Thursday, March 10, 2016

It's simple, direct answers, stupid.

Kevin Drum writes about why Hillary continues to be hounded by skepticism concerning her forthrightness, especially when it comes to Millennials. It has to be the #1 problem adversely affecting her likeability or favorability ratings.

As Kevin says, many believe she's just too "slippery." A reason for this sentiment is that Bernie gives very blunt and unequivocal answers to questions, whereas Hillary does not. Instead she offers very nuanced answers that often come off as seemingly disingenuous or hiding something.

Important: it's not that Hillary is actually hiding something or dodging or lying, rather that it just sounds that way. However that is the crux of her problem, the appearance of sounding evasive or waffling. And it's no doubt amplified with straight-talk Bernie as a foil. In fact, what better opposing candidate to shine a bright light on Hillary's trust problem than an older, frumpy, plain-spoken Independent?

Kevin discusses the Clinton burn out experienced by many of us. We became numb to the incessant witch hunts leading to nowhere. But Millennials were spared this nonsense, so what gives with their heightened skepticism?

I think the lingering email controversy is the problem. Millennials may not know the details concerning the Clintons in the '90s, but they hear things, they Google, they learn just enough to be suspicious -- and then this email thing comes along and it's game over for many. To them it screams poor decision process (I too wonder, why did she do it?!), leave aside legality. It's about judgement and that could very well have Millennials thinking if she did this then what would she do in office? Fair? Maybe, maybe not, but the damage is done.

And I've also heard some Millennials make the point of privilege (a very big word with Millennials), that anybody else would be going to prison for this email crap. True? Maybe, maybe not, but the damage is done.

So given her unfortunate history, unjustifiably hounded, etc., Hillary's decision to sidetrack emails was indeed a profoundly poor one. And it does not matter if it's technically legal.

If not for Bernie, Democrats would be suffering from low turnout in primaries. The youth vote went big for Obama and they're going big for Bernie, helping him win one of biggest upsets in polling history (Michigan), but will these Millennials show up for Hillary when it truly counts?

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Watch what you wish for....

For quite some time now I've felt Trump has been punking us. I've always believed that he entered this race as just another vanity endeavor (much like many of his endeavors), and as with The Apprentice, which caught on like wildfire and he rode until it inevitably burnt out, he's again riding this streak. 

Yes, this is not his first rodeo, he's run for president in the past, but this time around he learned a thing or two. From who? From Mitt Romney. Once a moderate Republican, who no less gave birth to Obamacare in MA, Romney learned quickly when he was running to be the Republican nominee that he had to start saying outrageous nonsense and fact-free crap to win over the kooky GOP base. And lo and behold, it worked and Romney became the chosen one. Trump likely saw that it worked for Romney and decided to do it on steroids -- and what a shocker, it's working! 

Implicit in all of this is I have to (or want to) believe that Trump is not actually as crazy as he sounds. Indeed, Trump has supported more liberal positions in the past (such as Planned Parenthood to this day). In fact, I predict in about a year or so that Trump will appear on his buddy Howard Stern's radio show and admit that he was just saying the most outrageous fact-free crap because he knew much of the GOP base would love it (and of course he's right, as we can plainly see).  This does not excuse what he's doing or saying, but it at least professes that he's been acting. In stark contrast to Cruz and Rubio who actually believe the crap they spout, they are definitely for real, and therefore they're much scarier than Trump.

So what Trump is doing might be a gag (as I'm positing), but it's a gag that's working. So what does that say about the modern day Republican? As in the the classic movie "Network," Howard Beale was mentally incapacitated, going through a crisis, and yet the people loved and adored him. I'm not suggesting Trump is Beale, disassociated from knowing what he's doing or saying, far from it, but rather that the audience, or the people (in this case Republicans) are the fuel to the fire. There would be no Trump mania at this point if not for the popularity giveth by Republican voters. 

And yet "respectable" Republicans are freaking out. Trump is throwing a monkey wrench into the plan of how it's supposed to go.

But back to Trump himself, I have to think a part of him just can't believe it, that these rubes are eating up his crap, he probably didn't think he'd go this far for so long, and now he has to keep going (like rollercoaster, strapped in, can't get off now). In large part, perhaps, it's why he keeps upping the ante with his comments, like his penis size reference and go-beyond-waterboarding stance in the last debate, like he's almost trying to get out of this. And yet the more outrageous and crazy and fact-free he gets, the more the base loves him. Recall that when Howard Beale started to convey facts, albeit dour messaging, his popularity plummeted.

Trust me, when the GOP finally does implode, they'll be writing about this moment, when a billionaire with funny hair said all kinds of irresponsible nonsense and the "adults' in the room, i.e. Republican voters, ate it up and applauded. It's why Louis CK is not too far off in making Hitler comparisons to Trump, as Hitler said all kinds of crazy hateful rhetoric and yet the German public loved it and hoisted him into power. Hitler of course was absolute evil, but he couldn't have done it without the many Germans supporting him. 

