We Get the Government We Collectively Deserve – “Tough Love” Edition

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The results of the 2017 election with the defeat of Clinton by Trump have left many heads spinning in what can be said to be the greatest election surprise since “Brexit“.

 

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The first two weeks into the new era of Trump make two things abundantly clear:

  1. Just as in the transition from the primary contest to the general election, there is no new “presidential” version of Trump. Uncensored opinions and Twitter statements are not going away.
  2. Everyone who thought there were no real differences between Clinton and Trump or that Trump was just “bluffing” with his extreme campaign statements are being proven wrong on a tweet by tweet/day by day basis.

 

Here are some of the highlights to date:

  1. New Press Secretary Sean Spicer is sent out on his first meeting with the general media and inexplicably flat out lies about Trump’s inauguration crowd size being the largest ever despite clear proof to the contrary. All the media is disparaged as being biased and unreliable for pointing out the FACT that Obama’s 2009 inauguration size had a much larger crowd.
  2. Former Campaign Manager Kelly Ann Conway defends Spicer’s false statements as being “alternative facts”.
  3. The CIA is accused by Trump of acting like Nazi’s and the retiring head of the CIA is insulted/accused of leaking information.
  4. Despite the vast majority of both Democrats and Republicans along with the election commission and observers agreeing that there was no widespread voter fraud, Trump insists that millions of illegal votes was the reason he lost the popular vote to Clinton and has stated he plans to launch an investigation.
  5. Bypasses Congress with issuing an executive order freezing the refugee program which results in chaos and mass protests as many innocent people are wrongly denied entry, treated as criminals, and/or and left in limbo.
  6. Nominates a hard right judge for SCOTUS.
  7. Has a frosty exchange with an old US ally, the PM of Australia, and ends the call short.
  8. Speculation about military engagement with Iran after Trump tweets they are put “on notice” after their ballistic missile test.
  9. Officially withdraws the US from TPP.
  10. Calls out CNN as “fake news”.
  11. Started the process for repealing the ACA- no specific replacement named yet.

Quite a ride so far for it being only the SECOND week into his term.

It’s also true that his teflon status with his base supporters remains intact, as he apparently can do no wrong to date that is seen as a negative. It makes sense, as he is following through on his campaign promises, love them or hate them.

Progressives are protesting and are left wondering along with establishment Dems and Reps how it is we wound up with such a surprise election result.

So how did we get here?

I’m a firm believer in the adage “We get the government we deserve”.  The actions of everybody taken as a whole reflects the type of government we wind up with. This wasn’t a random raffle – there was a vote which came out with these results. It took a culmination of things from all sides to get here- electing someone with ZERO political experience who has made outrageous statements, disputes proven facts, pushes their own reality, and shows little if any discretion in talking to the media, government officials,  and our historical global allies.

It’s easy to point the finger at others, but there is plenty of “fault” to go around. So here comes the hard facts and questions that people/groups need to look inward to answer if they don’t like the results:

A) Non-Voters:

According to compiled voting stats, 40% of the eligible voting population decided they had better things to do than to go cast a vote. Considering this was the most polarizing election in modern history with distinct ideologies and an aging SCOTUS up for grabs that can shape events for a generation, it’s amazing that so many decided to let others choose their fate for them. Maybe I shouldn’t say “amazing”,….it’s more like incredibly stupid.

There are some people who have somehow rationalized that they are “above” politics and decided they won’t “sully” themselves with all this corruption and fault filled candidates. What those folks fail to grasp is they will be subject to the winner REGARDLESS of whether they cast a vote or not- so it’s in their best interest to make a choice, even if it’s the lesser of four bad choices….I say FOUR because Jill Stein and Gary Johnson were far from being perfect as well.

If order for our government to function properly, we need people willing to vote and make their voices heard in electing effective leaders. Not voting makes it a no brainer than you will be ignored by whoever is elected as politicians are trained to only cater to the groups that will vote them out if displeased. They have no need to worry about the concerns of those who don’t vote.

The lower the voter turnout, the more likely it is we get more radical politicians favoring interest groups and corporations over the majority.

What’s more shocking, is that those who stand to benefit the most from voting, the young and lower income groups, have among the lowest turnout rates.

I would like to interview all the folks protesting today to see which ones didn’t vote. Those that didn’t vote should hang their heads in shame and just go home. They had a chance to make a real difference by voting but threw it away. Those who don’t vote have NO RIGHT to complain.

