Top 10 Plurals for Goldman Sachs

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Rachel Maddow issued a challenge for viewers to come up with an appropriate plural designation when speaking of Trump’s Goldman Sachs (GS) hires.  You know, like a group of Sachs or a bag of Goldman Sachs or a school of Sachs and so on.  You will recall that Trump has named, hired, or appointed something like 6 from the Wall Street firm.  Interestingly, and some would say hypocritically so, he brutally criticized Hillary Clinton for being “totally controlled by Goldman Sachs.” Well, it looks like he was secretly winking at her when saying this because it appears that it is he, not she who will be controlled by Goldman Sachs.  So how do we refer to a group of GS Trump advisers? Here is my list of top ten possibilities with brief explanations:

  1. A coalition of GS, as in a coalition of cheetah, or perhaps even more appropriate, a coalition of GS Cheetos.
  2. A tribe of GS, as in a tribe of goats.  Maybe they will say things Trump doesn’t like and in doing so get his goat.
  3. A bloat of GS, as in a bloat of hippos. Hippos, as one knows, are potentially dangerous to people and so too might a bloat of GS be if financial regulations are relaxed.
  4. A romp of GS, as in a romp of otters who are slick to the touch and like to playfully romp around in rough waters. Let’s just hope the romp of GS advisers doesn’t romp around with our investments.
  5. A wake of GS, as in a wake of buzzards. Now, this sounds bleak and terrifying, to be honest.
  6. A wreck of GS, as in a wreck of seabirds is not much better. An unregulated Wall Street could wreck the economy again and your retirement account along with it.
  7. A murmuration of GS, as in a murmuration of starlings. Can’t you see them all flying in formation? What a spectacle it would be.
  8. A descent of GS, like a descent of woodpeckers pecking away at your life savings until there is nothing left.
  9. A plague of GS, like a plague of insects I think speaks for itself.
  10. A scourge of GS like a scourge of blood sucking mosquitoes – not a pretty image.

In all fairness, I am not against Goldman Sachs or any other investment firm or big bank as long as they play by the rules and behave responsibly.  It just seems so hypocritical for Trump to have derided Clinton for her connections to Wall Street when it is clear that his administration is going to BE Wall Street.  Well, he did say he was going to buld a wall, I just didn’t expect it to be made of Goldman Sachs.

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Trump’s Terrible 21 SCOTUS Picks

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I’m still having a hard time accepting and digesting that Donald J. Trump is the president-elect of these United States.  What makes it painful is knowing that Clinton won the popular by more than 2 million votes and that but for voting irregularities including Russian tampering – breaking into DNC computers and the Wiki-Leaks, all apparently with the knowledge and encouragement of the Trump campaign – and GOP voter suppression in key battleground states, she would have won the electoral college and the election as well.  Donald Trump was right – the election was rigged – he and the GOP made sure of it. Now I am in the camp that argues Clinton should demand a recount and mount a challenge where irregularities were found. Unfortunately, she has indicated that she would not and has already conceded and what’s more, President Obama has already, for all intents and purposes, handed him the keys.  I still cling to the possibility that some bombshell will drop that disqualifies both Trump and Pence or that the electors will come to their senses and nominate Clinton instead and then the House follow suit.  I know I am dreaming.  Which brings me to the topic of this post.  The Supreme Court.

In a move of extreme dereliction of duty and disrespect to the President and the Constitution, the GOP has refused to even allow hearings on President Obama’s supreme court pick after Justice Scalia’s death in February.  They argued that the people should decide when choosing the next president.  It was a risky strategy that worked. Ted Cruz and others no doubt argued that 8 justices were all we needed suggesting that even if Clinton were elected, they would not allow any of her picks to move forward. So I say now to the Democrats, game on. Chuck Schumer has indicated that the Dems would use the filibuster if Trump nominates an extreme candidate and there is every indication that he will.

The National Review, a right wing rag, is positively giddy at the prospect of Trump naming William Pryor or Diane Sykes, the later considered an “originalist” that is, she and others being considered view the constitution as a fixed and dead document that the rich, white and privileged male framers might have recognized.  These two and 9 others comprised Trump’s orignal 11 picks.  He has since added 10 more to the list. Talk about turning the clock back.  Both Pryor and Sykes, indubitably, would overturn Roe v. Wade, and specifically Sykes has made statements and rulings that are hostile to LGBTQ rights.  Sykes, the more likely pick is even to the right of Scalia on the ideological spectrum; Pryor ever so slightly to the left of him. See Wapo chart.   I am reminded of the song, “Stuck in the Middle with You.”

