Feb 24, 2016

The Activist Republican Base is Choosing Trump. The Establishment of the Party is Shocked, Still Pushing Loser Rubio

Another big Trump win in Nevada. He loves the poorly educated and the Hispanics; he loves grabbing money; he loves the 2nd Amendment, the Bible, the U-S-A, he loves just about everyone who supports him. And, he'll make America win, win, win, again, after he builds the wall Mexico will pay for.  Oh, but the GOP so-called establishment is still try to pump up Rubio, who lost by 20 points in Nevada. It's a fainting hope that will not pan out.  Rubio is polling third in Florida today! Cruz will not win 50% in Texas as he had hoped so he could capture the trove of delegates there; he may even lose to Trump. Barring a miracle, Trump has the best path to the nomination.

But, I noticed that some conservative spinners are coming to grips with Trump getting the nomination and they've began saying that he is not so extreme! Yeah, right. How can anyone seriously think that this Republican party is mainstream in any respect is laughable. Look at the activist base, the state parties,  and the Congressional caucus; they're all extreme in ideology and practice. Now, how this will play out in the general election, remains to be seen, but I think Trump's appeal won't be as big among the moderate Republicans and independents.

OK, I hear the voices of those who say, Trump wasn't expected to have much appeal even within the Republican presidential contest, but is this really true? For the last 15-20 years, Rush Limbaugh, the tea parties, freedom chicken hawks, conspirators, and the other kooks have turned the activist conservative base into an angry mob which has been captured by a skillful demagogue.


Feb 22, 2016

Acting Like a Spoiled Brat, Encouraging Bigotry, Promoting Old Ideas (fit for the dark ages), and Gridlock Government: The GOP and its Frontrunners

Satire?.. [click on image to enlarge]
Things are becoming a bit clearer. The Donald and Hillary seem to be on the inside track to their party's nomination. If I had to vote today, I'd vote for Bernie, because of the issues he's raising. It's a discussion we ought to have had already. He's bringing to mainstream many of the issues the Occupy movement raised just a few years ago.  But, I think Hillary will be a stronger--yes, with many negatives--Democratic candidate in the general election. I'm not sure the country is ready to elect a 75-year old "socialist". Yes, I do think age is a factor, and I think Americans don't know much about socialism yet. We do live in a liberal, social, democracy, but who really knows this?...

The South is, well, the south, whereas a vast majority of whites are conservatives who support the Republican party in similar numbers as blacks the Democrats. However, those who support Trump are almost a different political species. Most are sad the South didn't win the Civil War. They are jingoistic, xenophobic, simplistic low information voters. South Carolina exemplifies their views. In the rest of the country, issues like the economy and jobs, health care, the environment, etc, are high priorities, but in SC the top concern was terrorism!

All Republican candidates are selling fear, ultra-nationalism, religion, saint Reagan, and policies fit for the Dark Ages. But, Trump has managed to combine the lunatic fringe--which in Republican circles is ..normal--and the angry mob that believes the minorities, and the leftist elites have robbed them of greatness. Apparently their attention has been captured by a shining object, more aptly an orange clown who speaks with a third-grade language, insults and bullies anyone he doesn't like, while he deliberately refuses to be more specific as to how he'll assume the role of Vladimir Putin to rule the US.

Here's a leader who may be the presidential nominee of one of the two major political parties and whose rhetoric belongs in the gutter. We should aspire for higher political discourse as a nation. Trump is throwing tinder in the fire stoked by the GOP all these years, and he's popular not because he comes up with new ideas or new extremism--these attributes and attitudes have been already cultivated within the Republican party.

Here's a leader that questioned Obama's birth place and faith. Just a couple days ago, Trump Twitted that Obama would have gone to Scalia's funeral if it were at a mosque!  He knows what he's doing, judging from SC exit polls that showed 73% of Republican voters want to ban all Muslims from the US, among other crazy beliefs.

A recent Daily News cover
Oh, we hear from the media that the "establishment of the Republican party" doesn't like Trump, or Cruz. Why, you may ask... Is this establishment in the mainstream? Well, no! See how the leadership of the GOP has behaved since Obama became president. Sorry, I meant to say, since Obama won the election. Even before he took office, the GOP began to reject everything he stood for regardless of the result of a landslide election. They began to challenge him not only on policy and ideological grounds but on legitimacy grounds too!  And, for good measure, they pinned the great recession on him! Being childish, however, has appeal among at least a third of the American public nowadays.

So, now, like a spoiled child, the Republican leadership pouts about the Supreme Court nomination, arguing that this president should not be allowed to nominate a new justice to the SCOTUS, because, heck, Obama will nominate a liberal. Horrors. But, their faulty memory doesn't recall that in 1991 when Thurgood Marshall, the most liberal justice on the court retired, president Bush (41) gave us Clarence Thomas, one of the most conservative members of the high court. And, when centrist Sandra Day O'Connor retired, Bush (43) gave us another ultra-conservative, Samuel Alito.

