Nel's New Day

January 8, 2017

‘Understanding’ Won’t Change GOP Voters

If only Hillary Clinton were more likable. If only she had gone to the right states. And on and on.

After the election, Democrats used Clinton as the scapegoat for losing the election and skipped over the antagonistic media, the James Comey illegal releases, the Russian hacking, the Trump lies, and a number of other issues beyond her control. Ignoring all these reasons, Democrats decided they lost the presidency because they didn’t try to “understand” the white working-class segment of the population.

Forsetti’s Justice presents his perspective of “understanding” rural Christian white America.

“The real problem isn’t East Coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is that rural Americans don’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of the choices they’ve made and the horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe…. The problem is they don’t understand themselves or the reasons for their anger and frustration.”

The white Christian god is king in deep-red states. Tribal belief systems are shaped by religious fundamentalism which prevents curiosity, change, learning, and criticism. Democrats who think that these fundamentalists need “understanding” are wrong: they only want agreement. All educated progressives are enemies to fundamentalists.

“Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts.”

Fundamentalists believe in teaching reading and writing but reject any disagreement to their doctrine. Women should marry and have children the minute that they graduate from high school, and college for young men is a waste of time. Even young people who attend college automatically reject whatever doesn’t fit into their fundamentalist belief systems.

Justice defines rural Christian white Americans as racists. They may deny this description because they’ve—mostly—stopped burning crosses and lynchings, but their belief system tells them that they are superior because they are white, all made in the image of their white god. Religion teaches them that a less-than-white skin comes from sins instead of their ancestors. Fundamentalist belief that blacks are curse, for good reason, means that they shouldn’t be treated as equals. Internal change is frightening to fundamentalists so they ignore evolution, genetics, and science. No “understanding” from Democrats will make them less racist and more open to facts.

Propaganda works exceptionally well with fundamentalists because they have no protection against it, no openness, willingness to re-evaluate, critical analysis, and self-reflection. Fundamentalists grant some people “expert status” and believe everything they say, treating it like gospel.

“Rural Christian white Americans have let anti-intellectual, anti-science, bigoted racists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, the Stepford wives of Fox, and every evangelical preacher on television into their systems because these people tell them what they want to hear and because they sell themselves as being like them.”

These people are like DT: they have nothing in common with these fundamentalists except for their color and language of white superiority. Yet fundamentalists treat them as authorities.

Bad information stays with fundamentalists because of their “closed-off” belief systems. Justice compares this to spinal fluid, “great as long as nothing infectious gets into it. If bacteria gets into your spinal fluid, it causes unbelievable damage because there are no white blood cells to fend off invaders and protect the system. Without the protective services of white blood cells in the spinal column, infection spreads like wildfire and does significant damage in a short period of time. Once inside the closed-off spinal system, bacteria are free to destroy whatever they want.”

Anything outside their belief system is a threat to fundamentalists who want the behavior be blocked for everyone. Same-gender couples marrying, blacks protesting police killings of unarmed friends and family, immigrants performing cheap labor, Muslims celebrating a non-Christian religion, women making a working wage, people getting a college education, scientists warning about climate change—all these are threats. A black president is a threat. The Chinese are threats. Fear makes them create or believe false information such as “President Obama was born in Kenya, is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood who hates white Americans and is going to take away their guns.”

The solution isn’t “understanding” the irrational and unjustified fears based on the lies that come from their fundamentalist belief systems promoted by rural white Christians. Fundamentalists don’t trust Democrats and aren’t open to them. Finding “common ground” isn’t the answer. Justice wrote:

“When a 2,700-year-old book that was written by uneducated, pre-scientific people, subject to translation innumerable times, and edited with political and economic pressures from popes and kings, is given higher intellectual authority than facts arrived at from a rigorous, self-critical, constantly re-evaluating system that can and does correct mistakes, no amount of understanding, respect or evidence is going to change their minds and assuage their fears.”

One way fundamentalist belief changes is through personal occurrence. Acceptance of same-gender marriage switched from 68 percent of the people opposed 20 years ago to a 61-percent acceptance today. Even 40 percent of Republicans support marriage equality. Fundamentalists learned that their friends and family were part of the LGBT community, and the conflict between the belief system and personal experience more than reversed their opinions.

