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An Inconceivable Divide

Posted by MLGoodell on February 20, 2018 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The aftermath of mass shootings, especially those impacting schools, assume a depressing partisan predictability. Congressional Democrats ramp up the usual ban-the-guns campaign, trying to use the incident as a wedge issue to drive their base to the polls, and they dramatically inflate the influence of the NRA. A popular tactic is to denigrate the American culture, drawing comparison to a more enlightened Europe where people are reduced to using bows and arrows, knives, bombs and trucks to kill large numbers of people. Trendy journalists and female-oriented chat show hosts rear up to castigate anyone who offers prayers of compassion.

 

Which is when gun ownership advocates mount a counter attack. They cite the Second Amendment. They point out, as is often the case, that the gun, or the ownership thereof, was already illegal under current laws. They suggest that making schools into gun free zones only makes them a target for would be mass murderers. “Imagine if just one teacher, or gym coach, or janitor had been armed,” they cry. “Things would have been different.”

 

In the middle are reasonable people who look at the mayhem and wonder why. Why does this happen over and over again? Why can’t we come up with some sort of reasonable reforms to keep these people from getting their hands on these particular weapons? “No one is advocating banning guns,” they insist.

 

This is where the problem starts. Those who say no one is advocating banning guns are correct only so far as their own viewpoints are concerned, because the sad fact of the matter is, there are many people, some of whom are in power, and many who wish they were, who want nothing less than to ban guns. And a lot of gun owners know this. These are the people who join the NRA. These are the people who know in their hearts that their foes will wield any concession, any reform, as the thin end of a wedge leading ultimately to a total gun ban.

 

They may be wrong about the motive of the reasonable majority, but they have heard too many arguments which begin with “Nobody is talking about banning guns” and end with “Nobody should have the right to own a semi-automatic weapon.” So they refuse to concede even the most rational, responsible inch on the issue.

 

It is ironic that the gun debate and the abortion debate are waged over the same terrain. In the same sense that gun advocates won’t concede the most reasonable reforms, more effective screening, an enhanced data base to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and limitations on the size of magazines, because they fear they are the first steps to banning guns, abortion advocates also refuse to concede the most reasonable abortion reforms.

 

And they do this for the same reason. Because they believe the people advocating such reasonable reforms as limiting late term abortions, mandating full disclosure of potential health consequences of abortion, or requiring minors to seek parental authorization, view such reforms as the first step toward achieving their goal of banning all abortions. So abortion advocates defend the right of doctors to basically murder otherwise viable human beings, even when they know it is wrong, because they know if they concede this point abortion opponents will use it as the thin end of a wedge leading ultimately to total abortion ban.

 

The mirror image nature of these positions would be laughable if the consequences weren’t so dire. In both cases, both gun ownership and abortion, the vast majority of Americans just want to do what is right. In both cases they simply want to prevent innocent lives from being wantonly claimed. In both cases their reasonable objectives are stymied by fringe parties and extremist wings of their debate.

 

It would be nice to be able to offer a solution, but given our culture’s rampant flight away from reason, it is hard to imagine one that would work. The two parties in both cases, as in just about every other dividing issue in America, are like people in a tiny boat in a giant bathtub swirling toward an open drain. Instead of trying to find a way out of their predicament, they prefer to argue over who forgot to put in the plug.

The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!

Posted by MLGoodell on February 2, 2018 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Considering how much they like to call themselves Progressives, it’s ironic how nostalgic liberals are as a group. But maybe that’s because the last time their ideology showed any promise it was October, 1917. Still, their instinct to relive the past is so strong they ought to call themselves Retroprogressives.

 

Consider the past twenty-five years. First, we had Bill Clinton in the White House, where every day was a reprise of the Summer of Love. Then came George Bush, and Iraq, when, having finally recovered from that embarrassing spurt of Pearl Harbor Patriotism following 9/11, liberals could finally relive the greatest of the old days, the antiwar movement. Throw in a little 1970’s American self-hate and we now are ready to continue our stroll down memory lane. That’s right, it’s time for Watergate 2.0.

