Nov 9, 2016

Our Worst Fears for the 2016 Election Materialized. The Most Unqualified Candidate in 100 years is Elected President of the US

Twelve years ago, I worked for the Kerry campaign in Cleveland, Ohio, and on the day after the election we were stunned, defeated, and despondent. But, this feels worse, much worse. The candidate, now president-elect, is worse than GWB, and the way he got to the finish line is irredeemably deplorable. 

I could understand why Americans chose GWB to remain as the commander-in-chief in 2004 at the height of two wars, but it hurts when half the country voted for Donald Trump who built his campaign on racism, xenophobia, hate, attacking people and the constitution, insults with no limits, threats, childish temper tantrums, and by bringing out the worst among us. I did not believe we could be so bad as a nation to elect and find someone like Trump acceptable. Even if you believe you have termites eating your house, you don't fight them by torch.  

I am for democracy, and support the institutions of this great country. Institutions that DJT does not respect. We accept the verdict of the voters, even if we disagree with it. The rules may be outdated--the EC, winner take all system, etc--but they apply to all competitors. Imagine what Trump and his cohorts would say had he, like JRC, won the popular vote but lost in the EC.... He refused to say whether he would accept the outcome of this election if he lost.... This child in man's clothes, who throws a fit, "it's not fair", when he thinks he might lose--a blatant disregard for our institutions and acceptable norms of civility, and citizenship.

What Now?

 It'll take a while for the shock to wear off, though I don't think I'll find the outcome any less palatable for years to come. We'll pour over data to try to understand what exactly happened and plot ahead. Much will depend on how Trump governs. One of the terrifying things about him is that his awful character flaws that make him unfit for the office may result in unpredictable consequences. With GWB we knew what to expect. Did it make it more acceptable? Not really, but he wasn't crazy unpredictable.

It took an non-traditional Republican to win the presidency for the Republicans. But they took a big gamble with Trump. He demolished traditional Republican policy values: free trade and no protectionism; no talk of redistribution of resources; no regulation of Wall Street; pro-NATO and strong presence all over the globe; no tariffs; etc.  There will be clashes within the GOP. Trump's feud with Speaker Ryan may escalate. Will Trump choose the tea party or the Republican party establishment?

Is Trump capable of changing his style? No, not his hair, but the way he's run his business and his TV show. You can't run the country like that, or like a country club or a casino. Nor can you fail to uphold the obligations the country has undertaken, from foreign treaties, to the national debt, to the social safety net.

Most Americans vote on a loose, simple narrative and feelings. They don't know or care to understand the workings of our complicated political system that's been in place for hundreds of years. However, while the majority of Americans wanted change--and Trump represented change--they'll expect change. They'll be aware that the Republicans will control the Executive and both chambers of Congress, so Trump and the GOP will have no good excuse for not delivering what the people want. Now, many of Trump's promises aren't realistic, from building the wall to bringing back factories and improving the lives of the middle class by trickle-down economics and weakening consumer protection.

I personally know people who did not vote for HR Clinton because she was very unappealing to them, and  while they found Trump abhorrent, they didn't reason out: not HRC = yes DJT. This group included 10% of 18-35 year-olds who voted for third parties or millions of them who didn't vote at all. Trump got the majority of women! Trump got more Hispanic/Latino votes than Romney. Likewise, millions of people who benefited from the social safety net, including Obamacare, didn't bother to vote. Elections have consequences and these groups will feel this. First thing on the agenda: repealing Obamacare, so 20 million Americans will soon find out how free they'll be from the government obliging them to have health insurance by not having no insurance.

One thing for sure, Trump will shake the foundations of this country. 

It's been an exhausting campaign and a draining couple of days... I'm afraid this is not going to get any easier for a long time. To all my liberal friends, this is not the end. The country is moving in a progressive direction; look what policies, often via referendum, states are adopting. Many important steps are laid in stone by now, and even though we got an anti-science president and a creationist VP, progress will prevail; it'll just take a detour in the next 4 years. It's up to us to reverse this setback as soon as possible, but we have to bring a sizeable chunk of those misguided people who voted for Trump to our side. Most of them are not part of the fascist core that propelled Trump's campaign, so we have to become even more vocal and active. It's probably the best therapy for us now.

Oct 29, 2016

False Equivalency and Laziness in Our Politics

Bill Maher is spot on.

Several good points made here, like the amount of lies and the magnitude of those; not all are the same, and, yes, not all are evil.  Also, the lackadaisical attitude and citizenship failure of so many Americans who they hide behind cynicism so they don't have to invest time, energy, and precious brain cells into a process that has a direct effect on their lives!

But they know about sports or the measurements of Kim Kardashian's ass.  Don't believe me? See how people talk about sports and the knowledge they exhibit.....

As for the latest FBI announcement that they found more emails... oyvey, I thought the FBI and the media (which are eating this latest "news") were in HR Clinton's corner.  Anyway, the bottom line is that this will not make any difference as most people already have decided that this scandal either enrages them or they don't care. It's beating a dead horse; it doesn't have legs anymore.

