Thursday, December 29, 2016

Obama's Sanctions Against Russia: My Reaction

White House sanctions Russia over election hacks
By ERIC GELLER and CORY BENNETT 12/29/16 02:13 PM EST Updated 12/29/16 05:31 PM EST

My reaction: 

What a total waste of energy. All the hype and for what? Too little too late, Barack. Your caution served no one's interests and now, on the eve of your departure, you're expelling Russian operatives and sanctioning some Russian intelligence czars in Russia. Wow. How unimpressive. Russia will respond by expelling Americans and that will be that. Yes, perhaps there will be unrevealed covert cyber sanctions. One can only hope. But who the heck knows and we won't. Call me tired of this 11th hour grandstanding in this and other areas. I voted twice for you, President Obama, and you've been, overall, a good president. But, Obama supporters seem unwilling and/or unable to criticize you and that is unfortunate.

My own view on the cyber warfare issue is that our Government has been far too tardy in ramping up this country's defenses against all cyber intrusions. Because we're primarily a capitalist country dominated by private enterprises, perhaps some in Government have felt defending against cyber attacks is the job of the private sector. They are wrong, in my humble opinion. We should have built better defenses. Still today it appears anyone who truly wants to hack can do it, except perhaps at the highest levels, and then it isn't clear they can't do it there either. So, far more should have been done years ago and needs to be done right now. As to this episode, I think Obama should have spoken sooner about Russia's interference in the 2016 elections and not felt either that he'd look too partisan or that it would cause Russia to interfere with actual voting. Finally, I'd like to believe that our Government has been engaged in major covert cyber espionage vis-a-vis Russia and others but, even if true, I believe that should be ramped up considerably. Admittedly, we don't know what has been done and we won't know about what will be done.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Electoral College Has Spoken

Trump as President

The killing of Russia's Ambassador to Turkey by a gunman at a museum exhibit underscores just how volatile and dangerous the world is today even apart from Donald Trump. We shall see to what extent he contributes to the instability. So far he hasn't given us any grounds to feel that he is willing or able to calm these roiling waters. On the contrary. But, he will have an opportunity to improve. Let us hope he avails himself of it.☐

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Trump and Russia

Let me be clear. I'm not a Trump supporter. Au contraire. But I am slightly bemused by all the condemnation of Trump for advocating possibly cooperating more with Putin and Russia. Wasn't it Obama who, in 2009, inaugurated the now infamous re-set with Russia? And didn't Obama ridicule Mitt Romney when Mitt identified Russia as America's biggest geopolitical threat in a 2012 presidential debate? And wasn't it George W. Bush who, in 2001, talked about having looked Putin in the eye and having seen him to be trustworthy. 

Chill, people. There will be time to take Trump to task if he actually tries to weaken NATO or otherwise sacrifice America's interests to his own personal or familial interests. I'm not advocating supporting Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State or embracing Donald Trump as someone qualified to be President, which he is not. I'm just suggesting we keep a little perspective on things. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Obama's Tightrope

Obama seems clearly to be walking a tightrope between, on the one hand, providing a smooth transition for President Elect Trump and not undermining the legitimacy of the election despite Obama's awareness of Russian hacking in support of Trump, and, on the other hand, expressing his views about the impact of birther racism spearheaded by Trump, the threat of fake news to our electoral process, and how Republican obstructionism thwarted many of his Presidential objectives. It's a difficult task, to say the least, and no doubt will leave no one completely happy, particularly Democrats.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cookies, Computer Style

By now we're all familiar with cookies, computer style. Heck, these days we're blasted with display windows warning us of them and requesting that we acknowledge their existence.

But, Facebook in particular, perhaps because so many of us use it to connect with and keep track of friends and loved ones, seemingly continues to expand its "horizons". These days I'm not only greeted by a "memory" in the form of a photo posted years before but I'm welcomed with a weather report and bombarded with ads specifically targeting me based on my school affiliations, web searches and the like.

It really is getting to be too much but I don't see any respite going forward, other than turning it all off, which may be easier said than done.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Knotting My Sweatpants

It's that time of year in Southern California when it actually starts to get chilly. Time to wear some sweatpants around the house. 