 

Not so long ago Democrats were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of Special Counsels danced in their heads. Soon they would awaken to a brand new morn, their president charged, if not with colluding with Russians, which isn’t really illegal and can’t be proved, but with maybe lying about when they knew what they didn’t know or something like that. Anyway, it could happen, and then maybe Hillary would get to be president after all.

 

At the very least, they Democrats were almost a lock to sweep the midterm elections this November, and retake Congress. And then they could finally impeach that mean old nasty Mr. Trump. But that was before they overplayed their hand. Before they shut down the government and actually got blamed for it this time. Before their collective State of the Union tantrum, when they showed America they could not applaud a strong economy, would not cheer for low unemployment, and refused to stand for their flag or their nation. Before they revealed that the only people they felt worthy of their applause were illegal immigrants.

 

Now, even though their Special Counsel is still taking names and calling the shots, Democrats have retreated all the way back to collusion. Their latest cry is “The Russians are preparing to hack the midterms.” The Republicans are playing games with partisan, fact-challenged, National Security shattering memos when they should be doing whatever is necessary to keep the Russians from stealing another election.

 

A curious charge, this, since up until about Monday the Democrats were almost guaranteed a win. You obviously don’t want to allege electoral shenanigans if you think you’re going to win.

 

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the minority party. It’s hard to imagine them stumbling so badly unless they did it on purpose. But why would any politicians intentionally shoot themselves in the foot? It’s preposterous. No, there is really only one explanation for this turn of events. Putin did it.

#Crowdgate

Posted by MLGoodell on January 24, 2017 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (6)

There is no better proof of the difference between the two men than this: After an unprecedented 8 scandal-free years under Barack Obama, Donald Trump was already mired in controversy before his first presidential weekend was finished. Though Crowdgate is merely the beginning of a live-streaming cavalcade of scandals which will define Trump’s first and likely only, or, if mobs of pussyhatted fantasists have their way, severely truncated term, in many ways this will be the worst of them all.

 

Anyone who witnessed the stock footage of Inauguration coverage could see the sharp contrast between the essentially empty Capital Mall of 2017 and the hordes of gleeful, grateful Americans who were drawn like moths to flame in 2009 to exult in the elevation of the man who had come to rescue not just America, but the entire world. Yet despite undeniable video proof that mere hours before the ceremony began the rainswept mall was essentially empty, this buffoon, this climate change denier, this consort of putains and Putins, this, this — businessman, had the audacity to claim his crowds were bigger than Obama’s!

 

Then, in defiance of The Fact Checkers, the man doubled down on his claims. And this, as I learned today from NPR’s Morning Report, is when we can no longer give him the benefit of the doubt. We could have chalked up his errant assertion to being just the latest manifestation of his outsized ego, but after The Fact Checkers weighed in, it became something much, much worse. It became a lie.

 

Yes, that is correct, my friends, Donald Trump lied to the American people. While being lied to is alway painful, for a great many young Americans, it is particularly traumatic. After spending their entire adult lives swathed in Barack Obama’s gentle caress they must face the specter of a president who willfully deceives his constituents.

 

It gets worse, however. Not only did Sean Spicer, Trump’s Press Secretary, refuse to apologize for his boss’s lies, he made things worse by claiming tens of millions of people viewed the inauguration over the internet. It was the work of mere moments for The Fact Checkers to destroy that ploy. Yet still All the Trump’s Men continued to delude the public.

 

Even after the first weekend ended, when sympathetic reporters would have willingly granted the president a fresh start, Spicer insisted on perpetuating the prevarication. “Why would they continue to lie?” a perplexed Tamara Keith wondered on NPR this morning, apparently shaken by the fact that some men (men who would never wear a pussyhat, by the way) are willing to defy The Fact Checkers. “Why keep talking about crowd size?”

 

Not having the skill set conducive to public media employment, I fall back on an unnuanced outlook. Perhaps, I speculated, they keep talking about it because reporters keep asking them about it? Naw, that’s crazy talk. Why would reporters even care who said what about crowd size? It is a matter devoid of import.

 

Or is it? As the saying goes, it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup that gets you in the end. We are indeed fortunate that Obama was ever cognizant of that. This is why he insisted on transparency. Because he realized if every action is taken under the bright glare of public scrutiny, there is no chance to misbehave, and no need to cover it up.