Feb 19, 2016

Divided Government, Stark Partisanship & Gridlock, but Elections Matter because of their Consequences

As amazing as it may sound to those who follow politics, many people in our country don't really understand the role the US Supreme Court plays. They see the fight between president Obama and Congress about nominating a new justice as another political game. Many of my students when asked how does the high court affect their lives couldn't come up with specific cases that determined the conditions and direction of our country. A few mentioned the Roe v. Wade case and then a couple others remembered the decisions about "Obama care" and same-sex marriage.

It's the same view the general public has that things will work out, more or less regardless who's on the Supreme Court, and to similar extend in Congress. Oh, yeah, there's partisanship and some hot-button issues, but most of us have picked a team (like in sports), and we hope for the best while we expect to be disappointed by the way our political system works.

I hope this issue of getting the 9th justice on the supreme court is an educational opportunity in many ways. For starters, it highlights the principle of division of power, checks and balances. Or, how the US model separates the executive (president) from the legislature (Congress) in contrast to most western countries where the executive (usually a prime minister) control the majority of seats in the legislature (parliament). 

On this topic, I wish the media asked the presidential candidates the following question, "How do you expect to do all the things you say you will do when we have a divided government, and in all probability--judging from the last many years--Congress will not go along with your plans?"   

As for the supreme court, the president gets to nominate, and eventually gets someone he chose confirmed. The Senate cannot reject or delay forever. I can see why the Democrats might have opposed a G W Bush nomination in 2008 a few months before the election, but conservative presidents choose conservative judges, like liberals choose their kind. The times of "mainstream" or truly independent candidates for the supreme court are over. The two parties are far apart, primarily because the Republican party has left the mainstream.

Also, an appointment to the high court with its eventual effect on our society is part of a president's legacy. The stakes are high, especially in a politically, and I dare say culturally, divided country. That's why presidents now look to nominate someone in their late 40s or early 50s so they can stay on the court for 30 years!  Funny, thing, I asked my students if they could imagine themselves age 50 and they almost fell off their seats. They got the point though that the next ..supreme will be on the high court making decisions affecting their lives until they reach age 50!

Heck, that's a good reason to register and vote!

Feb 14, 2016

The Year of the Monkey is Shapping to be a Great One for Progressives!

This is shaping to be a nice new year, and once again we're called to make a decision about the direction of our country. There are vast differences between the two parties' candidates, and let's not forget that elections have consequences! The Supreme Court is always at play during a presidential election.

There have been great debates about the direction of the country already, but new ideas come primarily from the left as the right wants to bring back what it has been tried before, often with dire outcomes. Yes, "the system" has a momentum that can't be easily changed given present political realities, unless, as Bernie Sanders says, public opinion and voting changes to reflect the need for change--change that will restore most benefits to the middle class.

The presidential term lasts 8 years, and Obama has over 300 days left in office. God just gave us a gift by recalling Scalia from the US Supreme Court. How can you argue with God, right? Scripture, as per St. Paul, says the people should obey those in power, because, after all, there's a divine plan in place. Therefore, Obama should nominate a replacement asap, and the president should be the communicator-in chief in order to get the new SCOTUS justice confirmed by the Senate.

Despite the nice statements about the departed justice, Scalia was a divisive figure and a conservative champion who believed in a romantic but unrealistic view of the US constitution. The conservatives have been attacking the liberal justices as "activists" who find rights in the constitution and overturn the "will of the people" and legislatures. Of course, the 2000 SCOTUS decision to essentially give G.W. Bush the presidency was an act of judicial activism by the conservatives, though they tend to forget it. 

Marco Rubio put it bluntly yesterday, that the US constitution is not "a living, breathing" document but must be interpreted "as the founders intended."  This is a conservative but misguided view. The constitution was meant for a living and breathing country, not a dead one of the 18th century..... a time when owning arms meant a musket and a knife!  Indeed, we tweaked the constitution 27 times already. 

Also, many necessary changes that promoted rights, freedom, and the quality of life came via the judiciary branch, especially when some states--often representing local majorities--remained stuck in the 18th century conservatives seemed to love. Oh, yeah, there are "moderate conservatives" I hear. OK, it's true. These are the ones who love the time before the New Deal. Maybe that's what Trump means by "Let's Make America Great Again."

There are many cases of importance the high court has to decide before it goes into recess in June, cases such for voting rights, Obamacare, union organizing, immigration, etc.  So, let the gladiatorial games begin...  Happy Chinese new year by the way.