I like the aggressive response by HRC to demand the FBI release all the details, and that this "revelation" is irresponsible at this stage. Those emails were not from her server but came from a separate investigation into a creep's (Anthony Weiner) sexting underage women.  I guess it was expected to move from the pussy-gate to weiner-gate.

Oct 8, 2016

Yes, It DOES Reflect Who You Are, Donald! [just go away already, you disgusting bully]

While the "deplorables" is a recent tag, and H.Clinton has gotten lots of criticism about this, it's appropriate. The only question is the size of this dirt bag. The GOP should have realized that Trump was riding a wave that had those deplorables as its core. The ones filled with hate, prejudice, and utter ignorance. And, he encouraged this. No party should have promoted anyone who gets on stage and denigrates possible future presidents of the US by calling them, "ugly," "little ..." . "lyin'.. etc, and brags about the size of his penis.

But, he is the product of the seeds and cultivation the GOP employed in the last 10 years. That unless Republicans are in charge everything else is suspect, treasonous, foreign, anti-American, anti-Xtian, illegitimate, and worthy of not only disrespect, but hate too. Everybody knows how the Congressional GOP and its leaders have behaved. Same with others down the line to local levels. Trump rode this wave the GOP created, so the GOP, Tea party, etc, all OWN him. As he said last week, "I reflect you"... 

This pussy-scandal shouldn't surprise anyone. If anyone didn't know of or cared about Don's personality before this latest revelation confirms that they've rightly have earned the label of deplorables!

A juvenile, braggart, vile, dangerous ignoramus, who wants to run the United States as a gambling hole, while encouraging and employing a basket of deplorables. He has lead them by example! What more do you want to reject this disgusting bully?

Oct 5, 2016

The Veeps had a Slugfest, But Let's not Lose Sight of the Stakes in this Election, and It's Not Style Over Substance

The Tim Kaine-Mike Pence VP debate is over, with an estimated 40 million viewers. As VP debates go, this will not move the needle, but it will be more useful to the Clinton-Kaine team in the next few days. There could be many useful quotes for C-K, because not only Pence contradicted himself but he couldn't possibly defend the indefensible Trump. The wild card is whether DT responds and how. Hopefully, the Donald will be Donald again.

Most Americans will read about the debate or will watch snippets and I think those who had already chosen will not change their vote, but there could be some on the fence who may be motivated to vote for Clinton, women and minorities especially. Hopefully the editors and fact-checkers will realize that Kaine was right and Pence just danced around the issues, often choosing not to even defend the indefensible DT.

Many pundits, focus groups as of now think that Pence did much better because Kaine was too aggressive. Again, style over substance--that's how most analysts talk about the debates, which of course is ridiculous. There are serious policy differences. T-P ticket stands for failed economic policies, favors to the rich, anti-choice, for a conservative Supreme Court, anti-science, anti-environmental policies, no consumer protection, no health care, no education, crazy conspiracies, and for militarism--and with Donald as C-i-C is a very scary proposition. 

Governor Pence has a record of extreme conservatism, so while many talking heads liked his performance tonight, his politics are out of the mainstream, today and I'd imagine in the future, should he decide to run for the presidency.

Lastly, we still remain a country where a non-religious person (or someone who admits it) cannot be a viable candidate for high office. Beliefs on bad evidence and horrible logic are a badge of honor and a requirement for the highest office in the land.

Read Pulitzer-winner journalist David Cay Johnston's article, the Art of the Steal about how Trump lost $916 million but reaped great financial benefits by not paying contractors and taxes.

I thought this VP debate also revealed what issues Hillary Clinton would try to talk about next Sunday at the second debate against Trump. Issues like, Trump's taxes and bad business acumen, nuclear weapons and foreign policy, hateful speech, bad temperament, Supreme Court and right to choose, health care, education, immigration, LGBT issues, and Donald's disrespect for women.

At this point, campaigns don't change minds. Actually very few people are moved by logic and evidence during campaigns. Most are intuitive, have certain views that don't change so quickly. Even the CBS and CNN focus groups that said Pence won tonight also showed that no one changed their intended vote.

The key is to excite--positively for your candidate or negatively against your opponent--your political base and get it to go out and vote on Nov. 8th. Fivethirtyeight, HuffPol, Electoral-vote, and a few other reputable poll crunchers  have Clinton at about 80% chance of winning. Time is not in Trump's favor right now, and he's failed to get closer or overtake Clinton so far, especially after the first debate. If the plethora of polls are right, there's a clear trend and the candidate that's ahead in mid-October goes on to win the election.