 

One can only hope Mr. Trump will be able to learn this lesson. In the meantime, we have people like Tamara to defend our interests. No doubt she understands that lying to the American people, even about a crucial matter like crowd size does not constitute an Impeachable offense. On the other hand, lying about the lies, continuing to repeat those lies even after The Fact Checkers have made their ruling? That may well be a high crime or misdemeanor.

 

One thing we know for certain, after the first hectic hours of the Trump regime, is there will be countless other opportunities for decent Americans to whip out hashtags and flood social media with CheetoDust and NotMyPresident. And maybe, just maybe, those hashtags, diligently applied, will force Trump to admit his crowds were smaller than Obama’s. And if we win this battle, we just might keep him from building a wall or setting up concentration camps for African-Americans, Mexicans and members of the LGBTFAQ Community.

#Crowdgate

Posted by MLGoodell on January 24, 2017 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

There is no better proof of the difference between the two men than this: After an unprecedented 8 scandal-free years under Barack Obama, Donald Trump was already mired in controversy before his first presidential weekend was finished. Though Crowdgate is merely the beginning of a live-streaming cavalcade of scandals which will define Trump’s first and likely only, or, if mobs of pussyhatted fantasists have their way, severely truncated term, in many ways this will be the worst of them all.

 

Anyone who witnessed the stock footage of Inauguration coverage could see the sharp contrast between the essentially empty Capital Mall of 2017 and the hordes of gleeful, grateful Americans who were drawn like moths to flame in 2009 to exult in the elevation of the man who had come to rescue not just America, but the entire world. Yet despite undeniable video proof that mere hours before the ceremony began the rainswept mall was essentially empty, this buffoon, this climate change denier, this consort of putains and Putins, this, this — businessman, had the audacity to claim his crowds were bigger than Obama’s!

 

Then, in defiance of The Fact Checkers, the man doubled down on his claims. And this, as I learned today from NPR’s Morning Report, is when we can no longer give him the benefit of the doubt. We could have chalked up his errant assertion to being just the latest manifestation of his outsized ego, but after The Fact Checkers weighed in, it became something much, much worse. It became a lie.

 

Yes, that is correct, my friends, Donald Trump lied to the American people. While being lied to is alway painful, for a great many young Americans, it is particularly traumatic. After spending their entire adult lives swathed in Barack Obama’s gentle caress they must face the specter of a president who willfully deceives his constituents.

 

It gets worse, however. Not only did Sean Spicer, Trump’s Press Secretary, refuse to apologize for his boss’s lies, he made things worse by claiming tens of millions of people viewed the inauguration over the internet. It was the work of mere moments for The Fact Checkers to destroy that ploy. Yet still All the Trump’s Men continued to delude the public.

 

Even after the first weekend ended, when sympathetic reporters would have willingly granted the president a fresh start, Spicer insisted on perpetuating the prevarication. “Why would they continue to lie?” a perplexed Tamara Keith wondered on NPR this morning, apparently shaken by the fact that some men (men who would never wear a pussyhat, by the way) are willing to defy The Fact Checkers. “Why keep talking about crowd size?”

 

Not having the skill set conducive to public media employment, I fall back on an unnuanced outlook. Perhaps, I speculated, they keep talking about it because reporters keep asking them about it? Naw, that’s crazy talk. Why would reporters even care who said what about crowd size? It is a matter devoid of import.

 

Or is it? As the saying goes, it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup that gets you in the end. We are indeed fortunate that Obama was ever cognizant of that. This is why he insisted on transparency. Because he realized if every action is taken under the bright glare of public scrutiny, there is no chance to misbehave, and no need to cover it up.

 

One can only hope Mr. Trump will be able to learn this lesson. In the meantime, we have people like Tamara to defend our interests. No doubt she understands that lying to the American people, even about a crucial matter like crowd size does not constitute an Impeachable offense. On the other hand, lying about the lies, continuing to repeat those lies even after The Fact Checkers have made their ruling? That may well be a high crime or misdemeanor.