But this year I finally decided to face up to the fact that I may be the only schnook who does not know how to knot the sweatpants' single loop drawstring. I mean for years I've struggled unsuccessfully with the challenge. So tonight I decided to face my demons, or at least this one, use modern technology — Google and YouTube — and try to learn how to do it. 

Well, it turns out I'm not the only schnook in town when it comes to this one. All kinds of videos and diagrams. It makes knotting a tie seem easy. But I think I'm on the road to a solution. Just a little more practice and who knows — maybe I'll be able to venture outside to retrieve the morning newspaper without worrying whether my sweatpants will fall down. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

On the Demise of Obamacare under a Trump Presidency

Mitch McConnell has apparently just announced that, now that there will be a Republican President, the Republicans will repeal Obamacare.
I will be interested in seeing the reactions of the white working class that brought Trump his victory when Medicaid expansions are eliminated, insurers may once again impose pre-existing conditions as barriers to coverage, subsidies for those who do not have health insurance through an employer and have never been able to pay premiums are eliminated, and healthcare costs and insurance premiums continue to increase under Trumpcare, a non-existent health insurance plan. But, then, the Republicans will make every effort to blame liberals for the catastrophe while assuring the white working class that trickle down economics, including massive tax rate reductions for the rich and businesses, will bring them incredible prosperity.☐

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Latest Hillary Email Sensation: FBI Director Comey's Letters

The latest turn of events in the 2016 Presidential election campaign is FBI Director James Comey's letter to certain Congressmen on Friday that the FBI had come upon what appears to be a trove of emails seemingly pertinent to its investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while Secretary of State while the Bureau was conducting an investigation in an unrelated matter and would be proceeding to evaluate and review those emails. That matter involves allegations that former Congressman Anthony Weiner sexted with an underaged female. The FBI was reviewing a Weiner laptop when it apparently came upon the emails that are linked to an account in his wife's name. She is Huma Abedin, a longterm aide to Hillary Clinton.

Hillary had held a significant 4 to 5% lead or greater over Donald Trump until release of that letter which has resulted in a firestorm. It has reopened the email scandal, a major vulnerability of Clinton's, at the worst possible time - 11 days prior to the election. Comey's statement, added to in a letter he wrote to FBI agents published by the Washington Post, indicated that it wasn't clear whether these emails had any significance on the issue of mishandling confidential information, the focus of the FBI investigation that, last July, had resulted in a finding that there wasn't a sufficient basis to prosecute Clinton, accompanied by Comey's remarks that she had nonetheless acted extremely carelessly. But despite Comey's qualifications, the upshot of his letters has been to roil the electoral campaign and put Hillary on the defensive. She has demanded that Comey issue more information to clarify exactly what these emails are in an effort to limit the damage to her standing. She and her staff maintain that their release will not change the FBI's previous conclusion that there was no basis to proceed with a criminal indictment. But Trump has jumped on this latest development to reiterate his claim that Hillary has committed criminal acts and should be precluded from running for the presidency let alone defeated in the election. Hillary has clearly lost the momentum.

One of the more disturbing aspects of this latest Clinton email "scandal" is Huma Abedin's statement, according to several news sources, that she has no idea how her emails ended up on the laptop at issue that apparently belonged to her husband.

We're told that the laptop contains thousands of Abedin emails that relate to her work for Hillary Clinton but Abedin doesn't know how they got there? That's almost unbelievable.

And then there's all the convoluted news reporting. Despite indications that the FBI has yet to review the substance of Abedin's emails because it has yet to obtain a search warrant or issue a subpoena, various news organizations have published information about the emails attributed to government officials. The Los Angeles Times has reported that none of the emails was sent or received by Clinton. Newsweek reports that Abedin had a practice of forwarding emails that she had received to herself to more easily print them. But what does all that mean? Does it mean emails that had been sent to Hillary or even sent by Hillary that were received at some point in the email thread by Abedin were then forwarded by Abedin to herself at a different email address? If so, then emails sent or received by Hillary would have been included in the email threads, simply not the last or most recent email transmissions in those threads.