Changes in belief systems can come from catastrophes, especially if taken personally.Comedian Dennis Miller changed from using complex, left-leaning humor to right-wing anger and frustration after the 9/11 attacks. The reverse can also be true: the Great Depression and FDR’s progressive remedies moved GOP members into being Democrats who disagreed that the economy could be saved only by the free market but destroyed by the government.

George W. Bush’s disastrous recession didn’t have the same effect because Congress and the Obama administration saved people from the suffering in the 1930s. Without the shock of a devastating economic depression, conservatives stuck to their belief system of badly regulated markets, supply side economics, and ineffective ways to respond to financial crises. Instead they rewarded the political party causing the problem by voting them into a record number of state legislatures and House control.

Catastrophes also don’t always solve situations. A century and a half after the South lost the Civil War fundamentalists there think they were right and need to change the outcome.

The fundamentalist belief system supports lies that President Obama was in charge at the beginning of the financial crisis and that the mortgage crisis was because the government forced banks to lend to unqualified minorities. President Obama’s dark skin made their lies seem accurate.

Fundamentalists believe that only god can change the weather; that god thinks women should be subservient to men; and that god created whites superior to people of color, especially in an environment where white people interact with few people of color. The fundamentalist belief system requires fundamentalists to vote for massive tax cuts and cutting back government although it hurts their personal situation.

Justice wrote:

“’Rural white America needs to be better understood,’ is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as too upsetting, too mean, too arrogant, too elite, too snobbish. Pointing out that Aunt Bea’s view of Mexicans, blacks and gays is bigoted isn’t the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same about Aunt Bea’s views. It’s the classic, ‘You’re a racist for calling me a racist,’ ploy.”

Democrats are only avoiding the obvious—that the U.S. has always had a race problem. The divide will continue as long as rural Christian white Americans fail to accept such truths that their votes are responsible for the largest redistribution of wealth to the top in the history of the country, that white business owners are to blame for moving jobs overseas, that no one is going to block their buying guns if they are sane, that their churches won’t have to marry same-gender couples, that access to birth control won’t damage their lives, that they get more help from the government than people in the blue states, that health crises are not “moral failings,” that shopping at big-box stores destroys small businesses, and that most of their problems come from the Republicans who they elect. Economic policies that help rural Christians—increased minimum wage, unions, infrastructure assistance, renewable energy, closing climate change, healthcare reform, etc.—come from Democrats.

Until fundamentalist Christians quit voting against their personal interests just to hurt immigrants, they will continue to suffer—along with all the rest of the bottom 99 percent. Trying to “understand” the white voter isn’t going to change anything.

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November 9, 2016

Time to Clean Closets, Enjoy Friends

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 7:29 PM
Tags: , ,

Last night I didn’t sleep much. I’m guessing that millions of people didn’t sleep much either. Fortunately, a friend had dropped off several library books, and I spent several hours reading them. By this morning, I decided that I couldn’t do anything today about Donald Trump’s election, and I needed to take care of myself. My resolution was that this is the first day of the rest of my life, and I’m going to have a good life. For the rest of the day, I cleaned closets and the garage, taking some time out to talk to a distraught friend about the disaster of watching Trump try to destroy the people in the United States for the next four years.

My friend wasn’t ready to give up her anger and grief while we were on the telephone, but she sent me the following piece from Garrison Keillor in the Washington Post. She wrote, “Sounds a little like what you were saying.” Keillor no longer broadcasts his radio program, Prairie Home Companion, that he started over 40 years ago, and he no longer has a regular syndicated column. But he has given me this comfort in a difficult time.

garrison-keillor“Pollsters in the presidential election seem to have gone awry. Several months of polls predicted Hillary Clinton would be elected president, by winning support in key states. While Clinton started out strong, evidence shows pollsters tend to underestimate conservative voters. Trump gained support in key swing states, becoming America’s 45th president.

“So he won. The nation takes a deep breath. Raw ego and proud illiteracy have won out and a severely learning-disabled man with a real character problem will be president. We are so exhausted from thinking about this election, millions of people will take up leaf-raking and garage cleaning with intense pleasure. We liberal elitists are wrecks. The Trumpers had a whale of a good time, waving their signs, jeering at the media, beating up protesters, chanting “Lock her up” — we elitists just stood and clapped. Nobody chanted “Stronger Together.” It just doesn’t chant.