B) Conservatives:

Republicans choose an outsider to be their front running leader- someone with no past political experience. In other words, this can be viewed as a rejection of all the establishment politicians that represent you. If you aren’t pleased with your current leadership, why do you keep voting them back into office year after year after year? Here’s a perfect example- Marco Rubio had the worst attendance record of all Senators – he was failing to to do his job and was called out on this by Trump and other Rep candidates. Rubio’s answer was that he stopped attending because he decided that being a Senator wasn’t going to solve the problems of America, a questionable statement at best.  So his plan was to not run for reelection and just compete for the Rep President nomination. But when he lost, the RNC asked him to run for Senate again, and he won. Think about that – a Senator with the poorest attendance record clearly not doing his job is reelected by his constituents! So if Florida continues to be neglected by this man, Florida voters have no one to blame but themselves.

Then there are the conservatives who inexplicably vote against their own interests- like those who have received life saving treatment and surgery under the ACA, but voted for Trump anyway.

Why not start holding your elected officials accountable for serving YOUR needs? Voting for an outsider is a clear indication you believe the system is failing you, but keeping most of the same people in office means you don’t care that it’s failing and that is the definition of insanity – doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.

What’s also disturbing is the continued silence or mental gymnastic excuses of most Congress republicans when they should be calling out when Trump crosses the line. If you don’t call it out as wrong, expect Trump style politics to become the norm.

C) Progressives:

I never realized the full extent of “progressives” being messed up and corrupted until I saw the Bernie vs Hillary primary race. What should have been a fair contest between two people with progressive ideas was marred by outright collaboration and “game fixing” by the DNC in support of Clinton. The leaked emails show CNN contributors like Donna Brazile was giving Clinton the questions she would be asked at townhall meetings in advance – a clear ethical violation. The DNC lead Debbie Wasserman Schultz was found to be engaging in behavior/actions biased in favor of Clinton winning the Dem nomination over Sanders and had to give up the post in disgrace- and guess who replaced her…..Donna Brazile!!

Oh, and what became of cheater cheater Debbie Wasserman Schultz? She was rewarded with being made the Clinton campaign chair and was also reelected- way to go Dems with being just as bad as Reps with continuing to reward/reelect bad candidates.

Progressive newspapers and online sites became hit machines attacking Sanders when the level of his popularity made him a threat to Clinton’s chances of winning. Accusations of Sanders “lying” about being involved for civil rights in the 60’s were soon dismissed after pictures of him being arrested during that time showed up, but they soon looked for other areas to attack in a one sided “Let’s take Sanders out of contention” way. To be fair, some progressive media that supported Sanders was lopsided biased against Clinton as well. So much for the case that the progressive media isn’t biased, akin to conservative media they like to attack.

It doesn’t end there – once HRC won the eventual nomination, many Sanders “progressives” bitter about the primary campaign decided that a Trump win would be better than Clinton as a lesson to Dems to play fair next time. This is so ignorant of the realities of life and common sense I don’t know what else to say. How can letting SCOTUS go hard right for a generation and having all progressive achievements rolled backwards or just eliminated be worth “dissing” Clinton and/or the establishment? Some of these folks are under the delusion that Trump is guaranteed to lose big in two years, but even if that were the case, based on Trumps speed of his agenda, the progressive damage could be irreversible by that time for at least a generation. Childish arguments that had people condemn Sanders and Warren for supporting Clinton is just that, childish and clearly losing sight of the bigger picture at stake. The Republicans won this because they showed more maturity and made the decision to vote for Trump, warts and all, to move the overall conservative agenda as opposed to letting Clinton win.

Also, so called progressive sites like TYT (The Young Turks) and Secular Talk decided it would be a “good idea” to keep bashing Clinton during the general election. What is the point of this? Common sense would say you try to get her elected, and then hold her feet to the fire to make good on her campaign promises or face being primaried  from the left. Fox News and other right biased media should thank them for the nice assist.

Lastly, the “deification” of Obama needs to stop and progressives need to realize where improvements can be made as to WHY so many House and Senate seats were lost during his eight years in office. He campaigned as a progressive, but acted more like a moderate centrist once elected. There are a lot of protests over Trump’s attempts at banning Muslims, but what about Obama’s continued indiscriminate bombing over Muslim countries that are also killing many innocents as collateral damage? Why isn’t our media showing us all the dead folks overseas “accidentally” killed by our continued bombing?

