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Trumped: The End of the GOP as We Knew It


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Today I have just a few quick thoughts on the end of the GOP’s #NeverTrump campaign. 

It came as I thought with the crushing defeat that the Donald dealt Ted Cruz and John Kasich in Indiana last night. Now I really expected one or both to stay in the campaign to try and deny Trump a first ballot nomination in Cleveland, but the campaign to stop Trump seemed to end today when Ohio Governor John Kasich ended his campaign.

It started last night when “God’s Annointed One” for the Presidency, Ted Cruz ended his campaign to establish a theocratic state based on the theology of Christian Dominionism. Though he tried to cast himself as a successor to Ronald Reagan’s conservative mantle in the #NeverTrump movement, that was nothing more than a charade, Reagan would have never considered Cruz a real conservative, nor would have Barry Goldwater, the true ideological father of the now dead modern conservative movement. In fact Goldwater detested and distrusted the Christian Right. The end of Cruz’s campaign was also the death kneel of the Christian Right which expected that one of its own, Cruz, Huckabee, or Ben Carson, would be the GOP nominee this year. It is funny, back in October or November Teddy of last year was one of the favorites to win the nomination while Trump was considered a long shot outsider at best. 

However, the problem for Cruz and the other candidates of the Christian Right was threefold. First the influence of the Christian Right is declining. It’s leaders are old and increasingly ignored inside and outside the GOP, with the exception of people like Cruz. The polling numbers on this are incontrovertible, and the fact is that the incredibly partisan and hardline policies of leaders of the Christian Right is contributing to the rapid loss of young people in churches and the growth of the demographic known as the Nones, or those with no religious preference.  Second, there were too many of them in the race, and they bled votes from Cruz in the early primaries. The third was brought on by Cruz himself, nobody, even in his party likes him. He is viewed as creepy, Nixon without the charm, and former Speaker of the House, John Boehner summed up what many people feel when he  said that Cruz was “Lucifer in the flesh.” That fact was demonstrated in the Iowa caucuses when Cruz’s campaign used dirty tricks and torpedoed the campaign of Ben Carson, making thousands of phone calls the day of the caucus to tell caucus voters to vote for Cruz since Carson had dropped out. It was a bold faced lie and it enabled him to steal a win there. 

As far as Cruz goes, and everything that he represents, I can only say good riddance, and I hope you lose your next senate race. 

What this signals for the GOP is yet to be determined, but like many others I beleive that it signals the end of the GOP as we have known it. The party leadership may attempt to unify behind him and to control him, but it will be an uncomfortable alliance, and one which Trump holds the winning cards. The GOP is broken, it ignored the advice of those who wrote the post-mortem of the 2012 defeat of Mitt Romney, and now they have been “Trumped” so to speak. Trump’s negatives are such that even if he wins the general election, which based on current polls that pit him against either Clinton or Sanders show him losing hardly, the GOP may well lose the Senate, and many seats in the House. The fact is that Trump does not give a damn what Reince Priebus and GOP leadership think, he will do what he needs to win and if he does win, he will take the credit and do as he pleases. Some influential members the GOP conservative media base are already saying that in spite of the collapse that they will not support Trump. 

At first the GOP dismissed Trump. Then they tried to marginalize him, then when it was too late attempted to stop him. At every turn Trump outmaneuver end them, appealed to the anger and frustration of GOP voters, harnessed that energy, and “Trumped” the GOP leadership at every turn. It was quite fascinating to watch, and if I wasn’t a historian and well aware of the kinds of emotions Trump is playing to I would laugh it off. 

But as I have Sid since November, Trump cannot be underestimated, and if the Democratic nominee and party underestimate him, they too may end up being Trumped. So if there are Democrats or progressive out there feeling a sense of satisfactory schadenfreude in this, don’t celebrate too soon. 

So anyway, enough for today. Have a great evening. 

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Post New York Thoughts

trumphillarynewyork_032516getty2

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I have just a few short thoughts about the New York primaries and the massive victories recorded by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

My gut feeling, looking at the results, as well as polling data available for most of next week’s primaries in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and Rhode Island is that this marks the end of any real chance for Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination, and the same for either Ted Cruz or John Kasich to come back and have an outright win against Trump.

