Tying Together Loose Ends in Trump’s Russian Connections

I spent two decades conducting research for many global technology firms. What I learned to do reasonably well is to look at boxes full of data and see patterns. That same approach can be used when it comes to investigating Trump’s Russian connections and resulted in my new book on that subject.

We live in a strange world filled with real news and fake news. One very disturbing study revealed that many Republican voters get all their information on how to vote from Fox News and the ultra-conservative media including radio crazies and loony website columnists that see conspiracies behind everything a Democratic candidate does. It’s true some progressives are just as limited in their search for information. I tried to be far more objective.

Take the news reports on the dossier that Christopher Steele put together. Rather than rely on second hand sensational reports on golden showers, I read a published version of that dossier. It’s always better going for primary data whenever possible. Similarly, I also relied on published interviews by many people around Trump as well as many of his own comments.

Finally, I focused on a small select subset of the press that I found to be most scrupulous when it came to factual reporting. I would include journals like Foreign Affairs as well as the New York Times and Washington Post. There are reasons why journalists from these two newspapers win awards every year.

Did you know that many cable news shows make transcripts available? When Rachel Maddow interviewed a significant figure, I was able to go back to the transcript to see what this person said and not what I thought I heard him say.

Several things struck me when I investigated Trump’s history long before he ran for office:

Trump’s Psychological Profile Formed Early: Donald was raised in a very Darwinian way by Fred Trump. This cold, very nasty man instilled the value that only winners counted. It’s not how you play but whether you win that is important. He bullied his son. Young Donald had a lot of anger as a result. He once struck his teacher. He was discovered carrying a knife and sent to military school. His later bravado and constant bragging reflected a small frightened boy with low self-esteem who covered up for that with a loud facade. Psychologists say that if he allowed part of himself to see just who he really is deep inside, he might crack completely. This explains why he so viciously attacks anyone who has anything negative to say about him.

He Doesn’t Know What he Doesn’t Know: One very clear pattern with Trump is that he never placed much value on learning anything other than those things that he could apply directly to making money. He never has been a reader. More importantly, like George W. Bush before him, Trump has absolutely no intellectual curiosity. As a result, he often expresses amazement over something most people consider self-evident. He is shocked that healthcare is complicated or that China and North Korea have a complex relationship. Even worse, though, Trump often cannot admit he doesn’t know something because it would show weakness. He bragged that he didn’t need to take intelligence briefings because he was “smart” or that he knew more than the generals. He also remarked that he knew more about war than most people even though he didn’t serve because he went to military school and that was his Viet Nam.

He is Comfortable Dealing with Mobsters: Because Donald does not have a core set of values, he simply views people in terms of what they can do for him regardless of their values. Real estate development in Manhattan required him to deal with many shady people with mob connections. I believe Trump saw that as just a cost of doing business. Because of that, I don’t think he sees anything wrong with dealing with Russian oligarchs or even Putin himself. My book chronicles the many people he associated with early who were involved in illegal activities.

Everything is Personal: Because Trump’s self-esteem is so wrapped up in everything he does, he reacts violently at any setbacks. Rather than view attacks on his program as “just business” and not “personal,” everything is personal. If he ever feels he is threatened with impeachment or removal from office because of his psychological problems, he will react violently.schatt-72dpi-1500x2000

 

Discovering the Secret Pattern to American Presidential Elections

There’s a fascinating pattern to American presidential elections that should help us forecast the likely candidate who will run on the Democratic ticket in 2020, particularly if it is against Donald Trump. Now that is an issue, though, because an awful large number of pundits are predicting that Trump will not serve his full term, let alone run for a second term.

Let’s assume for the purpose of argument that he somehow survives and runs again. He already has filed for re-election, by the way. How does the secret pattern in American presidential elections help us understand the likely winner in 2020?

Let’s go all the way back to H.W. Bush and look at the emerging pattern. Papa Bush was an elitist or, as Ann Richards delighted to say, he was born with a silver shoe in his mouth. Papa had a pedigree all right, as well as all the experience you could ask (representative, senator, CIA director, VP). Running against him was Bill Clinton, a man who was born dirt poor and had little experience besides being the governor of a very small state. Papa was more of an introvert while Bill Clinton never saw anyone he didn’t want to shake hands with and talk his ear off. Papa had been an air force pilot while Bill ran as fast as he could to avoid the draft. Clinton, the anti-Papa Bush, won.

The next big election was Al Gore Jr. against George W. Bush. Gore was part of the elite crowd while W was one of the people. Gore talked in long, complex sentences while W even had trouble with short sentences. Still, W was a much better communicator and someone regular folks could identify with so he won. He barely won, but he won. Gore did not even carry his own state.

