Posts Tagged With: Republicans

THE FREAK SHOW

I had promised myself that I wouldn’t write about Trump at least until it was clear that he would become the Republican nominee. But the latest shenanigans going on in that continuing circus known as the Republican debates made it all too irresistible. The latest kerfuffle occurred when Trump, always seeking to travel the low road, questioned whether his nearest rival in the upcoming Iowa caucus, Ted Cruz, is really a legitimate citizen of the U.S. Seems that good ole Ted was born in Canada, but to an American mother. That Cruz is a U.S. citizen is undeniable. But the Constitution states that to run for president, one must be a “natural born citizen.” Since Ted was born in Canada, Trump claims that the Democrats could “sue” Cruz’s eligibility to sit behind the desk in the oval office, should he be the party’s nominee. Since mudslinging is the name of the game in Trump’s world, these phony allegations reminded me of the 2012 election when Trump based his attempted march to fame on the “birther” allegation that Barack Obama was not a naturally born U.S. citizen, i.e., that he was really born in Kenya. Didn’t work out too well for him back then, and likely won’t this time around too.

First a few observations. Canada practically is the U.S., and would have been if not for the seditious actions of Aaron Burr, back in the days of our founding fathers. Secondly, most legal scholars agree that Cruz meets the definition of a “natural born citizen” and that Trump’s allegations constitute a “red herring.” It also noteworthy that the Iowa “caucus” followed right after by the New Hampshire primary, have an outlandish influence in selecting 2 candidates, one of which will go on to become the most powerful person in the world. Iowa and New Hampshire combined, constitute 1.4% of the total U.S. population. Yet if one candidate sweeps both states, it gives him or her a powerful leg up, and lots of momentum in winning future primaries in the more populous regions of the country. Such is the irrational or insane method this country employs to select its presidential candidates. Any third or fourth world banana republic would be too ashamed to admit to this method of choosing their leaders. 

So Trump goes non-stop on Twitter bashing Ted Cruz, in an effort to tweet his way to the White House. The latest polls show the 2 of them in a dead heat in Iowa. Now, normally I would be the last person to come to Cruz’s defense, since he’s a right-wing whacko extraordinaire. He’s anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-immigration, and anti-gun control for openers. He’s also vociferously against government assistance to the poor, the sick, and the elderly. (If you’re poor, sick and old, you’re really up the creek without a paddle, in Cruz’s world.) He was instrumental in shutting down the government for 5 weeks in 2013, because he felt it was spending far too much on assistance for the disadvantaged. But, he’s also open and honest about his beliefs and priorities, such as they are, and doesn’t resort to mud-slinging demagoguery in order to achieve his goals. His views were largely shaped by his father, Rafael Cruz, who escaped from Castro’s Cuba, and equates all governments to the way the Castro brothers have ruled Cuba for the last 65 years. Rafael runs a mega-church in Texas, and has passed on his “all governments are tyrannical and godless” philosophy to son Ted who absorbed this type of thinking like a sponge.

Besides the bombastic, bullying Trump, and the far right, delusional Cruz, there’s a whole slew of Republican candidates eager for a shot at occupying the White House. There were originally 17 clowns on stage, and it’s now down to 13, I believe. But the only other candidate performing in these circus shows, that might have an outside chance at winning the nomination, is Marco Rubio. I’ve written about Rubio before; about his youth, good looks and even a dash of charisma, (unusual for a Republican.) There is no question that the young, handsome Marco would easily trounce the aging and highly damaged Hillary Clinton in a final showdown. The problem is that Rubio has run a rather lackluster campaign that has failed to energize most of the Republican base. He could easily win the election, but likely will not be able to secure the nomination. 

Then there are the also-rans like Jeb Bush. Bush used to be Governor of Florida but that was 8 years ago. Somehow Jeb believed that he could parlay the Bush family name into lining up big time cash donors that would buy the nomination and then the presidency for him. He did get the cash donors, but it’s not translating into potential votes in the upcoming primaries. Seems that the mostly disastrous  administration that brother George ran for 8 years, is still on voters minds. The thought of putting yet a third Bush in the Oval Office actually makes some people nauseous. There are also some of the longest of long-shots up on stage, hoping that lightening will somehow strike in their favor. For example, Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, believes he somehow has a chance. But it’s not going to to happen and he should stick to blogging about his favorite restaurants in New Jersey. If anyone knows food, it has to be Gov. Christie. And, of course, these circus performances would not be complete without the one woman in the Republican race, Carly Fiorina. She speaks well, and exhibits great poise and decorum. But many years ago, Carly used to be CEO of Hewlitt-Packard, and nearly ran that company into ground with her decision to acquire the Compaq computer company. She was promptly fired from her job because of that fiasco. Then not too long ago she ran for senator in California and was soundly defeated in that quest, primarily because she was vociferously anti-abortion in a very blue state. Put her odds for the nomination at about a thousand to one. And the beat goes on.