On the Republican side the best Trump’s opponents can hope for is that he falls short of the needed number to win on the first ballot and that uncommitted delegates do not support him. If it goes to a contested convention, turn out the lights on the GOP. I still expect the GOP establishment will throw in everything to try to stop Trump, and they may yet succeed, but New York was a massive blow against their hope to stop him.

As for the Democrats, the New York results showed how formidable that Hillary is, she not only trounced Sanders by close to 300,000 votes, but collected about 200,000 than all the Republicans combined. The primary wasn’t close and the complaints of Sanders and his supporters that the primary was rigged against them make them sound like sore losers. The next series of primaries play to Hillary’s strengths and I expect her to add to her delegate lead, and after New York I don’t expect any upsets.

Honestly, I think that Sanders made a huge mistake by going so negative against Hillary, and that is actually going to turn people away from him. He is at his best when he is positive and talks about his ideas, and looks like a crotchety old man when he goes negative, and his attacks on Clinton are not likely to win him the support of the Super-Delegates. The fact that he hasn’t been able to go into details about his plans, and the fact that he appears unprepared and defensive when interviewed about them, does not help his cause with voters that want specifics. As I have said many times before many of his ideas resonate with me, but just having ideas with no plan of how you will get them through a potentially hostile Congress is a non-starter.

I am pragmatic, and I think that Bernie needs to figure out what his campaign can do realistically and decide on a realistic course of action. If he continues to go negative and tolerate his supporters making asses out of themselves by doing the same he not only risks his campaign, but damages the one person who might get at least some of those good ideas through Congress. If he plays that game he only helps the Republicans.

A historical analogy is how the Independent Socialists, who joined with the Communist Party after the German Revolution at the end of the First World War, torpedoed the Majority Socialist’s attempts to promote a progressive agenda during the Weimar Republic. They accused the Social Democrats of being worse than the Nazis and during the Republic’s crisis of 1928-1933, they cooperated with the Nazis to collapse support for the Social Democrats and bring down the government, with disastrous results for Germany.

Anyway, that’s all for now,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Promise of Riots 

 

  
Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

A short comment on the results of Super Duper Tuesday and the dangers that the day brings for both the Democratic and Reupublican parties. My words are certain to offend the sensibilities of partisans of every candidate in both parties currently fighting to win their party nomination for President, and I really don’t care, because I care more for the country than any candidate, and for the peaceful preservation of the Union and Liberty more than the short term political gain of any party, faction, or individual candidate. 

The Super Duper Tuesday primaries are over. On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton swept states in play. While the results in Missouri and Illinois were close she won each primary and in the popular vote outpolled Bernie Sanders by around 900,000 votes in the four states at play. She also increased here Delaware count in both pledged delegates and Super Delegates. Let it be known that I am not a big fan of the Super Delagate system, but that is the system that the Democratic Party has used for decades, but all the candidates know that going in, even Bernie Sanders. 

But compared to the Republican race the Democratic primaries are positively civil, boring, and mundane. Sanders has made things interesting, and probably made Hillary a better candidate, and Hillary should do her damnedest to reach out to Sanders and his supporters if she wants their support in the general election. Truthfully I like Bernie Sanders a lot, and agree with most of his positions on the issues. His Democratic Socialism is little different that Franlkin Roosevelt’s New Deal. But the fact is Sanders owes his success to the Democrat who did not run, Senator Elizabeth Warren. It was her true populist voice in economic issues and her refusal to run that gave Sanders his opening. At the same time like Hillary, but I am not blind to her faults and some of the things in her past that give people reason not to fully trust her. What does that make me? I guess an unpopular realist who because I am serving in a Federal office cannot publicly endorse any candidate, but I can comment on policy, history, and what I believe. 

Likewise, Sanders supporters who say they are progressive but would vote for Trump to spite Clinton if she wins the nomination are fools, and not at all progressive if they believe what they actually say and then do that. True progressives understand the value of realism and pragmatism and getting what you can get; for sometimes progress is slow, but it if you keep working you achieve it, ithout handing victory to people who hate you. Those Sanders supporters who call themselves “progressives” but would be willing to vote for Trump to spite Clinton are like the German Communist Party members in Weimar Germany who worked against the Social Democrats and gave Germany to Hitler. A pox on them if they do that. The same would go for Clinton supporters who if she lost the nomination to Sanders did something similar. Since I don’t see any way for Sanders to win the nomination short of a total Clinton meltdown or scandal so big that would turn the Super Delagates against her, I don’t see the latter happening, and if there was such an event the Democratic Party would rapidly coalesce around Sanders, or maybe rally to nominate Warren. 

