JUST ASKING

SIDE EFFECTS Is a small one-man shop.  We haven’t stringers or researchers or backup.   Which is why, although we hate like the Dickens to do this we need to plump ourselves up for hitting on something that now, weeks later, has become an emergency situation.

Yes, we know, this makes us positively Trumpian.

On August 6th we wrote and posted.

“We don’t want to flog a dead horse, but we’re haunted by Paul Krugman’s column two weeks ago.

“After the Donald so very graciously endorsed Ryan, McCain, and Ayotte, he HAD to take that one extra step into the kind of confusion Krugman was investigating.  ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Russians and us….?’   ‘Wouldn’t peace with the Russians be beautiful?’

“The appropriate answer to that would probably be, “Sure, if it’s something THEY wanted.”

“As it is, we’re haunted by Trump Junior’s admission of how important Russia and Russian oligarchical money has been over the years to Trump Enterprises.

“The question: is Donald still doing business with them while running for office? And is this permissible?

“More, is Donald’s business interfering with our electoral process?

“Put another way: is Donald’s personal business welfare now driving US foreign policy?

“Just asking.”

Bloomberg/Newsweek has just published a preliminary investigative report about all of the above, preliminary because without Trump‘s tax return (which we assume to be honest) we can’t know more than it allows us.  Suddenly every MSNBC, FOX, Bloomberg outlet is hot on the trail.   We like to think we blazed it.

A sidebar for the week, and a worrying one.

Recent polls are showing that African-Americans are turning away entirely from the voting process, not only from Mrs. Clinton but from all candidates.

After this summer they have our entire sympathy.  And yet, and yet….

Looking at the choice before them, African-Americans understand without even turning it over in their minds that nothing good is going to come from this election for them.

  • We have on one side a racist. small-minded, loud braying candidate signaling to his cohorts that blacks are to be treated as unequal, as they were in the “good old days.”
  • On the other side, a candidate who moves at a snail’s pace, hesitant to switch courses or make a resoundingly positive move towards final equality.

Which is to say, no change, no gain.  Nothing but more prejudice and death and ill-treatment.  Nothing in effect seems to have changed since the Civil War.

Totally understandable.  And yet, and yet….

Without grabbing tightly onto whatever tools we have left in our arsenal to bring racial harmony to the nation, change cannot be imagined, let alone begun.

African-Americans cannot afford to ignore the election before us.  It is, finally, their only hope.

And ours.

HILLARY DOES NOT UNDERSTAND

The entire media is screaming at her to be more personable, pleasant, down-to-earth.  To dredge her memory for amusing, moving, key recollections to share with voters who need and want a humanity at the top of the power structure.

We think it’s not that she can’t understand, it’s that she won’t.   And that this dooms her bid for the Big Office.

Yesterday, on her return to the campaign, the press was given a brief chance to question her.  The scene was unclear… i.e., we couldn’t tell whether this was before or after the speech she gave.

The first question, from Andrea Mitchell, was brief and to the point:  when did she share her pneumonia diagnosis with her v.p. nominee?

The answer would have been only moderately revelatory, but it would have shown concern for Tim, an ability to share with someone besides her own family, a thoughtful and progressive moment in her own life.

But no.

What in effect she replied was that she certainly wasn’t going to discuss in detail what she and Tim talked about, or for how long, or anything else in an immediately humanly recognizable form.  But yes, she had told him, she thought, perhaps on Sunday (forty-eight hours after her collapse at the World Trade Center.)

Being defensive is one thing.  Beings suspicious is also O.K., as far as we are concerned. She’s been badly mauled by the press over the years.  But being stupid is not.

She had the ear and sympathy of the world waiting at her feet.

She blew them both.

TICKET-SPLITTING: WHY?

There is no history we can find about who first decided to stop running straight down a column in order to vote for one’s party’s nominees.

Our own theory is that someone, a man no doubt since women probably hadn’t yet achieved voting privileges, decided that in order to keep a president from riding roughshod over democracy, realized that there really were three branches of government, and if he could do anything to keep one from being stronger than the others, he’d do it.

This idea gained wings.  By the mid-Thirties, people voted not only for a candidate, but to circumscribe his power.   Rather than be presented with a one party machine that had control over daily lives, it was deemed healthier to split one’s vote so that no House or Senate, in alliance with a new president, could lord its good fortune over the rest of us.

In time, politicians and pollsters came to rely on this instinctive protection.   Thus, pairing a Republican president with a Democratic Senate or House reduced the likelihood of tyranny.  Opposite a Democratic president, people felt more secure by checking his powers and electing a Republican Congress.  It was a balancing act that worked for a long while until Republicans and Democrats (fairly recently) decided they hated each other anyway and why pretend?  (For many years there were issues on which both parties could and did unite.  Miraculously.)

To see how effectively this checks and balances system worked, we have only to look at the last 8 years.  When Barack Obama was elected, instincts drove the electorate to ask him to serve alongside a Republican Congress.   In these last 6 years, the government experienced (as did we all) gridlock.   If Donald Trump is elected this autumn, and IF by chance the Republican should hold onto the House and Senate, the nation is in peril.   If Hillary wins, and somehow changes by her victory majorities in the House and Senate, we are in effect no better off.

