Why Is The Right-Wing So Secretive About The Real Reasons Behind Its Actions?

Remember that dreaded high school senior term paper?  It was the final barrier between school and a great post-graduation summer.  The assignment came right after winter break  and it was clear that it needed to be a research paper complete with footnotes and an extensive bibliography.  It was going to require some serious work just at the moment that senioritis was kicking in full blast.  The objective of the assignment was to create a hypothesis and then go about providing the proof in your paper.  However, it seemed that the best way to go about this was to simply find resources that provided support for your hypnosis while ignoring any material that raised questions or challenged it.  In other words come up with an idea and simply prove it with facts that were either valid or invalid as long as they were written somewhere.  The right-wing of the GOP has never forgotten this high school method of creating facts where they don’t exist.  This is how they have dealt with Planned Parenthood, Benghazi, Immigration, Same-sex Marriage, Gun Control and Voting Rights.

The echo chamber within which they live has actually provided them with the opportunity to quote each other as proof of their “fact”.  It makes no difference on what the original statement was based, as long as it was written or stated somewhere, it has validity in the eyes of the right-wing and thus proves the point.  For example, the so-called “damning videos” supposedly proving that Planned Parenthood was in the business of selling body parts of aborted babies have been debunked by impartial experts and shown to have been edited by those who proclaim them to be evidence.  Yet everyday those who are seeking to defund and defame Planned Parenthood use them as evidence.  The extraordinary  statements  regarding immigration made by Donald Trump and his 16 apostles in the GOP Presidential sweepstakes have been proven to be wrong, yet the statements continue.  The accusations made regarding Benghazi have been found fallacious by several Congressional committees, yet the accusations go on.  The so-called fraud that new and restrictive voting laws are supposedly protecting us against has been statistically proven to not exist,  yet the actions to restrict voting continues.  The echo chamber continues to create its own truth even when it is a lie.

right wing rally

Certainly there are those who claim that there is nothing dishonest taking place.  It is just that there are two sides to the issue and they disagree.  But, in fact, the reality is quite different.  Certainly there are two sides to any issue.  However, that only works when both sides are dealing with the same set of facts, but simply viewing them through their own life experience and value laden screens.  For example, one can argue on the one hand that same-sex marriage does nothing to damage the institution of marriage and should be legal.  Yet, on the other hand, viewing it through a strictly fundamentalist religious perspective it is quite damaging to the institution of marriage.  They are dealing with the same facts coming at it from two different places.  While I can disagree, I can understand the basis of the fundamentalist argument.  Yet on the other issues mentioned, the facts are nonexistent, they are fabricated yet stated as truth.  Planned Parenthood doesn’t sell aborted babies’ body parts, all illegal immigrants aren’t criminals, and voter fraud is virtually nonexistent.    A more honest approach from the right-wing would be to simply say what they believe.  They are against Planned Parenthood because they don’t think that the government should be funding healthcare for underserved women. They are against illegal immigration because they are concerned with the browning of America.  They want to limit access to the  voting booth because they know that they are losing the demographic fight.  These arguments may be despicable in the eyes of many, but they are honest.

The right-wing goes to a lot of trouble to camouflage the true reasons for its actions.  If they really believe that they represent the majority opinion, why aren’t they honest?  If they are steadfast and proud of their beliefs, why do they hide them?  Why do they choose lies over truth?  Is it because they know that the majority would be appalled by their truth, yet the right-wing believes it knows better?  We know where that leads.

The Political Preseason Is Over-What Does It Tell Us About The Upcoming Season ?

In sports the preseason has always been an opportunity for coaches and players to ease into the game as they try new plays and learn new positions.  Utilizing scouting reports and analysis of preseason games, coaches develop strategies and make final roster decisions. While this time seems to be relatively stress-free and relaxed, it is, in fact, critical to the upcoming season.   The months before Labor Day in a Presidential election year have typically been similar to a team’s preseason.  It has been a time for testing positions and stump speeches, a time to romance donors and a time to assess the competition. But this preseason has been quite different.

I guess nobody told Trump about the rules of the preseason.  He came out and caught everyone flat-footed.  While he has put little meat on the bones of his vociferous pronouncements, he has captivated the attention of the GOP electorate and the media.  In fact, he has left his competition in the dust racking up impressive poll numbers while they spin their wheels seeking media attention as they languish.  Trump has not only taken an impressive lead, he has also dictated the agenda.  He has forced his competitors to deal with issues they hadn’t planned to touch until the actual season began.  Most importantly, he has brought into focus the tremendous rifts within the party over issues that will play a vital role in the upcoming election.

