- There was a recent opinion piece by Mark Penn and Andrew Stein (WSJ Article) that raised the possibility that Hillary Clinton would be a candidate for President in 2020. Mrs. Clinton herself has not confirmed nor denied whether she would actually be a candidate, but did state that she would like to be President. Now, I know there are millions of Hillary fans and others out there who believe the 2016 election was robbed from her, because she won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College. Well, I'm sorry to all you fans out there, but having her run would be a huge mistake. I've noted before in a previous post (See here) that even though lots of things worked against Clinton, the bottom line was that she ran a poor campaign and much like her loss to Obama, she and her campaign totally misunderstood how the election worked and what to pay attention to. My views on this are somewhat reinforced by parts of Bob Woodward's "Fear" in which some in Trump's circle clearly believed he could win, because they understood where Clinton was failing. I'm sorry folks....if the Democratic Party wants to win the next Presidential election, they need to find a new standard bearer. Sadly, the current crop of candidates don't seem up to the task.
- The Fourth National Climate Assessment was released on Black Friday this year (Click here to see the report). The strategic release during a major national holiday weekend and a day where Americans hack and slash at each other to get a 50% discounted toaster actually didn't do much to obscure the fact that the report was full of bad news. However, I was more amused that among the various discussions about what to do in the face of this report, the idea of blocking the sun's rays was once again raised. If you want a good description of how this would work, or not as the case may be, click here. But, the one thing that came to mind as I heard this idea banted about pundits...isn't this pretty much how the Matrix started? Sounds like a bad idea to me...
- The recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings of now Justice Brent Cavanaugh was yet another illustration of how much our politics have degenerated to partisan bickering. While this began way before Trump was elected President, I have to say that in my opinion, President Trump has taken politicization to a new level we have not seen in at least my lifetime. He has put political labels on everything, especially when things are not going the way he would like. It is amazing to me how he uses "Clinton," "Obama," or "Democrat" as adjectives to describe a multitude of things, whether it's appropriate or not. Both political parties used to go out of their way to ensure that certain parts of the government and their operations remained as bipartisan or politically neutral as possible. Yes, you can never take away one's political leanings, but generally-speaking, I think until recently our government has done a decent job of making sure things like national intelligence, the Justice Department, and other key agencies and committees remained as neutral as possible. But this President has been politicizing every aspect of government and, even worse, there are members of his party that feel it's now OK to also politicize them as well. The political light-weight Rep. Devin Nunez is a good example. I'm not totally blaming the Republican party, because the Democratic party has taken to doing almost the same thing, just because the Republicans are. These are very dangerous trends that people have to wake up to and push back on. Americans are definitely better than this.
- Which leads me to another point. Our politicians, especially those in Congress, seem to have forgotten that our form of democracy is based on a "checks and balances" system where the Congress is one of three equal branches of government. While it's OK for Congress to work with the Executive branch, Congress needs to push back when it is necessary. Yes, there is partisan cooperation between Congress and the Executive branches when a single party controls both, but we've seen in the past how both branches can cooperate and work together even when either branch is controlled by the other party. I've been extremely disappointed and distressed by the fact that the current Congress seems to be missing their huevos and can't seem to criticize the President when necessary. There has been a deafening silence from Congress on a number of things where they should be pushing back. I'm sorry, but when you need to criticize the President and restrain him on certain issues, you need to be doing that. Not cowtowing to him because you're afraid of the consequences. That's part of your responsibility and risk as an elected representative. While I can comment on many issues where Congress should be speaking out, the one that concerns me the most is the racially-toned messages emanating from the White House and its staff. I've previously commented on the fact that this line of messaging has emboldened fringe groups and has resulted in increased racist activities ("Out of the Shadows..."). It's only gotten worse since I made that original post.
- While we're on the topic of government and civics, I've noticed posts regarding the composition of the Senate have been popping up on social media. Comes in different forms, but the basic complaint is that states, regardless of their population size, each get two votes in the Senate and that this isn't fair, the argument being that states with larger populations should be more votes. I think these folks need to go back and take civics again. We have two houses of Congress, one based on population size and the other not, for a reason. Go back and learn why.
- I've been very interested in seeing how President Trump's support has not wavered much since the 2016 election. I'm guessing that unless he does something to truly piss-off his base, his approval rating will continue to hover in the forty-something percent range (FiveThrityEight Poll). What's of greater interest is who makes up that group that approves of his job? There is clearly the base that will support him no matter what he does. This group it seems is made up of ultra conservatives, but also the fringe racists who like the President's immigration policies, but also like the tone of his pronouncements. There are those Republicans who lean a bit more to the right, but may not fully support everything the President has been advocating. These probably include folks who support the President's general agenda, but really don't like the manner in which he communicates things. There are those Republicans who currently support the President, but are having second thoughts based on his communication style. I keep wondering how long these people can keep holding their noses. Finally, there are the Democrats who supported Trump. I'm guessing the latter is becoming a smaller proportion of Trump's supporters. Well, you might say I'm just pointing out the obvious. However, it is interesting how many support the President despite his demeanor, lack of compassion, personal attacks, and racially-tinged language. Two, maybe three, of the subsets I described I would have thought would be second-guessing their support of the President, but that's not turning out to be true. So, the big question is, what does this mean for America? Are we destined to become a nation who will support someone regardless of how they behave? Does this mean that honesty, integrity, and compassion are no longer important characteristics of our nation's leader? Inquiring minds would like to know...
- CNN changed the face of news. It was said that Ted Turner created CNN and 24-hour news because he was upset he couldn't watch the news when it was on. Sorry, I know there's an entire generation of people reading this that don't know that 24-hour news didn't exist and we could only watch the news at specified times, like regular programming. Anyway, while the idea of 24-hour news was nice, sadly, there really isn't 24-hours worth of news all the time. Hence, we now see news stories repeating ad naseum and, in order to fill the time, "analysis" and "commentary" have become blended into the news, blurring the lines. Before, these were separate programs, which explains why we have the Sunday news shows like "Meet the Press" (btw, I really miss Tim Russert), "This Week," "Face the Nation," and others. CNN and others have now started to run other news-related programs like "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown"....sorry, I liked Anthony Bourdain, but this program really isn't news per se. The fact that all this stuff is now blended together is what contributes to the label of "liberal" vs. "conservative" news programs. Also, many times you can't tell when the news ends and the commentary starts. I have always argued that true television news programming ended when the networks figured out they could make money off the news. The establishment of CNN just expanded this to a 24-hour cycle. I've also argued that this format has led to the dumbing down of America, because nobody can tell where the news ends and where the commentary starts. Viewers are essentially being told how to interpret the news, without giving them a chance to digest the news and form their own opinion. This is a huge contributor to the "fake news" label that the President and his allies have used extremely successfully. Personally, I can't watch the news anymore. I get so little out of it and the "discussions" are simply people yelling and talking over each other, bending over backwards to distort information to support their own positions. Again, I really miss Tim Russert....but I also miss the days of Walter Cronkite. Heck, I even miss Bernie Shaw. Anyway, it's really sad to see this chaos when it's really not necessary. Yet another consequence of the all mighty dollar.
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