Why were Obama and Clinton so gung ho about TPP when the US is getting decimated by outsourcing to these cheap labor countries? The fact that Trump ran on ending the TPP and bringing jobs back to America against Dems should be considered a huge embarrassment for any true progressive Dem.  Dems nominated a candidate that gave sweetheart speeches to Goldman Sachs and was afraid to release them? Her extent of push back against the excesses/shenanigans of Wall Street when she was a Senator was just to say “Cut it out“? This is what qualifies for and is accepted as progressive??

Remember folks – under Obama’s watch, NO major bankers were criminally held accountable for the 2008/2009 crash that led to the Great Recession and the expiring “Bush Tax Cuts” were made permanent.

In my opinion, Dems are likely to lose again unless they clean up their own backyard, such as getting rid of the folks who “grandstand” as being progressive, but act differently when it counts.

Here’s a clear example- NJ Senator Corey Booker received lots of press as a progressive leader when he testified against Jeff Sessions being appointed attorney general. The Republicans had the majority numbers to prevail, so Booker’s actions were more for show than for effect. However, when he had a chance to make a true progressive difference in support of fellow Senator Bernie Sander’s bill to allow the US to accept prescription drugs from Canada to add competition to lower costs, he voted AGAINST it, showing his true colors.

 

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For those who are happy with the election results, here’s some tough love facts/questions for you:

Do you realize that Trump campaigned on “draining the swamp” and disparaged Clinton’s and the Dems connection with Wall Street and Goldman Sachs, but has now appointed SEVERAL Goldman Sachs alumni  and other “swamp insiders” to top office positions? What are your thoughts about “The Wall” he promised Mexico would pay for, and is now looking at taxing exports from Mexico, which means WE would be paying for the wall in higher food prices?

Doesn’t it concern you that he is so sensitive about the election results that he’s making continued outright lies, and he has no shame spinning everything to suit him despite what the facts actually say?

A lot of conservatives despised Obama’s use of executive orders as an overreach, but now have no problems with Trump doing the same. What about all the arguments about respecting the constitution and balance of powers?

 

 

 

 

 

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Critical Analysis of the Presidential Candidates: Clinton, Trump

Politics are a “fun” part of American tradition where each side tires to paint their opponent in a negative light and the back and forth attacks can cloud out the main issues worth considering in making a choice.

It also reveals that no matter what is said, some people will stick with a person/party regardless of the attacks brought against them, which is also a bad thing. It’s important to make a decision based on critical thought rather than emotion if you want both the most effective leadership in power while having them know they will be judged on their actions and past history rather than just charisma or slick advertising. Emotional voting is one main reason why we never seem to nominate the most qualified deserving candidates.

This election cycle is one that will go down in history books as having two of the most polarizing people in recent history. It has been joked that each candidate has enough flaws that they should be thankful they have each other to run against. There is a huge segment of the population that will be voting against one of the candidates more so than voting for one.

While both Clinton and Trump elicit high emotion from people, it’s still rather straight forward to break down the true pros/cons of each to make a true logical and non emotional choice.

 

Clinton:

Pros:

  1. 1st female candidate to be nominated for Prez in a major party.
  2. Extensive political background experience covering domestic and foreign relations.
  3. In favor of overturning “Citizens United” and getting big money out of politics

It’s a historical moment for a woman to be nominated in a major party, but of course one’s gender shouldn’t be ranked over one’s abilities. The capacity to handle the job should be the top concern.

One big plus is she is in favor of getting big money out of politics that is destroying our political system. Most of our politicians are bought out by corporate interests, which is why things seem to be getting worse over time no matter which party wins.

Cons:

  1. Political choices made in conflict with Progressive movement.
  2. Unforced error in email controversy- heavily criticized by FBI in handling classified emails.
  3. Seen as the typical “quid pro quo”,  pro corporate politician.

Years in the political arena has given Clinton that feel of squirmy politician who adjusts according to current public sentiment. Of course, this is no different than over 90% of out current elected candidates, and is the reason why the American public is growing so exasperated.

While she has extensive experience, her choices have not always aligned with Progressives. For example, she voted in favor of the disastrous/needless Iraq War  as well as US involvement in Libya and Syria, all of which has caused compounded problems and more instability in the Middle East. The irony is her choices here have been more in line with Conservative strategy, so these are issues that Conservatives have no moral high ground to attack her on, but Progressives do.