But I digress…

No matter what happens with the Democrats, the really interesting thing is what s going on in the GOP. Trump won a crushing victory in Florida as well as convincing victories in North Carolina and Illinois. He won a very narrow victory in Missouri over Ted “nobody likes me” Cruz, and lost in Ohio to John Kasich because the Repulicans allow “winner take all” primaries means that Kasich won every delegate in his home state, without even winning a majority of the vote. And that is how the GOP hopes to defeat Trump? Give me a break. That is cloud-cuckoo-land thinking. 

That has set up an interesting scenario. The GOP “establishment” has been doing everything that they can to try to stop Trump from winning the nomination outright. Many have actually gone on record with that stirring the ire or Trump and his most vocal supporters on conservative talk radio, media, and the Internet. Prominent leaders of the right wing media including Rush Limbaugh, and Coulter, and Breitbart News are all in for Trump, and they are hammering the GOP establishment, and people still listen to them. It doesn’t matter what Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Reince Prebus, Mitt Romney, or even George W. Bush has to say; they are all weak or even traitors if you ask Trump and his most ardent supporters. In response you have Glenn Beck and many other conservative pundits and politicians  doing all that they can to fight Trump. This is a civil war and existential struggle for the GOP, and truthfully I don’t see it surviving in any form that we once knew, and as a former Republican who spent 32 years as a party loyalist, in my opinion, as much as I hate what the GOP has become, that is not a good thing, and Republicans have only themselves to blame just as the Democrats were for what happened to them in 1860 and 1968, the Republicans in 1964, and German conservatives in 1932 and January of 1933. They all destroyed themselves with little help from their opponents. Thant my friends is history, that is reality. 

What portends is an absolute disaster for the GOP. If they fail to stop Trump from winning a majority, he wins. If they stop him, and keep him from an outright majority, even though he will likely have 400-500 more delagates at the convention than eith Cruz or Kasich, they will have achieved a Pyrrhic victory. Trump is not your run of the mill boring Republican. It is his money and brains in stoking the anger of Republicans, not only against the Democrats and Obama, but the GOP establishment that has brought him thus far, and he is not done. 

He has tacitly endorsed violence against opponents, and journalists, even conservative journalists who get in his way. On Wednesday he said that there “would be riots”  if the GOP tried to deny him the nomination, even if he was short of the majority needed to win the nomination at the GOP convention in Cleveland outright. He is not joking. His supporters have almost as little love for the GOP as they do the Democrats. He and they will not accept what they see as being cheated out of the nomination, and frankly, while I am not a Trump supporter by any means I would have to agree with them if I was in their shoes. The current GOP is Republican in Name Only. It is not the party or Lincoln, not the party of Ulysses Grant or Teddy Roosevelt, not that of Dwight Eisenhower, or even Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan. It has become a proto-fascist party run for the most part by Christian radicals bent on establishing a theocracy, embodied by Ted Cruz, that is now collapsing on the weight of unfulfilled promises to people that they have made for decades. Frankly, Trump’s supporters are declaring war against the GOP establishment, and if they don’t win that war they will leave the GOP as a smoldering ruin of hubris as they destroy it in their way out. 

Maybe my analysis of both parties is wrong. As a historian I don’t think it is, but I could be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time and certainly won’t be the last. But as Mark Twain is reported to have said, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”  

But then maybe I’m just too much of a realist and have too much understanding of people and history for any ideologue or radical of any persuasion to take what I have to say seriously. But then as bad is this all is maybe it is what we all need to cause us to wake up and re-embrace the promise of of the words spoken by Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not shall not perish from the earth. ” 

Until tomorrow, 

Peace

Padre Steve+ 

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Super Tuesday Analysis

election

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I am a little bit late posting today as I wanted to see how the Super Tuesday primaries turned out and I was not surprised.

Last night I watched results from the Super Tuesday primary states with great interest. Mind you I did not turn on my television to do so. The maddening number of politicians, pundits, and propagandists masquerading as spokespeople, consultants, and experts on every cable news outlet wears me out. Instead I simply pulled up a website that simply let me watch the election returns come up in real time.

