Sunday, September 18, 2016

I knew the Donald Trump photo with Little Miss Flint had a familiar vibe...


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Yes, far too many of Trump supporters are DEPLORABLE. Yesterday one of them punched an elderly woman sporting an oxygen tank in the face


ABC News photo of Shirley Teeter lying on the ground on top of her oxygen tank after being punched in the face by a Trump supporter at the Trump rally in Asheville NC on Monday. 

Hillary Clinton should not have apologized for calling some of Trump's supporters deplorable.

Shirley Teeter, a 69 year old woman who needs an oxygen tank to assist her with breathing, attended a Trump rally in Asheville NC to protest the candidate.

A man standing in front of her facing away reacted to some of her comments about Trump and his candidacy by turning around and punching her in the face. The 69 year old fell to the ground on top of her oxygen tank.

The aftermath was caught on camera and Teeter called ABC News affiliate WLOS to tell her story.

She is a veteran of protests that go back many years and has never been hit or subjected to violence before.

At the end of her contact with WLOS, she asked them a question she clearly wanted everyone out there reading this to ask themselves:

"She asks if people find a Trump supporter punching her in the face deplorable."
Several news media like the NY Times have been reporting on the violence at Trump rallies and how Trump incites the attendees but so far there has been no attempt by the Trump campaign to change how he behaves at rallies. The only thing Trump spokespeople have done in response is to deny that he is deliberately inciting attendees to violence.

The NY Times posted this video after a year of research into what Trump rallies are like. It's clear from this video that Trump and the campaign are very aware of what happens at his rallies, they just don't care:



Now his supporters are beating up on elderly people on oxygen. To answer Shirley Teeter's question, yes, they are deplorable.

-------------------

More News links to the story:

http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2016/09/13/69-year-old-woman-punched-asheville-trump-rally/90301468/ 

http://wlos.com/news/local/69-year-old-woman-punched-in-face-outside-rally-by-trump-supporter

http://wlos.com/news/local/breaking-warrant-out-for-man-who-hit-three-people-at-asheville-trump-rally

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Trump the Traitor working to put America first… under the boot of Putin.

The thing that concerns me about what is happening with Trump and Putin is that so many ridiculous and scurrilous things get said during an election that many folks will not give this the attention that it deserves.



There are too many things that now show that there is a connection between Trump and Putin and that Putin is willing to pull out all the stops to try to throw the election to Trump. As bad as that is, what is worse is that Trump is willing to hurt American national security to foster his relationship with Putin and Russia. We don’t yet know all the specifics of the relationship between Trump and Putin but here is what we do know so far:

  • Trump has expressed admiration for Putin on multiple occasions. This is strange behavior for a nominee for President from one of the major parties to express admiration for a foreign leader who has had an adversarial relationship with the United States for the past 12 years versus Presidents of both US parties.

  • Trump has had relationships with Billionaire oligarch friends of Putin going back a number of years.  Trump’s obsequiousness toward and attempt to attract the attention of Russian leaders goes back to Soviet times. He so badly wanted to meet Gorbachev that he was tricked into meeting with a Gorbachev impersonator and this was caught on camera. See here for more information about Trump’s Russian connections throughout the years http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/cover_story/2016/07/vladimir_putin_has_a_plan_for_destroying_the_west_and_it_looks_a_lot_like.html  also here http://www.politico.eu/article/donald-trumps-russia-connections-foreign-policy-presidential-campaign/ and see here https://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/from-russia-with-love for video of Trumps embarrassing meeting with a Gorbachev impersonator.

  • One of Trump’s top campaign personnel, Paul Manafort, has worked with Russian backed candidates in Ukraine including being on the payroll of  Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president and a Putin ally. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/22/opinion/donald-trump-the-siberian-candidate.html

  • It has now been confirmed that Russian intelligence services were behind the hack of the Democratic Party email system and the Russians released that information just before the Democratic National Convention when it would be sure to cause problems for the Democratic nominee’s efforts to build cohesion versus Trump. It’s impossible that this was done without approval from Putin. To put it succinctly, Russian intelligence, at the behest of Putin, is trying to help Trump win the election via nefarious means. See the below posted ABC News video.