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The pundits have been wrong all along.  First they didn’t expect Trump to run.  Then each time he committed a verbal blunder they wrote him off into oblivion.  But he is still here.  Now they figure that he will be around until after the Florida primary and then say goodbye.  But his nearest competitor is in single digits and Trump seems to be gaining ground.  In a political climate that regards politicians with disdain, he is the anti-politician.  In a political world that requires candidates to sell their souls for financial support, he needs no outside financial support.  In an environment that has seen detailed political promises ignored and reversed at the drop of a poll point, Trump doesn’t provide details, only the promise of the same success that he has achieved in business.  It appears that the political world has changed and Trump is perceptive enough to profit from it.   Finally, it is important to remember that Trump is not only a product of the business world, but the media world as well.  He is familiar with it and comfortable using it.  The pundits seem to have fallen behind and now find themselves playing catchup every time a new poll comes out.

What the preseason has taught us about the upcoming political season is that it is a new world and the landscape of today’s electorate is very different from that of yesterday.   The rules have changed and those who can adapt will stand a chance of success, however those who remain stubbornly in the politics of yesterday will fail.  What is the most important rule at play?  It is seemingly simple.  Don’t bore us with your multi-point plans that you will forget about once you are in office.  Give us a reason to trust you and believe that you are your own man and that you have the ability to achieve what you promise.  The electorate is cynical and untrusting.  The fact that they are attracted to the likes of Trump tells us just how desperate they are to trust someone.  For the sake of the country and all of us, we need to provide the electorate with a viable alternative to this bellicose bullhorn of plentiful platitudes.

Trump – From Circus Clown to Ringmaster

Through the haze of jet lag and the afterglow of a wonderful two weeks in Europe I am trying to assess what if anything has changed regarding the 2016 Presidential campaign while I was gone.  On the Democratic side Hillary is still the presumed nominee despite some handwringing by some media and political establishment types.  However, on the Republican side I am shocked that Trump is still the dominant candidate, overshadowing all of his rivals.  The candidate that I dubbed the chief clown driving the Republican clown car seems to be striking a chord with the GOP base.  As I try to clear that jet lag haze and sharpen the picture nothing changes.  Trump is really resonating with a broad base of Republican voters. It seems that the circus clown has become the ringmaster

In this July 17, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks at the Republican Party of Arkansas Reagan Rockefeller dinner in Hot Springs, Ark. Trump faced an avalanche of fresh criticism July 20 for questioning Sen. John McCain's heroism. But he’s getting no pressure at all from the one community that could push a candidate out of the 2016 presidential race: political donors. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

This fact raises two obvious questions.  First, what about Trump has made him so successful at connecting with the Republican base?  The second question, perhaps more important, why has no other candidate been able to make the same connection?  It’s too simple to say that he is connecting because he is a non-politician.  We have seen that happen before, so it is nothing new.  But this feels new.  This isn’t another Ross Perot.  Perot’s focus was on the economy from a practical business standpoint.  Trump’s approach is far broader and all encompassing.  He is touching all of the issues confronting our country.  But how about the other candidates?  Is their approach to the issues so different from Trump’s?   In fact, the differences are slight and nuanced.  The reality is that the base’s reaction to Trump’s positions has caused the other candidates to make adjustments and fall in line with him.  Yet, despite the similarity in positions and the undeniable political success of many of his rivals, Trump still leads the pack.

Then perhaps, rather than looking at the candidates,  we should be looking at the base of the GOP.  What is so different about them this time around that they are rejecting the kinds of candidates they have previously embraced?  Huckabee and Santorum were both very successful in Iowa last time, yet this time they are of little consequence.   What is it that they are looking for that they are not seeing in the other 16 candidates vying for their attention?  If the candidates’s positions on the issues of consequence are similar then what characteristics separate Trump from the rest?  What is the base looking for that the other’s simply don’t have?

I believe that there are three Trump characteristics that separate him from the pack.  First, he is unapologetically wealthy.  But he also states clearly that he achieved his wealth “the old fashion way”, he earned it.  What’s more, he promises to create an economy that will provide more people with the opportunity to achieve his kind of wealth.  Second, he presents his wealth as an asset in his run for the presidency.  It enables him to be his own man and not listen to or be beholden to any donor or lobbyist or interest group, while all of the other candidates lack such freedom and independence.  Finally, he is savvy in his use of the media and dominates the conversation.  The self-confidence and boldness behind his rhetoric speak to a beleaguered base longing for another victory and the White House.

Certainly, we all know that summer heat cools in the winter cold.  It is a long time between now and the snowy Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.  The months ahead are a  political lifetime.  However, it has become clear that the candidate that began his efforts cast as a clown, has risen to the prominent position of ringmaster.  Who knows what position he will hold 6 months from now.

