What’s at Stake

Yesterday, the media frenzy was all about Chris Christie’s endorsement of “The Donald.” Of course, there has been something every day–the latest tweet, the most egregious insult, the latest analysis of how someone so manifestly unqualified has managed to get this far…

All of this media attention focused upon Trump–attention that has allowed him to suck all the oxygen out of Republican rooms–has had a number of unfortunate consequences. One of the less remarked of those consequences is that the so-called “establishment” candidates look more reasonable by comparison.

Even Trump can’t make Cruz look sane, but as political observers have pointed out, Rubio and even Kasich are on record taking positions that would have been unthinkable even ten years ago. Paul Krugman recently noted aspects of Rubio’s extremism:

[W]hat I do know is that one shouldn’t treat establishment support as an indication that Mr. Rubio is moderate and sensible. On the contrary, not long ago someone holding his policy views would have been considered a fringe crank.

Let me leave aside Mr. Rubio’s terrifying statements on foreign policy and his evident willingness to make a bonfire of civil liberties, and focus on what I know best, economics.

You probably know that Mr. Rubio is proposing big tax cuts, and may know that among other things he proposes completely eliminating taxes on investment income — which would mean, for example, that Mitt Romney would end up owing precisely zero in federal taxes.

What you may not know is that Mr. Rubio’s tax cuts would be almost twice as big as George W. Bush’s as a percentage of gross domestic product — despite the fact that federal debt is much higher than it was 15 years ago, and Republicans have spent the Obama years warning incessantly that budget deficits will destroy America, any day now.

What Krugman failed to note were Rubio’s extreme social policy positions; for one thing, he proposes outlawing abortion even in the case of rape and incest.

Not to be outdone, the presumably more moderate John Kasich recently defunded Ohio’s Planned Parenthood.

These are the candidates whose hoped-for elevation to the highest office in the land is motivating Mitch McConnell and his Senate colleagues to ignore their constitutional duty to consider an Obama Supreme Court nominee. (“Strict construction,” anyone??)

If the Senate Republicans manage to keep Scalia’s position open, the next President is likely to choose three Supreme Court Justices. If those choices are made by any of these candidates, America will be a very different country in short order. And it won’t be a country that most of us will recognize.


  1. Richard Kammen – exactly right. Educated young people have been moving abroad in greater numbers in recent years; their elders may follow.

  2. As sickening – and in some cases downright frightening – the current GOP presidential nominee lineup is; I find their masses of supporters more sickening and terrifying. The fools are taking advantage of the idiocy of their followers; can’t fault them for taking advantage of that advantage, but their voting constituency are beyond reach because they seem unaware they are being taken advantage of and used. Anyone who doesn’t know they are voting for the very people who are denying them their Constitutional rights on so many issues deserves whatever they get if their candidate wins. The problem with that is the rest of us lose our rights along with them. Sheila used the term recently, “cutting off their nose to spite their face” is beyond their comprehension as they yell, scream, holler give “standing Os” and their donations to the masters of destruction.

    I say again…be afraid, be very afraid!

  3. And hopefully, Patmcc, that’s what most voters will do. The more astounding thing to me is that the Republican establishment doesn’t really get what is happening. Recently a Star article mentioned Luke Messer’s agenda for meeting the needs of Trump supporters: repealing EPA rules, controlling the IRS and providing more vouchers for students to attend no traditional schools. Except for vouchers, aren’t those the goal of the Koch Brothers?

  4. Sheila gives us facts and interprets those facts. What facts do we have that educated youth are moving abroad in greater numbers? Let’s turn what fear we have into action. A few weeks ago I wrote an LTE to the Star in response to an article which promoted the GOP mantra of rampant fear, which included the necessity of arming ourselves. I stated I nor anyone I’m close to is fearful. The editor gutted my letter which made it non-sensical.

  5. Scalia sold out to the Kochs and their billionaire cohorts decades ago. He was such a disgusting man that I have trouble referring to him as a human being.

