WHERE IS THE MIDDLE?
WHERE IS THE MIDDLE
Are party tags necessary
By Roger I. Lippman
“The greatest show on earth”! Come one come all! Yes, those old enough to remember know it was the Barnum & Bailey circus. Today however it is America's 2016 presidential election.
The New Hampshire election is over. The people have spoken. Both outsiders won. Gone was the norm. Donald horrified the left by winning with double digits. Yet, Kasich, came in second, confounding the pundits. Perhaps it was his not attacking the others and constantly adding that he can unify the country and saw better days ahead that attracted those wanting some glimmer of hope. He had a positive note. Chris Christie, for all his time spent in the State, came in last with the governors although he managed to score a blow to Rubio in the final debate. Yet it did not help him? Can it be that in attacking over and over during the last few months to get more attention, he spent too little time telling the people how he could unify the country and actually accomplish more than indicting Hillary?
Where, oh where is the middle or center? Young people flock to Bernie Sanders because they believe he will be the best to help our country. An equal number flock to his polar opposite. Donald Trump on the far right who believes the same thing. What do they share? Anti establishment! Bernie may be a senator in Congress but is independent and is certainly not establishment while radical. So how can this be, that the best is the far left or the far right? It is like up or down at the same time, black or white, round or square? What is best? Or are either best?
In fact a new political poll just found that over three fourths of Americans had no faith in either party, viewed Congress almost in single digits and did not trust them to ever do the right thing. They felt Congressmen were there to enrich themselves, didn't look out for people and more importantly the people polled did not trust them.
So it is small wonder that when someone comes along who is an outsider and says "off with their head" it has great appeal. No question about it, Donald has brought to the surface issues on the minds of the vast majority which never would have been discussed by establishment candidates as they would prefer to go along as usual. However a careful analysis of what he actually says is more like the old circus act with the Barker talking to the audience. He seeks and gets attention. Nothing more.
No, we can't build a wall to block out Mexico and send them a bill. No, we can't send 11 million people back by American Airlines or United Airlines or even send them packing on Air Force One. Donald has the solution for everything but if you question him, he becomes a viper on attack. His last speech on the election evening proclaimed: “we’re going to do something so good and so fast and so strong. And the world is going to respect us again. Believe me’" So what is “something” and how do we “do it”. Also do we “ believe” him just because he said it? He is in campaign mode!
When attacked in the campaign for the many times he has gone bankrupt in the past, he interrupted the speaker by pointing out he never really went bankrupt. Sure it was his corporations which, legally, is a separate entity but the point remains. Questioned further about what those many bankruptcies did and their affect, he pointed out that people who loaned the money where big boys and could afford it. What about many people put out of business, or the shareholders? Forget about it. He gamed the system for his personal benefit. And that is where he turns it around and says he knows how to make money.
When attacked by Jeb about eminent domain – – the taking of one's property by law, most candidates agreed that eminent domain was necessary because otherwise we would never have roads or highways, bridges, airports, utilities are anything else if the land could not be used for public purpose. However Donald attempted, by eminent domain, to take property of an 86-year-old woman in Atlantic City to use for his parking lot. Obviously not a public use, no question, a private use. Instead Donald fought back with a raised voice saying she refused to sell so it was dropped. Jeb Bush again wanted to emphasize the point was that he tried to use eminent domain for his private use which, but Donald told him to be quiet.
Donald says he gets along with everybody and is a dealmaker. Yet several months since he has been campaigning, he has managed to insult reporters and commentators who are rough on him, the audience, movie stars and almost anyone who differs with him.
A careful listening to what he claims he can do results in only hearing generalities made to show that Donald can do anything and even walk on water.
So does a wide segment of the public like him because they believed him or because they dislike same old, same old, with the same speeches from politicians that result in nothing? Every negative thing he says runs off him like he has a raincoat on. Does that seem to be a problem to you?
No obviously, we can't really have him as president because he needs a muzzle on his mouth and his too arrogant for his own good. Reality TV, yes. President of the United States, no.
Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, comes across as a nice guy, and assures everyone they are getting screwed by the wealthy, have missed out on what makes America great, and wants to stick it to everyone doing well and offer everything free to those who don't have enough money. That is of course socialism but he is a democratic socialist what ever that is. His plan is of course to bleed wealthy individuals and corporations with tax up to 90% so he can pay for all of his free programs. Unfortunately, reality once again kicks in and the higher the tax rate becomes on corporations, the more companies that will flee America and pay no tax. The higher the tax on wealthy, the less incentive they will have in trying to create new wealth that could be taxable. Take away incentives and who gets hurt in the long run? Everyone. Why not just close loopholes that we all wanted be done anyway and forget about what the special interests and lobbyists say.
Providing a free college education to everyone does not create new jobs which are needed once kids get out of school and as business dries up because of the extra financial burden from increased taxes and everything is worse off. So Bernie may appeal to the young because it is dynamic approach but once again, not feasible. He concentrates on these issues and leaves out the paramount concern of most people which is security. Yes an EMP will hit the U.S. at some time, wiping out all our electrical connections and affect utilities, internet, cars, and affect hospitals, and all business. Is this science fiction? No, it is reality. We need to plan and prepare. When a country is hit by it, you go back to the stone age. No heat will work at home, no cars to run as the computers are dead, no planes to fly, trains to run.
The list goes on and on. Will ISIS attack the U.S.? They said they will and the head of our National Security agency believes so and so testified to Congress recently. Home grown terrorism is on the rise and now ISIS is using Hollywood movie techniques in their videos to attract more followers. Do we put our heads in the sand and think we are immune from these issues, Chinese cyber attacks, Russian aggression and North Korea threats plus what will happen eventually from Iran? Avoid the issue if you want; leave it as usual but read on and learn where we are heading and the consequences to the United States.
On the left we have Hillary and there is widespread distrust of her because she is establishment and seems to feel abused by the opposition even though much of the problem is of her own creation. She seems to have manipulated the system all too often and she can't be trusted. Too many issues about her linger not only with E mails but her Libya dealings, money she has been paid by outsiders, and her attitude. So once again, the other Democratic candidate is disqualified, but this one part of the establishment.
Trusting the reaction to what Republicans really believe, that leaves a group of those on the right, starting with Ted Cruz, who when asked in the last debate how, as president, he could get legislation passed because he bragged about the fact that no one in Congress liked him and he couldn't get along with anyone. His answer, of course, was no answer at all. Evangelicals continue to like him because he says all the right things that appeal to someone who's main concern centers first around religious issues. When he said he wanted to eliminate the IRS, no one asked who would collect the taxes, enforce payment, and make certain no one was cheating. Sounded great, but let's face it, so does saying let's eliminate war, eliminate crime, eliminate all disease, etc. sounds great but totally not practical. Also it has not escaped notice that we need someone who can get things done with what ever Congress we have and not brag about how no one likes him. He has to be disqualified for many reasons and if Evangelicals love him because he wants to protect the unborn, they should think about the many things he can’t do and they will see their one issue is not as relevant as they think.
Marco Rubio, the supposed Savior of the Republican Party, was rightly criticized by Chris Christie for repeatedly using 25 second sound bites in speeches every chance he could to answer any question and it is clearly apparent he is part of the same establishment searching for the right thing to say. He just does not seem ready and canned remarks to protect him from getting in trouble worry me.
The public doesn't like super PACs , does not like dishonesty and does not like to be pushed around. What does the latest polls really say are our most important concerns. No, it is not about protecting unborn children in the womb, or gay marriages or the other social issues. The number one concern, and rightfully so, is split between security of the United States on the one hand and our economy on the other hand. yes, i left out Jeb, who was the party choice all along because now we feel what the " party" wants and that means the Pac's and lobbyists, may not be what we want.
Today we have ISIS, Al Qaeda, radical Islamists even in our own country, Syria, North Korea, Iraq, the second-tier bad actors including China and Russia, and then the third tier which would include Pakistan, Lebanon, the West Bank, Afghanistan, and even our allies like Saudi Arabia and Turkey to worry about. Remember all that radicalism started with the Saudi's. Turkey meanwhile wants to harm the Kurd, our allies, as much as ISIS.