There will be many more circus performances to write about before the eventual outcome, which will likely culminate with a Trump nomination. Then look at all the fun I could have, writing about The Donald’s exploits and ensuing disasters. 

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UNCIVIL DISCOURSE

The Friday after the mid-term elections two weeks ago, Republican and Democratic Congressional leaders, i.e. the guys who will be running the show when the new Congress convenes in January, met in the White House with President Obama to hammer out an agenda that both sides could agree to, that would actually benefit the American people. It was supposedly a show of good will that both Democrats and Republicans could work together for the two remaining years of the Obama Administration, to produce needed legislation to better the lives of most Americans. After all, isn’t that what they were sent there to accomplish in the first place. Well, obviously not, as evidenced by the fact that both parties were at each others throats, about 30 seconds after this new “era of goodwill” began. So much for legislative productivity.

It all started over the issue of “amnesty” for illegal aliens. There are an estimated 11-12 million undocumented people who have supposedly entered the U.S. through illegal means. Almost all are from Latin America. Of course, I don’t understand how this figure was arrived, since almost all illegals maintain a very low profile, and go to great lengths to avoid being counted in the first place. Nevertheless, this is this figure that’s usually bandied about. Many have been in the U.S. for 20 or 30 or even 40 years or longer, generally living in the shadows. They usually don’t pay taxes, vote, or have a drivers license; and most live in constant fear of being rounded up and deported back to whence they came from. To address this rather deplorable state of affairs for both U.S. citizen and non-citizen alike, the Senate in 2013, passed legislation that would strengthen border security, but would also provide a pathway to legality and eventual citizenship for most illegals that didn’t have a criminal record. This legislation was sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida whose parents had immigrated here legally from Cuba. One would have thought that with Republican sponsorship of this act in the Senate, it would have been a slam-dunk for passage in the GOP controlled House. Instead just the opposite was true. Where would the fun be if the House just went along with the Senate. Why, there might even be a slight dissipation in the hyper-partisanship, dysfunction and polarization that so engulfs Washington these days. Couldn’t have that.

The right-wing lunatic fringe of the GOP began bellowing that this act was nothing more than amnesty for illegals; and besides, if they received such amnesty, they would most likely vote Democratic. Perish the thought. House Speaker John Boehner didn’t have the courage to override the protests from the Tea-Party crackpots in his own party, and, thus, didn’t allow the Senate bill to come to the House floor for a vote. If he had, the votes were there  to secure passage. Rush Limbaugh, and all the other right-wing whackos on talk radio (that I wrote about last time) kept screaming about amnesty as if this was an awful thing. As we all know, the connotations surrounding the word “amnesty” used to be that of generosity of spirit, forgiveness, providing shelter for the persecuted, being a benefactor, and establishing a safe harbor for those most in need, etc. However, in right-wing looney-tunesville, amnesty became something ugly, to be despised and feared. Thus, nothing has been achieved in the past 2 years concerning the plight of illegal aliens in the U.S.

Hence, after that supposedly goodwill meeting between Republicans and Democrats that I discussed at the outset, President Obama declared that if Congress failed to act on the immigration issue, as apparently it will, he was going to issue an executive order that would, in effect, provide “amnesty” for several million illegals. Oh noooo, not “amnesty.” It was like waving a red flag in front of a charging bull. Or in this case, an elephant. Speaker Boehner quickly mounted the dais to announce that Obama could expect a rather unpleasant visit from 2 GOP enforcers named Tiny and Knuckles, if he did undertake such unilateral action. Tiny got his name because he’s 6ft.9 and weighs 380 pounds. Knuckles got his name because he likes to use brass knuckles when whaling on his victims. If they showed up at the White House, things would definitely not go well for Obama. Okay, so maybe Boehner did not use that exact verbiage, but the sentiment was clearly evident. With an executive order from the President due out almost within the hour, Republicans are furiously plotting counter-strategies. Some are talking about impeaching Obama, while others are focusing on shutting down the Government.

Now, it should be noted that Obama gets down on his knees every night before bedtime, and prays to God that the Republican Congress will initiate impeachment actions against him. Nothing would rescue his dismal approval ratings faster than having the Republican Party initiate impeachment against the first African-American president of the U.S. One only has to go back to the late 1990s, when a Republican Congress tried to impeach Bill Clinton, who also had low approval ratings at the time because of the Monica Lewinsky fiasco; to see how well that strategy worked out for the GOP. Once impeachment proceedings got underway, the public recognized them for the ultimate in bullying tactics; and Clinton’s low approval ratings suddenly began to soar. The formerly disgraced President became a conquering hero; especially at the 2008 and 2012 Democratic conventions, where he played a major role in getting Obama elected President.

Assuming that the GOP is not stupid enough to make the same glaring mistake twice; the next best thing for Obama would be if they shut down the Government. The Republicans would be sure to feel the heat for such action. After all, they have been publicly advocating for such a shutdown. The trouble is, that even people that have great antipathy toward a variety of Government actions, (or non-actions as the case may be) usually are opposed, nonetheless, to Government shutdowns. So after all the sound and fury of Obama granting amnesty to illegals starts to wear thin, a shutdown might not occur either. However, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Obama receiving a very unpleasant visit from Tiny and Knuckles.

