02 May 2016

Update no.750

Update from the Heartland
25.4.16 – 1.5.16
To all,

            Jeanne and I went to see the new “Jungle Book” movie in 3D in our local IMAX theater – the 2016 Disney animated version of Rudyard Kipling’s classic story, just released.  Jeanne did not feel it was appropriate for young children, as it portrays nature in a realistic manner . . . well, beyond the talking animals, of course.  As with Kipling’s original story, I think it is a perfect model to discuss life, but hey, that’s just me.  The Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) is nothing short of incredible, amazing, awesome and absolutely extraordinary.  I enthusiastically recommend this movie for the CGI alone.  Add in the beautiful story, this is a must-see movie.  Even if you do not enjoy animated cinema offerings, I would still recommend you see this movie; it is that good!

            Well, this week, we heard the death knell for TrusTED, as he instantly transitioned from dismal to desperately pathetic, when he publicly announced his vice presidential running mate after he was mathematically eliminated from the Republican presidential nomination.  I appreciate humility and honor in losing a race well fought, but desperation is simply disgusting and definitely not admirable.  While TrusTED’s foolish gesture cannot gain him sufficient votes or delegates in the primary phase of this silly season, he is apparently attempting to pull away enough votes from the front-runner to deny him the nomination outright and force a floor-fight at the convention, where his ground game infrastructure and investment might pay off.  If they can deny the front-runner the threshold delegates to gain the nomination on the first ballot, then I suppose we must acknowledge he still has a shot, no matter how long the odds may be.
            I am not sure which action is more pathetic, TrusTED’s desperate move or Carly Fiorina’s consent to be a part of this desperate stunt.  That aside, you gotta hand it to TrusTED; he is not giving up and he is willing to try anything . . . no matter how desperate and pathetic it appears.

            Candidates in the two major political parties seem to think, or at least offer up the impression, the votes they have received in the primary phase of this silly season actually mean something beyond their party’s nomination process.  How could they possibly know who is going to vote for them in the general election?  Far too many states have open primaries and caucuses, which means anyone could go vote for whomever they wish, and further I suspect in some instances an individual might actually vote multiple times.  There is nothing to stop individuals, or even groups of individuals, from voting in the other party’s primary to cast their vote for the opposition candidate they think will be the easiest to beat in the fall, e.g., a Democratic Party member, affiliate or sympathizer, might go to vote in the Republican primary for the GOP front-runner because s/he felt he would be the easiest to beat.  The notion that they primary vote mean anything beyond the respective party’s nominee selection process is simply smoke and mirrors – it’s fake.  Once the party conventions are completed in July, and we have clearly defined nominees for all political party’s, I hope and trust we can get down to the final and only phase that matters – the actual election.

            I tend to be an optimist on most things in life.  I trust folks until I am given a reason not to trust them.  I like to see the bright side of situations and occasionally overlook the dark underbelly.  So, with that preface, I must confess my suspicions, misgivings and worries with respect to the broader immigration / border control situation, especially in Europe (due primarily to proximity), but also in this Grand Republic.  I do not like nor appreciate the coarse, divisive, antagonistic, and otherwise counter-productive and inflammatory rhetoric of the GOP front-runner; however, I must give him credit in the larger sense for bringing the immigration issue to the fore in political debate.  Border and immigration control is, always has been, and always will be a national security issue to the highest order.  The dark side of my knowledge and understanding sees this refugee, illegal immigrant, border-control complacency issue in rather sinister terms.  Since the days of El Cid (1079) and the Battle of Vienna (1683), Europe had been under siege from Islamo-fascist forces seeking to dominate and subjugate the region.  What they could not accomplish by force of arms, they may well accomplish from within.  We bear witness to the slow, perhaps not so methodical, corrosive compromise of European culture and society.  Political-correctness and inherent tolerance have fostered a mood of compassion for those in distress.  Add into the admixture the obverse cultural propensity for polygamy and unbounded procreation, we see regions over-populated beyond the ability of “their” land to support those people, and as a consequence, mounting pressure for the West to save those suffering people, as well as a flood of migrants “seeking a better life” in Europe.  The magnanimity of European states from the post-apocalyptic refugee crisis after World War II led to the absorption of many non-Europeans, including Muslims from numerous countries, e.g., Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, and Pakistan, that have either failed or refused to assimilate into their adopted countries and now demand recognition of their native culture, e.g., Sharia Law, female modesty, subjugation and oppression, honor killings to feed their male sense of machismo, et cetera ad infinitum ad nauseum.  This Grand Republic appears to be on the verge of suffering a similar fate as Europe now endures.  Thus, my acknowledgment of the GOP front-runners rather arcane but appropriate advocacy of stringent border controls.  I do NOT agree with or condone his way of saying it, but the objective remains the same.  All nations, including the United States of America, should only allow people into this country who wish to visit our beautiful country and leave when their time is up, and those who wish to fully assimilate, i.e., to become Americans in full measure.  Short of those two, permanent options, I could support a temporary guest worker program and other temporary solutions, only if we have a comprehensive immigration enforcement system down to the local level to periodically check up on and enforce visa limitations, with an added proviso of mandatory, permanent exclusion for those who violate their visa limitations.  The status quo is simply not stable or sustainable, and we bear witness to what the future holds if the political intransigence of the political parties keeps us in the status quo.

