressive ideas would fail.

My point here is if you do what the pundits failed to do, examine the candidates on the issues, the choices are stark and you would have to be mindless and brain-dead to be undecided.  But that is not what is really at play here as a group of undecideds demonstrated Wednesday night.  It was about character and change.  Now on the character issue, once again the choice is clear if you add up all lies and treatment of women, and Trump’s behavior, it is Hillary. Still she lost points with these folks when Trump went after her for trade agreements (playing on their economic insecurity and when she either did not answer questions (emails and the open borders question).  On competing foundations, the facts are fairly clear although it is not clear these people know them.

On the trust/character thing, it is about people who really want to see change.  Again to me the choice is clear.  If you elect Trump you get failed Republican policies on steroids.  No details on how he would do what he says except an economic plan that breaks the bank and lots of promises, but no details. With Hillary, she proposes real change and the detailed plans to back it up.  So it is back to do you trust her and will she really move away from the banks. That is her challenge in the next 2 1/2 weeks. But there is a level of ignorance here among these voters that is scary. In my next blog I will present ex-Supreme Court Justice David Souter predicting exactly this ignorance and the rise of a Trump.

*Actually you would think Republicans would love a world where trade barriers are down and people can move to follow jobs and markets so this  be afraid of open borders and open markets is really where we would all like to be in a perfect world.


Well, there you have it. A highly intelligent, experienced woman just debated a giant orange Twitter egg. Your move, America”. #debate J.K. Rowling.

My thoughts exactly.  Without a doubt, the man would be a disaster as president and his whole being exemptified that.  I think what is the biggest take away is that he does not respect our democracy or Constitution.  He only respects winning and that makes him a very dangerous person.  The news media is all over his refusal to accept our most basic contract in a democracy, the will of the people.  Don’t be fooled by his son (Donald Jr.) telling us that we have to wait and see, there could be irregularities.  Remember Florida in 2000?  There is a process already in place for close elections.  So if you are an American, your patriotic duty is to vote and accept the results and abide by them.  On that alone, he demonstrated how unqualified he is.  But let’s talk issues.

The media said he held his own for about 30 minutes and I heard one Republican pundit tell us he won 13 out of 14 of the issues. Larry Kudlow said he scored some strong points.  Say what? Points for Republican talking points and not real understanding that they don’t fly anymore. I will in the next day go through the debate, filter out the bullshit, and just layout how they answered the questions and compare that to reality or what we know of past policies and their performance.  In most cases his policy stuff was either based upon a false premise (read lie), or has already proven a failure (tax cuts for the wealthy).

I think most Americans got their fill last night and came to the conclusion, Hillary is the only rational choice.  The only question is how big and whether the Democrats can get the Senate, do in the filibuster, and nominate some Supreme Court Justices.  Because if they don’t, Senator McCain already spilled the beans on their plan for obstruction once again. We have a chance to move the country forward if people will just get off their asses and vote.

Why do People Think What They Do?

Short answer necessity.  Long answer follows.  We are watching an election where there are alternate realities.  People believe there are hoards at the border, immigrants are taking their jobs, there is some kind of fifty state collusion to steal the election, even in Red states, the economy is failing, that government is coming for their guns, Trump didn’t grope anyone and it is a Worldwide corporate elite plot, and on and on.  It is completely false.  On the more moderate side, people feel that big government is the problem, that the market place is a better instrument than government to solve all problems, and tax cuts will pay for themselves, again mostly provably false.  Why doesn’t the evidence matter?

On the more moderate alternate realities, big government is bad, tax cuts pay for themselves (flow down works), the market place is the better place to look for solutions, all regulations are bad, the answer is sometimes that is true sometimes it isn’t.  That is where political arguments have merit and compromise might just help solve some of our problems through the curbing of extremism.  But on the other stuff, the key is getting them back to planet Earth and that is proving almost impossible.  So again, why do people believe this stuff?

