BREXIT: No, It’s not a Cereal. But what does it Mean?

I just finished a skype conversation with married friends in England, he an American and she a Brit.  He feeling bad about the British vote to leave the European Union and she feeling worse.

I, on the other hand,  have felt a heightened interest bordering on excitement since the decision came in last Thursday.  This will be a whole new ball game, with loads of  unknowable unknowns to discover and uproot.  If the Brits had decided to remain in the EU it would have been non-news, same ol, same ol.  I had the same feeling months ago imagining what it might be like to have Trump as president, unpredictability being one of his trademarks second only to self aggrandizement.

This is the TV viewer side of myself talking rather than my semi-rational citizen side, the latter a side that has been awakening to worry now that Trump actually rates a shot at becoming president.   I have studied him for months and the more I learn, the less I like.  Even the viewer side of me is tired of his act.

But the Brexit thing is new with the potential for unintended consequences galore.  That excites my viewer frame of mine, though my  friends in Britain sobered me more than a little.  As you know it looks like Britain will exit from the EU, but according to my friend under present agreements that could take a couple of years.  Can you imagine what an ongoing current of uncertainty like that will do to stock markets and world trade?  And what will become of our “special” relationship with Britain, which has so often put its weight on our side in European matters?  And what ramifications have not even been considered because they are unknown?

And what about the Scots, who voted to remain in the EU, want another vote to secede from Great Britain, so they can stay in the EU.  Similar talk is happening in Northern Ireland, which would turn Great Britain into little England, as some have phrased it.  Plenty more to speculate upon, but let’s wait for it to sort out some.

Except for this.   As many have pointed out, the battle between those who want to leave the EU and those who want to stay mirrors our own political situation more than a little. Three  major examples being much talk about immigrants driving wages down and taking jobs from native Brits, many older less educated natives feeling left behind and politicians not caring about them and how those faceless bureaucrats in Brussels (seat of EU government) were robbing Britain of its sovereignty.

Of course, the true blue be-leavers argue this negativism is all trumped up, so to speak.   Britain will manage its way through this.   Rule Britannia.  I don’t wish bad things upon my friends in England but I wouldn’t mind if the nation struggles some until November.  Trump’s fire-from-the-hip reaction was to praise the Brits for taking back their sovereignty and adding he didn’t think the change would have much impact on us.

And if the Brits get through this too easily, and we feel no lasting impact I imagine those last minute deciders at the ballot box here might think:  See, the so-called experts were wrong and Trump was right.  Why not take a shot at change with the businessman?   How bad could it be?

P. S. – Writing this I recalled a large wild fire we had in San Diego several years ago, which led to an evacuation of my area for a few days.   I was relieved when winds pushed the blasé in another direction.  An odd feeling to have that in a sense I was wishing bad things to happen to others.

Focus On Trump’s Bigotry Misses the Point

The fact that Donald Trump makes racist, misogynistic or Islamic-phobic comments  doesn’t get to the heart of what makes him both unfit to be president while still sufficiently attractive to win a race against Hillary Clinton, who has plenty of detractors of her own.

While devout liberals find those criticisms satisfying, they obscure the fact that many Americans who don’t fit those pejorative labels are backing Trump and more might go that way depending upon what happens over the next few months.  While a recent survey of polls show Hillary up by about 5.5% on Trump nationwide, he is up on her by 5% when it comes to the question of who people trust to keep us safe.

Shocking ISIS successes (or a plunge in the economy) might tip a number of Americans in favor of the guy who talks tough and does whatever it takes to win.  They extrapolate that because he has been a winner in business, in entertainment and so far in politics, he will be a “winner” as president.  What they fail to grasp is that he has one outstanding quality that has accounted for much of his success:  his exceptional ability to promote himself.

Being the American president is arguably the toughest job in the world requiring a host of skills that go beyond self-promotion.  Still, the more people feel anxious about our present circumstances the more attractive Trump’s decisive, tough guy persona could become, despite his shortcomings.

But back to those bigotry charges.  I would say a large majority of his supporters are not racist or misogynist and don’t see him that way.  Prejudiced like we all are, but there is not something basically wrong with them as implied by the application of an “ist” (racist, sexist, etc.), the liberal way of labeling one a secular sinner and a well spring of the anti-P. C. sentiments that Trump regularly cashes in on.

Separate out those rationally challenged beings I call the birther bunch, and Trump supporters come in all sorts of mental shapes and sizes.  I have a young rising executive family member who dislikes Hillary so much, he is reluctantly siding with Trump, but would have voted for Bernie had he won the Democratic candidacy.  A friend who is a patient of a neurosurgeon was aghast at learning her doctor backs Trump.

