New poll questions mislead on Iran “deal”

DSC_0317

Quinnipiac poll released today shows that most Americans polled in the swing states of OH, PA and FL don’t approve of the Iran nuclear deal.  In Florida, and Pennsylvania, 61% were against it; in Ohio, 58% opposed the deal. By similar margins, those polled thought the deal made the world less safe.

This poll comes out a time when there has been intense pressure on Congress to vote no on the deal by AIPAC, the conservative pro-Israel lobby and the GOP who oppose the President on everything. The just say NO Congress and their band of conservative presidential candidates lead by Trump have fear-mongered on the Iran “deal” question to the point that most Americans believe the deal will lead to the destruction of the world, which in my view is a far more likely thing to happen as a result of GOP climate denying.  The fringe is certain that all of Iran’s own money that will be freed up by the deal when sanctions are lifted will be spent on terrorism and building nuclear bombs, despite the fact that the deal is exclusively ABOUT nuclear disarmament.

But here’s the other thing, the poll asks the question in the wrong way, in fact all the political pundits have been talking about the “deal” in the wrong way.  It’s actually not so much a deal as an agreement and it’s more than the just an agreement between Iran and the U.S.; it’s actually an agreement between Iran and 6 countries:  the U.S., China, France, the UK, Russia and Germany.  And the agreement is called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  If the poll question were rephrased to: “Do you support or oppose the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement concerning Iran’s nuclear program between Iran and the U.S., China, France, the UK, Russia and Germany?” my guess is that more would be in favor than opposed.

Also, the media continues to perpetuate the notion that Iran will do its own inspections, which is patently false.  This aspect concerns a side deal that has nothing to do with the agreement and pertains to a deactivated site where some testing with nuclear materials had been performed in the past.  Iran will present samples from this site to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), for verification.  The main agreement covers Iran’s active nuclear sites which will be under constant monitoring by the IAEA and subject to periodic site visits.

How can a denuclearized Iran make the world less safe? What people seem to be responding to is the idea that Iran will use all the money freed up from sanctions to fund global terror.  First, how can we be so certain and how do we know they aren’t already supporting terrorist groups to achieve political objectives?  Second, have we forgotten that the Iranian people are suffering and have put a great deal of pressure on the regime to invest in their own economic and social needs.  If Iran ignores the needs of their own people, this would be a disaster and threaten the regime’s viability. Third, the prospect of a nation with a nuclear bomb that has been openly hostile to Israel poses a great threat to the world.  The agreement prevents that possibility. Last, the agreement is one that deals solely with the nuclear question.  It doesn’t tackle foreign policy objectives, the hostage situation or anything else.  If these other questions were put into the mix, there would be no deal, which is what many on the right would prefer.  And if there were no deal, the only solution would be war.  And in my judgement, war makes the world less safe and secure.  Our recent exploits in Afghanistan and Iraq should be lessons for us all that war is not the answer.

Election Prediction – Clinton Takes the Top Prize

Partriotic Cow

Despite the polls, the U.S. electorate is unlikely to vote an outsider into office.  What I mean by outsider is one with either no political experience – Fiorina, Trump, Carson- or a candidate who is not a true member of one of the two parties – Trump and Sanders.

For better or worse, the U.S. has just two functioning parties, and one, the GOP, is struggling to stay relevant as it’s been hijacked by Trump and is very close to becoming a fringe party of loud unelectable extremist voices.  In a fierce battle to rescue the party, the leadership will turn its back on Trump and its long line of clowns, which spells defeat for Cruz (the most conservative of the bunch based on rankings from GovTrack.us), Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, Kasich and Rick Perry.  Lindsay Graham and Bobby Jindal have no chance polling at less than 1%.  This leaves Bush and Rubio to duke it out and as flawed as Bush numero tres happens to be, I expect him to come out on top.

On the Democrat side, while Sanders, like Trump has attracted large crowds, most won’t vote for a self-described Socialist, much to the dismay of Republicans who praise Bernie as a serious and honest candidate. The GOP would also like nothing better than for Biden to get into the race and even apparently persuaded Quinnipiac to poll Biden’s numbers even though he is not yet running. The GOP and the Press have relentlessly attacked Hillary Clinton over the email server affair hoping to turn it all into a scandal so that Biden runs and wins the nomination.  If he does, Bush may not trounce Biden but he’d have a much easier time beating Biden than he would Hillary Clinton.  However, despite the GOPs attempts to manipulate the Democratic race, I expect Clinton to survive server “scandal” and the rehashed assaults over her role in the Benghazi attack and win the nomination fairly handily over her competitors and take the general by a hanging chad, thanks to Trump’s last minute 3rd party disruption, a la Ralph Nader and Ross Perot.

