Tag Archive: politics


Prepare? Nah! Probably Not

Flood evacuees

In 2014, Kate Allen wrote a piece in the Independent on Syrian evacuees.

Since the violence erupted in Syria, 2.3 million people have fled the country, more than half of them children. The Syrian refugee crisis has been called “the most pressing humanitarian disaster of our time”, yet the UK government’s reaction has been tentative, to say the least.

I thought of Ms. Allen’s while reflecting on my nine months of FEMA service during the aftermath of Hurricane’s Katrina, Rita and Sandy. William “Brock” Long is charged with fulfilling the Trump Administration’s Hurricane Harvey FEMA effort. And while I sympathize with tactical, geographical and political challenges, I have grown weary of hearing how Hurricane Harvey was “unprecedented” or is a “one in five hundred-year,” no wait, “one in one thousand-year” event.

No. Harvey wasn’t.

All we needed to do was open the history books of Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita. Then, as now, scared and desperate civilians laid in the path of Mother Nature’s middle finger and fled, swam or drowned. CNN, MSNBC and print media filled our senses of vulnerable people: the elderly, unaccompanied children, flood survivors, drowning victims, and abandoned pets.

The Mayor of the City of Houston stated he could not justify evacuating the nation’s fourth largest city. People would die trying to evacuate – which is sort of like saying they’ll die if they try, so might as well die in their homes, terrorized by flooding they cannot outrun. Still, I’m unsure if I can overtly criticize the Mayor. Maybe he’s honest. Maybe he’s a political schmuck representing a broader city council who allowed unchecked regulatory building within a flood-prone area. Regardless, I do, however, note that we’ve been through this before.

Just as Kate Allen described, the European Union’s relocation of Syrian refugees is exhausting, both on an economic and humanitarian level.  Transpose that to Houston, Texas. Image if the U.S. had to relocate 4 million of Houston’s 6 million residents? Where would they go? Dallas-Ft. Worth? San Antonio? Austin? New Orleans?

If many local residents bitch about handling a couple of thousand international refugees, how do we handle the mass relocation of a major metropolitan area? The World Bank defines migration as “a process whereby a community’s housing, assets, and public infrastructure are rebuilt in another location.” Others emphasize other relocation factors as the “permanent (or long-term) movement of a community (or a significant part of it) from one location to another, in which important characteristics of the original community, including its social structures, legal and political systems, cultural characteristics and worldview are retained.”

FEMA is unprepared. In a post-9/11 world, our government’s preparedness for natural disasters takes a back seat to terrorism. 2005 government figures revealed 75 cents of every $1 spent on emergency preparedness went to anti-terrorism programs. A 2015 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) survey found nearly 60 percent of American adults have not practiced what to do in a disaster. Additionally, only 39 percent had developed an emergency plan. This is despite the fact that 80 percent of Americans live in counties that have been hit by a weather-related disaster.

This whole post summarizes the obvious: we suck!

As the nation recovers from Harvey, as of this writing, Hurricane Irma approaches from afar. But wherever Irma hits, it’s already too late. The damage to be incurred was created decades ago by ignorant politicians appealing to their partisan base.

Maybe the U.S. will get serious and prepare for the future?

Nah! Probably not.

In her article The Reality of a Pre-Existing Condition, Susan Chira wrote:

I would not wish what my family has endured on anyone, even the legislators who voted to take away the protection that gave us such relief. I don’t really care about theory, about which is the more efficient way to rein in costs, or to give families the most choices. To me, preserving the principle that people should not be punished for a fate they could not control seems fundamental.

At the end of the day, this is not about ideology. It’s about humanity.

At a “pep rally” meeting prior to the vote, members heard the “Rocky” theme song as they arrived, and an image of George S. Patton placed on the screen as inspirational quotes from the general were read. Members also heard “Taking Care of Business.” Then a prayer and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

A prayer? I remind fellow legislators that in the thousands of deaths yet to come, the silent pain of death will scream unto the divinity.

