I have been writing this blog for over three years and I have never posted a day after another post, but The Donald inspires me to write.

In the way I’m at times inspired to sneeze, cough or throw up.

The New York Daily News got it perfectly right on their front page the day the bombastic billionaire (so he says) announced his fun run for the 2016 presidency.   They portrayed him as a clown, an image linked here.

That says it all and the only reason I’m writing today is because on TV this morning I saw some representative of some Hispanic organization whine that Hillary Clinton and other presidential candidates had not castigated the Big Red Nose for his comments on illegal Mexicans being drug pushers, rapists and the like.


If we could all just ignore him, he’d dwindle like an unwatered plant.

I know easier said then done as the serious Republican presidential candidates will have to deal with this wrecking ball of sanity, but at least the rest of us don’t need to chime in.

The more attention he gets the better for him and the worse for the rest of us.

President Obama’s Week of Amazing Grace

Prior to last week I can’t recall the last really good week for the president.  Which is partially what makes last week so amazing.   The events weren’t so amazing individually, but in their improbable abundance.

From Obama’s point of view, probably most important was the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare which finally makes it pretty much a done deal.  What made this surprising is that Chief Justice Roberts, given his conservative inclinations, made it a 6-3 vote.. He said it boiled down to a matter of common sense. Many conservatives saw it as apostasy.

Of course improvements in the health care law should be made, but hopefully congress can focus upon them rather than on trashing it all together.   One of those huge time wasters that reduces the likelihood of congress actually doing something useful for us all, like some day actually dealing with our grumbling infrastructure.

While I am a center-left kind of guy, I am most concerned with our national government actually providing some solutions to our problems, albeit always flawed, rather than being mired in the dysfunction that has typified recent years…..i. e. the “Obama years”.   Of course, I blame Republican anti-Obama obstructionism, while my more conservative friends blame Obama’s overreach and arrogance, but I don’t care to rehash that one ad infinitum.   “Let’s get on with it” is my motto.

This past week we got on with several “its.”

The Supreme Court provided another gift to Obama in the 5-4 decision on gay marriage, a weak majority, but still good enough since many states have already legalized it.  Also, do we really want a situation where some are married in some states but not in others?  Don’t we have enough bureaucratic head aches already?

Sure, Obama was not in favor of gay marriage awhile back but so what, many liberals weren’t, including me.  People can evolve. (Lincoln was willing to maintain slavery in exchange for retaining a national union. Southerners just didn’t believe him. And he evolved along with changing circumstances).

Awhile back I thought the notion of civil unions was a fair compromise between rights and tradition, but no longer think so.  It’s a little like “separate but equal” was in education years ago:   Civil unions could never be the full deal, always a little less in one way or another, which would have been reflected in a degree of disrespect for the families involved.   America should not be about making people less.

Those who decry the change haven’t thought much about this bumper sticker: “We’re all from dysfunctional families. Get over it.”   In other words, traditional marriages have seldom been what they are cracked up to be.

So, I’m glad the Supreme Court moved us along on that path, too, though I am not gleeful as many liberals must be.   I have other governmental priorities, so my thinking is let’s just stop making it such a big issue.   My thinking being somewhat expressed by comedian/activist Kinky Friedman. “I have nothing against gay marriage. Why shouldn’t they be miserable like the rest of us.”

So, let’s get used to gay marriage (including, yes, guys kissing guys, which the media have rarely shown, and never a long lasting smooch that I recall) and move along (frankly I’m not quite there about Bruce…ah, I mean Catlin Jenner, yet, but I’m working on it).

Probably a bigger victory for Obama than gay marriage was the fast tracking of the Trans-Pacific trade agreement.   This one is interesting because while it is a victory for Obama, many liberals think of it as a defeat and I’ve heard that Nancy Pelosi became infuriated at the way the president manipulated the passage, momentarily bosom buddies with many of those hated Republicans.

Perhaps the deal is bad for American labor while good for the 1%. I have no idea, but then few people do since the pact has been essentially under lock and key, with few allowed to view it and not even take notes.   But as I see it all this fast tracking simply means that when the pact is finally hashed out by negotiators it will be brought to congress for an up or down vote, with no opening for amendments or the usual quagmire stalling tactics.   By the time it gets to that point, I think many liberal concerns will be addressed and if not, well, they rate a good shot at stopping it.

My guess is it’s step forward in dealing with a big American issue, normalizing trade with the Pacific Rim in many ways that favor America (and some that don’t, no doubt). I trust the president’s judgment on the matter.

