Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The rich are not like you and I. They don't support Trump

When Nelson Rockefeller first explored running for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1959, he found that most of the country’s rich persons were supporting then Vice –President Richard Nixon. As one wealthy person explained it to Teddy White:  Nelson was not one of them. He inherited his wealth and could do whatever he wanted with it and he did. He wasn’t responsible for employees or to plants or ever had to make a payroll. He wasn’t part of their circles and he certainly didn’t need them as friends.

Once gets the sense with Trump it’s the same thing. He’s rich and he certainly gives money to politicians but rarely has anyone ever gone to private retreats with him begging him to bankroll their campaigns the way Scott Walker does with Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers for example. Indeed, Trump is a vulgar representation of what the GOP donor class truly is. All this concerned citizen stuff is crap. They have interests -  some personal policy but mostly business policy-  and they want people in government to look after those interests not be hostile to them and perhaps even enact policy which help their bottom line.  Trump doesn’t have to pander to such persons because he’s not one of them. He doesn’t need them, he’s too independent and he’s in it for himself. All true, but it’s also a way sticking one’s nose in the eye of the establishment. All these political candidates running after rich person’s money only made them look small in the end in the eyes of the voters compared to Trump. No one had anticipated that a self-funding billionaire would actually run himself.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Rand, Rand the Company Man

Sen. Rand Paul should be where Donald Trump is now. Not just on top of the polls for the GOP Presidential nomination, but the top candidate in the hearts and minds of those look to send message to the political establishment, that of the one-fingered salute.

Alas, he is not although he very well could have been. Timing is everything in politics and unfortunately Paul's rotten timing finds him carping at Trump for his lack of party loyalty of all things. The movement which created Rand Paul was the ultimate in being against the establishment yet it is now led by a man who desire to suck up to it for personal political gain had left him high and dry when the mood of the electorate has decidedly turned against what Paul had either hoped for or was counting on.

And there's really not much Paul can do about this either. Having tied his political fortunes to one of the most unpopular Republican leaders in the country and also his fellow Kentuckian, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Rand cannot simply break his ties and denounce McConnell without looking like an opportunistic fool, especially when Paul has to foot the bill at a grand total of $750,000 for a statewide caucus in Kentucky instead of a primary. Normally state political parties pay for such changes in order to help out the local boy running for President. Even if there was recalcitrance, a few calls by McConnell to his flunkies on the state party executive should have greased the thing along. Now Rand had to spend precious funds to pay for a caucus so he can continue to run for the Senate and the White House.

Not only has McConnell not helped when it has come to intra-state party affairs, he hasn't helped on the money end as well.  One would think a Senate Majority Leader would have access to donors willing to help out Paul's Presidential campaign. Yet no such luck. Rand can't even get coal companies in Kentucky to help him out (unless, of course, he continues his run for the Senate).

The term is know as "playing the long game" in Paulville, yet for all the sucking up Rand has done for the establishment, it's has availed him nothing or better yet, far less than expected. He endorsed Romney in May 2012 well before his father conceded defeat and got his prime-time convention speech. Does anyone remember what he said? He gave away his contributor lists, let his minions fix it so his father wouldn't be nominated at the convention even thought he had the votes to do so for almost nothing in return except for a lousy speech. He backed McConnell for re-election right away in 2012 and worked hard for McConnell to handily beat his primary opponent Matt Bevin. Yet McConnell has done nothing to help Rand raise money or build campaign infrastructure. Some endorsement from Senate Majority Leader. I could of made the same endorsement of Rand or you could and would have had the same effect.

Indeed, Rand may well have hitched himself and much of his team to a falling star. McConnell is symbol for many tuned-in voters and activists what's wrong with the GOP. These are the voters flocking to Trump. They could have stood with Rand and perhaps some of them did...once.  But one more apparent flip-flop or one more "Rand later clarified..."  was too much for some of these supporters to take. One more campaign to take down LP candidates whether from the Virginia's governor's race in 2013 to last year's mid-term election  completely turned them off. Of course, if you happen to be a libertarian Rand still wants your money, his team will even lie to try and get it. This is before you realize that the LP is a waste of time and a dead-end street and you should support the Rand Paul for President effort.