  • The Trump campaign refused a plank in the GOP platform, pushed by all other factions of the Republican Party, that would guarantee weapons to Ukraine if Russia attacked them. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/trump-campaign-guts-gops-anti-russia-stance-on-ukraine/2016/07/18/98adb3b0-4cf3-11e6-a7d8-13d06b37f256_story.html 

  • Most concerning is that Trump has broken with over 60 years of NATO policy in suggesting that if he were President, the US might not come to the aid of a fellow NATO member if attacked by Russia. http://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2016/07/trump-nato/492341/  This is a huge blow to the members of NATO, particularly in Eastern Europe, who live with an ever increasing aggressiveness from Russia and depend on their membership in NATO to stay free from Russian domination. Newsweek published an article earlier this year titled “Counting Down to a Russian invasion of the Baltics”, http://www.newsweek.com/counting-down-russian-invasion-baltics-414877 , which outlined how aggressive Putin has been in putting political, economic and business pressure on the Baltics in what can only be assumed to be a prelude to attempting to take control over those countries in one form or another. Trump’s comments must seem particularly terrifying to the people and leaders of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. It could drive countries like these or others who share borders with Russia to decide it would be easier and safer to capitulate to Putin’s demands to return to the Russian sphere of influence, and turn away from NATO and the EU. You can see the argument being made, better to do that now with some bargaining chips to be played than be overrun and have no say in how it’s done. I promise all of you reading this that those kinds of discussions are being had in countries that border Russia after Trump’s comments. I am not saying those proposing such things will win those arguments, but they are being said and are being taken seriously. 
I am not exaggerating the effect of Trump’s comments on NATO. As reported by Esme Crib in Talking Points Memo, condemnation on that front was swift by a diverse group of people on both sides of the political aisle, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). John Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, criticized Trump's stance as "an open invitation to Vladimir Putin" and said that he hoped that "whoever advised Mr. Trump on this rethinks it." See this video of John Bolton, who is otherwise a Trump supporter, talking about how wrong-headed Trump's comments were regarding NATO:



The Clinton campaign was also quick to respond to Trump's suggestions.

“The President is supposed to be the leader of the free world,” senior policy advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement. “Donald Trump apparently doesn’t even believe in the free world.” He went on to say that it was "fair to assume that Vladimir Putin is rooting for a Trump presidency."

Trump’s response to criticism was to double down on his position regarding potentially not coming to the aid of fellow NATO countries.

Why is Trump clinging so hard to a bad policy denounced from all corners that hasn’t been defended by any foreign policy expert at any position in the political spectrum? Why is hurting US National Security by weakening NATO so important to him?

The only person who benefits from Trump’s proposed change in NATO policy is Putin.

My contention, and I will argue this point with anyone, is that Trump’s statement on NATO has hurt American National Security more than any single act by any President in US History, and Trump managed to do that without ever being elected to any political office.

The Washington Posts’ Anne Applebaum put it this way:

For even if Trump never becomes president, his candidacy has already achieved two extremely important Russian foreign policy goals: to weaken the moral influence of the United States by undermining its reputation as a stable democracy, and to destroy its power by wrecking its relationships with its allies. Toward these ends, Trump has begun repeating arguments identical to those used on Russian state television. These range from doubts about the sovereignty of Ukraine — earlier this week, Trump’s campaign team helped alter the Republican party platform to remove support for Ukraine — to doubts about U.S. leadership of the democratic world. The United States has its own “mess” to worry about, Trump told the New York Times on Wednesday: It shouldn’t stand up for democracy abroad. In the same interview, he also cast doubt on the fundamental basis of transatlantic stability, NATO’s Article 5 guarantee: If Russia invades, he said, he’d have to think first before defending U.S. allies. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/how-a-trump-presidency-could-destabilize-europe/2016/07/21/9ec38a20-4f75-11e6-a422-83ab49ed5e6a_story.html

Ms Applebaum also alluded to Trump being an actual Manchurian candidate.

From the links on several of the points I noted above you can see that various major media organizations are starting to report on the kinds of things I have written about here. ABC News did an excellent piece on the hack and some of the other disturbing elements of seeming cooperation between Trump and Putin. See this video from ABC News:



Putin is a bully who has invaded and taken over pieces of half a dozen neighboring countries. The surest way to deter a bully is by a rock-solid alliance between countries so that the bully knows in no uncertain terms that if he attacks one of the alliance members, all will come to the aid of the country attacked with devastating consequences for the attacker. We saw what happened in the run-up to the Second World War when dictators exploited the reluctance of countries to support each other by swiftly taking over large portions of Europe and Asia. Trump is working to bring those same conditions about by eroding the support of NATO alliance countries for each other.

This is an enormous issue. Beyond all the other reasons why Trump would make a terrible President, this issue of Trump selling out American National Security to Russia stands above them all as a critical reason why Trump should not never be President.

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For reference I included NATO’s article 5 from http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_17120.htm

Article 5
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security .

Sunday, July 24, 2016

So Many Folks Confused About What Impartiality in the Primary Means for a Democratic Party Organization or Official

With the current brouhaha about Debbie Wasserman Schultz and whether emails leaked by a hacker in Russia show wrongdoing, I think it’s important that folks know exactly what the applicable rules mean in terms of how Democratic Party officials are supposed to conduct themselves with regards to contests for a Democratic nomination.