Greetings from the Baltic

i have spent the past week in Europe and still have another to go.  What is particularly refreshing is that American politics are just a footnote here.  It does help place things into perspective.  What it also does make clear is that our political circus is a man-made exhibition created by the symbiotic relationship between the politicians (and “non-politicians”) and the press. However, while it is cleansing to be away from it for a while, I do look forward to being close to it again.  It may be an American circus, but it is after all my American circus.

I’ll return with more substantive observations in a week.

The Great GOP Dumpster Dive

Welcome to the first heat of the Great GOP Dumpster Dive.  As you know this is the first in a series of contests to determine who will qualify for the Great Debate in just a little over a week. Each heat will provide the candidates the unique opportunity to gather all they can from the bottom of the dumpster.  We have been informed by reliable sources that the dumpster contains a particularly toxic brew of half-truths, outrageous accusations, slanderous characterizations, lies, misinformation, hyperbolic rhetoric, hate, scientific denial and historical revisionism. We can see the excitement on the faces of the candidates as they prepare themselves for this all important dive. It’s almost time for them to take the big plunge.

While we have a few minutes before the starting gun I’d like to describe some of the contestants to you. On the far right I can see an impeccably adorned Donald Trump in his formfitting wet suit. He seems to be wearing a blond cap, oh my mistake, his hair is slicked down to make his plunge resistance free. Standing very close to Trump, seemingly trying to edge him out of position, is Ted Cruz. He is all decked out in a black wet suit and he seems to have some sort of scoop attachment on his hands. I guess he’s going to try to scoop all he can from the bottom of the dumpster. Moving down the line we can see Marco Rubio. He appears ready to jump right in, but he seems to have a bottle of water attached to his belt. I suppose that’s in case he gets parched in the process of gathering his toxic brew.  Further down the line, but still pushing to the far right is Mike Huckabee.  He seems a little old for this kind of contest, but don’t let appearances fools you.   He is as motivated and excited as the others.  In fact, he is more experienced at this kind of contest given his past efforts.  He may not be as quick as his younger compatriots, but he knows more about the contents of the bottom of the dumpster than they do.  I see Jeb Bush standing in the corner trying to hold his position. He seems a little off-balance and contemplating just how deep to dive.  Yet he knows he has to make sure he gets his share or he might not score high enough for the Big Debate.  There to the left of Bush is Chris Christie.  Everybody keeps telling him not to try to simply make a big splash with a cannon ball.  He knows he has to dive deep, but at the same time appear to be staying on the surface where the mix isn’t as toxic. There are others getting ready on the sidelines but this is the first heat.  The group is now stepping up to the edge of the dumpster.

dumpster diving

They are being instructed by the officials to wait for the starter’s pistol or they will call a false start.  Anybody with two false starts will be disqualified.  Trump is yelling that he doesn’t care about the rules, he’ll jump when he wants.  Not to be outdone by Trump,  the others start to complain about the rules as well.  All of a sudden Trump just yelled ” Okay guys, follow me to the depths, let’s all jump.” They all just jumped following Trump.  It will be a while before we see what they  come up with.  But rest assured, the next few days will provide us with much of what they have been able to grab onto.

Don’t you just love how the GOP gets involved in sports?

Did The GOP Laboratory Create A Monster?

They’ve been working on this project for almost seven years.  They have carefully honed the components one at a time.  They tested them in their media lab at Fox.  They used internal polls to adapt to regional tastes.  They thought they had achieved success in 2012.  However, much to their disappointment all of their efforts were for naught.  For a brief period it appeared that they were going to return to their roots and go legit.  They even presented an “autopsy” to base such a decision upon.  However, they couldn’t fake it.  In time the true nature of who and what they are once again came to the surface.  The xenophobic, anti-science, anti-women, anti-education, anti-healthcare, anti-minority, anti-social program, pro-war, pro-business, anti-union, anti-voter rights, anti-gun control, anti-government regulation and anti-immigration character of the GOP was once again predominant.  While going through this intense effort to distinguish itself from the Democrats and attract what they perceived to be the vast discontent body politic, a new face began to show itself.  Donald Trump listened attentively and even tried to take the lead on the birther issue.  He was a high-profile personality ready to be the face of the hateful agenda of the GOP.  All of their hard work in the laboratory had paid off.  He was the personification of all they hoped to create.  But something went wrong.  Somebody forgot to stop feeding him the Kool-aid, because he got over done and nobody can de-juice him.  The GOP laboratory apparently inadvertently created a monster.