Trump’s list of 21 including the aforementioned joker and clown consists of people who want to turn the clock back to a time when women had no reproductive rights and LGBTQ members could not openly and safely even come out.  On this list, you will find judges and even the most ideologically extreme Senator on the Hill, whose views are hostile to immigrants, women, blacks, the middle class, the LGBTQ community, the environment, and unions.  Many are candidates who do not resepct the separation of church and state, and do not favor gun safety measures. You can bet that they would protect the Citizens United ruling, to ensure that American elections can be bought by the highest bidders for generations to come. And if Trump is lucky, and God help us all if he is, he might get as many as three picks during his tenure.  People, Dems, if we don’t apply pressure on our elected officals to block these nominations, we are doomed!

Are there any on the list who would be acceptable?  No.  But if you look at the ideological spectrum chart from the Washington Post article above, those who are the farthest to the left of Scalia would be better than ones closer to his views and preferable to those extreme ideologues to his right. Unfortunately, the article only examined candidates from the federal bench, which I think only includes 9 of the 21. The most dangerous ones, the so-called “originalists” are Gorsuch, Kethledge, Sykes and the Lee brothers.

About all I can conclude here is that Trump’s picks are pretty bad.  There isn’t one that I feel the least bit comfortable with as a progressive.  I like the idea of diversity and ideally, I would like to see another Hispanic or Black or the first Asian or Native American on the court. But as we know, diversity of background does not always make the court more ideologically diverse.  If only the President would make a lame duck appointment and install Merrick Garland.  But that’s not likely to happen.  Best case is for Dems to filibuster the most extreme of the 21.  And if that means blocking all his picks, so be it.  In the words of the GOP, slightly paraphrased, Americans should have the right to say who their next SCOTUS justice will be. I agree. Americans elected Barak Obama and are still waiting for the Senate to hold hearings on his pick.  And don’t forget that Clinton won the popular by more than 2 million votes.  Americans have spoken twice now and deserve to be heard.

Top 10 Reasons to Vote Against Trump

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10.  Trump is a serial liar.  I’m not even sure he knows he lies as much as he does.  It’s as if he only has a short-term memory and a very tiny and selective long-term memory.  He seems to remember only slights and compliments.  He said he was against the Iraq war but is on record as saying he was for it.  He says he never met the disabled journalist he mocked at one of his rallies and yet the said journalist had interviewed him multiple times.  He said he respects women but is on record as saying he doesn’t and his actions and comments suggest otherwise.  He said his taxes are under audit, but has provided no proof that they are.  He and his surrogates have said he has given hundreds of thousands of his own money to his foundation but there is no proof that this is true.  He said Hillary Clinton is under investigation by the FBI and she technically is not. He said she is going to lock her up when he is elected and he can’t.  This is something done by Fascist regimes, not in a Democracy. He said he’s going to bring back jobs to America but leaves out that his own businesses manufacture outside the U.S. and buy products made in other countries that are also made in the U.S.  He said he met Putin, then said he doesn’t know Putin.  He has told so many lies and distorted the truth so many times about Hillary Clinton’s record that I’ve lost count.  Fact checkers reveal that Trump routinely lied during the debates and continues to do so at his rallies.  Trump says he is a great businessman, yet his companies have filed bankruptcy papers 6 times.  And amid fraud claims, Trump University folded.

9.  Trump might govern as an authoritarian dictator. He was inspired by a quote from a notable fascist, Benito Mussolini  which reads, “better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep,” and has praised Vladimir Putin repeatedly for being a strong man and for complimenting him for being “brilliant” which turned out to be a bad translation.  Putin himself clarified that he meant Trump is colorful or flamboyant, not brilliant.  Putin salivates at the prospects of using Trump as a puppet, which he seems to be doing to influence U.S. elections. Trump even went so far as to encourage the Russians to hack the missing 33,000 emails. This is outrageous – encouraging a foreign country to commit espionage on the U.S. and some would consider treasonous. Trump prides himself on being a strong man, with large hands and once bragged of being the best baseball player to come out of New York.  His masculine pride notwithstanding, Trump has shown a shocking lack of understanding and respect for democratic principles.

8.  Trump disrepects women.  He is on record as saying he likes to kiss them and grab them because he can get away with it.  A number of women have alleged that he sexually assaulted them.  His response has been that he doesn’t know the women and that after the election he is going to sue them all.  He is also on record as saying that women who obtain abortions should be punished.