Continue reading “TICKET-SPLITTING: WHY?”

A Failed Experiment

To the unbiased viewer (of course, that’s us), NBC’s “Commander-in-Chief” face-off last night did not work.

Mrs. Clinton, facing Matt Lauer first, didn’t know when to shut down.  Her answers (which we have heard so many times before) ran on and on and Lauer had to interrupt to move the program forward. Hillary was not at her best (see last October’s Democratic “first” debate when she was).  Her material and approach to problems are both well-known by now.   Which does say something for her consistency.

We can understand the complaints about Hillary not being a real person, insofar as she is so well-rehearsed and so often treats her listeners to what she’s rolled them with before.  Frankly, we think she’s so terrified of making a mistake of any kind that she has a tendency to explain every comma and question mark until no misunderstandings exist.  It’s an academic’s approach, not one belonging to a candidate for elective office who must, if he/she is to succeed, instead energize her audiences with insight and humor, and purpose,  as well as facts.

In a way, Hillary is well past her “sell by” date.   She’s been in the field and done the scene for thirty years.  There’s not much she can tell us she hasn’t before, and she’s loathe to change what she obviously considers a winning approach.  If Donald knows too little, Hillary knows too much.

Continue reading “A Failed Experiment”

AS WE LEAD THE THIRD WORLD

Finally, this very a.m. on “Mornin’ Joe,” we heard what has been in the back of our minds for months.

John McCain’s former campaign manager explained, simply and directly, that with Mr.Trump’s denigration of nearly every American institution, including our electoral system (“It’s all rigged!”) that there was only one dependable, trustworthy, respected source of authority left in the nation, the US armed forces.

The stench of corruption hangs over Washington, and both political parties.   Voters who have incomes below $100,000 feel aggrieved and down-trodden, disappointed and ANGRY.   There are no “good” men or women for whom to vote.  We are voting this year against, not for.  The election polls (spurious, no doubt, but there we are) tell us the contest is too close to call.   And we know from our own conversations with Trumpistas that nothing Trump says is to be doubted, or even considered believable, anymore.  What he says doesn’t matter because the system, the election, the country is rigged.  If he loses, he declaims, it will only be because the other side has cheated.

By undermining America’s claim to democracy, Trump is destroying it.   And in the process, naturally, he destroys whatever faith voters of all colors have had in the values of this nation.   The very reason we have, and have had for more than two hundred years, immigration problems – that life does seem better on this side of the fence – is gradually being erased as Trump trumpets crime, disease, violence, poverty, hopelessness – except for his Wonderfulness.

Imagine how much worse things would be without Donald.

Continue reading “AS WE LEAD THE THIRD WORLD”

KRUGMAN CRACKS!

Not exactly true, but in the summer of 2016 as close to a breakdown as we’re going to get.

The New York Times’ Nobel-winning economist has not been shy about his preferences in the coming elections.   He admits that Mrs. Clinton has hurt herself almost daily, just as Donald Trump has. But beneath the offering of one’s heart to a villain, Mrs. Clinton has a record of accomplishment, of wanting to do the right things that Trump cannot challenge.  In fact, Mr. Trump has a record of accomplishment that reeks.

No smoking gun has been found, no pay-for-play covered – yet – in Mrs. Clinton’s term as Secretary of State nor afterwards, as a partner in the Clinton Foundation.  As he suggests in the pages of Times, “So I would urge journalists to ask whether they are reporting facts or simply engaging in innuendo, and urge the public to read with a critical eye.  If reports about a candidate talk about how something ‘raises questions,’ creates ‘shadows,’ or anything similar, be aware that these are all too often weasel words used to create the impression of wrong-doing out of thin air.”

Mr. Krugman is finally worried.   For twelve months he’s been denigrating Mr. Trump (rightfully, we think) in terms of his platform (nonexistent), his putative tax plans (more trickledown), his lack of interest in, and lack of talent for, learning anything about the country he seeks to lead.   “Mr. Trump’s record of bilking students, stiffing contractors and more is a good indicator of how he’d act as president.”

“In other words, focus on the facts.  America and the world can’t afford another election tipped by innuendo.”

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TRUMP ON EVEREST

Only halfway buried in yesterday’s New York Times were a few paragraphs about an Indian couple who claimed to have become the first mountaineers from that country to conquer Mt. Everest in Nepal.

The pair, a husband and wife team of police officers, even had photographs of themselves summiting, and views from the top of the world.

This was big news in India, long overlooked as a part of the Himalayan story.

Alas, the photos were doctored.  The two had never been within striking distance of the mountain’s peak.

Why this made us think of Donald Trump we cannot say.  Except perhaps that any story today that revolves around hoaxes, falsehoods, dreams that are too big to be realized, well, does.

Unlike Mr. Trump, however, the Indians who sought twenty minutes of fame and fortune had the good grace to step down and go underground.  Their names (long and difficult to pronounce) will not be inscribed on any plaque, nor flags celebrating their “achievement” flown.

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