This is a mess and despite demands by Hillary to Comey to release greater details, it isn't clear what will be released, if anything, and when. Instead, this story will continue to churn and likely diminish Clinton's poll numbers and actual support. Trump was already closing the gap as Republicans began increasingly to return to the fold but this may cost Hillary the election.

To be sure, we haven't seen polling taken since Comey's letter to Congress and some contend that Hillary's poll numbers will not be significantly affected. Then, too, early voting has already begun and many have voted. Some have even argued that Hillary's poll numbers may increase out of sympathy by some for Comey's action or via mobilization of her base now that it is concerned she may lose. I am more skeptical and concerned. All the negative attention Trump was getting over accusations of sexual harassment and assault has been muted by this latest story, and that is not good.

The World Series may end quickly and Halloween will come and go this Monday. That will leave the final week with a clear focus on the election and the story of Hillary and her emails and new claims that she or a key associate may have mishandled classified information may well hold center stage. 

As a Hillary supporter, I find the present situation not good. Not good at all. Hillary is clearly on the defensive and I wouldn't be surprised to see Trump take a lead in the polls during the next few days. Whether Hillary can reverse the movement, whether by releasing further damaging information about Trump and putting the spotlight back on him, or otherwise blunting the impact of the news story about Abedin's emails, remains to be seen.

This had already been a bad week for Hillary. It began with news from the Administration that Obamacare premiums would be going up quite dramatically. And the daily release by Wikileaks of emails apparently stolen from the email account of John Podesta, Hillary's campaign manager, by Russian hackers, continued to provide negative press coverage, the latest relating to the management of the Clinton Foundation and enticement of wealthy sources to contribute to the Foundation as well as to Bill Clinton's personal wealth. Comey's bombshell at the end of this past week put things over the top for the Hillary campaign. Supporters such as I are dispirited and that is not good.

Friday, September 16, 2016

On Winston Churchill, Trump's Unfitness to be President, and Questions about our Process

Winston Churchill: «The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.»

Yes, as I blogged several months ago, Donald Trump may win the presidency. The polls are tightening and he has even pulled into a lead in a number of battleground states. To be sure, Hillary Clinton is a flawed candidate, but every presidential candidate and president has been flawed. That Trump is doing as well as he is speaks ill of this process.

I remain of the view that anyone who has seen Trump publicly mock a disabled reporter at one of Trump's rallies — an act that has been broadcast widely enough for all to have seen — and who still votes for Trump to be president is seriously misguided, to put it politely.☐

Monday, September 5, 2016

Reflections on the 2016 Presidential Race and the First Debate

To use the vernacular: I am with Her. While I make an effort to avoid wearing blinders in my analyses, including this one, I have my biases, including that I support Hillary for President. Indeed, this is more about how she should approach that first debate rather than a perspective on how it may proceed.

In that vein, I don't like that the polls are tightening but it doesn't surprise me at all. As the election approaches, particularly with Trump's recent attempts to soften his persona, more and more folks who lean Republican are likely to return to the fold.

I agree with many that the first debate may well be decisive, or at least extremely important. As some have remarked, it is Trump's best opportunity to get back into the thick of things and he has a charisma that Hillary lacks. He will be loaded for bear, primed to fire off all kinds of allegations against her, mocking her FBI interview and her use of the private email account and server, focusing on a world in turmoil and her role in bringing it about, mentioning her remarks about Benghazi and the death of the Ambassador, identifying her most notable flip flop on TPP as well as on incarcerations and criminal justice reform, and, of course, underscoring the lack of trust that Americans feel toward her. And, let us not leave out pointing a finger at her for allegedly being an enabler for Bill's sexual escapades. Then, too, there are the Goldman, Sacks speeches and payments, her Wall Street connections, and claimed improprieties relating to the Clinton Foundation. 

