Monday, August 22, 2016

Trump's Newest Big Mistake, and It Is Yuuuge

Donald Trump now says he is going to be "fair" and "humane" in deporting the 11 milllion undocumented people in this country.  NY Times: Trump, Shifting Tone, Says He Will Be ‘Fair’ on Immigration This "pivot" announcement is his bid to change his hard-line image because he has awoken to the fact that he can't win the presidency with the backing of only the racists and haters. He needs some "moderates".

But he is making a huge mistake. Most moderates are not going to believe he is a changed man, that he has suddenly become humane and fair just by saying he has. Moderates have some sense. That's why they are moderates. They are a bit cautious. They don't buy bridges.

The actual bridge-buyers are Trump's hard core supporters, the ones who believe his wild claims and dote on his "strong man" image. They loved him saying he is going to round-up 11 million brown- skinned people  and deport them behind a wall he would somehow make Mexico pay for. This was his original head-line grabbing promise, and it's the one that launched him into nearly-the-presidency.

They are all he has, these racist and gullible folks. If he loses them, he is gone. But now he is betting they will stay with him while he tries to attract moderates by using supposedly moderate rhetoric. Good luck with that one, Mr. Trump! In my judgment that is really a very bad bet.

Your supporters, Mr. Trump, don't want anything to do with "fair" and "humane". To them that is sissy talk. They want you as a tough guy, not as a sissy!

And it's also completely phony! No mass round-up and deportation of 11 million people can be fair and humane! In this context these terms are not moderate at all. They are a hideous joke. Most of the undocumented are the grandparents or parents of people born here. To deport them and thus tear families apart can never be done in a fair and humane way. No matter the right or wrong of how the undocumented came here nor the responsibility they bear for the risk they took in starting families here — it is obscene to tear their families apart. I know these families. Many of them have been going back and forth across the "border" since before there was a border, since the days when the Southwest and California were part of Mexico. In our egomania we conquered that territory 170 years ago and have tried unsuccessfully for centuries to turn an already-existing river of people. We should have recognized long, long ago that we needed an intelligent and orderly way to accommodate a natural occurrence, not fight it with  an arbitrary "border."

The proposed deporation is also a non-solution. The jobs in hospital laundries and at the sinks in restaurants, on the hot streets of summer spreading asphalt, on the roofs of houses in 100 degree heat, or bending and bending picking strawberries hour after hour — these jobs are not the jobs your followers want, Mr.Trump. Yet these are the jobs that many of the undocumented now fill. Deporting these workers is going to do nothing for your followers. Nothing at all.

So, Mr. Trump, you are promising to do something "humanely" and "fairly"that cannot ever be done humanely or fairly and cannot benefit your supporters who look to you for help. And you think by making this empty promise you will appease the moderates but keep your hard-core followers? That is, in my judgment, a fool's bet.

For your own sake, Mr. Trump, you'd better stay away from the gambling tables at the casinos that bear your name. In making your bets, Mr. Trump, you just don't figure the odds, do you?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Why the GOP Is Sticking with Trump

Well, well, well.  Get a load of this: RNC Says It's Sticking With Trump

This above is an excellent article and well-worth reading. But it doesn't really answer the question of why the chair of the Republic National Committee, i.e. the de facto GOP, has just chosen to stick with Trump.

As the article notes, there was a lot of buzz about 10 days ago that party officials and the Trump campaign (absent Donald) were meeting for a "come to Jesus moment" — their term — about reshaping Trump. Absent his transformation, the RNC was reputedly threatening to withdraw support from him and switch its party dollars to down-ballot candidates for the Senate and the House who are now endangered by the sinking Trump.

But none of that happened.

Why not? It makes good sense to salvage what you can as the ship goes down. Why hang on to Trump?

Well, actually he belongs to the GOP.  Trump is its very own wild man on the loose, the wild man it created through decades of coded racism to fire up working class whites and lure them away from the Democratic party that had been their home since FDR. Beginning with Nixon's "Southern strategy" and then through Reagan's racist scorn for "welfare queens", the GOP created the perfect audience for Trump with decades of feeding them lies and hatred so that it became a diet increasingly easy for them to swallow.

Now the GOP dares not let go of him. It dares not repudiate him.

Because Trump is more than Trump. He is 30% of the electorate. He not only speaks for and to them; he is them. The GOP leadership recognizes this. Trump is not just their base. The 30-40% now supporting him is actually all of the 23% of the electorate who are registered as Republicans, plus some wedge of "independents". He is therefore virtually the entirety of the GOP.  As one of his followers put it, "He is me."

We have been mistaken in saying Trump wrested away control of the GOP, as if he invaded a foreign land. He just took what was already his.  He just claimed the audience and devotees that the GOP had painstakingly prepared for him.

