Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Barnum and Bailey and the presidential primaries

A few days ago, I mentioned I had heard: "It's circus time in America, and
tonight (last debate night) they will bring on the elephants and the clowns."

I was intrigued for a few days lately to hear many of the Republican candidates compare Trump to a circus master. I was hoping he might get up on the stage tonight and say: "Hey, I take that as a compliment. A circus master is exactly what we need here. Look around the stage here..
maybe one or two elephants, but certainly a whole LOT of clowns. A circus master is exactly what these guys need, and the guys in Washington too." But in his speech two days ago, he mentioned the clown metaphor, and was not too happy about it.

Last night was a bit disturbing to me. Trump's speech on national security was "carried" by CNN,
but just as Trump started to speak about Iran... John Stewart broke in, said it was all a lot of nonsense, and he would get back to Trump's speech only when and if Tump started to make sense.

!!!!!! Whatever happened to John Stewart as one of the last bastions of sanity and Jeffersonian dialogue here? It really wondered about that. But I also wondered why he retired, and some folks may have wondered about why I retired last February. Could there be more here than meets the eye? I still wonder...

But in any event, I felt a clear duty to hear what Trump said last night, and so I followed Luda's advice and went to you-tube. It took just two iterations to find the speech (searching "Trump battleship" not"Trump Iowa"!).. and I saw it just now.

Some parts were very reassuring. Yesterday I said to Luda: "Let's face it, he must have some sense of reality with China, given his business experience... though with the Middle East and oil it's more unpredictable." He was nuanced enough. Luda does not even worry about his getting into a stagfest with Putin. But...

What about sequestration?

In fact, I am worried about sequestration no matter WHO takes over the White House. It is an incredibly sticky issue. (I posted a little about the complex technical economics involved.) Trump has lots of CEO experience, and when he says he can look at Fiorina's face and see the face of admin failure... well,  I will listen to what Fiorina actually says, but I also take Trump's words seriously on this as well. (Hilary has a much nicer face, even if she does remind me at times of my ex-wife... not an enemy, by any means, but not a stable relationship either... but a different person in SOME important ways.) Does Trump know enough about technical eocnomics, and would he have the power even if elected, to reverse things?

Certainly we have a duty to think very hard and very seriously about the decisions we are about to make here.  For the moment, I see Hilary, Trump and Kasich as the only real hopes on the table... hopes as in some possibility of anything but a gigantic mess... barring someone new coming into the race.

In making new decisions.. the great stock market analyst, Marshall Loeb ("Battle for Investment Survival") urges us to go back and re-examine the premises and outcomes of past decisions before getting too far into new ones. Was I right to put my energy behind Obama versus McCain in the previous big election?

One issue was climate. Obama promised to cut CO2 emissions by 80% and McCain only by 50%. I did not vote on that, in part because I did not know at that time how important climate change
is. (That was before I saw the hard data on earlier H2S emissions and oxygen depletion in the deep Pacific. Some of us DO respond to new data, and look for better data if here is any variance in what we have so far.) If I had... it turns out that Obama's climate bills would only have reduced US net CO2 by about 50% anyway (using a draft concocted by a cabal of oil company people and environmentalists, and yes I know the names). And McCain might have actually gotten something passed. For climate alone, perhaps it was a mistake to pick Obama.

But I paid more attention to a couple of numbers in the Financial Times (and some of my own thinking on context). The Financial Times estimated that if Obama were elected, form his promises, the US annual deficit would go up by $2 trillion (!!!), but if McCain, $3 trillion. But McCain would be more likely to be able to keep his promises. I supported Obama because I didn't want to see the US economy go up in smoke.

So now... would Trump be another McCain? In the face of corruption, currently more legalized than illegal corruption,  we really DO need a "new Teddy Roosevelt." Luda reminds me that Roosevelt's international policies might not be as safe in today's world as they were then... but his domestic policies were a real life-saver, urgently needed... but who is more likely to fill that bill, Clinton or Trump? Not entirely obvious, but it's clear that both are free from the kind of cowardice and inner mental servitude which the other candidates suffer from. (Though Kasich... I don't yet know. He at least has not violated any of the higher litmus tests yet, unlike the others.)