 

One thing we know for certain, after the first hectic hours of the Trump regime, is there will be countless other opportunities for decent Americans to whip out hashtags and flood social media with CheetoDust and NotMyPresident. And maybe, just maybe, those hashtags, diligently applied, will force Trump to admit his crowds were smaller than Obama’s. And if we win this battle, we just might keep him from building a wall or setting up concentration camps for African-Americans, Mexicans and members of the LGBTFAQ Community.

Incessant Aggrandizement

Posted by MLGoodell on April 20, 2016 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Just about everything wrong with America today can be summed up in a recent Wall Street Journal article about the campaign to place a woman on the newly designed $10 bill. The author, Nick Timiraos, cites a March, 2015 memo from Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew which revealed that though the decision to honor Susan B. Anthony with the rollout of the new bill in 2020 had already been made, he decided to turn the redesign into a public referendum over which woman should be put on the bill.

 

Now, the fact that it was envisioned that redesigning a piece of currency was envisioned to take at least five years is proof positive that our federal government is fatally sclerotic, but that is not the most damning aspect of the decision. Instead, it had to do with the rationale for turning the decision into a debate. Lew felt the decision would “inspire a feel good campaign about women’s contributions to U.S. history.”

 

Whether it is the role of the federal government to launch “feel good campaigns about women’s contributions” is a reasonable question, but what should be beyond dispute is that it is in no way within the purview of the U.S. Treasury to engage in such social pseudo scientific meddling.

 

Of course, under this administration there is no piece of social meddling beyond its scope, as witnessed by the head of NASA informing us that the president believed one of the highest priorities of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration’s was to encourage “the Muslim World” to feel good about its contributions to science and mathematics.

 

Let us be clear. It is not the job of the U.S. Treasury to boost the self-esteem of women, or any other subsection of American society. Nor is it the business of government to encourage fathers to take time to be fathers, as a recent federally funded ad campaign entreats.

 

In an age of steep deficits and steadily mounting debt, with burgeoning entitlement spending and no clear path to reining in the fiscal Leviathan which is the federal budget, it is unconscionable that anyone, let alone the U.S. Treasury Secretary, would spend valuable tax dollars on something so insubstantial, trivial and unnecessary as promoting a “feel good campaign about women’s contributions.”

 

If every federal department could be forced to return to its original remit, with its budget slashed accordingly, not only would we be one step closer to a sound fiscal policy, but everyday life would begin to trend toward freedom, and away from the increasingly stifling embrace of the nanny state.

#NeverMoreClinton

Posted by MLGoodell on March 28, 2016 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

The other day, after listening to my latest anti-Trumpster rant, a friend concluded, “Then you’ll vote for Hillary.”

 

“No,” I said. “I will never vote for Hillary Clinton. The idea of turning the printing presses back on for Clinton, Inc. is just too frightening to contemplate.”

 

Though it is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of an elective office must be in want of a good fortune, the degree to which Hill and Bill have shown their fealty it is, not surprisingly, beyond the bounds of propriety. If Hillary were to gain the presidency, their monetization of power would approach Third-World-Dictator levels of kleptocracy. They would turn their hundreds of millions into tens of billions. Under the Clinton administration everything would be for sale, except their sense of honor, the sell by date of which has long since expired.

 

What makes her accession so unpalatable is Hillary simply doesn’t have Bill’s gift for guileless graft. His seemingly genuine warmth and affection for people, his folksiness, gained the forgiveness of multitudes of sins. Was Bill caught lying through his teeth again? Oh, that Bill, what a character. Another bimbo eruption? Oh, that Bill, that Ole Hound Dawg. Another woman’s accused him of rape? Oh, that Bill, he’s such a rascal.

 

His wife lacks that common touch. There is something so desperately furtive about her that even when she is telling the truth (one presumes), it is hard to think she isn’t lying.

 

Never is she more hapless than when addressing her four years of foreign policy influence peddling. In an interview with “The Des Moines Register” published Jan. 22 of this year, she dismissed the inflated speaking fees she commanded from special interest groups with business pending with the United States government by declaring, in a tone sounding uncannily like Dirty Harry, “Anybody who thinks they can buy me doesn’t know me.”

