Paul Ryan – Atlas Shrugged or the Sermon on the Mount?

March 27, 2017

Paul Ryan went to St. Mary’s Catholic School in Janesville, Wisconsin. As a fellow Wisconsin Catholic who attended St. John de Nepomuc School in Milwaukee, I remember the nuns telling me about Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus kicking out the money-changers from the temple and Jesus often associating with the poorest of the poor. I am proud to say that those lessons about Jesus have stuck with me even today.

Somewhere along the line Paul Ryan forgot the lessons of the Gospels that I learned in Catholic school. It appears that while a college student at Miami of Ohio University Ryan became interested in the darlings of ultra-right capitalism – Freidrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and the novelist Ayn Rand. It was Rand, a Russian-American atheist who wrote Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, that apparently Ryan read and re-read until her ideas, grounded in cynical selfishness, condemnation for those who are poor, and a fanatical desire to rid government from redistributing wealth to those who are on the dole, filled his soul.

In his public image Ryan appears to be a nice guy – earnest, family-oriented, honest and a practicing Catholic. So how does someone who grew up Catholic embrace an atheist who is as far away from the teaching of Jesus as earth is from the moon? Maybe the nuns and priests at St. Mary’s didn’t teach about the Jesus that I know; maybe Ryan came under the influence of one of those sinister professors who brainwash students; or just maybe he has convinced himself that it is impossible for people to be poor through no fault of their own.

As a US member of Congress and now the Speaker of the House Ryan must have come in contact with the sick, the unemployed, the aged, the homeless, the hungry, in short those people Ayn Rand hated because they were on the dole. But rather than leading with compassion Ryan carved together a health bill that would strip the poor (that indelible number, 24 million), of an opportunity to live a better life, a healthy life.

In the wake of the Republican health care bill debacle more and more people are asking what Ryan has against the poor and why he was in such a hurry to redistribute tax benefits from the poor to the wealthy though the legislation? I can’t answer that question, other than say that Ryan should sit down soon and read the Gospels, especially Mathew 5-7 where Jesus says “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,”  Ryan might benefit also from Jesus saying, ” Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” I’ll take Jesus over Ayn Rand any day.


White House Scenarios

February 13, 2017

The future of President Donald Trump and his administration is more uncertain than any in modern history. Liberals and the members of the Resistance believe they smell political blood and are waiting to settle scores. But  pushing the 45th President off his White House pedestal is no easy task. Let me tell you why.

Articles of impeachment for alleged conflict of interest, ties to Russia, legal suits for sexual harassment, nepotism ( need I go on) must begin with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. This is highly unlikely as the GOP doesn’t want a long drawn-out public hearing and more importantly consider Trump a strange but supportive partner in their legislation agenda.

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment gives the senior members of the Cabinet the power to remove the President if he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” This would be a political coup that is certain to cause dangerous instability in the country and in the centers of power. Even if the President would act in a way that was viewed as erratic and unstable, those around him would find a way to  work around him or ignore him rather than go down in history as turning the U.S. into a banana republic.

Members of the Resistance are looking to the mid-term elections in 2018 as critical to anti-Trumpism. This strategy may be a fools journey. It is certainly possible to flip the Senate and House but highly unlikely. In the Senate Democrats must fight for 23 seats, while the Republicans only 8; in the House the way representative districts are politicized in favor of the GOP, a major transformation would be very difficult. Now the liberals could hit the ground running and try to regain the white working class and the rural folks but such an effort is long term not a two year project.

What is more likely to happen is that the Trump administration gets so dysfunctional that senior members of the GOP and key cabinet members quietly whisper in the President’s ear that he needs to remove the nut jobs, nitwits, liars and incompetents and replace them with responsible bureaucrats who know what they are doing. The conservative agenda would remain in place but would be advanced by people who don’t embarrass the United States.

In this scenario, Trump stays in place, continues to tweet at 3 in the morning, maintains his pettiness, and deepens his ego-trip. He’ll continue to make stupid comments and probably put this country close to harms way, but the real adult staff members will smooth things over. And no he won’t run in 2020; since his approval rate will be in the Nixon-Watergate range.

Now because these are crazy times in the White House anything can happen. VP Pence could become President Pence, the Democrats could take over and end Trumpism, and the Resistance could expand exponentially to the point that the President resigns, or we become an authoritarian dictatorship. Whatever happens these are times that try men’s and women’s souls.

 


A Few Not So Modest Proposals for Liberal Democrats

December 21, 2016

The election is over, Donal Trump won, and liberal Democrats will just have to deal with it. Whining, street demonstrations,complaints about James Comey and Vladimir Putin and second-guessing about what should have been done in Michigan just won’t cut it anymore; it’s time to look to the future and develop some strategies to deal with the 45th President of the United States.

So let’s get serious about what liberal democrats must do as the loyal opposition, if the term loyal has any meaning anymore in the new American political culture. Here are a few strategies that may be necessary if liberal democrats are to survive as an alternative to the new Trump-defined Republican majority.

1. Liberal Democrats must adopt the Republican playbook. Hope is good, but in this post-truth, anti-ethical American political environment fear is better. Republicans have become the masters of using fear to gain votes and power- fear of minorities, fear of terrorists, fear of economic collapse, fear of change. Hope no longer works as a key word for attracting the support of the American people. If liberal democrats are to rebound they must know how to use fear as a strategic tool- fear of job loss, fear of income inequality, fear of corporate indifference, fear of tax injustice. Liberal Democrats don’t like to use fear as a strategy, but let’s face it, fear works.