Many people seem to be attempting to apply these rules in a way they were not intended.
I’ve been subject to similar rules in the past. As a past precinct chair, then District Leader and then County Public Relations Chairperson for the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee in Florida, we were subject to the following rule:

PCDEC Bylaws
ARTICLE XIII
Endorsement of Candidates
The endorsement of candidates in Primary elections is prohibited to the County Committee, the Chair of the PCDEC, and all groups within its jurisdiction, except as otherwise provided by the FDP Bylaw

Every two years, at least while I was an officer of the PCDEC, the county chairperson would go over with us exactly what that means and how it affected us.

The main idea is, you cannot endorse any candidates or make it seem to voters as if you were using your office to promote a candidate for the Democratic nomination or that the local county apparatus endorsed someone. You were absolutely permitted to volunteer for a campaign, work for a campaign and to have a strong personal preference for a candidate.  The key is not to make a public endorsement. If you think about it, it doesn’t make sense to do otherwise. To prevent all local Democratic Party officials from working on campaigns removes the most active Democrats from helping candidates until very late in the process. That is not the intent of the rule.

Now let’s examine the DNC bylaws applicable to the situation with DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

DNC Bylaws Article 5, Section 4
In the conduct and management of the affairs and procedures of the Democratic National Committee, particularly as they apply to the preparation and conduct of the Presidential nomination process, the Chairperson shall exercise impartiality and evenhandedness as between the Presidential candidates and campaigns. The Chairperson shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and evenhandedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process.

The bold, italics and underlining are mine and they are the key point to this rule. Again, the point is not that the national chair and DNC members can’t have a strong preference for who wins the nomination it also doesn’t mean that the national chair and other DNS members can’t express their preference privately. It doesn’t mean that a candidate can’t anger them or that they can’t express that anger privately.

Understanding the rule, did Debbie Wasserman Schultz break it? I don’t think so.

Let’s also understand that we are dealing with extraordinary circumstances here. I want everyone reading this to picture this scenario. For 25 years you have been a member of an organization that you believe in and whose goals you believe are very important. During that time, an outside individual has been attacking your organization and calling it insincere. He says he upholds the principles your organization espouses better than you do and says joining your organization would be committing treason to his beliefs. He belittles and criticizes your organization at every turn. When it comes to making decisions in a group he does support what members of your organization are doing but only because it serves his interests to do so.

At the end of those 25 years, he joins your organization, something he said he would never do, only because it is the only way he can try to get something he wants and he contends in the highest level election against someone who has been a loyal member of your organization for 30+ years. Your responsibilities are as article 5 section 4 express them above.

Do you think you and/or members of your organization would have a strong preference against this individual? Do you think you might express that privately in emails since that does not violate the rule? When it turns out that members of this individual’s campaign have early in the process improperly used computer resources to gain an unfair advantage in the campaign, do you think it would make you upset? Whose fault is it that there is antipathy toward this individual in your organization? I think the answers to those questions are obvious.

But hold on, it’s more than that. When Sanders’ campaign was caught improperly accessing Hillary Clinton campaign information on DNC servers and the DNC moved to sanction him, Sanders sued the DNC to avoid the punishment. So you have retaliatory litigation against the DNC by Sanders on top of everything I discussed in the previous two paragraphs. Now what kind of a relationship and private opinion do you think DNC leadership and staffers have with/of Sanders?

One of the things I keep asking myself when I think about the relationship between Sanders and the DNC is, did Sanders ever do anything to reach out and mend fences? You have his 25 years’ worth of attacks on the Democratic Party. If you were in the position he was in at the start of his campaign, wouldn’t you have seen the need to try to work to improve the relationship because of your prior behavior/statements? Did Sanders ever do anything at all along those lines? If so I haven’t heard of it. For someone who purports to have the skill to be President, a job where negotiations, diplomacy and dealing with countries and foreign leaders, not to mention domestic members of the opposite party, whose opinions might differ for yours and where you need to be able to craft compromises, are we to understand he was unable to reach out and try to come to some sort of d├ętente with the DNC?

Another issue is whether any of this had any impact on the race. Hillary’s early and insurmountable lead came from winning African American votes in the South by huge margins and from Florida which has long been a Clinton stronghold. Nothing that I have seen has proposed anything that suggests that the DNC influenced that in any way. I am not sure African Americans in the South care that much about what the DNC says nor is there much else the DNC could do to change how they would vote. So whatever the DNC did had little impact on the race.

Of course the other upsetting point is that the leak of the DNC emails comes from a Russian hacker who almost certainly operates with the tacit or full-fledged permission of Putin. People in Russia who do things Putin doesn’t like have a tendency to disappear or turn up dead see http://news.sky.com/story/the-putin-critics-who-have-been-assassinated-10369350 and note this is an abbreviated list. Even when they escape Russia, many of them have a tendency to end up dead before their time and some by horrific means, like Alexander Litvinenko https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisoning_of_Alexander_Litvinenko so I think it’s fair to say that this hacker operates with Putin’s permission. Putin’s attempt to put his finger on the scale here for Trump against Hillary indicates one of two things, either he really likes Trump and thinks Trump sees eye to eye with him on world affairs, or it means Putin thinks Trump is a dupe who would be easy to control or subvert. Neither possibility is a good one.


