An Unpalatable Choice

7 May

This is the fourth in my series on the US Presidential Election.

Barring a fluke – Hilary Clinton getting indicted, Donald Trump being assassinated – America will go to the polls in 2016, faced with an unpalatable choice between a woman who is surrounded by scandal and a man who is very definitely a demagogue. Correctly predicting a Trump nomination – I don’t see how he can lose it now – gives me little pleasure, nor does watching the humiliation engulfing the RNC or the very different humiliation looming threateningly over the DNC.

I’ll say this now, right from the start. I blame the elites.

Donald Trump is not the cause of the problems besetting the Republican Party. He is a symptom, an antibody thrown up by the widening gulf between the RNC and the Republican Base. The RNC has consistently failed to defend the principles of conservatism, let alone take a stand against the endless series of disasters fostered on America by President Obama; indeed, it has taken a side against its own base. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the voters have rejected the establishment candidates and chosen a man who is very definitely not part of the system. The GOP’s failure lies in its refusal to recognise the growing anger and frustration faced by its voters and respond to it. Trump is precisely what they deserve.

Hilary Clinton, by contrast, is a major cause of the problems facing the DNC. The idea that a candidate can still run for President when she is beset with as many scandals as Hilary – ranging from the Clinton Foundation’s foreign donors to a FBI-led investigation into her email server – is absurd. Anyone lesser would have been in jail long ago, a point made time and again by her enemies. The DNC was dangerously unwise to allow Hilary to run with no competent opposition – Bernie is almost certainly unelectable – and its failure to provide an acceptable candidate is going to cost it badly.

But I will discuss these issues later. First, a look at the candidates.

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The problem facing Hilary Clinton is that she is both unlikable and untrustworthy. She has proven herself willing to shift her stance on everything from Wall Street to the Iraq War, constantly angling to maintain her electability. This may make political sense, but it creates the very strong impression of a woman who has no values at all. Where Bush stood his ground in Iraq, Hilary flip-flopped. She is surrounded by people of dubious repute, including at least one person with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Her reluctance to release the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches suggests, very strongly, that there is something in those speeches that will end her campaign overnight. And yet, not releasing them only enhances the aroma of scandal surrounding her.

By any reasonable standard, Hilary Clinton is unsuited to be President.

She has been part of the establishment well before she married Bill Clinton. Her supporters claim that this has given her a great deal of experience, but it cannot be denied that she has failed to learn from mistakes, both her own and others. She was, among other things, the prime mover pushing for intervention in Libya, yet it did not occur to her that the result of overthrowing the government would be chaos. When Bush invaded Iraq, he had an army on the ground – Clinton did not. The problems plaguing Libya and the Middle East now owe a great deal to Hilary Clinton.

This is not her only foreign policy disaster. Referring to the Falklands as a ‘colonial’ issue alienated the British Government and gave strength to Argentina factions who want to invade the islands, completely ignoring the will of the islanders themselves. It might have sounded good in America (did it?) but it caused no end of problems outside the United States.

Furthermore, what we know about her conduct in Benghazi is enough, on its own, to reject her for any position of power. I did not believe – and I was not alone in this – that the attack was a spontaneous response to a movie that hardly anyone had heard of. We now know that Hilary preferred to lie, to blame the attack on a movie rather than admit that the administration’s plans for Libya had gone off the rails. Hilary was prepared to create a ‘grievance’ narrative rather than remember that we are at war and our enemies see no reason to uphold the conventions of warfare.

But let us assume, for the sake of argument, that Hilary was actually telling the truth (or believed she was.) A more disturbing picture arises. Hilary was prepared to surrender the right of free speech – the right of free expression – to a bunch of terrorists. Muslims do not have the right to riot and kill ambassadors – or anyone – merely because they feel that their religion is being insulted. To concede that this is not the case, for whatever reason, is merely doing the bad guy’s work for them. Her conduct – both during the attack and afterwards – suggests a mentality that refuses to either accept blame or learn from experience.

The Clinton Foundation represents another major liability for Hilary. It is hard to be certain that the Foundation is really nothing more than a giant money-laundering operation, but there are good reasons for believing that that is indeed the case. Just who was giving the money to the Clintons, back when Hilary was Secretary of State, and what did they expect in return? I rather doubt that anyone was prepared to shell out millions of dollars just to hear Bill Clinton speak. There was a quid pro quo involved.

And, finally, we have the email server issue.

Hilary’s conduct in setting up a server to store emails – and classified documents – during her period as Secretary of State is utterly impossible to justify. People have been fired and jailed for breaking regulations on a far smaller scale. There is, quite simply, no way Hilary did not know that what she was doing was criminal. Given that the server was supposed to have been wiped, it is impossible to be certain just how many such documents might have been on the server, or who might have had access to them. Indeed, charges of high treason – that server was probably not secure – are not impossible.

The server itself, as has been noted online, is the smoking gun. Bernie Saunders might have been right when he asserted that the country was sick of hearing about Hilary’s emails, but I suspect that people were sick that she hadn’t been removed from the campaign and jailed. The server alone is proof of criminal activity – and a disregard for rules and regulations more suited to an absolute monarch than a presidential candidate. Hilary’s constant attempts to dismiss the entire issue are merely prolonging the agony.

Quite apart from those scandals, Hilary is simply out of touch with the average American. To assert that the Clintons were broke when they left the White House is thoroughly absurd. It was either a bald-faced lie or proof of gross financial incompetence. She has been part of the establishment for so long that she doesn’t know what it is like to have to struggle to put food on the table, or cope with a groaning government bureaucracy run by people who could pass for Dolores Umbridge.

Furthermore, there are far too many other unanswered questions. Her health is a matter of some concern – Hilary is 68 years old, while Obama entered the Oval Office at 46, George Bush at 55 and Bill Clinton at 47. (Donald Trump is 69, but I don’t believe similar questions have been raised.) There are plenty of suggestions online that her health simply isn’t up to the stress of the job, regardless of her other qualities. Being President puts a colossal strain on the incumbent. Obama, Bush and Clinton have all aged decades over their terms in office.