When (and if) Trump is repudiated in the fall election, that's not enough. The GOP and its hate-filled and deceitful program must also be repudiated. The GOP itself must renounce racism, anti-feminism, and anti-immigration. It must stop telling lies about our government being dysfunctional and weak. It must stop telling lies about voter fraud as an excuse for disenfranchising millions of our felllow  citizens. It must make the legislative branch work again and work for all of us, not just for the rich.

The GOP owes America a big debt of restitution for what it has done in creating not only Trump but the twisted blindness of his supporters.

Trump has of course outwitted the GOP leaders. He too heard the buzz about a party attack coming at him. So he neatly blocked it by jabbering about the election being "rigged" and about "cheating".  Everybody thinks he meant cheating and rigging by the Democrats, and for now that's likely his target. But the leaders of the GOP know that if they try to oust him or diminsh him or change him, the 30% to 40% of the electorate that suppport him will see the GOP as rigging the election against him.

His supporters will be very angry. And the leaders of the GOP will be in very big trouble. Because in disavowing Trump they are disavowing the whole of their own party.

It is a catastrophy of their own making. In this world there is in fact some justice.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Who Can Actually Predict the White House Winner? You Can!

One of the strange things about American election politics is that the voters know ahead of time who is going to win. In each of the election years, they have been queried, they have correctly named the winner when asked, "Who do you think will win?" They do this even when they are supporting the other candidate.

How do the voters know? I have no real idea of how they know. Some "experts" may suggest it's the same "crowd wisdom" that drives the stock market. Given the market crashes that I have seen I sure hope this isn't true. All I can guess is that they are moving among their fellow voters and pick up on the buzz and the vibe. Or maybe they assess the media coverage in some astute way unknowable to the rest of us.

Or maybe they have a nose for it. I sort of do. I swear that there usually comes a day not long before Election Day when I walk outside and can sense something in the air. It first happened in 1968 a week before the election when I could feel things moving toward Humphrey. Later data showed he was indeed moving up fast on Nixon at that time and would have caught and passed him in about another four or five days.  In 2012 it was looking tight for Obama's election and I was in a nervous twit until one day I stepped out the door and smelled victory for Obama.

So now comes a small sample of voters assessing the outcome this year. For real polling purposes, it is of course way too small a sample but it's a little something to consider. (A real polling sample nationally has to be about 1500 people and about 400 in a state.) The prognosticators here are 10 "Walmart Moms" from Ohio and 10 from Arizona, the label "Walmart Moms" being unexplained. The pollsters find the 20 are disgusted with both candidates, a slight majority of them tending now toward Trump but the large majority of them saying they expect Hillary Clinton to win.  "Walmart Moms" Say They Feel "Nauseated" by Clinton and Trump

Let's try to remember them come Election Day.  Let's see if they got it right. And in between-times let's see what subsequent voter surveys show.

Who do you think will win? After all, you readers in the USA and you Americans abroad are the ones who make it happen.

And please let me know if you understand how the voters always know who is going to win.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Now Trump Urges Assassination of Clinton

It's only Tuesday. Only one day has intervened since Donald Trump seemingly dropped the wild man stuff and said some arguably cogent economic things yesterday. But now read this from the New York Times today:
    Donald Trump Suggests ‘Second Amendment People’ Could Act Against Hillary Clinton   

So we mustn't be fooled. He hasn't pivoted in the face of his downward plunge in the polls. He's as crazy and dangerous as ever.  Clearly he decided this weekend to sound more like a real candidate, but he is too mentally weak to stick with such a resolution. He can't resist saying the outrageous even though his self-destructive rant against the Kahn couple two weeks ago has possibly cost him the election. Unable to resist the impulse, today he said the ultimate outrageous thing.

Thus, Trump is not only crazy but very dangerous. Let's be real. He is speaking to crowds that contain some people as crazy as he is. We have seen footage of some of them raging with hate, flaunting firearms in public, shouting racial slurs, and threatening to kill. Now he is unleashing them.

No matter how you feel about Hillary Clinton, you must vote against a man like Trump by voting for her. If you throw away your vote on a third party or by staying home, you're failing to counter-balance one of Trump's votes, thus giving him a vote. You're aiding and abetting something I'm sure you reject as strongly as I do.

There is no honor in doing something to make yourself feel better, i.e. being "too highly principled" to vote for Hillary, if a greater harm will result. We can't have a leader who stirs up violence and can't seem to grasp why the use of nuclear weapons should be a no-no.  The truly principled thing is to keep this man locked up in one of his failing hotels.

Ensure that by voting for his opponent. And be sure to vote early and often.

