Friday, July 29, 2016

Trump's kakistocracy and Hillary's cacklocracy

Jonah Goldberg broke out an interesting word to describe the ideology of Trump supporters: kakistocracy. The word derives from κακός, the Greek word for "bad."  According to an article Goldberg links to, Lowell defined it as "government by knaves at the cost of fools."

Pretty apt, in the unlikely event that Little Donnie is elected. The word could be also rendered, "government by the worst of men." Contrast this with "cacklocracy," which would be government by hens, crows, the Wicked Witch of the West, or Hillary Clinton.

And if after his defeat by the Cacklcrats sane and decent Republicans retake the Republican party, Trump and the Klansmen, Nazis and tinfoil-hat types who form the core of his support could always use the name "Kakistocratic party' for any third party they might found to carry on the fight.

This needs to be a feature-length film- and run as a double feature with 'Hillary's America'

Elegy for my Republican party

I've always found it sad that the Democrats get away with demonizing Republicans on issues like civil rights. The other day, when an African-American congressman made the absurd statement that Democrats gave African-Americans the right to vote (100% of the members of Congress who voted for the 15th Amendment were, in fact, Republicans; the only Democrats who didn't vote against it were the seven who abstained), it was only an extreme example of Democrats' habit of misrepresenting the record.

My Republican party didn't simply play a key role in supporting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the support of Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-Ill) is generally seen as the clincher in getting it passed). It led the charge. When President Kennedy dragged his feet in submitting civil rights legislation it was the pro-active introduction of their own bill by three Republican congressmen which finally spurred him to action. Throughout most of the party's history, it's been Republicans who have been the good guys when it came to civil rights, and the Democrats the party of the Klan and the bigots.

Already in 1964 Barry Goldwater- himself a decent man and hardly a racist-chose to oppose the Civil Rights Act on technical constitutional grounds. The man who ended up being his main opponent for the Republican presidential nomination that year, Pennsylvania Gov. William W. Scranton, ran against him in no small measure because of that, and described himself in his announcement of candidacy as "a liberal on civil rights, a conservative on foreign policy, and an internationalist in world affairs."

That last is one more tradition the GOP has abandoned this year.

The majority of the South- many motivated by less worthy considerations- suddenly moved into the Republican camp. And this year the GOP has formally adopted the Democrats' mantle. This year the head of the KKK has endorsed Donald Trump. In this as in so many ways, Trump has made the lies Democrats have been telling all these years about Republicans come true- sadly, lies Republicans have been enabling for decades by taking positions which, however nobly intended, are subject to malicious misinterpretation.

I don't agree with everything in this article. The notion that suppressing the vote in African-American communities is the purpose of voter ID laws is ridiculous, self-serving propaganda. The problem is precisely the proclivity of the Democrats for vote fraud among the disempowered, where they can get away with it and nobody who might object is watching very closely.

I cannot be a Democrat. I cannot support a party which even now denies civil rights to the unborn and misuses that banner to advance socially destructive special agendas which undermine the very foundations of society. All the rhetoric to the contrary, marriage redefinition and allied abominations are most emphatically not civil rights issues.

 But I can- I must- ask the same question John Nichols asks in the article: what ever happened to the real party of equality? How did my Republican party become the party of Donald Trump? Since the Democrats even now refuse the mantle, why are the Republicans not still the party of equality and civil rights for all Americans?

What ever happened to my Republican party- to the part of Lincoln?

Can a Christian vote for Donald Trump?

Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and  Dr. Russell Moore, Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, eloquently and succinctly express what I've been trying to say about Donald Trump and why I cannot vote for the man (or for Hillary Clinton) in this year's election.

The Supreme Court is important. But it is not all-important. Dr. Mohler comes very close to quoting Jesus on this matter in precisely the way I have: "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?

The principle applies to the Supreme Court, too.

Dr. Moeher's distinction between single issue-disposive and single issue-sufficient voting.
As he points out, abortion (and by extension the Supreme Court) are single issue-disposive issues. But they are not single-issue sufficient.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Snopes is busted

Looks like I wasn't being paranoid in my observations from time to time about having a liberal bias.

Turns out that the site's chief fact checker is a former liberal blogger with somewhat dubious qualifications for the job.

I'm a bit of a cynic, frankly, about Snopes, PolitiFact, and others of that ilk. The reliability of a site whose purpose is to pass on the reliability of claims others make depends on  it having an unimpeachable objectivity itself which few such sites can claim.

In case you missed it

'Lock HIM up!'