I don’t care what things were said about the candidates among DNC members in private emails. But, if Debbie Wasserman Schultz or other members of the DNC went beyond privately talking/emailing and expressing personal preferences, even though it’s something that any sane person knowing the background would probably understand, they should face repercussions for that. To this point, I haven’t seen any evidence that they did.  

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hillary vs Trump regarding Wall Street and Brexit



The turmoil in the wake of Brexit particularly with the markets has raised the question of who is better qualified to lead regarding matters of Wall Street, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

I was asked to appear on two shows on Fox News regarding that topic, one on Friday afternoon on the Cavuto show guest hosted by Maria Bartiromo and one Satuday morning on the Cost of Freedom hosted by David Asman.

I want to discuss Brexit in general and what it means for the election and what Hillary and President Obama as well as leaders of other European countries should do but the Wall Street question is an interesting one. Below is the video of my appearance Saturday morning on the Cost of Freedom opposite Mark Serrano.



One of the first things that went through my mind during this discussion is that Trump and his surrogates are trying to have it both ways with Hillary. On the one hand they are trying to extend and capitalize on criticism levied by Sanders and his supporters that Hillary is too close to Wall Street and presumably would favor them too much. At the same time they want to claim she would enact proposals that are bad for Wall Street. That thought was going through my head as I exited the studio and ran into my old friend Jonas Max Ferris who said that very thing to me right after the segment. I hope everyone reading this gets that you can’t have it both ways. I don’t blame Mark Serrano. I think that Trump has a massive problem in general with flip-flopping, contradictory statements and being on both sides of every issue and that sets the tone for the campaign and its surrogates. My last article on the campaign and Trump, “Trump’s Torrent of Flip-Flopping makes Mitt Romney look like Steady Eddie”, http://steveleser.blogspot.com/2016/05/trumps-torrent-of-flip-flopping-makes.html noted that several articles have now been written by reporters doing research into Trump’s statements and the amount of contradictory statements Trump puts out there is beyond bizarre to the point of being pathological. This article by Politico, “Donald Trump’s Greatest Contradictions” http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/05/donald-trump-2016-contradictions-213869 is perhaps the best catalog of them. Politico’s catalog of Trumps flip flopping and contradictions goes on for 23 pages. It still shocks me and I have read it several times now.

But getting back to the debate I had Saturday morning, as far as Hillary and Wall Street is concerned my position hasn’t changed since early in the Democratic primary and that is that to really do a good job reforming an industry you have to have a deep understanding of that industry. Hillary has cultivated that understanding over the last 16 years, not just by doing paid speeches but by having an ongoing dialogue with various leaders and other folks on Wall Street and the banking industry. The fruits of that effort are many including:

  • .      Hillary’s plan to reform Wall Street was voted best by a large majority of Liberal and Progressive economists. In other words, her plan will do the best job of reigning in the bad practices that led to the mortgage crisis and various other issues we have seen in finance and banking over the last 30-40 years.
  • .      Wall Street and the Banking industry feels comfortable that Hillary will address the problems but not prevent or hinder them from ethically doing their business.


Number two will be dismissed by various folks as unimportant or undesirable, but the Financial Insurance and Real Estate industry is over 20% of the US Economy. If you end up crippling or destroying that industry, you better have a plan for recreating that contribution to the economy and the tens of millions of jobs that come with it.

This is the kind of politics I prefer, engaging the people involved and trying to gain a deep understanding of all the facts surrounding issues so you can most successfully deal with them. Demagoguery against Wall Street and the Banking industry and refusing to talk to leaders of companies in both may be good politics on both sides of the aisle but it doesn’t help you craft good policy to address the problems. Of course, with this belief system of mine there was no question of who I would support in the Democratic primary.

On the other hand, Trump has a lot of problems where Wall Street and the banking industry is concerned. They will never forget how he left investors holding the bag for his four bankruptcies. All told, for investments of billions of dollars, investors got pennies on the dollar for such debacles as the Trump Taj Mahal bankruptcy in the early 90’s. Whenever journalists have gone to Wall Street to assess how Wall Street and Bankers think about Trump, they have found a very small group who like him, like Carl Icahn for instance, and a lot of folks who refuse to do business with him. There apparently is even a pejorative term in the industry for how bad of an investment it is to loan Trump money. It’s called “Donald Risk” as Susan Craig noted in a May 23rd article in the NY Times.

