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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cruising the Web

Well, if Ted Cruz thought that naming Carly Fiorina would serve to change the conversation from Trump's domination on Tuesday, he clearly miscalculated. The response that I saw on the web and TV was to quickly term this a move of desperation that won't do much to move the needle. I'm not sure that that was the change of conversation that Cruz was hoping for. And those analysts are right. It was a move of desperation and I can't see it making much of a difference. Fiorina is a better advocate and more compelling speaker than Cruz is, but I suspect that those people susceptible to what she's saying were already voting #NotTrump. She'll be attacked as an incompetent leader at HP who has never been successful at running anything, and will be connected to outsourcing jobs, an attack that the Trump campaign is already lodging.

I liked Fiorina during the debates, but I still didn't support her candidacy. My first thought when I read a couple of weeks ago that Cruz was vetting her for his running mate was that would unite on a ticket two of the candidates whom I'd been least supportive of back when this all started. And the main reason I'd not supported them was that I thought that neither had a real chance of winning in a general election. I'm afraid that we are seeing that is true.

But hey, sometimes Hail Mary passes work. So if this does, I'll be fully on the Cruz-Carly bandwagon.

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Isn't this just typical of Hollywood? Now they're planning a comedy film starring Will Ferrell as President Ronald Reagan suffering from dementia. My mother died of Alzheimer's. It is one of the cruelest diseases, depriving the victim and the victim's loved ones of everything. It is heartbreaking and should never be the subject of comedy. Yet Hollywood is all set for those yuks.
Having already famously portrayed former President George W. Bush in various comedy sketches, Will Ferrell is now setting his sights on another former commander in chief.

Sources tell Variety Ferrell is attached to star as President Ronald Reagan in the Black List script “Reagan.”

Penned by Mike Rosolio, the story begins at the start of the ex-president’s second term when he falls into dementia and an ambitious intern is tasked with convincing the commander in chief that he is an actor playing the president in a movie.

The script was so popular following its announcement on the Black List, an annual catalog of the top unproduced scripts in Hollywood, that a live read was done recently done in March starring Lena Dunham and John Cho.
Well, of course. If Lena Dunham was involved in the live read, it must be hilarious, right?

There is something so very heartless in the thought of mining Alzheimer's for comedy gold. Pile on top of that the added joys of ridiculing Ronald Reagan and Hollywood A-Listers must be thrilled with the idea. I only hope that the rest of the country is so turned off by how distasteful this concept is that the movie is a huge flop.

So my first reaction when I saw the story that Bernie Sanders is going to lay off hundreds of staffers was "Whoa, who knew that he had hundreds of staffers?"

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Charles Lane laments that both parties seem poised to nominate candidates who won't do anything to reform the doom we're facing from growing mandatory entitlement spending. He lays out what a crisis we're facing.
Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute has come up with an “Index of Fiscal Democracy” to express this vast, automatic commitment of resources, and the preemption of actual political choice it represents. The higher the index, the more possibilities we have for actually governing ourselves.

At present, the index stands at 19.7, which is the percentage of federal receipts left over after mandatory spending and interest, according to data compiled by Steuerle’s collaborator Caleb Quakenbush.

By 2026, however, the index will sink to 1.7, absent reforms. That’s the sliver of money we’ll have to pay for research, natural disasters, defense and everything else. By contrast, in 1962, the index stood at 65.3; in 2007, 34.3.
I was just covering this subject in my AP Government classes and the kids were so dismayed as they came to understand what they would be facing when they are in their earning years. I pointed out that no matter what their political leanings, there are certain categories of discretionary spending that they want from the federal government and that there just wouldn't be any money left for whatever spending they liked whether it was disaster relief, grants for medical research, defense and homeland security spending, paying air traffic controllers, assistance for college spending, or whatever they valued. And they asked plaintively what could be done. And my answer was to ask the hard questions of the people they voted for about how those candidates would address entitlement reform to bring down growing mandatory spending and then vote exclusively on those answers. I know that that will never happen. Young people just don't think along those lines and they have no history of voting on those issues in contrast to older voters who will vote in large numbers solely on the basis of preserving entitlement spending.

Well, as Charles Lane points out, neither Trump nor Hillary will do anything to address mandatory spending.
Republican Donald Trump has long believed it was political suicide for Republicans to advocate “cuts” to Social Security and has campaigned accordingly. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ran on “telling it like it is” about entitlements and laid out a plan including a higher retirement age. He was last seen grinning obediently at Tuesday night’s victory party for The Donald, whom the defeated Christie has endorsed.