Sadly studies have shown us that people pick what they want to believe and then garner facts to support that belief.  In “Jonathan Haidt’s seminal book, The Righteous Mind, Haidt, a social psychologist, used exhaustive evidence to explain that our political preferences are not the product of careful analytic reasoning. Instead, they spring from a combination of moral intuition (instinct) and a tribal affiliation with people who we believe share these instincts. We use reason, facts and analysis to affirm our gut decisions,“(Fareed Zakaria). In other words we carefull sift through reason, facts, and analysis to affirm our gut decisions, reinforced by intellectually incestual relationships. That is the very opposite of the scientific method and why it was created to prevent our prejudices from obscuring truth.

But why do we do that?  Why can’t we feel something in our gut, but then have reality inform us of our error?  Well, some of us can if we are aware of the phenomena.  We question ourselves.  I would make an argument here that religious thinking also clouds our thinking because it allows us to hold on to beliefs that are belied by common experience.  In other words, we are practiced at it.  That is why the religious right is so attached to Republicans and the Fox News alternate reality they live in.  But now we are getting back to necessity.  I need to believe this because?

Here is where James Kwak and the Baseline Scenario comes in.  James points out that some writers and thinkers have taken the psycho babble out of this and put it in more down to earth terms:

Stanford historian Ian Morris is fond of saying that “each age gets the thought it needs.” According to this maxim, ideas like the Enlightenment, communism or even Christianity are a product of the economic and political circumstances of their times.

He then points out the Karl Marx used the same logic to explain his approach to his times.  Then he makes the leap to libertarianism, which is just an early form of conservatism if you think about it:

At the end of World War II, government power had reached unprecedented heights in modern history, particular in economic affairs. “It made sense to fight these forces with a philosophy that emphasized individual liberty and limited government,” Smith writes. He continues by arguing that the abstract libertarian model misses out on the complexity of society. In particular, since power can be exercised on multiple levels between individuals and the state, “the neat and tidy universe of classic libertarianism breaks down.” What we need today, then, is a new political philosophy, or philosophies, that reflect this complexity…But the underlying principle still holds: ideas gain sway because they serve important economic interest groups.

He goes on to explain in this very simple logical construct where we are today:

It was also true of libertarian ideas after World War II. In the United States, the political landscape was dominated by the New Deal Democratic coalition and Keynesian economic principles. Corporations that had to contend with powerful labor unions and rich people who had to pay higher taxes were on the defensive. For those interest groups, the theory that competitive markets could maximize social welfare and that government intervention could only make life worse for everyone provided exactly the ideology that they needed. Money from businessmen’s foundations and, later, large corporations that financed the think tanks and networks that cultivated and disseminated the free-market critique of New Deal policies which—to jump ahead—ultimately bore fruit in the Reagan Revolution.

…That’s why libertarianism “made sense” to the businessmen and wealthy families who led the postwar reaction against the New Deal—and to their descendants who continue to finance the conservative movement.

So when you look at Trump supporters and want to understand why, maybe it is just about the money (read security).  You could say the same about me and Progressives.  Both of us have created our worlds around a reality that justifies our politics.  Still it is a fact that in general Progressives live in the reality that is mostly real (the facts have a liberal bias) while conservatives and Trump supporters live in an alternate one, and may just be a function of how we see our economic interests. Then as Johnathan Haidt points out above, we gather facts and tribe around us to support those interests.  

Maybe there is something to learn about this that maybe we alway knew.  It’s about the money, follow the money, it’s the economy stupid.  If you want to convince the other side, you have to make an argument they can believe that this is in their best economic interests.  For Trump supporters that means showing that what the Donald proposes will badly hurt the economy.  For large corporations it means showing them that continuing economic inequality will eventually hurt their bottom line.  

For some nothing matters but keeping what they preceive as their advantage and change nothing (Republicans in Congress). Other than that, I am out of ideas.  Maybe taking science all 12 years of required schooling so at least more of our population understands what are facts and opinions.  Oh, and throw in history and English for those 12 years so they understand what we have learned and maybe a better understanding of the human condition.  That’s all I got. I would hate to think the United States of America has to find itself face down in the gutter before we start confronting our alternate realities.

The Debate Tonight

Just for your general information, here is the format tonight:

MODERATOR: “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace.