 

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AMERICA’S FAUX DEMOCRACY

In 1931, humorist, vaudeville performer, and radio personality, Will Rogers made the following statement: “Congress is so strange; a man gets up to speak and says nothing; nobody listens; and then everybody disagrees.” And he must have been peering into the future when he also made the statement that: “America has the best politicians that money can buy.” I wonder what he would have thought of the dysfunctional, hyper-partisonship that exists in Congress at the present time. We could use someone with the wit and humor of a Will Rogers to cope with our ongoing destructive political system that is virtually non-functioning in the year 2014. I bring this up now because the elections for many Governors, Congressmen and women, Senators, etc. takes place in a mere 2 weeks from tomorrow. For those of you that believe that election time shows that we have a real democracy in this country- all I can say is – how quaint, how deliciously naive that thinking is. An examination of the facts might disabuse you of that notion.

The first thing to realize is that election results in this country are mostly decided by the people that fail to show up at the voting booth, rather than those that take the time to cast their ballots. In a presidential election year, perhaps 55%-60% of eligible voters might show up at the polls. In a non-presidential election year, however, such as 2014, only about 40%-45% bother to vote. The rest are too busy keeping up with the Kardashians. This year all the pollsters are predicting large Republican gains in both the House and Senate. It is universally predicted that the GOP will take control of the Senate so that both houses of Congress will be under Republican domination. The reason- Republicans are much more motivated to vote against anything Barack Obama stands for, and that, of course, includes voting against Democratic candidates. On the other hand, it appears that most minority voters, including blacks, Latinos, and Asians  who turned out in such large numbers in 2008 and 2012 to elect Obama to the presidency twice, will mostly stay home this year. It seems they’re quite disappointed with the way events have turned out under Democratic leadership. Without an especially heavy turnout of blacks and hispanics, Democratic prospects this year are doomed. A classic example of how the non-voting public, which will be a majority of the population this year, determines election outcomes. In Australia, all eligible voters are required by law, to cast their ballots in each election. After all, isn’t that each citizen’s civic duty? A similar law in this country might improve the democratic process we’re supposed to have, but really don’t.

Next up is the considerable role that money plays in the voting process. The hit Broadway show, “Cabaret,” has a song that says “money makes the world go around,” and this is especially true in the political arena. Anyone with political aspirations from dog-catcher on up to president, knows that it will take huge cash infusions to make that goal come true. Multi-millionaires and billionaires continue to pour heavy donations into their favorite political candidate’s coffers, which then buys all those obnoxious and annoying political ads we’re subjected to on television during each election season. Sadly, too many people base their voting decisions on these ads which are at best a collection of half-truths, outright lies, and pure bunk. I wonder if our founding fathers envisioned that the election system, which is supposedly the heart of the democratic process, would turn out in this fashion. Most of these rich donors usually pour their cash into the Republican kitty; but the Democrats have a few rich partisans too. Whichever candidate can out spend his or her opponent usually wins the election. In fact, political cash intakes are often an end-game in itself. Each week, reports come out about which party is ahead in collecting the most donations. The winner usually gets the prize of buying the desired public office. All of this could be obviated if voters ignored all political advertising. and did their own research in deciding who to vote for. But, good luck with that scenario ever taking place.

Another factor in our so-called democratic process is voter suppression. It didn’t take long for those controlling our political system to realize that if they could prevent people who are likely to vote for the opposing party, from voting in the first place, that would be the key to winning elections. In olden days, almost every Southern state had enacted poll tax and written exam legislation, that effectively prevented most blacks and poor whites from casting ballots. That legislation was finally overturned, but the devious will always find alternative methods to achieve their goals. Today voter suppression takes the form of voter ID legislation that has been enacted in almost every state controlled by Republicans-the so-called red states. Since many poor blacks and hispanics, who usually vote Democratic, often lack picture ID, they are denied the right to cast a ballot. Sadly, the Supreme Court has upheld most of these voter ID laws, which have effectively kept the red states redder than ever. So much for democratic principles.

There are, of course, other anti-democratic traditions on-going in this country. The electoral college, which is comprised of 535 men and women, out of a U.S. population of about 312 million, gets to decide who the president will be. Al Gore found this out the hard way in the year 2000, when he was elected president by popular vote, but the electoral college gave the office to George Bush. The fact that elections take place on a Tuesday, when most people have to go to work or school; and in November when there is likely to be rotten weather in most northern states also suppresses voter turnout. I wrote a previous piece on how much saner it would be to hold elections in the good weather of September or early October, and on the weekend when most people are home. Other examples abound but I think you’re getting the picture.

So like a faux handbag, or a faux Rolex timepiece, America’s supposed democratic process looks real- until one examines it up close.