Friday, August 5, 2016

A Strange Presidential Election of Grief and Consolation

What a strange election this is. For me it has become an election about dead children and how we handle grief.
 Last night I dreamed I was alone, lost and so old I couldn't remember where I was supposed to meet my psycho-therapist (I don't actually have one). I couldn't even remember her name. It was dark in the big city and I was lost and alone in the dangerous streets. It was terrifying. And then I came across a little group of women and children seated on the wide sidewalk, weeping and mourning. The matriarch was a beautiful woman who looked like the Madonna and wore the cape-like head covering that falls almost to the ground, just like in the pictures of Mary. (I've forgotten what such garments are called.) They were Muslim people. I felt so sorry for their grief that I forgot my own fears and abandonment and sat down next to the matriarch, and I hugged and comforted her. 

Then I told her the story the priest told at the funeral Mass for my sixteen-year-old son twenty-eight years ago. It was a story of a woman who came to the Buddha for comfort from the pain of her child having died. 

"How can I escape this terrible pain?", she asked. And the Buddha said, "You must go out into the world and find someone who has no pain." She traveled far for years and then came back to the Buddha and said,"I never found someone who was not carrying pain. But as I went I began to console others and my pain went away."
In the dream as I told the story I was starting to feel better, letting go of my fear of being so old and lost. Suddenly my therapist came bustling up, all apologies for being late, but I didn't care about that any more. I wanted to keep consoling the desolate woman and her group.
I awoke realizing that this dream was the gift of Ghazala and Khizr Khan. Their story and comments on TV had brought back the time of my son's death and the Buddha story which had become my mantra for life since his death. In a marvelous way they were comforting me, an old lady who has to stave off the natural fears aging brings, especially the one of being lost mentally. I have to admit I forget things now. Like the name of that actor in Field of Dreams and Dancing with Wolves, the one my kids all hate. And now my sister has fallen, poor gal, and broken her hip. That happened to my mom too not long before she died. Is my baby sister on her way out?

So it's easy to get wrapped up in fears for others and fears for our own future. It's ironic because I actually feel very secure here in my little house in Central Pennsylvania. Nevertheless I guess some part of me found the recent cross-country move pretty daunting. Change is change, and I guess it's harder when you're eighty. But I'm okay now because of the Khans. I am certainly not lost nor alone in a dark place.  I have rediscovered the secret to handling loss, pain, fear, aging. Just console others.

As a nation we are also no longer in a dark place. The Khans seem to have marked a turning point. Trump is sinking in the polls very sharply, taking with him — we can hope! — all the hate and fear he was sowing.
The Khans' attack on Trump was a form of the Buddha story. They  reached beyond their personal grief to help others, in this case by speaking the truth bravely. They showed such great humanity that Trump was shown to be the stunted thing he is.They may have turned a possible win by him to a loss. Maybe they have even shamed the GOP leaders into doing what they should have already done: denouncing Trump and withdrawing support from him. The longer the GOP leaders don't, the smaller they look. By contrast, the Khans have reached beyond their grief to save us all from the dark, desolate, frightening streets of Donald Trump. They stand tall.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

She Bounced! So Let's Have a Good Laugh While We Can.

It's clear this morning that Hillary got a bigger bounce from her convention than Trump did his. Further, although polls show more people watched his acceptance speech than hers, far more thought he did "a terrible job" than thought so of Hillary.

The highlight of the conventions for me, in fact the finest moments in all conventions I've followed since 1944, was the stunning speech by Khizr Kahn, the bereaved father of a soldier hero of the Iraq war. The difference that dignity and sincerity make was powerfully demonstrated by the Kahn couple. What they have to say is important, but HOW they say it is the real message. They speak of their son's sacrifice of his life in Iraq with such dignity and restraint. They show such trust in the Constitution. Contrasted with the braggadocio and hooting of Trump, they make Trump look like the cheap wash-and-wear polyester suit that he is.

But now for a good laugh. Things may get very ugly hereafter, and the polls may slip back to neck-and-neck but for now let's rejoice in this moment of a regained margin in the high single digits and let's laugh along with, in my opinion, the best president since FDR.

Here's the wonderful comedy video of Obama's White House Correspondents Dinner in April. Enjoy! Especially the scene in the driver's license bureau. And note what a great comedy team he is with either Joe Biden or John Boehner.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Keep Cool and Think Straight

Faced with two unlikeable candidates, don't panic. You're safe voting for the one who has not urged her followers to physically attack people who oppose her.

As for the rest of it, we'll be following the campaigns but meantime let's keep our perspective. I like this item which was forwarded to me by Joel Lage, an artist who lives at 8000 feet on a mountain in New Mexico and is about my age.  Living at 8000 feet, he takes the long view.

As the ever-so-wise Pogo used to say, "There ain't nobody here but us chickens." Except when he was saying, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

All this is not to say that there's no difference between the two candidates. Hitting people makes a big difference, doesn't it? But let's take some time out for a smile.

It may be our last chance for quite a while.