Monday, October 26, 2015

Explaining the Ben Carson Phenomenon

There can only be one reason why Ben Carson is now at the top of three new Iowa polls and a new national poll: Republican voters might be in desperate need of some of the good doctor's brain surgery!

How else do you explain his impressive double-digit surge past the front runner Donald Trump? (or, for that matter, how Trump is the front runner in the first place). It certainly can't be because Carson's put forth innovative, substantive policy proposals. To the contrary, his growing supporter base cites his 'calm, soft-spoken and reassuring' demeanor as the qualities they find most attractive...despite his multiple controversial gaffes.

So here's a little tip for the remaining 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls as they head into the primary homestretch: your party's voters will love you no matter what craziness comes out of your mouth as long as you say it with your eyes half closed and sounding like the anesthesia's kicking in.

German Jews would've fared better against the Nazi's had they all been armed with guns? No problem! Muslims should not be president of the United States? Absolutely! Obamacare is as bad as slavery? Of course! Abortions should be illegal even in cases of rape or if the mother's life is at stake? Yes! Yes! That's why we love you, Ben! Because you make ridiculous, absurd, narrow-minded, outrageously offensive comments like these in such a 'mild-mannered, gentlemanly, user-friendly' fashion!

To be sure, gone are the days when Republican voters demanded logic and reason from their candidates. Or meaningful policy proposals. Or an ability to satisfactorily articulate them. Carson, on Fox News Sunday defending his position on Medicare, sounded like a disingenuous 14-year-old trying to explain why he smells like cigarettes.

Pressed by host Chris Wallace over his desire to eliminate the huge government entitlement program, Carson's feeble response conjured up images of Herman Cain trying to explain his "999" tax plan during the 2012 campaign. Except Carson's Medicare/health care plan is more like "CCC": complicated, confusing, crazy.

So maybe there's hope for Jeb Bush yet. Or Chris Christie. Perhaps one of them will win the war of attrition against the extremists including Carson, Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Maybe the successful strategy is to lie in wait as the clown car careens off the cliff, leaving one of them the last man, the sane man, standing.

If that's the case, Bush, who lately looks and sounds like he'd rather be getting his chest waxed than be on the campaign trail, better start showing some serious moxie and passion before it's too late. And Christie needs to get out of the 'quiet car' and start making the kind of noise that resonates with voters. As inept as the crazies are, these two "mainstream" candidates have been even more inept. The election always has been theirs to lose.

Monday, October 19, 2015

"He Kept Us Safe" (before he kept us safe)

It began with the last Republican debate, where presidential hopeful Jeb Bush attempted to defend his brother's war in Iraq by stating, "He kept us safe."

Then there was the GOP front runner Donald Trump subsequently saying in an interview with Bloomberg that "When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time...he was President, OK? Don't blame him or don't blame him, but he was President. The World Trade Center came down during his reign."  

Then, over Twitter like a couple of 12-year-olds, Bush and Trump called each other "pathetic."

Of course, if you're a Republican like Jeb Bush, and your brother also happens to be responsible for the worst military blunder in American history, the subject of the September 11 attacks can be very confusing and complicated, and certainly a tragedy with a hazy timeline and dubious and disputable blame.

Which is why it would be best for Bush, and extremely helpful to voters, if he would issue a statement of clarification on the subject:

'He kept us of September 12...which is the day after the day something really bad happened when, technically, he was president, but you can't blame him because he had no idea it was for the August 6th 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing whose headline declared, verbatim, "bin Laden determined to strike in US"...ya know, the memo that also referred to bin Laden hijacking airplanes and which also mentions the use of explosives...just the sort of really bad stuff that happened on that really bad day...but that was just a teeny little run-of-the-mill warning that no one took seriously...and it was only a month before that really bad thing happened, so there really wouldn't have been much time to do anything...and besides, no president could've prevented it...except maybe one who maybe paid a little more attention to that August 6 which case a month could've been a pretty long time to possibly prepare and prevent...but HEY....even Rudy Giuliani said that no terrorist attacks occurred on George's watch, so THERE! Now can we please stop obsessing over the the worst, most deadly terrorist attack in U.S. history which killed 3000 and get back to what really matters....those four people who died in Benghazi because of Hillary???!!!'

Friday, October 09, 2015

A Challenge to the Media in Reducing Mass Shootings

It's time to take some action in reducing mass murders in the United States, and it can simply start with the media. I challenge broadcast and cable news networks, local tv and radio stations, newspapers and magazines, and news websites to immediately agree to no longer make public the names and photos of these brutal killers.

In the wake of yet another deadly shooting Friday morning at a university in Arizona, the second mass shooting in a week, a news blackout could be implemented immediately. No gun lobby pushback, no political wrangling, no legislation required, just a simple act that everyone--I repeat, everyone--could easily and quickly get behind. We could begin to take action tomorrow.

A common theory among psychologists and academics is that a primary motivation of these mass murderers in shooting up a school, church, synagogue, movie theater, mall or workplace is simply to attain notoriety. That it's an opportunity for a loner or social outcast, someone who feels rejected and abandoned by society, to achieve in death what they could not in life. 'Now they'll remember who I am.' 

Consider, for example, what the Oregon shooter, who killed nine people in a community college October 1, posted on a website August 31, expressing sympathy for the killer of two Virginia journalists on live TV in August:

"People like him have nothing left to live for, and the only thing left to do is lash out at a society that has abandoned them. His family described him as alone, no partner/lover. On an interesting note, I have noted that so many people like him are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. A man who was known by no one is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems the more people you kill, the more you're in the limelight."