 

 

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THE SHUTDOWN DEBACLE

Hope you haven’t made any plans to visit any one of our national parks at this time. Over 300 million visitors come to our national parks annually; with a large chunk of them visiting around this time of year, especially those parks with trees that display colorful autumn foliage.  If you have made such plans, and put down a large deposit to cover the costs of trip, you will likely be out of luck. Because if the Government shuts down at midnight tonight, as it appears highly likely, you had better hope that your travel agent is understanding enough to return your deposit. One of the first agencies to shutter their operations during a Government shutdown will be the National Park Service. You can also forget about obtaining a passport at this time, just in case you were planning an overseas trip. The passport office in the State Department will be another shutdown casualty. Welcome to your dysfunctional and delusional Government in the early part of the 21st century.

Technically, if Congress makes no funding appropriations by midnight tonight, the entire Federal Government is supposed to close shop. Because the Constitution clearly states that no expenditure is permitted for any Government operation if funds have not been appropriated by Congress. But there is a tacit, unspoken agreement among politicians of every stripe, that essential Government operations will be permitted to function. I guess it wouldn’t look too good for Congress or the President if we were subject to a major terrorist attack because counter-intelligence operatives in the Dept. of Homeland Security, the Dept. of Defense, or the CIA were told to go fishing instead of coming into work. But where are the strict interpreters of the Constitution when you need them. Where are the strict-constitutionalists like Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia, who are always railing about liberal interpretations of the Constitution.

One of the reasons I write this blog is because its so much fun to highlight the irrational delusions that obsess many people’s lives and their ensuing actions. It’s fun, but it’s also tragic at the same time. Yes, reality is often a bitch, but it needs to be faced if one has any hope of succeeding in life. Delusional fears, paranoia, anger, or blaming others for one’s own mistakes or failures may be temporarily comforting; but in the end they are always highly counter-productive, and will usually lead to disaster. So it is with the House Republicans pandering to the most extreme right-wing elements that have now taken control of the GOP, and have this mantra that everything will be sweetness and light if they can only defund Obamacare. If that would only happen, then the sun will shine, the birds will chirp, and we can all go tiptoeing through tulips every morning with carefree abandonment. Thus, House Republicans refuse to pass required appropriations legislation unless it includes provisions to defund Obamacare. Democrats refuse to accept this defunding provision so Congress has stalemated itself into a Government shutdown at midnight. It’s like 2 cars coming head on at each other from opposite directions, and at high speeds, in an adolescent game of chicken. Which one will swerve to the side to avoid a head-on collision. If neither will, then tragedy ensues.

Time has long since passed when elected officials actually cared about the welfare of our citizenry. Now there is just one item on the agenda of our politicians-and that is getting re-elected next time around. To accomplish that, most politicians feel they have to appeal to their “base,” which is usually comprised of the most dedicated, fanatical, and extremist elements. People that are willing to work themselves into a coma, if that’s what it takes to get their guy elected. Because of this, there is hyper-polarization in Congress, with neither side willing to budge an inch. Which, turn, has resulted in a magnificent the 8-10% approval rating from the public in all the latest polls, that Congress so richly deserves.

Awhile back I posted an entry about why Congress has such dismal approval ratings. I theorized that Congress had been taken over by Plutonians. It seem that a few years back, scientists in this country downgraded Pluto from being a full-fledged planet in our solar system because of its smaller size. To seek vengeance, Plutonians came to Earth in space ships, took over the halls of Congress, and vowed to act as irrationally and dysfunctionally as possible. And that’s exactly what they did. It all made perfect sense, if one thought about. Alas, because this site is devoted to rationality and realism, I’m forced to abandon that theory and seek a more plausible reality.

I now believe that while vengeance is still the issue, it’s not being caused by citizens from the planet Pluto. Instead our own citizenry are the ones to blame. While, according to the polls, over 90% of us disapprove of Congressional actions, who is Congress but us. Aren’t we the ones that put all those senators and representatives there in the first place. And now we condemn them? As Ricky Ricardo might have said on “I Love Lucy”-we have a lot of ‘splaining to do.

I believe that among the Republican base of right-wing diehards, are those seeking revenge against Barack Obama for beating the GOP in 2 presidential elections. What better way to wreck vengeance than to deny Obama the funding needed to make his signature health care act become a reality. I believe that they are willing to shut down the Government indefinitely if that what it takes to strike back at the President, who they despise with every fiber of their being. Then there are those that hate the Government’s existence to begin with. In other times they were known as anarchists or nihilists. In their world, it’s survival of the fittest and every man or woman for themselves. Who needs government in the first place.

Maybe some kind of accord will be reached in the wee hours tonight; but I wouldn’t bet the mortgage on it. Of course, the longer the government shuts down, the more it will adversely affect the most vulnerable in our society. Like the poor, the sick, and the elderly. But in the end, who really cares about them. It’s too much fun watching this panorama of dysfunction unfold before our eyes.

