Thursday, February 25, 2016

Republicans Panic

What if Donald Tr*mp wins the Republican nomination for president?

Given Tr*mp's high negatives, it is very likely that Republican turnout in the general election would be low.  Democrats could retake the Senate, which would guarantee a liberal replacement for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.  Even if Tr*mp won the presidency and Republican control of the Senate was maintained, a good deal of the Ryan program would be doomed.  No wonder Republicans are panicking.

Trump is the best bet for defeating the TPP, which he opposes.  (No matter what she says now, it's a good bet that President Hillary would eventually support it.  Let's not forget NAFTA.)  Despite his vocal opposition to the Affordable Care Act, Tr*mp supports the individual mandate.  Obamacare just might be saved.  Tr*mp's opposition to abortion is soft, and he has blustered some positive comments about Planned Parenthood.  Yes, he favors more destructive tax cuts for the super-rich and would be inclined towards institutionalized racism, but we'd be just as likely to get much the same outcomes from a President R*bio or a President Cr*z.  (You will note that I now have assigned Tr*mp's chief competitors to the category of "obscenity.")

If Bernie loses any possibility of winning the Democratic nomination on Super Tuesday, I will seriously consider switching my party registration to Republican so I can vote for Tr*mp in the primaries.  A Tr*mp candidacy in November would destroy the Republican Party as we know it, and I'd be fine with that.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Yes, I know.  It doesn't add up.

A gaggle of liberal economists, including a group who worked in the Clinton administration, but also some others (like Paul Krugman) have run the numbers, and the Sanders budget is just as far off as the nonsense the Republican candidates have been putting out.

Well, there's a good reason for that: nobody gets elected president by telling the middle class they will have to pay more in taxes, and financing single payer health insurance, more generous Social Security, free tuition at public colleges and universities, paid family leave etc. etc. doesn't come cheap.

You can't say Bernie has been totally misleading, though.  He has told us he's a socialist, and pointed to the social democracies of northern Europe as templates for what the USofA might be.  Social democracies have much higher tax rates than neoconservative plutocracies — the super-rich, all by themselves, can't finance all the benefits Danes and Swedes and even Germans have come to expect.  Anybody earning more that $200,000 — maybe even $150,000 — could expect to pay a lot more.

The thing that keeps some of us with Bernie, though, is that we think what we get as a society will be worth vastly more than what we pay in increased taxes.  It would be a major change in the American way of doing things — yes, a genuine revolution — but people like Bernie and I have been chasing that dream for about a hundred years now, and it's beginning to feel like it might finally be within reach.

Friday, February 19, 2016

This v. That

McConnell v. Obama
Mitch McConnell did not have to announce that the Senate would not consider an Obama nomination to the Supreme Court.  If he didn't want an Obama candidate confirmed, he could have held hearings and had his party reject the appointment.  He's been doing that over and over with Obama appointments to the Court of Appeals.

I doubt that he acted without thinking, thereby inadvertently blowing up a political storm.  He wanted the public conflict, and he got it.  Presumably, he hopes it will motivate more Republicans to go to the polls in November, despite the fact that most of them will have supported candidates who lost in the primaries all the while developing a pretty intense dislike for the eventual winner.

Tim Cook v. FBI
FBI Director James Comey kept his agency's conflict with Tim Cook and Apple quiet for over a year, then decided to go public when he could exploit the San Bernadino shooting to force Apple to breach its customers' security.  Tr*mp isn't the only one exploiting fear to compromise civil liberties.

Don't blame Comey, though.  He's just the public face of the administration's ongoing effort to have easy and immediate access to all your personal data.  When it comes to violation of privacy and establishment of the national security state, Obama is second to none.

The Donald v. the Pope
Dissing the Pope will not do Tr*mp any damage at all.  Most of his redneck supporters probably hate Catholics anyway, and the Catholics among his supporters are pissed at Francis for "betraying" the virulently anti-Communist John Paul and Hitler Youth graduate Benedict; not to mention failing to lead the hate parade against Muslims and gays.

Me, I'm an atheist, but I'm still more of a Christian than Tr*mp.  Oh, well.  Except for Trump winning again, I expect the outcome of the South Carolina Republican primary to be largely inconclusive, so the merry chase will continue on towards Super Tuesday.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

And for tonight's entertainment...

I just abandoned watching the Republican debate because I can't stand it anymore.  The South Carolina crowd is especially rowdy.  I wonder if they let them bring their guns?  And, if not, why not?  Republicans are supposed to be all in favor of such "liberty."

The craziest thing is that the only one making any sense at all is Tr*mp, who was (properly) dissing George W for lying about the weapons of mass destruction.  The crowd, all establishment donor class according to Tr*mp (and Cruz this time) was upset by that, and Jeb! got his panties all in a twist because Tr*mp was "attacking" his brother.  (Well, if he didn't want his brother attacked, he shouldn't have had a brother who got us into a self-destructive war.)  "Knowing what he knows now," would Jeb! still have invaded Iraq?  Tonight, for a while there, it was hard to say.

As for Antonin Scalia, you might think I'd be overjoyed by his death, but I'm not.  For one thing, I'm not overjoyed when anybody less than a decade older than me dies.  The other problem is that his death is bad news for Bernie.  Suddenly, "electability" gets a lot more prominent in the Democratic contest, so I imagine the Hillary people are dancing for joy tonight.  Crap.