 

Then again, one can easily imagine Hill and Bill responding to every attempt to buy their influence by saying, “Go ahead, make my day.”

 

As yet another indication of how unprecedented this electoral season has been, the old saw, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, has been thrown on its ear. When the devil you know is HillBill, the devil you don’t looks better and better.

Conventional Wisdom

Posted by MLGoodell on March 19, 2016 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

There has been a lot of nervous talk lately about a “brokered” Republican National Convention. Allow me to set your hearts at ease. There will not be a brokered convention this year. I guarantee it it.

 

Here’s why a brokered convention is impossible. A brokered convention has been defined throughout American political history as a group of party leaders assembling in smoke-filled rooms and picking their party’s nominee. On October 9, 2006, Quicken Loans Arena, the site of this year’s Republican National Convention, banned smoking throughout the facility. No smoking, no smoke-filled rooms. No smoke-filled rooms, no brokered convention. QED.

 

There may well be an open convention, or a contested one, in which no candidate has won the requisite 1,237 delegates. After the first round of voting, most delegates are released from their commitment, and are free to vote for any candidate they choose. There are some limitations, such as eligibility being limited to candidates who have won at least eight primaries or caucuses during the run up to election.

 

Of course, this rule was set by the Rules Committee, and it can be changed, by a majority vote. Which means, theoretically, the nomination is open to anyone. Except Paul Ryan, who has said he will not accept the nomination. (Of course, Speaker Ryan also stated adamantly that he would not accept the Speaker of the House).

 

Now, Donald Trump has made noises about the possibility of riots if “the Establishment” denies him his nomination. Of this, all we can say is, if you’re Geico, you save people 15% on car insurance. if you’re Donald Trump, you make irresponsible, ill-considered comments. It’s what you do.

 

For all those who think denying Trump the nomination would be a travesty, an act of injustice on a level with, say, Howard Cosell losing his job because of some colorful terminology used to describe certain NFL wide receivers, consider the following.

 

If Trump continues to nail down his usual 35% of the Republican electorate, it basically means for every Republican who supports him, there are two who don’t. Hardly overwhelming support. Hardly a clear example of the people having spoken with one voice.

 

If, after the first ballot the delegates are released and his support drops in subsequent ballots, we will have an open convention. This will be riveting television, on par with a hotly contested “Batchelor,” or even “Dancing With the Hollywood Chefs” episode. If someone comes from outside the ranks of candidates, a Dark Horse, and rides a sudden upwelling of support to victory, then neither Trump nor his supporters can rightfully claim they were cheated. The system worked, and a party, the majority of whose members never supported him, gets its way, and justice is done.

 

His supporters can choose to stay home, or Trump can run as a third party candidate, either of which options will likely result in Hillary Clinton becoming the first president to pardon herself, (unless Brazilian President Dilma Roussef beats her to it). They can have their temper tantrum and punish those who opposed them, but in no way can they lay claim to the heart of the Republican Party.

 

If, on the other hand, Trump’s support rises on the second ballot, matters are trending his way and he will likely win the nomination. If he gains sufficient support, then shame on party leaders or insiders who would attempt to deny him the nomination, to deny party members the right to determine their own path.

 

This is the part of the brokered convention some people fear will occur, even if party insiders aren’t allowed to smoke (or maybe they can use the Boehner Suite). In this scenario “the Establishment” selects a favored candidate, either Mitt Romney 2.0, or Jeb!, say, and they swing the delegates’ support his way.

 

The problem with this is, it won’t work. The Chairman of, say, the Ohio Republican Party can’t say, I’ll throw my 66 delegates behind Eric Cantor, because he doesn’t control them. In the old days of brokered convention, he could do that, and the delegates would fall in line. Today they will fall in line, but only if they agree with the decision.

 

So, there won’t be a brokered convention. Even if there is a contested convention, whoever the nominee is, rightly or wrongly, wisely or foolishly, he or she will be chosen by a majority of the delegates. Then maybe the party can rally behind the candidate, all the Trump supporters will wake up, like Dorothy, back in their own beds, telling the most amazing story about twisters, munchkins and flying monkeys, and the people will unite to defeat the Wicked Witch of the East.

