Trumping the Immigration Issue

Regular readers of this publication are by now aware that we are not at all enthusiastic about Donald Trump or his presidential campaign, but we will give him credit for a salutary effect on the ongoing debate about illegal immigration. It was typically Trumpish braggadocio for him to say in that widely watched debate that no one would be talking about the issue if not for him, a claim easily disproved by our own frequent rants about the matter starting long before he announced his presidency and all the way back to when he was taking the opposite side of the debate, but he does seem to have broadly expanded the parameters of what a politician can say without committing career suicide.
Not so very long ago, at least as recently as the last presidential election, all the smart set insisted that any serious Republican effort to stem the immigrant tribe would surely cause the party’s demise. Any attempt at mass deportations or other form of serious enforcement of current immigration law would lead to so many mass media sob stories about families torn asunder by a xenophobic zeal that no person worried about his reputation would tolerate it, that a variety of well-heeled industries ranging from agriculture to hotels and restaurants to whatever those guys who gather down at the Home Depot parking lot every day are doing would exert their influence, and that the more ethnically diverse America that would surely result would forever banish those old white Republicans from the nation’s politics.
Such otherwise more or less reliably Republican types as President George W. Bush and Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio are still saying the same thing, and the Wall Street Journal and other putatively conservative media with a predisposition to agriculture and hotels and restaurants and the rest of the business interests that are hauling pickup trucks full of those in the Home Depot parking lot were of course espousing the same line, and the few hard-liners were so exquisitely careful about how they talked about deportation and border enforcement, and when you threw in in the unanimous opinion of the liberal bien pensant it really did seem that you just couldn’t say anything else. Even at the time it struck us as odd, given that all the scientific opinion polls confirmed our unscientific anecdotal experience that most of Americans of all hues were dissatisfied with the currently unprecedented levels of illegal and legal immigration, and that the dissatisfaction also crossed partisan and ideological and socio-economic categories, so it all reminded us of the numerous liberal friends who have assured us that no watches Fox News, despite the ratings that show more people watch Fox News than the other news channels combined.
Trump, we must concede, has proved our point. He’s taking the hard-headed if hard-hearted stand that those families can stay together but only in the countries where they’re legally allowed, stated the obvious fact that a nation without borders and laws is no longer a nation, seemingly accepted that lettuce and hail insurance and the chocolate on your pillow at one of Trump’s fancy hotels will be slightly be more, made a shrewd pitch to spend more on “inner city” youth than newly arrived immigrants, which is especially shrewd at a time when the “Black Lives and Black Lives Only Matter” movement is bedeviling the Democrats, and yet continues to lead in the polls. Taking the stand that a clear majority of Americans prefer, it would appear, does not necessarily result in a politician’s career suicide.
All of a sudden the conventional wisdom seems quite convoluted. Self-described socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s insurgent Democratic campaign is calling illegal immigration a “right-wing” thing and he’s nonetheless leading the more respectable-on-the-issue front-runner Hillary Clinton in some crucial early-voting states. The “Black Lives and Only Black Lives” matter movement that has dogged then both won’t be inclined to vote any Republican but they’ll probably be less enthused about voting for any candidate that takes issue with Trump’s plan to spend more on “inner city” youth than illegal immigrants. The issue is shaping up to be a significant advantage for the Republicans, and if that Republican is somone other than Donald Trump it could be decisive.