What about Barack Obama as the man who followed W? They could not have been more different. W was an extrovert, a man who talked like the common folks. He preached a moral crusade against the “evil doers” and pursued an aggressive military posture. Obama was much more an introvert, a loner not happy mixing with the Washington crowd. He was an intellectual who wrote books. Remember that Bush wanted everything he read presented on one page with bullet points. Obama’s rhetoric was soaring and he read lots of books and was often photographed leaving bookstores. He preached caution and he wanted to extract us from Iraq. He had trouble pulling the trigger on military actions because he thought deeply about the “what happens after?” question. In other words, he was far from impulsive. Obama also rarely bragged about himself. He tended to use the pronouns “we” and “us”  quite a bit. Bush wore his religion on his sleeve and even said God talked to him. Obama’s religious faith was  a private matter for him except when he had to defend himself against charges he went to the church of a radical preacher.

Trump obviously was the anti-Obama. He was expansive, particularly  when it came to talking about himself. He spoke at about a fourth grade level and never was seen reading a book. He once said he only read books about himself. He bragged that he operated by his “gut” rather than by studying briefing books. He didn’t want to take intelligence briefings because he already knew the stuff because he was “smart.” I think you see the pattern. He was the anti-Obama.

What about Hillary? Wasn’t she the anti-Trump? The answer is that she had so much baggage that it made it relatively easy for Trump to paint the two of them in the same picture. She constantly attached Trump and came across as “strong” like Trump, but that hardness or strength probably was viewed negatively by evangelical women.  Did Trump’s foundation have issues? Well, just look at the issues with Hillary he would say. Does Trump have issues with his Trump University? Well, he would answer, look at Hillary and her email server. She’s going to be indicted and probably go to jail–do you want a president who is indicted? When Hillary rightfully accused Trump of being a bigot, he just answered the way a first grader would and said “you are also.” The press never made him explain himself because they were getting incredible ratings.

What about Trump’s affairs? Well, he would say, look at Bill Clinton. Do you want him in the White House? I could go on, but I think you see that Trump had probably the one candidate he could label as no better than he was.

So, now we have a president who loves the limelight, loves to brag, loves to threaten his opponents as well as other countries, and does not get along with his own Republicans. He’s not a deep thinker, and he relies on his gut. He’s loud and crude. Who’s the anti-Trump?

At this point I would say Karen Gillebrand is the anti-Trump. In media terms, she comes across as soft but thoughtful and competent. She has worked on bi-partisan legislation. She has worked on women’s issues but also veterans’ issues. She has moved from being a blue-dog Democrat to being more of a progressive. Still, Trump can’t paint her as someone as liberal as Elizabeth Warren. She has represented a relatively conservative and rural set of voters in upper state New York and been re-elected. She knows how to use guns, so ads can show her as “tough”. She is articulate and good looking. She is much  younger than Trump. Because of Trump’s emphasis on being on the wrong side on every major women’s issue, she can be his polar opposite. She can be compassionate for those people in danger of losing their healthcare (or those who already have). Trump lacks the compassion gene and the empathy gene.

The pattern is that the public usually grows tired of a president and wants a polar opposite change. Every Trump year feels like a dog year. After a few of those the public will be eager to hear a softer, more thoughtful and compassionate voice. I think she can be less threatening to conservative women than Hillary was and that could be worth some votes.

The Much Too Early 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Forecast

Right now all the drama is over on the Republican’s side, but don’t forget about the Democrats, particularly as we get closer to 2020. As a former analyst, I’ve been sifting through the early signs and have come up with my forecast for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination. You might ask who will run against Donald Trump, but I suspect that by 2020 it very well might be John Kasich or even Mike Pence, depending on the fallout from the Trump earthquake that’s bound to occur before then. So, without further delay, here are the horses in the race wearing blue colors.

The Women

Run another woman? There are positives and negatives to running a woman. I firmly believe that Hillary brought about her own loss along with lots of help from Republican propaganda and Russian fake news, but let’s not ignore the millions of conservative white women who still believe that a woman’s place is still in a subservient place in the home and that any woman trying to run for president must be uppity and arrogant. Remember that Donald Trump won primarily by running as an authoritarian alpha male figure that would take charge. Some psychologists have written that a significant portion of the population sees the world in Biblical terms of black and white, good and bad, and yearns for an authoritarian Daddy like figure. They seem someone to tell them what to do. So, a woman running for president starts with a group of people already solidly against her.

Of course women also start with the support of a lot of other women as well as young people. A woman other than Hillary might be able to offer a softer image that would serve as a nice contrast to Trump’s nastiness. Women also project more compassion and might be better messengers in moving the country toward a one-payer health system, a less expensive prescription drug program, and more support for public education and the arts and sciences while offering a small defense budget.

Elizabeth Warren has squirreled away millions of dollars in her campaign fund. She will face a tough election in 2018 and might be asked to promise to fulfill her term. Assuming she escapes that trap and wins re-election (not a sure thing since her approval rating in her home state is under 50%), she will start with very high name recognition and a reputation for fighting for the average person against big corporations. Her positives include a very solid progressive reputation,  the complete support of the Bernie wing of the party and heavy support from younger people. Negatives include a lack of attention to the traditional Democratic Party’s black and Hispanic voters. Can she excite them to get out and vote?

