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Trump: Looking beyond the obvious

We all know what he his - a self-promoter first and foremost - but that is not the important thing. With Trump's support surviving thi...

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Make America Great (again?)

When liberals say America is not great, they are accused of being unpatriotic. But the MAGA folks are saying it right on their hats and T-shirts. I think America is pretty great. But there are a few places where we are not doing so great on the world stage.

First on this list is education. A 2015 study placed the U.S. an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science.

Next is healthcare. The Commonwealth Fund rates the U.S. health care system as the worst among developed nations. America is at or near the bottom across the board: access, administrative efficiency, equity and health care outcomes. To make matters worse, there is how much more America spends on health care relative to other nations.

These are big problems, complex problems with continued long-term negative consequences on America and the American people. But are these the priorities for the MAGA folks? Probably not..They're more concerned about immigrants stealing their jobs and which bathrooms people use.

For his part, Trump made a lot of (sometimes conflicting) promises during his campaign, but in his first address to congress he laid out six pillars of his MAGA agenda: Immigration, ISIS, Trade, Tax reform, Infrastructure, and Healthcare.

None of these include education. On education, he has given us Betsy Devos, a billionaire who is universally opposed by civil rights advocates and education groups. Devos and the policies she advanced in Michigan are credited with decimating that state's education quality. In the mean time, Trump has filled his administration with anti-science zealots and taken an anti-science, anti-education stance at every turn.

On healthcare, Trump promised an amazing healthcare system, with lower rates and great care, but it appears he has no idea how to actually do that. His first plan was a tax cut for the wealthy wrapped in a "healthcare" bill and upon that failing, all he can offer now is repealing ACA as part of his mission to erase the Obama legacy but with no new plan to replace it.

The third priority where I consider America to be not so great is far more controversial and that is our imperialism run amok, the "military industrial complex" what we're now perhaps calling the "deep state." This is even more challenging given this really comes down to monied interests but I think we can begin to take this down, one small bit at a time. We interfere way too much in other countries' business and it seldom is good for America in the long run - in some cases, this is directly responsible for creating the exact terrorist movements that MAGA folks are so concerned about. Draconian immigration bans don't really do anything for this problem and, when it comes to foreign policy, besides a lot of "America first" bluster, it's not clear where Trump really stands and it certainly seems to be the place he is least qualified - and that's saying something, given how unqualified he is at pretty much everything, except being a con man.

So when I say America could be greater, those are my priorities, education and healthcare first and being quite easily justified by empirical fact. My third priority, imperial overreach, is admittedly hard to quantify. But in what ways is America not great for the MAGA folks? And when was it great before? Do they even know?

Stay with me here, Trump supporters

Hi. This is to Trump supporters.

You dislike Hillary. You're not alone. I get it. But if you really hate Hillary, you need to hate Trump even more.

He stole your nomination and now he's giving the election to Hillary. Think about it.

If I was a strong Hillary supporter, I suppose I should say "Thank you." Because there probably isn't another person on the planet that could make people that were otherwise against Hillary, vote for her. For Trump's part, there probably isn't another democratic candidate either that would have enabled Trump to actually be a remotely viable candidate, to say nothing of actually leading in legitimate polls at one point.

Only Hillary could pull that off. 

But now, his time has past. He's not going to win. Did he ever even want to win? I don't think so, but that's a conversation for another day. Either way, he is the best thing that could have happened to Hillary. If you hate Hillary, you should hate him even more for that.

Three reasons I actually want Trump to win now

This presidential election is the biggest mess in my lifetime. The whole thing smells of a rat.

John Oliver captured it best when he pointed out the parallels between Trump's situation and a 1996 children's book "The Kid Who Ran for President," where the kid ultimately gives a rant speech rebuking the electorate for voting him into office.
I have a question for the grown-ups of America ... Are you out of your minds? Are you expecting me to enforce the constitution? I never even read it. I was absent from school that day. Would you really want me as Commander In Chief of the armed forces? What if somebody attacked the United States? Would you really want me in charge? America must be in really bad shape if you elected me president. You better get it together and find some qualified people to run this country or we'll all be in big trouble.

And South Park's "Giant Douche vs Turd Sandwich" series has been brilliant.

Forgetting for a moment that, under a Trump presidency, the economy would crash like ...

... and he probably would start world war three.

Other than that, here's why I'd like to see him win.

1. I would love to see Trump squirm

As John Oliver pointed out, and as I've said from day one, Trump would be miserable as president, when he finds out what the job is really about.
... because then he actually has to run the country. And that means living in government housing, conversing with fully clothed women, and traveling in a plane that doesn't even have his name on it.

And South Park's version:
The second Mr. Garrison (The Giant Douche, Trump) realizes he has an actual shot at winning this election, he panics over his lack of a plan and starts self-sabotaging

2. The look on Hillary's face would be even better

If she lost this election, maybe she would finally give America the rant she thinks we deserve for not letting her have it in 2008 like we were supposed to.

It would be epic. Rampage on.

3. Maybe we'd actually get a clue as to how fucked up we are

And this is the important thing. You can't blame the Trump phenomenon on Trump or on rednecks. We have a bigger problem. Trump isn't the problem. We're the problem, liberals and conservatives and moderates too. If people are angry enough at "elites" to convince themselves that a “racist voodoo doll made of discarded cat hair” is fit to be president, things are bad. If evangelicals, or at least white evangelicals, can see a twice-divorced casino owner as the holier choice, even after the video surfaced in which he was recorded lewdly bragging about having made sexually inappropriate advances to married women... things are bad, really bad.