    The Koch’s well-oiled machine has been transforming this country through a very precise plan over the past 3-4 decades that has: continuously increased their profits, reduced or eliminated pollution regs against their industries, reduced or eliminated their taxes, and gutted the middle class.

    They will not stop until they OWN the entire government and completely turn the rest of us into their slaves. This will happen sooner than we all can even imagine if we don’t find some way to stop them. They have been twisting the minds of the masses by feeding them messages and lies via their multiple ‘philanthropic’ organizations, which they managed to coerce congress into allow non-profit status to avoid paying taxes for their lobbying efforts.

    If our country continues to allow them to take over the government we will be forced into a revolution. When a small group of wealthy people use their greed to systematically downgrade the lives of honest hard working people, those people will eventually stand up and fight. That is exactly where we are headed.

    I’ve mentioned this before but if you have the chance to get a copy of Jane Mayer’s new book DARK MONEY, please do. She spent 5 years collecting facts and this book will give you a more in-depth look into what has been happening in our country. It has information that the average citizen would have no way of ever learning about on our own.

  6. Regarding Rubio’s view about abortion – it is unfortunate for the rest of us that his mother did not choose to have an abortion when she was carrying him. The same goes for Cruz.

  7. I believe that the Republican establishment opposes Trump not because of his policies, but because they cannot buy him. With that said, the establishment Republican voters that I have spoken to about this primary season are opposed to ALL of their candidates. I repeatedly hear, “Where are our leaders? Where are our good guys?” The question then becomes, “Will they vote Republican again this year, or not?”

  8. And now that the Bully Boys have formed an alliance of convenience and mutual self-interest, this campaign is only going to get worse.

  9. Clearly the Koch led oligarchy revolution has made much progress. We were complacent way too long and that allowed them to whip up those already comfortable with cultism – the NRAs, the evangelistic, the racists, the Bundy bunch, the libertarians, the isolationists, the science deniers, etc – into a fury of fear and anger and action.

    This has to be settled now while we still have democracy to send them back under their rocks.

    The greatest generation had to use guns and steel to save us in their times, if we go all out we can hopefully repeal this threat with words and votes.

    But time is short. Our opportunity could be fleeting. It’s now or never.

    2016 has to be a clean sweep.

  10. @Anne Johnson. We see “for the most part the lower end of the 50%” supporting the Republican field. The least educated and most easily manipulated are only the public face of the demagogy. The plutocrats and oligarchs are funneling their money into the coffers of these candidates, knowing full well that they are buying their loyalty. It is all too obvious that they are much more subtle in their bigotry and lust for power than their rabid followers are.

  11. How do these GOP idiots plan to run the country when they offer massive tax cuts? What is going to fund their massive expansion of military spending ideas? I’m really wondering how these morons are going to fund the government because it takes tax receipts and if they cut everyone’s taxes or do away with the IRS, what (money) is going to pay for their budgets? Good grief. If America isn’t on the path to a third world country, it will be in short order. I’m glad I’m already in Europe where we have massive public transport, great education structures, low unemployment and high rise cranes everywhere in the landscape (because of all of the building going on). Europe is growing and is quite capable of using their tax receipts for the betterment of the people. If you want to come see it for yourself, I’ll set up our air mattress for your visit. 🙂

  12. Thank you Sheila for stating precisely what is at stake. If we don’t collectively stand up against this very hostile takeover of this country we should all be very concerned that we might not get another chance to do so. That “govern” versus “rule” thing that many of us have brought up might be a far bigger deal than any of us really know.

    As bad as what the GOP candidates are proposing sounds regarding our domestic situation the impact of what any of these fools want to do in regard to our foreign policy could effectively end our traditional stance in regard to the international system. Given that nearly all of these folks see the use of force and unilateral action as our principal foreign policy tools as opposed to diplomacy and multi-lateral action we could end up over time up being the outlier much in the way Russia is seen now but in a world where the power balance will also be essentially reversed with our meltdown being the event that sets that in motion. At that point all of the restraints that currently exist against conflicts, both regional and those that overarch specific areas of the world, could virtually disappear. Current alliance postures, both those that involve us directly and those we support indirectly could likely break down and fail. Thus, we will not only take ourselves out of the picture in regard to our being “a force for good” in the world to prevent such conflicts from taking place but we will also make it even less likely that those nation states that traditionally stand with us in pursuit of such aims will be able to do so.