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OVER THE FISCAL CLIFF WE GO

By now you should have all heard about the “fiscal cliff” and how we are about to plunge over it, if Congress does not act by around Christmastime. Lots of luck with that. The fiscal cliff came into being in August 2011. The voters, in their infinite wisdom during the November 2010 elections, elected  a Democratic majority in the Senate, but a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Most of the newly elected House members were Tea Party stalwarts, with a supposed mandate to sharply reduce Government spending by cutting the budget. Then, in July of 2011, a piece of legislative idiocy known as the debt-ceiling had to be raised in order for the Government to go on functioning. The debt-ceiling, which is not stipulated anywhere in the Constitution, mandates that the Government cannot borrow anymore money above an amount previously designated by Congress, unless Congress passes a new law designating an increased amount of debt. I know that this is utter nonsense that attempts to appeal to voters who otherwise are not paying attention to the machinations of the way things get done in Washington, but this nonsense is codified in statute.

So, if any of you haven’t fallen asleep yet, I’ll plow on with more explanation of how Congress functions on the taxpayers dime. Thus, back in July 2011, if the debt-ceiling wasn’t going to be raised on Government spending, where 40 cents out of every dollar spent had to be borrowed, it would have meant that major components of the Government would have to be shut down, and Federal employes sent home with no paycheck. It would have meant missed social security or medicare payments, as well as failure to pay Defense and other Government contractors. It would have meant that if you had payed for a trip to any of our national parks, such as Yellowstone or Yosemite, (over 300 million people visit our national parks every year) you were out-of-luck since park personnel would have been sent home, and the parks closed. You get the picture. But catastrophic or not, House Republicans vowed they would not go along with raising the debt-ceiling unless the Obama administration agreed to drastic cuts in Federal spending to begin January 2013, as well as renewal of the Bush tax cuts through the end of 2012. Otherwise the Government would be shuttered, starting August 2, 2011. Just before midnight on August 1, Obama caved, and agreed to all the Republican demands, and the Government was allowed to stay in business through the end of 2012.

By now, those of you that haven’t fallen asleep are probably propping open your eyelids with toothpicks, but, hey, I didn’t make the rules whereby the Government functions in all its splendor. So now we are in December 2012 and the “fiscal cliff” which sounds a lot better than “congressional stupidity” is about to befall us in just a few weeks. If the Administration and Congress can’t come to an agreement, the Bush tax cuts expire, and taxes go up for nearly everyone. This will be noticed immediately in reduced paychecks due to increased tax withholding. Automatic budget cuts will take effect, including a $50 billion annual cut in Defense spending. This has a lot of  Republicans all upset, since spending on military hardware and troops is the holy grail for conservatives. As if the Defense budget was funded by the money tree that grows in the Pentagon courtyard. Small Defense contractors, heavily concentrated in the Washington DC suburbs of Northern Virginia and Maryland, are claiming that they will have to close their businesses should these Defense cuts be allowed to take place. Other non-Defense contractors are also claiming they will have to reduce payrolls or shutter their companies, causing more unemployment and further weakening an already tepid economy. And so it goes, on and on.

President Obama is willing to reinstate the Bush tax cuts for all Americans, except the wealthiest 2% of the population. For them, (couples earning over $250,000) the marginal tax rates would go up 4.6% on earnings after $250,000. Which is where they were during the Clinton years. Yet Republicans are absolutely not willing to accept 98% of the loaf. They are insisting that it has to be either the entire 100% of the loaf, or no bread at all. After all, doesn’t everyone know that a small marginal tax increase on the richest 2% of Americans will cause an irreparable breach in the very space-time fabric of the universe. A breach that can never be healed and will eventually cause the universe to crumble into a heap of ashes. That, in effect is the Republican position on income taxes, and they’re not budging from it.

The Republicans also want to overhaul social security and medicare to lower their costs, both of which are unquestionably breaking the budget. In this instance, it’s the Republicans that are facing up to reality, and the Democrats that are being irrationally stubborn in refusing to come forward with reform plans that are clearly necessary for those 2 giant entitlement programs. Raising the eligibility age for both programs to 67, and eventually to 70, would make them solvent overnight. And such action would be completely justified because the life span of Americans has significantly increased since these programs were enacted. So there you have it- the GOP won’t budge on on a tax increase for the rich, and the Democrats are just as stubborn on reforming social security and medicare. If both parties hold to their positions we go over the fiscal cliff come January.

Awhile back I wrote a piece on the failures and dysfunctions of democracy, and democratic forms of government in general. I pointed out that Winston Churchill had said that democracy was the worst form of government, (except for all the others that have ever been tried.) And now with this extreme polarization among the ruling parties in this country, dysfunction has never been more clearly highlighted. I believe that members of both parties become highly agitated just at the thought of having to compromise with the other side. Thus, we appear to be stalemated. My feeling is, that at the last minute, some sort of agreement will be reached preventing our plunge over the fiscal cliff. Or not.