“The Trumpers never expected their guy to actually win the thing, and that’s their problem now. They only wanted to whoop and yell, boo at the H-word, wear profane T-shirts, maybe grab a crotch or two, jump in the RV with a couple six-packs and go out and shoot some spotted owls. It was pleasure enough for them just to know that they were driving us wild with dismay — by “us,” I mean librarians, children’s authors, yoga practitioners, Unitarians, birdwatchers, people who make their own pasta, opera goers, the grammar police, people who keep books on their shelves, that bunch. The Trumpers exulted in knowing we were tearing our hair out. They had our number, like a bratty kid who knows exactly how to make you grit your teeth and froth at the mouth.

“Alas for the Trump voters, the disasters he will bring on this country will fall more heavily on them than anyone else. The uneducated white males who elected him are the vulnerable ones and they will not like what happens next.

“To all the patronizing b.s. we’ve read about Trump expressing the white working class’s displacement and loss of the American Dream, I say, “Feh!” — go put your head under cold water. Resentment is no excuse for bald-faced stupidity. America is still the land where the waitress’ kids can grow up to become physicists and novelists and pediatricians, but it helps a lot if the waitress and her husband encourage good habits and the ambition to use your God-given talents and the kids aren’t plugged into electronics day and night. Whooping it up for the candidate of cruelty and ignorance does less than nothing for your kids.

“We liberal elitists are now completely in the clear. The government is in Republican hands. Let them deal with him. Democrats can spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids and we Democrats can go for a long brisk walk and smell the roses.

“I like Republicans. I used to spend Sunday afternoons with a bunch of them, drinking Scotch and soda and trying to care about NFL football. It was fun. I tried to think like them. (Life is what you make it. People are people. When the going gets tough, tough noogies.) But I came back to liberal elitism.

“Don’t be cruel. Elvis said it and it’s true. We all experienced cruelty back in our playground days, boys who beat up on the timid, girls who made fun of the homely and naive, and most of us, to our shame, went along with it, afraid to defend the victims lest we become one of them. But by your 20s, you should be done with cruelty. Mr. Trump was the cruelest candidate since George Wallace. How he won on fear and bile is for political pathologists to study. The country is already tired of his noise, even his own voters. He is likely to become the most intensely disliked president since Hoover. His children will carry the burden of his name. He will never be happy in his own skin. But the damage he will do to our country — who knows? His supporters voted for change, and boy, are they going to get it.

“Back to real life. I went up to my hometown the other day and ran into my gym teacher, Stan Nelson, looking good at 96. He commanded a landing craft at Normandy on June 6, 1944, and never said a word about it back then, just made us do chin-ups whether we wanted to or not. I saw my biology teacher Lyle Bradley, a Marine pilot in the Korean War, still going birdwatching in his 90s. I was not a good student then, but I am studying both of them now. They have seen it all and are still optimistic. The past year of politics has taught us absolutely nothing. Zilch. Zero. Nada. The future is scary. Let the uneducated have their day. I am now going to pay more attention to teachers.”

When the GOP took over both the House and Senate, they swore to accomplish something. They didn’t. Starting on January 20, they will have the entire enchilada and have to perform. Trump promised to stop all crime in the country on the first day of his presidency and then bring back manufacturing to the U.S. soon after.

By now, Republicans are sure to be suffering from performance anxiety. Braggart Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called on using the election’s mandate “responsibly” because it may not be permanent. He’s figured out that Congress won’t–or can’t–follow through with all Trump’s promises and that people will turn on the GOP if they don’t produce. Trump may be president, but he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.

Thousands of demonstrators are marching in the streets tonight, not only in New York City but also in Boston, Chicago, Portland (OR), Seattle, Washington, and places in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, as a protest against Trump’s racist policies.   not-my-president

I’ll have more to say about the election later, but for right now, I’ll just keep cleaning out the rest of our house, reading, and enjoying my friends.

October 22, 2016

The Effects of Brexit

Volcanoes go quiet before the eruptions: the greater the calm, the more powerful the explosion. That’s the conclusion of volcanologist Diana Roman who reported that the length of the quiet time can be correlated to the volcanoes’ risks. Although not always, bad storms are also identified by preceding periods of calm. Tropical cyclones have an “eye,” a time of calm weather in the circular area before the other side hits.