Trump and the parties pathways to victory

DSC_0308

I know why all the GOP candidates didn’t take on Trump in the first GOP debate – they’re afraid of him.  Afraid he’d turn the audience against them; afraid he might sue them if they crossed him; and afraid that he’ll run as a third party candidate.  And he just might if enough of the field were to attack him at some point.  Their strategy was to go easy on Trump and not goad him into slinging zingers, like the one he slang on Rand Paul who tried to call him out early on.

Almost everyone has written the Donald off as a serious candidate, and possibly even conservatives who until the debate, liked what they heard, but I wouldn’t write him off just yet.  He might continue to surprise and could even win the nomination.  And if he did, and the GOP united in support of him, which seems unlikely, but if they did, he would give Hillary Clinton a good fight, though she would win with ease.

In my opinion, Trump would be the least electable of the lot, alongside Gov. Rick Perry, Senator Lindsay Graham whose candidacy makes me think of House of Cards, Gov. Jindal who had the awkward family reveal, and Gov. Huckabee whose incendiary rhetoric is both dangerous and pitiful. The most electable candidates and the ones Democrats like me should fear the most are Gov. Jeb Bush, Senator Marco Rubio, Gov. Rick Kasich and Gov. Scott Walker.  The union busting Walker may have some appeal outside the Midwest where people tend to hate teachers and the unions who protect them. Marcus Rubio may gain the backing of several billionaires in the coming months and whip the tea party into a frenzy with his memorized talking points.  Rick Kasich, who I first thought was the lead vocalist for the band the Cars, appears to be a moderate who could draw support in others regions, not the South, and take some votes from Jeb Bush.  And of course if Jeb Bush wakes up and finds a little fire in his belly, he could emerge as the one to beat.  But none of the candidates did themselves much of a favor in the debates.  They sounded scripted, timid and uninspiring.

The question is, will the Republican base turn out to vote for Rubio? If Bush were nominated, would the base support him or throw their support to Trump, the spoiler.  Bush and Rubio are Clinton’s biggest threats.  Which is why her best pathway to victory is for Trump to run as an Independent if not nominated by the GOP.  And though he’d take some of her votes, he’d take more away from the GOP as disaffected right wingers – who don’t believe in science, regulations, the separation of church and state and who generally don’t like government and prefer it be run as a business, because we all know that corporations are people – clamor to register their angst. But this scenario could also have the effect of turning out both bases of the two parties.  The GOP’s best pathway to victory, then, will be to continue to push voter suppression laws, because if the elderly, students, Blacks and Latinos can’t vote, many of whom are registered Democrats, it’s all over for the former first lady, Senator and Secretary of State. It is.

Ask Brody the GOPbot

Brody is a GOPbot developed with the knowledge of key GOP positions on most issues.  If Brody were a debate participant, it’d sound like any one of the candidates and should produce gaffes with the best of them.

Moderator:  What do you think about the Iran deal?

Brody:  I ran because I want to make the country great again.

Moderator:  No, Iran, the country, not why you ran.  The Iran nuclear deal.

Brody: There is no clear deal.

Moderator:  Nuclear.

Brody:  As Ronald Reagan said, “trust but verify”.

Moderator:  So it’s a good deal?

Brody.  No, Iran took our hostages.

Moderator:  That was 1979.

Brody: A very good year for Bordeaux and the band Peaches and Herb.

Next question:  Where do you stand on climate change?

Brody:  We stand united.

Moderator: That’s not a complete thought, can you tell me more.

Brody:  Fly the friendly skies, of United…excuse me while I compute…we stand united that the earth is 900 years old and flat.

Moderator:  You can’t be serious?

Brody:  Do Ya think I’m sexy?

Moderator:  Excuse me?

Brody:  Rod Stewart, 1979.  And then there was Rod Laver, 1969 and Rod Sterling, 1959.

Moderator:  Brody, let’s focus. What do you think about planned parenthood.

Brody:  Parenthood should be planned.