Hillary's challenge will be to focus from the first minute on his unfitness for office. His birther campaign against Obama which he now tries to bury, his encouragement of nuclear proliferation including in the Korean peninsula, his waffling on NATO in evaluating whether NATO allies deserve defense at the time of attack based on their prior financial contributions, his opposition to any legal status for undocumented immigrants despite confused efforts to waffle on that position, his incendiary comments about Mexicans and mass deportation no matter how he has tried to walk them back, his self-inflated notion that Mexico will pay for his incredibly gorgeous wall, his hypocrisy when it comes to trade and increasing manufacturing jobs in this country given his decisions to manufacture products abroad, his comments that wages are too high and opposition to an increase in the minimum wage despite his efforts to be the “voice” for working class folks, his support for abolishing the estate (death) tax that favors his family, his ridiculous tax plan that rewards the super-rich and creates an unmanageable deficit, his steadfast refusal to divulge his tax returns so Americans can get a sense of his own financial interests, lawsuits against him claiming fraud vis-a-vis Trump University, allegations that Trump Foundation engaged in bribery of public officials, bankruptcies of Trump enterprises. As for his misogyny, I imagine Hillary may be somewhat constrained because of Bill although Trump's statements about women are many and demeaning. But she will attack his character at every turn, including as evidenced by Trump’s mockery of a disabled reporter, which remains, for me, his greatest single sin and most prominent direct evidence of his unfitness for office, albeit not the only evidence.

As to that first debate, in my view, Hillary needs to pounce from the very outset, put up a strong and aggressive defense against Trump’s assaults, and keep pouring it on. Every time he attacks, she needs to counter-punch, to borrow Trump's claimed strategy. But it will be a challenging encounter for her and, as many have often said about these kinds of debates, if he is seen as her "equal", which is highly likely given his entertainment background and status as a billionaire, or even her equal in pouring abuse on his opponent, he may be seen as the winner, at least by pundits who have an interest in keeping the presidential race close.

That said, if she is able to emerge the victor in that first debate, she will, in my view, and assuming nothing untoward happens before that debate, be in a very good position. Of course other things can happen after the first debate - performances in subsequent debates, an October surprise from Wikileaks' Assange, world events, and the like. But she will be in good stead. On the other hand, if he prevails in that debate or ties her, all bets are off. And I've always said, and written, that Trump certainly could win the general election. Need I remind folks, winning a third term in the White House for a political party is extremely difficult to achieve.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Trouble with Being a Senior in a Millennial World

I love many of the new technologies in this digital age, or at least many of the new applications available for smartphones. My smartphone is filled with new and seemingly exciting apps. I tried Meerkat and Periscope when they first appeared. I downloaded Snapchat in its infancy. I have more “productivity” apps than I have productive things to do in my senior years.

The problem? I’m not a millennial. Oh, I don’t mind being my age, not that there’s anything I could do about it anyway. And it’s not as if I would like to be a millennial. I wouldn’t.

But none of my friends - my contemporaries - shares my interest in these new technologies. Heck, my siblings even eschew Facebook, which is hardly cutting edge these days. And in most but not all instances, you can’t really use these new apps except with others who are using the apps. With no friends who download and use them, I’m left simply to admire them, a very unsatisfying outcome.

I read Tech Crunch fairly religiously and this evening I read a post about Amity, a new interactive messaging app. Of course I had to download it, which I did. But, alas, I will be unable to use it unless or until a friend or associate downloads and uses it as well, something unlikely to happen.

I had a related “problem” when I was still “young” and working. I have always loved pens and writing so, perhaps naturally, I developed a love (some might call it a fetish but that would be wrong) for beautiful and unusual fonts in this computer age. At work I would often download stunning “new” fonts that I happened across. But, while I was able to use and admire them in my emails to colleagues and friends, they could not see the fonts in the emails unless they too had downloaded the fonts on their desktop, which, of course, they hadn’t. Fortunately, I had one former colleague who shares my passion for fonts so I was able to share the new fonts with her, she would download them, and we were at least able to enjoy and admire them in emails between us. I need at least one friend like that now so I may share these new apps with her or him. But I’m not holding my breath.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Space travel to Mars by 2035?

According to a news story today, NASA is forecasting that men and women may well travel to Mars by 2035. It might be a 10 month trip. 

The NASA spokesman indicated that this timetable admittedly depends not only on sufficient funding but also on some technologies that haven't been created yet! 

Nonetheless, 2035 is not far away. And, I imagine there is a real possibility that by then the United States may be working with other global powers, like China and India, as well as Russia, to develop the needed technologies, or at least we can hope for such global cooperation.