Donald Trump proves the GOP can put up pretty much any candidate, with any flaws, and not lose support from their base. Of course the deep disgust for Hillary Clinton doesn't hurt.

Hillary will be a "placeholder" president, leaving the door open for the next Trump, and there will be one. If Trump actually won, we the people might actually do something about this two-party nightmare, a corrupt DNC and a dysfunctional GOP, that leaves most of us in the cold.

Hillary, swing and a miss

Just when we thought things couldn't get worse this election season, we get the soul crushing catastrophe of the second debate.

It was a town hall format and the first audience question was about 'Modeling Appropriate Behavior For Today's Youth?'

This was on opportunity for Hillary. It was a softball she could have hit out of the park. But, predictably, she offered a classic non-answer of rambling campaign talking points. Imagine if, for once, she could have set the talking points aside and got real, along these lines:

"You're right. At times, the last debate could have been rated as MA, for mature audiences. And for my part, I apologize for that. There is no place for it in presidential debates, debates, we must remember, between people seeking the highest office in the land. We are supposed to be the adults here and when it takes the wisdom of children to tell us that we're acting like children, we should listen. I apologize and I promise to do a better job of showing how we, as civilized people, can have wildly differing positions and points of view and still maintain a level of quality discourse."

But robotic Hillary didn't do that. Instead, she didn't say a damned word to that question and just rattled off a laundry list of campaign positions. A swing and a miss.

Maybe there is such a thing as too much preparation.

Trump: Looking beyond the obvious

We all know what he his - a self-promoter first and foremost - but that is not the important thing. With Trump's support surviving this deep into the election cycle, we have to look beyond the obvious.

What his support speaks to is a great disdain for the corruption and dysfunction of proper politics. Nobody is going to stop supporting Trump because they catch him in a lie. That would be like telling them that pro-wrestling is fake. You miss the point. Of course Trump lies - his supporters know it and they don't care.

Democrats sit on a high horse but they're just doing the same thing with the pretense of protocol and decorum - they are lying and stealing and pandering the old-fashioned way. But really, they are more alike than different.

I sent Bernie money. But is he really even close to what we think he is, or what we want him to be? Probably not.

I don't have the answers either, of course.

Why I can't stand "Duck Dynasty"

First the disclaimer: I don't watch the show. But I've seen enough of it to know I can't stand it.

My wife has been telling me for a while that the Robertson clan are a homophobic and misogynistic lot, especially the father, Phil, the "Duck Commander" himself. I guess that cat is out of the bag now.

Big surprise.

Anyway, even without all that (and the incredibly disgusting reaction), I was out. Why? Because this show celebrates ignorance and stupidity. These clowns aren't stupid, nor ignorant (save for some obvious areas). They have college degrees. They themselves are the "elites" they so despise as Huff Post notes:

While there is nothing sinister about succeeding in business, this is not any rags to riches story of everyday familiar "bumpkins" benefiting from the perceived enhanced mobility of American society. It is a well planned out, and relatively rare group of astute individuals who have achieved uncommon financial success.

But rather than presenting a true picture of how hard work, education, and business savvy can be roads to success, the show instead glorifies poor language skills, ignorance, laziness, and poverty, crafting a contrived story of "common folk" making it big through implied dumb luck. It's all bullshit and it's insulting. The right-wing, Tea-Party, and backwoods Confederates who love the show are the people who should really be offended. The Robertsons are mocking them, much in the same way that Dan Whitney ("Larry the Cable Guy") wasn’t actually trying to appeal to rednecks, but to mock them.

Obviously, portraying the real story of a college educated millionaire chief executive of a multi-million dollar corporation is not the way to make a reality show - not if you want ratings.

A line crossed

For many years, I have overlooked the NRA stepping outside the gun-rights issue. They fall into the same trap as the media, where they assume the gun-rights issue is exclusively linked to a right-wing agenda and the Republican party platform. Every time they send me another right-wing tirade, totally unrelated to gun-rights, I have to will myself to let it go. With the appointment of James Porter as its new President I simply can't do it any more.

As a parting shot, I do want to defend the NRA to a point, or at least explain the history that I recall about their path toward a harder-line. Way back in the eighties, the NRA tried a more moderate approach. What you always hear about the NRA is that they should "compromise" more and accept "common sense laws." They tried that back then and each time they "compromised" the result was that one law was never enough. Every new regulation was looked at as a "first step" by the anti-gun side. The NRA compromised but the anti-gun side never did. They simply took each new law as progress and wanted more "compromise" by the NRA. This led to the NRA membership pushing back. The NRA membership wanted an end to what they saw as a steady erosion of gun rights. The NRA members pushed for a more hard-line and no-compromise stance. So those that now claim the NRA should compromise more, should recall that when the NRA was doing so, it wasn't a two-way street and it is the members of the NRA, the supporters of gun-rights, that asked the NRA to be more hard-line. We got here because the anti-gun side refused to compromise and simply wanted to pile on more bans and regulations of no particular value in reducing gun violence and suggesting a path toward an eventual ban of all private gun ownership.

So, NRA: Talk about gun rights issues. Be hard-line. Fine. But I can't abide the NRA stepping outside gun rights issues and attaching to an overall right-wing agenda. 31% of Democrats support gun-rights. More people identify as Democrat than Republican. An equal amount or more identify as Independent. The deeper the NRA goes down an exclusively Republican path, the smaller their numbers. By excluding Democrats and Independents, the NRA is cutting out nearly 50% of gun-rights supporters... it's foolishness.

For the record, I still support gun rights. I'm just going to have to do so through other means than the NRA-ILA.