7.  Tump has made racist and bigotted comments, calling Mexicans rapists, and denouncing a Mexican American judge as being biased in a case against Trump “University.” He was slow to denounce David Duke, a former KKK grand wizard who endorsed him.  He called for a ban on Muslims entering the country and even suggested the need to close down mosques.  He has essentially blamed the entire Muslim American community in the U.S. for not rooting out the terrorists among them – as if it were their sole responsibiltiy. He has shown very little concern for the humanitarian plight of Syrian refugees and argued that the U.S. should not accept any until we establish a vetting process, which we already have.  Trump has repeatedly dismissed the Black Lives Matter movement, has insisted that blacks live in hell, which many blacks take issue with, and has called for more policing.  He called for the death penalty for the black men who were wrongly convicted and subsequently exonerated for the rape of a central park jogger. And his father’s company, of which Donald was an employee, repeatedly discriminated against blacks in their housing properties and was fined by the Justice Department for doing so. Trump has appealed to white nationalists who blame immigrants for the ills of the country by promising to build a wall that Mexico will pay for to keep them out. Additionally, white supremcists groups including the KKK have endorsed Trump because they identify with his values. And now he is calling for people to go to the inner cities and watch (code for intimidate) for voter fraud in clear violation of the consent decree that the GOP was hit with in the 80’s for committing voter intimidation in New Jersey. One of the more egregious racist actions he has taken was questioning Obama’s citizenship and thus his right to be President. Then Trump tried to partially walk it back by suggesting that it was the Clinton camp in 2008 who started it all.  He tried to suggest that the many years he pushed this crazy birther conspiracy was somehow excusable because the story may not have begun with him.  And to top it off, he’s floated other consipiracy theories about whether Obama even attended Ivy schools demanding that he submit transcripts to prove he did.  This from a man who won’t even release his tax returns.

6. The Trump Foundation appears to be a fraud.  Apparently, people have contributed to the foundation and Trump has used some of this money to settle law suits and to buy a life-size portrait of himself. “Billionaire” Trump has said that he has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Foundation, but there is no evidence of this.  See David Fahrenthold’s reporting.  Not only is the Foundation fraudulent, but his business practices are suspect as evidence by the multiple contractors and small businesses who claim they were not paid for work done for Trump.  That coupled with his anti-union practices make Trump unfit to make anything about America or Americans great again.

5.  Trump refuses to release his tax returns that almost every presidential candidate in modern times has done before him, even his own running mate. He says he’s under audit and will release them after.  Nixon once released his while under audit.  There is nothing in the IRS code that prevents Trump from releasing tax returns while under audit if in fact he really is under audit.  He is obviously hiding something.  Could it be that he isn’t a billionaire?  Could it be that he has never given the charitable contributions that he said he has? Could it be that he does not pay taxes at all?  Actually, the one leaked release indicates that he did not and Trump subsequently said in a debate that the fact that he doesn’t pay taxes makes him smart.  A man who doesn’t pay taxes not because he’s poor but wealthy and privileged is a shameful man who is NOT a patriot.  Tax dollars fund education, defense, roads, entitlements, to name a few.  He is ok with YOU paying for these services and thanks YOU for paying them for him.

4.  Trump claims he is religious but is not, and apparently knows very little about religion.  Not that that religion is a test I use for a candidate, but he has shamelessly pandered to evangelicals suggesting that the Bible is his favorite book.  He does not seem to hold or practice ANY Christian values that I can detect raising doubts in my mind as to whether he has even read the Bible.

3. Trump seems to want to begin a nuclear arms raceHe has said that South Korea and Japan should have their own nuclear weapons.  He doesn’t understand why we have them if we can’t use them and has not ruled out their use in the future.  He is also on record saying that he likes war. What’s more, he has taken a pro-Russian position against NATO calling it ineffective and expensive and intimating that we should break our alliances in Europe. This is what I mean about Trump being Putin’s puppet – his Petrushka.

2.  Trump has no interest in governing.  He had even said that he would leave the buisness of governing to his running mate and simply go around the country making America great again, presumably by holding pep rallies. This is code for promoting his business brand which his children will continue to operate if he became president in an obvious conflict of interest.  He doesn’t seem to get how governing works and that he can’t just rule by decree.  He has repeatedly said that he will appoint supreme court justices without any mention of the senate’s role in the advise and consent process. Actually, the president can only nominate and there is no guarantee that the nomination will be confirmed by the senate or even get a hearing by the judiciary committee.  President Obama’s nominee, Garland, has yet to get a hearing and it has been nearly a year since Justice Antonin Scalia died leaving a vacancy on the court.