My reaction? Yikes!

America Is Inadequately Prepared to Defend Against Cyber Attacks

It's scary although not surprising that American States are ill-equipped to deal with cyber attacks, whether directed at elections or other government processes. It is dismaying how poorly prepared almost all American institutions are when it comes to defending against cyber attacks. I consider this to be a far more important issue and threat to our safety and security than immigration, illegal or legal.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


This headline on a Twitter tweet caught my attention this morning: «The ISIS view of Jabhat al-Nusra's rebranding». It was accompanied by an image of a purported al-Nusra terrorist wearing a headband or keffiyeh adorned with the American stars and stripes.
But, «rebranding«? What a strange world. Decades ago, my old law firm, Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges, decided it was time to rebrand. Thousands of dollars were spent on a consultant and the firm's partners were deluged with various phrases and terms from which to choose intended to rebrand the firm. Ultimately, It all came to naught. It was a waste of money, time and energy.
More recently, while I was at California State University, the chancellor decided it was time to rebrand. A new logo and color scheme were created, dollars were spent, and consultants were likely engaged. Colorful post-it pads were distributed and at least we were able to use them. But I do not think the rebranding accomplished very much for the institution.
Perhaps rebranding will help al-Nusra. It is apparently trying to distance itself from al Qaida these days. But I question whether its campaign will be any more successful than those I described above.
Meanwhile, I find it strange or worse that what we used to call, decades ago, Madison Avenue advertising techniques have seriously infected the worlds of education, legal services, and, now, terrorism.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Concerns about California's Top Two Primary System

Apropos of an article in the Los Angeles Times about the number of Republicans who plan to sit out this fall's election of a new U.S. Senator from California given that the contest is between two Democrats as the result of California's top two primary system, I am beginning to question the wisdom of that system.

Republican voters taking a pass on California's U.S. Senate race, poll finds 

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, left, and California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris. (Associated Press)

Not only am I concerned about the wisdom of California's top two primary system,  I am also concerned about the national Democratic Party's turn against SuperDelegates. 

My concerns about these matters are rooted in my increasing distrust of primaries and a belief that they may be overrated as instruments of democracy because such a small percentage of the electorate actually participates in them. Caucuses are even worse. 

We need to think clearly about which voting systems actually are the most reflective of the public's will and the public interest. 

As I recall, the theory behind the top two primary system was that it would bring about a situation in which more moderate candidates ultimately appeared on the general election ballot. Instead of each party having its own primary in which more extreme candidates were chosen, the top two primary system would presumably lead to the nomination of more moderate general election candidates because the candidates would need to build broader more moderate coalitions to finish in the top two in the primaries. 

But voter turnout is notoriously small in primaries. Furthermore, given that small turnout, if the top two come from the same party, will that lead voters in the other party who didn't participate in the primary to feel disenfranchised? It could be argued that those voters should have participated in the primary. But the reality is that most voters do not participate in primaries. In fact, even the percentage of those who participate in the general election is often unimpressive.

My concern is that, while there is something to be said for the top two primary system, it may leave a significant number of voters feeling left out at general election time. That seems to be the case this year in the U.S. Senatorial contest in California. 

As for the SuperDelegate issue, call me old school if you like, but, here too, given the small number of Party members who actually vote in primaries and the ability of a well organized minority to possibly control the primaries, and even more so the caucuses, I believe that giving Party officials a vote in the nominating process provides a check of sorts against unanticipated and conceivably unrepresentative voting patterns. For these reasons we occasionally require super majorities to bring about change and the U.S. Senate is representative of state "equality" and not at all reflective of one person - one vote representation of the American electorate. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Childhood Fantasy Realized

Well, there I was. No uniform. No whistle. But finding myself in the supermarket parking lot, taking shopping bags from the trunk of my car to head into the market. As I turned, I saw two cars backing out, albeit slowly, but on a collision trajectory. Each stopped, seeing the other, but then each proceeded. Then stopped, then ... you get the picture. So here was that lifetime opportunity. I stepped up, raised my hand so that one driver could clearly see it and me, signalling for him to stop, and with my other hand I waved to the other driver to proceed. Both complied and both finally were able to drive off safely. My brief experience as a traffic cop, one of those childhood fantasies many of us have had, was fulfilled. But I sure would have preferred having a whistle handy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bernie Sanders’ Hubris and Chutzpah

It has become increasingly clear to me that Bernie Sanders exhibits two extremely undesirable traits: hubris (excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance) and chutzpah (shameless audacity; impudence). He is not a Democrat. He registered as one only recently for the sole purpose of trying to capture the Democratic nomination for President, rather than start his own movement in pursuit of his political revolution. 