So it would seem that those in the media have the power to strip these deranged animals the one thing they often seek: attention and fame. I understand that there are journalistic principles here. That the media believes it has an obligation to report the news, no matter how graphic or horrific, including identifying the psychos who kill. But to them I say, get over yourselves. No one gives a shit about that but you. Americans don't care who shoots up a school. We don't need to see their soulless, demonic faces. You can still report the news. You can simply refer to them as "Killer A" or "Killer B." This sequential identity, like how we name hurricanes, would remind everyone how many mass shootings there are. Yet it would deprive these murderers the national glory they seek.

Perhaps if these killers knew that their heinous deeds would go 'un-celebrated,' that could possibly be the difference in preventing at least one of these tragedies. Is it not worth trying?

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Donald Trump Tweets Like a Catty Middle Schooler

The 2016 presidential campaign has been a real eye-opener for sure, with the Republican Party's effort to recapture the White House hijacked by flavor-of-the-moment "outsiders" like Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, who've dominated the polls, the press and the public's attention.

And how the campaign's been waged is also a paradigm shifter. For example, there's been lots of chatter about how Trump's use of Twitter has radically altered the political landscape (see Monday's NY Times article). And not necessarily for the better. His relentless tweeting more resembles the behavior of a catty middle-school drama queen than a grown man.

Which is why I took actual Trump tweets, changed the names from real people to fake school kid names, and changed political situations to sound more school-like. The results are stunning. The conclusion? There's a 13-year-old girl trapped in Donald Trump's head. Remember, these are actual Trump tweets except for the names and one or two places/situations:

"Fiona is no bargain but I don't like Henry--he dates and tells--be careful Fiona! (just watch!)"

"Kim is truly one of the dumbest of the school paper people - he doesn't have a clue!"

"Do you ever notice that lightweight Max constantly goes after me but when I hit back it is totally sexist. He is highly overrated!"

"Ethan is trying to hit back at me because I'm saying that he let the class down w/his loss to Bastion. Should've won--he choked!"

"Anna and Emily are finally attacking each other, as I knew they would, in order to be the last "cheerleading" girls standing against me. Great"

"Sarah was very disloyal to Darby, her friend, when she decided to run against her. Both said they "love" each other.They don't - word is hate!"

"Jack is, without question, the WORST EVER president. I predict he will now do something really bad and totally stupid to show manhood!"

Griffin should not take back Sophie. She cheated on him like a dog & will do it again--just watch. He can do much better!"

"Everyone knows I am right that Griffin should dump Sophie. In a couple of years, he will thank me. Be smart, Griffin."

"Everyone is asking me to speak more on Griffin & Sophie. I don't have time except to say "Griffin, drop her, she cheated on you & will again!"

"Everybody wants me to talk about Sean and not Noah--I guess people just don't care about Noah!"

"Lucy, what the hell were you thinking when you went out with that loser Malcolm. There is a guy who has got nothing going, a waste!"

"Charley is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her old boyfriend left her for a boy- he made a good decision."

"Pervert alert. Gus is back on twitter. All girls under the age of 18, block him immediately."

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Here's How/When Trump's Campaign Ends

One thing we know for sure about Donald Trump: he doesn't like to lose. He hates losers. He even has varying degrees of loserdom in his verbal arsenal: "major," "proven," "total" and "disgruntled" losers, to name a few. So how will his ginormous ego ultimately handle losing the Republican nomination for president? We'll never know, because he won't be in the race long enough for us to find out.

You heard it here first: Trump will soon be exiting the campaign, going out, as I'm sure we'll hear from him incessantly and insufferably, a winner. He will wait for the perfect time, maybe a week, 2 weeks, a month or two months from now. But he'll surely be gone, and while he still maintains a commanding lead in the polls. His announcement will go a little something like this:

"I'm going back to my business. I'm a business guy. I did the math. Look, I will make a ton of money running my company. More money than ever before. Politics? It's a crazy game. Honestly, you have to be crazy to be in it! I'm not crazy. I'm smart, incredibly successful. You know, I ran a historic campaign, and I'm way ahead in the polls. Beating everyone. I did something no one else has ever done. It was so amazing they'll be studying this campaign in college classes. It's obvious I'd have won the nomination. And trust me, I'd be elected president too if I stayed in. This was fun, but I'm gonna leave politics to the politicians and go back to running my phenomenally successful business. I'm leaving on my terms, on top. A winner. Trump always wins (wink!)..."

To be sure, Trump is not going to sit idly by watching his lead appreciably slip until Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio pulls ahead. That sort of public humiliation is not in The Donald's playbook. He won't wait long enough for them to get even remotely close. But given his recent decline in the polls--5 and 7 points respectively in Iowa and New Hampshire since September--he's most likely already contemplating his grandiose, hyperbolic, reality-twisting send-off.

Trump doesn't really care about "making America great again." He doesn't care about politics, and he surely doesn't care about becoming president. What he cares about, what he's always cared about, is Donald J. Trump. This whole campaign charade has been about him. How successful he is, how rich he is, that his toys are the biggest and best, and that he can do anything. And now that he's "proven" (at least in his megalomaniacal mind) that he can win at politics too, he's achieved the only goal that's ever existed here, which is to feed his insatiable id and further build his brand.   

The bigger question is, when Trump finally does leave the race, who'll pick up the Muslim-hating, Mexican race-baiting birther block? Where will his 25% crazybase go? Maybe by that time Republicans will be so soured by the colossal disappointment and wastefulness of Trumpalooza that they'll start moving towards the center and support Bush, Rubio or Carly Fiorina. And that's when the Republican Party and its chairman Reince Priebus will start to breathe a collective sigh of relief that this "historic" circus is finally over. But will the GOP's brand, which has suffered through chaos and dysfunction, be able to recover by then?