1.  His policies would simply be disatrous.  He calls for tax breaks for the rich.  He would end regulations that ensure safe food, water, drugs and air quality.  He would invest in practices that contribute to global warming which he denies is caused by humans.  He would end Obamacare resulting in millions losing health insurance. He might enact protectionist policies and start a trade war with China and Mexico.  The markets would respond disastrously and we would all lose our retirement savings and Social Security which Trump will probably have privatized.  If we are not wiped out by a nuclear war or swept away by rising ocean levels first, his policies will create a depression so deep it will make your head spin.

New Hampshire 2016

I was last in the granite state in 2008 as I recall and remember seeing lots of political signs for various candidates including then Senator Barak Obama and many more for the maverick senator John McCain in towns like Conway and Warner. As a democrat, I worried that New Hampshire was in the bag for the GOP. As it turned out, my fears were unfounded and Obama won New Hampshire in 2008 and again in 2012. 

In 2016, I am seeing a dusturbingly “bigly” level of support for Trump/Pence as evidenced by signage just as I did in 2008 for McCain. As I drove through Nashua, I even saw a display of Trump signs encircling an impressive and omnious show of civil war canons. This certainly puts a new light on what Trump may mean by “Make America Great Again.” Some of his supporters have actually begun talking about a revolution, an armed one I presume, because Trump along with the NRA controlled GOP, have low information voters, to put it politely, convinced, wrongly, that HRC will take their guns away, a claim they also made against Obama which turned out to be huuugely false. 

Trump now claims the election will be rigged, casting doubt on our democratic institution, as a conspiracy theorist and authoritarian fascist would. It’s not only Trump, however, but also GOP leaders who have been using this voter fraud angle to justify voter suppression laws which have made it harder for people, particularly students, blacks, latinos and the elderly to vote. By the way, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, an inconvenient fact, so this strategy is clearly designed to keep a reliable democratic base from turning out, or voting. The only frightening signal of voter tampering appears to be some sort of Russian hack into electronic voting machines in several states. Given Trump’s unwavering praise for Putin, his announcement that the election will be rigged is alarmingly suspicious. If a large scale hack  crippled voting machines, Trump could then appeal the election results. If HRC does win, Trump will argue that her presidency is illegitimate, not unlike his birther foolishness to delegitamize Obama. 

New Hampshire is an odd place. I am not certain HRC can win here with its predominately white voter base that has an independent streak. And the polls show a virtual deadlock between Trump and Clinton. I’ve seen as many Gary Johnson signs as I have ones for HRC while passing through towns in search of fall foliage, which is in short supply in the mountains but has been plentiful near the lakes region. This may have something to do with climate change, which Trump denies. He’ll instead promise to bring back brilliant fall foliage to the state of New Hampshire as part of his campaign to make America great again, “colors that will make your head spin, believe me.”

Trump Leading in Louisiana Purchase States

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And this just might be his strategy, but it’s a risky one and provides the narrowest path to a victory or a tie.  Drumpf needs to win all 15 of the states that were part of the original  Louisiana purchase: Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma and New Mexico.  Currently, he’s winning in 11 of the 14, trailing only in Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado and New Mexico, but trailing pretty badly in the last 3. Even if he were to win all 15, which is highly unlikely, he’d only get 125 electoral votes.  To get to a tie, he’d have to win PA and OH, AND the ENTIRE south, less VA, including, significantly, Florida and North Carolina where he’s behind and that ONLY gets him to 269.  To win outright, he’d have to flip a blue state and I think ME is the only realistic possibility.  If he’s as rich as he says, he might even try to purchase ME, but we won’t know just how wealthy he is until he releases his tax returns, and that ain’t happening.  But never mind ME, for Trump, a tie is as good as a win. If he has 269, so too would Hillary and the election would be decided by the House where the Republicans have an edge. As Napoleon might have said, se la vie.

HRC’s Worst Case Path to Victory

 

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Even though Trump is a train wreck with a 70% unfavorability rating, Secretary Clinton may still have a difficult path to victory.  Her unfavorable rating is at 55% which is not exactly a prescription for victory.  The truth is that a big chunk of the electorate dislikes both candidates.  And while there are other options – the libertarian slate, and the green party, for example, neither are expected to make much of an impact on the election and are currently polling in single digits.

