Mixed Bag

“Donald Trump is not a gentleman,” remarked my wife the other day.  She’s right, but then again, neither is Ted Cruz.  The two of the got embroiled in what seemed a bar fight over pictures of the candidates’ wives.  (I’m not going to fill in the details here: if the whole soggy saga gets lost to posterity, it can only be an improvement!)  At this point, I may end up voting for Bernie Sanders as the only candidate who (a) acts like a responsible adult, and (b) isn’t dead on the vine.

  • One might vote for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman, or because she presents herself as the logical continuation of the Obama administration. But Clinton, sadly, embodies everything that we love to hate about male politicians, and many people, myself included, believe that Obama is the worst President in modern times.  Moreover, she across as stale and tired in her speeches.  Even if I were on the fence and willing to consider her as a candidate, she needs to present herself as someone who actually wants the job.
  • John Kasich probably has the best head for figures of any of the candidates, and is the most likely to actually fix our problems. Alas, unless he can get people’s attention, his candidacy will go nowhere.  But that seems to be the plan.  I can almost imagine some Republican Party guy making the pitch: “We want you to run for President.  But realize that you won’t be the nominee: we just want you to be there to take momentum away from any oddballs that might show up.”  I’d have told the Party guy to fuck off, but that’s just me.

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I initially had nothing useful to say about last Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels.  But as news reports came out that the perpetrators were already known to the intelligence services, but that the Belgians were somehow unable to stop them, I began to wonder.  Apparently, what we’re supposed to do is let the potential terrorists into our midst, then maintain a police state to monitor what they’re doing and jump on them just as they’re about to attack.  Wouldn’t it be far simpler and cheaper not to let the potential terrorists into the country in the first place?

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And for that reason, I can’t get upset with President Obama for not aborting his trip to Cuba to address the Brussels attacks.  When he woke up in the morning, the attacks were already a fait accompli.  It wasn’t like 11 September, when the United States was actually under attack while President Bush continued his visit to a Texas kindergarten.  (On that day it would have been so simple to say, “I’m very sorry, but something has happened that requires my immediate attention.  I have to go.”)  But this time, the deed was done: the Belgians have emergency services that can clean up the mess: all that’s left for our President is to utter the usual rot about how we stand with the victims.

What was creepy about the Cuba visit, however, was the President’s decision to have himself and his entourage photographed in the shadow of the Che Guevara mural in Revolution Square.  The Cubans had planned something different, but the President had everyone move so that Che was in the background.

For many years, I though the Cuban embargo was pointless and stupid, but it’s probably not practical for us to simply admit that.  But that isn’t what I think is happening now.  We’re reopening relations with Cuba not because we acknowledge that the embargo hasn’t accomplished anything useful, but because Cuba and the United States are converging.

“But Cuba is a totalitarian surveillance state!” I hear you cry.

And what are we becoming?

The real immigration crisis no one is talking about

While we hear Trump’s rather creepy comments about illegals and Muslims, we don’t hear the real immigration problem. Sure, many illegals are taking jobs but they are taking jobs from the lower income part of society. That is a problem but not for everyone. With Muslims, yes many are coming for welfare and terrorism and taking jobs but in general we haven’t had all that much Muslim immigration throughout history. This is not to say neither situation is a problem but rather there is one that is overlooked: Indian immigration.

While I give Indians credit for being educated and having a very low rate of welfare usage (practically zero), especially compared to other groups, they are hurting our more educated. Like me. In the last 10 years (and yes I was actually employed while seeking a new job, and in fact I had been seeking a new job 2 years while working)I have applied at probably thousands, if not millions of jobs. I have lost track of how many actual interviews I had but no doubt it numbers in the hundreds. I’ve applied for anything really, even jobs I was extremely overqualified for. I’ve applied for every job I have fit to a t, every job I wasn’t sure I was qualified for, even jobs I felt I was unqualified for. The result? almost every job I had an interview for were the ones I wasn’t sure I was qualified for or those I felt I was under qualified. The jobs I fit to a T? Rarely did I get a call. Or I would get a phone interview if that. Honestly, I should have a job yet all I can seem to find lately are freelance jobs.