The other problem I believe Warren has is her personality. She looks and sounds like an angry school marm or librarian. In media terms, she comes across as harsh rather than soft. One talking head described her as “preachy.” While that tone works during Senate hearings when she balls out CEOs who have raped and pillaged the public, it doesn’t work with common people. My concern about Warren is that she will excite the progressives, turn off the moderate Democrats, and mobilize some moderate Republicans to come out and vote against her.

Karen Gillibrand is New York’s junior senator, and a very interesting candidate. She has gradually moved from being a conservative blue-dog Democrat representing a conservative area of New York state to a more progressive position. She has worked with Republicans in a bipartisan way when possible (It’s rarely possible now). She has a much softer image than Warren or Clinton and might not turn off more traditional women. She’s also attractive and has taken a leadership position in working on veteran and gay issues. I consider a definite dark horse in the race.

There are not a lot of strong male candidates, and some of the ones who are out there seem to want the nomination a bit too much. Martin O’Malley, as an example, this former governor of Maryland needs to find a job rather than run perpetually. He comes across like the kid who always runs for student body president but never wins. The question is who would make a great foil against the Republican candidate. Cory Booker has been running for President from the day he was elected Senator. If Barack Obama had never been president, then he might actually have a chance. This country is still even more racist than it is anti-woman. I think Booker is articulate, truly progressive, and heroic in some ways, but he has baggage going back to his time as Mayor. He never has married, and let the whispers begin in the Midwest and South. While Booker would excite some progressives and minority voters, he would not do well enough in the suburbs.

If Karen Gillibrand doesn’t get the nomination, another dark horse is Brian Schweitzer. He’s the former folksy Democratic governor of Montana. He left with over a 60% approval rating in a very conservative state. He has supported green energy initiatives, cuts in prescription drug costs, and other positions that would make a nice contrast with the Republican candidate. He is folksy and quirky enough to appeal to both suburban and small town voters, particularly in the Midwest states that cost Hillary the election. He’s not perfect. He sometimes puts his foot in his mouth, and he has been accused of some ethical violations that I’m sure the right-wing media would exploit. Also, he signed a bill that promoted Montana’s home produced firearms. One other item of interest is that he speaks Arabic because he spent a few years doing business in the Middle East. Can you imagine the contrast with the Republican candidate?

Some of you are probably wondering why I didn’t mention Tim Kaine. I really like the guy and think he has a very good heart and stands on the correct side of most issues I care about. The problem is that he did not distinguish himself in his VP debate against Mike Pence (not the world’s greatest orator). He comes across as very earnest, but he doesn’t cause excitement. Most pundits thought he represented the “safe choice” for Hillary. He checks all the boxes, but he won’t cause people to become excited enough to devote months to getting him elected. I think he’s great to have in the Senate. If the Democrats can win back the Senate, he could really help chairing some important committees.

So, here’s hoping someone new comes riding out of nowhere on a white horse and captures the public’s imagination and their votes. If not, here are the candidates in my opinion.

Updating Einstein: My Unified Theory Explaining Trump and His Future

Scientists have long sought to come up with a “theory of everything,” one simple theory that answered all the questions about the way things work and made everything make sense. I’ve come up with a unified theory regarding Donald Trump. Bear with me for a couple of minutes, and everything will make sense. Let’s start with the Republican establishment.  Have you wondered why the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader both give him such strong support? What about Bannon and Miller behind the scenes? What exactly is going on?

Paul Ryan is in a box. He desperately wants to get his legislative agenda passed. He would prefer cutting social security and Medicare immediately, but Trump promised nothing would be done about these two programs for now. So? How do you get the money to pay for a 10% increase in military spending to prepare for future wars to fuel the industrial military complex? Several senators have already made it clear they wouldn’t vote to gut social services to the extent Trump wants to do, so the money has to come from a border added tax.

Whoops! The “Freedom” caucus almost 50 strong is composed of fiscal conservatives who want to see offsets for every expense and certainly don’t want to see any new taxes. So, that’s where the symbiotic relationship between Trump and the Republican establishment comes into play. There is only one thing that conservative Republican House members fear —that’s certainly not Democratic challenges since their districts for the most part are safe through gerrymandering. What they do fear with all their hearts, though, is a primary threat from someone more conservative than they are. Trump has many supporters who fall into the very conservative camp. Imagine, if you will, what happens if several “Freedom” caucus members announce they will not vote to kill the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) because they don’t buy into the border tax to help finance the cost of supporting people currently on that plan. Presumably all Trump has to do is tweet the names of these people and tell his fans that they are keeping him from fulfilling his promise to demolish Obamacare. He then can tweet that he would support a primary candidate to take them on in 2018.

That threat probably will be enough. In fact, any time there is rough sledding in Congress, look for the Republican establishment to rely on Trump to get reluctant House members to go along.

Bannon and Miller have a different reason for supporting Trump. Both are die-hard nationalists who can praise the President and push him in any direction they want. While someone like Barack Obama might have been impossible to manipulate like a puppet because of his intelligence and psychological health, Donald J. Trump is an easy mark.

I’m assuming the Russians are also using Trump. Besides all the people in his cabinet who have been shown to have contacts with the Russians, there are the rumors about massive financial loans or gifts he has received. Ironically, the only way for Trump to show these rumors are not true would be to release his tax returns. I think he would rather die first than admit he’s a lot “smaller” than he pretends to be.