As a human being, I too have joined the ranks of those with a preexisting condition. As disks in my neck crush with vice-like tenacity; as the heart disease slowly forces my heart to beat slowly toward an end, yesterday’s house bill was a shameful display of heartlessness. If Sara Palin was looking for an American death panel, she need look no further. Yesterday’s White House beer party was a coup de grâce.

I have never seen legislators celebrate kicking 20 million or more people out of the healthcare system. In Trump’s victory, the President tweeted “… Republicans will be having a big press conference at the beautiful Rose Garden of the White House immediately after vote!” as buses awaited House Republican members for the Rose Garden.

Opinion writer Stephen Henderson wrote “This now appears to be about not much more than striking back at President Barack Obama for having championed the law in the first place, and turning the nation’s back on the most vulnerable — people who were helped by the ACA’s progressive accomplishments.” Henderson further notes, we’ve reset the clock to the days when the poorest will choose between health care and shelter or food, to the times when people without coverage faced bankruptcy or other financial ruin if they or their family members get sick.

For me and others like me, access to quality care is literally life and death. An essential core belief behind the Republican plan is that we should pay only for health care services required. Logically speaking, sick people like me require more coverage. Therefore, sick people must pay for it. Younger and healthier constituents require less coverage. Accordingly, they should pay less. Yesterday’s American Health Care Act salutes 20 million or more with the middle finger saying, “Sucks to be you.”

However, maybe Republican Representative Raul Labrador said is correct. In a recent town hall, Labrador stated “nobody dies because they don’t have access to healthcare.” Hopefully I remind God of that statement after breathing my last breath.

I close with a brief story and quote. After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by forces of Imperial Japan, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was reported to have said, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” Historians claim to be unsure if Yamamoto ever said those words. However, the film’s producer, claimed to have found the quote written in Yamamoto’s diary.

The historical lesson is important. Even though Yamamoto crafted the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, it was reported he secluded himself the day after as his staff celebrated, for he felt the unprovoked attack would enrage Americans; thereby awakening a sleeping giant.

Let’s hope American legislators find an awakened giant.

Ivanka and JaredThe growing impact of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in America’s governance is perplexing. Ivanka Trump has a clothing, shoe and handbag line in her name. Ivanka hosted the Miss Teen USA pageant and worked on the TV show, “Born Rich,” among others. But she has never held a public-service position, nor is she a scholar of politics, government or history. Kushner is an unelected person with absolutely no governmental experience.

This is the Trump identity. And the Trump identity will have profound impact upon America and American families, including how we find meaning, satisfaction, and support. I am surprised to see how much experience molded me. Accordingly, experiences have obviously molded the Trump family as well. Yet I cannot understand how the Trump world intertwines with real America.

Ivanka Trump’s 2009 self-help book, “The Trump Card,” is a good example of missing interconnectedness. The Trump Card opens with an implausibly:

In business, as in life, nothing is ever handed to you.” Ivanka quickly adds, “Yes, I’ve had the great good fortune to be born into a life of wealth and privilege, with a name to match,” she writes. “Yes, I’ve had every opportunity, every advantage. And yes, I’ve chosen to build my career on a foundation built by my father and grandfather.”

Still, she insists, she and her brothers didn’t attain their positions in their father’s company “by any kind of birthright or foregone conclusion.”

Right. Several pages later …

Did I have an edge, getting started in business? No question. But get over it. And read on.”

The essential element of the “Trump” identity is missing. I cannot name one Trump family member who professed and succeeded with a “can do attitude.” There’s not been one Trump family member ever discussing of having to work their way from the bottom up. Has Ivanka ever had to choose between eating and medicine, going to work or losing a day’s pay caring for a sick child? When the average American gets sick, we either have to heal ourselves, or more often than not, friends and colleagues guilt us by exclaiming we should not have gotten sick.