How does this tie into immigration? Well courtesy of search engines, social media and company websites I can usually find out who got the job. Almost every time I lost a job I found an Indian worker got it. I then see they graduated from an Indian university and it makes sense. Occasionally, I see other immigrants, like the one time I applied for a public relations job and that went to an immigrant from Brazil WHO COULD BARELY SPEAK ENGLISH. I know this because I saw her Linked-In profile and this was mentioned. Other times I lost to younger candidates but it has mostly been Indian candidates.

I have called various politicians and would you believe the Democratic Party actually told me it made sense because these are jobs needing to be filled? I told them they were jobs I could do and there was no reason to bring in visa workers. They used to be the party of the working class what happened? Ironically I called my then congressperson (a Republican)and his worker told me he was aware of the problem and working on it. Unfortunately my district was switched and our congressperson ended up being a leftwing crook who then went to prison and was taken over by a racist kook (racist as in she hates white people).

When does it get better for Americans? Why don’t people get that the visa workers move up the chain then hire more of their own, meaning less working Americans.

The Vast Two-Winged Conspiracy

I didn’t want to write another Donald Trump piece, but recent events have been too compelling.

Last Friday, a Trump rally in Chicago had to be cancelled because it was overrun with protestors and became a civil disturbance.  Yesterday, the Daily News issued yet another editorial remarking that ‘Trump must be stopped.’

It’s the nature of politics that one is ‘for’ one’s preferred candidate, and ‘against’ the other guy.  But there is a big difference between ‘I’m against X,’ and ‘X must be stopped.’  To say that someone ‘must be stopped’ is to call for some extra-political force to smite one’s opponent.  That isn’t politics: it is, at best, a bar fight.

So now, in addition to the Republican establishment calling for ‘Trump to be stopped,’ we now have left-wing agitators trying to stop Trump, literally.  The convergence is unsettling.  It’s not just a left- or right-wing conspiracy anymore: it’s a two-winged, capable-of-flying-around-on-its-own-power conspiracy.

But I still don’t understand what’s actually evil about Trump.  I can understand why one may not like him, or might want someone else to be President, but that’s not the same as saying Trump is evil.

It seems to be the vogue to compare Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, or at least to raise the thought before abruptly backing off.  But let’s do the comparison:

Adolf Hitler was a pathetic loser in real life until he discovered politics.  Donald Trump has had his ups and downs, but, on balance, has been a big, big winner.

Hitler targeted the Jews because it was convenient, and advanced his agenda, even though Jewish people had nothing to do with Germany’s troubles at the time.  Trump is identifying the Mexicans and Muslims as our adversaries because they either really are our adversaries, or there is a reasonable association.

In fairness to the Mexicans, the actual movement of individual Mexicans across the southern border has been going on for over a century, and, on the grand scale of things, isn’t a major national security problem.  But that doesn’t mean the border shouldn’t be secured, as more dangerous things and people than impoverished Mexicans can cross a porous border.  And since Mexico would necessarily be on the other side of a fortified border, it’s a reasonable simplification to say that Mexico is the problem.

As far as the Muslims, imagine that the couple alleged to be responsible for last December’s San Bernadino attack were overly pious Christians, taking up assault rifles against people for not going to church every Sunday and for listening to rock music.  The notion of Christians shooting up a workplace in the name of their religion is ludicrous, in part because Christian scripture doesn’t admit such behavior.

But Islamic scripture is different.

Moreover, throughout our history, we have chosen to restrict immigration when we deemed it in the national interest.  We don’t have the moral obligation to bring the refugees of the world to our shores, and, in particular, don’t have the obligation to provide such refugees government help.  When ‘The New Colossus’ (‘…give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…’) was set into the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, we were not a welfare state.  The bargain was that we would let you in, and you would then have the opportunity to work for a living.

In another time, we wouldn’t have to be concerned that an Islamic terrorist might slip through as a refugee.  A century ago, we expected that immigrants would assimilate to American culture.  They could hang on to their cuisine and many of their traditions, but they were expected to drive on the right side of the road and respect our laws and our Constitution.  And if someone wanted to resort to violence, others would try to talk him out of it, and if that failed, report the matter to the authorities.