So, what happens next? I believe the Republican establishment already has anointed Mike Pence as the man they really want to work with to achieve Republicans’ wet dreams regarding everything from unrestrained capitalism to the abolishment of social security and medicare as we now know them. Wall Street long has been eager to get its hands on people’s retirement money.

The very moment the Republican establishment decides it does not need Trump anymore, all Paul Ryan has to do is to solemnly announce he reluctantly has decided a special prosecutor is required to look into Trump’s links to the Russians. He could then indicate that a committee will reconsider and now vote to demand Trump’s tax returns. Donald will resign, play the role of martyr, and go build the new political news network he had planned on doing before he “won.”

The Republican establishment will then clean house by removing some of the nationalists and replacing them with pro-business Republicans. They will continue moving to pour public school funds into the hands of private schools, including the most extreme religious schools. They will continue to dismantle environmental controls, and run amuck.

The only danger the establishment Republicans face is whether they get splattered with the news that finally comes out about Putin and Trump. I do wonder about many of my friends who have run around each day with the hair on fire over the latest moves of Trump and his cabinet. I fear that they will burn out long before elections in 2018. That very well might be one of Bannon’s strategies. What once seemed totally outrageous begins to seem relatively normal after a while. Also, people become so disgusted at the latest headlines, they very well might tune out the elections in 2018 and 2020.

So, Schatt’s unified theory of everything relating to Donald J. Trump suggests that he is living on borrowed time and is at the mercy of not only the Republican establishment but also the intelligence community that supposedly has tapes of conversations between Trump’s people and the Russians. The more drips of scandal that come out, the more Trump will try to change the subject by deflecting the attention of the press by waving his shiny keys as he tweets. Today he reacted to new leaks about his ties to the Russians by tweet an unsubstantiated charge that President Obama wire tapped his offices. The charge came from Breitbart type sources and Obama’s people quickly reacted by denying everything, but Trump partially succeeded by change the story and the press’s attention for a 24-hour cable news cycle.

Another example of how my unified theory works is that the very effort of Trump to deflect the press and the public from the Russian links story makes Trump appear to be desperate as everything starts to close in around him. He sounded paranoid today, very much the way Nixon sounded just before the end. In this case, though, almost everyone is started to turn against Trump so he might be right.

 

Living and Dying by the Polls

I’ve gone cold-turkey and have avoided any cable news for the past three weeks. During that time I’ve managed to get some writing done and to relax. It also has given me some time to think clearly. I remembered what happened to Karl Rove back when Obama beat Romney. Do you remember that Rove was on Fox news and refused to believe the results coming in. Why? He had his own set of polls that shows Romney winning. Romney was getting ready to give his acceptance speech.

Many people laughed at Rove. What an idiot! How could he have any credibility again? Then 2016 came along. Virtually every major poll had Clinton winning and we know what happened. Some recent data shows that Kellyann Conway was lying as usual when she attributed Trump’s victory to unpolled people who came out in droves to vote.

That didn’t really happen. What did happen was that the pollsters fell victim to what is a dirty little secret. Up until the end of September or so the polls all seem to agree. Suddenly they diverge widely. Why? The answer is the “secret sauce” that pollsters start brewing as the election grows closer. They take their raw data and begin adding their own secret algorithms to forecast how many of which particular voting segment will actually come out to the polls and vote.

The problem for pollsters is that most people say they will vote, but historically only a relatively small percentage do. I think the answer for the rest of us is pretty clear when it comes to our own forecasting. Remember the old adage that “It’s the economy, stupid”? People tend to be motivated by how they feel about the economy. They need a reason to vote.

In 2008 and even in 2012 people waited in lines for hours to vote for Barack Obama. They felt a strong attachment for him and they believed he represented change. Even more basic, he excited various “tribes”— the most elemental human building block. What I mean by that is that he attracted overwhelming excitement and loyalty from Afro-Americans (the first black President), young people (he’s young and hip like us), etc.

Some 2016 and we had the two most disliked candidates in history running. One was a con man who basically promised whatever people wanted — “clean” coal, steel jobs returning, riding the country of those nasty Mexicans who were taking their jobs, less wars, and lower taxes. The other candidate basically built her campaign around the message “I’m less scary than he is.” Does anyone remember anything Hillary promised? She pitched her speeches at the 12th grade level of English while Trump spoke in 4th grade English (Yes, people have analyzed their speeches).

So, when it comes to estimating what it takes to get people out to vote, what is the more compelling message —-vote for me and your life will be better or vote for me or that scary guy will blow up the world? If people already feel the world is in bad shape, they don’t worry as much about the possibility that it might blow up.

So, in the future, those of us who want to get a better handle on the election shouldn’t just read 538 and the NY Times. We should look at voter enthusiasm. Trump was right about that –he was able to generate huge crowds without the need to bring in celebrities. Hillary for all our strengths and experience lacked enough charisma to excite people.