Moderator:  That’s it?

Brody:  That 70’s show.

Moderator: What?

Brody: That girl, Marlo Thomas.

Moderator:  One last question.  Gun control or gun rights?

Brody:  Right, the far right, The Far Side.  Bill the cat is all that.

Thank you Brody for a most illuminating conversation.

GOP Debate Coach for Hire

If the GOP candidates need advice for the big first debate in Cleveland, I’m their guy.  Full disclosure – I’m not a Republican, but almost became one on a road trip through Europe in 1984. I remember praising President Ronald “Raygun” Reagan for doing his part to keep the exchange rate favorable to the dollar over the Lira and the French Franc, but did an about face in Switzerland where I ran out of money -dang Suisse Franc, that my spell checker advised me to call Issue.

The big debate should be a first class clown show and the spoils will go to the one who makes the most noise.  So how does one make noise?  Well, it is a debate so it’s best to expose the weaknesses of the opponents, but with charm and good humor.  American voters love to be entertained and respect a good one liner – “Senator (Quayle) you’re no Jack Kennedy.”  Here are some crib notes on some of the “big guns”.

Governors Christie and Kasich are polling at 3%.  How relevant can they be? Isn’t Christie the guy from the auction house? And wasn’t Kasich once running for President as a Democrat? Wait, that was Kucinich.  When I first saw a picture of the Governor, I thought he was ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, his doppleganger.

The known stars of the GOP – “Also Ran” Rand Paul whose father once ran for President on the Libertarian ticket, and the Canadian born Ted Cruz – are polling at 5%. If I were a candidate, I would simply say to Rand, “stop whining” and to Senator Cruz, “you sound like a Sunday morning televangelist” and look out at the crowd and say, “and soon he’ll be passing the plate around asking you for a donation.”  Now Trump was big on the birther thing so he should causally mention that Ted Cruz was born in Alberta, Canada and then say something like – “nothing against Canadians, but they do like their medicine socialized.” That would scare the bejesus out of GOP voters.

Carson, Huckabee and Rubio are running at a modest 6% in the polls.  Dr. Carson is a world renowned surgeon, but has never been elected to public office. Huckabee has made so many desperate, incendiary comments that he’s likely to flame out on stage and is best ignored.  Marco “Polo” Rubio is still exploring the issues and is not even the favorite in his home state, trailing Jeb Bush by 12 points in the latest Florida poll.  “Senator Rubio, it’s not your turn yet.”

And the big three – Trump, Bush and Walker.  Walker, Bush and all the others should just say that Trump has no experience and ignore him.  Bush should say that Walker is a divisive union buster with a mean streak and Trump, Walker and all the others should say, “please, not another Bush” and argue strongly against a monarchy. 12 years and 3 wars is already 12 and 3 too many.

IRANT

IMG_0221In my opinion, the main reason for the opposition to the Iran nuclear deal has nothing to do with security and everything to do with politics.  The Republicans need an issue that gives them some traction in the election cycle.  The Republicans claim the deal will unleash the terror prone state of Iran to make all sorts of mischief in the middle east.  Before the agreement, the Republicans argued that the biggest threat to the middle east was the nuclear state of Iran. And so the deal removes that threat and the region is safer and we can breathe a collective sigh of relief, but the Republicans aren’t buying it and are saying things like – “we didn’t get anything for the deal” (as if a non-nuclear Iran were nothing), and that Iran will use the “signing bonus”, which happens to be their own money previously tied up in economic sanctions, “to sponsor terrorism.”  They say we didn’t get the release of American hostages, which is regrettable, but never the point of the negotiations.  46 Republicans, in an effort to derail U.S. negotiations, even went as far as to write a letter to the supreme leader of Iran saying that any deal would have to be approved by congress. Such action is unprecedented in U.S. politics and shows a complete disrespect for the President, the will of the people who support him and borders on treason. This isn’t the first time that Republicans have refused to work with the Obama administration or tried to derail policies that the majority of Americans support – in fact they have attacked him relentlessly since 2008, and not just his politics. They’ve used incendiary rhetoric, compared him to Hitler, called him a liar, questioned his birthplace, demanded his college transcripts, hinted that he was not a Christian, and now claim that the Iran deal effectively makes him a terrorist who hates America.  They’ve obstructed, filibustered, wearing out the word NO in the process, and have shown more respect to the Israeli head of state than to the their own U.S. President. Unwittingly, they’ve done such a great job of whipping the conservative base into a frenzy that a billionaire reality star and real estate mogul, is now the leading GOP presidential candidate. Surprisingly, the candidates have done very little to discredit Trump because they are not used to standing up to billionaires.  And because of the tactics of the right, the GOP is now an entertaining party of scary clowns.