A secondary problem is that Hilary is the wife of a former President. Quite apart from the problems of tacitly accepting a political dynasty – Jeb Bush lost quickly, at least in part, because he was the third Bush to run for office – Bill Clinton will cast a long shadow over her campaign. He may do something that will undermine his wife – there are suggestions he did precisely that during the 2007-8 period. And even if she wins, quite a few of America’s enemies – and so-called allies like Saudi Arabia – will assume she’s nothing more than a mouthpiece for her husband. The misogyny that pervades Saudi Arabia will make it hard for them to believe that she is actually President in her own right – and that doesn’t even take into account the simple fact that such cultures look down on women.

This leads to another point. To argue that Hilary will be good for women is to ignore the simple fact that she not only stood by her husband when he was accused of having an affair with an intern (and lying under oath, which was the rather more serious issue behind it), but effectively served as her husband’s enforcer in trying to keep his other lady-friends out of the public eye.

And as for the suggestion that this is somehow her ‘turn,’ I can only roll my eyes. The President of America is the single most powerful person in the world. It is not a post that can be or should be handled out according to some arcane notion of ‘fairness.’

The possible outcomes for Hilary Clinton are not good.

· She may be indicted prior to the formal nomination or the election (or the Justice Department will refuse to bring charges, leading to resignations, leaks and a massive scandal). If that happens, I don’t see how she can continue to run for President. And if she did, Trump would make mincemeat out of her.

· Alternatively, Obama may pardon her for any or all of her actions. If so, Trump will brand it a colossal case of political corruption – and he will be right.

· She may win the election, if the investigation can be stalled indefinitely, only to find herself facing savage threats and attempted impeachments from the Republican-dominated Congress.

· She may win the election, only to find that she is a lame duck. Her credibility, already shot to hell, would take a nosedive. Putin (and other enemies) will have plenty of leverage to bring to bear on her, including threatening to accuse her of taking Russian money. (She may well have done, but even if she didn’t … who’s going to believe her?)

· Or she may lose, in which case her enemies will start trying to bring her down as she takes the blame for the defeat.

In short, I’m thrilled that a woman can run for President. But does it really have to be her?

And it says a great deal about Hilary that Donald Trump seems the stronger candidate.

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It is difficult to form any sort of coherent and accurate impression of Donald Trump.

I blame this squarely on the media. The media loathes Trump, which has ensured that vast numbers of increasingly-alarmist pieces have been written, attacking Trump and trying desperately to discredit him. Every little gaffe he has made has been converted into a towering mistake that dooms his campaign, only to have the media recoil in horror as Trump keeps going. Indeed, this has long-since passed the point of rationality. Trump’s intention of appointing people who actually knew what they were doing was roundly mocked, even though it was quite a sensible suggestion. The smartest man in the world could not hope to keep abreast of everything facing the US Government.

The words ‘racist,’ ‘sexist, ‘bigot’ and ‘fascist’ have long since lost their meaning, simply because far too many others – who are very clearly nothing of the sort – have had those charges hurled at them. It is very difficult to argue convincingly that Trump is a fascist when the word has been used so often that people are simply tuning it out. The media has cried wolf so many times that, like the villagers in the story, the population is no longer listening. If Trump is a monster, his rise owes a great deal to the media paving the way.

Before we go on, therefore, it is necessary to acknowledge that Trump has done the United States two vast favours.

First, he has soundly discredited the media’s claim to be arbiter of a political campaign, the ultimate judges of who is and who isn’t worthy to sit in the Oval Office. As I noted before, the media watched Republican candidates for ‘gaffes’ and then built a mountain out of a molehill, forcing candidates to either grovel before the cameras (and thus discredit themselves in the eyes of their voters) or withdraw from the campaign (thus depriving the GOP of candidates who might actually have appealed to their base.

Second, he has called attention to a great many elephants in the room. The constant problems – ranging from job losses to increased crime rates – caused by illegal immigration can no longer be ignored. Nor can the government’s reluctance to do anything about it, even though ‘illegal immigration’ is a crime by definition. Candidates who tip-toe around the issue of Black Lives Matter (with the obvious collery that white lives don’t matter) and Islamic Extremism have watched in horror as Trump pointed the finger squarely at the elephant, the problems that politicians prefer to pretend don’t exist.

And it has paid off for him. Trump’s constant rise in the polls is a reflection of just how much those matter to ordinary voters – and just how ignorant the other candidates are of ordinary voters. It is dangerously unwise to dismiss a man who has engineered a successful insurgency against a strongly-entrenched elite. Trump is many things, some good and others bad, but he is very far from stupid.

Trump does have his good points. He has considerable experience of business (he has had successes and he has had failures) and he is used to high-level discussions. He is smart enough to know when to delegate, when to hire someone more experienced to handle specific matters; he’s tough enough to keep going, rather than backing down and surrendering at the slightest hurdle. His tough persona will be a very definite advantage when dealing with foreign affairs – President Obama is seen as a feckless weakling and Hilary will be seen as more of the same – allowing him to negotiate from a strong position. And his blunt refusal to be politically correct will make it easier for him to identify problems and tackle them.

And, it should be conceded, he doesn’t have anything like the baggage that Hilary Clinton will bring to the White House.

It is hard to get a sense of just how capable he is, thanks to the media. Did Trump mess up in Colorado or did he deliberately allow Cruz to win an unopposed contest (calculating that he couldn’t win) so he could claim, with some justification, that the rules were rigged against him? A dangerous mistake or a brilliant political coup? Is his blustering style the mark of a bully, a braggart … or merely a strong negotiator making it clear that he will not be a pushover? (I’ve known hagglers who often deliberately overacted before allowing themselves to be talked down.) We simply don’t know.

Trump’s weaknesses, however, are legion. He is blunt, in-your-face; he’s a bad winner, let alone a sore loser. His experience of working with the elites is considerable, but he has never been a governor or even a senator. He can be incredibly crude and, while his refusal to allow his gaffes to define him is admirable, it is often off-putting. At base, Trump is capable of being inspiring, of speaking to the crowds in a way Hilary cannot match, but is there any substance under the style?