We’re in a world now where people want bread and circuses. We’ve come a long way downhill from the time that Lincoln and Douglas would debate real issues and platforms. In the age of reality TV, people need a reason to switch on the program. From now on the Democrats will need to focus on pocketbook issues and run candidates who middle class and lower class people will conclude understand their daily lives. How a billionaire with no real experience or in-depth policies could pull that off shows us that the traditional approach to nominating candidates no longer works. I believe Bernie would have been a far better candidate but would not have won because he would have been killed in the rural areas over his “socialist” history as well as anti-Semitic slurs.

Polls can’t evaluate this country’s hearts. Unfortunately we are still a country where significant numbers of people hate anyone not like themselves. It’s a country where a significant percentage of “traditional” women will not vote for a woman with the audacity to run for President. We are far less evolved than the Europeans in some ways. While we don’t have the rigid class structure found in Europe, we have de-evolved into tribes that are distrustful of each other. If I asked you what you are, rather than saying you are an American, you are more likely to reply with your ethnic heritage, your religious affiliation, or even a list of the “others” you hate.

People will not reveal their petty hatreds in a poll nor will they reveal the likelihood they will vote. It’s hard to measure the intensity of their feelings toward a candidate, but it ultimately comes down to self-interest. Trump didn’t win because most people wanted to make “America great again.” He won because they hoped he would improve their individual lot. No matter how rational the argument that could be made to them that Trump wasn’t capable of doing that or really didn’t care about them, people clung to the hope that he would do what he promised. That’s why they came out and voted in droves. Those people who couldn’t stomach Trump but felt unmoved emotionally by Hillary decided not to stand in lines and inconvenience themselves on election day. Perhaps they stayed home and watched a reality show.

Trump Asks Hillary Face-to-Face About Bill’s Infidelities: Political Scenario

Let’s say the election is down to the wire when time comes for the final debate. Trump is VERY close in the rust belt states. He could carry Pennsylvania if only he can persuade a few more college educated women to vote for him. He knows what has worked for him in the past, so he decides to go for broke.

As in most debates, the moderator gives Trump and Hillary the opportunity to each ask the other one question they would like answered. Trump is first. He narrows his eyes and stares at Hillary before asking his question: “Lying Hillary, how can you say you are the best candidate for women when you attacked innocent women’s reputations when your predator husband raped them and took advantage of his position as President?”

Let’s hope that Hillary, known for preparing hard, has prepared for this question. Here’s her answer: “I can’t believe you would say something like this, but then again, you also questioned the parents of a Muslim American war hero. Unlike you who discard women when you think they’ve reached their expiration date and unlike you who talk about women like they are the sum total of their most (to you) desirable parts, I believe in making a marriage work. We’ve been married 46 years. I love my husband. Maybe I gave him the benefit of the doubt and believed him when he told me he hadn’t strayed, but that’s what you do when you love someone and also what you do when the right-wing propaganda machine already had lied about him so very many times. When I found out he lied, believe me, it wasn’t very pleasant for either one of us. I’ve been supporting women’s rights since I was 18 while you’ve never had a word to say about it until this year. Now, I’m a very private person. I’ve answered your question. I will not discuss this topic again in any interview or debate.”

Hillary could even tear up as she did when asked how she could keep going in her tough primary race against Barack Obama. That would pretty much finish Trump.

As an aside, I think Hillary might begin referring to Trump simply as “Vladimir Putin’s secret best friend as his taxes would reveal.”

Don’t Do It, Hillary!

I proudly voted twice for President Obama; that means I voted AGAINST you in 2008. Now my choice comes down to Donald Trump or you (Hillary Clinton). Imagine if my best friend sets me up with a girl who has just inherited millions of dollars. He tells me that she REALLY likes me and that she’s fairly pretty and smart. When I go out on that first date I would pray that I’d like her. God, I want to like you, Hillary, because I hate what would happen to the country if Trump is elected, but it’s so difficult.

First of all, you married a guy who humiliated you so many times with the press that you dread even seeing anyone with a press badge approach you. How many times can you stand behind your man when he thinks with his little head and then just says “Oh shucks! Why do all these bad things happen to me?”

Hillary, you’ve become so averse to the press that most now actively dislike you because you haven’t held a press conference since all my hair was dark brown. Because of your obsession with privacy you did the dumbest possible thing —you turned a cakewalk election into a nail biter because you screwed up your strongest arguments for being elected President –having good judgment and being trustworthy. No one ever associated those traits with Donald Trump, but the polls say most people think he’s more trustworthy. Can you imagine that? The man who shilled for Trump University, Trump Meats, and Trump casinos and declared bankruptcy more times than Bill smiled when he saw a white trash blond with big headlights.

That’s bad enough. As it is, a lot of us on the progressive side are figuring on holding our nose and voting for you because of the alternative. That means we have to overlook Planet Hillary with all your sycophants who surround you and tell you what you want to hear. It means we have to put up with the old Clinton group of elitists who are pro global trade because they and the Clinton Foundation profit. It also means we have to put up with your inability to stop braying when you speak instead of learning from Elizabeth Warren how to be a great speaker without having to raise your voice. It also means putting up with Bill Clinton putting his foot in his mouth at every opportunity.