His hubris and chutzpah are evident every time he speaks these days. He has increasingly been lashing out at the Democratic Party leadership who have built and sustained the party and he is vowing to take his fight to the convention floor even though Hillary will likely have enough delegates to win the nomination in a month and he has no chance of winning the nomination. Bernie has made promises that even left liberal economists, healthcare experts, and educators have repeatedly concluded cannot be realized in the manner Sanders is suggesting. Most notably, they have documented that he has repeatedly underestimated the costs of his programs and the revenues needed to pay for them. He constantly invokes the principle of democracy in condemning the Democratic Party nominating process, including the role of Super Delegates, but he refuses to acknowledge that very small percentages of the eligible electorate actually vote in primaries and even smaller percentages in caucuses.  Let the people decide? To Bernie, that seems to mean the 5% who turn out for caucuses. Perhaps he conceives of them as the vanguard of his political revolution. Even then, Hillary has actually won more votes in this nominating process than Sanders, but Bernie has “answers” for that as well, at one point making light of the Southern states in which Hillary did very well.

It appears that, over the years, Bernie has on occasion run and railed against Democrats, and, despite some of his comments suggesting otherwise, in his most recent bombast he appears ready, and perhaps even eager, to try to take down the Democrats this time around. Just as some Republicans think it would be better to lose than to win with Trump, I am sure that Sanders can convince himself, and may already have done so, that a Trump victory and Hillary defeat in November would actually serve his ambitions more than a Hillary victory by, with Trump as President, inflaming his followers' passions even more than at present, thereby, in his fantasies, bringing about the political revolution he imagines.

Of course, if Trump wins, Sanders' youthful supporters will be hurt most, or as much as other Trump victims. Trump will stack the U.S. Supreme Court, and lower courts, with conservative judges who will preside for a generation; he will press for a tax cut for the richest; he will utterly fail to bring jobs back to the United States; he will oppose meaningful immigration reform and seek to build his Wall; he will undermine Obamacare with no suitable alternatives; he will destabilize the world by conceivably pushing allies and others to build their own nuclear arsenals; and those actions will only have been for starters.

If Trump wins, it will at least in large measure be because Bernie Sanders convinced his supporters, as Ralph Nader did in 2000, that Trump and Hillary are merely tweedledum and tweedledee, both puppets of the billionaire class Sanders loves to demonize, with no major distinctions between them. Bernie's supporters who, as a consequence of his rhetoric, end up sitting on their hands will have no one to blame but themselves for a Trump presidency although Sanders and they will no doubt blame everyone else but themselves. They have much more at stake in this election to see a Democrat in the White House than many of Hillary’s older supporters who will not be as adversely affected by a Trump presidency as the Millennials but who support Hillary and oppose Trump because Trump will hurt so many.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Can Trump Win the Presidency?

Tonight, Donald Trump effectively won the 2016 Republican nomination for President by soundly beating Senator Ted Cruz in the Indiana primary leading Cruz to suspend his presidential campaign. Ohio Governor John Kasich remains in the race but the likelihood that he will stop Trump, or that the Stop Trump forces will be able to deny Trump the nomination, is extremely remote.

The question that many have already been asking and reflecting upon – whether Donald Trump can win the Presidency – is now truly germane. My response as of today? Yes, he can win the Presidency. He may win the Presidency. And, let me be clear – a Trump victory would be an enormous setback for this country.