Clinton supporters want Bernie to drop out and endorse her candidacy, but Bernie has vowed to continue “the revolution” and seems to be in no hurry to concede.  His campaign has not gone so far as to call Clinton superdelegates to convince them to switch sides, but they have not yet said definitively that they won’t. Bernie clearly wants to use his leverage to extract as many concessions from Clinton and the DNC as possible, including the removal of Wasserman Schultz as party chair, and commitments to progressive positions on the platform such as the $15/hr minimum wage and a single-payer universal health care system.  The problem is that Bernie doesn’t have as much leverage as he may think. In fact, there is no reason for the DNC and Clinton to appease him any longer.  He has lost, fair and square; there’s no chance that he will become President unless Clinton names him as her VP and something happens to her, which is a highly unlikely scenario. And, in terms of the electoral map,  Clinton doesn’t need ALL of Bernie’s supporters to flock to her anymore.  It’s really on them as to whether they would prefer Trump or Clinton.

Clinton, not Sanders, has all the leverage now.  She has the entire DNC leadership behind her.  She has the endorsements of key progressives such as Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown, both of whom are on her VP short list.  The President, whose approval rating is at 55%, and the Vice-President will be on the campaign trail for her. She has a heavy-hitting cast of  surrogates already on the trail, and frankly, doesn’t need Bernie.  It would be nice, of course, to have him campaigning for her, but he won’t make the difference. She has a clear path to victory without his support.  Even in the worst case scenario where HRC would lose the blue states that Bernie won during the primary season:  Michigan, Wisconsin, Washington (the strange state with both a primary and caucus where she won the primary, but lost the caucus) Maine, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Hawaii, and Vermont, and lose all of the traditional red states, even the ones she won in a landslide in the primaries, she would still win the General election, granted by only 1 electoral vote. Tap on the link to see that hypothetical map.

Obviously, for Hillary to win, she needs to win the swing states she won in the primaries – Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, and Ohio.  She could actually win without taking Pennsylvania and Florida, but it would require her to turn a few red states. Given the importance of Virginia and Ohio, I think it prudent for her to select either Tim Caine of Virgina or Sherrod Brown of Ohio as her running mate. I once thought HRC would need Elizabeth Warren on the ticket to appease Bernie Sanders, but she can win without his endorsement before the convention and without him persuading his supporters to vote for her, something I can’t see him doing even with an endorsement.  The millennial Bernistas may or may not vote for her, but it won’t matter in the end. She’s got this. Unfortunately,  for those who feel the Bern, the revolution may be with a small r and abbreviated to revo. The real revolution will have to wait.

Clinton VP Will B?

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If I were a Democratic strategist, and I’m not, but if I were, I would submit a short list of Veep candidates for Senator Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee to consider.

My top choice would be Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.  She knows how to get under Trump’s skin like no other.  As one of Hillary’s most effective surrogates, Senator Warren has shown that she can stand up to the bully in the schoolyard with her sharp tongue and debating skills.  And the historic significance of two women on the ticket cannot be overstated.  What’s more, Elizabeth Warren is a progressive who Senator Bernie Sanders could support as a VP, and maybe has already suggested her name.  Her views are aligned with his, especially with respect to Wall Street reform, income inequality, college debt, and the minimum wage.  Bernie supporters would likely warm up to Clinton if he were to praise her for choosing Warren.  Hillary needs Bernie’s supporters to win the general election.  If Bernie supporters don’t vote for Secretary Clinton or don’t vote at all, it will be a close race.  If some vote for Trump (as some have said they would do) he could win.

For Dems, the downside to E. Warren as VP would be the loss of a senate seat.  The Republican Governor of Massachusetts would appoint a Republican to replace her.  Also, Hillary doesn’t need Warren to deliver Massachusetts because the Bay State is solidly blue but it does have an interesting independent streak which might make the general  election a little closer than it might have been against an establishment GOP candidate.

If not E. Warren than Julian Castro would be the next best choice.  He is a young political star on the rise from Texas, former mayor of San Antonio and current Secretary of  Housing.   He would be the first Latino on a major ticket and might help to attract more Latino voters to support the ticket including some young activists who have been supporting Bernie Sanders.  Texas is a solidly red state but Castro might help to tighten the race there.