DEBATE FORMAT: The debate will be divided into six segments of 15 minutes each. The topics for those segments, selected by Wallace, are: “Debt and entitlements,” “Immigration,” “Economy,” “Supreme Court,” “Foreign hot spots” and “Fitness to be President.”

SEGMENT FORMAT: Each segment will begin with a question. One candidate will have two minutes to respond, then the other candidate will have two minutes to respond. That will be followed by 10 to 11 minutes of open debate and discussion.

Now, and I know you are surprised, I have a few comments;

  1. Wallace is from Fox News, but I also think he sees the absolute disaster Trump is so I think he will attack both sides.
  2. Looking at the questions, they are somewhat conservative leaning.  What about Global Warming?  Is debt really a problem or is it a conservative boggy man? And fitness to be President is asking for a food fight I don’t think belongs here.
  3. One thing they are silent on is the 11 minutes of “debate”.  How do you control interrupting and getting off topic?  Do they have to out shout one another?  Here is the real problem.  We are assuming that the Donald respects the rules.  So far he has not and that might force Hillary into his game if the moderator does not step in.
  4. Real debate occurs when both candidates respect the format and their oppositions right to present their ideas.  Since Donald doesn’t, and apparently lives in an alternate reality, I doubt this is going to work.

I have given you my idea of the perfect debate and will repeat it here.  I think there is a baseball game on and I will record it because I don’t think I will learn anything which would be what a real debate where there is a respect for each person’s position.  I will record it, but if it is like everything our news media has done for the last few years, fact and logic get lost in who is the loudest and most bullying.  Their idea of presidential, form over substance. We know who that will be.

My format would be as follows: I would give each candidate 5 minutes to present their plans and policies, with the moderator pushing back if they don’t have any, or misrepresent the known facts (like there is no herd trying to cross our borders or point out that the federal government is smaller than at any time since 1965), and then give each candidate a 2 minute rebuttal, again with no interruptions. Note that while one candidate is speaking, the other’s microphone will be off and interruptions will not be tolerated. Running over your time subtracts from the time allowed for the next response. Here are the critical questions and establishment of reality:

  1. The scientific world has verified that climate change is happening, man caused, and accelerating with large impacts to our coast line and infrastructure. Our military has presented plans around possible global threats as a result of climate change. Please present your plans and strategies to address how you would address climate change in your administration.
  2. Economic inequality has become more pronounced than quite possibly any other time in our history. It would appear that our economic system has been increasing economic inequality for the last 50 years. Please present your plans and strategies to address economic inequality remembering that the Republican appointed Budget Director for the Congressional Budget Office pointed out that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves and our present policies appear to be increasing that inequality and decreasing the income of the middle class.
  3. Considering the fact that the estimated number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States has actually fallen since 2005, only about half are Mexicans, and economists tell us that immigrants contribute about 14.7% of our economy and have a positive impact on the labor market, please present your plans and strategies to address immigration for our future.
  4. Note that the FBI has indicated that the real terror threat in America is homegrown, drone strikes have been counter productive according to our own CIA, and our war on terrorism has increased terrorism, please present your plans and strategies to address global terrorism, and include in that your plan for Syria.
  5. Note that the American Society of Civil Engineers have estimated that we would need $3.6 trillion just to raise the country’s support systems to acceptable levels. Additionally we need to upgrade our infrastructure to account for climate change. Please present your plans and strategies to address repairing our infrastructure.
  6. Considering the majority of Americans support a woman’s right to choose, while state legislatures have introduced abortion restrictions in 43 states, and women only earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, please present your plans and strategies to address women’s choice and equal pay for equal work.
  7. Please summarize your vision for our country (no rebuttal and 3 minutes each).

At This Point I am at a Loss for Words

I listened to another Republican equivocate on voter fraud/rigging once again (1 Billion votes cast and 31 cases).  The NYT gave us this:

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, are the two most powerful Republicans in the country and should be willing to put the national interest above their own. Both know full well that there is no “rigging,” and yet between them they have managed one tepid response to Mr. Trump’s outrageous accusations: “Our democracy relies on confidence in election results,” Mr. Ryan’s spokeswoman said, “and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity.”