But individuals have to take part in this process.  Alas, we’ve become afraid to call someone out for fear of offending him, or appearing to be Islamophobic or whatever.  While it is possible to leave this matter to the government, in order to try to protect us, the government will necessarily have to turn into a police state.

Or the government can do the simpler, less intrusive thing, and not admit Muslims as refugees.

Yes, Trump is petulant, and he’s thin-skinned.  But so is our Dear Leader.

Yes, Trump is an elitist.  But so are all the other candidates: he’s just more open about it.

Yes, Trump is a fraud and a liar.  But Trump is unlike the other candidates in that he has had to suffer the consequences of his actions.  He’s been sued and gone bankrupt… and recovered.

No, Trump will not ‘make America great again.’  No President can, single-handedly.

The bottom line: Trump is a rotten candidate for President, just like all the others.  But he isn’t evil.

And if you believe that Trump ‘must be stopped,’ check your premises.  You’ll find something is seriously wrong.

They’re All Frauds

My life would probably be easier if I simply disregarded Presidential politics.  Even though I’ve come to believe that Democrats are mostly useless, I haven’t changed my party registration, so my choices in the upcoming primary are Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.  I don’t like either of them, but pressed to a choice, I’d vote for Sanders: Clinton has demonstrated such disdain for the American people that she has disqualified herself.  But I suspect that’s a lost cause.

And New York has traditionally been a Democratic state, to the point where Presidential candidates haven’t bothered visiting in years, except to attend fund-raisers.  Then again, Trump is a New Yorker.  So unless Trump is the Republican candidate, New York will almost certainly go to Clinton.  And nothing I could do, even if I had ten thousand like-minded friends, would change that.

So if I put this all out of my mind, I can make my life much easier.  I’ll worry about it in November.  And even then, what I think about the candidates won’t matter.

Alas, the temptation to talk about politics is irresistible.  Some brief observations:

  • My opinion of Trump has gone down in the past weeks.  It isn’t so much his past (which I’ve known about) as his attitude.  He’s petulant, and a sore loser.  He also gets demerits for referring to one of his opponents as ‘little Marco.’
  • If Trump becomes President, I’m not sure how he would be able to satisfy people’s expectations that he would ‘make America great again.’  The government cannot create prosperity: the best it can do is create an environment in which people can be prosperous for themselves.
  • Nevertheless, I’d rather have Trump than Clinton.
  • And on the subject of Clinton, many support her on the grounds that she will continue the policy directions of President Obama. That, in itself, makes sense.  What’s strange is that President Obama has been the worst President that I can ever remember, and his policy directions have been, on average, breathtakingly bad.
  • I don’t take seriously this month’s polls about ‘Republican candidate X vs. Democratic candidate Y.’  We’re still learning about the candidates, particularly the Republicans.
  • For all we hear about Rubio’s modest upbringing, he has become curiously rich, not through his own productive effort, but through miraculous real estate transactions.
  • I want to like Cruz and Rubio: it’s encouraging to see young talent.  But both are supporters of more war (why, oh why, did we feel the need to get involved with Syria to begin with?) and enthusiastic supporters of the surveillance state.
  • John Kasich gave the best performance in last Thursday’s debate: he came across as the only adult among the candidates.  But he needs to make a more compelling presentation of himself in order to have a chance.

The essential problem is that all of the candidates are frauds.  Some are more fraudulent than others, but they’re all pretty much useless.

  • The United States is not an exceptional nation because like to think of ourselves as exceptional, or because we were somehow blessed by God.  We are an exceptional nation because we were founded on exceptional ideas.  We have strayed from those ideas, and are suffering the consequences.
  • We were able to field the world’s most powerful military because we had the most powerful productive economy at home to support it.  A productive economy includes things like manufacturing, agriculture, and transportation.  It does not include trading in third-hand, second-rate mortgages, health care as an industry, or consultancies to establish and maintain regulatory compliance.
  • To return to our core values will be difficult and painful.  As we’ve moved away from genuinely productive activities, we’ve filled in the void with non-productive activities that nevertheless transact trillions of dollars and hire millions of people.

The last President to level with us was Jimmy Carter.  He failed, not because he picked bad policy directions, but because he was politically inept.  Every President since then has tried to blow up the American people with happy talk, while the underlying rot continues.

And none of the current candidates are any different.