Aye, There's the Rubio

Posted by MLGoodell on March 9, 2016 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Watching this election is kind of like passing a wreck on the highway. You don’t want to look. You tell yourself not to look, but you want to see what made the gawkers pause. So you look. And if you’re unlucky, what you see will stay with you for a long, long time. It will wake you up at night. It will sear your brain in radiant color.

 

(The only thing that could improve that analogy is if Al Gore were running again).

 

After nearly eight years of marveling at how Barack Obama, with whom I shared an identical world view at the age of 25, has managed to make it this far into adult life without changing one iota of it, I face the prospect of seeing other way stations of my youth and childhood made flesh.

 

Bernie Sanders and I shared the same world view when I was 18, one characterized by a 1970’s era Coke commercial, (watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib-Qiyklq-Q), and the world hasn’t changed his outlook in the slightest.

 

Hillary Clinton, in terms of her sense of entitlement and outraged amour propre when things don’t go her way, reminds me of me when I was 12. All these years, and no improvement. And then we come to Donald Trump, who, other than his strip club lifestyle, is pretty much me, circa three years old.

 

This inability to adapt, change or grow is particularly disturbing when you consider two of the three would be the oldest people to assume the office of President, while the third would be the second oldest. Perhaps this intellectual and emotional stasis is the consequence of a life in politics, or in Trump’s case, show business. The constant alteration of opinion to reflect the latest fad or poll result must winnow out their personalities, leaving them nothing to hold onto but some hazy recollection of what they were or thought they were a long, long time ago.

 

During the Cold War, the flawed infrastructure of the Soviet system was illustrated by the decrepitude of its leaders. They were too cowed by the consequences of change, the terror of stepping blindly into the unknown, to countenance anyone who could not hail back to the age of putative glory.

 

So too, this campaign. Of those still standing, only one, Marco Rubio, has had the courage, insight and wisdom to look at the world not as he would like it to be, but as it is. Only Rubio understands that there are challenges afoot, that those who call themselves our enemies will not be content to merely let us walk away. Every other candidate blithely embraces the Pollyanna outlook of the person presently Occupying the White House.

 

Sadly, Republican voters have taken their measure of him, and found him wanting. Too young, too pretty, too shallow, unlike those giants of integrity and character looming over the stage. He launched his campaign with a tale of hope and a positive vision of the future. He tried to stay above the fray, refusing to attack Trump, believing as did so many that the showboater’s time was fleeting.

 

It should have been, but for some reason the public forgave Trump his multitude of sins. He broke every rule of politics, and the public loved him more. They ignored his boasting, they cheered his bullying, and they forgave him his vulgarity.

 

Meanwhile, Rubio, whose Tea Party origins were so pure that he once drove his Senate primary opponent, Charlie Crist, right out of the party, was tarred with the “Establishment” brush. To the fire breathers who have flocked to Trump, ever holding the vicious Ted Cruz in reserve, in whose eyes even Paul Ryan is too liberal, anyone who isn’t willing to torch the White House is tarnished goods, unworthy of their support, consigned to the ash heap of history.

 

Rubio made his share of mistakes. At first not taking Trump seriously, then taking him too seriously, worried about offending the pitchfork and firebrand crowd he was attracting to the party. He played Trump's game, allowing himself to be goaded into a pissing contest with Cruz. It hurt them both, but it hurt Rubio more, because unlike the unlikable Cruz, he was supposed to be better than that. Then, when it became clear he needed to attack Trump, for the sake of his candidacy, and for the future of his party, he made the mistake of responding in kind to Trump’s vulgarity.

 

He couldn’t see a way to remain above the fray and so descended into the pit with the master mud wrestler. Then Rubio learned, as did we all, that the rules do apply. He broke the same rules of decency and courtesy which Trump did, but unlike Trump, the people did not, and will not forgive him.

 

It’s hard to see a way forward for Rubio. Though some are urging him to drop out now, it is only natural that he will try to turn it around by winning his home state. It’s unlikely he will. Thanks to the scourge of early voting, Floridians have been voting for four weeks, which means countless votes were wasted on Jeb! before he dropped out, votes which Rubio could have used to blunt the brute force of the Trump campaign.