What it doesn’t mean is that I or a lot of people like me can tolerate the idea of you appointing Julian Castro as your VP. He’s now on your short list. I know, you  Clintons clearly love him. He’s a young 42 year-old Hispanic who used to be an average mayor of San Antonio (not exactly Newark and not exactly being the Governor of Virginia AND a senator or being a former Governor of a swing state like Colorado). He was pretty much out of job options, so President Obama appointed him to head up Housing and Urban Affairs, a position he has managed to screw up to the point where progressives rose up in arms.

Hillary, for God’s sake, Trump already has alienated Hispanics. You don’t need a token Hispanic to show what a history-making ticket you head or to get 85%+ of the Hispanic vote. If you want a Hispanic light, appoint Tim Kaine who speaks fluent Spanish. At least it wouldn’t seem like pandering.

Who would even consider Castro qualified should you die? Face it, Hillary, you’re 69 years old and have a lot of wear and tear on you. All those globe trotting trips as Secretary of State didn’t help. I realize that most people see being your VP as a fool’s errand. Who in his right mind would think that you would bring your VP into your decision making when you have Bill? So, instead of emphasizing the strengths of your VP compared to Mike Pence, you’re entertaining the idea of putting up even more of a lightweight –someone who everyone knows you never would consider if his name was Julius Smith. I don’t care about his ivy league education— you have one as well and look how you screwed up the email business. Bill’s Ivy league education didn’t teach him to keep his fly zipped either (I voted twice for him also).

If you choose Julian Castro, it tells me that you are not smart enough to be President despite your former reputation for being the smartest person in the room. What additional votes do you think you’d gain that you wouldn’t gain with Tim Kaine or the Governor from Colorado? You just might lose mine because I hate the notion of anyone pandering to an ethnic group. I don’t like it when Donald Trump panders to white bigots and I don’t like it if you pander to the Hispanic community by selecting someone who clearly is not qualified and has not paid his dues with a series of responsible jobs. Choose the most qualified person you can find. I know that Julian has a twin brother. Are you thinking that one Castro can carry your bags while the other one runs another errand? Bill used to argue that a vote for him meant getting two for the price of one (I assume he meant you).

Castro seems like a nice enough guy who should get a real job and build his resume if he wants to run for President. The ability to give a good speech is not qualification for President or VP. He’s more like a boy toy at his age, especially when he stands beside you. Choose a mature, seasoned politician like Tim Kaine or someone else with similar credentials. Don’t let little Mike Pence pull the experience card and use it against Castro. Show that you are capable of making good decisions and choose someone whose qualifications are beyond question.

My Guess: Trump Will Shock Everyone and Choose Cruz

I’ve been thinking about the theater associated with Donald Trump’s choice of VP. Most so-called “experts” believe he’s down to Christie (the man who prosecuted his daughter’s father-in-law), Newt (3 wives, lots of baggage, and another old white man but perhaps the one person who absolutely would make Trump impeachment proof), and Indiana Governor Mike Pence (can’t even get re-elected as Governor, so boring he makes grass growing sound exciting). What a choice!

Trump knows he needs some excitement. I’m sure if he had his way, he would nominate himself or his daughter for VP, but that won’t fly. So, how can he shock the world, generate enormous amounts of publicity, and help himself in the election. Who is the one candidate besides Newt who matches Donald when it comes to vileness. Who is a younger version of Richard Nixon? Ted Cruz. Let me explain why this could happen.

Cruz hasn’t endorsed Trump, but he is scheduled to speak at the convention; we just don’t know when. Imagine if he dramatically endorses Trump. After all, he was the only candidate besides Carson who said nice things about Trump until there were only two of them left. So, why does Cruz make sense to Donald Trump?

  • He’s an absolute shocker guaranteed to shake up everyone. He also guarantees that any movement to replace Trump will be unsuccessful. Remember that Cruz has the second-most delegates there.
  • Cruz brings the best organization of any party and the highest approval ratings from Evangelicals–the very group that doesn’t trust Trump.
  • Cruz speaks passable Spanish— A few key Hispanic votes in Florida would help Trump as would Cruz’s political machine in Iowa.
  • Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. Cruz is already mounting a campaign for the next election (2020). He would look disloyal to most Republicans as the VP candidate if he worked actively against his Presidential candidate or (God Forbid!) his President.
  • Except for the Freedom Caucus, most Republican House members hate Cruz. There goes any chance of them encouraging Democrats to impeach President Trump with their minimal help.
  • Cruz can down and dirty; he’s great at it and great at spinning loony conspiracy theories. Trump can act Presidential (snicker) during the campaign.

Why would Cruz choose to go along with this bombshell? He’s one of the most ambitious people in office (that’s saying a lot). He’s wanted to be President almost as long as Hillary Clinton. If Trump wins, Cruz is young enough to wait and be perfectly positioned to be the next Republican nominated. If Tump loses, then Cruz gets kudos from some Republican voters for his loyalty to the party. He has such strong Conservative markers that being with Trump won’t hurt him. After all, he always can get re-elected in Texas. Additionally, he doesn’t have to worry about offending mainstream Republican officer holders (are any left?) and consultants/talking heads on TV because they already hate him.