— Bud Norman

A Clinton Scandal That Somehow Matters

After all the scandals the Clintons have survived, it’s been interesting to see that the latest mess regarding Hillary Clinton’s e-mails seems to be doing real damage to her presidential campaign. The press has been brutal, even if it is still polite enough to describe the scandal as being about her e-mail server rather than her, and ever since the story broke her poll numbers have been plummeting. Which leads one to wonder why this particular scandal is so much more damaging than all the others.
It is a serious matter, of course, with her use of a private rather than government e-mail system being apparently in violation of law, likely jeopardizing national security by allowing top-secret information to be easily obtained by hostile foreign governments, and the only plausible explanation being her desire to keep her public acts from public scrutiny, but all those other scandals that the Clintons somehow survived were also serious matters. Going all the way back to her early days in the public eye there was the suspicious killing she made in the cattle futures market, the White House travel office scandal, where Hillary Clinton trumped up criminal charges against an obviously innocent public servant in order to enrich some Hollywood pals, those subpoenaed Rose Law Firm records that ultimately turned up in her closet, her delusional claim that the rumors of her husband’s infidelity were a “vast right-wing conspiracy” and her war on the women who insisted otherwise. Her brief time as a Senator was largely untainted by scandal but not marked by any significant accomplishments, and her inglorious tenure as Secretary of State involved suspicious donations to her family’s suspicious charity by suspicious foreign governments and a disastrous Libyan war that wound up with four Americans dead in a terror attack that she falsely blamed on an obscure filmmaker who wound in prison for exercising his First Amendment rights. Why a hard-to-follow story about her e-mail accounts should be more damaging is hard to explain.
Our guess is that it’s the proverbial straw the broke the camel’s back, the story that at long last confirmed all the suspicions that had accumulated over the past 25 years of previously underplayed scandals, and an excuse for anxious Democrats to start seeking more electable alternatives. So far the best they can come up with is Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Al Gore, present Vice President Joe Biden, and there’s even talk of past failed nominee and current Secretary of State John Kerry, who is responsible for that Iran nuclear bomb deal that ever sensible American hates, but that only demonstrates how very damaged the Clinton candidacy is. The press might relent once it realizes that the Clinton campaign is still well positioned to win the Democratic nomination, but until then we expect they’ll continue to pile on an Clinton’s poll numbers will continue to plummet.

— Bud Norman

Straight Outta the Movies

Although we pay little attention to the contemporary cinema, we couldn’t help noticing that the big hit of the past weekend was titled “Straight Outta Compton.” The essential Drudge Report was of course on the story, and when we hit its link to a story about the box office booty it transported back in time to the days when the murder rate was soaring and here in Wichita and just about everywhere else and we were working the music beat for the local newspaper.
Just as we had suspected, the movie is reportedly about N.W.A., an acronym for “Niggaz With Attitude,” which is the “gangsta rap” ensemble whose debut album was also titled “Straight Outta Compton.” Middle-aged and middle-American white guys that we are, we were quite familiar with the subject matter. Back in the the glorious ’80s, when vinyl records were still widely available, we used to frequent a local music shop where the proprietors were familiar enough with our tastes that they would sometimes recommend a new release, and although they knew we’re predisposed to old country and old blues and old rock ‘n’ roll and old jazz and old pop standards they also knew we were also keen to hear anything that sums up the current zeitgeist, so they urged that we purchase a copy of “Straight Outta Compton.” Sure enough, when we laid it on our turntable and turned up the volume we were memorably stunned by the ensuing sounds. The record was the aural equivalent of the most stomach-turning horror flick you’ve ever seen at a drive-in motive theater, with a compellingly abhorrent beat underling underlying extraordinarily vulgar and immediately believable lyrics about the carnage that was then occurring in the Compton portion of the Los Angeles metro area and almost everywhere else, our humble prairie hometown included, which had a sizable black population.
By chance the group soon announced a concert engagement here in Wichita, at a venue built to accommodate the big swing bands, so we did our day job and called up the record company’s publicity department to arrange a telephone interview with one of the group’s members. We wound up speaking with with Ice Cube, identified in the record as a “crazy-ass nigga named Ice Cube,” and were surprised to find him a most affable fellow. When we asked about the controversy that had naturally resulted from his group’s success he explained that he they were just telling the awful truth about what was going on in his “‘hood,” which was the du jour defense of “gangsta rap” back in those days, we asked if it machine gun murders was really all that going on in in his neighborhood, and if nobody was falling in love or going to school in starting a business or something other than owing down naggers with a machine gun, and he stammered his explanation that the carnage was the most important development for N.W.A. to be going on about. Since then he’s gone on to a successful career as a mainstream Hollywood actor, with fine performances in the fine Iraq War caper flick “Three Kings” and a couple of moves that about black American life that entail a wider array of black American experience than street murders, and we’d like to think that our stumping questions had something to do with that.
Affable as he’d been, our conversation with Ice Cube and our multiple playings of “Straight Outta Compton” led us to insist that our newspaper buy us a ticket to N.W.A.’s performance so we could write an eye-witness account of the resulting shooting. Our niggardly editors were skeptical of our promise that would be a shooting at the concert, which was taking place at the old Cotillion Ballroom that had been built for the big bands of the swing era, but we explained that they hadn’t heard the album. We were sure that of all the people enticed to that that concerts by “Straight OUtta Compton” some among them were going to take a shot a someone. We were slightly worried when the the concert went without incident, and the group explained that they weren’t going to do with their hit “F**K Tha Police” because it has proved troublesome, but as the group finished its closing numbers and the shots rang and the glass broke and the crowd rioted we were able to make deadline by phoning from behind an old-fashioned phone booth that gunshots were fired at a performance of “Niggaz With Attitude,”
Nobody died at that concert, but there were more murders in Wichita that year than were were in Belfast, Ireland, which was still in thrall of its “troubles,” and we’re still not sure if the “Niggaz With Attitude” and their “Straight Outta Compton” was exposing this dire situation or glamorizing it. We do recall reading a story about how every stop on N.W.A.’s tour, from Honolulu to Wichita to New York, involved gunshots. We haven’t seen the new movie, and probably won’t until it show up on Netflix, but we’re eager to see how it deals with these unpleasant facts.
The murder rates have sharply declined here and elsewhere since those bad old days, but we’re nonetheless worried that “Niggaz With Attitude” are once again at the top of the box office and back in the the news. It seems to coincide with the “F**k Tha Police” attitudes of a “Black Lives Matter” movement that that boos down any suggestion that all lives matter, even those black lives lost to the lawlessness that too often prevails in black neighborhoods because of a lack of policing, and with the racial animosities that have resurfaced since the election of the First Black President. Some may welcome the black empowerment of the the Niggazs With Attitude, but we hope they’ll note that death total is mostly black.