One other to consider –  Sen. Sherrod Brown.  He’s a progressive type from the swing state of Ohio.  Rumors have it that Sen. Sanders feels betrayed by Brown’s endorsement of Hillary, but it appears that Bernie was just blowing off steam. Bernie supporters might like his liberal positions  and feel that he would push Clinton more to the left. She absolutely needs to win Ohio and Brown could make the difference.  The downside is that he is another white male who does not reflect the diversity of the electorate.

Longshots: Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.  The Governors of both states are Democrats which means they could appoint a Democrat to fill the vacant Senate seat.  The idea of an all-woman ticket is appealing but the downside is that it may not be the best strategy for gaining male support, Trump’s best demographic On the other hand, it may be a clever strategy for gaining the support of GOP women who can’t stomach Trump.

Drumpf Will Self-Dumpf

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The GOP knows it cannot survive as a party with Donald J. Drumpf at the top of the ticket. For the record, Drumpf is Trump’s ancestral name changed to Trump in Europe long before he was born. I use Drumpf in jest because of its silly sound in English and not derisively, although if he takes offense, he should learn to take a dose of his own medicine which he frequently delivers in the form of nicknames to ridicule his opponents. The presumptive and  presumptious GOP nominee seems only to care about his brand and ego. As far as I can tell, he has no core ethical principles.  He appears to say and do only what he believes will be in the best interest of his brand, not the country, and he has shown no restraint in this regard.  Drumpf has repeatedly made racist remarks against Mexicans, even calling a judge of Mexican heritage, who was born in Indiana, unfit to preside in a case brought against Trump University because as Trump put it, “I’m building a wall!” Drumpf has called for a ban on Muslims entering this country, making an exception for the Mayor of London, until “we can figure out what is going on.” As a result of this policy that he now calls a suggestion, he doubts whether Muslim judges could be partial in court cases in which Trump concerns are involved.  What?

Drumpf is the most divisive candidate I can remember in my lifetime.  Exhibit 1: The clashes at rallies recently in California.  Doesn’t it strike you as unusual that the Drumpf campaign would choose locations where the candidate has virtually no support, where  large numbers of students including latino activists would be upset by his presence and come out in full protest? He is a provocateur and knew of the potential for violent clashes and wanted the cameras to spread images of prideful flag holding Mexican-Americans and immigrants that Trump wants the electorate to believe are un-American, illegal and violent.  He relishes chaos and favors the tactic of race-baiting to divide people.

His slogan to Make America Great Again suggests that America is on the decline, which one could argue, but Trump’s particular arguments don’t hold water.  He argues America doesn’t win anymore.  He claims the military and our foreign policy positions are weak citing the Iran deal and the continued existence of ISIS and NATO.  He suggests that our trade deals are bad and have led to outsourcing and the loss of manufacturing jobs to cheap foreign labor.  Some of these impacts have to do with corporate greed.  So Trump would incentivize American companies to return home with more tax breaks – some corporations pay very little at all as it is – and Trump would call for massive tax breaks for the top 1%. America, however, on many measures can be said to be already great or  even greater than before.  We have a stable constitution and system of democracy which give Americans the right to vote (or not); the right to free speech and assembly; the right to freely worship any religion or none at all.  On other quality of life metrics, Americans are living longer thanks to Obamacare which has insured millions of the previously uninsured.  Gas prices are the lowest they’ve been since 2008 and much lower than during the Bush years. Unemployment remains below 5% and for President Obamas’s 8-year tenure, (8.1%) lower than President Reagan’s numbers at (8.2%). In fact, the unemployment rate of 4.9% so far for 2016, is the lowest rate since November of 2007 before the financial meltdown of 2008, and the stock market has become more stable and productive due to regulatory reform. On the foreign policy front, the Taliban, Al Queda, and ISIS have been kept in check of late; chemical weapons have been reduced in the Middle East and Iran is no longer in pursuit of nuclear weapons.  Far from being on the decline, America is still a key world leader and for better or worse, the only real superpower in terms of overall influence.

America, while great on some measures, is not so great on others.  There are serious problems that America must tackle, including income equality, immigration reform, racism, crumbling infrastructure, gun violence, climate change, and spiraling education costs to name a few on the domestic front. And America must do its part to help solve the refugee crisis in Europe, to broker peace in the Middle East and to reduce the threat of global terrorism.