It is easy, absurdly easy, to carp and criticize when one is not charged with actually Doing Something about the problem. Anyone in opposition can gleefully harp on and on about the President’s mistakes, unaware – or uncaring – of the limitations facing the President. Trump is quite right to point to many problems in modern-day America, but can President Trump actually handle them? Trump – a businessman – has better reason than Obama or Hilary to know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, yet is he willing to do the hard work to create long-lasting solutions? Or, like Obama, will he opt for the ‘quick fix’ in the certain knowledge that future generations will have to pick up the bill?

His enemies have charged that he is a ‘racist,’ ‘sexist, ‘bigot’ and ‘fascist.’ Such charges have been ignored by his supporters, for the very simple reason that they too have endured such attacks. They know, at a very basic level, that such charges depend on the actual situation. ‘Bigotry’ requires irrationality. To hate the French on the grounds they eat frogs and snails is irrational (and stupid), to dislike and distrust immigrants because the crime rate goes upwards sharply after their arrival is rational.

The fundamental question, now that Trump has effectively secured the nomination, is … what now? Trump will have to grapple with issues of policy, rather than merely pontificating – there comes a time when mere demagogy is not enough. Trump will have to switch from crushing his rivals in the GOP to proving that he can best Clinton as a President. He will need to take his very vague – and sometimes contradictory – policy ideas and turn them into something reasonably concrete.

The best outcome is that Trump matures into a Reagan-like politician, selecting capable people for his cabinet (his choice for VP should make a good indicator of how he intends to proceed) and proves that he can work with Congress to address the concerns of his voters. It will not be easy, but it should be doable. If he will, of course, is a different question.

The worst outcome is that Trump will be blocked at every move – or threatened with impeachment more or less immediately. If that happens, Trump will probably follow Obama’s path and start issuing executive orders of questionable legality, turning the federal government against his critics. Trump would not need to be a Hitler-style dictator, in this position, to create a nightmare. Bear in mind that a sizable percentage of the country supports him – what will they do, one might ask, if Trump is effectively knifed in the back by the GOP before he can do anything? Obama has created very dangerous precedents for the future of the United States.

Or it could be something in between.

I don’t think I like Donald Trump very much. Bluster is one thing – and Trump is good at bluster – but actually governing is quite another. I will watch the next few months with interest.

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The elites – the RNC and the DNC – have no one to blame for the current mess but themselves (and the media).

It was a dangerous mistake for the GOP to work so effectively against the Tea Party – but really, it was merely the culmination of a series of disastrous domestic policy errors. The GOP has allowed itself to be cowed by the liberal media and, to a very large extent, unduly influenced by radical factions. Opposition to gay marriage, for example, was largely pointless. If I may use a playground analogy, the GOP wanted to join the ‘cool kids,’ which meant turning away from its roots. The failure to provide an effective basis for conservative thought – and the willingness to betray the Tea Party – alienated large numbers of republicans.

Worse, because the GOP was so completely immersed in the political elite, it lost touch with its voters. Party members elected GOP majorities into office – and then discovered that the GOP was unable or unwilling to push back against the liberal elite. Jeb Bush didn’t have a hope of winning because he didn’t speak to voters. The backing of the GOP elite was nowhere near enough to push his campaign into high gear. Their voters wanted a candidate who was not part of the establishment (or, at least, successful at convincing people that he wasn’t part of the establishment.) Jeb Bush is just as much an establishment figure as Hilary Clinton.

The GOP now has nowhere to turn. If the RNC supports Trump, he is unlikely to be grateful; indeed, he may see it as his due. Why should he be grateful when the GOP elite has worked hard to sabotage his campaign? In the meantime, the RNC will be tainted with Trump’s brand – the Democrats will accuse them of being Trump supporters. But if the RNC doesn’t support Trump – perhaps by running a third-party candidate – Trump will cry foul (and he will have a point.) Should Trump lose, under such circumstances, the elites will be blamed – and probably correctly. The GOP elite is screwed. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

On the face of it, the DNC appears to have done a better job. The establishment candidate – Hilary Clinton – has probably secured the nomination. But the DNC has good reason to fear for the future. If Hilary is indicted, the DNC will have to scramble to find a replacement at such short notice; even if she isn’t, she simply isn’t a very likeable candidate.

Worse, perhaps, there is no guarantee that Bernie Sanders voters will switch to Hilary, assuming that Sanders doesn’t attempt a third party run. (If he does, he will split the Democrat vote and probably hand victory to Trump.) The perception that the nomination process was rigged in Hilary’s favour (and that the DNC was prepared to use all sorts of dirty tricks to push Sanders out of the contest) will encourage Sanders voters to either stay home or cast their vote for Trump. Why should they not? The idea that Hilary can just claim the nomination without having to fight for it, particularly with criminal charges hanging over her head, is outrageous. And if the DNC chooses to accept her, it would be hard to blame their voters for walking away.

This is, I suspect, an inevitable result of the two-party system. The only thing holding both parties together is the awareness that one party splitting, while the other remains intact, will ensure that the intact party is dominant for the foreseeable future. America might well be better off if there were four or five parties, instead of two, but it is hard to imagine such a system arising without serious consequences.

Furthermore, the elites live in isolated communities and echo chambers. How many of them actually meet ‘commoners’ outside carefully-controlled media events? How many of them are actually aware of just how many problems face those who don’t get to swim in a slush fund of money, passed around by corporations who are hoping to influence the candidates? Their ignorance of the real world blinds them. They cannot hope to grapple with the problems facing the country because they don’t know what those problems are!

In short, perhaps it is time for the elites to step down and allow new blood to enter the political mainstream. But I doubt the elites will go quietly.

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The mainstream media (MSM) adds another nasty wrinkle to the growing political crisis.

Put simple, the MSM long since lost sight of its job – to report the facts. The media chose, instead, to shrill for the candidates it liked and deliberately slant its work against the candidates it didn’t like. There was no comprehensive vetting of Barrack Obama’s suitability for office back in 2007-8, while Sarah Palin was hacked apart by the media. Sober, responsible journalism is dead – the media establishment killed it.

It is ironic that the MSM, choosing to slander the GOP by turning Trump into their poster boy for the republican side of the election, actually boosted his presence. But that is not surprising. The media is trusted so little, I suspect, that every hit piece they wrote on Trump only boosted his support. Trump looked like the plucky little underdog who stood up to the big bad media complex – and it worked. One may argue that Trump is nothing of the sort, but it hardly matters. In politics, perception is all that matters.