This weekend feels like one of those periods of eerie calm as the nation comes off two tumultuous days last week—the presidential debate and the humorless “roast” at the Al Smith’s charity dinner when Donald Trump’s only “self-deprecating” statement was directed at his wife’s copying Michele Obama’s speech earlier this year. Hillary Clinton was funnier—she wasn’t frequently booed as Trump was—but several of her jokes had serious barbs.

Since those events, a subdued Trump lacks energy in his rallies. For the first time, he said that he might lose the election, and GOP politicians appear to be in a political malaise with no way out. The tension of an upcoming storm gives a feeling of danger, but even a short calm leaves us a chance to contemplate the issues that have been overlooked by the bombastic control of the GOP presidential candidate showman.

Brexit, for example, is making its presence known. For those who have forgotten, the Trumpian hatred toward minorities, government, and regulation across the pond led a frenzy of voting in the United Kingdom to separate the country from the European Union. The voters then elected conservative Theresa May as its prime minister. Her announcement to invoke Article 50 within a few months forces the UK to finalize its separation two years from then.

The divorce settlement between the UK and the EU is a bit fuzzy with no scheduled deadline. No one knows what UK’s constitution requires although May promised a bill to put EU laws into UK domestic law. A serious problem is negotiating new trade agreements until the divorce may be finalized in 2019.

Meanwhile, May is behaving like a woman forced to leave her husband with the intent to divorce but trying to keep all the rights of her marriage. This week she ordered the EU to not hold any more summits without the UK. May said, “I want the U.K. to play an active part…. I expect to be fully involved in all discussions related to the EU 28.”

EU leaders weren’t impressed. The remaining 27 had two informal meetings since last June when UK citizens voted in favoring of dumping the EU and plan another information meeting—without the UK—in January. May was allowed to give a speech about Brexit at the summit but given only five minutes at 1:00 am. EU leaders are also considering changing the official negotiation language from English to French, another bone of contention for May.

Gibraltar, where 96 percent of its residents voted to stay with EU, is just one problem that May faces. Their flourishing economy is dependent on easy commutes across its border, and Madrid would be delighted for Spain to regain sovereignty after three centuries. If Spain plays hardball with Gibraltar, residents would be dependent on boats or planes to leave the country, and intensified border checks would complicate their life as it did three years ago until the EU settled the problems. After Brexit, Spain can veto any trade deals with the UK—which also means Gibraltar.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that it is “democratically unacceptable” to force Scotland out of the EU because its citizens voted to remain. A second independence referendum for Scotland is now “highly likely,” according to Sturgeon. The impact in Northern Ireland would be “very profound,” according to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, and the island of Ireland should be able to vote on reunification. Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers ruled out the call from Sinn Féin for a border poll. UK’s prime minister, Theresa May, will meet this coming week with leaders of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland this week to essentially tell them  that she’s in charge and they will work for the entire UK—not just their part of it.

Another problem comes from reports banks are leaving the UK, the smaller ones by the end of the year followed by the biggest ones early next year. The flight comes from the threat that Britain will “pay the price” of leaving, as French president François Hollande and other EU leaders have promised in a “hard Brexit.” EU leaders could reintroduce tariff and non-tariff restrictions on British imports and exports, and banking is Britain’s largest export industry, according to Anthony Browne, head of the British Bankers’ Association. Up to 70,000 financial jobs could be lost if the banks flee the sinking island.

Despite these dangers, the UK Conservative party is more concerned about immigration than the country’s economy and has no plan regarding the UK and the EU. Businesses are at a loss because the government has provided no direction. The pound’s value has dropped to an almost 30-year low, meaning that it buys fewer euros or dollars, and experts predict the pound value to remain at least ten percent below what it was on the day before the June Brexit vote. All imported products—clothing, food, etc.—will stay more expensive than before the vote.

The Bank of England’s drop in interest rates from 0.5 percent to 0.25 percent—a record low and the first cut since 2009—is the same strategy that the U.S. used to fight its way out of George W. Bush’s recession, and lowering the interest rate may reduce the value of pensions.  Cost of government borrowing has gone up because Britain lost its top AAA credit rating.

Divorce from the EU covering thousands of subjects during 43 years of agreements and treaties must have the unanimous approval of over 30 national and regional parliaments across Europe, some of whom may want to hold referendums. At this time, the EU will permit the UK to be part of the single-market—including tariff-free trade—if EU nationals have the unchecked right to live and work in the UK. The UK doesn’t want to give up that control and declines to give a guarantee about EU nationals now living in the UK, but it wants the single market.