The email server controversy was a ridiculous unforced error on her part because she decided on a private server rather than use the government server. The FBI clearly called her out as being very careless. To make matters worse, she attempted to try to explain that the scathing FBI report was a good thing and showed she was honest when in fact it contradicted several statements she made in the past about sending/receiving marked and unmarked classified documents. Doing things like this only justifies the “Crooked Hillary”  nickname given by Trump.

She was paid for speeches to Goldman Sachs that she is unwilling to release, indicating they must be pro corporation and embarrassing.

I left out the Benghazi controversy because I don’t hold this to be a true issue. Embassies have been attacked and/or lives lost on the watch of both Reps and Dems (Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Obama), only now we live in such a polarized environment that every tragedy is held under a microscope to find fault.  Past administrations would fare no better if held under the same level of scrutiny.

 

Trump:

Pros:

  1. Lots of business experience
  2. Not afraid to speak his mind
  3. Against Citizens United

Trump steps up to the plate with extensive experience in real estate and name brand recognition. As a businessman, he has direct practical experience on the state of the economy. He also ran a near flawless campaign against his Republican opponents during the primaries.

The fact that he was able to beat seasoned politicians should also be a warning to our elected officials that the American public is growing weary of the same old tired politics where much is promised and little is delivered.

One of the things that stood out about Trump is the fact that he didn’t sound “scripted” like the other seasoned politicians he faced. His answers sounded off the cuff and wasn’t afraid to call out the faults of his fellow Republicans. Now compare that to the standard political talk we hear, and it sounded refreshing.

He has stated real problems that other Republicans seem to ignore like the loss of manufacturing jobs to outsourcing- a populist stance more associated with Progressives.

He has also taken a stand against big money in politics, but not to the same level as Progressives. Big money corruption is mutually hated by base Dems and Reps.

 

Cons:

  1. Has seriously insulted or threatened numerous demographics of ethnicities/religions.
  2. Won’t release his Tax returns – breaking ranks with all other Pres nominees in modern history.
  3. Trump has his own set of legal problems with lying/fraud with Trump University.
  4. There is no “Trump 2.0” for the general election.
  5. Wants to repeal “Obamacare” without showing/offering a superior replacement.

 

I could clearly see Trump winning the primary race because he was willing to be more extreme than all his rivals. He moved to the far right- more so than his opponents were willing to go because they had enough experience to know that to win a general election, you have to appeal to more than just your base. His opponents failed to call out his extremist viewpoints in the beginning and it then became silent approval from which they couldn’t recover from.

The key moment in the primary was when Trump labeled the majority of illegal Mexican immigrants as drug users/pushers,  criminals, and rapists. That should have been immediately called out and condemned by all candidates, but they stayed silent for the most part.

The anti illegal Mexican statement was bad enough, but he proceeded to make even more extremist statements such as:

  1. Banning all Muslims from entering the US
  2. Did not disavow FDR’s use of Japanese-American internment camps.
  3. Bringing back globally defined torture such as water boarding.
  4. Killing the families of known terrorists.
  5. Claiming a Mexican-American judge can’t do his job because of his ethnic background.

Making statements like these may be well received as red meat to a Conservative base, but it makes it very hard to pivot towards the center in a general election to win over moderates and Independents. This is where we get to another critical problem of his campaign- he has continued making extremist statements since being nominated and hasn’t pivoted at all. There doesn’t appear to be a polished, more refined and “presidential” Trump able to appeal to a wider audience than his initial primary base. This is bad news for Republicans in general because without building a consensus vote, the odds of winning an election drop like a rock.

Some current examples of Trumps continued offensive/outrageous statements:

  1. Attacking Muslim gold star family whose son died defending our country.
  2. Calling Obama/Clinton the founders of ISIS.
  3. Making statements that can be construed as threatening the life of his opponent Clinton.

You simply can’t act in this manner if the main goal is be the adult in the room and build a working consensus among all groups. Worse yet, he’s now making statements of the “system being rigged” so that if he loses, the election must be illegitimate. This is a direct danger to our Republic since he is priming his group of followers to consider the election to be a fraud if he doesn’t win. This will only further fracture our political system and make the polarization that much worse. Trump is attacking the very legitimacy of our democratic process on baseless claims.

As a result of his continued bombastic statements, more and more prominent Republicans have started coming out denouncing him. These are interesting times people when members of a party are now publicly campaigning against their Prez nominee. Interesting times indeed! What they fear is the outrage against Trump will result in down ballot losses for all Republicans in general.