            News from the economic front:
-- The U.S. Federal Reserve left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at its present range between 0.25% and 0.50% against mixed, domestic, economic indicators, lingering concerns about low inflation, and the continuing softness in global economic and financial conditions.
-- The U.S. Commerce Department reported the nation’s 1Q2016 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) advanced at a seasonally adjusted 0.5% annualized rate – the worst performance in two years.  Consumers and businesses pulled back, underscoring the uneven growth that has been a hallmark of the so-called recovery from the Great Recession.  The economy expanded 1.4% in 4Q2015 and 2.0% in 3Q2015.
-- EuroStat reported the Eurozone’s GDP rose 0.6% in 1Q2016 – 1.6% higher than a year earlier.  The growth rate increased from the 0.3% rate of growth recorded in 4Q2015, and was equivalent to a 2.2% annualized rate.   The data reflect the Eurozone’s economic resiliency and stands in contrast with the slowdown in the United States.

            Comments and contributions from Update no.749:
“Here we go again:
“You continue with your lambasting of the GOP front-runner, but offer no disparaging comments directed toward the despot that became our president and has sullied protocol numerous times to get his way or the DNC front-runner who seems to think she is above the law; has thought so for many years, and seems to have the protection of the Justice Department or the White House to keep her out of hot water.  In your words I am truly gobsmacked by those that have accepted their sense of royal prerogative while trying their best to same those who are trying to change things for the betterment of all accept the establishment.”
My reply:
            I do not disparage our president because I happen to agree with him more than I disagree with him.  The same is NOT true with respect to the GOP front-runner.  President Obama is NOT a despot.
            Yes, I have criticized the DNC front-runner for the exact same detractor – thinking the rules do not apply to her.  It is one of the greatest detractors in my opinion.
            I am all in favor of changing the rules by calm, contemplative, democratic change.  I am NOT in favor of anyone who chooses to ignore the rules, and then in the middle of the game, bludgeons everyone into bowing to his will, to his complacency, to his ignorance.  That particular trait is dangerous, especially in a potential commander-in-chief.