— Bud Norman

The Democratic Panic

Although the presidential election is still more than 15 months away, and the odious Donald Trump is currently atop the polls in the Republican race, it’s none too early for the Democrats to panic. The situation is now so desperate that such names as Vice President Joe Biden, former Vice President Al Gore, and current Secretary of State John Kerry are being bandied about.
Ever since she lost in ’08 the conventional wisdom has assumed Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic presidential nominee for ’16, but on this date in ’15 it no longer seems so wise. All the opinion polls have lately been brutal, with majorities of Americans finding her untrustworthy, a plurality of Democratic voters in the crucial first primary state of New Hampshire preferring her self-described socialist rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and her lead over potential Republican rivals in swing states has evaporated. The press has lately been just brutal, with apologetic reports dripping out about the Federal Bureau of Investigation involving itself in the matter of the private e-mail account she used to conduct public business, which naturally reminds everyone of the past 23 years of Clinton scandals, and then there’s the problem that she’s an inept politician and a thoroughly unlikeable sort and too tied up with corporations to pass muster with a currently far-left Democratic party. As hard as it is to abandon seven years of conventional wisdom, we’re not surprised to Democrats scrambling for a Plan B.
It is a sign of how very panicked the Democrats are, though, that such names as Biden, Gore, and Kerry are being bandied about. Biden is such a gaffe-prone doofus who has failed in two previous attempts at the presidency that even the leftist clowns at “Saturday Night Live” have taken notice, Gore is by now mostly associated with the “global warming” hysteria that the gleefully carbon-emitting general public isn’t the least bit hysteric about, and Kerry is the guy who lost to someone named Bush and has since negotiated that lousy Iran-gets-a-nuclear-bomb deal that all the polling shows the the public absolutely hates, and except for that faux-Indian woman from Massachusetts who thinks that businesses don’t have to hire security guards because the government is doing such a good job of keeping us all safe, it’s hard to think of a more plausible name the Democrats might come up with. The Democratic party’s current panic seems entirely justified.
Our guess is that the odious Trump’s current poll-leading twenty-something numbers are an absolute ceiling on his support, and won’t suffice when it gets down to a two or three man race, or a two man and one woman race if former computer company executive Carly Fiorina continues to surge, and that he’ll affect the general election only if his formidable ego compels him to run as a third-party candidate.n The eventual Republican nominee will likely be someone with a successful record of political leadership, with far fewer scandals than Clinton, and despite the best efforts of the media will be conspicuously less ridiculous than Biden, Gore, Kerry, or even that faux Indian woman from Massachusetts, We figure they might as well go with Sanders, who seems a likable enough fellow despite his self-described socialism, but coming from the virtually all-white state of Vermont he’s having trouble with the black vote, which is lately booing down his reasonable claim that “all lives matter” and is unaccountably loyal to the Clinton name, and if Obama were to come out for his Vice President or current Secretary of State rather than his mere former Secretary of State that would likely shift the black support and leave Clinton’s already troublesome poll numbers caving. A Gore candidacy would also peel off a significant number of Democrats nostalgic for the era of Hillary Clinton’s husband’s presidency, so almost any scenario makes Clinton’s previously assumed coronation all the more doubtful.
The Republicans could still screw this up, and the odious Donald Trump seems determined to make that happen, but as of now we can see why the Democrats are the ones in panic mode.