Lastly, he can’t claim to be “transparent” or more honest than Clinton if he refuses to disclose his tax returns. Trump claims he can’t because he is currently being audited. However Warren Buffet has given him a challenge that he is also being audited but wants Trump to join him in showing their returns.

 

Donald Trump- Not an Aberration, but the Culmination of Modern American Politics

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Ever since Donald Trump has entered the 2016 US Presidential Race as a Republican candidate, he has been running a clinic on grabbing and maintaining the main spotlight as well as superior ratings.

It’s a fair estimate that when Trump entered the race, very few media pundits or politicians took him seriously, thinking he’d grab his allotted 15 minutes of candidate fame as another means of marketing his brand, and then depart soon after. But things took an unexpected turn when his bombastic statements about illegal immigration along with his refusal to tone down his rhetoric only served to boost his ratings in the polls rather than cause any negative consequences.

On a roll from that initial fiery blast, when Senator McCain criticized him, he let loose with his now infamous “I like war heroes who weren’t captured.” line that was as hilarious as it was outrageous. In another time long past, a statement like that would have effectively ended the campaign immediately, but in the current age, there was little fallout.

Next up, Senator Graham went to McCain’s defense and called Trump a “Jackass”. Trump responded by doxing Graham by revealing his private cell number to the public. Graham responded by making videos of himself destroying his phone. Again, there was no negative fallout on Trump.

When an online tabloid returned the favor and published Trump’s cell number, Trump masterfully replaced his voice mail greeting with information about his presidential campaign, making it another source of free publicity.

During this time, Trump effectively cornered the market on grabbing all the media’s and public’s attention, leaving little air for the other competing candidates as he dominated the polls as the top choice.

Then came the 1st televised debate ran by Fox News- and it was clear Fox had an agenda to take some air out of Trump’s sails, as was revealed with their sand bag lead off question of asking who would dare to run as an independent candidate if they didn’t get the Republican nomination – a question squarely aimed at Trump.

During the debate, only Rand Paul was willing to take on Trump with direct attacks and looked like he lost in the exchange.  It was clear that neither the other candidates nor Fox were willing to start a head to head Trump match up. His main attacks came from the debate hosts themselves, Chris Wallace and Megyn Kelley.

After the debate, media pundits declared Trump a loser, and his criticizing of Fox debate host Megyn Kelly was elevated to make it an example of his misogyny. He was written off, but that epitaph was premature as the latest polls still has him solidly leading the pack. Much to the dismay of Fox and the RNC as well as the other GOP candidates, Trump’s momentum isn’t slowing down or showing any signs of fading.

The media and GOP/RNC continue to scratch their heads as to why all this negative publicity that would have severely weakened other candidates in the past seems to be only making Trump stronger.

Most of these folks must have amnesia of what’s been happening to American politics over the last few decades, which have been growing more and more negative. Civility and decorum have taken a back seat to bombshell statements and theatrics and rather than attempt to tone it down or ignore such behavior, the media glorified it with extra coverage since it meant higher broadcast ratings.

Fox News is only now concerned with Trump’s “off script” behavior since it is being targeted at the GOP, but they had no issues whatsoever when attacks of this level or greater were being hurled at Democrats.

While Democrats may be laughing at the GOP’s frustrations now, they likely won’t be if Trump continues to increase in strength. If you think he’s punching hard now, just wait until it’s the Dems turn to be on the receiving end.

The 2014 elections were the lowest since WWII – people have grown apathetic with the current state of politics. Fewer people believe in what the candidates say or promise.  They attack each other viciously in side statements, but never own those comments when called out on them, and go back to being “on script” when the main cameras are on. Trump is using that to his advantage by ignoring all the old rules and running as a straight out populist who doesn’t care what anyone thinks about his “off script” statements. He has positioned himself perfectly to run as an outsider. The conundrum presented to the GOP and other candidates is how do they successfully attack him without alienating his base of supporters? Each attack so far has only validated his “outside” status.

Meanwhile, no major media outlets seem to care that most if not all of the candidates including Trump dodged their questions and change the subject rather than give out meaningful answers. But that’s to be expected in the carnival like “game show” atmosphere of the debate rules where you are only given a minute to answer serious questions- hilarious in itself.

The truth is American Politics has devolved into just another “Reality Show”, so is it any surprise that a reality show star is leading the race?

Canada was hosting their own political debates as well, and it’s quite revealing to see a comparison between us and them to see how much our politics have changed.