    If this happens all bets will be off in regard to a multitude of issues from high visibility efforts such as nuclear-nonproliferation (NPT) agreements to more “routine” ones such as international aid efforts aimed at keeping people from starving to death or dying from virulent trans-national diseases and epidemics. The influence that we have traditionally wielded that has created an international environment where nation states have stepped up when they wouldn’t have done so otherwise would also go away. In essence, once again we, the most powerful nation in the world, will set in motion what we are supposedly trying to prevent but in this instance the results will be far larger than they were in 2003 emanating from our horribly misguided war of choice against Saddam Hussein’s Baathist Iraq. If this happens the results could end up being cataclysmic where we set in motion the laying to waste of virtually everything that we have been involved in building since the end of the Second World War and actually earlier than that. We won’t be seen as a force for good where our influence is instead squandered via efforts to prop up a failing international system and where our actions will be seen as solely self-serving, brutal, and against what we are supposed to stand for. Whatever international good will we will have left at that point could disappear. We could end up over time being a pariah, descending into isolation and where the vast majority of the international system has turned against us seeing us as the common enemy.

    As an example of what can go horribly wrong years ago there was a study conducted regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 and what could have happened. The gist of that study went something like this and even with a pragmatic thinker named John Fitzgerald Kennedy at the helm as an arbiter for both good sense and common sense things could have gone far south very quickly. The gist of that study went something like this. Things escalate step by step to the point where we end up invading Cuba and the Soviets use those tactical nuclear weapons they had, which we didn’t fully know about at the time, against our Marines coming ashore in massive amphibious landings. We suffer horrendous casualties and, as a result, things quickly go full tilt nuclear. Cuba is leveled and we engage in a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. Given that we had a larger nuclear arsenal than they did at the time, but with weapons systems no where near as ‘accurate’ as they are today, the casualties among the Soviet peoples are catastrophic. We suffer “serious” losses as well but we end up virtually laying waste to the Soviet homeland. As a result of our actions we end up being seen as an international pariah and end up being forced out of the United Nations where we retreat from the international system into isolation and suffer from all the deprivations that could and would be associated from such isolation.

    Jack Kennedy and all those “cooler heads” back then saved us all from an outcome like this but even then it was a terrifyingly close call. We dodged a huge bullet but so did everyone else worldwide. The rub, the enormous rub, is that those “cooler heads” are no longer here and all of these folks are “hot heads” in comparison where the true gravity of what they’re proposing is totally lost on them.

    Perhaps, to boil this all down to universally understandable terms in this country we could use part of Frank Capra’s classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life” as a metaphor for all of it. One of the pivotal parts of this film is where the lead character, George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) gets to see what the life in his hometown, Bedford Falls, would be like if he had never been born. When his guardian Angel, Clarence, saves him from his intended suicide she shows George what the results of his absence would be and they are totally horrifying since he, just by being there, stood in the gap as a pivotal person in his community and thus kept what needed to happened for the common good on track even if it was done indirectly.

    These people, any of them, if elected and able to implement their agendas both domestically and internationally could cripple us in ways that might only be seen when viewed in hindsight and where their full impact will be regretted deeply by not only the citizens of this country but billions worldwide. To say that there is a lot at stake in these coming elections might end up being a gargantuan-sized understatement. Unfortunately “Clarence”, the guardian angel, who could possibly let us all know how this will all shake out was solely a figment of Frank Capra’s imagination.

  13. I’m starting to agree that Trump is the best of the Republican candidates for President this year. Could he do the job? Not even close.

  14. First of all you have to have a reason to Vote and be involved in the Political process. In Indiana we have the virtually inert and often invisible Democratic Party. The Democratic Party in Indiana has been content to keep their “safe districts” and that is about all. The Democratic Party is frightened to be anything other than Republican Light.