What the Frack?

The EPA found fracking has not caused widespread pollution of drinking water relative to the number of fracking projects in operation.  Are they serious?  This would have been a good April Fool’s joke, but we’re in June.  The FDA admits that the study’s conclusions are based on limited data and that in some isolated situations, ground water had been contaminated and that’s putting it nicely. The key word is widespread and I would add that the impact may not be widespread yet, but unless you enjoy flammable water, you should be concerned and call for a ban on fracking in your community.

Look, I think we can agree that water is a precious resource, in fact, a prerequisite for life, and if we spoil what natures provides, we are in for trouble. Unlike wind and solar power, water is not a renewable resource, there’s only so much.  Ok, true, we have lots of ocean water, but I challenge you to find a practical way to desalinate the stuff and anyway, thanks to climate change, plastic trash with a half life of 2 billion years and all those rogue jelly fish, our oceans are becoming ever more polluted and acidified.

So are we now ok with fracking?  Does the study give the green light to the oil and gas industry? Do we trust them to protect our water and land resources? Are we ok with the risks associated with fracking including earthquakes? I’m not.

Meat Labelling Humor at the WTO

Chiles Con Carne 3

Well, I was reading a story about some kind of meat labeling treaty or something discussed at the World Trade Organization (WTO).  From what I could gather from the article, the U.S. insists that meat be labeled as to country of origin.  This apparently had Mexico and Canada up in arms with chants of fowl play.

U.S. consumers might prefer the raised and slaughtered in the U.S. label rather than say Uruguay or some other meat producing places, like Canada and Mexico.  Now as a carnivorous American, I want to know where my meat comes from.  I would rather eat locally grass fed beef and cage free “home on the range” chicken and eggs.  And I would like to be reasonably confident that the beef, pork and fish I consume do not also come with a broad spectrum of antibiotics, fattened by GMO grains.  Of course, we can’t be sure.  The irony here is that the U.S. favors labelling meat but does not favor GMO labeling.

As I read more of the article, I did find one point the Canadians made to be amusing and it went like this – because of the integrated nature of the industry, “animals might cross the border multiple times”.   Now just how these animals manage to cross back and forth across the border is an intriguing question.  They must do it in the stealth of night.  I suppose the chickens just fly right over the border undetected.  The pigs I guess dig their way across or access heavily traffic tunnels.  The cattle, well I don’t know how they do it, but they might disguise themselves as tourists with fake id cards.

I do remember crossing over to Canada once and was asked if I had any pork, beef or poultry of any kind on my person and I confessed that I had just eaten a chicken club sandwich and was allowed to cross but only after guards inspected my car and documents, apparently on the look out for stray animals looking for safe roaming across the border. I was so afraid that I promised to become a vegetarian during my stay in Canada.  They actually may have suspected me of being a cow, I do have a deep voice, and though I am sometimes as messy as a pig, I am not a cow, nor have I ever been.

Does America Really Want a Fresh Face?

If you look at recent Presidential polling from Iowa and North Carolina,only Hillary Clinton seems to hold a commanding lead among Democrats.  For the Republicans, it’s anyone’s game – Walker, Bush, Rubio, Cruz, Paul. And when Clinton goes head to head with any of the Republicans, she has a very small advantage in the polls. Iowans favor her over Rubio, Bush, Paul and Huckabee by just 2 points.  I doubt the other Democrats in the race or being urged to run would fare any better against the Republicans.  Bernie Sanders has no chance. Elizabeth Warren could pose a threat, but she’s not even running…yet.  Frankly, I’d prefer that she be nominated for the Supreme Court if any of the justices step down before President Obama’s term expires.  And who has even heard of O’Malley? The only O’Malley I know is Cardinal Sean from Boston and I don’t think he’s running for President, maybe for Pope in a few years, but not President.  It’s good that Hillary has challengers, but they aren’t exactly household names…well, there’s Biden, but Americans are fed up with most established politicians and there will not be a clear cut favorite.  Folks may want a fresh face.  Certainly this attitude was true in 2008.  Which leads me to this.