After nearly 100 days in office, it is clear the Trump identity will not support any of us. Prior to donating $1 million to a nonprofit group helping veterans’ families, in the 15 years prior to the veterans’ gift, public records show that Trump donated about $2.8 million through a foundation set up to give his money away — less than a third of the pledged amount — and nothing since 2009. Records show Trump has given nothing to his foundation since 2008. Compare that to Bill and Melinda Gates who’ve donated $28 billion via their charitable foundation, more than $8 billion to improve global health.

One might claim that using Trump’s foundation was waterboarded during the campaign, that I’m crying over spilt milk. Yeah, the election is over. Got it. These thoughts are presented to neither bitch nor whine, but to reiterate how Trump’s lack of communal roots will impact our world.

Like it or not, America’s future is being crafted by two mid thirty-something adults. Just as the President himself, history will judge both Jared and Ivanka equally as responsible for selling the President’s agenda, including cuts to childhood education, health and safety enforcement; healthcare repeal; immigration isolation; elimination of funds for family planning and maternal and child health in more than 150 countries; and foreign policy.

It is unclear if the current Trump identity, as presented, will be successful for long-term growth. Accordingly, our sustainability defaults to the adults. America’s survival and ability to prosper is dependent upon the thousands of ordinary Americans, whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, who can work to end partisanship while simultaneously forging connections in the community in which they reside.

The question is whether we’re up to the challenge.

img_0014By simply turning on the news, one can hear Donald Trump talk about our great country.

“At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public.”

If the last ten to twelve days represent our future, have we become a nation that serves its citizens? Are we righteous? And are we lifting up and enhancing schools?

Today, the U.S. “put Iran on notice,” whatever that means. I mean, you Iranians are on notice. Uh, ok. Today’s statement was in response to an Iran missile launch. However, we never laid out exactly what “notice” meant.

Buddhists notice during meditation. But I’m positive this is not the Buddhist version of “notice.” In a broader sense, are we going to take out a big stick and kick ass? Or are we going to just notice. “Ok. Kill as many as you want, but damn it, we’re going to notice.

We’ve also effectively singled out the Muslim faith for the entirety of atrocities committed on U.S. soil. Damn it, Muslims are responsible. The text of Trump’s original executive order noted the “crucial role” the visa-issuance process plays in “detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States.” Fear mongers often raise 9/11 to justify travel ban actions some 17 years later. However, if the public ever performed even some negligible research, they’ve might have found none of the countries impacted by the current administration travel ban was home to any hijackers from the 9/11 attacks. Those 19 came from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Egypt.

For those in the Bible Belt, do you seriously believe that an overseas terrorist is coming to a cornfield near you to detonate a couple hundred feet of corn via suicide bombing? Are you sure a terrorist will set off a shoe bomb as your family participates in a hayride on the Fourth of July? Oops, maybe they’ll blow up a pumpkin durning the fall harvest festival. Wait, that would be cool! Right? Pumpkin detonation is cool.

The coup de grace, has to be today’s speech with Black History Month participants.

We’re going to need better schools, and we need them soon. We need more jobs, we need better wages — a lot better wages. We’re going to work very hard on the inner city. Ben is going to be doing that big league. It’s one of his big things that we’re going to be looking at.

We need safer communities, and we’re going to do that with law enforcement. We’re going to make it safe. We’re going to make it much better than it is right now. Right now it’s terrible, and I saw you talking about it the other night, Paris, on something else that was really — you did a fantastic job the other night on a very unrelated show. I’m ready to do my part — it’s the only time I can see him. I’m ready to do my part, and I will say this: We’re going to work together.

Ramble. Ramble.

To align my thought of today’s speech with Black History Month participants, I am reminded of a cartoon seen some 20 years ago in the New Yorker about God talking to his Son. In the cartoon, God said, “Now tell me again. What did you you tell them?

I ponder this cartoon as I think of our current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and current nominee for Secretary of Education. Both are complete “dipsticks.” “Surely Mr. President, what are you telling me? This is the best we have?