Okay, it might not be Cruz, but I’m betting it won’t be one of the four names the press has been bandying about. Trump knows from reality TV that he needs surprises to keep the audience coming back for more. if I am right, I would not be happy because it would be a formidable team that would tilt even more to the right. If elected, God help us, I can imagine America becoming more like Kansas. If you have been reading what’s happening in Kansas, then you can see why it frightens me.

An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

Hi Bernie,

We have a lot in common. We come from the same cultural and religious background, we’re around the same age, and we both have wives named Jane. I’ve watched you for years as you ranted about injustice on MSNBC. I never checked, but I figure you didn’t appear often on Fox. In any event, I’ve watched this year as you came out of thirty years of obscurity, a back bencher who never seemed to be part of the Democratic caucus in the Senate even though you often voted with them. What a year! After so many years of being ignored, suddenly you became a rock star. I’m sure you helped push Hillary to the left on many issues. I suspect you’ll even win battles to eliminate Super Delegates, reduce the cost of college, and maybe even get rid of the DMC Chair. Most people would agree that someone in that position should not have her thumb on the scales when it comes to scheduling debates.

I voted for you in the primary here in California in order to send a message that most of us are tired of business as usual and corrupt politicians. No one would accuse you of changing your positions for campaign donations since you haven’t really changed your positions in 30 years. You were booed recently when you appeared before House Democrats. I’m sure it was music to your ears. You told one reporter that they needed to hear your message and you railed again against Super Delegates, a category that probably included most of the people in that room.

I guess many of us plan to hold our nose and vote for Hillary. I have to agree with you that she and her husband have never seen a trade deal they didn’t support. She definitely is part of the elite who have run this country for years. She’s a hawk, and most of us agree with you that we never should have gone into Iraq. She is by far the weakest candidate the Democrats could run, even though it’s clear the bench is very thin. Think of the possibilities if Sharrod Brown had been our nominee. Between you and me, I have to confess that you do have serious drawbacks as the party nominee. You’re an absolutist. People who are true believers like  you want to bring about revolutions and don’t want to compromise. Ask yourself if you would accept lower cost for college rather than free college tuition immediately. Ask yourself if you would accept a Democratic platform that is neutral on the pacific trade deal. It’s hard for Democrats to repudiate their own popular President and completely repudiate his trade deal. I think we both know the answer.

Absolutists make lousy Presidents because they never can compromise. How many Republicans do you think you could persuade to your position? Throw away Obamacare and then hope to get a single payer health program through? That would be like throwing away the baby with the bathwater. Yet, you seem incapable of seeing a road that includes compromise. Perhaps it is because you know Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected and then proceed doing what she planned all along. You’re probably right about that, but I think you need to think about the bigger picture.

We need a VP choice with progressive qualifications to be in position to run AFTER Hillary, whether that means after two terms or after something untimely happens to her. The next Republican candidate will certainly be much harder to beat with as weak a candidate as weak have now. The Democratic party can be moved more toward the progressive end of the spectrum, but it might take more than one election turn. Meanwhile, you’ve dug your feet in and have refused to endorse Hillary because so far she hasn’t given you a speaking opportunity or surrendered on all your key demands. Remind me, who won the primaries?

I feel your pain. Hillary is a TERRIBLE candidate. She brays rather than orates. She has no charisma, and she is so careful about giving poll-tested answers, that she never comes across as authentic. Bill has so badly wounded her that she prizes her privacy more than anything and is willing to do anything to keep her personal affairs private. That’s her Achille’s heel and resulted in her decision to have her own email server. Hillary is like the young lady played by Reese Witherspoon in Election; she’s the smartest  and most ambitious girl in the class who works and works and works but never generates any excitement. She certainly never generated the crowds you do or the crowds President Obama did. Having said that, she’s what we have. The delegates at next month’s convention won’t overturn her now. I suppose a lot of us thought that the FBI might recommend prosecution. If they had, I’m sure Hillary would have held on and not released her delegates. it’s something she’s wanted her entire life. So, the party would have limped along with a severely wounded candidate. ANY Republican candidate with the exception of Donald Trump would probably be miles ahead in the polls by now. Hillary is so weak that, God forbid, Trump might squeak out a victory by attracting every dumb white without a college degree. God must love poor dumb whites because HE (or SHE) created so many of them, particularly in the South and in the Midwest. You know and I know that manufacturing jobs for people with high school educations are not coming back to America. New manufacturing jobs will require technical training; the last time I checked, the Republicans have voted down any attempt to funnel money to community colleges to offer such programs.