Democrat Hillary Clinton has pledged not only to oppose reductions in Social Security benefits and cost-of-living adjustments but also to expand benefits for widows, paid for by higher taxes on high-earners.
Hillary fully supported Obamacare and vows to preserve it. She just wants to make the problem worse.

Annie Lowrey writes in the NYT
to ask "Where did the government jobs go?"
That’s the way it is across much of Louisiana. The state has added 80,000 new jobs since the Great Recession officially ended in 2009. But at the same time, jobs have been shrinking at every level of government, with local offices losing 10,600 workers, the state government 31,900 and the federal government 1,600. Louisiana is an exaggerated case, but the pattern persists when you look at the country as a whole. Since the recession hit, private employers have added five million jobs and the government has lost 323,000. The country has recovered from the recession. But public employment has not.

The public sector has long been home to the sorts of jobs that lift people into the middle class and keep them there. These are jobs that have predictable hours, stable pay and protection from arbitrary layoffs, particularly for those without college or graduate degrees. They’re also more likely to be unionized; less than 7 percent of private-sector workers are represented by a union, while more than a third of those in the public sector are. In other words, they look like the blue-collar jobs our middle class was built on during the postwar years.

The public sector’s slow decimation is one of the unheralded reasons that the middle class has shrunk as the ranks of the poor and the rich have swollen in the post-recession years. This is certainly true in Louisiana, where five of the 10 biggest employers are public institutions, or health centers that in no small part rely on public funds. In Rapides Parish, which includes Pineville, the biggest employer is the school district.

Across the country, when public-sector workers lose their jobs, the burden disproportionately falls on black workers, and particularly women...
Because that is what the government should be - a jobs program.

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While Donald Trump certainly had a triumph on Tuesday, there are still some dismal indications from those results.
TURNOUT. Yes, Trump won big on Tuesday. But he did so with a relatively small GOP turnout. In the six northeastern states that voted during the last eight days, the Republicans who bothered to cast ballots averaged only 9.9 percent of the voting-eligible population, according to data cited by FiveThirtyEight. By contrast, in the New Hampshire primary Republican turnout was 27.8 percent of the voting-eligible. In Wisconsin the comparable number was 25.6.

Why the drop? One theory: Lots of anti-Trump Republicans are discouraged and not bothering to go to the polls.

“The #NeverTrump voters might not be voting for Trump, but they might be staying at home,” writes FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver.

DIVISION. It’s just one state, but Pennsylvania produced an exit poll result that “might give GOP consultants the night sweats,” according to NBC.

Sixty-nine percent of Democrats said that the competitive primary on their side was “energizing” their party, according to NBC data. Republicans did not make a similar judgment. Fifty-eight percent of GOP voters said the primary process was “dividing” their side....

We’ve been very wrong about Donald Trump’s electoral prospects in the past. When he jumped into the presidential race, he had high unfavorable ratings – but that did not turn out to be a barrier, given how close he’s come to the nomination. It’s possible that once (if) he’s actually the nominee, the party will rally around him. Parties generally do.

It’s also possible that his takeover of the GOP is a hostile one, and that many of the captives are sullen and uneager to work for his election in the fall. Right now that seems the more likely scenario.

What struck me most in Trump's foreign policy speech was that, using a teleprompter, he used the phrase "America First." I have to assume that he used that phrase on purpose and not just because it relates well to his "Make America Great" slogan. But what does it say that he would evoke the arguments of those who resisted involvement in World War Two? I suppose it makes sense in some way. I can well imagine that Trump would have been aligned with those like Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford who opposed any involvement in Europe's bloody war and wouldn't have been bothered at all about the elements of anti-Semtism in that movement. This is a man who refused to disavow David Duke and the KKK's support for his candidacy. Why would any of that bother him? So why not borrow their slogan?

Heather Wilhelm discusses the contradictory platitudes in Trump's foreign policy speech yesterday.
He called for a consistent and “reliable” United States that would also be “unpredictable.” He envisioned a “peacemaker” state that would avoid excessive intervention abroad, yet still find a way to save Middle Eastern Christians—and, as a simple side project, save “humanity itself.” Under Trump, we were told, America will easily destroy ISIS (exactly how is a secret, so don’t ask) and magically reverse the giant sucking sound of NAFTA, repopulating our states with solid 1950s manufacturing jobs, half of which don’t even exist anymore.