Other stupid time-wasting executive orders included a plan to defeat ISIS in 30 days, lengthen ban for administrative staff working as lobbyist, authorization of U.S./Mexican Border Wall (otherwise known as the Great Rio Wall), a couple of oil pipelines, abortion ban, U.S. government hiring freeze (unless it’s your son-in-law) and repealing Obamacare.

So for the rest of us, there has been no discussion about bringing jobs to mid-America. No plans for infrastructure repair, healthcare for the poor or how to ensure students in middle America are just as competitive as those in the Ivy League.

We are a great country already, but for the past twenty years, solutions are few. And so far, we’re looking very unrighteousness and significantly shallow.

But look on the bright side, we’re protected from suicide pumpkin bombers.

fake-newsWhen looking at the “fake news” allegations rolling off Trump’s lips, one can only thank themselves. Yup! That’s right. You are responsible. I am responsible. We’re all responsible. We’ve legitimized verbal crap by our words, our lips and our hearts.

Allow me to back up. Trump’s news conference earlier this week was quite the spectacle, just as predicted. Like a boxer weaving and ducking, Trump controlled the event, the texture and meaning of right and wrong. I was in awe listening to the man as he verbally weaved around the imaginary ring, deflecting jabs, dismantling barbs and seemingly laughing at enemies great and small. He dismissed CNN, criticized news organizations and belittled the U.S. Intelligence community. He admonished Russia for hacking only to seemingly reinforce his bromance some ninety-minutes later.

An aficionado of “fake news” as a presidential candidate, I was amazed at his use of “fake news” as a defense, controlling the meaning of truth. Should one think otherwise, we should remember Trump’s 9/11 comments:

“I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down,” the Republican presidential candidate said at a November 21st rally in Birmingham, Alabama. “And I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”

Other Trump fake news included Obama being born in Africa, Justice Scalia was murdered, voting machine tampering, Clinton won the popular vote because of all the illegal votes. And of course there’s infamous pizzeria fake new used by a Trump surrogate. Trump fired the son of a transition team’s staff member, Michael G. Flynn. Flynn’s son was fired for using Twitter to spread a fake news story about Hillary Clinton that led to an armed confrontation in a pizzeria.

As a person, I have no love for Donald Trump. Nor do I have any interest in protecting him from scrutiny. But to declare the fake news used against him was wrong and disingenuous is like saying “Woe unto me. For my shit don’t stink. Yours does, but mine doesn’t.

So let’s regroup. How does all this apply to the you and I? Seriously, everyone delves into fake news. Just as it may have been wrong when FBI Director James B. Comey made an eleventh-hour content-free rumblings about Hillary Clinton’s emails, it’s also wrong each time Trump demurs “there’s something going on” about an insane premise or rumor he should otherwise disavow.

Just like Trump, society is just as morally bankrupt when backbiting a coworker, allowing students to cyberbullying, falsifying stories at the watercooler, supporting known innuendo, lying to your spouse and so on. Doing so makes each of us equally and morally repugnant. What’s worse is America’s willingness to accept this verbal diarrhea as acceptable.

All people, Buddhists and Christians alike, must take a higher road. And sometimes that road completely sucks. But it is the road we must not waver should we wish to expect anything less than complete transparency.

Unfortunately, the crux of our sin is … our acceptance.

img_0007Throughout the day I listened to our Congressional leaders question and answer sessions of Trump’s cabinet candidates. Of all the potential candidates, almost none offered anything indicating how their time in the office would make life better for the average working American. Jeff Sessions and John Kelly offered little, if any, positive proof that the incoming administration has anything more than dreams.

Then again, Trump himself has offered almost zero credibility toward offering anything of value to an unemployed coal miner. And of course, the only thing an unemployed steel worker will get is a “wet dream.”

The direct ability of legislators to offer anything but “stupid” is not uncommon. Michelle Bachmann commented that “Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.” Sharon Angle suggested rape victims make rape lemonade. Rick Santorum claimed rape victims should make the best of a bad situation. Of course one could compare Romney’s America against Trump version when Romney spewed “I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.”