President Obama assured us not too long ago that things were not that bad in Syria, Isis was not a problem and world events were going so well he found no problem in releasing five terrorists from Guantánamo to get back one American deserter, wants to close Guantánamo, and wants to assure Muslims all over that we are actually good guys. What a joke. One of my friends constantly tells me Barack Obama is the greatest president we have ever had. He truly believes it because he is also black and looks upon Dr. Carson, who is running on the Republican ticket, to be a traitor or dummy because he thinks all people of color should be Democrats. He truly believes Democrats offer the best prospect to him and security or other important world events are a nonissue.
This is not a black or white issue! Also criticizing Barack Obama does not make you a racist. North Korea once again violated treaties and set off another missile which it has been continuing to do. The world is powerless against them because they now have nuclear bombs. How did this happen? One only needs to recall Bill Clinton in the White House, removing the sanctions and offering North Korea money in exchange for their promise not to produce nuclear weapons and simply be nice guys. Now they can't be controlled because they are in the nuclear club and can’t be predicted. The U.N. is a joke, debating and trying to find a way to punish them like they have tried with Iran and others. With Russia and China on the security council very little gets done.
Take Iran. Go back again, this time to Jimmy Carter in the White House who is confronted by a hostile takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran by so-called students, one of which would become president of Iran later and continuously bash the United States and Israel. Two choices: smile and say we will negotiate for their release or second choice: address the nation and the world and state that the United States Embassy in Tehran was invaded, taken over and our citizens were taken hostage by a bunch of criminals; that our Embassy was recognized by every country in the world as sovereign United States territory. Since no country in the world would feel free to have embassies anywhere if what was acknowledged universally as their sovereign territory and was inviolate, was invaded and this could not go unpunished. He would give the leaders of Iran seven days to secure the release of everyone or the United States would use the full force and effect of its military to strike at the government of Iran because it would be assumed the criminal act was condoned by its government. Two choices, two distinct different paths. In hindsight we know the Ayatollah was worried when he learned of the attack by his protégé and felt everyone had to be released. Pres. Carter, deciding to be a negotiator, instead announced he would take no military action and offered to negotiate for their release which lasted 400 days and showed the United States to be nothing more than a paper tiger. It set relations on a course and allowed Iran to ignore us and violate any agreement made thereafter because we are no longer a respected power.
Move ahead now to the current administration and the red line in Syria created by Barack Obama when he warned Pres. Assad, who was using gas on his people, and Assad violated it as the Syrian government didn't believe our warning. What did we do? Nothing. Teddy Roosevelt once said, "speak softly and carry a big stick". If your stick is made of crape paper, it means nothing.
The United States has now negotiated a treaty with Iran to release over $100 billion in funds here, as well as sanctions while Iran makes the same promise, to not proceed with the bomb, as did North Korea. To show how how we trust them, we even released a group of convicted Iranians held here in return for an innocent American held in Iran. While liberal Democrats may feel comfortable in our government with another Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter deal, they are just kicking the can down the road because we have done nothing to show we can't be outfoxed and manipulated and we will sooner or later pay for this consequence just as with the others.
Vladimir Putin humiliates Barack Obama whenever he can because he pointed out our red line in the sand in Syria was a joke. So today Russia has established a military base in Syria which it uses to bomb the people we are supporting to fight Assad. They focus more on that been fighting ISIS. Russia will continue to expand, be a thorn in our side, cozy up to our enemies and thwart us at every chance. Thanks Barack Obama, my friends greatest American President.
Now Republicans are not immune from criticism because the war in Iraq was not well thought out and the motives behind it were suspect. No, Saddam did not have the bomb and he was never buying yellow cake from Niger as the administration contended which was one of the reasons for the invasion. So we invaded, and our endgame was to give Iraq a new leader to bring peace and prosperity. The only problem was our chosen savior for them no longer lived in Iraq and the only one he managed to con that he had the Iraqis support and bring the country together and get the job done was the naïve people in Washington who went along with him. They brought him back to Iraq just like we brought DE Gaulle back to France after the end of World War II. However, in this case, no one wanted him and instead they chose a Shiite leader who promptly punished Sunnis for their treatment under Saddam and we know what happened since. Would it have taken a mastermind to anticipate what would happen in Iraq? Had we not already advance warning and needed a far greater understanding of the Arab mind and the tribal and ethnic rivalries?
There have been other instances of Republican failure including under Ronald Reagan, when in 1983, he pulled the Marines out of Lebanon when two truck bombs went off striking buildings occupied by our forces. Thereafter international peacekeeping forces left Lebanon and eventually radical Hezbollah stepped in. They then went after Christians in that country, then Israel and today fight in Syria for the opposition.