In choosing to lash out at any GOP candidate who made a gaffe, a tiny slip of the tongue, the media cleared the field of prospective GOP nominees who could have bridged the gulf between the RNC and its voters. In doing so, they ensured the rise of Donald Trump …

… And if Trump really is the monster they claim, they are not long for this world.

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And now we come to the final question, perhaps the most important one. Why are so many people committing themselves to Donald Trump? And, for that matter, Bernie Sanders?

In some ways, this is an easy question to answer. In others, it’s very hard. And, if you don’t mind, I’m going to address it in a somewhat roundabout fashion.

The term ‘quantum of solace’ brings to mind the James Bond movie. But the term actually comes from a short story by Ian Fleming, a story that barely features James Bond. The morale of the story, made explicit at the end, is that any relationship can last, can survive anything, as long as the partners still have mutual feelings for each other. But when that feeling, that ‘quantum of solace,’ is gone, the relationship is over. Indeed, the partners become horrendously cruel towards one another.

And the relationship between the American population at large and the political elite has eroded to the point where that ‘quantum of solace’ is gone.

The people who vote for Trump feel a multitude of emotions. They feel that they have been disenfranchised by a liberal elite. They feel that their (very reasonable) concerns are mocked and disparaged, when they are not ignored. They feel angry and frustrated at having to do battle with a federal bureaucracy that seems to take an unholy delight in tormenting them. They feel that the rules are different for different people – and that they are on the bottom rung. They feel as though they are struggling desperately to remain afloat, knowing that one disaster will be enough to destroy their lives. And they feel as though they are blamed for each and every evil in the world, as if they have to bear the burden of this ‘original sin’ for the rest of eternity.

Their problems take many forms. It is low-educated people recoiling in horror at unrestricted immigration … because the immigrants are competition for scarce jobs. It is people being told, by politicians who live in gated and guarded communities, that no one ever needs a gun for self-defence. It is rioters on the streets being allowed room to destroy. It is people discovering that their teenage children cannot read and write because the teacher is incompetent, but they cannot have the teacher fired because of some absurd federal rule. It is men having to pay for the upkeep of children they did not sire, or fathers being told they have to keep paying child support while no longer being allowed to see their children. It is collage students being indoctrinated into social justice rather than trained for a proper career. It is people dying because the EPA has poisoned the water, knowing that heads will never roll.

It is people losing their jobs because they say the wrong thing and someone decided to take offense, it is blacks being allowed to hurl racist crap at whites while whites are not allowed the same latitude, it is watching helplessly as jobs are shipped overseas and prices rise, because some ‘green’ governor has decided to invest in so-called renewable energy that is far more costly than nuclear or coal-fired plants. It is regulations that ruin small businesses while big corporations dump on the little guy or replace him with automaton. It is minimum wage hikes that cost jobs. It is ordinary people losing everything, despite doing everything right, because of the banking crisis. It is a thug and a thief being beatified, after their deaths, merely for being black. It is …

I could go on, but why bother?

The arrogance and consension of liberals is maddening. Telling a person who is holding down two part-time jobs (and struggling to keep afloat) that he should ‘check his privilege’ is insulting beyond words. What privilege? Trump voters – or the people who would become Trump voters – have been savaged. Their reasonable concerns about immigration, for example, have been twisted out of shape and used to brand them racists. And yet they know damn well they are not racists! Their concerns are reasonable and yet they are ignored.

For far too long, the elites have been sneering at the common voter. “You can’t win,” they say. “And if it looks like you will win, we will change the rules just to make sure you can’t win.”

Why should they not vote for Trump? He’s the only one listening to them.

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It is not an exaggeration to say that the United States is facing the most serious crisis since the civil war.

The root cause of the problem lies in the massive expansion of the federal government and, not coincidentally, the belief amongst liberals that government can be used to reshape the country to their liking. Unfortunately, the more one demands from the government – and the more power one offers the government – the less it can actually do for you. The people who make decisions, therefore, become disconnected from the rest of the population and wind up viewing them as labels or numbers, rather than individuals. This has spurred the rise in demands for ‘social justice’ because ‘social justice’ sees people as groups, rather than individuals. And that is fundamentally unjust.

And so it spurs resistance. Anger is rising. The much-condemned growth of white nationalism is a response to the belief (real or not) that white interests are being sacrificed to please other groups. The average American is sick and tired of being told that evil white men are responsible for all the evils of the world, or that thuggish behaviour is somehow acceptable if the perpetrator can claim to be responding to provocation or grievances that have nothing to do with his helpless victims. In closing down free discussion, in hammering anyone who dares to speak up, the liberals have unleashed a tidal wave of incoherent anger that may be terrifyingly destructive, when it breaks free. The kicked dog, kicked once too often, is now growling warningly. It will not be long before he bites.

Indeed, Hilary and Trump, as I noted above, are symptoms of political decline. On one hand, we have the ultimate establishment insider, a former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State who hobnobs with Wall Street bankers and takes money from all and sundry, a woman who would be in jail if she was one of the little people. Her candidacy is a joke in very poor taste. On the other hand, we have a demagogue who promises much and may not be able to deliver. His candidacy is a joke in very poor taste.

And if either the RNC or the DNC had actually realised there was a problem before it was too late, the country might not have come to such a pass.

I wish I was sanguine about the future, but I’m not.

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44 Responses to “An Unpalatable Choice”

  1. billygotegruff May 7, 2016 at 8:27 pm #

    It might have sounded good in America (did it?) Hell No!

    • Bret Wallach May 7, 2016 at 10:44 pm #

      I’d be surprised if all that many americans have any recollection of what hillary said about the falklands.

      • shrekgrinch May 8, 2016 at 5:16 am #

        We don’t. This is the first I’ve heard of it and I pay attention to foreign affairs more than my fellow Americans.

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard May 7, 2016 at 8:30 pm #

    There has always been a human desire for the “Man On The White Horse” that will save the Nation/People.

    Trump’s popularity IMO is because he’s tapped into that desire.