A brief look at Donald Trump's record of fraud-  against ordinary, everyday people like his supporters.

Hillary was sloppy with national secrets. Trump is a crook, as well as being incompetent and unstable.

If the media had done their job, we wouldn't be facing the impossible choice we're facing now.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Doesn't ANYBODY want to win this election?

The Republican Party's nomination of a fascistic and sociopathic lightweight last week becomes all the more tragic when one considers the one telling argument supporters of Donald Trump have for their appalling candidate: abortion and the prospect of a permanently radicalized Supreme Court if he loses.

Hillary Rodham Clinton promises to make her party's abortion extremism even more radical.

It's almost as if both sides want to lose this election. The traditional- and smart- move for somebody in Donald Trump's position would have been to do everything possible to reconcile disaffected Republicans to his cause. In fact, from every indication fear of Hillary is doing just that. But Trump can't afford to rely on the Democrats' morally bankrupt position on abortion and the threat of a radicalized Supreme Court to unite the party. He ought to be as conciliatory as possible to Ted Cruz and the NeverTrump people. Instead, he's continuing his slash-and-burn attacks against voters whose support he's going to need in November. His most prominent characteristics throughout the campaign have been abrasiveness and irrationality; he seems likely to continue his bull in the China shop style right up until November 8.

Meanwhile, Trump's nomination gives the Democrats a unique opportunity. Logically, they should be doing everything in their power to attract the disaffected Republicans who cannot in conscience vote for a bizarre, unstable authoritarian like Trump. They should be softening their language on abortion and other social issues and making it as easy as possible for those people to vote for Clinton. Instead- possibly because they face their own defections from the even more radical Sanders faction- the Democratic establishment is making the difficult decision to defect to Hillary in the Fall impossible.

It's almost as if neither side wants to win this election. Both parties have embraced irrationality like lovers. If only there were some way for both parties to lose! But one or the other of these assemblages of goofs is going to win, and any way you look at it  it's going to be a very, very long four years.

Probably Bush's fault

"Where they go low, we go high."- Michelle Obama, 2016 Democratic Convention.

Right. I guess you must have been AWOL from the National Guard or something when the Dems did this stuff four years ago.

And no. Bush was wrong, but he didn't lie.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Is Donald Trump clinically sane? Seriously.

This morning my inbox contained two fascinating items.

One was forwarded to me by a friend, an article from the Right Wisconsin, Charlie Sykes' magazine, written by a gentleman named Jerry Bader. It's entitled, "Is Trump Still the Lesser of Two Evils if He's Crazy?" It cites a second article by Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard entitled "Donald Trump Is Crazy, and So Is the GOP for Embracing Him."

Basically, Bader and Hayes simply put a more charitable construction on Trump's bizarre behavior and crazy statements than those of us who have noticed these obvious and troubling patterns have hitherto. Maybe he's not the liar he appears to be when those statements are compared to the facts. Perhaps his simplistic, erratic and obviously unworkable "solutions" to our nation's problems are not cynical ploys to exploit the anger and frustration of middle-class voters who may not be informed enough to recognize them for the nonsense they are.

Maybe Trump actually believes them.

This is, as I said, a charitable reading of the facts which have lead so many to believe that Trump is an incorrigible and pathological liar. He may honestly believe those things. He may be delusional.

The question arises at this particular time because of Trump's reaction to Ted Cruz's non-endorsement at Cleveland. One of Trump's multitude of crazy statements and tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories is that Ted Cruz's father had breakfast with Lee Harvey Oswald before the JFK assassination, and, by implication, may have been involved in the conspiracy to kill the president.

It should be said quite firmly that there is absolutely no evidence of this other than a picture in the National Enquirer that Trump thinks looks like the elder Cruz. It should be said that despite all the examination of the evidence concerning the Kennedy assassination and all the crackpot theories out there about conspiracies nobody but Trump has ever made that accusation. No student of the events of November 22, 1963 even takes Trump's bizarre accusation seriously.

Cruz understandably takes exception to this innuendo, which- along with Trump's ungallant, gratuitous and inaccurate attack on the looks of Cruz's wife, understandably took the rivalry between the two men into the realm of the personal. I  would certainly have an issue with somebody who accused my father of being a co-conspirator with Oswald and publicly, for no particular reason, suggested that my wife was a bow-wow! Moreover, I would not be especially inclined to endorse that man for the presidency!

But it gets even more bizarre. This is the Republican nominee discussing Cruz, less than twelve hours after accepting the nomination:

I don't know his father. I met him once. I think he's a lovely guy. I think he's a lovely guy. All I did was point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now, Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead, he said Donald Trump—I had nothing to do with it. This was a magazine that, frankly, in many respects should be very respected.