    We have long string of silent Democrats in Indiana, no fire in them, and of course no progressive agenda. The Democratic Party will cheerfully take Union Money, but when is last time a Democratic Candidate in this state took a strong Pro-Union Stand. Mr Mustache, John Gregg is just another exercise in futility.
    You might expect a Democrat to be against the vast sums of tax dollars diverted into the pockets of the Pacers and Colts. Not so the Democrats line up along side Republicans in approving these hand outs.
    The Democratic Party has been in a state of decline since Bill Clinton. In 1993 there was the following break down Senate Democrats 57, Republicans 43, House: Democrats 258, Republicans 176, Independent 1. The loss in the Senate and House by the Democrats has been steady ever since 1993, except when there was the Obama up-tick in 2009.

    Since 2011 it has been all down hill for the Democrats. Today in the Senate: Democrats 44, Republicans 54, Independents 2. The House Democrats 188, Republicans 246.

    The opportunity for Democratic Party to become a Progressive force again exists with Bernie Sanders. Latest polls indicate Sanders beats all the Republican Candidates by a wider margin than Hillary.

  15. I truly hate to burst your bubble but polls are, unfortunately, only snapshots and they can be tweaked to show whatever the pollsters and those that use them want to show. Bernie Sander’s candidacy has obvious traction which is great but the last time that there was a split as big as there is right now, 1972, the Democratic Party went whole hog for George McGovern and was virtually annihilated at the polls by Richard Nixon. That’s not to say that Bernie isn’t a credible candidate, he is, and that he can prevail and win in November but when the party splits like this a lot of the people in the center traditionally end up staying at home on election day. I just hope that all of those progressives that are pushing this have a lot more going on between their collective ears than what might amount to “pie-in-the sky” thinking and that they embrace and campaign for that center as well. I also hope that these same progressives stay engaged if, in the end, Hillary Clinton gets the nomination. If they opt out for spite, which could happen, the Republicans could win by default. I just hope that someone, somewhere, thinks about this potential outcome and works to insure that whatever happens, the Democratic Party candidate, whoever it ends up being, prevails.

    Politics is, as we all ought to be aware of by now, a blood sport. It would be great if the Democratic Party becomes the progressive bulwark that is needed but getting them there might be a much more daunting task than even the most hardened-minded and determined progressives can right now imagine. While they likely pride themselves as to being able to think outside the box they have to be careful that they don’t inadvertently put themselves in another one while doing it. There’s way, way too much at stake for them to rest on their laurels in any way. Getting so focused on just one course of action at the expense of contemplating any others could end up being just that. They need to be as flexible as Gumby in their collective thinking and right now, from what I see and also get in my email mailbox I don’t see this. Instead, most unfortunately, I see things that likely stem from doctrinaire thinking.

  16. I know I must sound like Johnny One-Note, but if the press had any independence left neither Rubio nor Trump would even be on the radar. Can you imagine what a polite, respectful evisceration would have happened at the hands of Murrow or Cronkite?

    Even supposedly powerful institutions as the NYT or the Atlantic have turned into Pravdas, because apparently they have to maintain their “access” to the distortions & lies they (mostly) republish without analysis. And while the Repubs are the most frequent offenders, the exact same thing happens on the Dem side as well, if less often.

    My current news sources are Reuters, the Globe & Mail, the BBC, and Al Jazeera. Haven’t read a US newspaper in almost a year, probably never will again.

  17. Tom, nobody knows for sure whether Bernie or Hillary will get the nomination but Hillary is favored. Same with Trump.

    Trump is splitting the GOP right down the middle and I don’t see him getting much of the Republican vote that is not supporting him in the primary. That, IMO, is not true of democrats. Whichever candidate survives the primary will get nearly all of the Democrat electoral votes mostly because it doesn’t take much political insight to see Trump’s disqualifications.

    That’s why I see a Democratic landslide for President this year unless something truly terrible happens.