Travelers from EU and other non-EU countries in a group called the European Economic Area (EEA) may no longer receive state-provided medical help for conditions or injuries requiring urgent treatment if the UK severs ties with EEA.

Overwhelming popularity of Brexit is vanishing in the UK. In the Witney vote this week to replace former Prime Minister David Cameron, the Conservative Party percentage went from 60.2  last year for Cameron percent to 45 percent, Liberal Democrat vote increased from 6.8 percent to 30.2 percent, and the UKIP (Brexit supporters) went down almost two-thirds, 9.2 percent to 3.5 percent, now fourth place behind the Green Party candidate, Bernie Sanders’ brother Larry Sanders.

Brexit campaign manager and Vladimir Putin-supporter Nigel Farage has been a strong supporter of Donald Trump, coaching him for the town hall session with Hillary Clinton on October 9 and speaking at his rallies. Farage was heard praising Trump about his town hall performance on Fox. Although Farage took a small step backwards after hearing about Trump’s groping women, he still wants the racist, nationalist presidential candidate to win because of their similarities. Farage tells his U.S. audiences that Trump, despite his shrinking poll numbers, can still win because many people didn’t expect Brexit to win.

If people don’t vote for Clinton, Farage could be right, and the United States could be in worse shape than the UK if that happens. Even if Trump loses, the negative effects of Brexit will penetrate the United States, requiring a competent president.

Today I dropped off my ballot in Oregon. I wanted to make sure that no matter what happens to me in the next 17 days, I have voted to keep Donald Trump from become the Russian-supporting dictator of the country where I live.

Nels New Day is taking a hiatus and will return after Halloween. In the meantime, please vote early and vote sane!

October 20, 2016

Trump Keeps Supporters, Loses GOP Politicians

Last night’s presidential debate was a redux of earlier ones. My partner and I bet how long Donald Trump would keep his promise of staying high: I said 20 minutes, and she went for 40 minutes. I won. At the 20-minute report, he started downhill and kept on sliding, just like the last two times. When he wasn’t slinging mud, Trump engaged in what the late Justice Antonin Scalia classified as “argle-bargle” to sound as if he knew what he was talking about. He didn’t.

The biggest headlines about the debate are that Trump won’t promise to accept the results of the election. People should “tune in” on Election Night to see what he had to say, according to the showman in his attempt to take media notice from his sexual assaults. [Note: today Trump may be softening on his claim, but no one is ever sure of his position on anything.]

Some of Trump’s more bizarre statements between snarls of “wrong!” and other interruptions:

“Justice Ginsburg made some very, very inappropriate statements toward me and toward a tremendous number of people, many, many millions of people that I represent. And she was forced to apologize. And apologize she did. But these were statements that should never, ever have been made.” A Trump criterion for a Supreme Court Justice that they be nice to him and bragging about how he made one of them apologize—it’s all about Donald throughout the debate.

“We have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out.” Trump’s immigration plan using derogatory terms for Hispanics.

“[Russian President Vladimir Putin would] rather have a puppet as president of the United States.” Clinton’s comment when Trump rejected intelligence that Russia is hacking emails to sway the presidential election. Trump’s response: “No puppet. No puppet. You’re the puppet.”

“I didn’t even apologize to my wife who is sitting right here because I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know any of these women. I didn’t see these women. These women, the woman on the plane, I think they want either fame or her campaign did it and I think it’s her campaign.” Too much protesting?

“Nobody has more respect for women that I do, nobody.” Laughter from the audience.

“She’s guilty of a very, very serious crime. [Clinton] should not be allowed to run. And just in that respect I say it’s rigged.”

“I will look at [the election] at the time. I’m not looking at anything now.” Trump asked about accepting the election results. “What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?” After asked a second time.

“Should have gotten it.” Trump’s interruption when Clinton said, “There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged.”

“I sat in my apartment today on a very beautiful hotel down the street known as Trump…” Trump’s interrupted attempt at an infomercial as part of the debate.

“[Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad] is a bad guy. But you may very well end up with worse than Assad …. If she did nothing, we’d be in much better shape…. He’s just much tougher and much smarter than her and Obama.” Trump’s typical admiration for dictators.

“[Aleppo] has fallen, I mean, from any standpoint. What do you need, a signed document? I mean, from any standpoint.” Trump’s falsehood about the city under heavy shelling.