There are now 16 candidates vying for the Republican Presidential nomination. They represent all points of the GOP political spectrum from semi-rational to right-wing lunatic.   Yet 15 of those 16 are all the targets of the craziest of them all and they don’t know how to handle it.  Trump, has unapologetically and aggressively, attacked  all of the candidates with total disregard for fact or the ultimate good of the party.  He has presented himself as a single-minded, self-centered, self-serving egotistical  bore on a mission.  What exactly that mission is has not yet become clear.  He has alienated the party establishment, the key funders and anyone who dares to disagree with him.  It seems that his chances of building the kind of delegate support necessary to win the nomination are remote at best.   It’s not that he will run out of money or venues to scream his poison.  His masterful use of the media and his fellow candidates will keep him front and center for as long as he wants.  The big question, however, is what is this guys endgame?  As I noted, he is not going to get the GOP presidential nomination.  Is his goal to simply elevate himself and diminish all others just for the fun of it?  I think not. 

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I think he is ultimately seeking to threaten to run as a third-party candidate.  The very possibility of such a run is the prime cause of insomnia and heartburn among the GOP faithful and gives him incredible leverage in the GOP.  It is clear that in the general election the big losers with a Trump third-party run will be the GOP.  All of those years of that intense lab work gone to hell.  What will it cost the GOP to get him to reject a third-party run?  He is at heart a businessman who has achieved his success through the art of negotiation, or at least has worked hard to create that image.  At this moment he seems to be holding all of the cards.  Yet, it is very early in the game and things can change at the flash of the next poll.  But my guess is that Trump is in it for the long haul regardless of what the polls say. He smells blood in the water and he likes his odds of becoming a major power and opinion broker in the GOP.

The Democratic future is looking very bright.  Thank you Mr. Trump!

The Iranian Nuclear Deal: A Test Of The Candidate’s Political Maturity

I freely admit that at this moment I don’t know whether or not I support the Iranian nuclear deal.  After all, it is an extremely complex and nuanced 100 page document.  Before making my decision I will need to read the agreement, perhaps more than once, as well as additional explanatory and opinion material. This is not an issue to be taken lightly as it impacts the security of our country, as well as Israel and the rest of the world.  Most importantly, it should not be viewed through a political or partisan prism, but rather the clear lens of honesty and objectivity.  This is the kind of decision that requires strength, maturity, intelligence, wisdom, experience, perspective, knowledge and integrity.  Are those in whose hands we have placed this responsibility up to this task?  Have they illustrated through their behavior and decision-making that they are capable of reflecting these characteristics as they move through the process?

Ask any Senator, past or present, and they will tell you that they are honored to be a part of the “greatest deliberative body” in history.  Talk about looking through rose-colored glasses, I don’t know what they are seeing.  I see 100 men and women who spend their time raising money, planning their next Sunday show appearance or figuring ways to hinder the other side.  I see little or no deliberation and nothing constructive coming from this “great deliberative body”.  That is twice as true for the House.  When we combine these realities with the fact that we are now in the Presidential primary season, it appears that any hope of keeping the decision-making process regarding the Iranian nuclear deal on track is wishful thinking. We have already heard comments from senators, world leaders and candidates regarding this treaty.  Is it really possible that they have given this document the necessary serious study that would enable them to make an informed comment?  This isn’t the time for sound bites.  It is a time for thoughtful, cautionary and informed remarks.  This isn’t a time to score political points.  It is a time to take service to our country and all its obligations seriously.

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While I have great concern with the way in which the congress will approach this deal, the fact that this is a presidential primary season portends additional problems.  Of the candidates that have presented themselves to us, who is capable of true leadership on this issue?  Remember, leadership is not a sound bite.  It requires more than just bluster and the knowing of which words to use to excite a crowd.  It requires strength, maturity intelligence,wisdom, experience, perspective, knowledge and integrity.  It is particularly concerning that Mr. Trump, an individual who lacks virtually all of the these characteristics is rapidly moving up the Republican primary polls.  He has replaced the hatred symbolized by the Confederate flag with his own brand of xenophobia.   However, so far, the other GOP candidates have not shown themselves to be any stronger when it comes to these characteristics.  Though it appears that the Iranian deal issue has come at a very inopportune time due to the hyper-political environment created by a presidential campaign, it might, in fact, become somebody’s opportunity.

While I am doing my own “due diligence” on the Iranian nuclear treaty, I will be watching members of the Senate and House as well as the Presidential candidates to see what they do.  Will they find it necessary to make uninformed strictly partisan comments, or will they take their time and speak with caution, maturity and wisdom?  Will they act in a purely self-serving political way, so typical of what we have seen these past years, or will they adhere to the obligations they swore to in their oath of office?  Will they follow the lead of Trump and other hateful self-serving egotists, or will they understand that it is service to nation and not themselves that should be their guiding principle?  This is a test.  Will any of them pass?