Let that sink in for a moment. Trump's source for all but accusing a man of complicity in the assassination of the President of the United States is  a picture which nobody but him even suspects is Raphael Cruz in the National Enquirer- which he regards as "a magazine that, frankly, in many respects should be very respected."

The National Enquirer.

He continues:

Did anybody ever deny that it was the father? They're not saying: 'Oh, that wasn't really my father.' It was a little hard to do. It looked like him.

One of two human beings who may next January become President of the United States takes the National Enquirer as a credible source and believes that it is undeniable that Raphael Cruz is the man in the picture because he thinks it looks like him.

The thing is, Cruz has in fact repeatedly and angerly denied that it is his father, even citing the slander as one of the reasons why it would be hard for him to support Trump! Furthermore, experts on the assassination don't take Trump's accusation seriously. Nobody but Trump (and of course his followers, who believe literally anything he says) does.This is one of the disturbing things about The Donald: if a fact is inconvenient at the moment, he won't simply ignore it. He will categorically state the opposite, no matter how patently silly and transparently false his statement is. He lies boldly, knowing that in any case, his uninformed followers will believe anything he says and belligerently deny the truth no matter how strong the evidence. Hillary Clinton is a much slicker liar than Trump is, and lies considerably less often (remember the study that said that Trump, on the average, tells one falsehood every five minutes?)  And she is not nearly so shameless.

Or are they lies? Could there be another reason for Trump's bizarre and transparent disregard for the truth?

Could it be that Trump honestly believes that the man in the picture is Raphael Cruz, that the National Enquirer is not only a credible magazine but one which should be "very much respected," that when he made that statement he was not consciously aware that Cruz has repeatedly and loudly denied the very thing Trump says that he never denied!

Trump continues:

I know nothing about his father. I know nothing about Lee Harvey Oswald. But there was a picture, on the front page of the National Enquirer, which does have credibility—and they're not going to do pictures like that because they get sued for a lot of money if things are wrong, okay?

This of the National Enquirer, which is routinely sued and shrugs it off because sales are so profitable that the damages don't make a dent in them.

Do a Google search on "Donald Trump and Narcissistic Personality Disorder." Here. I"ll even provide you with the link. This is a mental disorder akin to psychopathy, and it's very dangerous for a person with this disorder to be given power. Go ahead. Read a few of the many articles by qualified professionals who believe that Trump has it.

The Mayo Clinic website lists the criteria for a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder given by DSM-V, the diagnostic and statistical manual of the American Psychiatric Association as including the following:

Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
Exaggerating your achievements and talents
Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
Requiring constant admiration
Having a sense of entitlement
Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
Taking advantage of others to get what you want
Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
Being envious of others and believing others envy you
Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

No, appearances to the contrary, that is not the outline of a biography of Donald Trump!

Some also believe that he is an out-and-out psychopath or sociopath. The co-author of The Art of the Deal, Tony Schwartz, worries about Trump's "sociopathic tendencies." Former New Hampshire Senator Gordon Humphrey comes right out and expresses his belief that Trump is, indeed, a sociopath. The idea that the erratic and often bizarre Trump is mentally ill is not a new idea. Trump himself once told Jimmy Fallon that he never does anything wrong. On another occasion, he said that he doesn't have to repent or ask God for forgiveness because he doesn't "make mistakes."  He said, however, that he goes to communion and "that's a form of asking forgiveness."

These statements do nothing to dispel concerns about possible sociopathy or psychopathy. The DSM-V criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder, as psychopathy and sociopathy are now called clinically, are found here.

I do not give these either to play armchair psychologist or to encourage you to do so. There are things about Donald Trump's history which raise real and genuine questions about whether he's a sociopath or even a psychopath. Some who are qualified to make such a diagnosis- which I am not- believe that he is one. Given the stakes and given the fact that it is we who have the responsibility of deciding whether or not this man will be the next President of the United States,  there are obvious patterns in his behavior which, it seems to me, are cause for legitimate concern.

But Hayes takes it to the next step. Could it be that Trump really believes the absurd things he says? "Crazy" is not a clinical term. But could it be that Trump is delusional? Could he actually be psychotic? It doesn't seem unreasonable, given the patterns observable in Donald Trump's life and behavior, to be concerned.

And Bader asks the inevitable next question: as bad as Hillary Clinton would doubtless be, is it really better t have a man who may be a psychopath or even psychotic  with his finger on the nuclear button, making the decisions every day which all of our lives and well-being depend on ,  and having the enormous powers of the presidency at his fingertips?