Congress is not immune from criticism because during Charlie Wilson's famous war in Afghanistan when we supplied enough military equipment to force Russia to leave, he warned that the country could be destabilized if we didn't help them economically after the Russians left. Instead Congress decided to save the money, so we left and all the equipment which ended up in the hands of people like Osama bin Laden who got his training in Afghanistan. The country, left in a vacuum, went to the Taliban which meant that we would have to come back and spent thousands of times more just to stay ahead of the game when we threatened them for not giving up Bin Laden. We have not succeeded in Afghanistan yet. In fact we gave up trying to destroy the poppy fields as it their main source of income so Afghans still produce the most heroin in the world. Of course the Pakistanis also benefited because from then on once we decided to send equipment to Afghanistan and including when we ultimately invaded Afghanistan, all aid was filtered through Pakistan so they could take their cut.
What we truly need is a good military leader for our country. I don't mean someone in the military but someone that could revitalize the military and get the respect of friends and foes around the world and not just talk the talk. Unfortunately with our jaded system which was recognized in the recent polls taken, we just can't trust the establishment. Crooked politicians want their hand in the cookie jar, lobbyists all over want a piece of control and we don't know whom to trust. Everything costs more because more hands are in the pie, more ways to cut it, more expenses and inefficiency is rewarded. More and more we use “ contractors” to do everything and they are civilians, paid huge amounts and we do not control them. Why be a government employee when you can be a contractor? Also many contractors have access to top secrets and the vetting process is less than ideal.
Now the Supreme Court, in their infinite wisdom, made super PACs legal so anyone can buy a candidate. The more money given, the more control. Then too, members of Congress leave office, turning into lobbyists and go right back on the gravy train and solicit their old pals in government only this time they make far more money and it is legal. This includes members of the military as well.
The polls show the public is upset that no one can be trusted to go after anyone at fault for anything. No Bernie, it is not the super rich that needs to be punished but rather those who game the system at the expense of all of us. The recent appearance by the young hedge fund manager who bought out a generic pharmaceutical company and immediately raised the price of an inexpensive generic drug, on the market for many years, to be totally outside of the financial ability of anyone and bragging about it is merely a symptom of the problem.
On the one hand we have too much regulation and doctors crying about the long time it is taking with each patient just to do the paperwork under Obama care and what is no longer covered, so the regulation is bad. However where is the regulation that stops pharmaceutical companies from gouging money from the middle or lower class? The public is still infuriated that bankers and others were not criminally punished for practically sending the entire US economy into a total depression. Instead, a few wrists were slapped and everyone kept their profits. Still there is no one in Congress pushing to allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower rates. Is it anti American to want us to pay less? Obviously not, but lobbyists have congressmen tied up so they cannot push that through.
Banks get bigger, mergers wipe out competition and we are still being told how we will benefit. Airplane rides get more uncomfortable with these constantly increasing fees because with less competition, we are told the mergers are good for us. So the Republican view that regulation is bad is not true either.
As the only candidates left are part of the establishment and still part of this problem, what are we to do? Is Kasich a real guy in the center when he was part of the system and notwithstanding his being a governor and in government for a long time, is not known well? Can a Michael Bloomberg enter the race as a third-party candidate to the right of Hillary and left of the Republican establishment and make a difference? Is there a center that wants to be heard and is there a silent majority that really doesn't give a darn about the party label? More importantly if that person in the middle who would run has neither the super PACs to supply all the money nor the party apparatus to get out the vote, how can he win? Bloomberg has all the money, reputation but no backing.
It is obvious a huge segment of the public is fed up with the establishment and that includes the do-nothing Congress – – Harry Truman once use that expression – – but the public wants a true hero, not someone who just brags about himself or shoot himself in the foot. How can we find him? More importantly can those who are holding out for someone who will be their champion on pet issues like gun control, abortion, school funding, or immigration, coalesce to accept one candidate that will be good for all of us. Remember the past, we need someone strong, not just in speech but in actions, who can get the respect of everyone and somehow cut through our corrupt government. We don’t want an insider who makes deals with the party hacks or insiders to favor the very people hurting us most.