This is like standing back while an arsonist pours gasoline all over your house, then expressing confidence that the fire department will get there in time.

Mr. Ryan and Mr. McConnell could hardly dishonor themselves more than they already have in this sordid election year, but their refusal to stand up to Mr. Trump’s pernicious lie may be their lowest moment yet.

And that is just the latest in their craven pandering to Donald Trump and his lies.  It is clear at this point that he would be a disaster for the country and his has brought violence and racism out into the open, and yet they fail to condemn him hoping for some hail Mary to save down ballot races.  What kind of country do they want to lead?  Rhetorical.

I guess I am like most sane Americans, I see a total train wreck, and a nation that seems to feed on lies and distortion, and I wonder what is happening.  Clearly the Republicans have shown themselves to be immoral and the only principles they live by is whatever it takes to get elected.  Sadly, I also see a jaded youth (remember I am 70 so youth is relative) who doesn’t see the clear choice we have in this election, just two flawed candidates.  Try to remember that Hillary has been attacked and investigated for 25 years.  You too would be very guarded. Oh, and they still haven’t found anything.

Let’s just take the voter fraud thing, 31 proven cases over a billion votes makes it non-detect.  So why the focus? To limit voting to keep the Republicans in office.  The courts seem to agree with me.  That does not mean that we should not be viligent, especially in the age of the computer, but the closing of polls, limiting voter access, and ID laws are crazy, and from that a Party that claims they care about money.  How about the immigration problem?  What problem?  The net immigration over the last few years has been negative.  And if it is such a giant problem, what about our North border?  Fences everywhere?  If that is the case I am going to invest in a tunneling company.  Maybe we ought to look at why they come and address that?  You think?

I love baseball because for the most part baseball fans come with an appreciation of the game and the players and fans have respect for the teams.  Yet in Toronto in the Wild Card play off, a beer can was thrown at a visiting player followed by racial slurs.  Is that a result of the new environment Donald Trump is bringing us.  Okay, it is Canada, but is he making it okay to act out our worst emotions?  

Anybody who lives in the rational world would quickly vote Republicans out of office.  But we don’t apparently live in a rational world and it makes me wonder if there is any hope for the human race.  When facts, data, and science tell us one thing and half the population lives in an alternate reality where none of this is considered or it is a plot by Corporate elites, or China, or the liberal press, what hope is there?  

That is the choice you really have this election.  Forget third parties.  If you look at what they really stand for and you are making a list of the candidates who would do the least harm, they go to the bottom.  Donald is a raving lunatic.  There is only one choice.  And if you are worried about her going back on her word or somehow changing positions, think about Bernie and Elizabeth and a whole progressive movement that will keep her in line.  I too think she is too calibrated, too calculating.  But in the end, she is calculating with real numbers.  That is why she has moved left on many issues.  You may be quite surprised at what a good leader she will turn out to be.  And she is the only one not in an alternate reality in this race.

It also looks like she may start to go big, and try and win in some Red states.  Remember McCain came out yesterday and said he would block any Supreme Court nominee put forward by Hillary (then he tried to walk it back).  But he exposed what we will have with another Republican Congress:  Total dysfunction.  Why more people can’t see that is beyond me. That is why this election is so critical and people should be chomping at the bit to vote.  We could end the dysfunction, but instead we hear jaded comments about not liking either candidate.  So sit home you assholes and flush your country down the drain.

Wake Up

If you want change, you will vote Republicans out of office.  Exhibit A:  Senator John McCain just guaranteed voters that they (Republicans) would reject any Supreme Court nomination Hillary puts forward.  Do you still have a question about where the problem is or that there is any equivalency between the partisanship of the two parties.  Not that Barack nominate a very respected and middle of the road justice that they rejected.  Where again is the problem?

Going Forward

Well I see where the Donald or his surrogates are exploring establishing Trump TV.  Since he has tarnished the Trump brand, I think, who knows, he sees a major cash in competing with Fox News for disinformation and lies.  I think what is really concerning is what appears to be Hillary’s strategy for going forward, and that is playing it safe and going light.  Here is my concern.  She has already won the election, but she won it because Trump lost it.  There is no consensus on how we are going forward.  I think you have to think more strategically.  Win the election and lose the governing?