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AFTERTHOUGHTS

The fact that Barack Obama edged out a narrow victory in this election was nothing short of a minor miracle. The last time a president won re-election with an unemployment rate near 8% was in 1936. Then there’s the fact that the country is bleeding red ink with annual trillion plus dollars of budget deficits, and a combined overall red-ink tab exceeding $16 trillion. Let us also not forget that the entire economy is one step away from being on life-support as it barely limps along from one month to the next; and the real estate market, is for the most part, still in the dumpster, with housing prices still well below par, amid a continuing rate of foreclosures. On the international front, the recent fiasco in Libya, where the ambassador and 3 of his aides were murdered by terrorists because of a failure to provide adequate protection, would normally be enough sink any presidential candidate’s hopes. Then there’s Iran on the very cusp of developing nuclear bombs as they defy our puny attempts to shut down their nuclear capabilities, and the risks posed by the growing military strength of China and Russia which we also can’t stop. Although in China’s case, they’re really isn’t much of a risk since they own over a trillion dollars of our debt which would suddenly become worthless should they try any funny staff. To say nothing of the fact that we are such a lucrative market for them to dump their shlock goods on. The clothing aisles in Wal-Mart would be barren if not for cheap Chinese imports.

So how did Obama pull off this miracle. Certainly not by getting the white male vote which went to Romney by 20 points. But Obama achieved a 12 point plurality in receiving the white female vote, mainly because of the Republican’s almost fanatical anti-abortion position. Romney could have significantly cut into Obama’s lead among women had been willing to utter just one sentence such as: “If elected, I will NOT appoint a justice to the Supreme Court that would vote to overturn Roe V. Wade.” With that one statement, Romney would have likely siphoned off enough women’s votes to give him the election. But he couldn’t make himself do it, mainly out fear that his base of white evangelicals (read religious fanatics) would be so turned off by such a statement that he would lose their votes. A false assumption, as it were, since these people would never, under any circumstance, vote for Obama. The rest of the coalition that Democrats were able to stitch together, was comprised of young people under 30, and minority groups such as Latinos, African-Americans and Asians. The GOP, after all these years, has made relatively little effort to secure votes from these groups, and it cost them heavily.

About 95% of the black vote went to Obama, understandably, given the pride blacks felt in seeing one of their own in the Oval Office. But where Romney really lost the election was among Hispanic voters that went for Obama by an incredible 71%. They were the key element in several swing states such as Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, and my own state, Nevada. All of these states went for Obama, albeit by narrow margins provided by the Latino vote. Back in the fun days of the Republican debates, each of those crazy kids up on stage were out to prove their anti-illegal immigration chops by trying to out-do each in how tough they would be on that subject. One of the main goals of the Tea-Party movement, in addition to slashing Government spending, was to stop illegal-immigration in its tracks, and deport as many illegals as possible. In those heady days, it was thought that Republican success at the polls was highly dependent on currying favor with Tea-Partiers, and Romney was no exception. During one of the debates, Romney, again trying to show how tough his anti-illegal stance was, made the curious statement that anyone here illegally should self-deport him or herself back to Mexico. (Like that would ever happen.) It seems that upon hearing that, Hispanics were not in a very forgiving mood, and as I said, 71% voted against the Republican candidate. Asians, because they were experiencing the lowest rate of unemployment among any voting bloc, also went heavily for Obama. Altogether, blacks, hispanics and asians comprised more than 25% of the votes cast, and further illustrated the GOP’s continuing problems with minorities.

There is one more factor I feel is significant, and that is Romney’s inability to connect, on a personal level, with the average man and woman. Almost all of us go through life with feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, weakness, fear, anger issues, depression at times, and even a sense of personal failure, etc., although we may not admit or show these feelings to the rest of the world (except maybe to a psychologist, if you have the money.) Is there anyone out there that has not had some or all of these feelings from time to time. But not Mitt Romney. He was born rich, handsome and smart. He was an honor student in high school and college, which, by the way, was Harvard. After graduating college, he plowed through the world of finance without a setback. He eventually become boss in a huge venture capital operation and earned hundreds of millions of dollars. He has a picture perfect marriage and 5 sons that any parent would die for. And he wears these incredibly successful life experiences like a suit of armor that cannot be penetrated by the slings and arrows of any possible misfortune. No self-doubt or feelings of inadequacy there. If there is any chink in Mitt Romney’s armor, it’s the fact that there are no chinks in his armor.

Who can identify with such a person? The guy behind the counter at your local 7-11?  The truck  driver that has driven hundreds of miles to his destination, and now has to schlep all the heavy boxes he was carrying off the truck? Has anyone, in the history of mankind, ever led a more perfect life? I kind of doubt it. All this abundance has shown thru in the hugely self-confident way that Romney conducts and projects himself. Not that Obama hasn’t also led a privileged life. But Obama goes to great lengths to identify with the average person. He openly roots for the Chicago White Sox. He makes his picks well-known for the NCAA college basketball finals, known as March Madness. He takes his girls to local ice cream stores or hamburger joints in Washington. But Romney’s life has been so perfect that he is just unable to make a personal connection with his fellow citizens. In the end, I believe this went a long way toward crushing his dreams of sitting in the Oval Office.