Comment to the Blog:
“I’ll keep this one fairly short. In discussing the GOP front-runner, you seem very upset that he does not like the rules set forth by the parties for their primaries. You seem to use “playing by the rules” as your standard for valid candidacy. You go on to defend those rules as the parties’ prerogative. However, when campaign finance comes up, you freely admit that the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United is wrong and must be changed. How do you believe the corruption works if not through the parties controlling the elections to suit the buyers? (‘Donors’ is not appropriate to the actions in question.) No change will occur under the current rules unless at least one party’s voters can choose an outsider despite those rules.
“The GOP front-runner is popular precisely because he operates outside his party’s apparatus. The same goes for Senator Sanders in the Democratic Party’s primaries. This primary season has little to do with other issues.”
My response to the Blog:
            Re: “How do you believe the corruption works if not through the parties controlling the elections to suit the buyers?  Your rhetorical question implies the political parties are the conduits for corruption.  I cannot agree.  The corruption comes via the quid pro quo of donations by name to a particular candidate, essentially under the table.  Further, no matter the intentions or expectations of the GOP front-runner, campaign-financing laws are changed by Congress, or to overrule Citizens United, by constitutional amendment.  All of that takes a lot more than one egocentric, narcissistic man to accomplish that.
            The choices are: change the rules within the party for the next election, campaign in accordance with the rules, or create your own party and make your own rules.  Bernie is critical of the process, namely campaign-financing laws, but he is operating within the rules of the DNC.  The whiner-in-chief believes the RNC rules do not apply to him.
 . . . Round two:
“I'm not sure how you get the notion that the candidates bear sole responsibility for the corruption, but there's a larger question. How to you propose to make change possible while allowing those currently in charge to control the election process? Is there no hope?”
 . . . my response to round two:
            Re: responsibility.  Interesting supposition actually.  Is corruption in the giver/asker or in the taker?  I suppose it is an appropriate philosophical question.  In my mind, yes, the sole responsibility rests with the taker, who actions the offer.
            Re: “How to you propose to make change possible while allowing those currently in charge to control the election process?  Change will not happen with those currently in power, and perhaps not with the system that is currently in place.  However, electing any ol’ swingin’ Richard could well be akin to jumping from the frying pan into the fire.  Further, the only way to override Citizens United is by constitutional amendment, which will be no easy trick.
            Re: “Is there no hope? There is always hope.
 . . . Round three:
“The issue with your first paragraph is that you're trying to limit responsibility to specific individuals. It doesn't matter which individuals we discuss if the opportunities for corruption are built into the process. Individuals come and go, and they will be corrupt people so long as that is the easiest or most effective way to get elected or to influence policy. Choosing to vote for party labels, race or gender, or campaign promises will affect nothing. We've tried that. The only path to change is by history. If a candidate does not take large contributions from interested parties and has not done so in the past, he or she at least knows another way to finance campaigns. If we elect people like that, together they have a chance to change Washington. No such constitutional amendment or honest Supreme Court will come from those who prosper under the current system.”
 . . . my response to round three:
            So, if I read between the lines, you are suggesting Bernie Sanders (or the GOP front-runner) is the only remaining candidate of any party who should get our vote . . . presuming he is not beholdin’ to any of his donors.  If so, then built into that assumption is the belief that the only issue for the next president is campaign finance reform.  Let us extend the assumption that Bernie is the only viable and acceptable remaining candidate, are we to sacrifice all other issues before the president?  I do not and cannot agree with his approach to other critical issues.  Further, I do not believe the majority of citizens will support his political position(s).
 . . . Round four:
“Sanders and ‘the GOP front runner’ fit what I said, but you said ‘any’ party. Let's include the Green, Libertarian, and other candidates if they meet the requirement. Pundits and others have discussed either Senator Sanders or the Donald running under a different banner if need be, and that could open the process enough to be really interesting, particularly in its effect on 2020.
“Possibly more important, some down-ballot candidates are taking this tack, the most important of which is Democrat National Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's primary challenger, Tim Canova. If he can knock off that pillar of the Establishment, the D's might just start paying attention. Other potential members of Congress could also vote their consciences if they are financed by voters rather than owners. Regardless of party, they would be a new factor in DC.”
 . . . my response to round four:
            Re: “any party.”  Yes, that is what I meant . . . including the Libertarian, Green and other parties.  Yes, I agree.  This rendition of the silly season could have far reaching impact on our political system and processes.  Bernie can’t get the nomination, now, but he’s vowed to stay in it to push the DNC farther left.  We shall see.  I wish the Press would at least let the “other voices” be heard.
            Re: down-ballot candidates.  Yes, you are quite correct on that score.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of the Press capacity has been saturated with the GOP fiasco and the shenanigans of the front-runner.  It will be interesting to see how this election plays out both in the White House and Congress, but perhaps more importantly in the state legislatures.
 . . . Round five:
“Don't take the traditional media too seriously. For some reason, they seem to be in the political ‘game’ mode along with establishment politics. If Hillary wins the Dem nomination, that certainly increases Republican odds in November. Hillary is so unpopular with independents and others that her low turnout will harm the entire Democrat ticket. However, her nomination is far from guaranteed. The situation today is not different enough from this point in 2008 to give me any assurance. Also, I'm still not at all convinced that the Donald takes his candidacy seriously. He has been a friend (or patron?) of the Clintons.  If current trends hold as far as nominations and then the Trump campaign ‘suddenly’ falls apart, that would almost hand Hillary the Presidency. Trump is far more comfortable as an owner than as a worker.”
 . . . my response to round five:
            Re: “Don't take the traditional media too seriously.  Oh, I don’t, or rather try not to do so – all things in balance, my friend.
            For better or worse, our political system is what it is.  I shall dutifully and diligently fulfill my obligations as a citizen of this Grand Republic, as I have always done, and try to make the most of my singular and humble vote.

            My very best wishes to all.  Take care of yourselves and each other.
Cap                        :-)