But would any of these candidates have the kind of strength and coalition to be able to do FURTHER medical reform, or action on the most destructive tax loopholes, needed for the US to avoid the depression which sequestration could bring AND ALSO avoid the decline in jobs, growth, and strength  which a meataxe cut in demand would bring? (AND avoid nonsustainable debt.)
Not to mention orchestrating with EU and China to prevent crazy swings like the siwngs which led to crazy currency fluctuations, the immediate spark for the Great Depression of the 1930's?

Not clear yet.

It is a shame how much a stealth approach is necessary for any candidate these days, between the nomination process and the election process. My old teacher (Sam Beer, not stafford Beer) at Harvard predicted such problems years ago, using a conceptual understanding of political systems which has become all too rare in our modern twitter world dominated by a few uncultured nouveau riche types.
Algorithm-based redistricting (requiring an amendment to the constitution, like the "people = humans" amendment) would help reduce that underlying source of insanity... but is there enough flexibility left in the US to make such changes? Let alone the bigger changes the US pushed in Europe after World War II, to prevent THOSE countries from falling again into death by polarization? Can we save ourselves the way we once saved Germany and Italy? We desperately need a dose of our own medicine (if only we can remember where we put it...).

My next assignment here is to read the new book "Killing the Messenger," by Brock. I really wish I had bought it right there when I saw it in Costco yesterday... I thought I could get it on kindle instead,
but it wasn't available there yet yesterday. It's a very serious assignment. We need all the data we can get on who exactly is dismembering the legacy we had from folks like Jefferson.

Best of luck... we need it...


Two hours later: Luda brought me Brock from the library. Tonight, I will mainly listen to Kasich, Trump and Fiorina, in that order... but will also think about how big the challenge is before Hilary, and how we all should somehow try to help... however it turns out...

The press says the big issue for the public this year is trust (in 2008 the economy). That's sure where I am coming form this year, after what I saw on 7/14/14 and also last May at Princeton, and all the things associated with both. Yes, trust.


OK, why not Carson? Shouldn't a true Quaker support a true Christian?

But hell, Constantine claimed to be a true Christian (and co-creator of the universe, a god like other Roman emperors -- I have seen his plaque in Byzantium).

At best Carson reminds me of a noted neurosurgeon who was a good friend of mine for a few years, Ayub, a guy who was far more spiritually attuned and enlightened than the vast majority of people. But Ayub was also tuned into his community, in a way which led to sectarian blinders. He died a sad death back in Pakistan. I feel very bad I did not move to help him until it was too late. Carson is less sensitive, and far less independent of sectarian nonsense. Let alone issues of economics and foreign policy.

Of course I also look at awareness of the Middle East... but not here now.


The morning after:

Last night it seemed Trump did not do as well as before, yet in the morning he seemed more credible as a possible president than the day before. There really are issues more important than winning a pie-throwing contest.

Bush's strong defense of Cheney's invasion of Iraq, now that we see the full consequences and see how we were all made patsies for the Third Caliphate, dug that hole a little deeper.

Luda is well to the right of center, and an exemplar of the tougher kind of woman... but when Fiorina conjured up images of people harvesting the brains of fetuses for use in medical transplants, Luda's laughter was  about as loud as I'd ever heard. Looking at Fiorina's face as she said that... it reminded me a lot of the blank expression on the face of a woman I once knew in Berwyn Heights, who literally burned herself to death to protest in front of  Pregnancy Aid center. Ironically, my ex-wife served a rotation in that center, which mainly focused on helping poor women and their babies stay alive, but the local religious gestapo had its theories and things They Just Knew. I guess Trump was more right than I realized.

Kasich and Carson both came across better than before, and the others... God help us if any of them get anywhere.

This data on human behavior actually dovetails with my other recent blog post, the message to the mad genius rocket scientist. (He is very much a real person, but it wouldn't be nice to give out his name in this context.) Lots of left-brain right-wing people living in imaginary worlds. I liked the little Rorshach test questions at the end...  and I suppose if folks were looking for a Christian, Kasich's answer of Maria Teresa while others stuck with their own families was telling.

It will be interesting to see what the polls say. But today, I will shift more to energy issues... and absorbing the shock of the earthquake in Chile.

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