Sep 22, 2016

Parsing the Election: Shining Objects, Lies and Misdemeanors

As this election campaign unfolds, it's very obvious that what passes for voting choice based on issues and policies is a thin layer of he-said she-said, shiny objects, and bullshit arguments. Then there is the very small group of low-information voters who will probably determine the winner. They waft from one candidate to another, as the polls indicate. Yeah, like a horse race at a carnival game whereas the horses advance by how much the "playing" public sprays water into a hole. 
Oh, what an entertainment it is to watch this race for the most powerful office on earth. We've seem to have lost the sense of scale, seriousness, comparables, and the sight of the big picture. 

Somebody has to call the truth. We are a nation of people who are ignorant how their government works, what policies work or not, and ignorant as to the fundamental differences among the candidates their parties and what they truly stand for. The media for the most part readily cater to this ignorant audience, further perpetuating the lowest common denominator. 

Some news media,like Fox News, openly say that their aim is to cater to their audience and peddle propaganda--and this is more honest as compared to the so-called mainstream media that want to self-identify as professional and truth-seeking. The truth is that when a lie is uttered by an official or a candidate, you call it a lie. If there's proof to the contrary, you don't accept a lie as one side of a story and give it equal value, be it that Obama was not born in the US or that the earth is flat.

Another sad but very real fact is that most people aren't truly rational or open to reason, especially in the heat of the game. You are a rabid fan cheering for your team and you only see your team being robed by the refs or the system, while you hate the illegitimate s.o.b.s of the opposing team. Then there's a small section in the stadium (half filled, because the rest of the population don't really care for this sport) that goes back and forth cheering for the team that does the latest trick or puts on the field the cutest cheerleaders.

Oh, the Humanity....

So, everybody is freaking out about the EpiPen these days because the company that makes it decided to up its price by hundreds of dollars. It's not the only time a drug company does such a thing if it has a monopoly and wants to maximize profit. Congress gets on the act of shedding crocodilean tears and holds public inquiries deriding big pharma execs for being ..inhumane. A chorus of other interested parties chimes in to say how they care about the public's health and the plight of the consumer. Oh, it's about people's health? Then it's Obamacare's fault! The right points out that it's the high deductibles people have to pay under the ACA (Obamacare) that have patients feel they're being gauged. Hahaha.

Let's cut through this bullshit. First, reporting the story--as done by most media--is a disservice to the public. It's another case of perpetuating a lie and not truly examining an important issue.  OK, let's start from the top. Why shouldn't a capitalist company try to maximize profit? Isn't this what the free-market conservatives advocate? Supply and demand is the ingenious mechanism that serves the consumer Adam Smith argued. The conservative goddess Ayn Rand was not in favor of a system of a social safety net because this is morally bad.

But, people may be hurt, suffer or die if they don't have access to certain drugs and health care? Oh, really? Is this a problem? Then what do we do about it besides feeling bad, curse at the drug companies, Obamacare and whomever else. Do we need to put in place a system to take care of those in dire need? Who should pay for it. Why are drug prices so high? 

The more you think about it, the more you realize that some regulation, oversight, and social safety net is necessary in some sectors of society! Oh, and why capitalism should work primarily in the direction of the big and powerful? 

Instead of Congress pretending to care about the ..poor patients, it should pass a law to allow Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate drug prices. Currently they're prohibited from doing what capitalism purports to want: competition!  Further, as Bernie Sanders points out, we can import food from all over the world but we cannot (illegal) to import even brand-name medicine/drugs from Canada at a fraction of what they cost in the US!  I happened to have witnessed scores of buses filled with senior citizens at the US-Canadian border around the beginning of the month. They're buying drugs they need but can't afford in the US! This is illegal, by the way, but the authorities probably think it's either bad publicity or unkind to arrest those senior citizens.

Steal Millions of Dollars with no Penalty (but don't get caught smoking weed)

Wells Fargo [see story here] abused its customers for 5 years, creating millions of accounts and charging fees without the knowledge or permission by the customers. This is not the only bank that has been abusing the consumers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB*) fined WF $185 million for this. Is anyone going to jail? No! Get caught smoking weed in most of the US and you get a criminal record!

Republicans came out complaining why WF was allowed to do this.  Well, because the banks can and will if left unsupervised. Who knew, right? I mean take a look at Wall Street in the 2000s, or any other era. The GOP has systematically opposed anything that would interfere with the "free marketplace" including the CFPB. 

Now, why can't there be a class action suit against WF? Because the law allows the banks to stipulate in the contract when you open an account with them that you agree not to sue and not join others who may have similar grievances. You must go to arbitration, where a judge hired by the bank resolves the dispute. But if you have no other recourse, you accept the offer.  Similar case with employers, like Fox, where a sexual harassment case must be settled via arbitration.

Oh, and what happens to the big bosses that know of, or even encourage the abuses? Sometimes they lose their jobs, poor slabs. Ailes got a $40 million severance, and WF CEO gets $ 125 mil. package. That kind of money buys you lots of therapy I reckon. 

Now back to parsing this election......   


* This is what a modern state (country) should do, protect the consumer. Which political party do you think favors this? Beyond personalities, which party do you think would promote consumer protection? This election is about progress and what we want the government to do for us, right?....