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THE BETTER SALESMAN

So all the conventions and hoopla are over and the race for President has started in earnest. Watching the rapt attention that convention delegates gave to their leaders’ speeches, one could see the adoration of the true believers that I’ve written about previously, and the blind trust they had that their guy, if elected, will truly transform life on this planet, and make it so much better for all of us. Now the race for the the White House goes into full throttle, and in the end it will likely be the better salesman who also has the most cash, that winds up sitting in the oval office. The one that can more effectively sell his visions and promises for America’s future, most of which, of course, will never come true. And by the way, is everyone enjoying those mean-spirited and nasty TV commercials blasting away at the other side with at least 95% fiction. They’re only going to increase in volume and viciousness over the next 8 weeks. In any event, I thought it would be useful to summarize what each party has politically accomplished over the years to improve our society, so that we don’t have to rely on those fictitious ads in deciding who to vote for. Lets start with the Democrats.

When Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933 the great depression was in full swing, and the unemployment rate topped 25%. Tens of millions of people had just about lost all hope for a better future, or that anyone could help them, least of all, their Government. Roosevelt quickly ushered in the New Deal, which marked the first time in our history that a Government stated objective would be to play an active role regarding the economic welfare of its citizens. The New Deal created the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration which together put millions of unemployed back to work and receiving a paycheck. Also created was Social Security, which for the first time established a federal pension system for the elderly. Other accomplishments of the New Deal were laws establishing the rights of workers to legally form unions and strike if necessary; unemployment insurance so people out-of-work wouldn’t necessarily starve or become homeless; workman’s compensation for employees injured on the job; the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission to oversee Wall Street stock and bond trading which led to the depression in the first place through excessive speculation, and much more. Perhaps Roosevelt’s greatest accomplishment, however, was the establishment of a decisive federal role in the welfare and economy of our country.

Fast forward now to 1961 when John Kennedy took office. Though Kennedy’s term was tragically cut short by his assassination, he began the long march toward equality for all Americans, and especially black people who were denied basic civil rights, mostly in the South. Segregation laws throughout the South were increasingly being challenged, sometimes violently, as some civil rights protestors lost their lives during demonstrations. Blacks were often denied the right to vote through most of the South, and JFK pushed for a voting rights law which came to fruition in 1964 under Lyndon Johnson, after Kennedy lost his life in November 1963. (Interestingly, southern states justified their racial and voting rights discrimination laws on the basis of “states rights,” i.e., the federal government had no constitutional right to interfere with how individuals states governed their citizens. Not unlike tea party members of today screaming that the federal government has no role in the welfare of the people. Only the states do. As the old adage goes: the more things change, the more they stay the same.) As I mentioned LBJ brought the voting rights bill to success in 1964, and for the first time, blacks were able to vote in large numbers. Once that occurred, formal segregation, or Jim Crow laws began to crumble, and blacks throughout the country, after a hundred years of semi-slavery since the end of the Civil War, began to enjoy the freedom of equality.

LBJ’s accomplishments didn’t end with passage of the voting rights act. Working with a largely Democratic Congress, he was able to enact two major health care laws, Medicare for the elderly, and Medicaid for the poor. Also established were food stamps for the poor, which currently puts food on the table for over 45 million Americans. Even the most rabid anti-government types are fearful of advocating reversal of these acts. Unfortunately, LBJ allowed us to get hopelessly bogged down in the quagmire of the Viet-Nam war, which greatly tarnished his reputation and destroyed his chances for re-election. Jimmy Carter’s presidency has largely been maligned because the economy was in poor shape at the time. But he did manage to get Israel and Egypt to make peace, which has had huge consequences for the Mid-East until this day. Bill Clinton gave us the best 8 years of peace and prosperity in my lifetime. Barack Obama in his first term, has given us universal health care (if it survives the Republican onslaught) and greater financial oversight over the banking business. However the economy remains in poor shape.

Now lets see what the Republicans have given us. Basically it can be summed up thusly- tax cuts for the rich, trickle down economics, anti-abortion, anti-gay-rights, and anti-gun control laws. So why is the GOP commanding at least half, if not more, of the vote, and is within striking distance of taking over the White House and Congress, in a few weeks. I believe the reasons can be summed up in two words: redistribution and evangelicalism. On the financial side the Republicans appeal to people’s basic greed and fear of being taken advantage of. Many Republicans view the Government as a vast redistribution point, where a person’s hard earned income is taken away in taxes and given to those who receive any form of Government assistance. After all, the thinking goes, anyone receiving welfare, food stamps, unemployment checks, etc., has to be either lazy or stupid or both. Ronald Reagan called them “welfare queens” and made huge political profit as a result. Newt Gingrich has called Barack Obama the food stamp President. Never mind that Defense, interest on the debt, Social Security and Medicare take up 85% of the Government’s budget. In the minds of average Republicans, their tax money all goes to those that refuse to take care of themselves, and Republicans are perpetually irate over that.