I didn’t listen to a single “victory speech” by Cruz, Clinton, Sanders, Trump, or Rubio because such speeches are basically propaganda and spin, though I did read some of the excerpts from each candidate’s speech, carefully parsing them for truth in light of the actual data from the primaries, not just the total votes or delegates won, but where each candidate did well, or fell on their ass.

So here is my bottom line and what I think will probably happen next.

One the Democratic side Clinton won seven states and Sanders four states. But the states that Hillary one were big delegate rich states which are more reflective of the Democratic Party as a whole than the four states that Sanders won she now has 1034 of the 2383 that she needs for the nomination while Sanders lags over 600 delegates behind with just 408. The polling data from big delegate laden state primaries coming up show that she will further extend her lead over Bernie and it appears that Hillary will continue her march to become the Democratic nominee. The good thing for the Democrats is that Sanders challenge has forced Hillary to recognize progressives and move her campaign more to embrace policies enunciated by Sanders, this will in effect serve to unify the Democrats in the lead up to November.

The Republican race is more complicated than that of the Democrats. The campaign of Donald Trump has blown away the influence of what had been known as Republican Establishment. His opposition is fragmented and that fragmentation will not end anytime soon. Trump currently has 316 of the 1230 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Cruz has 226 and Rubio 106. But the apparent closeness of those numbers is deceptive. Trump benefits from the completion between Cruz and Rubio and neither is likely to drop out of the race, Cruz because he honestly believes that God has chosen him for the job and Rubio because despite his poor showing in most primaries is the face that the GOP wants to project, and as a result he will retain the support of realists and moderates in the party.

The split between Cruz and Rubio will ensure that Trump continues to rack up primary victories in big states. Complicating the situation for Rubio is fact that John Kasich has gained some traction and in Vermont and Virginia played spoiler, probably keeping Rubio from winning those states. Rubio won in Minnesota but has lost thirteen of fourteen times.

On Super Tuesday Cruz won in three states Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska. But even in Texas he needed to do better than he did and he was blasted by Trump in the Deep South, which he has to win to get the nomination. To put Cruz’s Texas win in perspective, it is the lowest percentage that any Republican Presidential candidate has received since 1912. He is under performing even when wins, his polling numbers in many states are abysmal and no amount of spin will change that fact. 

Cruz has a different problem, if Trump is seen to be a bully, Cruz is seen to be a completely dishonest and slimy bully that most people in his party cannot stand to be around. One of those people is Ben Carson, who Cruz went out of the way to cheat in Iowa by having his staff call potential Carson voters to switch their vote to him as Carson had dropped out of the race. It probably gave Cruz his narrow victory over Trump in the Iowa caucus and in the process made Carson his mortal enemy. Carson has no chance at winning and he knows it, but he is not formally dropping out. My guess is he will do this simply to draw voters away from Cruz since they cater to the same base of conservative Evangelical Christian voters. Since he is skipping the next debate this may have less impact than if he participated in it.

My prediction is that Clinton and Trump will clinch their party nominations by the beginning of April unless something really strange happens.

Now a minor editorial note. I am a Democrat and would have to call myself a pragmatic progressive and possibly a Democratic Socialist based on what I believe. That being said I spent thirty-two years of my life as a Republican beginning in 1976 when I worked for the Gerald Ford campaign as a high school student, but I was a “big tent Republican.” I became disillusioned with the party based on my experiences in Iraq, when I realized that the rational for going in was lies, and I was repelled by the stridently militant demands of right-wing Christians who seemed to be attempting to turn the party into their religious party. As a result I left the GOP in 2008.

While some democrats rejoice in what is happening to the GOP today, but I do not. As a historian I honestly believe that the GOP will implode. Senate Mitch McConnell is trying to limit losses by distancing himself from Trump hoping that if he and others do so they might retain control of the House and Senate.  The coming GOP implosion may benefit the Democrats in November, but such implosions of major political parties are generally not good for the country. One only has to look at the implosion of the Whigs in 1854 and the Democrats between 1858 and 1860 to see how badly such events can turn out for the country.

I will be writing something about that in a day or two.

Have a great day,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Hating Lebron: The New State Sport of Ohio

The dethroned “King” AP Photo

I am not a fan of Lebron James. I also think that his juvenile actions have served to increase the public invective against him. In other words I think that he has been “deep throating” his size 16 Nike’s since last summer when he went on ESPN to announce his move to Miami.  At the same time I am not a Lebron “hater” and think that some have gone overboard in turning him into the most hated man in sports.