— Bud Norman

The Sickly Orange River

The Animas River in southern Colorado is currently a sickly orange color, the result of three million gallons of toxic waste being dumped into it. Ordinarily the Environmental Protection Agency would be pursuing criminal charges against the greedy earth-hating corporation that caused such a catastrophe, but in this case the agency itself is responsible.
It was entirely accidental, just one of those unfortunate things that can happen when you’re using heavy machinery while investigating a mine site, and the people charged with protecting America’s environment say they feel just awful about it. This is apparently sufficient for the environmentalist left, which is currently rallying to the agency’s defense and placing the blame on the company whose mine was being so disastrously investigated, but they see more concerned more with the government than the environment.
All those companies that have been heavily fined and whose executives have gone to jail for lesser contaminations surely didn’t intend to despoil the environment, after all, and we can reasonably assume that they also felt awful about it. The EPA’s apologists will likely argue that it was acting for the greater good, rather than than greed that motivates those nasty old miners, but we would note that mining industry also serves an essential and arguably more important service than the EPA and that the EPA’s employees are at least as well compensated and as a typical Colorado miner. The consequences of of governmental incompetence can be just as devastating as those of corporate incompetence, although usually more so, and deserve even harsher condemnation
When a corporation encounters one of those unfortunate things that can happen when you’re moving heavy machinery around toxic materials, there’s an EPA and a Justice Department and a Federal Bureau of Investigation and an environmental left around to make so those responsible are held to account, but if it’s the EPA and the federal government that’s spilling three million gallons of toxic waste into a river and turning it a sickly orange and the environmental left is rallying to its defense there’s no real incentive for them to avoid such screw-ups in the future.