Adding to those kinds of problems is that Wall Street values consistency above almost everything else. Given consistency Wall Street can react to and successfully deal with almost anything. But as you can see from the Politico article I linked above, Trump doesn’t do consistency. He is a wild card and you never know what to expect from him. During the campaign he has at times attacked Wall Street and Hedge funds, and then at times he has tried to paint himself as a big friend of Wall Street. You can bet this hasn’t gone unnoticed by folks on Wall Street and the finance industry.

Regarding Brexit, I think for those of us in the US and in other European countries who support immigration and the acceptance of refugees, Brexit was a wakeup call that we need new short and long term approaches to these kinds of issues.

Before I get into that, I just want to point out that while Trump was out in Scotland on Friday and Saturday cheering Brexit and saying the citizens of the UK were right to “take their country back” (all the while hawking his golf course), in 2013 he said something very different as the Daily Caller noted (http://dailycaller.com/2016/06/25/before-the-brexit-donald-trump-was-a-transnationalist-who-wanted-to-leave-borders-behind ):

In January 2013, Trump wrote an op-ed in the cyber pages of CNN enthusiastically endorsing the economic benefits of Europe-wide interdependence and calling for nations “to leave borders behind.” 

“The near meltdown we experienced a few years ago made it clear that our economic health depended on dependence on each other to do the right thing,” Trump wrote in 2013. 

“I think we’ve all become aware of the fact that our cultures and economics are intertwined,” Trump said. “Never before has the phrase ‘we’re all in this together’ had more resonance or relevance.” 

Trump also expressed his support for transnational globalism. 
-----------------------------------

Everywhere you turn you find a striking example of Trump reversing himself. As I noted earlier, Trump’s contradictions and flip-flopping are pathological, but I digress…

In terms of leaders in Europe and the US who are in favor of immigration and accepting refugees, it’s time to step back and reassess.

I think there are a lot of people in Europe and the US that are uncomfortable with immigration and refugees at the levels they are right now. Rather than doing things like dismissing them or calling them Xenophobes or racists, it may be a good time to examine the impacts and come up with concrete facts and new policies with which we can reassure folks who are concerned.  Studies should be conducted in terms of how some of the new immigrants are settling in and assimilating. We’ve all heard the horror stories, some of which are true and some are no doubt exaggerated. So let’s do a study and find out how big the issue really is. Are there parts of cities in Europe that really have defacto Sharia law being enforced? I don’t think so, and the few attempts to investigate indicate that this isn’t true but let’s take each of the specific accusations and debunk them or prove them. How many incidents do we have of new immigrants abusing women or trying to force women to cover up or obey whatever social mores that existed in their host country but not in their adopted one? How different is the overall crime rate of new immigrants and refugees versus the crime rate of the communities in which they are living? What percentage of the unemployment rate in each city and district can be attributed to new immigrants or refugees if any?

Let’s take a rigorous approach to studying the reality of the situation so we can combat the fear mongering by Trump in the US and by folks in Europe like UKIP’s Farage. We should also highlight the benefits of immigration, globalization and EU membership. One of the more stunning facts to come out of Brexit is that the cities and communities that voted to leave the EU are more economically dependent on the EU than those that voted to stay in it. See this graph from Press Association's John Springfield, Philip McCann, Bart Los and Mark Thissen. 


I think these statistics are stunning. They tell me that those of us in favor of things like the EU and globalization aren’t doing the jobs we need to be doing to explain their virtues in terms of each community.

I also mentioned new policies, and let me introduce that by saying there are many good ideas we could come up with including I wonder whether in the US, UK and EU we are doing an adequate job explaining to immigrants what we expect of them as good citizens. I think we should take specific examples of unacceptable cultural norms in other regions of the world and explain to prospective immigrants that those things are not acceptable in their new homes and that attempting to continue them in their new countries will result in deportation and then follow through on that threat if necessary. I think that’s fair. It should be explained to immigrants that things like female circumcision, harassing or assaulting women who aren’t covered up enough in the eyes of certain cultures, discrimination against people of other religions and race, sexual orientation or imposing religious jurisprudence on unwilling recipients and various other things are unacceptable behavior and will get them deported. I’m saying this as someone who is in favor of tolerance, multiculturalism and diversity.  


In short, let’s address the concerns of those who currently have issues with immigration and refugees and globalism with facts and responsible new policies. We have no choice but to try. The Brexit vote shows the consequence of ignoring those concerns is very likely to be exploitation of them by far right demagogues. I'll leave you all with this additional graphic from Lord Ashcroft polls showing what motivated people in the UK to vote for or against Brexit.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trump's Torrent of Flip-Flopping makes Mitt Romney look like Steady-Eddie



People who have followed my writing and my radio show will recall that I have believed from the very beginning of Trump's involvement in national politics, back in 2011, that his positions weren't heartfelt and were just designed to win the Republican nomination. See http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2011/04/08/trumps-birther-strategy-makes-sense-if-you-understand-its-purpose/  where five years ago I called it. 