Of course the media and his fans had a lot to do with how Lebron is perceived. When he was in Cleveland they hailed him as “King James” and extolled everything about him. In fact they pretty much put his basketball abilities up with King James the First who I understand could put a heretic’s head through a basket from half court three out of four times. Since there were a lot of heretics in those days he got a lot of practice. Of course James as most young and relatively emotionally immature do got a big head.  Now he elected to go for less money to Miami to try to win a NBA title. Is there anything wrong with that?  Not necessarily but he could have left in a much more classy fashion. He would have still been disliked by Cleveland’s championship deprived fans and much of the rest of Ohio, but there were better ways of making his announcement.

His next faux pas was his landing in Miami where he promised big things, “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven…” championships.  The one thing about this is that it is very easy to get carried away on the big stage and promise things that you do not have ultimate control over. This was once again a sign of Lebron’s immaturity.  Let’s face it Lebron was drafted out of High School and we all know the maturity level of most high school graduates which is somewhere above a house broken puppy but lower than a person that has taken some setbacks in life.  Getting knocked on your ass is the beginning of wisdom.

Of course the Lebron haters have been nasty all year, yes I understand the connection that many fans feel toward professional ball players and how they feel when their idol leaves their team for greener pastures. But I’m sorry but professional and often collegiate sports are a business and the players are the commodities that bring in the bucks. So when a player leaves a city for another that it life, you have to deal with it.  Unfortunately a lot of people in Ohio including the Governor John Kasich have spent entirely too much energy on Lebron when their state has a lot more pressing issues.  Instead of making the Dallas Mavericks honorary citizens and poking the defeated “king” in the eye Kasich could have issued a “Bull” of excommunication” for Jim Tressel who has probably helped sink the Ohio State University football program.  That Ohio State is probably going to go down hard is not a problem for me, I even root for the USC “Troy Tech” Trojans against them and being a UCLA Army ROTC alum that says a lot.  But give me a break, why does a governor have to sink to this level? It seems below the dignity of the office but then what the hell, just how many politicians in the country are even acting like they have any dignity in office?

So for a year Lebron has been a rich target for his haters and they got their revenge through the efforts of Dirk Nowitzky and Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks who shut James and the Heat down hard.  “King James” got to eat some humble prairie shit pie, not just a piece but the full pie.  He should have simply congratulated the Mavericks, promised to work hard in the off season and work hard to win next year. Instead he poured gasoline into the ring of his hater’s fire by saying this when asked if the he was bothered by those that want him to fail:

 “at the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point.”

Personally I have no issue with the point that he makes, but it was dumb for him to come out and say it. I know that he felt the need to defend himself and he later sort of apologized but again it was a case of his immaturity as a person that caused an even bigger fire.

But when he left Cleveland Lebron became the most hated athlete in sports overnight.  Before that he had been considered a good guy and my friend Carl Long who played in the Negro Leagues and was a civil rights pioneer who has met Lebron says that is the case. He is a good guy that has made some decisions and said some things that have made him look like the bad guy.  That transition, going from being the good guy hero to the evil villain is a hard thing for anyone, except pro wrestlers who seem to be able to do it at will. Lebron will simply have to get used to the black top hat and handlebar moustache that comes with being the villain even though that is not the man that he is. Like Anakin Skywalker he will have to get used to being on the Dark Side of the Force. The sooner he gets used to it the better, Darth Vader doesn’t need to talk much, and he just goes out and crushes people and destroys planets.   Lebron needs to shut up and concentrate on what he needs to do on and off the court to win and remember that even Darth Vader finds redemption.

In the mean time Lebron will have to get used to the late night comedian jokes and even legitimately funny things like the Peoria Chief’s “Lebron James 2011 NBA Championship Replica Ring Giveaway.”

As far as the haters, whatever, there is a real world and we all got to live in it. The same and even more applies to Governor Kasich who has sullied his office by acting the fool.  Governor; go fix your state and excommunicate Jim Tressel for the mess he allowed to develop at the Ohio State University. As for me I don’t have time to hate, well maybe the Los Angeles Dodger’s but that’s different. I am a San Francisco Giants fan and the Dodgers are evil.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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