Finally, there is the moment last Friday when the president was in that arena in Charleston, memorializing that state senator and the other eight victims of another racial hate crime, and Obama’s breaking into the hymn Amazing Grace near the end of the ceremony, leading that large audience in song to cap off a moving speech, one of his best.

This amazing feeling of grace stirred up by the faith shaking unfairness of those nine parishioners being slaughtered at a Bible study no less and then, most striking of all, their relatives forgiving the perpetrator for his awful trespasses, all so pure and moving that it prodded steps throughout the south to demote the status of the confederate flag, long held by many southerners as a symbol of rebel pride, but now more clearly seen as a divisive symbol of black suppression, an accoutrement of race hatred.

So, all in all a great week for the president.  And a pretty darn good one for many of the rest of us.

Is the Republican Presidential Primary Wide Open?

The short answer is….NO.

While there may wind up being around two baseball teams worth of GOP presidential candidates, only three of them have much of a likelihood of facing Hillary:   Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker, with John Kasich an additional upset possibility.   That is not just my opinion but also that of Larry Sabato, a moderate professor of politics at the University of Virginia, and Charles Krauthammer, the more well known conservative columnist.

In a piece in Politico, Sabato call’s it a “myth that the giant Republican field is unpredictable.” And then goes on to explain why.   In the Washington Post Krauthammer “handicaps” the field giving major candidates a percentage chance of winning, with the top three candidates mentioned above having a much greater chance than the others.  (Note the links above in case you want to read more).

Krauthammer gives Kasich only a 3% chance, but calls him his “personal long shot wild card”. Sabato calls Kasich “a dark horse element” and regular readers of this blog might recall that I picked Governor Kasich as my long shot possibility in some previous post.  Right now he might not even make it into the Republican top ten candidate debate slated for August 6, so no need to think about him much yet, though you might be interested in why Sabato and Krauthammer give him an outside shot.

While agreeing with the general run down given in both articles, I would say that I believe JEB is a more likely primary winner than either writer seems to think (Note: Jeb is marketing himself as just JEB these days, so as to downplay the Bush part, as if he were an orphan).   Krauthammer gives JEB a 25% chance while giving Rubio a 35% chance.   I’d say it’s the reverse, more like 40% in JEB’s favor and 20% Rubio and Walker somewhat less.

I think Krauthammer leans more towards Rubio primarily because he’s much younger and gives off more energy, a fresh face to juxtapose with that of the same old Hillary.  Krauthammer does point out that JEB ‘s “ bulging war chest, a fine gubernatorial record and a wide knowledge of domestic issues guarantee top-tier staying power.” But I think a better case can be made.

I would add: The “bulging war chest” has been estimated at three times more than any other Republican candidate, and also as more than the rest put together.  To use the old adage, this is a marathon not a sprint and JEB’s campaign is built for the long haul.   He might not win any one of the first three primaries and still be the favorite if he remains close in the second two.

Also, Krauthammer makes too much of Rubio winning a “general acceptability” poll of Republicans.   He doesn’t mention JEB was a very close second and I noticed this morning, now he narrowly leads in that poll.

Finally, two things that are often mentioned as JEB’s primary race weaknesses – a stand on developing a new immigration policy as well as support for a national common curriculum – are both questionable as such. Even a majority of Republicans want to see a new immigration policy enacted and many of them realize the hard truth that without attracting more Hispanic votes, the Republicans can’t win.

Despite Marco being Cuban, I think JEB can attract more new Latino votes because of his stronger stance on a change in immigration policy, his Mexican wife and his embrace of Latino culture as indicated by his fluency in Spanish. Something I never see mentioned is there are millions of voters of Mexican heritage while less than a million of Cuban heritage, and many of them are Republican already.   I think JEB has a better shot at broadening the Hispanic base.

As for an educational common core? In comparison to the bigger issues, who cares?   I’m sure some do, but when it all comes down to picking a candidate for president in a tumultuous world and an economy that promotes wage stagnation, care about “common core” amounts to a hill of beans.

I believe after months of battling it out in the primaries, JEB will be the king of the Republican hill and the one to take on HILLARY.

The 2016 Presidential Election: The View from 30,000 Feet

Queen Hillary officially threw her crown into the ring last Saturday.  Let the games begin.