    Congress however needs also to be a landslide and that’s harder to judge as likely.

  18. Ron, a question has been asked here by several including me but never answered. How do you get your picture here rather than the generic icon?

  19. I sure hope you’re right Pete but there’s likely going to have to be a great deal of fence mending after the Democratic convention this summer in order to go forward with a highly successful campaign. If some semblance of unity cannot be forged at that point it could be a big hindrance in the Fall unless, as you eluded to, the GOP is smashed to smithereens by then. In any case, what I am hoping for is exactly what you have described and I also hope that it is indeed a landslide but given all the work that the far right had done to get us all to this point they’re not going to give up easily. Our whole political system is smack dab in unknown territory right now. The only thing that’s shaken out to be predictable is its unpredictability.

  20. Hi, Pete – I did that so long ago, I’ll have to look into it. I think Sheila’s site is hosted by wordpress or blogspot so if you upload your pic to your main profile it appears whenever you comment, on any associated blog, just like at Disqus. Let me get back to you on that!

  21. What’s at stake? It depends upon one’s point of view. If a person is more interested in voting for a party than for a person, there might be a great deal at stake.

    If you or you know someone who believes his/her vote does not count, you may be correct. If that bothers you in the least, watch and share. By the way, an independent voter is not a member of any political party, but rather is an independent minded voter who elects not to align with either party and prefers to vote for a person, not for a political party.


  22. How do Nancy’s hate-filled diatribes contribute to constructive dialogue? Encourage NRA members to use Tea party members for target practice, Rubio’s mother should have had an abortion, Antonin Scalia (one of Ginsberg’s best friends) is inhuman. Wow!

  23. Mitch McConnell’s party patch was pledging to block the nomination before there was a vacancy by name. They probably get freebies if they can get a Guinness record for longest balking, dawdling, procrastinating Congress in world history on a Supreme Court Justice job. They probably want a payoff post for best donor with no West Texas resort or Eastern Seaboard casino security camera archives.

  24. Several years ago a friend of mine introduced me to the thought of retirement in luxury OUTSIDE the U.S. I’ve read a number of blogs & websites & it became a fantasy of mine to expatriate someplace tropical. Depending on what happens in this election the idea could very easily become a reality. It’s obvious to me that none of the Republican candidates are qualified enough (or sane enough) to be POTUS. But another point of contention for me is Hillary Clinton being elected. She is as much a member of the Washington establishment as any other candidate except for Bernie Sanders. Just listen to what she says. Her policies & programs are not anymore workable than any of the Republican candidates. They are just a bit left of their stances. When confronted with one of her many scandals, true or imagined, HRC goes into Defcon 4 mode or simply laughs it off as though it’s a stupid thing to mention. Hillary is every bit as much a member of the “Good Old Boys” club as Mitch McConnell or Nancy Pelosi. Her stand on regulating Wall Street are laughable at best & crony capitalism at its worst. Just remember that her husband was responsible for the elimination of Glass-Stengle. That act was at least partially responsible for the Great Recession.
    Many good Democrats are saying they support Bernie Sanders. But if HRC wins the Democratic nomination that they will support her & vote for her in the General election. I’m not confident in that course. Instead maybe it will be time start looking for beach front property in Belize or a condo in Columbia.

  25. Several good comments today.

    I agree with Ron; in the name of “fairness” the press has presented the crazy to balance the sane.

    And whoever pointed out that it is the money not the IQ level that is behind what is happening in Republican politics has pointed out why we really need to worry about Cruz and Rubio.

    The Canadians have kindly loosened their immigration policies now that Trudeau is in power. Although it is unlikely we will go, as this entertaining article relates: http://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/americas/2016/02/americans-migrate-canada-trump-wins-election-cape-breton-160218191422444.html

    And finally, I have noticed that Bernie’s success has caused Hillary to move to the left on several issues, which I think is good. Trump’s success has caused Cruz and Rubio to move to the bizarre; not good.

  26. The Trump-Christie alliance only shows that opportunistic bullies of a feather flock together.

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