Donald Trump Might be Even More Popular than Polls Show

Recent findings by a research group called Morning Consult suggest that as well as Trump does in the polls, he might actually be even more popular than that.  This “group” has found that a number of people who back him, usually college educated, are embarrassed to admit it, so they mislead pollsters.

My favorite columnist, Kathleen Parker, reflected on these findings and, as usual, has written a column that is both witty and insightful, shedding light on the Trump phenonmenon in her own unique way.

“Morning Consult’s revelations got me thinking and, by Jove, I think I’ve got it: Donald Trump is White Man’s last stand.”

This link to that editorial is my Christmas gift to you.

Paul Ryan for President. Or Maybe Santa.

Were it not for the weirdly mesmerizing quality of the Donald Trump phenomenon, Paul Ryan, the relatively new Speaker of the House of Representatives would be drawing a lot more attention for making Congress actually work for a change.

“Work”, like in getting things accomplished.

Friday Congress passed a bill funding the government through the 2016 budget year, so we won’t face budget brinkmanship this time around.   Earlier in his six week tenure as Speaker, laws were past to overhaul the No Child Left Behind education act as well as “a bipartisan bill to improve the nation’s aging and congested highways and transit systems,” as stated in an ABC break down of 2015 bi-partisan legislation.”

Our Congress seems best known for legislation it has blocked, like immigration reform, rather than what it has accomplished. While a number of factors coming together led to this avalanche of agreements, the biggest single factor in my mind has been the shift from John Boehner to Paul Ryan as Speaker.

Ryan’s ability to shepherd the budget deal is the most impressive.  It would be tough to imagine Boehner being able to get his far right contingent to go along with a deal that adds  some $600 billion to our national debt, though most of that loss lies in tax cuts, so it is more palatable to them.  Still, it goes against their line in the sand of less government spending, not more.

Ryan can get away with something like this because he admits that the kind of process that led to this bill is lousy and he promises to change the way things are done in the House.  Unlike with Boehner, the far right caucus trusts him (for the moment).  While they tend to be viewed as grenade throwers by the liberal press, they have often indicated their naysaying was not just a matter of the issues but of the way they were ignored by Boehner except when they refused to go along with him.

Of course, you can find staunch critics of all this legislation, and Ryan himself, portrayed by one very liberal source as a “puppet of the Koch brothers.”  My position is it is demoralizing at home and nerve wracking to much of the world when the Congress of the United States continuously argues over the same issues and seldom resolves anything.

One’s viewpoint depends on what one values most.   While I have liberal leanings, I think of myself more as a pragmatist when it comes to the operation of government.

“The full faith and credit of the United States” is not just a slogan to me, but something we should value enough not to appear dysfunctional to the world at large, a world with various countries that would like to cut into the central role our nation plays in international commerce, the safest place for investment and the home of the “dollar”, the world’s touchstone currency.

This recent legislation, whatever its flaws, gives a sense of a government that can work together despite its differences, which raises my holiday spirit.   Thanks Congress, especially Paul Ryan.


P. S. – The ABC article linked above outlines bi-partisan agreements by this year’s Congress.  For a better picture of the omnibus bill that included the budget, check out this article in The Guardian.  As Paul Ryan summed it up:  “Democrats won some, they lost some. We won some, we lost some.”

Ah, its nice to hear “compromise” not being used as a dirty word, even if a number of special interests profited from this deal as the article indicates.   That’s why “sausage making” is often used as a metaphor for legislation.  I’m just happy that in 2016 I won’t have to hear much about budget strife, the need for a new national educational policy and the need to deal with our collapsing infrastructure.  There are plenty of other things that need work.


Miss the 5th Republican Primary Debate? You Didn’t Miss Much

Given the fact that Ted Cruz had actually topped Donald Trump in a poll of likely caucus goers in Iowa I among many others was hoping to see an interesting encounter last night between the two, as Trump has shown a tendency to verbally cut down whoever seems to be robbing a bit of attention from the great bloviator.

It turned out just the opposite.  Though Cruz had recently suggested Trump’s judgement wasn’t up to snuff for a president and Trump had employed the label “maniac” in describing Cruz, neither went at the other last night.  Just the opposite.  Standing next to each other, they were almost best buds.

When the “maniac” comment was brought up, Trumped disowned it with a laugh and a friendly jab at Cruz.  Ted apparently had morphed from a maniac into a good guy.  Such is the unexpected nature of the Donald’s thinking.

It seems the two have an unstated alliance.   They benefit by not attacking each other at this point as they are well clear of the pack in Iowa and attacking each other at this point would only provide openings for the others to attack them.  They remind me of Hitler and Stalin who found it in their best interests to get along, having each others’ backs until Hitler decided it was time to stab Stalin in the back.