    On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has less successfully done the same.

    Of course, IMO a good deal of Obama’s early support was because Obama did the same thing.

  3. Dustin May 7, 2016 at 8:57 pm #

    This is really a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation in my opinion. No matter what I can’t vote for Hillary. I believe her to be truly evil. Trump is a pompous ass hole. He’s also done some pretty amoral things in his life, but I don’t think I can actually consider him evil. Simply because I think Hillary is so evil I’ll have to vote for Trump.
    If somehow Bernie Sanders magically won the bid to represent the Democratic party I think I’d vote for him even though I hate pretty much everything about his beliefs. I still think he’s relatively honest and at least stands by what he believes in. He also probably wouldn’t be able to do much with the Republicans controlling the House and Senate.

    • conservativlib May 9, 2016 at 8:46 pm #

      A corrupt politician like Hillary is less of an evil than a true believer like Sanders. And Trump is a lesser evil than either Hillary or Sanders.

      • shrekgrinch May 11, 2016 at 1:18 am #

        Sanders wouldn’t get a thing done. The Dems would join forces with the Reps to thwart just about everything except maybe the budget….and even then they’d probably just override his vetoes anyway.

        So, he’s harmless, really. Not the person I’d want to have as CiC in a crisis, tho.

  4. Randy E. May 7, 2016 at 9:57 pm #

    Palatable or unpalatable. Your analysis is spot on. Pretty good for someone viewing our circus from afar. One more thing. Hillary’s supporters not only know her drawbacks, they just don’t care. Her supporters will vote for her regardless. Some because they are Party Faithful and the ends justify the means. Some because they want to keep the gravy train going. Some simply because she is female. Either way, the Dems start with a built in electoral margin. It will be difficult for Trump to cobble together a coalition to beat her advantage. Throw in the media bias and I feel that we will be looking at President Hillary Clinton in Jan 17.

    As to Trump, I’m still not sure what he is. I also believe he has shifting values, if he has any at all. However, he has uttered two words which have electrified his base: “America First”. For too long we have voted for politicians who did not put America First. We have voted for people who sold us out for money, power, prestige in the world. They have gotten us into uneeded wars, drained and looted our treasury and future. Gotten us into unpayable debt. We conservatives are simply tired of it. Either way, we are in for rocky times.

  5. Bret Wallach May 7, 2016 at 11:19 pm #

    “It is not an exaggeration to say that the United States is facing the most serious crisis since the civil war.”

    Ah, well, perhaps you forgot that little Peal Harbor surprise attack thingy and following massive war with about 400,000 americans killed? That also led to the internment of more than 100,000 persons of japanese descent, of which more than half were citizens? And that on the back of a massive economic depression?

    I think it is maybe an exaggeration.

    Especially, since now, no matter how bad things get, we get to read the books you’ve written, and that makes it all worthwhile.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard May 7, 2016 at 11:24 pm #

      Nit, IMO Chris was talking about “internal crisis” and I’m afraid that he may be correct.

      Of course, it’s annoying how much Chris, a Brit, understands about the US that many American Liberals don’t understand. 👿

    • shrekgrinch May 8, 2016 at 5:19 am #

      Perspective:

      America has lost far, far more in the Civil War than in all the other wars combined it has fought before and since so far — including WWII. It would probably take a nuclear war, an invasion of the continental US or another Civil War to trump those original Civil War numbers.

      • misterjonez May 8, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

        Shrekgrinch is right; the US Civil War saw one in forty of its entire population die as a direct result of combat, with some estimates putting the number even higher.

        But clearly Chris meant to compare the current crisis to internal strife and chaos.

    • chrishanger May 8, 2016 at 5:54 pm #

      As unpleasant as Pearl Harbour was, i don’t believe it was a structural threat to the nation itself, not in the way the Civil War was. Even a Cuban Missile War wouldn’t have threatened the integrity of America. (Depending, i suppose, on just how many missiles the USSR managed to launch before it was too late.)

      Chris

  6. Tern May 8, 2016 at 12:18 am #

    One quibble with an otherwise interesting analysis: In the United States, “illegal immigration” isn’t a crime. It’s handled under administrative law as a civil matter. How do I know? I’m a Republican immigration lawyer in Texas.

    • Dustin May 8, 2016 at 3:45 am #

      While what you say is technically correct on the federal level, every single illegal immigrant has still committed a criminal offense. If you’re an immigration lawyer you’re surely familiar with illegal/improper entry and what that’s associated with. Also, some states have actually criminalized illegal immigration in and of itself.

  7. Walt Dunn May 8, 2016 at 2:35 am #

    Good summation and evaluation,Chris. Watching the RNC try to invent a 3rd party to siphon off some Trump votes. He might be a Demagogue, but apparently nobody owns him(yet?)

  8. Gaden May 8, 2016 at 3:21 am #

    As a non-American, I feel that Obama has done well for America compared to the other presidents since Mr Clinton. Other then that, I tend to agree with the article.

    • Dustin May 8, 2016 at 3:33 am #

      Obama has done well for America? You must live in bizzaro world to say that…

    • shrekgrinch May 8, 2016 at 5:20 am #

      As a non-American, you are clueless about what Obama. Sorry, but that’s true.

  9. Anarchymedes May 8, 2016 at 3:48 am #

    Not sure I like to quote Vladimir Lenin, but when the bastard is right, he’s right: a revolution is in the air when the elite cannot govern the old way, and the commoners don’t want to live the old way. And it’s not just the USA: it’s everywhere. And no, sorry to provoke anyone, but the resurgence of white nationalism, Christian fundamentalism, and the likes are not a solution. Instead, they look like a typical reaction of a Gen Y or Millenial kid who thought he/she was entering the friendly, loving world designed for his/her pleasure, got bitten by the reality, and then ran back to Mom & Dad, to his/her room upstairs, there to remain a child. The ‘back to the Middle Ages’ stuff is realy just the ‘back to the womb’ knee-jerk reaction (again: see how much like the Donald I’m becoming, on a super-conservative blog 🙂 ).
    There has to be a way out, eventually. Just like the Bronze Age palatial civilisation has collapsed (according to some hypothesis) because of its excessive and unsustainable complexity, to be replaced by something leaner and simpler, so, IMO, the Western attempt to build a Utopia where no one is dissed is going to collapse, and be replaced by something where people will have freedom to insult – and take their offender outside for a little Holmgang, rather than calling a lawyer. But, just as it was during the Ancient Greek Dark Age, it will probably get worse before it gets better. Hint: Trump is not a Robin Hood for the slanted littke guys; like any corporate boss, he’ll use them and discard them. And he’ll have Putin to deal with: a man with whom there is no dealing except on his terms. Making America great again, on Mr. Putin’s terms? How will that play out?