This past February I explained how I thought Trumps positions on immigration, that he has held for only the last 6-12 months, were part of this "just say what you need to say to get the nomination" strategy http://steveleser.blogspot.com/2016/02/if-it-is-donald-trump-vs-hillary.html .

It's fascinating that the far right, which has lamented not being able to nominate a "true conservative" the last two Presidential elections didn't fight harder to get a genuine conservative (Cruz) nominated when he was very much in contention for a while. Instead too many Republicans bought into Trump's spin, and make no mistake Trump has been out there trying to sell himself as some sort of straight talking Conservative.

Obviously this has worked. He is the presumptive Republican nominee. But throughout this process, he has talked himself into both sides of a multitude of issues. This is what happens when the basis for your campaign is to say whatever you think will get you nominated or elected rather than what you believe.
Sure, everyone says a contradictory thing or two now and again. I think a few can be forgiven. I remember Republicans going after John Kerry accusing him of being a flip-flopper for saying he was for $87 Billion in Iraq war appropriations before he was against it. In Kerry's case, the reason was because the earlier form of the bill reduced Bush's tax cuts to pay for it and thus was deficit neutral. The later form of the bill increased the deficit. 
Kerry didn't have close to the number of contradictions as Mitt Romney, but of course Republicans supported Romney. Now we have Trump. People who are friends of mine on Facebook will note that I have called out a number of Trump's contradictory statements over the last few weeks, but I hadn't realized how bad it has become. The admins over at Democratic Underground alerted me to a few articles on the subject through their "Real Donald Trump" picture above.  Thinkprogress (click here), Salon (click here) and in particular Politico (click here) did a good job of cataloging them. There are so many it's near impossible to discuss them all. Here is a very small sample of the contradictions listed in the Politico article:

.
.
.

“Politicians are all talk and no action.” (Twitter, May 27, 2015)

“I’m not a politician.” (CNN, August 11, 2015)

“I’m no different than a politician running for office.” (New York Times, July 28, 2015)

“If I ever ran for office, I’d do better as a Democrat than as a Republican—and that’s not because I’d be more liberal, because I’m conservative.” (Playboy, March 1990)

“I’m a registered Republican. I’m a pretty conservative guy. I’m somewhat liberal on social issues, especially health care.” (CNN, October 8, 1999)

“You’d be shocked if I said that in many cases I probably identify more as a Democrat.” (CNN, March 21, 2004)

“Look, I’m a Republican. I’m a very conservative guy in many respects—I guess in most respects.” (The Hugh Hewitt Show, February 25, 2015)

“I’ve actually been an activist Democrat and Republican.” (CNN, October 8, 1999)

“Folks, I’m a conservative, but at this point, who cares? We got to straighten out the country.” (Burlingame, California, April 29, 2016)

“I’m totally pro-choice.” (Fox News, October 31, 1999)

“I’m pro-life.” (CPAC, February 10, 2011)

“Look, I’m very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject, but you still—I just believe in choice. … I am strongly for choice, and yet I hate the concept of abortion. … I am pro-choice in every respect … but I just hate it.” (NBC News, October 24, 1999)

“I am very, very proud to say that I’m pro-life.” (Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2015)
.
.
.
_______________________________________________________________________

As I said this is a VERY small sample, the contradictions in the Politico article go on for 23 pages. Everyone should read them. It's shocking at this point. And sure, some of the contradictions are separated by 10-20 years, but many are not. This goes far beyond standard political double-speak. I think there may be something really wrong with Donald Trump, psychologically. It's hard to imagine how someone could be normal and behave this way.

Whether he is normal or not, someone who does this does not belong in the White House.

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Links mentioned in this article:

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/05/donald-trump-2016-contradictions-213869

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2016/05/24/3781188/donald-trump-simultaneous-positions/

http://www.salon.com/2016/05/18/trumps_korean_incoherence_the_trump_plan_for_north_korea_includes_everything_from_diplomacy_to_assassination/

Saturday, February 27, 2016

If it is Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton in the General Election, Latinos will play a decisive role and Trump will lose



Before I get into the crux of this article, I want to provide some background that I think will make a lot of things clear about why Trump has done some of the things he has done.  After his comments back in the 2004-2005 time-frame that the Iraq war was a disaster, I thought he might run for President as a Democrat. Back then, Trump was a moderate who, in my opinion, could have chosen to run for either party.

The first mistake Trump made in trying to run for President was to decide to run as a Republican. I can imagine some of the reasons why and discussions had by his team as that decision was made, but that's mostly supposition on my part and immaterial. The result of deciding to run as a Republican meant that he had to try to appeal to Republican grassroots.

That would have posed a serious problem for any political team trying to solve the obstacles in his way to getting the nomination. As Trump's GOP primary opponents have said, he had expressed support for many Liberal positions in the past. If he reversed positions on those things he would immediately be seen as non-genuine and a hypocrite. Those perceptions are the exact opposite of those that team Trump was trying to create. His teams goals were to develop positions that Trump could adopt that would both signal to Conservative grass roots that he was one of them and deserved their support and would also not conflict with anything he had said previously.