As the February 9 caucus date approaches, will that time come?  I expect to see the fun couple begin to find more wrong with each other and it really could get interesting after that if Cruz has the audacity to win in Iowa.

While I see Cruz as a weasel and Trump as a snake oil salesman, I have to tip my hat to the skillful way they have played this political version of Survivor.  What seems surreal to people like me, seems just a new reality that they have adjusted to better than the rest.

Trump has been playing the media and American angst like a virtuoso while Cruz has been drafting behind him like a nascar driver awaiting his chance to pounce.

Unless something surprising pops up that makes the other candidates relevant, Trump and Cruz are the Republican race in Iowa and I’ll be especially curious to see what Cruz does.   He’s got a better chance to trump Trump in evangelical Iowa than he has in the more secular New Hampshire, but does he really want to get into a mano a mano with Trump?

Perhaps he is hoping like many others that the Trump balloon will eventually pop by itself, which would leave Cruz in a prime position to sweep up his followers and then race to the finish line as the survivor last standing.

Or how about this?   What if the Trump bubble does not  burst and Cruz maintains good relations with the self-proclaimed great man, and rather than stab each other in the back they unite their forces:  President Trump and Vice-President Cruz?

Now that could really get interesting.  Scary, but very interesting.







Donald Trump: A Hitler for Our Time?

I have thought for weeks now about writing a post with that title, taking a cue from Donald Trump about how to attract attention.  However, I waited too long to be outrageous.

Since the “keep out all Muslims” comments,  comparisons with the vile dictator abound, even among Republicans.  Hitler is not mentioned as often as fascism, totalitarianism and racism, but who do those words conjure up more than the fuehrer?

I actually began recalling Hitler weeks ago when Trump stated we must deport some 11 million illegal Mexican immigrants and that he would develop a force to do that.  Later he tacked on doing it “humanely ,” but the image of Nazi storm troopers rounding up Jews remained.  Since then he has seemed a little more Hitler-like with each passing day.

With the recent comments about barring Muslims from visiting this country Trump set a new low in outlandishness, so much so that many Republicans decried his words, including the god father of Republican tough talkers, Dick Cheney.   One might think Trump had finally, finally gone too far.  But wrong again.  Not for his base who see the media and the political establishment of both parties as the enemy.

So what if the Donald exaggerates and generalizes to the point of incomprehension.  He gets the gist right.   I saw a poll that 56% of American voters believe that the principles of Islam conflict with American values.  With that sort of sentiment around  refusing Muslims access to this country doesn’t seem so far fetched, especially after the recent massacres by Muslim jihadists in Paris and San Bernardino, CA.

And it would only be temporary until our government sorted things out, says Trump.
What does that mean?  Two months?  Two years?  Two decades?   Well, we’d have to see.

One might reasonably point out that we need Muslim support in the Mid-East to destroy ISIS and that actions here at home against Muslims are not likely to help in that, not to mention it plays into the scenario ISIS vividly describes through social media that this is a war between religions and all good Muslims must pick a side.

But a demagogue like Trump does not appeal to reason.  He appeals to  prejudice, fears, resentments and accumulated anger.   So many are so sick of so much in present day America, they are particularly susceptible to a demagogue.   This especially because we have reached a stage of what has been called fact-free politics.

Since those who support Trump don’t give credence to the reasoned statements of main stream media  nor the Republican establishment, the more he is criticized by them the more they like Trump.   He alone is willing to toss out political correctness and speak the truth to power.  His supporters are so sick of so much they are willing to roll the dice and take a chance that Trump’s leadership  can “make America great again”, as he promises to do every day.

That is the promise of every demagogue.

In his ability to voice the anger and frustration of these people, feelings I’d say a  majority of Americans share to lesser degrees, Trump is very much like Hitler.   Like Hitler he knows there is a lot of fear and resentment throughout the land and like Hitler he is great at portraying himself as the only man smart enough and strong enough to really make things right again.

Having said that I do not think Trump is a megalomaniac like Hitler.   Nor do I think he is a hater like Hitler.   He does not want to conquer the world nor commit genocide. What he is a narcissist willing to be as reckless in his statements as need be to continue to command  the spotlight and to energize his base.

Of course, recklessness tends to cause harm and in Trump’s case it could be harm to many in different ways, including the Republican party.   From the point of view of the Republican establishment he is like a rocket out of control and since criticizing him appears to only provide more fuel, the hope is somehow he’ll run out of gas before blowing the party completely apart.

It makes for bizarre politics but captivating reality TV.