2.  Liberal Democrats are known to be political weenies who want to be viewed as honorable and non-partisan, but if they are to get back in the game they must follow the lead of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and embrace legislative obstructionism, a refusal to compromise, a willingness to delay, and an unyielding and annoying pain in the butt of the presidential administration. So far the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are already talking about working with President Trump rather than following the McConnell strategy and making his life as President miserable.

3.  Then there is always the best opposition tool-sue the bastards. Taking the President and his cabinet to court is an all-American tradition of the opposition. Fortunately, for the Democrats they have the Stock Act, which makes it a felony for a President, Vice-President and high governmental officials to use their office for insider trading and making a profit off of their connections while in office. America is a litigious society where lawyers feed off of challenges to the law, so liberal democrats must take that tactic and use the courts to make the President follow the law and respect the constitution.

4. Challenging the President is no easy task but it is made more difficult because of the weakness of those who deliver the liberal message. There has to be an way to offset the influence of Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity, and it is not Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Michael Moore or Lawrence O’Donnell. My suggestion is get Joe Biden on for an hour on CNN and have him take on the conservative right. Sure it will be biased but everyone knows the media is biased anyway, so what does it matter if Joe talks to white America in their language. Maybe he can even wear those aviator sunglasses while he is on camera.

5. Finally, liberal democrats must begin to think about winning rather than making a point or raising up a social group. The Republican have shown that they will do just about anything to win and it has worked. Republicans aren’t ashamed of their tactics against the liberal democrats, in fact they glory in their victories, while liberal democrats complain and wonder how their message just doesn’t work.

Now all this praise for the Republican way of winning and working government to their advantage may blow up in the coming months as President Trump and his conservative minions drive the economy and the country into the abyss. But for now liberal democrats need to rethink how they operate and how they oppose the new political reality. In short, no more whining, no more excuses, no more playing nice, no more needless cooperation, no more being weenies.

 

 

 


Political Ramblings

April 10, 2016

Thank God for the new baseball season because most of us deserve a distraction from the nastiness and craziness of the presidential campaign. But watching the Red Sox does not completely eradicate the burning desire to comment on what Lincoln called the last best hope for mankind, that would  be the United States. So because there is just so much “stuff” out there to comment on, here are a few political ramblings:

The candidates for the White House are so bad that Barack Obama’s approval rating is now above 50%, the first time in years. Could our president leave office as a popular president?

My wife came home yesterday with a few new clothing items, two of which were from the fashion house of Ivanka Trump. Should I be concerned that Carol has gone over to the dark side?

If Hillary wants to win she may consider putting ol’ Bill on ice. Bubba has lost his fastball and maybe should go back to eating meat.

It was certainly prudent for the Secret Service to outlaw guns at the Republican convention in July since it could have ended up as the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

Speaking of the Republican Convention, Cleveland is often called the Mistake on the Lake- an appropriate slogan for the elephant party as they gather to implode.

It may seem a mere technicality, but Jeb Bush only suspended his campaign; he didn’t end his campaign.

The Republicans in the Senate who refuse to take a vote on Obama’s Supreme Court nominee may have made the correct political decision since I don’t hear a mass outcry in the country for a vote.

It is not the same thing as Mike Dukakis riding in a tank wearing an oversized helmet but what benefit does Hillary gain from riding a New York subway for a few blocks?

Ted Cruz condemns New York values, but what are Texas values? Could they be murder, executions, hate groups,seceding from the Union, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders and big hair?

Trump’s brain trust – Palin, Christie, Carson, and Giuliani – talk about the four horsemen/horsewomen of the apocalypse.

Remember what Lincoln said – the last best hope for mankind.

 

 


Trump, Sanders and the Vote Count

February 11, 2016

While political pundits, party leaders and of course the candidates seeking the highest office in the land are divining the tea leafs of the New Hampshire primary, one tidbit from the first in the nation vote on the road to the White House is what color ballot the citizens of New Hampshire chose – blue for the Democrats, Pink for the Republicans.

Using my handy-dandy smartphone calculator I came up with approximately a 38,000 lead for the Republicans in voter turnout. Certainly Trump’s first victory makes him more than a loudmouth billionaire with no clue on how to run a country and Sander’s utter slaying of out of touch Hillary Clinton proves that he is no flash in the pan socialist. But when New Hampshire voters, both Republicans and Independents grab the pink ballot nearly 40,000 more times than the Democrats that should strike fear in the hearts of both Sanders and Clinton.

New Hampshire is one of those so-called purple states that could go either way depending on the candidates and the political environment. New Hampshire has a Democrat governor and one of each party in the Senate. But if the Republican heavy turnout means anything down the road, it shows that perhaps the Democrats have more of a problem than just Sander’s idealistic socialism and Clinton’s pragmatic “establishmentalism”.

The GOP may be headed to a brokered convention and the Democrats may be engaged in a delegate bloodbath, but an alliance of Republicans and Independents in the future primaries and the general election could coalesce into a victory that would doom the Democrats. Recent polling data and research points out that there are now more red states ( Republican leaning) than blue states (Democrat leaning) on the electoral map. A purple state ( no clear leaning tendencies) like New Hampshire that pushes the turnout to the Republican side may be a sign of trends to come.