The other half of Republican successes come from religious fanatics, better known as evangelicals. They interpret both the old and new testaments literally, (regardless of the huge number of contradictions), and hence, their fiercely anti-abortion and anti-gay rights stances. In a country where more than half the population denies the existence of evolution, the GOP has found a rich mine-field of religious fanatics to enlist in their cause. Financial greed and selfishness, coupled with bible thumpers and holy rollers, and the GOP believes it has a winning combination for this year’s election. And why shouldn’t they. It has frequently worked for them in the past. Given that the economy is still in poor shape, it may very well work for them once again.

 

 

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GENETIC PREDISPOSITIONS

I’ve written before about how the FBI estimates, that at any one time, there are about one to two dozen serial killers on the loose hunting for prey. I’ve also written that the FBI has determined that, most often, a serial killer is genetically predisposed to engage in sexual sadism, torture, and eventually murder because of biological malfunctions during the birthing process. It seems for some, that when the fetus is in the womb, too much serotonin is being produced that is constantly bathing the brain. Hence when that baby is born, it is already brain-dead, so to speak, in that it can’t derive pleasure from activities most people consider the norm. That innocent child in the crib will likely grow up to be a psychopath because his brain cannot feel sensations in the same way as the rest of the populace. To derive any type of pleasurable sensation the baby, now an adult, and a psychopath, must resort to the most extreme measures, which usually involves killing innocent and helpless victims. One serial killer that was caught by the FBI put it this way: “When people walk down the street where there are other people walking, they think nothing of it. But when I walk down that street with other people, I have an overwhelming urge to bash in their skulls with a pipe or baseball bat. I can’t imagine not wanting to destroy these other people.”

Which, since this is an election year, brings us to the genetic predispositions behind the voting process. (Serial killing, politics, they’re practically the same thing anyhow.) I believe it can be demonstrated that most people’s political inclinations are genetically derived. Yes, upbringing, especially where parents set out to brainwash their children in political or religious beliefs, can have a major influence. But I think that, at the end of the day, most parents are too worn out from trying to make a living, or fighting rush hour traffic, or just keeping their heads above water, to be so inclined. That’s when genetics take over in determining whether an individual will become a Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, or just not give a “fig” (as the British might say.) We should point out that about half the voting age population couldn’t care less who gets elected to any office. Many of them couldn’t name one of the two Senators from their state, their Congressional representative, or their Governor. I mean, isn’t there a rumor that another Kardashian may be headed for divorce. And what about the health issues facing the latest American Idol. And lets not forget the shock waves emanating from the Tom Cruise-Katy Holmes divorce. After-all, it’s essential that we get our priorities straight.

For the other half of the population that does take at least the time and interest to vote, their choices will be predicated on how they view the world, which I maintain, is in turn predicated on the genes they inherited. For example, the differences concerning fiscal issues between the 2 major parties, and between liberals and conservatives, can often be boiled down to one word, redistribution. Liberals and Democrats take the position that the Government has a moral obligation to come to the aid of those that can’t fend for themselves, such as the sick, the elderly, the poor who cannot afford health care, the hungry, and those otherwise disadvantaged. Conservatives and Republicans see it differently, however. They see it as Government handouts of their tax money to those that are too lazy to work, or too stupid to know how to live their lives properly, or both. In the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was President, women receiving Government assistance were referred to as “welfare queens” which was also a racist code name. After all, weren’t most most welfare recipients black? (As it later turned out, most were white.) That type of mentality exists to this day, and explains why those on the right fight tooth and nail against any possible tax increase on the rich. After all, the thinking goes, any tax increase will just be taking money from the most productive members of society, and redistributing it to people who are nothing but leeches on society. Since voters are often genetically programmed to be greedy and self-centered, the Republican appeal to people’s basest instincts has, and will, translate into a ton of votes and election victories.

Of course, fiscal considerations, although paramount, are not the only issues that motivate people’s voting decisions. There is always the religious focus. Democrats tend to favor a more secular society, with religious issues best left to churches and and temples of what ever religion someone believes in. Republicans, however, have made religious fanaticism a corner stone of their platform. A big chunk of the GOP base is comprised of evangelicals or religious fanatics who DO NOT believe the political arena should be primarily secular. Quite the opposite. Their desire is to establish something akin to a religious theocracy, first by banning all abortion rights, and then banning gay rights. They will often talk about shrinking the size of Government and reducing expenditures, except when it comes to private matters best left to decisions between a women and her doctor, or what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms. Then, by all means, lets get the Government involved no matter what the cost. And while we’re at it, damn the costs, and put a few thousand more border patrol agents down in Texas and Arizona to make sure none of those illegal Mexicans sneak into the country.

There are of course, a slew of other issues that divide the country, and I could go on and on. But I believe it’s really futile to debate these issues with someone that has strong opposing views, because people’s genetic predisposition toward the positions they hold will outweigh any cogent arguments. It’s been said that the country is more polarized now than at any time since the Civil War. Should this be a close election in November, even those that spend most of their time keeping up with the Kardasians will have to get involved in the chaos and turmoil that will almost certainly ensue.

 

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