— Bud Norman

Two Lackluster Races

The Republican Party is currently embarrassed by the fact that the odious Donald Trump is leading its otherwise distinguished field of presidential candidates in the current polls, but at least it can take some comfort in the travails of the Democratic Party. You’d have to read past the headlines to notice, as it will never attract the media attention that Trump does, but the Democrats’ supposedly inevitable nominee is now further mired in yet another significant scandal and her surging self-described socialist challenger is being run off his stage by a “Black Lives Matter” movement that is once again rioting in the streets and booing down any suggestion that all lives matter.
The Democrats’ previously plausible plan was that the Republicans would fight a debilitating internecine battle, with some unelectable crazy-pants or another winding up on top, while their own faithful would all rally behind the relatively centrist former First Lady and Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but thus far it isn’t working. The unelectable crazy-pants candidate is currently leading the Republican race, although the lead is likely to change once Republican voters in the early primary and caucus states start state the question of who should lead the country seriously, but the Democrats’ presumed nominee is suddenly being seriously challenged by the energized support of Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, and even his sizable crowds are being overtaken by overtaken by as few as three “Black Lives Matter” activists whose single issue is the relative handful of black lives lost to the nation’s police forces. Right now the same movement is wreaking havoc on the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, where one year ago an unarmed black man was shot down by a police officer in what has indisputably turned out to be a clear-cut case of self-defense by the police officer, and it’s also wreaking havoc on Sanders’ far-left campaign for not being far-left enough.
The latest on Clinton is the federal investigation into the “top secret” information that she sent over on her private e-mail account rather than using the more secure government accounts she was required by law to use, and which she apparently used to prevent the American public’s scrutiny even at the risk of foreign foreknowledge, and it only adds to a reputation for dishonest and unethical behavior dating back to the days of the her rapist-defending law practice and her suspiciously profitable trading transactions and aspersions on her husband’s sexual harassment victims and her undistinguished years in the Senate and her disastrous tenure as Secretary of State. Along with her service on the boards of such vilified corporations as Wal-Mart, and her once-beloved husband’s support of balanced budgets and defense of traditional marriage and stiff sentences for for convicted criminals, it’s no surprise she’s being challenged from the left of her party.
Even the left of the Democrat party is now being challenged by the even further-left of the party, though, and the Sanders insurgency has lately been harassed by those “Black Lives Matter” activists. Sanders essentially surrendered a campaign stop to three — count ’em, three — of of the protestors, and even though he drew thousands more to an impressive rally a few nights later the damage done to the coalition of well-meaning white liberals and more personally pissed-off black liberals, Sanders’ socialistic appeal should be apparent even those reporters more fixated on Donald Trump, and it will be fun to see how the media reconcile this African-American apparent complaint with the rest of America’s concerns.