The real problem is that Donald Trump represents an existential threat to this country. Your reluctance to endorse her and try to bring along your supporters could very well spell defeat in the fall, particularly if younger voters stay away and don’t vote. Perhaps you are thinking along the same lines as Henry Clay who once said he’d rather be right than be President. If you stand back with your stiff back and refuse anything but 100% victory on all your points, you very well could bring about a Trump presidency. Imagine that for a moment. Even worse, imagine a Supreme Court packed for the next forty years with justices who will tighten the grip of the one percent on this country. Imagine President Trump signing all kinds of bills that restrict voter rights and try to maintain the Republicans’ strangle hold. Imagine national anti-abortion laws as well as tax increases for the average person. imagine a Republican controlled Senate and House that eliminates Social Security and Medicare as we know it because we can’t afford these programs and then raids the treasury to enrich the wealthy and fat cat corporations.

Imagine a Donald Trump who grows angry when a foreign government doesn’t go along with his crazy demands. What does he do? Who knows? Imagine restricting all foreign trade and bringing about the next great Depression. Believe me, it will be HUGE.

So, Bernie, you have a choice. You can hold your nose like many of us and vote and endorse the lesser of two evils while you use the enormous war chest you’ve built to support progressive candidates for the House and Senate. You also can use the funds to help elect local progressives at the state level so that when redistricting time comes in 2020, there will be enough locally elected progressives to change the voting map and kick out conservative members of Congress who thought they had a lifetime job because of gerrymandering.

Pride comes before the fall. So, Bernie, will you get over the rush that comes from finally being heard after shouting alone in the wilderness for years and work from within the party to reform it? If you choose to try to make this year the year of your revolution, you could bring about Trump’s victory. Life probably wouldn’t change much for you. After all, Vermont would still elect you and most Democrats in the Senate would continue to avoid you. What about the average American who isn’t guaranteed  a lifetime income and almost lifetime employment? Most average Americans would suffer with the Republicans controlling both the House and Senate while a indifferent Republican President makes decisions based on who can flatter him the most and provide him with bills that help the Trump empire grow even larger. The IRS? Cut its budget because it prosecutes people like him. The FBI? Replace everyone with people who will do what he says. The Press? Restrict their freedom and throw more reporters out of White House briefings. Bring charges against them whenever possible. Healthcare? Let the states decide. The list goes on and on. The only thing I’m actually sure about is that under President Trump every town square will have a larger than life statue of Trump. That you can count on!

 

 

 

Making a Pact with the Devil to Become President

It’s really struck me during this long long campaign that to paraphrase a well known movie line, Americans can’t handle the truth, and they certainly don’t want to hear it. So, let’s assume we gave truth serum to the major candidates just before they spoke. What would we hear?

TRUMP: Look I’m all about myself and power. I’ll say anything you want to hear if you vote for me. I don’t have any fixed positions or policies because all I really care about is becoming President. You know my father never thought highly about me, and this will show him wherever in hell he is that I am somebody and people love me. I’m the classic schoolyard bully. I’ll stomp all over anyone who disagrees with me, and women are just here for my amusement and pleasure. When they start to age, I trade up. Vote for me. Trust me, I am whatever you want me to be. Are you a racist? Well then, listen to my coded language. Are you very afraid of minorities taking your jobs? Listen to my coded language —we’ll make America white again.

CLINTON: I know I am a lousy politician, so I try to be very careful what I say. I poll test everything to make sure the most people will approve of my policy. I’ve always wanted to be President, and Mrs. Roosevelt has always been my personal hero—- Men are pigs –Look at Bill. I realize I’m about as exciting as oatmeal, but I’m running as the first female President. I happen to have the worst luck in the world. Who would have thought the first time I ran that I’d run into the first black President. This time, I banked on my experience. I figured I’d run against Jeb Bush, and the public could listen to us have really long discussions about the merits of our wonkie ideas. I’d win because I’ve always been the smartest kid in the class. So, what do I get instead? I’m running against a comic book figure, a cartoon that struts and acts politically incorrect and brings up all Bill’s bimbos. How do you fight against someone like that?

The problem is that the Republicans have poisoned the well for me for so long that my negatives are about as bad as Trump’s. The difference is that his voters are enthusiastic and will turn out while many Democrats will hate me so much for Bernie losing that they may stay home in protest. Why can’t I have any luck?

BERNIE: Look, I’m not a fool. I know I can’t give people what I promise because we’d need to have both the Senate and the House to pull it off. I need people to keep contributing money because my campaign is burning through the money much too fast. I want to have as many delegates in my pocket as I can so we can force changes in the Democratic platform. I realize it won’t matter in the short run because Hillary won’t really push for these things. Here’s my deep down secret: I’m praying the FBI indicts Hillary BEFORE the convention. Then I get the super delegates and I become the nominee.

The one thread that runs through all these candidates’ real thoughts is that they have to give Americans what they want to hear. It’s almost like a parent who can’t bear to tell little Carol or Billy that there really is no Santa Claus. Maybe, the parent thinks, we can wait another year. After all little America is less than three hundred years old.

Personally, I think Bernie might give Trump more of a battle than Hillary because ideas that Americans once scorned as socialist or communist now don’t seem that bad. Also, his voters are as fired up as those of Trump. Would Trump smear him as “Bernie the little Jew communist”? Sure, but medicare for all is not a bad platform to run on.