Many of these supporters see Trump just beating the old pols at their own lying game.  All those outrageous things he says are just to get attention, lots of free media coverage, and he certainly has, or to weaken his opponents, which he did so well in the primary.

The more I examine Trump fan reaction the more I see how each picks and choses the information about him that they want to believe, like ordering a burger at Burger King.   They disregard many things he says just as ploys to get an advantage.  Or making an initial offer, a starting point for negotiation, just as he has always done in making deals.

Ben Carson is a case in point.  Despite being trashed by Trump in the campaign, Carson has come to back the Donald.  Carson exemplifies the Trump supporters’ tendency to let Trump slide in a lot of what he says because they believe he will be a “winner as president”.

While Carson is not happy about some Trump statements, he does not feel down deep Trump is a racist.   He got to know the man personally since his own campaign disappeared and sees two Donald Trumps, the private one absent of the bombast of the public persona, a guy surprisingly “cerebral and a good listener.”

A guy apparently Carson can believe in, at least when compared with the Republican version of Satan, Hillary Clinton.

As for the racist statements, I think Carson would say “it’s all politics.”   He seems to have reluctantly come to this sad, cynical conclusion from watching Trump’s success in the primary.  The lesson learned was all politicians are liars, so whatever you say as a politician doesn’t matter as long as it helps you win.   At the announcement of Carson endorsing Trump, the latter admitted as much by saying the reason he became so nasty with Carson was because he saw him rising in the polls.  That’s a sign of Trump respect, a compliment Trump-Style

Now that Carson is a supporter, Trump says wonderful things about the man, just as he has said about Ted Cruz, the former “lying Ted.”  If you’re with Trump he doesn’t care if you are black, or a woman or have a Mexican heritage or whatever.  You just have to be capable and loyal in his eyes.   Just ask Omarosa, a female, black former apprentice on his TV show often a part of his rallies.

On the other hand,  if you are against Trump he’ll  defame you, or sue you or whatever, until you submit.

Donald Trump is a ruthless liar who would have found a line of attack on Mother Teresa had she ever gotten in his way.  For those Survivor fans, Trump is a rendition of Jonny Fairplay,(real name Jon Dalton) a contestant who faked the death of his grandmother as a way of gaining sympathy from the other contestants who disliked him.

Like Fairplay, Trump is willing to fake anything and defame anyone to come out on top.  It is that aspect of the man that makes him particularly unfit to be the President of the United States.


David Brooks says Republican Unity? No Way!

David Brooks is a moderate conservative and a brilliant analyst, with many insightful books and a regular NY Times column to his credit, as you probably know.  I was planning to put up a post today, but ran across his essay The Unity Illusion, which depicts Trump and his dysfunctional relationship to the Republican party so well that I’m happy to turn the microphone over to him.

Here is a nugget from the piece:  “The Republican Party can’t unify around Donald Trump for the same reason it can’t unify around a tornado. Trump, by his very essence, undermines cooperation, reciprocity, solidarity, stability or any other component of unity. He is a lone operator, a disloyal diva, who is incapable of horizontal relationships. He has demeaned and humiliated everybody who has tried to be his friend, from Chris Christie to Paul Ryan.”

Brooks’ essay is longer than my posts, but well worth the extra time.  Here is the link.

Judge Curiel: Trump Truthiness Counter Attacks the Liberal Media

I’m not eager to post again so soon, but I have a matter with a timely nature to talk about.   With the “liberal media,” which apparently includes the Wall Street Journal these days, raking Trump over the coals for his comments on the Mexican-American judge at his University trial, the Trump team is fighting back like the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge.

Trump has been so successful in the campaign with his counter attacks that I want to knock out some of his forces right away, especially after just watching one of his female surrogates, who reminded me of a Stepford wive with her unwavering gaze, sound very convincing on TV tying Curiel to the purportedly violence prone “La Raza,” whatever that is.

As the Trumpeters so often do, they have woven together various facts, often twisted in the process, and created a separate reality that makes Trump appear the victim of a biased judge and the liberal media rather than the instigator.   Apparently social media abounds with their truthy message right now, which is what has prompted me to write.

Here is their lowest, least truthful line of attack.  Judge Curiel is a member of La Raza, which is a terrorist organization who supports illegal immigration and has helped foment riots at Trump speeches.   Actually, Judge Curiel is a member of La Raza Lawyers Association, separate from the National Council of La Raza which,while open to criticism for tactics and positions, is not the evil bunch portrayed by Trump and his surrogates.  As Lisa Navarette, a spokeswoman responded to Trump team attacks:  “We’re sitting around arguing the minutiae of banking regulation, not running around in hoods.” 

Maybe not that innocent, I only have a general idea, but whatever it is it is not the La Raza Lawyer’s Association of which Judge Curiel is a member.