— Bud Norman

The New York Times’ Latest Anthropological Expedition Isn’t So Bad, After All

Very rarely do we have kind words for the New York Times Magazine, but we thought that its recent article on “The Kansas Experiment” was well-written, very even-handed, and remarkably free of the snobbish condescension that usually accompanies the paper’s reports on this part of the world.
As author Chris Suellentrop confesses in his charmingly confessional account, he’s not only a native Kansan himself, he’s also the loving nephew of State Rep. Gene Suellentrop, who is early on identified as “a partisan political warrior … if you’re a liberal, coastal, cosmopolitan sort, at best you see him as a deluded if well-intentioned peddler of what The New York Times’ columnist Paul Krugman has called ‘right-wing derp…'” The article concerns all the radical tax-cutting and budget-cutting that has happened in Kansas since Gov. Sam Brownback was elected along with a solid legislative majority of like-minded state representatives and senators who had ousted mostly more moderate Republicans, and the uncle was very prominent among them, so no matter how liberal and coastal and cosmopolitan the nephew might consider himself he does provide a fair hearing for both sides.
In fact, he goes into more rather detail than the average New York Times Magazine might need about Kansas politics. The gist of it is that Brownback and his allies significantly slashed taxes, with an emphasis on offering relief to businesses and a special emphasis on businesses moving to the state, slashed the budget by a smaller amount but enough to elicit squeals of agony from the teachers and university professors and their administrators and other affected interest groups, and promised that the resulting economic expansion would make up the difference. This did not happen immediately, shortfalls ensued, further budget cuts were proposed, more squeals of agony from the affected interest groups ensued, they wound up raising taxes on cigarettes and booze and couple of other things, found a couple of new cuts and filled in a couple of others. Those liberal and coastal and cosmopolitan readers of The New York Times would likely find that sufficient to conclude that Kansas has once again crazy, and although the Gray Lady has treated its readers to that very story on a few occasions already Suellentrop the Democrats and the last of the moderates to do their gloating, and he also gives Brownback and such allies as the author’s uncle a chance to make the case that there’s a lag between you when offer a tax break and somebody can get a tax-paying business up and running as a result, and he even lists the various factions within the Republican party and the strange deals that result with the small number of Democrats.
There’s some nice local color, too. The article’s portrait of Brownback as a strange combination of easy-going and easily-likable small town boy and a radical every bit as fire-breathing as John Brown is portrayed on the capitol walls strikes us as quite accurate, and we’ve known Brownback since we were Sen. Bob Dole’s interns together way back in ’78. He notes the state’s motto of “ad astra per aspera” and its long history of fomenting radical ideas, from abolition to Prohibition, its obsession with basketball in general and the intrastate rivalries in particular, the peculiar sound of Kansans’ voices, and he even throws in a reference to the Golden Bell diner over on the west side of Wichita. He’s got all the numbers down, too, and the mind-numbing minutia of the after-midnight wrangling that goes on in the extended days of a Kansas legislative session, complete with the teary speeches at 1:30 in the morning, and he accurately conveys the red-hot hatreds that result.
We might quibble with the conclusion, though. The author’s attempts at even-handedness are such that he finds the state’s final — so far — budget resolution a triumph of Kansas politics. He embraces the Democratic notion of higher taxes and more spending, credits the Republican conservatives with winding up voting for it and acknowledges that the Democrats’ cravenly political vote against it was an even greater betrayal of their principles, but this doesn’t quite convincing us that there’s no longer anything wrong with Kansas. The deal did work to the extent that Kansas isn’t Greece or Puerto Rico or Illinois, none of which, by the way, have any of the kind of right-wing crazies we have here in Kansas, but we’re not going back east and will have to live with it and are not at all satisfied.
Of course, no around here is at all satisfied. All our teacher and professor and newspaper-writing friends along with the rest of liberal pals continue to hate Brownback and his allies with that aforementioned red-hot hatred, and even those of us more favorably inclined to Brownback and his allies are disappointed. The budget cuts into education didn’t keep the state from spending more pupil than the national average and more than any countries except a couple of Scandinavian ones, more educational bang for the buck could have been achieved by dis-establishing some of the urban school districts and replacing them with a voucher system, the cuts to the regent universities probably would have forced them to fire some of their extraneous personnel and start lowering tuition rates, the Kansas Supreme Court justices insisting otherwise should all be removed at the next election, all that federally mandated spending on Medicare other bureaucratic compliance should be blithely ignored until the inevitable federal court rulings bring the hammer down, and sooner or later those tax cuts will show results and the alternative is Greece or Puerto Rico or Illinois.
We’re even more fire-breathing than our friend Brownback, though, even if we like to think ourselves just as easy-going and easily-likable, all the more so because we’ll have an occasional smoke and beer, and we’re not writing this for The New York Times’ Magazine. We have contributed to the times, on occasion, and know how very scrupulous they are about being even-handed, so that’s our only quibble with an otherwise fine article.