“Such a nasty woman.” Trump’s parting shot at Clinton. [This last one will become a meme for independent women!]

“I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad,” last night’s moderator, Fox network Chris Wallace, said after the huge debacle of Matt Lauer’s town hall in September. Even Wallace’s questions need a fact-checker.

Wallace falsely claimed that “the biggest driver of our debt is entitlements” and  pushed candidates toward a decision on a “grand bargain” when the funds disappear. He wrongly equated the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) analyses of Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s tax and economic policy proposals with the purpose of pushing them toward a decision on a “grand bargain” when the funds disappear. [The CRFB is operated by billionaire Pete Peterson, a member of Nixon’s cabinet, and shows that Wallace was wrong in his question.] Craig Harrington fact-checks the moderator in Media Matter with this chart showing the difference between the two candidates’ plans. Other fact-checking is also available here.  

debt-chart

Wallace also used the Fox fantasy that the “stimulus” created a sluggish economic recovery. The real problem with the stimulus package, according to noted economists, is that it was too small and too focused on tax cuts instead of target spending—both GOP-forced positions.

Other ways that Wallace tried to help Trump:

  • Opening the debate with conservative wedge issues on which Trump failed to score—Supreme Court, guns, abortion, and illegal immigration.
  • Attacking Clinton first and leaving the Trump negatives for later in the debate after people may have tuned out while leading into Trump issues with Wikileaks.
  • Framing the sexual assault question by questioning the truth of the women’s allegations by asking “why would [the women] make up these stories?
  • Trying to bail out Trump after he said he wouldn’t accept the election results by explaining why that was a bad idea and then asking him a second time.
  • Ignoring the debate ground rules by eliminating closing statements.
  • Failing to address issues such as climate change, equal pay, education, lifting people out of poverty, helping the middle class, collective bargaining rights, corporate personhood, money in politics, Wall Street abuses, etc.,etc.

Trump complained that Chris Wallace rigged the debate, but Trump couldn’t even handle the softballs that Wallace tossed him. Jason Easley called Wallace “the most lenient debate moderator towards Trump of the 2016 campaign.”

Last night may have been the first appearance of “Trump TV” when the GOP candidate livestreamed his debate coverage on his Facebook page, complete with advertising and commentary from retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. Other guests included faithful surrogate Rudy Giuliani. Rumors of a Trump network emerged after a Financial Times report. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has supposedly “informally” approached investment bank LionTree about creating a television network after the election. Variety said that LionTree was not interested, and Trump would likely suffer from a lack of advertising.

GOP Trump-supporting candidates may lose their elections because of Trump’s performance—which was indeed just a performance. I believe that Trump doesn’t want to win the election: he wants to gather followers for his next television show. To him, the last 17 months have been preparation for the next big media deal, and winning the White House would ruin those plans. Trump may be a man without control, but last night he purposefully ruined chances of picking up more votes, his MO throughout his entire campaign. He doesn’t care that he’s bamboozled all those faithful supporters—including the white supremacists—who look to him as a leader into white nationalism and may incite violent riots throughout the country.

Columnist Charles Krauthammer described Trump’s behavior last night as “political suicide.” My partner said Trump did it out of stupidity; I said that he’s trying to throw his chances at the presidency. We’ll never know which of us is right, but in 20 days we’ll know whether we have to bow to King Trump. It comes down to the voters of the United States.

Those who have not had enough of the mud-wrestling presidential campaign can watch the two of them roast each other at the Al Smith Catholic charities dinner.

August 20, 2013

2016: Cruz Moves Forward, Borowitz Shows Christie’s Problem

Much as we hate to think about the next presidential race, it seems that the presidential competition for the 2016 election has begun in earnest. The most recent sign is Sen. Ted Cruz’s declaration that he’s renouncing his Canadian citizenship. He announced his decision after The Dallas Morning News wrote that Cruz may have dual citizenship with Canada and the United States after being born in Canada to a woman with U.S. citizenship. From his remarks, Cruz seemed astonished about his dual citizenship status:

“Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship. Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a U.S. senator; I believe I should be only an American.”