Well, Trump would argue, both organizations have La Raza (the race) in their names and that suggests they hate non-Hispanics.  Neverette points out that there are “thousands” of Latino organizations with La Raza in their names “La Raza as a nod to our common heritage.”

The same way, I would say, the conservative Heritage Foundation is a nod to our common heritage, not a nod to white supremacy.

So, here we have Trump doubling down on another overall lie, promulgated throughout social media and me wondering will he be able to put this one across like he has so many others?   Surely, those strong Trump supporters will swallow this fabrication hook “lie” and sinker.

I can only hope those whose minds are not yet made up can see Trump for what he is, a recent rendition of the fairy tale The Emperor has No Clothes.

P. S. – I’m sure most of you know I am indebted to Stephen Colbert for his creation of “truthiness” as a way of looking at and portraying truth without regard to factual evidence, logic or the like.   Also, if you want to know more about the NCLA and Trump’s illegitimate tying it to Judge Curiel, here’s a link.

Has Trump Finally, Finally, Finally Gone too Far?

Boy I hope so and it seems so, but the Svengali has managed to transmogrify so many traditional negatives into positives, I will wait for some confirmation in polls before popping any champagne bottles.

Of course I am talking about his accusing Judge Curiel in his Trump University case of making many unfair judgements against him because of the judge’s Mexican heritage and Trump’s plan to build a wall.  I’m one who is hesitant to use the word “racism” because it seldom illuminates anything, but in this case I’ll make an exception.  The fact Trump added that a Muslim judge might also be unfit to judge a case against him – because of his Muslim ban – well, one has to wonder if there is anyone sufficiently fit to judge the Donald.

Trump has gone so far wrong that many well known Republicans and the Wall Street Journal have denounced his words, with the Journal telling Trump he should apologize to the judge.  But, that is not Trump’s style.  So supporters have pulled together a defense of insinuation because Judge Curiel is a member of the La Raza Lawyers Association, which does support Latino lawyers.

From that they jump to accusing the organization of being involved in violent anti-Trump demonstrations, while giving it the same in depth analysis they did with connecting Ted Cruz’ father to the death of Jack Kennedy, or the foundational Trump lie, the birther conspiracy.

So, if Trump wants what seems to be a nice white likely Christian to judge him, how about Steve Brill? An award winning journalist with a Yale law degree, Mr. Brill has read all the court documents and calls Trump University a “scam”.   He adds that the judge, if anything, has been too responsive to Trump’s arguments at the expense of the plaintiffs.   He also notes that Trump lawyers have not asked for the judge to be recused, which is what you do if you actually want a new judge.

What Brill, among many have suggested, is that Trump is trying to get us to forget what seem the damning particulars of the case, and ponder instead the  judge’s legitimacy.

Brill also brings up a broader very important point and that is how the press generally has let Trump get by with saying things like “many lawyers tell me”  (many military experts tell me, many many whomevers tell me).  Brill says he’d like to know the name of one lawyer not intimately involved with the Trump campaign who would speak in his defense.

Occasionally someone has argued that Trump has never really wanted to become president, but just to show he could be if he wanted to.  His biggest win yet. That fits my sense that as much as he likes to win, he’s happy to move on to something else once he does.  If so, perhaps this is the first big step on his way to intentional self-destruction.  It would let him off the hook while he still could always brag that he could have made America great again, if we had not been so stupid to vote against him.

Hey, Donald, I hope you get the chance to call me stupid.

P. S. – Here’s a link to a New York Times article which provides background information on the case, including the story of Curiel facing death threats when a young prosecutor going after Mexican drug lords early in his career.

Can Bernie Sanders still Win the Democratic Nomination?

Despite the assertions to the contrary in the media, I say the answer is “yes”.   Unlikely, but so has been the Sanders campaign all along.    It boils down to this:  most of the super delegates are now “pledged” to Clinton, but unlike the regular pledged delegates they can change their minds.

If the notion of super delegates confuses you, they are selected from Democratic Party insiders  who give the party a chance to tip the balance to the candidate they prefer.  After this election, the Republicans might want to give it a try.  While Sanders would need most of these super delicates to change their minds and the circumstances in general don’t favor him, it is possible which is why Sanders still does not acknowledge defeat.

Here’s how it stands.  According to the AP, Clinton has a 268 pledged delegate lead over Sanders with 781 delegates up for grabs.   Sanders would need a surprising landslide to make up his deficit and surpass Clinton in overall pledged votes.  As such, Hillary seems likely to have the most ballot box votes and the most pledged delegates after Tuesday night, giving no reason for those in her super delegate corner to change their minds.  That’s why many talk about the campaign as game over.

Unless, unless something majorly bad happens to the Clinton campaign before the convention in August.   If you are thinking “indictment”, we are of like minds.   My sense is that is unlikely too, but not impossible.