— Bud Norman

Our Least Favorite TV Show

Donald Trump’s new reality show is even more annoying than the last one, which you could at least turn off. This time around he’s on all the channels, all the time, and even if you turn off the television altogether and try to escape into the serious news on the internet he’s all over all that as well.
The show is apparently quite popular, judging by the record-setting audience for a way-too-early Republican presidential debate and Trump’s sizable plurality in this silly season of political polling, and it’s not all surprising. Trump’s campaign has all the elements of a hit reality show, with a rude and insulting and self-absorbed main character, plenty of gaudy bling to be vicariously enjoyed, and of course constant conflict. Just like those “Real Housewives” of various places and that “Snooky” person from “Jersey Shore” or the assorted Kardashians and their transgendered celebrity neighbors and the well-toned deviants trying to be the “Survivor” in some hellish jungle or remote island, the more outrageously Trump behaves the greater his popularity becomes. Even his latest celebrity tiff, with Fox News’ appropriately pretty journalist Megyn Kelly, provoked by her tough-but-fair questions during the debates, and followed in the next day’s episode by Trump telling some friendlier journalist that “she had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever,” seems to have helped his ratings.
This would be just another mildly depressing example of America’s cultural decline, but Trump’s new act is presidential politics, and what makes for a hit reality show is not what is needed to properly govern a great nation. Trump’s most avid admirers believe otherwise, and argue that confrontational trash-talking and a certain boorish forcefulness and nihilistic disregard for any and all conventions will get all those Wall Street conspirators and head-chopping Islamists and job-stealing Chinese and Mexicans in line the same way that all those other reality show stars imposed their will on their weaker co-stars. They’re unable to name any successful leader of a great nation who has acted according to this theory, while we’re able to reel off a number of leaders of failed states who did so, but at this point people are enjoying the show to much to pause for such considerations.
One fellow we know who’s reasonable enough that he’ll eventually make that pause, but in the meantime he’s saying how much he likes that Trump is willing to bluntly express his opinions. We noted that Trump is now bluntly stating many opinions are very different than the ones he was bluntly stating just a year or so, and would likely be bluntly stating a whole new set of opinions should he ever find himself in a position that forced him to confront reality, but the fellow still seemed to relish the bluntness. Another friend already isn’t likely to support Trump, but insists that a record audience for a Republican debate and the rest of the media attention can only help the party. We argue that having so many people cheering for a reality show star’s gratuitous insults and preening braggadocio and utter lack of real solutions to America’s many dire problems, and seeing the very distinguished lot of successful Governors and distinguished Senators who make up the rest of the field being reduced to co-star status, is not likely to enhance the GOP’s image. All of Trump’s apologists mention his willingness to “fight” the media and the party’s leadership, as if sending out schoolyard taunts via “Tweets” and growling like one of those professional wrestlers were akin to actual fighting, but if they were to take stock of the rest of Trump’s co-stars they’d notice that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took on the public sector unions, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has repeatedly defied his party leadership in a quixotic battle against Obamacare and deficit spending, and pretty much all of them are also pushing back against media bias without resorting to vulgarity.
We take some hope in the fact that it’s still way too early for presidential politics and this is the silly season of polling, and thus far most reality show stars have eventually returned to a well-earned obscurity, but we very eager for Trump to be cancelled.

— Bud Norman

The Political Pre-Season Begins

Alright then, we’ll admit it, we didn’t watch the entirety of the first debate of the Republican presidential nomination race. We’re as addicted to this story as any other reality show watcher, and we already have our rooting interests in the plot line, but our older brother is in town and there’s this great Mexican restaurant over in the nearby barrio and we cut off our television cable years ago, and besides, it all has such a sense of those meaningless pre-season games that the National Football Leagues starts all too early, so we we figured we’d rely on the more diligent internet sources for our opinions of it all.
Pretty much everyone on our right-wing reading list seemed to agree that former Hewlitt-Packard honcho and failed California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina won the “jayvee team” debate among those who didn’t poll in the top ten, with accomplished two-term Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal coming in second, and the arguably even more accomplished two-term Texas Gov. Rick Perry exceeding expectations well enough to come in a credible third. The other three really aren’t worth mentioning, as any experienced reality show viewer can rightly assume they’ll soon be written out of the plot. We’d like to see Fiorina, Jindal, and Perry all get into the prime time debate, and can easily name three candidates we’d be happy to see them replace, so we’re heartened by the reviews.
There doesn’t seem to be much consensus about the main event. which suggests that nobody won. So far as we can tell from the snippets at the Fox News Channel’s website, real estate magnate and literal reality show star Donald Trump apparently was his usual bombastic and buffoonish self, but there’s no telling whether that will add to or detract from his poll-leading numbers. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush gave a reassuringly ambiguous statement about his past support for the “Common Core” curriculum, the unabashedly libertarian Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and current New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had a spat about national intelligence-gathering that most of the judges scored a win for Christie, neurosurgeon and political neophyte Dr. Ben Carson seems to have had no gaffes but no impression, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s just-regular-hillbilly-folk schtick seems have done its usual black magic, and the rest of it seems equally pointless.
Of course there’s much chatter about how tough the Fox moderators were in their questioning, but we figure all the candidates should be prepared for far worse then they meet the rest of the press. Our early favorite, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, used the opportunity of a question about his past support for “comprehensive immigration reform” to explain that he was previously wrong but has since been looking at the issue from a more national perspective and is now right, and when we try to imagine Trump speaking the words “I was wrong” we impressed by his candor.
If Trump didn’t commit his inevitable self-immolation and our guy Walker didn’t boost his numbers, and the more worthy contenders didn’t move into contention, we’ll not be worried. This is Grapefruit League and Cactus League stuff, and the numbers won’t count until some very cold days that won’t arrive until winter, and the lady at the bar we were at our brother earlier tonight who was shouting the pre-season football was about to arrive even as a Kansas City Royals victory was underway on the television care mores about that game that we care about this political game. The political game will wind up making a difference, but what happened in that debate we mostly skipped probably won’t.