What if the fresh face were not a politician at all, or at least not seasoned, someone like the Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby? Or maybe comedian Jon Stewart?  Ok, he’s not exactly a fresh face, but he will soon be between jobs.  Conan O’Brien is a Harvard graduate, I think, and he’s not only funny but possibly even smart.  Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have Harvard experience, not that that means anything, but club membership is important if only for appearance sake. The Good Will Hunting masterminds don’t need any introductions or campaign contributions for that matter.  Have you ever considered Neil Tyson Degrasse? He’s the smartest guy on television and would be a fierce debater.  The GMO folks don’t like him much though.  I think Sanjay Gupta has earned the trust of most Americans and might be good for what ails America.  Now for the climate changers among us, we shouldn’t forget Bill Nye the Science Guy.  He has curb appeal and a fiesty personality  And there’s Chris Hayes from MSNBC who could make for an interesting candidate running on a platform of income equality.  Michael Steele should make a run as a Republican. Since he left the party leadership, the Republicans have self-destructed. Harold Ford, Jr. could be the moderate choice among Democrats. A wild card could be Anthony Bourdain who is widely traveled and knowledgeable of global affairs, right? Julia Louis-Dreyfus has real experience, no? She’s interesting, funny and smart and a better actor than Ronald Reagan ever was.  Dennis Rodman is another potential candidate who could bring the peace with all of our enemies through basketball.  Lastly, if Tom Brady wins another Superbowl, he might be elected as a right-in candidate, that is if he doesn’t have a scheduling conflict.  I don’t know his politics, but he was oddly absent from the Patriots meeting with the President.  He’s claims to be an Independent, but I don’t see him supporting Bernie Sanders bid.

Sadly, none of these folks will run and even if they did, they would not stand a chance.  As much as Americans distrust politicians (Congress has a 72% disapproval rating) we tend to gravitate toward establishment figures anyway; the tried and true, the Ivy educated, who have name recognition, gobs of money and the support of super wealthy donors. 2016 will be the battle of the royals.  Predicition: Clinton over Bush by 1 hanging chad of a point.

Poor Billionaires and the Environment

372

What do Utah, New Mexico, Mississippi, Maine, Delaware, Hawaii, South Dakota, Alaska and Wyoming have in common? The answer might surprise you.  These are the only states in the U.S. that do not have billionaire residents.  All the other states can claim at least one billionaire among them, some states possibly several.  MarketWatch published an article with a list of the richest people by state.

Of those in the billionaire club, some of the least wealthy accumulated riches by exploiting their natural environments, which perhaps comes as no surprise. Dennis Albaugh from Iowa made his fortune in the pesticide business. He’s only worth 1.4 billion. The Kentucky billionaire, Brad Kelley, amassed his wealth, about 2 billion, growing and selling tobacco. Bruce Halle is Arizona’s richest resident, worth 4.7 billion.  A guy with an interest in rubber, he founded Discount Tire. Did you know that it takes 2,072 gallons of water to produce just 4 tires? It does. Not exactly an environmentally friendly enterprise, especially in such a dry state.  Arizona is the 4th driest state in the nation and is one of the states at risk of running out of water.  Missouri’s favorite and perhaps only billionaire is Jack Taylor of Enterprise rental car.  By the way, it takes over 39,000 gallons of water to manufacture 1 car.  And Oklahoma’s richest resident is one of our founding frackers, Harold Hamm, worth an estimated 17.6 billion. Recently, there have been reports that buried wells of toxic wastewater created by oil and gas operations in Oklahoma may be responsible for an increase in earthquake activity there.162

I am going to give some free advice to these billionaires – take it easy on the environment.  It’s made you rich, but those riches are dependent on finite natural resources. No one knows this better than Nevada’s richest resident, mega billionaire Sheldon Adelson, whose Las Vegas Sands Corporation has made him 49 billion and counting.  He has invested deeply in greening up his casino concerns. Unless others follow the LEED, Sin City may literally run out of water and simply dry up. And who says it doesn’t pay to go green.

Now if only Sheldon Adelson and the rest of the billionaire club members would stay out of politics.  It would be nice for the Super PACs to dry up, well, all but the NextGen Climate Action Committee.  Billionaires, you can contribute to that one.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 278 other followers