It was clear to me with the birther position Trump took back during the run-up to the 2012 primary that this was a first attempt to reintroduce himself to Conservative grassroots as someone they should consider supporting. See my article on that here: TRUMP'S BIRTHER STRATEGY MAKES SENSE IF YOU UNDERSTAND ITS PURPOSE

The second position that Trump's team had him adopt was that of being radically against undocumented immigrants having a path to citizenship, and the creation of the wall on the border with Mexico.

Both the birther and anti-immigration positions fulfilled the requirements of endearing him to the Republican base and not putting him in danger of appearing to be a flip-flopper or someone willing to say anything to be elected. In fact regarding the latter, it did the exact opposite. It helped foster the impression that Trump says what he means and doesn't care about being politically correct. This impression has stuck with Trump throughout the Republican primary process and has him on the verge of becoming the presumptive Republican nominee.

The problem with some of the things that Trump said regarding immigration was that they were extremely offensive to Latinos. Trump claims that the media unfairly characterized his statements but I am not sure you can say that. Huffington Post did a good job back in August of capturing, to that point, the Nine Most Outrageous things Donald Trump has said about Latinos and that includes such gems as:


and lest you think Trump's negative statements and opinion was just about Mexicans and not other Latinos:


As a Latino myself, those things Trump said are upsetting to me, but I also don't happen to think that Trump really believes those things anymore than he believed that Obama was born in Kenya. I think this was all part of the salesmanship job Trump has been doing to win over the Conservative base. I also don't think he really understood how offensive those things were that he was saying. That doesn't excuse it. Whether someone really is a really a racist and believes racist things or is just saying race-baiting things for political objectives doesn't change how it makes me feel about that person. I am very unhappy with Donald Trump for having made those statements and I am not alone. Latinos are seething over these statements both here in the US and abroad. This is very important and I am going to come back to that.

Right now if you look to the general election polls describing the results of a potential Trump vs Hillary race, most have it close and some even have Trump winning.  http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/general_election_trump_vs_clinton-5491.html I wouldn't pay too much attention to general election polls at this time. As Nate Silver said, A year out ignore general election polls . Polls at this point had Clinton losing badly in 1992 and had Carter beating Reagan in 1980. General election polls don't start meaning something until the summer and even then don't start to completely shake out until early to mid September.

What does give you a hint right now about how the election might turn out is to look at individual demographic groups and use the political parties and past campaigns demographic targets to tell you where someone might have an edge and where someone might have problems.

Past Republican Presidential campaigns have said that their target is to get at or close to 40% of the Latino vote to win the general election. After Mitt Romney's loss in 2012, some of which was believed to be because of his poor showing with Latinos (Romney lost the Latino vote to President Obama by 71%-27%), Republican politicians and pundits for several months afterwards were saying how they needed a new approach toward Latinos and immigration and were willing to change on both counts. One of my favorite statements along these lines was Sean Hannity's:


This was said by Sean one or two days after Mitt Romney's election loss in 2012.

Many Republican strategists came to the same conclusion as Hannity and realized that continuing to anger the Latino community created an impossible situation for them when it came to winning national elections. That is one of the reasons for why the Republican establishment has been and is still searching for a way to stop Trump from winning the nomination. That 40% number is in their head and they are concerned about it and it turns out they have good reason.

A recent Washington Post-Univision poll of Latino voters shows that in a general election match-up, Latinos would vote 72% for Hillary and 16% for Trump. See http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/washington-post-univision-news-national-survey-of-hispanic-voters/1970/ 

Even more telling in that poll is that 81% of Latinos have a very unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable opinion of Trump and only 17% have a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of Trump. Conversely, 67% of Latinos have a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of Hillary Clinton while only 31% have a very unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable opinion of her.


This demographic poll is more telling than a normal general election poll this far out because it not only gave the results of who folks would vote for it provided favorable-unfavorable ratings.  Unfavorable ratings are very hard to change and Trumps unfavorable ratings among Latinos are in the stratosphere. As I said earlier, Latinos are angry at Trump and it's hard to imagine that he can change that significantly.

It's hard to imagine Trump winning or even being mildly competitive in a general election with Hillary Clinton with those kinds of numbers. It's also very difficult to see how he would change those numbers between now and November. It would take years to repair the kind of damage Trump has done to his relationship with Latinos.

In a general election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Trump will lose and Latinos will play a decisive role in that loss.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bernie Sanders – Snake Oil Salesman Extraordinaire Threatens to Take his Act Nationwide.