If Republicans want to get angry at Trump, just look in mirror, he wouldn't be where he is right now without the help of Mr. & Ms. Republican. You reap what you sow.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

My recent exchange with a sane Republican friend

All Republicans are not crazy. Some are just delusional and/or in denial -- and/or a friend.

From a text exchange tonight with a non-crazy Republican friend who was bemoaning Trump's popularity, my response:
The rest of the Republicans are kooks, and yet Republicans have to vote for someone. 
The party is imploding, a long slow car crash.
They only have Congress due to gerrymandering.
Trump's popularity in the GOP is not really surprising, just look at their last two picks, Romney and McCain. Two guys who were actually more moderate at one point in time. Like Trump. But were forced (?) to say crazy things to become the nominee. Presumably like Trump. We'll learn the truth one day on a Howard Stern (confessional) show.
As I said, this party is imploding.
More/less half the people in it declare themselves to be "independent" (code for embarrassed Republican) or want to vote for a foreigner like Merkel.
Good luck winning the White House with that! 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Classic McConnell Hypocrisy

A president should not nominate a Supreme Court justice -- unless that president happens to be a Republican. It's what McConnell and the Republican Party are all about. Sheer, stark, brazen hypocrisy. But hey, who's paying attention?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Robo-Rubio moment(s) = his Dean scream

Looks like Rubio's robot debate moment(s) = his Howard Dean scream moment, it's over. He admits to screwing up, never a good sign.
So I must revise my expectations which were Rubio would eventually overtake Trump for the nomination. Now I expect that Trump will continue to do well and then I think a Bloomberg enters the race. The established, elite Republicans have been freaking out with Trump's success. He's not only unpredictable and uncontrollable, he's almost certainly toast versus Hillary -- that being their worst fear. Trump plays well to a (very) select audience, but on a national scale his "platform" will not resonate and his absurd statements will come off for what they are: fact-free hot air.
Many might ask why a gazillionaire like Bloomberg would want to be president. You can ask the same thing about Trump. Ego? Vanity? Who knows. With Trump, who apart from the constant limelight that comes with the job, we have no idea if he'd actually like being president. Yet I think it's safe to say Bloomberg enjoyed being mayor of NYC (elected three times), he appeared to genuinely like governing, warts and all. And he does spend time contemplating and developing serious policy stances -- in no way can the same be said about Trump.
Regardless, I would be for Hillary or Bernie over Bloomberg, no question. However, it would at least be somewhat comforting to know that if for whatever reason Hillary or Bernie lost the election, Bloomberg would be entering the White House as opposed to lunatic Trump.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

What a performance, yeesh....

I still think Rubio gets the GOP nomination (prettiest pig), but wow, he was bad last night. It's as if he was reading from a teleprompter that wasn't there. Almost Manchurian like.
And he already comes across as boyish and too youthful, so what does he do? Recite as if he's standing before his classmates in 5th grade, giving an oral book report. Christie played the role of the intimidating, harsh teacher, admonishing him for use of excessive memorization.
Some may think Rubio will make the necessary adjustments off that dismal performance, like a football team would, but I think his ability to be something other than this robo-candidate is very limited. He can be very sharp with his answers, but they're always seemingly pre-loaded, fired off in a quick staccato that doesn't sound extemporaneous and genuine. He'll be the perfect foil for Hillary, who can sound a bit stilted at times.
In the meantime, this hilarious Republican race continues to plod along....

Thursday, January 07, 2016

I too am not a scientist

Too clever by half. 

We hear Republicans say this often, their current "clever" line to dodge climate change questions. "But I'm not a scientist, what do I know?" Of course that doesn't stop them from pontificating and passing legislation on things in which they have no particular expertise. Yet when it comes to global warming and climate change, well, then they must defer....

But let's just go with this inane method of evasion, if you lacked expertise and claimed ignorance on a given subject, what would you likely do? I bet you'd do some digging, see what the prevailing research had to say, what the preponderance of facts and evidence tended to conclude in a universal and consensus fashion, and then likely side with that for lack of a better explanation.

All of that said, you'd think after the Republicans said they were not a scientist, then the logical conclusion would be that they would defer to the preponderance of expert evidence and side with the 97% of scientists who believe in man-made climate change.

But no. Republicans say the "I'm no scientist" line, but then go on to spew drivel that has them aligning with the global warming skeptics. Or at best that no one really knows anything and that climate change remains a baffling and debatable puzzlement. 97% of the scientific community says not true, but as usual Republicans would try to have us believe otherwise, to align with the beliefs in their artificial bubble. 