Back to the Republicans: based on the hour of debate I was able to tolerate, the only one who might have had a bit of a boost was Jeb! — but then those are his donors filling the house, right?  Mostly, though, the candidates were merrily ripping each other to shreds, and I can't help but think the shredding is likely to take, and that whoever eventually survives the nominating process will not garner much enthusiasm among potential Republican voters, much less independents.

So although McConnell and the Senate won't confirm anybody Obama nominates for the Scalia seat, I still feel quite confident that a Democrat will get to nominate whoever eventually is confirmed.  I hope it's Bernie.  He could amuse me a great deal by nominating Obama.  After that, the Senate just might confirm anybody else.

Friday, February 12, 2016


Tr*mp in NH
I don't get it.  Why is roughly 30% of the vote spoken of as such a "big win?"  The problem for the Republicans is not so much Tr*mp as the sheer numbers of the remaining midgets.  If the party could just decide on a "not Tr*mp," or even a "neither Tr*mp nor Cruz," it might start to get its act together.

Could it be that Citizens United is damaging the Republican Party?  It's hard to drop out of the race when you still have so many millions of bucks supporting your lame efforts, and it's dead certain the guys running those superPACs will want to hang on until all the money paying their large salaries is gone.

Hillary in Milwaukee
I caught last night's debate on the radio, rather than TV, and I think it made it easier to just listen.  What I heard was Hillary trying very hard to shore up her black "firewall" — but it remains to be seen just how successful she was.  Her attempt to portray Bernie as "an enemy of Obama" was almost pathetic.

Ta-Nehisi Coates and Cornell West have endorsed Bernie.  Larry Wilmore and the crew of "the Nightly Show" are clearly behind him.  What will Reverend Al decide?

Gun-toting crazies
The siege at Malheur is over, but even better, Cliven Bundy's ass is in jail!  Cliven could face "up to" 40 years in prison, but I still want to know why he, his sons, and the rest of their private army are being charged under U.S. Code Chapter 42 §1985 (1 Preventing officer from performing duties) rather than the far more precise U.S. Code Chapter 115 §2381 (Treason), §2383 (Rebellion or Insurrection) and §2384 (Seditious Conspiracy).

The most recent uses of §1985 were against unarmed anti-war protesters who lay down on the floor of a military recruiting office and against unarmed animal rights activists who interfered in the culling of mountain lions.  Does the Justice Department maintain that the armed occupation of government property is no more serious than those unarmed protests, or is it genuinely intimidated by the assault rifles and American flags of the occupiers and their supporters around the country?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Rubio pwnd

I've never used the internet slang "pwnd" before, and for all I know, the term became obsolete while I wasn't watching (which I wasn't.)  Nevertheless, it seems to express perfectly the degree of public humiliation Marco Rubio suffered at the hands of Chris Christie Saturday night.

I wasn't planning to watch the debate, but nothing else on television appealed to me at the moment, so I turned it on just in time to watch Christie rattle Rubio so badly that I (a) laughed out loud and (b) even felt slightly sorry for the poor little twerp.  What mattered, of course, was not what happened on the debate stage, but what the news media would do with it afterwards.  Like me, most of America (including New Hampshire) was seeking more entertaining fare, and most viewers were willing to be entertained by back-to-back reruns of ten-year-old sitcoms, or whatever else was on.

The press pounced, and the Rubio campaign staff currently is crossing fingers and hoping the Super Bowl creates enough distraction so that most New Hampshire voters won't see the news until Wednesday.  I don't think it will happen, but I suppose some voters (elderly women?) will feel so sorry for "bubble boy" they'll vote for him despite (or because of) his total screw-up.

The line he repeated four times actually is a pretty good line, maintaining that Obama did not merely fumble due to youth and inexperience (like Rubio's), but because he genuinely intended to destroy our "American way of life."  It's an idiotic idea, of course, but probably pretty effective with voters who believe the Muslim who was born in Africa is the leader of an internal terror network.

Most significant, though, is that Rubio's poor performance demonstrated that he wouldn't stand up too well against either Hillary or Bernie.  The most significant GOP threat to Democratic control of the White House looks a lot less scary now.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Oh, yeah... Iowa

Not that it actually matters, but here are some observations:

  • Since Iowa is a caucus state, people actually get to see who their friends and neighbors are supporting.  It is possible that a significant number of voters who would happily support Tr*mp in a secret ballot might hesitate to do so in an open caucus for fear of open mockery.
  • Cruz put a hell(?) of a lot of faith in Jesus when he opposed the motor fuel ethanol requirement.  One assumes there are many evangelicals with no strong economic reliance on corn farming.
  • Rubio's "victory" speech pandered to the pathologically religious with all the vehemence of, say, Ted Cruz.  He didn't mention his support for eliminating the capital gains tax, which constitutes pandering to a much smaller but much wealthier interest group.
  • Hillary's camp declaring "victory" while in a dead heat with Sanders and with ten per cent of the vote still out struck me as, shall we say, odd.
  • Given that we're talking about Iowa, with its proportional delegate selection and other foibles, it seems absurd that anybody should claim to have "won" — except for the fact that America loves "winners," and politicians are pathologically needy.
So, Iowa leaves us with five candidates claiming "victory" and a few claiming "I wasn't really trying." New Hampshire will receive just as much press attention, and be just as meaningless.

Back when I was young, political conventions actually selected candidates, and it was a lot of fun.  I'm hoping to see that happen again.