If Donald Trump is crazy, does that still make him the lesser of two evils? It's not crazy to be concerned that he might be.

The other piece of mail in my inbox was rather sobering in light of the Bader article. Jim Geraghty of National Review points out that Trump did, in fact, get a "bump" from his convention, and that according to two polls he now leads Hilary Clinton.

I don't expect that to last. Hillary has her convention this week, and unless it's our nation that has also lost its mind I don't think Trump can possibly survive an examination of the kind a general election campaign will subject him.

But I"m a bit frightened anyway. You should be, too.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The inside story on the Trump putsch in Cleveland and beyond

Well, I just got off the phone after the conference call with Regina Thomson of Free the Delegates and other leaders of the anti-Trump movement among the delegates to what is referred to as a convention last week. I finally have the story straight- and it's an ugly one. It's also of a piece with Donald Trump's divisive (and, I believe, ultimately self-defeating) approach to politics: intimidate the opposition and purge those who are not intimidated.

Bo Correll, a Virginia delegate, said that what happened at Quicken Loans Arena was "a scripted TV show, not a convention." The microphones at the delegation standards were turned off, he said, and elected delegates were not permitted to participate except as extras in the show.

He finally clarified the business about the petitions. Petitions for a roll call vote were submitted, signed by a majority of eleven state delegations. Seven were required to force a roll call vote. Under pressure from the RNC and Trump loyalists, three states revoked their support for a voice vote. That left eight states- one more than was needed under the rules to make a roll call vote mandatory. But the RNC claimed that only nine states had submitted petitions- a deliberate falsehood- and that the withdrawal of the support of the three state delegations dropped the number supporting the roll call to only six!

In one sense, this is understandable, since originally only petitions from nine states were submitted. But petitions from two more were submitted by former Sen. Gordon Humphrey and accepted by RNC official Eric Euland about 2:20, before the expiration of the deadline.

Apparently, they were then ignored, and the convention proceeded as if they had never been submitted. I am ashamed to say that one of the delegations that allowed itself to be intimidated into recanting its support of the demand for a roll call vote was Iowa.

The voice vote was then steamrollered through in gross violation of parliamentary procedure "without objection-" even though dozens of delegates were standing  at dead mics and loudly objecting!

Free the Delegates members felt that they won the voice vote. The chair ruled otherwise. The entire episode was shown on C-SPAN and is presented in the first twenty minutes of the video below, so you can judge for yourself.

In the weeks leading to the convention heavy-handed pressure was brought to bear on delegates to vote for Trump despite court rulings stating that state laws binding delegates to the candidate who won the primary or caucus in their state were unconstitutional. At the same time, delegates won by other candidates were intimidated into voting for Trump! Cruz swept the Arizona state convention, but according to delegate Jared White state and national party leaders and the Trump campaign ruthlessly pursued a policy of "deliberate consolidation of power out of the hands of the grassroots and into the hands of the RNC and Trump cronies." State Chair Robert Gramm demanded that delegates vote for Trump and to sign a pledge that they would do so. White said that a delegate named Laura (I believe her  last name was Hack or Houk, I didn't hear it clearly) refused, and Gramm responded, "That's a resignation. "He removed her credentials. She went to Cleveland and attempted to recover them, but to no avail. At least one Rubio delegate from the District of Columbia, whose primary was won by Marco Rubio (Trump finished a distant fourth) had her credentials removed under trumped-up (ahem!) claims that she didn't live in the District.

Correll said that efforts to intimidate or purge

Even though the courts have held laws such as Arizona's binding delegates to be unconstitutional, Republican State Senator Andy Biggs, currently a candidate for Congress, had introduced a bill to repeal the law. He was intimidated by the state party and the RNC into withdrawing it, being told that his political career was over if he didn't.

Leaders of Free the Delegates said that a similar effort to intimidate or purge has been underway all over the nation. Correll specifically mentioned Michigan and North Carolina. In Virginia, the Executive Director of the Republican Party, John Findlay, has been trying to goad a party official who expressed disapproval of Trump's behavior after the convention into either resigning or publicly stating that he was supporting a candidate other than Trump- an action which, under state party rules, would not only force him out of party office but ban him from holding any other for four years. An example of that effort can be found here.

White stated that he was not allowed to cast a single vote for the record; none of his votes were counted or recorded.

White added that Gramm is running to replace Reince Priebus as chair of the RNC, and should not be supported.