Sen. Jeff Sessions found the speech “electrifying.” Newt Gingrich called it “a serious foreign policy speech” “worth reading and thinking about.” Radio host Laura Ingraham labeled it “one of the most consequential foreign policy speeches since 1981.” Media gadfly Ann Coulter, not to be outdone, called it the “GREATEST FOREIGN POLICY SPEECH SINCE WASHINGTON'S FAREWELL ADDRESS,” because she’s not crazy at all.
She then goes on to examine the upside of this weird election year.
We can all feel better about ourselves. Many Americans enjoy watching reality TV because the characters tend to be slightly insane people with an amazing lack of self-awareness. Well, cheer up, America: Watching the presidential debates will be just like that! They will run scant on policy, of course: Donald will accuse Hillary of being a shady potential felon with ill health, rightly pointing out that if she weren’t a woman she’d be lucky to get 5 percent of the vote; Hillary will accuse The Donald of being a woman-hater and charlatan and a sociopathic monster, and mudslinging and havoc will rule the day. “Hey,” you might say to yourself, munching on popcorn. “I’m not that bad. Maybe I could run for president some day!” National catharsis, plus ratings gold!

We’ll see how far the national train of logic goes. Hillary Clinton has an easy answer to pretty much any attack Donald Trump can throw her way: “Why did you donate to me then, Donald?” Trump fans seem to believe “Because you can be bought, Crooked Hillary!” serves as an adequate answer, ignoring the fact that this logically entraps Trump into the Clinton web of unprincipled establishment corruption. Will anyone make the link, or even care? We’ll see how that one plays, along with Hillary’s second obvious comeback to any attack: “Donald, I can’t be that bad. Didn’t you pay to have me at your wedding?”
And this point speaks to me.
Limited government types might finally realize that they’re the weirdos, not everyone else. For years, fans of limited government—I include myself here, by the way—have soldiered on, complaining incessantly about the GOP, all while secretly believing that almost everyone else agrees with them, at least deep down, on things like tax cuts and abolishing the Department of Education and occasionally reading F.A. Hayek. Well, if this election doesn’t cure that illusion, nothing will.
As I move through the stages of political grief, I'm still bouncing around somewhere among anger, bargaining, and depression. I am thinking that when I reach acceptance, I'll just have to spend more time enjoying sports and other entertainment and try not to care about the fate of the country. But it's hard, dang hard.

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SMP said...

"As I move through the stages of political grief, I'm still bouncing around somewhere among anger, bargaining, and depression. I am thinking that when I reach acceptance, I'll just have to spend more time enjoying sports and other entertainment and try not to care about the fate of the country. But it's hard, dang hard."

I'm with you. Trump's going to be the nominee. Hillary is going to win. I'm going to concentrate on raising my son and spending time with my wife.

I might just have to throw my phone and laptop into a river somewhere.

Suvy Boyina said...

You're right about young people not willing to truly question their leaders. They just hear something and jump to conclusions. It's very frustrating when those who know nothing mock your premises because the correct premises are often mocked by those who think that because they cannot imagine something operating by that premise, that it must be wrong. Rather than question their premises, they just attack those who do because they get "hurt". They seem to think that because they don't understand something, that it shouldn't exist without every first questioning their own understanding.

It's crazy how many of my classmates from high school who always got better grades than me and were loved by their teachers are the ones buying the bullshit people like Bernie are spinning. These are people who consider themselves intelligent, but then block me for calling some guy they like an idiot cuz he's a grade A bullshitter whose logical implications of his statements contradict his premises. When you have a worldview or a perspective and view or perspective (or its logical implications) contradicts the facts, the worldview you espouse emphatically wrong. When you point this out, the response is anger and rage.

It's very frustrating for me. I get accused of being a "sociopath" or an "asshole", but I never see any arguments. I just hear a bunch of rhetoric with no substance.

These are people who claim to be imaginative and creative, but they're only methodical. They lack basic reasoning skills. They seem to think so highly of their intelligence that they assume they're infallible.

Suvy Boyina said...

I'm not so sure about Trump losing to Hillary. I think he can win if he makes trade a big issue. With that being said, I'm more scared of government expansion with Trump than I am with Hillary.

Phil Brown said...

Yep, I'm taking a tour through the politcal grief stages, as well. I don't know where so many people get all this confidence about the competence of the government to run everything!