Yakov's Elixir, the best that can be had, Yakov's Elixir, it's good for what is bad.
Try this elixir, it's sure to quench your thirst, Buy this elixir, it's best for what is worst!-         Song of the Snake Oil Salesman Yakov sung by Danny Kaye in “The Inspector General” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1yM2babqZs

What to do when a significant portion of your fellow party members have bought into the siren song of a Snake Oil Salesman?

That’s what confronts those of us Democrats who do not buy into Sanders-mania.

A snake oil salesman is someone who sells something knowing that the product cannot do what the salesman says it will do. Before the advent of modern medicine, snake oil salesmen were common, selling everything from furniture polish to lemon-water, claiming the potions would cure all sorts of ailments.

Sanders presents the same picture as a candidate. Sanders is making wild claims about being able to enact single payer healthcare, a $15 minimum wage, free college tuition and a host of other claims. 

The problem, for those of us not under his hypnotic trance, is that we know that due to redistricting, the House of Representatives will remain Republican until January of 2023 at the earliest and that is if everything goes as well as possible for Democrats in the next four state and congressional elections. It’s more likely that the House will remain Republican until January 2025 and if things go badly, for much longer.

We’ve watched how Republicans in the House operate. They do not pass bills submitted by Democratic Presidents and they are ensconced in very Republican districts safe from the ire of a public who wants congress to do something. In fact, Republican congressmen get punished if they are seen as helping Democratic Presidents. Several dozen have received strong primary challenges and even lost their seats to primary challenges from fellow Republicans for the sin of seeming to be too open to working with President Obama. That lesson has by now been received loud and clear by the rest of the Republican House Caucus.

All of this is a long winded explanation proving how Sanders cannot deliver on anything he is promising, and what irks many of us Democrats who oppose him is, he has to know this and knowing this he continues to snow his supporters into believing he will achieve something revolutionary if elected.

Even that is getting ahead of ourselves. To get to that point, Sanders of course first needs to defeat Hillary, and then he would face an avalanche of negative ads seeking to define him from the Republicans. The worst part of this is, the Republicans won’t have to lie or exaggerate to do it.

In past elections, I’ve worked hard to defend the Democratic nominee from lies and exaggerations from Republican candidates and PACs. Sanders would present a unique problem for those trying to defend him from such attacks because they will all (or a large majority of them will) be true.

He expressed support for the Sandinistas when they were considered an enemy of the United States. He is a Socialist who was a member of several college Socialist organizations, honeymooned in the former Soviet Union and was so far left he refused to join and expressed disdain for the Democratic Party until he had no other choice if he wanted to contend for the Presidency. He proposes a total government takeover of healthcare and has proposed a middle class tax increase in order to pay for it. The list goes on. The Atlantic’s Paul Starr summed it up thusly:

In 1980, he served as an elector for the Socialist Workers’ Party, founded by Leon Trotsky and committed to nationalizing major industries. In 1989 he said the Democrats and Republicans were “in reality, one party—the party of the ruling class.” That year he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times describing the two parties as “tweedle-dee” and “tweedle-dum” since both subscribed to what he called an “ideology of greed and vulgarity.”

Someone with the above record is a Republican strategist’s dream opponent. To make matters worse, every time he has been asked about his Socialism, Sanders has refused to answer the question directly and instead pointed to countries in Europe or talked about individual policies he proposes that he thinks people will like. That isn’t defining what he believes as a Socialist and it leaves him wide open to others defining his Socialism for him, which Republicans will do quite happily.

I’ve written these things about Sanders since the beginning of his candidacy. My opinion has not changed with Hillary’s win in Iowa or Sanders’ win in New Hampshire. Sanders candidacy presents a heavy lift to get the nomination, can only win the general election if the Republican nominee implodes, and if elected cannot enact any of the proposed agenda with which he is snowing his followers.

Level headed Democrats, i.e. those who have not bought into Sanders’ nonsense, may soon be confronted with a question. What is worse, a Republican who gets elected President now, or a Republican who would get elected in four years after a failed Democratic President who failed to enact anything of an agenda that carried huge expectations with all the baggage that would carry for the party. The perception of the Carter Presidency as a failed Presidency, as unfair as I think that is, cast a shadow over Democratic Presidential politics for the better part of twenty years and enabled three consecutive Republican White House victories. Republicans used the Carter Presidency, again, unfairly if you ask me, to great effect in claiming that Democrats were not up to being able to run the White House.

I will leave the main part of this article with one final thought regarding Sanders’ Snake Oil agenda. Is there anything about the last seven years since President Obama was elected that gives anyone the impression that the country wants to not just move further left, but farther left than any current elected official in the Democratic Party? With the Tea Party, Democratic losses in the mid terms in 2010 and 2014, I don’t understand how anyone could answer yes to that question.


p.s., for the Bernie bros who attack anyone who criticizes Sanders, let me save you the work, I’m bad, I’m terrible, I wrote some contradictory stuff a few years back, etc., etc. There, saved you the trouble.