A great many pundits, political strategists and observers contend that Trump cannot win the Presidency; that there is no way he can secure enough Hispanic votes to win, even were he to do exceedingly well among white voters. Others reach the same conclusion based upon Trump's current negative numbers among women voters. I hope these prognosticators are correct. I am not claiming that Trump will win the Presidency, only that the possibility is greater than remote.

In part my concerns stem from the fact that the Democrats have controlled the White House for the last two terms. Although President Obama's popularity is greater today than it has been throughout much of his tenure, I believe that the Democratic nominee, likely to be Hillary Clinton, whom I support, will have an uphill battle as Americans often grow tired of giving the same political party control of the White House for too long.

But, beyond that, in certain ways, Donald Trump and his candidacy remind me too much for comfort of Ronald Reagan and his successful 1980 campaign for President. Listening to Dana Bash and Gloria Borger on CNN tonight talk of the fact that almost all observers felt Trump was a joke when he first announced his candidacy, I'm reminded of similar sentiments so many observers had about Ronald Reagan, the Hollywood actor, when he first turned to running for office. To be sure, those sentiments about Reagan were more intense when Reagan first sought the Governorship of California in 1967 than they were when he sought the presidency, first in 1976 and then in 1980. But even in 1980 there were many, particularly among Democrats, who still dismissed him as a mediocre Hollywood actor who really seemed lost making public policy.

But, despite the ridicule and skepticism, Reagan's charisma and his ability to appeal to voters' emotions, particularly to a sense of nationalism and American rebirth at a time when things seemed not to be headed in the right direction, helped him mobilize working class Democrats and others and win. Donald Trump as well has charisma, whether one likes him or not. And his appeal to working class whites of whatever political affiliation seems to be real and to be working for him thus far very effectively.

Then, too, Reagan had not always been a conservative Republican. Over time, he altered many of his beliefs. To be sure, Reagan's political evolution occurred over a much longer period of time than Trump's "conversion". Trump has flip flopped in recent years. Even during this campaign he has flip flopped on a number of issues, calling the changes media misunderstandings. But both Reagan and Trump share the fact that they changed political views and gravitated to the Republican Party.

To be sure, I am not suggesting that Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump are political twins. Not only are there profound differences between them but the times have changed and the demographics of the American electorate have profoundly altered since Reagan ran for office.

However misguided he may have been, Ronald Reagan seemed to believe the conservative principles he articulated. While he didn't necessarily pursue some of the more extreme principles he seemed to endorse, and, in today's political environment Reagan and his policies would likely be characterized as moderate, Reagan seemed to truly embrace a conservative political perspective.

The same cannot be said about Donald Trump. While, in my view, Donald Trump as President would be no more likely to institute some of the more extreme policies he has articulated than, in reality, Reagan ever did, Trump's personality and style are far worse than Reagan's ever were and many of Trump's pronouncements are more extreme than Reagan's. Donald Trump truly enjoys insulting others and he does so regularly. Donald Trump appears to be a political opportunist with no core principles or beliefs, willing to adopt extreme, inflammatory positions when he concludes they will appeal to and mobilize white voters. Then, too, Trump has proven himself to be a serial liar. He creates "facts" out of thin air that have no truth to them but then refuses to back down; shades of The Big Lie, as used in Germany in the 1930's. Trump as well displays a narcissistic personality. And, Trump, who in contrast to Reagan has never served in public office, seems far more convinced of his own genius than Reagan ever did. Reagan took counsel from others who knew more. Trump seems to take some input but is convinced he knows best, which he clearly does not.

I am not one who came to appreciate Ronald Reagan's presidency in retrospect. I still think he was not an impressive President. The incredible deficits he created, his trickle down Reaganomics, the Iran-contra scandal, among other aspects of his presidency, are never acknowledged by his admirers, including those who love to invoke his name in support of their own political aspirations. 