    • The Depoed King May 20, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

      Umm sorry don’t you mean back to the industrial revolution? Not middle ages. Cause I don’t know if you’ve actually looked at how things where back in the middle age but (shudder) the closest thing we have now a days would be like the laws in Iran against gays. You know the whole cutting off heads, forced genital removal etc. For the life of me no matter how hard I look I just can’t find middle ages proponents in the usa. I mean not outside of psych wards… maybe.

  10. Bruce Edwards May 8, 2016 at 4:35 am #

    As a one-time Goldwater Republican, I feel Trump is the only possible person to elect in November. While I would prefer a libertarian who honestly wanted to eliminate large parts of the federal government and return to a constioutional republic, that may take another civil war, that leaves Trump as a more palatable or the only option to undue our current socialist regime.

  11. shrekgrinch May 8, 2016 at 6:25 am #

    Ok, some things:

    First, Chris and the other Europeans tend to take the view point that foreign affairs policies are more important than Americans think that they are. And since those policies impact said rest of the world more than it does in America, that is a valid view point for such non-Americans to have.

    BUT not so for Americans. Like all voters everywhere, they have their own variation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs at the political level. And unless there’s a major war going on, foreign affairs always gets put into the middle layer above the ‘basic needs’ bottom layer. And this is pretty true right now given the government’s perceived failures to deliver the basic needs public goods. Obama’s incompetence is only part of that, for as Chris notes the RNC Elites screwing the pooch is another component.

    So believe me when I say that they don’t give a rat’s ass about the Falklands or whatever right now. Both sides of the ideological divide. Just because the media desperate to meet a story deadline on a slow news day might cover it doesn’t mean anything substantial, either.

    I only point this out because it seems to me that Chris and many of you other non-Americans need this clarified right now, based upon what you’ve written/commented on so far.

    Second, the vast bulk of Shrillary supporters are UNAWARE of the FBI investigation going on. Yes, that is the truth as difficult as it is hard to believe. And those who are, believe that there is really nothing to any of it or else the FBI would have nailed her a while ago. This is because most of them reinforce their Ideological Insularity (a.k.a. Liberal Bubble) by only watching news sources that deliberately do not report on this or distort it when they do.

    This is why I have to periodically check British news sources like The Telegraph to read up about this topic. That is because — believe this or not also — but not even Fox News covers it as much as you would think.

    They have legal hacks tell them that there is nothing to the charges because even if she did it, the government has to prove intent to do it. Of course, that is complete nonsense for anyone who has dived into the federal criminal code relevant to this. AND, because one of the emails released is her instructing an aide to remove classified markings on a classified document on her server — which clearly proves intent on her part anyway.

    In my opinion, those legal ‘experts’ should be disbarred from practice for selling such moonshine that they do. But they won’t. Because the ABA and state versions are all dominated by Democrat-loving lawyers.

    So, for those of you wondering why the DNC even lets a candidate run who is under active investigation by the FBI…the above is why. At least for now. But as Chris said…when the general election starts up, Trump will rip her to pieces with this. THAT is one good thing about him…a GOP Elite candidate like Bob Dole, John McCain or Mitt Romney would just do the bare minimum and incompetently to instead.

    Columnist H A Goodman has done an excellent job covering this on Huffington Post. So much so that he’s getting death threats from openly admitted Clinton supporters. I strongly suggest you read what he’s written on this if you want to know more:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/h-a-goodman/

    Disclosure: He openly admits and makes sure that his readers understand that he is an unapologetic Bernie supporter. But he is mostly because of how bad Shrillary is as a candidate in his view.

    Personally, I would be surprised that Obama would pardon her w/o a high price. Not much is reported outside the US about this but the Obamas and Clintons HATE each other. This started back in 2008 when the Clintons began the Birther Movement (yup, they started it…not the Tea Party as the media has spun it) in order to try to win the nomination then from him. And if the FBI recommends felony charges in their report, expect that to leak to the media even before AG Lynch gets her own copy, let alone reads it. The leaked report would force her hand to indict Shrillary or at least make it a lot more difficult to stall.

    So, if Obama does end up pardoning her expect that to be for some kind of deal where she drops out and gives her delegates won so far to someone of Obama’s choosing: Biden or even possibly Michelle Obama. Forget Bernie. He never had a chance and never will, no matter what. Apparently, rank-and-file Dem voters don’t mind their party elites dictating to them their choices as much as Republican ones do.

    Third, voters in the primaries don’t determine who the candidate is. The delegates do and according to rigged rules in both parties. The Dems set up their superdelegate fraud way back after the McGovern disaster to keep openly communist libs from getting the nomination. It worked splendidly to deny Jesse Jackson the nomination in 1984, for example. And it is working just spanky in keeping Bernie from getting it despite the fact that he’s won the majority vote in more state primaries than Shrill has. Americans are starting to wise up to this rigged nonsense as you all no doubt have witnessed yourself.

    Fourth, this isn’t being reported by anyone yet as far as I know, but hard core pro-Cruz conservatives basically run the GOP apparatus…especially at the local and county levels. These people man the phone banks, do the voter registration drives and drive voters to the polls, etc. The unsexy but necessary bread & butter stuff. One of them is a friend of mine (Colorado, too) who has been a precinct captain and delegate to the county and state assemblies, etc. And guess what? He and most others are not very happy to see their party hijacked by a non-conservative like Trump. Not happy at all. I have it on very good authority that most plan on ‘going on strike’ soon. And I doubt this is going to be limited to just Colorado. So, Trump — already weak in the people-on-the-ground department — will have to either replace hundreds of thousands of them nationwide with his own volunteers or hire a bunch of people or both. If he’s stupid enough to trust the ones who remain to only help the down ticket offices while not really helping him at all, he’s going to get burned like he did in Colorado when they chose their delegates. They just don’t hate Shrillary enough to bite their tongue and be good little suckers for Trump. Not after how they have been treated like total dirt by the GOP Elites and thus worked hard for years to get control of the party so they could challenge them soon.