And while watching today’s low-lights, the New York Times reported another Trump nougat.

President-elect Donald J. Trump demanded on Tuesday that Congress immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act and pass another health law quickly thereafter, issuing a nearly impossible request: replace a health law that took nearly two years to pass with one Republicans would have only weeks to shape.

“We have to get to business,” Mr. Trump told The New York Times in a telephone interview. “Obamacare has been a catastrophic event.”

Today’s statement is counter to thoughts Trump expounded in a 60 Minutes interview,.

Stahl: And there’s going to be a period if you repeal it and before you replace it, when millions of people could lose – no?

Trump: No, we’re going to do it simultaneously. It’ll be just fine. We’re not going to have, like, a two-day period and we’re not going to have a two-year period where there’s nothing. It will be repealed and replaced. And we’ll know. And it’ll be great healthcare for much less money. So it’ll be better healthcare, much better, for less money. Not a bad combination.

Basically, Trump has no healthcare plan. All of his comments were campaign devices.

Many of the above congressional leaders ever offered real relief to the working man, Trump included. And correct me if I’m wrong, but prior to running for election, I never saw Trump having a beer with a laid off steel worker in upstate New York. Nor has one seen Ivanka Trump in a blighted Ohio coal community helping families make ends meet. Better still, has Kushner ever presented a multibillion dollar rehab project in a decimated downtown coal community?

A blogger on “The Loins Roar” captured my thoughts perfectly.

At the end of the day Trump supporters want someone willing to break the rules. I agree that if humanity will survive, we need to think outside the box regarding our current system. But if you think Trump symbolizes something outside the box, you are confusing intentions. He is the box itself. We need someone humble and compassionate enough to think about all of us. That’s the outside-the-box thinking we need. A severe narcissist is incapable of breaking rules for anyone but himself. And that’s my question for Trump supporters: of the thousands of well-documented times that Trump has broken rules or acted like a phony, when did it ever benefit anyone but himself.

Trump’s policies will provide little for those in the greatest of need.

Campaign Device

img_0005According to Newt Gringrich, Trump’s wall was probably just a “campaign device.”

“He may not spend much time trying to get Mexico to pay for it,” Gingrich said of a hypothetical border structure. “But it was a great campaign device.”

In September 2016, Trump vowed to “… lift restrictions on American energy and allow this wealth to pour into our communities, including right here in the state of Pennsylvania, which we love.” Yet there is no way he’ll be able to tax or spend his way to a prosperous manufacturing community. Trump also promised a resurrection of American steel.

Unbeknown to the average worker, Trump has a problem. Returning key blue-collar jobs from China was probably just another campaign device. To be successful, Trump would have to return approximately 5 million jobs. To many outsourced workers, factory jobs represent the decline of America. But that decline has been occurring for twenty years. One person cannot bring back twenty years of downsizing.

The problem is that the vast majority of the crap you buy is already made in America. We make more stuff than what was ever produced 20 – 30 years ago. The problem is that American factories no longer need all those factory workers to make the products we buy. It doesn’t take it doesn’t take nearly as many workers to make steel, or a can of vegetables or computer chips. Even if we manufactured everything here in America, America itself would not require 19 million jobs.

There are other problems specific to the steel industry. According to a Wall Street Journal article, the problem isn’t just that China’s economy is cooling off. It’s also that its state-owned steel mills, which produce as much steel as the rest of the world combined, haven’t slowed down to match demand. Rather, China’s mills have stayed in high gear, which means the rest of the world has been flooded with cheap Chinese steel. Accordingly, U.S. Steel has been on a pink slip spree, including idling plants and cutting staff as part of an “ongoing adjustment” to accommodate for lower demand.

To offset lower demand, no new blast furnace steel mills have been built in decades and U.S. steel companies have recently begun to rebuild individual old furnaces at existing mills. Remaining factories are converting to electric arc furnaces that make the company more “flexible” and “efficient.” That, ladies and gentlemen, is code for lower costs and fewer man-hours – meaning less people are required to perform the work.