But what Drumpf means by Make America Great Again is that America is becoming more diverse which is a direct threat to white supremacy.  White supporters of Drumpf are freaking out over changing demographics or the “browning” of America which will lead to declining white influence, power, and control. Drumpf has done a masterful job of  stoking these fears and insecurities and now has an army of angry whites who feel wronged by an African American president who Trump has tried to delegitimize by calling into question his citizenship and his academic and presidential accomplishments. Trump entertains all kinds of conspiracy theories and insinuates that Obama is a Muslim at heart because he won’t use the phrase Islamic terrorism, and that he is hell bent on taking down Christianity, a religion that Trump, ironically, appears to know very little about – remember the 2 Corinthians comment?

Finally, it would appear that the GOP leadership has had enough of Drumpf’s schtick.  They no longer support him and don’t want to be associated with his racist rhetoric. The general electorate has become increasingly alarmed about this unhinged candidate whose bizarre behavior is no longer entertaining and has become frightening. And Drumpf himself understands that his poll numbers have dropped significantly but is too stubborn and egotistical to pivot to unite the GOP.  He only cares about his brand, and now the brand is, as Trump would say, “taking a hit.”  As a businessman, Drumpf knows when to cut his losses and I wouldn’t be surprised if he dropped out of the race shortly before or at the GOP convention.  And who will step in to save the day for the GOP?  Will it be Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney? How about Marco Rubio? Will Ted Cruz be back in the mix? God, I hope not! Who would the leadership get behind? Could Jeb Bush reemerge? I had predicted from the beginning the nominees would be Clinton and Bush.  Might I be right after all?

Ted Cruz To the Right of the Right

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I’ve written enough about Donald Trump, and though he is still leading in the polls, he won’t win the GOP nomination.  Prospective GOP voters love to flirt with trash talking demagogues, but will eventually come to their senses and go with a more mainstream candidate.  Trump’s star faded a little when Dr. Ben Carson began to connect with evangelicals in Iowa and elsewhere.  But after the terror attacks in Paris, Carson’s lack of foreign policy knowledge has proven costly in the polls.  By contrast, Trump’s hawkish talking rhetoric on how to deal with terrorism and his general disdain for foreigner’s, chiefly immigrants and refugees, has helped him regain some of the support he had lost to Ben Carson, but only some of it because another candidate is now surging in the polls; another  demagogue who is more politically savvy than Trump and Carson and just as dangerous, if not more; his name: Rafael, Edward “Ted” Cruz, the Canadian born, Texas Senator and son of a Cuban refugee.

Watch out for this tough talking, televangelist type demagogue who has considerable oratorical skills.  His popularity among evangelicals and tea party extremists is on the rise. And while Americans think very little of the “do nothing” Congress, Cruz has positioned himself as an outsider who has tried to shake things up in the Senate.  He hasn’t succeeded in doing much except political grandstanding and pissing off the GOP leadership who have frankly had enough of him.  Remember, he spearheaded a government shutdown over funding for Obamacare and then more recently threatened a government shutdown over funding for Planned Parenthood. No one wants a government shutdown.

If you think Trump and Carson are extreme, wait until you look at Cruz a little more closely.  He makes the outsiders look moderate by comparison.  A little known fact is that the Texas Senator is tied with Utah Senator Mike Lee as the most conservative member of Congress as rated by the Heritage Action, a conservative outfit associated with the Heritage Foundation.  Cruz and Lee scored 100% on the Heritage Action Scorecard which tabulates how conservative the 535 members of Congress are.  I think this qualifies as extreme given that Cruz is to the right of 533 of the 535 members of Congress whose average score is about 64%.  Rand Paul, the libertarian leaning candidate rates at 88%, and Marco Rubio, who many have argued would be more of a mainstream alternative to the “outsiders” is actually much more conservative than many think at 94%.  For comparison sake, John McCain, the party’s nominee in 2008, scores on the moderate side at 51%.

So what does Ted Cruz believe?  That’s hard to say.  Actually, it is easier to articulate the many things he does not believe in including:

the federal government, fair taxation, educational standards, affordable health care, a women’s right to choose, marriage equality, climate change, allowing the undocumented to stay in the country, allowing Syrian refugees into the country, the nuclear deal with Iran, sending ground troops to fight ISIS, tax credits for wind production, high speed rail, paid sick leave, unions, gun control, reducing military spending, the separation of church and state, infrastructure spending and compromise.

What we do know is that he favors the death penalty, shutting down the government when he can’t get his way, and a balanced budget. It is not clear how he plans to balance the budget, while increasing military spending and decreasing taxes, but I guess this doesn’t matter as long as big business prospers and the interest of the 1% remain safe and sound.

Cruz may seem to some like a reasonable alternative to the “outsiders”, but what is clear is that when you get a closer look, his viewpoints are shockingly extreme.