 

Rubio made the same mistake so many of us did. He believed sooner or later the scales would fall from the people’s eyes, and they would see Trump for the grotesquery he is. It was H.L. Mencken who said “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.” Perhaps there should be a Rubio corollary, “No one ever got elected overestimating the judgment of the American people.”

Pitchforks and Tea Carts

Posted by MLGoodell on February 29, 2016 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)

A long time ago, when American diplomats were being held hostage by Islamist thugs in Tehran, and American power was being held hostage by indecision and cowardice in Washington, I came upon a cluster of suits one lunch hour in downtown San Francisco. They were angry, frustrated, frightened and gathered outside the Iranian-owned Bank of Melli, on Sutter Street.

 

They were muttering and occasionally shouting, shaking their fists and taking secret pleasure from the frightened glances the young tellers inside would cast our way. Though they would deny it from that day on, each of those present would knew, in their heart of hearts, that terrifyingly delicious taste of putting fear in the eyes of others.

 

We were a mob. A singularly well-dressed, and well-behaved mob, but a mob nonetheless. We felt a thrill of anticipation when the manager scurried over to lock the door. Our shouts grew louder. At one point I realized I could take control of this mob. I could bend them to my will. It took only the raising of my voice to lead them to riot.

 

I stepped forward, grabbed the door handles and shouted, “We can break this door down!”

 

Okay, I spoke the words conversationally. Maybe I even whispered them. There at the moment of decision, I lost my nerve. I decided I didn’t want to be responsible for them trashing the bank, maybe even punching, stomping, beating the employees. I didn’t have what it took to lead a mob. I was too passive to be an activist. I spent the balance of my lunch hour in the crowd, waiting for someone else to step forward.

 

When the police came to escort the bank employees to safety our impromptu mob cheered. I explained to them you didn’t cheer the police when they arrived, you booed them. But they, like me when push came to shove, were reflexively allied with order and the rule of law.

 

I was reminded of that incident the other day while pondering the mystery of Donald Trump. How is it possible that he can break every rule of politics and see his support grow? How can he be a bully, a boor, an adolescent shambles, a self-gratifying, self-aggrandizing, self-glorifying egotist and watch his numbers grow? How is it possible that people who have learned over the course of a lifetime to despise people like Donald Trump on general principle can turn with a vengeance on anyone who points out exactly who and what the man is?

 

Trump supporters, I came to understand, are like that nascent mob in San Francisco. They are angry, frustrated and frightened. They feel let down by the system, by their culture; for them the American Dream is dead. They don’t embrace Trump because they believe he will, in fact, Make America Great Again, but because they are convinced he will destroy what remains of the City Upon the Hill.

 

They are angry. They are throwing bombs. They don’t care to preserve the system because the system no longer works. How is it possible that the American political system could have failed its citizens so drastically that the middle class are ready to revolt? It is a terrible thing when the middle class advocates revolution, because when the system falls, it falls hardest upon the middle class. It is the middle class which thrives on order, which depends upon the rule of law, which cheers the police when they arrive. If the middle class want to throw things over, things have gotten very bad indeed.

 

These torches-and-pitchfork condemnations of the Republican establishment, of damning people like Paul Ryan, Richard Lowry and William Kristol as RINOS, as liberal hacks, reveal a kind of sickness, a Dantonesque fanning of the revolutionary flames, of kindling a bonfire while will burn more than their enemies.

 

Calling Trump a dictator, a Mussolini, has no impact on his mob because they want a dictator. They want a Mussolini to come in and sweep the old edifice away. They are tired of being lied to by the establishment. They are tired of voting for Conservatives only to have them rule like moderates or even liberals. They believe the system is so broken it corrupts even decent men and women, and the only solution is to tear it down.

 

The break has been a long time coming. It happened, as Mike Campbell said about his bankruptcy, two ways, gradually and then suddenly.