The problem is not ours alone. As global manufacturing output increased, the number of factory workers declined almost everywhere, even in manufacturing powerhouses like Japan, Germany and, yes, China.

Trump claimed that only he could save America. However, the answer lies not in a self-proclaimed Savior and Lord. Rather, the real answer is to train and relocate people, giving them the chance to shift occupations while still being able to feed their families. Anyone saying anything different is using a “campaign device.”

Chump Change

img_0004With the 2016 U.S. Presidential election over, the world continues to reassess how the global chess board has changed. Players we thought were leaders have been cast aside. Clinton, Sanders, Romney and a host of others are yesterday’s news.

In a global economic club, as promised by a Trump administration, leaders from Goldman Sachs would not be worthy of polishing the White House door knobs. Yet seven weeks past the election, the Trump Cabinet is shaping to be nothing more than a Goldman white-boy reunion club. Ah the more we promise, the more difficult it becomes to generate any traction of improvement.

Let’s quickly review, Trump claimed the alter of leadership based upon lies, bigotry and hatred. He promised coal miners and the jobless jobs. He promised to hold China in judgement, to reclaim the golden nectar of steel’s production benefits. And for the Goldman Sachs brethren, Trump claimed Goldman owned everybody, including Clinton, Cruz, and others. Goldman leaders were never prosecuted for the housing market crash, the predatory lending, foreclosures and other unethical dealings.

Yet, post election, CNN interviewed a 65 year-old former steel worker who lost his job to China. Having little to offer this, he was pissed for receiving monthly Social Security. He was looking for a job. He voted for Trump hoping Trump would bring back those jobs.

Truth be told, Trump used that hatred to get elected. Those jobs are not returning and the Goldman Sachs reunion club will offer you nothing. I say this for two reasons. The infrastructure that built American Steel has decayed for decades. Even if steel outsourcing suddenly reversed and Allentown, PA steel manufacturing reignited tomorrow, actual steel foundries would have to be rebuilt. That would take a decade. Secondly, nothing against coal and steel workers, but you’re older. Arthritis, Spinal Stenosis, knee problems, hand problems and the mental sharpness to be trained into a new, more technological position left many of those workers in the past.

Everyone wants change. Unfortunately, the Goldman boys live for you. Never did. They live for the deal. Just as in the past, stock entitlements go only to the wealthy. The only change Trump offers the remaining 90% is chump change.

TVThis blog has not opined too deeply into current presidential politics. This has more to do with the fact all the presumptive nominees have yet to be decided. By I read New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman’s article “Clinton’s Fibs, and Her Opponents’ Double Whoppers” with interest:

“… while Hillary’s struggles with the whole truth on certain issues have garnered huge attention, driving up her negatives, Trump and Bernie Sanders have been getting away with some full Burger King Double Whoppers that will come crashing down on the whole country if either gets the chance to do what he says.”

Both Trump and Sanders appear to come from opposite sides of the same coin. Each claims political mobilization, but beyond the veneer, little appears to have changed. Neither candidate has generated real mobilization.

Real political mobilization is about getting constituents to become voters, voters to become activists and activists to become candidates. It has yet to be seen if the extreme ideas proposed by either Sanders or Trump can transform the electorate and drive public policy at the state and local level. If what has been reported is accurate, the Vermont senator has not drawn as large crowds to his events in predominantly African-American neighborhoods. Sanders may resonate in some places, but certainly not all.

Additionally, Trump has only garnered roughly 11,500,000 primary votes while Sanders has netted about 10,000,000. Contrast that to 2012, when President Barack Obama received 65,915,796 general election votes. To be elected the 45th president, each must compete on a political map that, for now, looks forbidding. This means both Trump and Sanders will require not only all their primary voters, but also an additional 50 – 55 million more voters.

First take-away: political challenges are huge.