–Bud Norman

The Latest Defense of That Awful, Awful Deal

Our favorite conspiracy theory is that everything that has happened throughout history has been the according to the nefarious design of a secret cabal of Jews and Masons, and that Jackie Mason is the diabolical mastermind of it all, but even this attempt at satire cannot compare to the Obama administration’s defense of its awful, awful nuclear deal with the Iranian government.
Secretary of State John Kerry has granted an interview to the ever-faithful interviewer Jeffrey Goldberg over at the once-venerable Atlantic Monthly, a few Hollywood types have weighed in with a video saying the only alternative to the administration’s Iran deal is melted Frisbees and dead children and global Armageddon, the president himself has addressed a friendly audience at American University and gotten laughs with his ridicule of the deal’s opponent, and one of our crazier Facebook friends has posted a video purporting to prove that a millennial Christianist worldview is the other element in the only opposition to this awful, awful deal. In every case, we noticed, there was an implication that the only alternative to this awful, awful deal is an even more awful war with Iran, that such a conflict should properly be put off until Iran acquires the nuclear weapons that can be easily acquired under this deal and acquire the inter-continental ballistic delivery systems that are explicitly allow, which will surely be after the present administration has passed, and that anyone who disagrees is probably one of those people who belong to a certain unnamed ethnic group that is currently a beleaguered minority in the Middle East, or one of those other demographically significant yet unfashionable religious categories that retain their belief in the wisdom of the earlier three-fourths of the Christian bible as well as the later fourth and stand steadfast on religious ground in support of Israel, where even the left-wing crazies understand how very, very awful this deal is.
If there’s any good news to be gleamed from this it’s that the demographically significant yet currently unfashionable portion of the Democratic party that has a certain familial affinity for a Jewish state steadfastly is showing signs of defending that noble race’s existence in some misbegotten portion of the world rather than being wiped out by an agreement an awful, awful agreement that comes to no good end. One significant Jewish Democrat has already gone to the opposition, another significant Jewish Democrat was reported to have “lost it” while trying to defend the deal to his demographically significant constituencies. This suggests some chance to peel off a few vital votes from the administration’s otherwise solid partisan support, and there’s the Republican party’s seemingly solid votes, moved by types who believe all fourths of the The Bible make more sense than this cockamamie “agreement,” which apparently isn’t even a treaty, which would require three-fourths of the Senate’s approval and would be dead in the water, so the conspiracy of Jews and all those Masons who drive their mini-cars around the local festivals is apparently gaining some steam. Enough for the administration and its Secretary of State and those Hollywood celebrities and our Facebook friends to all cast scorn on anyone who opposes this awful, awful deal.
This won’t necessarily prevent the deal or its awful, awful consequences, sd a certain ethnic minority in the Middle East and that demographically yet currently significant yet currently unfashionable minority, formerly known as Judeo-Christian civilization, no longer constitute a majority, and although the even the undecided yet have to weigh in, and probably never will, the deal might yet ben undermined enough that a subsequent and more sensible administration could completely un-do it. We’ll cling to such faint hopes in times such as these, or at least that’s what our puppet=master Jackie Mason is telling us to say.

— Bud Norman


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