    But if Obama does replace Shrillary with Michelle or the Ghost of Joseph Stalin, that could change. 🙂

    Fifth, the America Needs Four Parties thing is a no go, political science wise. America has two big parties for a reason and it stems from the first-past-the-post election systems we use for electing members of Congress and the Electoral College system used to elect Presidents. The two big parties are really a super-coalition of various political groups. In the American system, political coalitions have to be formed before the election instead of after it, like in Europe. Well, they do if they want to have a chance in hell in gaining power to govern. Bone up on Duverger’s Law (political science) if you want to know the math behind all of this.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger's_law

    And don’t say that this can be easily changed (something else you Brits don’t really understand) because out of the ELEVEN THOUSAND or so attempts to amend the US Constitution, only 27 of them have ever succeeded since 1787.

    And this is why Trump chose to hijack one of those parties unlike going the independent route like Ross Perot tried to do back in 1992.

    That about covers everything I thought of in response to Chris’ post here. Adios.

    • Bob Stewart May 8, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

      Shrekgrinch, your comments are an excellent supplement to Chris’ spot on analysis. I’m one of those PCOs who comprise the GOP ground game, (when the GOP deigns to wage one, Romney didn’t,) and I resigned on Wednesday following Trump’ sweep in Indiana. Life is short, and I have no interest in working for, or even being seen to work for, a man as flawed as Trump. This core group of much neglected, tea-party leaning, constitutionally limited government activists has its own issues, and without leadership from the top, it can be awfully petty. It is not intrinsically inclusive. And that is a big problem, because the counterpart of the local and county GOP volunteers are the unions representing public school teachers and administrators, and they always manage a good ground game. Of course, they have access to our kids, and they aren’t above exploiting that linkage.

    • allusionblog May 8, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

      Thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate your information and opinions!
      I have a questions… Wikipedia’s bio of Ted Cruz lists him as born in Canada…. Is this information correct? And if it is, doesn’t that mean he would not be eligible to be potus?

      • Bob Stewart May 8, 2016 at 11:15 pm #

        The argument in favor of Cruz’s eligibility for the office centers on the meaning of “natural born citizen”. Presently, there are only two kinds of citizens in the U. S., those who have been “naturalized”, and those who have not, meaning everyone else. Cruz is of the latter category as his mother was a citizen, despite the fact that he was born in Canada. Legally, Cruz is considered to be a citizen at birth. It would seem to be self evident that “naturalized” citizens are not “natural born” since they were considered aliens until they completed a process of naturalization, and so it would seem that they would certainly be ineligible for the Presidency.

        The conclusion is that since Cruz is not a “naturalized” citizen, and he is considered a citizen at birth, he is therefore qualified for the office. There have been some court decisions that support this view, but the none of them dealt with candidates for the Presidency. The Congressional Research Service published a 53 page report on this subject dated 11/14/2011, and their summary supports this view. But with Roberts in the Supreme Court, who can be certain of anything had this come up in the future? Alas, it’s all water under the bridge now.

      • allusionblog May 9, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

        Thank you Mr. Stewart,
        I really appreciate your response! In particular your your sourcing the congressional research service… I recently read an article on this service, ( my heroes! Uber research librarians;-))
        This was very helpful because I remembered when Arnold Schwartzenegger was disqualified because he was a naturalized US citizen, from Austria; also it makes more sense to me of the issues of whether it mattered where President Obama was born since his mother was an American citizen.

  12. shrekgrinch May 8, 2016 at 6:33 am #

    Hey Chris, my last comment is ‘waiting for moderation’. I put a lot of effort into it and want to make sure it never gets out of moderation because you didn’t see it. thanks.

    • chrishanger May 8, 2016 at 5:55 pm #

      I’m not sure why that happened – it was the only one that was held back .

      Chris

      • shrekgrinch May 8, 2016 at 11:40 pm #

        Probably because either 1) I had links in it or 2) it was long or 3) a few swear words were sprinkled in here or there.

  13. thundercloud47 May 8, 2016 at 6:42 am #

    This is a very good article.

    Trump was not my first choice of candidtes but it was a minor incident at one of the debates that made me start liking him.

    Ben Carson made a mistake backstage and came out too early. he thought his name had been called but it had not. Ben was clearly embarrassed but instead of returning backstage he just stood there alone.

    Trump came out and stood with him. Cruz’s name was called and as he walked by I thought I saw him smirk at Carson. Rubio came out, walked by them, and laughed at Carson as if to mock him. At later debates Trump started calling Rubio ” Little Marco.” and I find myself cheering him on.

    Ted Cruz??? I wanted to support him but every time I saw him on TV I said to myself There’s something wrong here, he reminds me of somebody.”

    Later in the campaign it hit me. I worked for many years in a maximum security mental hospital. To get committed there you had to do a very violent or a very vile crime AND be judged mentally ill.

    There were numerous people there who had decided to fake being mentally ill to avoid prison. Why do life in prison when you can do a few years in a mental hospital and be released.

    One of the fakers there had this nasally, perpetually offended , judgemental tone of voice. Ted Cruz reminds me very much of him especially at the latter part of the primary. I will never vote for him in any capacity. Not even dogcatcher. I’d be afraid he’d molest the dogs.

  14. Bob Stewart May 8, 2016 at 7:23 pm #

    Trump has one more fault that I regard as completely disqualifying. He lacks the temperament to exercise Presidential powers. Although I’m a Cruz supporter, I was wiling to support him should he become the Republican nominee until he unleashed that mid-night tweet attacking Heidi Cruz. This action by Trump, and not some out of control underling, was very troubling. He followed that with National Enquirer “sourced” allegations suggesting Cruz had number of extramarital affairs. And then, as if to assure us that these actions weren’t anomalies, on the day before the Indiana primary, he attacked Cruz’s father as a potential participant in the assassination of JFK in 1963 based on nothing more than a National Enquirer “expert” who thought someone in an old photo of Oswald looked like Cruz’s father.