I hear it was a good speech, with a touching topper being a little vignette about her mom’s childhood.   I hear Hillary touched lots of issue bases as well.   Maybe not a home run, but she gets credit for a line drive double at least.

That is unless you can’t stand her to begin with.  Her and her husband, Bill, the potential first FGOTUS.   (doesn’t work as well as FLOTUS or POTUS, but that mirrors the unshaped nature of what would be a ground breaking, possibly risque role, that of first gentleman).  

Who among us that remembers the Lewinsky scandal can think of “cigar” in the same way as before?  But it certainly is interesting to contemplate POTUS Hillary and FGOTUS Slick Willy, isn’t it?   A curiosity factor that might sway the vote of the Kardashian and Housewives of Almost-Every-American-City fans, as yet an untapped demographic.

My tone might suggest I’m one of those who can’t stand the Clintons.  But that would be wrong.  It is not that I love them but I do respect their abilities not only as politicians but as rulers.   What I can’t stand is what the Republican party has become ( a few election cycles ago I would have voted for John McCain for president had not GWB grabbed, maybe stole, the nomination).

Whatever.   The key illumination was flashed decades ago by that now dead but once larger than life character/writer/womanizer Norman Mailer:   “Americans don’t vote for someone, they vote against someone else.”

And I’ll be voting against all those Republicans out there.    If either Bush III or Ohio Governor John Kasich survive the endless night of the long knives otherwise known as the Republican primaries I might think about it a bit, but I’m still likely to vote for Hilary.

She is at least as smart and as tough as those guys with much more experience of the inner workings of Washington and other capitals around the world, in short the  most capable.

I still like and respect President Obama, but my sad conclusion is that he is too professorial to be a great president, especially in these chaotic, confusing times when it comes to the world order.  Far preferable to a gun slinger like “W”, who shot our way into the Iraq mess, but still not quite up to shining in an admittedly impossible job.

I’m hoping Hillary is the best of both.  At least, no one is better prepared to be our next president.

As for her campaign thus far, I like the slow roll out.  What’s the rush?  Who’s queen here anyway?  From 30,000 feet she’s all one can see.   Everyone else needs growth hormones.  So, keep em guessing, all those detractors in the press and the other party who are just waiting for more targets to stab.

And one thing in her favor is her trio of democratic challengers, who are more sparring partners than detractors, especially Bernie Sanders, the foremost, the rarest of politicians in that he says largely what he thinks, and has for many years.  But he is a self-proclaimed Socialist.  Reminds me of the book The Scarlet Letter, though his is “S”.   Sort of a Democratic version of Ron Paul, with that sort of chance.

Let the Republican phalanx  of candidates slash and dash each other playing king of the small hill (sorry Carlie, but like Charlie Tuna…) .   Mount Hillary will await for the survivor.  Most important for the queen right now is to craft an image that is fresh and fun (I mean, within reason here), to counter Clinton fatigue and the image Republicans will continually paint as “a third term of Obama’s failed policies” along with being one Clinton too many, old old hat.

Here’s the big picture:   Most of us already know who we will vote for as president.   Either Hillary or almost anyone but Hillary – we probably need to set some parameters lest we include Charles Manson and such, perhaps drawing the line just past Donald Trump, but you get the picture.

There are tons of polls, but I can’t find one that simply asks:  If the election were held today, who would you vote for?  Hillary or someone not Hillary?  I’d be interested in what they’d come up with.

I agree with those who argue that there are really very few “independent voters” these days.  The Dem-leaning, but relatively  impartial professor, columnist, etc. Larry Sabato estimates real independents to be around 5%.  Things have become too polarized.  When the bullets are flying, you are either on one side or another.

I’m a case in point.  I think of myself as independent, but I’m really a Democrat by default.    Hillary has my vote barring some truly icky skeleton popping out of the Clinton closet. (Please, Bill…

These next 17 months of trench political warfare which most of us will come to loath is aimed not at we vast majority of decideds, but at the 5%  of the fully fickle. If you have followed this blog for years perhaps you recall my story about my bartender friend Bob, who made up my one person poll prior to the 2012 election.

As to the question of who he was voting for, he said:  “Well, I don’t like Obama, but Romney is a Mormon and they’re really scary.  Maybe I’ll vote for my dad.  He’s a good man.” I think in the end Bob wound up not voting.

In any case, think of him in upcoming months as you are being strafed by attack ads through your TV screen or hand grenaded via your mail box, its not aimed at you.

It’s all Bobs’ fault.