Bedtime Stories

Posted by MLGoodell on February 23, 2016 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Of all the interesting aspects of this most curious of curious elections perhaps the most remarkable is the urgency with which the prevailing media are trying to draw it to the close. Even though a mere four of the 57 American states have voted, pundits are throwing dirt on Marco Rubio’s coffin because he hasn’t managed to win a single election. Donald “Il Duce” Trump, on the other hand, is the hands down winner, having dropped only a single campaign, and that to Ted Cruz, the Emmanuel Goldstein of contemporary American politics, who is incapable of winning because he can’t even poll a plurality of Evangelical voters in South Carolina.

 

No, Tump towers over all other candidates by virtue of his having a ceiling of 35% of Republican primary voters, and as any student of history will tell you, 35% is a yuuuge margin. Hell, the best Hitler ever managed was 34%, and look at how that turned out. I’m telling you, the man knew supply chain management, believe me.

 

On the other side of the spectrum, a quick sampling of Nevada Caucus headlines have Hillary Clinton winning easily, handily, decisively. Her easy, handy and decisive victory pretty much marked the end of Bernie Sanders’ quixotic quest to give free things to everybody (except the evil rich, who will be made to pay, like they are in Denmark).

 

Parsing the numbers shows that Hillary easily nailed down 52.5% of the Nevada caucus vote, while Sanders struggled to convince a paltry 47.5% of Nevada democrats to vote for him. Only among the Clinton faithful is a 5% margin considered a landslide. One wonders if these journalists really, really like Hillary, or are they just bucking for a cushy job at the Clinton Foundation. (Nice work if you can get it, schmoozing with billionaires, jetting off to Davos on private jets, and if you’re lucky, getting full use of Bill’s Penthouse Lounge VIP card).

 

If they were so inclined, they could have spun the Democrat results in an entirely different way. Despite spending months building an infrastructure in Nevada, Hillary barely held on to wrest a much-needed victory from the surging Sanders. The Vermont Senator had essentially written off the state, having spent very little time and money there. Despite this, he came within a fraction of upsetting the struggling Clinton machine. Even more disturbing, Sanders actually outpolled Clinton among the crucial Hispanic vote.

 

Her substantial advantage among African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities is crucial to counter the fact that everybody else (except aging feminists) favors Sanders by a substantial margin.

 

The election could have been reported this way, except those tasked with creating the rough draft of history have already decided Sanders can’t beat anybody, but Hillary has a decent shot of knocking off Trump. Obviously, conventional wisdom says there’s no way a bullying, buffoonish blowhard like Trump can defeat Hillary in a national election. Of course, conventional wisdom has been sticking a fork in The Donald since last summer and he continues to lead the Republican race.

 

It would be interesting to see what would happen if Trump did in fact face Hillary. Yes, Trump seems to have a ceiling of around 35% in the Republican Party, but where will Bernie’s people go if he loses? To Hillary? Not likely. They seem to hate Hillary more than even Republicans do. It is stunning how many Sanders supporters regard Trump as their second choice.

 

Despite the risk that their advocacy might blow up in their face, certainly Trump gives Hillary the best chance to win. Certainly more so than Rubio. Rubio has polled well against Hillary for months, and has only gotten stronger as his name recognition has grown. Which is why the media felt compelled to make such a big deal about his stumble in the New Hampshire debate, and why his fifth place finishing was regarded as potentially fatal to his prospects.

 

Reporters twist themselves into knots trying to decree that the nominating process is as good as over. The other day one of those dybbuks cited Trump’s “overwhelming lead,” pointing out that he has “nearly six times as many delegates” as his closest competitor. Which is true. He has around 58, while Rubio and Cruz have 10 apiece. Since he only needs 1237, it’s easy to see why those other guys should just pack it in.

 

It reminds me of my schtick on Opening Day, when, say, Miguel Cabrera hits a homer and has 3 RBI. I’ll say he’s on a pace to hit a record 162 home runs and 486 RBI. Of course, I’m kidding. When the CNN Bubble Head says Trump has an overwhelming lead, it’s entirely possible she believes it.

 

Of course, the predominant media are allowed to tell themselves any stories they want if it will help them sleep at night. We the people, on the other hand, are under no obligation to believe them. In fact, one could argue it is our patriotic duty to ignore them.


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