    Make no mistake, this is a man who will use governmental powers to hack down his opponents. But instead of citing the National Enquirer as the source, Trump will be able to claim the FBI, or the IRS, or the CIA, or the DoJ as the source of the lie. Worse yet, he will be doing this from the bully pulpit

    Trump is like a caricature of one of Chris’ Grand Senate members.

    • allusionblog May 9, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

      I am very concerned that Mr. Trump’s behaviors have a physical base. Whether Alzheimer’s, brain damage, drug mis- use, or disease process.
      Should he be tested, we can see if his brain is damaged or deteriorated,
      Or if there is a pattern of inappropriate drug use, or a disease that can be addressed.

      • shrekgrinch May 14, 2016 at 8:50 pm #

        Ever since a nasty fall she had a couple of years ago, Shrillary has been walking around wearing prescription eye glasses that are for treating people with brain damage. Then there is her cough and constant covering up the right side of her neck to hide what many suspect is goiter.

        None of which the “unbiased” media in the US dare openly ask her about while constantly screaming for Trump’s tax returns.

  15. misterjonez May 8, 2016 at 10:19 pm #

    One of your better articles, Chris. Well done.

  16. PhilippeO May 9, 2016 at 8:06 am #

    reading this make me remember Weltanschauung concept. difference on both side world view is so great that understanding become impossible.

    take one issue as example : Hillary e-mail. Why this is an issue ? Condy Rice and Colin Powell did the same, so does many other government official. Its actually great she at least use private email server, not just using yahoo mail.

    Many Net Security issue is simple too new for non-IT / non-security to fully understand and implement at that time, or even now. Hillary reason is her fondness of BlackBerry, is not criminal intent and many many others even use far less security precaution than her. This seems like Vince Foster or WhiteWater fake scandal.

    Intelligence wise, CIA weird classification that enable classify previously non-secret or even public as top-secret is the one who cause many issue. There are no proof she leak anything that is secret at that time. She no more guilty than Westpoint graduate who talking about “top-secret” drone information because it appear in NYTimes.

    on Legal issue, US computer law is very well known as extremely bad within IT professional. Legally, accessing other people facebook by guessing password is hacking in US. To wide application of law, causing everybody to be felon, make the law is highly unapplicable, as good lawyer could always point at lack of enforcement.

    is not impossible she be indicted, but majority will view it as simple “political”. not legal or intelligence breach. Just as majority of people see Petraeus is removed because of his adultery, with intelligence leak only as legal justification.

    this is just one issue, nearly every line of this article will cause no concern for Liberal, while conservative will view it as important election issue.

    ——

    ” And the relationship between the American population at large and the political elite has eroded to the point where that ‘quantum of solace’ is gone. ”

    Trump supporters (or even Republican voters) is hardly American population at large. Voting Record show Obama (and Democrats) often win 80%+ of urban voters. It seems Trump (and Republican) is just showing rural alienation of white voters. This seems to me as “Hungarian Problem” in Habsburg Empire, like Hungarian they are small (there are more Slavs than Magyars), relatively well-off (they are poorer than urban coastal liberal, but not that poor compared to other minority), giving special attention to them would cause more problem with other Americans in long run, and in the end they would unlikely to be satisfied. in the end its better for Habsburg to ally with Slavs instead with Magyars.

    • Keith Glass May 20, 2016 at 12:26 am #

      Alas, you’re looking at the wrong laws. The primary ones with Hillary are with handling classified and destroying government records.

      And your CIA retro-classification argument fails, because somebody jumped the air gap between the classified network and her server on the public internet. She maintained the server, and thus is criminally liable for any classified data on it….

  17. Darrell Bain May 9, 2016 at 10:42 am #

    There is always a choice. If Hillary vs Trump are the candidates, I shall choose to vote for neither of them. I will write in my choice. Will it make a difference? Almost certainly not. Nevertheless, it will express my dissatisfaction of the whole political messiness of Washington and the media that it has come down to this.
    Darrell Bain

  18. randallberger May 10, 2016 at 7:47 am #

    Young Chris … I am an American/Australian dual-national … I came to Australia over 40 years ago, but maintained my US citizenship, as my family lives there. I am a strong Bernie supporter and very much a Progressive in Australia, as well. I will vote in this election and have contributed to Bernie’s campaign. My father HATES me voting, as I am not a resident American! A friend of mine and I do a weekly or fortnightly podcast on the US election … since 2011… so I am informed. http://www.thebillshow.net

  19. kalenath May 14, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

    Well spoken, I wish I could disagree.

    On one hand we have a liar who is STUPID about lying. It is like she doesn’t CARE about being caught. Love him or hate him, FDR was a very GOOD liar. To this DAY, we don’t know all of what he lied about. He got things done. Not always what people wanted or the ‘right’ things, but he got things done. Clinton talks. That is all she seems to do.

    On the other hand? We have someone who I can see ordering death camps set up if they make economic sense to him. Oh, he wouldn’t sully his hands PERSONALLY. He would delegate such. It’s nothing personal, just business. It’s not facism or racism or anything else if it is about making money.

    The presidency is mainly a figurehead. Yes, the president has some power, but far less than many think. The SCARY thing is that I can see EITHER of these trying to expand those powers either through legal means or not.

    The ONLY thing that might be worse than these two is if a radical Christian fundamentalist got elected instead. At least Trump would try to keep the slaughter efficient instead of starting a new ‘Crusade’.

    I fear there will be blood no matter who wins this. The question is: Whose?

  20. brian May 20, 2016 at 1:25 am #

    Great discussions! I’m an Australian and like most here , I have to look overseas to work out what’s happening back home. As an observation, News Corp was an Australian company and its interesting that MSM here, the US and Britain is effectively News Corp. Rupert tried being a kingmaker in Australia 40 years ago, he has since gone to England and the US . . .the man has form in this area.
    And, yep feel your pain. We’ve got an election coming up. Just today our FBI look alike raided our main opposition parties offices. Interesting times.

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