 

Who do voters dislike the most?

In my estimation, the three candidates most likely to win a party nomination – Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush have some serious questions to resolve, namely how they are perceived by the electorate.  Based on recent polling done by Quinnipiac University, Clinton and Trump have serious unfavorability ratings to overcome – Clinton at 51% and Trump at 54%.  63% of Hispanics view Trump unfavorably as do 79% of Blacks. Bush’s numbers are less dramatic.  He is viewed unfavorably by 41% of prospective registered voters.  Though trailing Trump badly, Bush is viewed unfavorably by 17% of Republicans vs. 30% for Trump.

If Bush and Clinton win the nomination, which is the most likely scenario as I’ll explain, Clinton will face a tough road.  In a head to head battle, according to the the poll, she beats Bush by 2% points, but, and here is where she runs into big problems, her negatives could give Bush the ultimate advantage.

Quinnipiac asked voters to give the first word that came into their mind about the candidates.  I only saw the listing for Trump, Clinton and Bush.  The results were revealing and not very flattering for Clinton and Trump, to put it mildly, and not very encouraging for Bush, but Bush arguably performed better on the metric.  I analyzed the descriptors for each candidate and organized them into three categories, positive, negative and neutral.  For example, the comment “brilliant” pertaining to Clinton would be positive; the comment “liar” would be negative and the comment “sec-of-state” would be neutral.  I tallied up the number of responses in each category and divided by the total number of responses to get a percentage for each category and found that 28% of the comments for Clinton were positive; 57% negative and 15% neutral. For Trump, the numbers were 19% positive; 64% negative and 17% neutral.  For Bush it was 22%, 22% and 56%

Clinton has a big problem of public perception.  She is thought to be dishonest, untrustworthy and a liar.  However, she is also mentioned time and again as smart, intelligent or brilliant. Fully 5% of the responses had to do with her intelligence.  By comparison, the number is 1% for Bush and less than 1% for Trump, despite the fact that he keeps telling everybody that he is smart.  Clinton could still turnaround her untrustworthiness numbers by being more forthcoming about the email server affair and assuring the public she hasn’t covered up anything of real importance.  As Eugene Robinson suggests, if she would just say she was wrong about having a private server and apologize for the bad judgement, she might be forgiven.  However, she has yet to fully do so. Instead she’s tried to explain it to the public as something very complicated and nuanced.  And while it may be true that she did everything within legal boundaries, to many Americans, this just sounds like CYA talk.  She has to put the matter to rest by owning up to using a worst as opposed to best practice with respect to the management of her electronic files.  Once she is allowed to pivot, she needs to focus on her achievements and show the population that she is capable of successfully governing.  She should spend less time attacking the Republicans and Trump’s hair and more time repairing her reputation.  She has many accomplishments as first lady, senator and secretary of state that she should be talking about on the campaign trail.

Bush’s numbers indicate that he has not inspired much enthusiasm for his ideas.  Many of the comments that prospective voters gave suggested that he hasn’t yet separated himself from the family legacy.  The first things that came to people’s mind in the poll were “Bush” and “family”, followed closely by “brother” and “dynasty.”  Either he needs to embrace this and turn it into a positive, which would be hard to do with respect to W’s reign, or he needs to take some bold positions with creative plans on say immigration reform, gun control (like universal background checks) and climate change.  This would separate him from the Bush name and possibly get him banned from the family.

While Trump is leading the other candidates, there is evidence in the poll that part of the reason is that he has been covered by the press so much more than the other candidates.  For example, among Republicans, 58% indicated they haven’t heard enough information about Gov. Kasich to form an opinion as to whether they view him favorably or unfavorably. This number was 43% for Gov. Walker; 44% for Fiorina; 32% for Carson; 33% for Sen. Cruz; 25% for Sen. Rubio and remarkably, 24% for Jeb Bush.

My theory is that once the other candidates get more coverage, Trump will fade and Bush will gather some momentum that will earn him the nomination over Rubio, Cruz, Kasich and Walker, his closest competitors.  He’ll face Hillary Clinton who will beat him by a razor thin margin if Trump doesn’t get in as a third party candidate.  If he does, Clinton beats Bush and Trump by 16% points according to the poll.

So who do voters dislike the most?  And he’s leading in the polls.  You guessed it, Trump, who was described in the most unflattering of terms by respondents, and who has alarmingly high negatives and very little support among Blacks and Hispanics.