This is not to say things can't turn around for Rand if events propel the kinds of ideas or concerns people have which Rand is strongly identified with to the forefront of the campaign trail. Along with bad timing, Rand also has the bad luck to share the same state as an unpopular party leader, one he can't just shrug off. He can't attack McConnell, it would look opportunist and shallow and stupid (not to mention being a first in American politics, a candidate attacking one of his own endorsers). It would be hard for him to shed an establishment label he himself sewed together in both word and deed. He's stuck with it and stuck with McConnell. He's still better than all the Republican candidates put together, but that has the same status as being the tallest building in Topeka, Kansas at this point.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

No struggle without faith

It's been said that Richard Nixon once viewed life through the prism of struggle. Nothing good can come to a man from a life of ease it is believed. What one obtains through dogged patience and persistence, it fulfills the struggle because it provides meaning and definition to it. The goal at the end is what's important and obtaining it defines life itself.

Author and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates puts a twist on this thinking in his latest book Between the World and Me, one in which will not satisfy his readers (although Coates is not interesting satisfying anyone's wishes other than what he sets for himself and it is how it should be with anyone's work, take it or leave it). The book is in the form of an open letter to his son and while Coates has plenty of thoughts to offer, when it comes to what's next, it's a akin to child getting a carton of cigarettes on his birthday along with a card.

If struggle by itself is all Coates can offer his boy, then what's the point? Struggle without even the possibility of fulfillment is simply a sentence: the same thing day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. The Greeks defined by Sisyphus condemned to rolling the same rock up and down a hill for eternity. Prisoners do the same too. Meaning and definition would be robbed from it. Sometimes the journey is best documented by how far you've come or gone, you look back and wonder in amazement. Coates doesn't offer this as even a favorable review said: "Coates hope feels stark and brutal." 

This is largely due to the fact Coates is an atheist which allows him to rob faith from struggle. He believes it can stand on its own, secularly, with secular saints providing inspiration. If the next generation can even remember who such people are, read their words or hear their music, then bully. God however, is everlasting and does not have to worry about the bargain basement bin and erasure of time and memory.  

Without faith there simply is no struggle, because to have such faith is a struggle. Condemn a man to his fate in a society you believe brutally unfair and what have you given him but one-way ticket to blowing his brains out to save on time? What's the point, I ask again? Why waste one's time living unless there's something better to live for? Where would the struggle have been without the faith of the slaves, both Jew and black, without the black Christian church providing the leadership of the Civil Rights Movement? or faith of the Mormons, the Irish Catholic victims of the Famine, the Armenians slaughtered by the Turks, the Christian prisoners in Communist cells? Nowhere.  If Christianity can be criticized for promoting heaven over earth, what does the atheist have to offer? Struggle and then you die? Where does that journey go to? Again, nowhere.

I can hear the retort: Why did did it take so long for justice to be done, 400 years?! Are you asking God or the humans who claimed to worship him but sinned against him by being so cruel to their brothers and sisters? Where was man? This ultimately flawed creature. Yet Coates has faith in man to keep up the struggle alone, like Sisyphus on the mountain.

Coates said something interesting in an interview in New York Magazine. He immediately called for the removal of the Confederate flag after the shootings in the black church in Charleston. He stated he said this because he didn't think it would happen. And yet it happened. In matter of weeks, it happened. Did he think to ponder as to why or just stop at "Shit!"?  Well, such things show us even throughout the "struggle" life and the universe still have a way of surprising us. Dylann Roof could have shot at black people anywhere in Charleston or South Carolina for that matter. He chose the church, the African Methodist Church, for a reason, a specific reason, because he wanted to extinguish it, destroy its struggle. But he couldn't, because of faith, which in this case let to it moving mountains. Who knows what it can do next?  The struggle continues of course, but faith makes it continue.