It's all a joke, that is not funny. If you were dying of thirst and someone handed you a glass of water and 97 informed people told you not to drink it, that it was poisoned, and 3 told you to go ahead and drink it, what would you do?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ugh! I've been making this point for years!!

Must-read piece in today's NY Times, covering the blown opportunity for us to invest in our infrastructure during these past years when interest rates have been near zero.

I wrote about this topic here, here, here, here and here.

As we've known for quite some time now, bridges, roads, airports, public buildings, etc., are in woeful need of repair and fixing. Such projects will not go away magically – at some point, infrastructure needs to get fixed otherwise it poses dangerous consequences and risks.
Since post-2008, the years of near zero percent interest rates has been the optimal time to undertake such infrastructure projects. Funding has never been cheaper thanks to the extremely low rates AND it would’ve put millions of people to work at a time when unemployment was high and the economy needed stimulus. It was the proverbial no-brainer.
But nope. During the post-2008 period, we had to hear about the “runaway” federal deficit and how we should be “tightening our belts” and cutting back. We heard repeatedly that the last thing we should be doing is spending (investing) taxpayer money.
Never mind that post-2008 was the exact time when you should spend and invest, to stimulate the economy and get things rolling again. Especially with rates so low! You’re supposed to cut back spending during good times, not bad, it’s Economics 101.
Also, never mind that studies show for every $1 invested in infrastructure projects, GDP rises by $2 (the multiplier effect at work). And never mind that another study shows for every five years a project is delayed, its total cost doubles, i.e. better to fix things now and not delay.
But all for naught.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What Will We Hear Tonight?

In the last Republican debate, we heard primarily four things discussed:
  1. Iran
  2. Planned Parenthood
  3. Immigration
  4. ISIS
Four topics I didn't hear mentioned:
  1. Global warming
  2. Economy
  3. Deficit
  4. Government corruption & scandals
Interesting. You'd think Planned Parenthood was the modern day Al-Qaeda. Please. 

Meanwhile climate change / global warming is an enormous threat, the economy has been doing fine post-GW/Cheney, the federal deficit has been shrinking to zero, and Obama's two terms thus far have been corruption/scandal-free, something that certainly does not get enough media attention.

Yes, what will be the sky-is-falling topics tonight, I wonder.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Biden Says No, Clear Sailing For Hillary? When Does Bernie Drop Out? Who Should Be Hillary's VP?

Yesterday VP Joe Biden announced he's not going to run for president. Does this mean clear sailing for Hillary? I would have to assume yes.

Another question: when does Bernie drop out? I have to think eventually -- but not yet. Bernie has something like $40 million in his coffers, presumably more than enough to keep his campaign going for at least a few more months.

It's nearly common knowledge that Bernie's run has been more about conveying his message and his positions than actually winning the White House. That said Bernie has certainly accomplished his mission of dragging the Democratic Party and Hillary to the left. It's been heartening to see that his appearances have been standing-room-only events.

Who knows, maybe he's done enough to plainly show the popularity for progressive, populist positions that Hillary will ask Elizabeth Warren to be her VP. Is the country ready for a woman president much less a dual female ticket? I can't see Hillary being so bold as to go with another woman on the ticket. I'm sure the feeling would be that she would alienate too many male voters. Also, Warren is from Massachusetts, a state Hillary already has locked up.

It's interesting, even if Hillary were to pick Warren, at some point it was thought that Warren would herself want to run for president. However, she's currently 66 years old and if she were to be Hillary's VP, and assuming Hillary wins and runs again for re-election, Warren would be 74 years old by the time she gets her shot at the White House. 74 is arguably too old. It appears Elizabeth Warren missed her chance.

Why not just go with Bernie for Hillary's VP? I can think of several reasons not to pick Bernie: 1) he's too old (74), 2) worse, he looks and acts too old (appearances are meaningful in TV era... note in debate he often cupped his hand around his ear as if hard of hearing, not good... and see Larry David's take on SNL), 3) unfortunately many voters are not ready for an Independent devout socialist on the ticket, and 4) Bernie is from Vermont, a state Hillary will win with or without Bernie on the ticket and it's not a key state (few Electoral votes). Look, I love Bernie, don't get me wrong, but let's be practical.

So who's left? O'Malley? Really? Obama won Maryland easily in 2012, assuming Hillary will do the same, what else does O'Malley bring to the ticket that complements Hillary (beside sperm)? Is there anyone else out there yet to make him/herself known?

Of course, with tongue firmly in cheek, my choice would be for Hillary to pick her hubby. Bill's eight years were some of the best this country has ever experienced (sans the Monica crap), why not go for a repeat? Alas, reuniting in the White House a couple that shares the last name of Clinton could be too much for many people. That last name has sadly become extremely polarizing in many circles.

OK, then who? Julian Castro? Hmm....