More shocking than any of this was the news that the Trump campaign- which is so vocal about the obligation of all Republicans to support Trump- is organizing Super PACS to defeat anti-Trump Republican candidates! Trump had renounced his own pledge to support the party's nominee

White concluded with a quote from Ronald Reagan: "Freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

The members of the group seemed reconciled to voting for Trump  in November and to believe that Hillary Clinton must be defeated at all costs. The Reagan quote above is part of the reason why I believe otherwise, and will never vote for him.  The very behavior they describe is part of a disturbing pattern. Trump instinctively reacts to opposition or even criticism with threats, intimidation and  if necessary, retaliation. He rather reminds me of Democrats that way- which makes sense, since he was one up until less than a year ago.

I myself will not be party to putting a sociopath with that proclivity n the Oval Ofice. Freedom, as Reagan said, is too fragile and tenuous a thing to take such a risk. In any case, it isn't hard to read between the lines the belief of the Free the Delegates people that Trump will be defeated despite their support. They urge real Republicans to stay in the party and join them to fight to pick up the pieces in November.

They seem overwhelmingly to be Cruz people, a sub-genus of the Republican animal I have warmed to in the past week. While I'm proud of principled men like Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham, who have refused to support the man-child the Republicans nominated in Cleveland, too many of the kind of Republicans I identify with and have supported- people like Marco Rubio and Joni Ernst- seem willing to do business with the devil. Ted Cruz- a deeply flawed candidate I would vote for in the general election but would be unlikely ever to support for the nomination due to his rigidity and my conviction that our nation needs uniters rather than dividers like Obama and Clinton and Trump right now- in my opinion, has shamed them with his courage. There is a time for compromise and a time to fight. Cruz seems to think it that it's always a time to fight.

I wish him and his supporters luck in theirs. We need a conservative party to balance the leftist Democrats and the newly authoritarian Republicans.

...And maybe one less

Tonight I'm going to be involved in a conference call with the Free the Delegates people, whose communications about the debacle at the Alt-Right Convention last week concerning the adoption of the rules have been confusing, to say the least. I hope to straighten out exactly what the deal was because they are insisting on what they first said about the RNC having cheated to prevent a roll call vote on the adoption of the rules.

I've managed to get so far that the RNC claimed that nine states had submitted petitions for a roll call- which was the number needed- but that two had withdrawn them, so the number fell short by two. Free the Delegates responds that, in fact, eleven states submitted petitions, so they had the nine states required even after the two withdrew theirs.

I still haven't figured out why the wrong date on the petitions withdrawing support for the roll call was significant, unless as a technicality. But I'll catch you up later.

Another retraction

Donald Trump did indeed imply during the debates that Supreme Court justices sign bills and conduct investigations. But turns out that I misread an article and quoted Trump as saying that lawyers are public employees.

The comment was made by a Trump supporter in response to having it pointed out to him that many of Trump's proposals are blatantly unconstitutional.

Trump to Cruz: 'I wouldn't accept your stupid endorsement anyway. So there. Nahhhhh!'

Anybody else think it's strange that the Trumpmeister should announce that he won't accept an endorsement Ted Cruz isn't going to offer? That's childish even for Il Duce. How exactly does one "accept" an endorsement? And did he stick his tongue out after saying it? Seems to me that this all-too-typical instance of sour grapes is just another example of what anybody who's been paying attention should have realized months ago: that Donald Trump is too emotionally immature to be trusted with any kind of power. The man is a public embarassment to America just as a candidate!

And I wonder how he'll react to the mother of the American ambassador who was killed in the Benghazi attack, Chris Stevens, asking him to stop the "opportunistic and cynical" use of her son's name. Will he threaten her?

Saturday, July 23, 2016

I'm not sure whether this is good news or bad news

According to Nielsen, fewer Americans watched Donald Trump's acceptance tirade speech than watched John McCain's in 2008.

I'm not sure whether this is good news or bad news. On one hand, it seems that most Americans weren't particularly interested in hearing what Donald Trump had to rave about say. But on the other, a great deal of the reason for Trump's success has been that Americans know so little about him.

Maybe if more Americans had been watching, more of them would have been frightened by what they saw. But given the Fall campaign, Hillary's capacity for bellowing, and the efficiency of the Democratic attack machine, I have a feeling they'll be hearing plenty before November 8.

The only question that concerns me is whether they'll believe it, coming from somebody else and whether the media will do a better job in the general election campaign of making folks aware of Trump's history and his lunacy than they did during the primaries.

Caricature by DonkeyHotey