When Republicans took control of the House, America experienced two of the least productive Congresses in history. Strangely, this happened after we elected a group of politicians to government who openly stated that they hated government. In a Trump victory, Trump must navigate the reality of political tide. Numerically speaking, there’s only 24 Republican and 10 Democratic seats up for reelection in 2016. As of this writing, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, both Bush presidents, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Former GOP Mitt Romney, and former Florida Sen. and former RNC chairman Mel Martinez rejects the idea of voting for Trump.

If Sanders wins, he’ll have to go it alone.  With a veto-proof Senate and a majority in the House of Representatives, President Obama had to battle those who were grotesquely entrenched in their own special interests.  At a time when affordable health care, a democratic priority, should have been a slam-dunk, President Obama was forced to scale back his plan.  Universal health care was never an option and even the public option (Medicare/Medicaid) was seen as “too radical.”  In the end, it took every single ounce of support to pass the Affordable Care Act, without a single vote from Republicans in the Senate as well as 35 Democrats refusing to support it in the House.

Then there are economic realities.

Trump’s border wall will encompass many subplots. If erected, trade routes will shut down, water rites and land contested and industries wouldn’t be able to export products. The economies of both El Paso and Ciudad Juárez would take major hits. For Sanders, the issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time, and it is the great political issue of our time. Yet many economists claim Sanders fiscal policies reside in fantasy-land. Sanders critics claim there is little credible economic research supporting claimed economic benefits.

Neither candidate has politically mobilized constituents to become voters, voters to become activists and activists to become candidates. Freidman got it right.

“All lying in politics is not created equal. I think the ideology Bernie is selling is fanciful, but underlying it is a moral critique of modern capitalism that has merit and deserves to be heard. But Bernie is not being truthful about the costs. What is grating about Hillary is that her prevarications seem so unnecessary and often insult our intelligence. But they are not about existential issues. As for Trump, his lies are industrial size and often contradict each other. But there is no theory behind his lies, except what will advance him, which is why Trump is only scary if he wins. Otherwise, his candidacy will leave no ideas behind. It will just be a reality TV show that got canceled.”

Then again, I believe all most Americans want is a TV show. If we’re not careful, that’s what we’ll get.

trumpsandersAt the end of the Democratic primary debate on Univision, Sanders received standing ovation. If Hillary Clinton loses her bid in the Democratic Primary, March 9th at 10:56 PM will have been a defining moment.

Over the past several months, Sanders and Trump have lured the disenfranchised who’ve claimed to have been ignored for years. If Starbucks were a political coffee shop, the aroma of café de’ wizz would be so strong many would cringe. Yet, voters are hooked by the fragrance.

Each candidate targets different groups, but uses the same methodology. Trump’s message rests solely on culprits:  corrupt Washington politicians, outsiders, drug dealers and rapists from Mexico, terrorists from Syria, Islamists who hate America, the Chinese and Japanese. Bernie Sanders has decided to assign all the ills of this world to the financial services sector. To Sanders, Wall Street’s business model is fraud: greed, fraud, dishonesty and arrogance. Wall Street and Washington are filled with “oligarchs” where campaigns are “rigged” and “corrupt.”

In many ways, both Trump and Sanders want to rewrite the rules via political revolution.  One wants to soak the rich with higher taxes to finance a cornucopia of proposals, including free state college tuition for all, expanded Social Security benefits and a major surge in highway and bridge construction to create new jobs. And the other? Well, the other pretty much wants to kill someone, anyone … especially anyone un-American.

We are left with these two nitwits from two reasons: one, each coddles our inner most fears; and secondly, we don’t know the difference. In the movie, The American President, fictional President Andrew Sheppard stated the problem eloquently:

Lewis Rothschild: They don’t have a choice! Bob Rumson is the only one doing the talking! People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.

President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we’ve had presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.

I don’t discount America’s problems. We have quite the laundry list. Yet the average voter has little understanding that neither Trump nor Sanders will really help. Borrowing from Sheppard again, I guarantee that whatever your particular problem is, neither Trump nor Sanders is the least bit interested in solving it. They are interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections.

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