I would think there is an opening here.  Now that may be countered by the FBI dribbling out documents which means you always have to be on the defensive, not to mention Wikileaks that seems to be an arm of the KGB these days.  But still, it is time to take on the Republicans and their no plans for the future if you want to win down ballot races.

The place to do this is in the next debate.  She needs to take on both Donald Trump and the Ryan Republicans.  Tall order, but I think it is time to start having voters wonder just what do the Republicans offer except more of the same.  She needs to take a page from Republican strategy and if moderators won’t ask penetrating questions with follow-up, create a strawman.  For example: “The Republican Party will do the following which has failed us (statistics) and here is what I am proposing, but it will never get beyond Congress unless we send Republicans a strong message at the polls.”  Okay, I am beating this to death.

John Oliver finally brought some sanity to the “principled” voters who are going to a third-party instead of voting for a flawed Hillary or Donald.  He did not make the argument that you were wasting your vote, just that if you think Hillary or the Donald are flawed, you really need to check who and what these people stand for.  It was hilarious.




Deplorable People or Just Angry Americans We Should Try to Understand

Look, I get angry.  I am angry I have cancer.  I am angry that it is not cureable and eventually I will surcomb to it.  I am angry that the kind I got was highly aggressive and if the present course of drugs don’t work, the next course could run $15,000/month.  So there is plenty to be angry about.  But I don’t think there is an elite cabal of bankers who gave it to me. I don’t think Mexicans at the border are robbing me of my health.  I don’t think the elite media is working to keep the knowledge of the cure from me.  On the other hand, I do think Republican policies regarding big Pharma, free markets,  and corporations are driving up drug prices, but that is based upon reality.  EpiPens anyone?  In other words I don’t abandon reality.  I look for answers in the real world because those are the only ones that matter or will work.

Now the narrative for Trump supporters goes that a wide swath of America has seen the political system fail them as they lost their jobs and way of life.  So change, any change that does not reflect establishment politics is fine with them. Now for some reality. 

A study by the Gallup Poll of 87,000 Republicans on the Trump train “found Trump supporters are more likely to be male, blue-collar workers with lower levels of education. But one thing they aren’t is poor. Instead, they “earn relative high household incomes.” The median household income of a Trump voter so far in the primaries is about $72,000, based on estimates derived from exit polls and Census Bureau data (538). 

The analysis shows a more favorable view of Trump doesn’t come from areas where manufacturing has declined because of globalization. In fact, the study notes: ‘Surprisingly, there appears to be no link whatsoever between exposure to trade competition and support for nationalist policies in America, as embodied by the Trump campaign.’

As 538 points out:

This is not to say that Trump voters are happy about the condition of the economy. Substantial majorities of Republicans in every state so far have said they’re “very worried” about the condition of the U.S. economy, according to exit polls, and these voters have been more likely to vote for Trump. But that anxiety doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal economic circumstances, which for many Trump voters, at least in a relative sense, are reasonably good.”

Okay, they are worried, but so am I.  What makes them deplorable and make no mistake here, I have no sympathy for them, they are deplorable, is their rejection of rational thinking and falling for lies, racism, xenophobia, nativism, and hate.  I don’t care how angry you are, what separates us from raging beasts is that we can stop, think, analyze, and then build a way out or our problem.  Yes the political system has failed them, but who in the political system was that and who did they vote for?  Based upon the real world, if they are going to tip over the apple cart, how does their new approach solve any problems? Or are we looking at the drunken rage of spoiled, entitled, and very selfish people?

I think the latter.  While individually life may have been very unfair to them, and certainly the political system has failed them, how does that justify hate, racism, stupidity, and ignorance?  It certainly justifies political action, but you have to understand what the cause of your problems are and picking scapegoats is, well, deplorable.  So those of you who want to understand where their anger comes from, well fine. It may give us an insight into how to solve some of our problems.  But if you think that anger and injustice justifies what we are seeing, well, I may be moving you over into the deplorable category too.