Sanders doesn’t bring up the possibility, because it would make it look like he is hoping she will be indicted despite him saying all along “enough about Hillary’s emails”.  But without that (or something of comparable sinkable impact), Sanders doesn’t have a chance.

While Sanders won’t mention the ugly word, well known actor and staunch supporter Susan Sarandon was happy to inject the idea in an interview Thursday.   She wondered out loud why there hasn’t been more talk about Hillary’s indictment.  When the reporter interjected that there hasn’t been an indictment, Sarandon responded:  “No, but there’s going to be. There’s going to be. I mean, it’s inevitable.”


P. S. – In case you want to do your own delegate math, check out the AP breakdown found in the New York Times.  It is the clearest depiction that I’ve encountered.


If Elected,Will Donald Trump Walk his Talk

For months the Washington Post has been badgering Donald Trump for an accounting of money donated to organizations supporting our military when he held a televised rally/fund raiser in January.  Trump claimed to have gathered $6,000,000 in pledges that evening.  However, according to the Post, their efforts to track the donations have been resisted by the Trump staff often failing to respond or giving false answers, so yesterday morning Trump held a press conference to challenge the Post’s claims.

Post writer David Fahrenthold looked back at the press conference and wrote : “By Tuesday…..the fundraiser had morphed into an uncomfortable test of Trump’s competence and temperament…..Trump faced prosaic tasks, where celebrity and showmanship were of little help. Could he handle the task of moving money from donors to worthy recipients? And could he handle public questioning about how he did it?”

In other words, could Trump in this relatively small task helping vets who he claims  are a major concern of his, handle it well?   If you look at any of the various articles Fahrenthold has written, the effort seems haphazard, with the major “tell” being that Trump never got around to donating his promised $1,000,000 until May 24 after the Post had raised questions on Twitter, “shamed him into it” as Hillary Clinton was happy to add in a call in to a cable show.

I don’t think the way the donations were handled speaks well of Trump, but watching the press conference yesterday, I don’t think it matters to those who are already solidly in his camp and even those relatively few undecideds nationally.  Actually, for those still in a quandary, I can understand if you think Trump came out on top.

He got across the point that there would not have been these donations without his efforts and he didn’t feel the need to justify his handling of the money to the “lying” press.  And then he did, in a very concrete way that surprised me.

He listed each organization and the money donated, interspersing attacks on the press and reminders of his generosity while simultaneously pointing out that he wasn’t doing this for self-promotion.  Add in frequent assertions that it took time to distribute the money because of the need to vet the possible recipients, and you might get a sense of what a drawn out answer this was.

T0 me, it had just the effect he wanted.   The list of organizations was long ($75k here and $150k there) and my gut reaction was whatever one’s criticisms, he had done a good thing.  So what if the process wasn’t carefully organized and accountable by usual standards of giving.  Since when has Trump gone by usual standards?

While the press seemed eager to pounce, they were feckless.   Much of the time they sat there like naughty school children chastised by Trump for their dishonesty, even worse as being bad people.   Trump made the press look like nitpickers, always finding fault, discouraging caring people like him from undertaking the effort to do what he had just done, raise all that money for a good cause and only given grief in return.

I just sat there thinking:  The master manipulator has won again.

What I don’t understand is how the press missed the opportunity to zero in on a particular oddity of this whole process and that was the fact Trump appears to have been the last person to actually donate money, doing it just last week.  Trump probably realized that looked fishy so he left his donated organization (given a million while most of the others were around $100k) off the list he gave, only mentioning it a little later as a kind of aside.

As such, the question:  “Since you have donated to this organization in the past, they wouldn’t take much vetting, so why did it take so long to chose to donate to them again?” was never asked.  Nor, “Why so much to that one organization as compared to all the others?”

Here is my theory about Trump’s last minute donation.  Trump didn’t get around to donating until really pressed because he believed his donation was simply being the Donald.  It was his idea and his show and the biggest donors were his “friends,”  so just initiating the process was his contribution.  The promise of his own million was just a necessary ploy to entice others.  His big contribution had already been made.

You may doubt a billionaire can be that cheap, but remember everything is a deal to be made with Donald Trump.  I imagine to him contributing the Trump brand was more than his fair share.

There is a certain logic in it all, but I dislike his tendency to defame everyone who questions what he does or says.   If president, I imagine him in endless battles because the criticisms are only going to increase.  I also dislike his manipulating every situation with falsehoods that make him look better than he is.  Doing so as an entertainer I don’t mind.  But I don’t want my president to have those values.

Yes, yes I know all candidates do it, but with Trump the tendency is bigger than with others.  You might even say it is HUGE!

Here is a piece from the Post which gives details on Trump’s donation.