When he completed the form to renounce his Canadian citizenship, the Harvard Law School graduate and Supreme Court attorney issued a press release explaining that he just followed his mother’s directions:

“When I was a kid, my mom told me that I could choose to claim Canadian citizenship if I wanted. I got my U.S. passport in high school. Because I was a U.S. citizen at birth, because I left Calgary when I was 4 and have lived my entire life since then in the U.S., and because I have never taken affirmative steps to claim Canadian citizenship, I assumed that was the end of the matter.”

If Cruz gets rid of Obamacare and loses his job, he might want Canadian citizenship: they have health care up north.

The president is the only elected office in the U.S. mandating that a person be a “natural-born citizen” of the United States. The term “birthers” came from the adamant statements about President Obama not being eligible for the presidency because of the falsehood that he was born in Kenya to a woman with a U.S. citizenship. The question is whether U.S. citizenship is the same as “natural born.”

At least two men not born on U.S. soil have run for president: George Romney (1967) in Mexico and John McCain (2008) in the Panama Canal Zone. The Senate declared that McCain is a natural-born citizen. Presidential eligibility problems go back over 130 years when people argued that President Chester A. Arthur was born in Canada and not Vermont, thereby not meeting the eligibility requirement for President of the United States. In 2011, the Congressional Research Service wrote that people born to U.S. citizens in foreign countries “most likely” qualify as natural-born citizens. The argument, however, is probably not over.

Another apparent interest in being interested in the presidential candidacy came from Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who tweeted a photo of himself at Dixville Notch (NH), the first town in the state scheduled to vote in the 2016 primaries. “Just poking around the back roads. Beautiful place 4 first in nation primaries & general election results.” King’s next destination is the Charleston Meeting in South Carolina, also a destination of Republican presidential wannabes. He plans a sit-down on August 26 with 20 local GOP activists, a meeting that Lin Bennett, vice-chair of the South Carolina Republican Party, indicates an interest in become a candidate.

Iowa’s Republican leaders are pleased that King decided not to run for the Senate seat left by Democratic Tom Harkin’s resignation next year. Immigration reform has made King famous across the country, particularly with rejection of giving citizenship to children brought into the U.S. illegally. “For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” according to King.

The plethora of far-right potential candidates such as Cruz, King, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is driving the less than far far right interested parties farther in the conservative direction. For example, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has gone from considering immigration reform to being very quiet about his postion.

Andy Borowitz satirizes the frantic move to the right by GOP presidential candidates:

“New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie withdrew from consideration as a Presidential candidate today after becoming embroiled in what a leading Republican strategist called “a career-ending empathy scandal.”

“After signing a law barring licensed therapists from engaging in so-called gay conversion therapy, Mr. Christie stunned his fellow Republicans by seemingly expressing compassion for gay children, thus disqualifying himself from any further role in the G.O.P.

“In a brief statement to reporters, Mr. Christie expressed remorse for what he called ‘my unfortunate and ill-considered display of understanding for people different from myself,’ and urged the people of New Jersey to remember ‘my strong record of cutting funds for schools and the elderly.’

“While Mr. Christie might try to regain his fellow Republicans’ trust by vetoing more assault-rifle bans, G.O.P. strategist Tracy Klugian says that the governor does not deserve another chance, citing his “dangerous flirtations with compassion” in the past.

“‘After Hurricane Sandy, Chris Christie worried a lot of us with his recklessly sensitive behavior,’ says Mr. Klugian. ‘But we really thought he had put this problem behind him…. But maybe this will force him to get the help he needs.’”

For progressives, however, Christie more than passes the conservative criteria. He admires the regressive Koch brothers, having attended their summer seminar in Colorado, and said he wants to reduce Medicaid and Medicare while raising the Social Security age and cutting many other government programs. His first four budgets cut women’s health funding while spending $260 million on a now-bankrupt Atlantic City casino. Christie canceled the ARC rail tunnel to Manhattan which would have provided thousands of jobs, cleared up congestion, and reduced pollution. In addition, he weakened over 100 essential environmental protections to help big corporations and land developers.

Late last Friday, hoping to hide from the media, Christie worked to get his conservative cred back when he refused to sign three gun control measures, one which he had requested. He had called for a ban on sales of the Barrett .50 caliber rifle (A3659), the most powerful weapon commonly available to civilians. The weapon fires ammunition the size of carrots and can pierce steel plate armor from several hundred yards away. It can even shoot down airplanes.

.50 caliber

Most people would rather avoid hearing about presidential candidate fantasies. But if you hear about politicians straying from their constituents into Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, you might think about the reason.

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