But I sincerely believe that a Donald Trump presidency poses a far greater threat to this country and generations of Americans, particularly the younger generations, than Ronald Reagan ever posed. Critics have compared Trump to Il Duce (Mussolini), Juan Peron, George Wallace and Pat Buchanan, among others. Trump has frequently ridiculed the press, attacking particular journalists and their characteristics. He has denounced and on occasion seemingly encouraged physical attacks on protesters. He has indicated he would reinstitute torture and pursue other interrogation techniques in response to global terrorism that are condemned under international law. His insults of women are well documented and include attacks on female journalists throughout this campaign. And, in place of sound policies, Trump has offered sound bites, on how to defeat ISIS, how to address immigration, how to retain or grow manufacturing jobs in the United States, and on other issues. Trump will no doubt seek to soften certain pronouncements as well as aspects of his image during the general election campaign although certainly not in all respects. Hopefully, the Democratic candidate will constantly remind the electorate of Trump's character, behavior and statements displayed and made during and prior to the primaries.

Will so called "Establishment Republicans", moderate Republicans, and conservatives follow columnist George Will's advice and vote to defeat Trump? That would require them either to not vote for President or to vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or perhaps a third party candidate. That would likely be a difficult challenge for many Republicans, even those who detest Trump. And Trump will have a few months to try to appease Republican and other voters who at this juncture have been repelled by him.

We shall see what transpires.☐

Friday, April 15, 2016

Returning to the Gym

Well, two weeks after reactivating my athletic club membership and at least a year since I last exercised there, I stepped inside and actually used the exercise equipment.

Did it feel as if I had never left? You jest. It felt more like I had never been there in the first place! Actually, it wasn't quite that bad but that's mainly because I principally used the treadmill, not a difficult machine to figure out, and the jacuzzi!

The next big challenge will be to go again and to develop some kind of regimen that keeps me going there on a regular basis.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

#FeelTheHeat, Bernie

It's about time #BernieSanders has begun to feel what it's like to be a real candidate for President. 

Calls for him to actually release his income tax returns, not just the Form 1040 summary page. Interviews challenging him to detail how he would break up the big banks, to which he has no specific answers. And that's not even focusing on his disastrous record on gun control. Or critiques of his healthcare and public college tuition plans made by liberal economists. 

It's no longer #FeelTheBern. It's #FeelTheHeat.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Attending a College Without Fraternities

I just read an interesting article in Haaretz on Facebook dated April 3, 2016, about a swastika being drawn in condensation on a window of a Jewish fraternity house off campus at Brandeis University, my alma mater. I was saddened to read of this loathsome behavior. But I admit that what really caught my eye was the reference to a fraternity at Brandeis. In fact, because of that, at first I thought the swastika story was an April Fools joke. It wasn't.

And, apparently, fraternities (and, to a lesser extent, sororities) have come to Brandeis as well. Not officially, it seems, but in reality. The University apparently continues to ban fraternities from campus but apparently they exist off campus and recruit students. 

When I attended Brandeis in the early 1960s, Greek organizations were not permitted and, to my knowledge, none existed off campus for Brandeis students. But apparently times have changed.

I always found the ban on fraternities and sororities a good thing but, then, given my propensities, I probably wasn't fraternity material so that not having them around meant that one other set of social institutions that would likely reject me wasn't around to cause me grief! 

Instead, I was able to thrive in student government and in other milieus at Brandeis to which access for me might have been more difficult had the school had active Greek organizations.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Hillary and the New York Primary

I'm reminded that New York is a closed primary. I guess that suggests that if Hillary loses it's significant. And California, for the Democrats, is an open primary which suggests that, particularly if Sanders were to win in New York, he will be able to give Hillary a run for her money. 

Yes, Hillary will lose Wisconsin. But New York will be a measure of whether she is strong enough among Democrats themselves. I hope she is because, if she isn't, the doubts about her and her candidacy will surely grow. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Trump on Criminal Penalties for Women Having an Abortion

Today, during another one of those ubiquitous town-hall forums, Chris Matthews questioned Donald Trump with rapid fire inquiries. One question was whether Trump was against abortion. Yes he is, answered The Donald. Would you penalize women who had abortions if abortions became illegal, Matthews asked. Donald paused, presumably to think, but quickly answered yes. What would be the penalty, asked Chris. Donald hesitated and said he'd have to think about that.

Well, the mainstream and social media world lit up at Donald's pronouncement. Not only did Democrats denounce his position but even social conservatives rejected it, saying they opposed abortion but had never favored imposing criminal penalties on the women, only the physicians.

Shortly thereafter, the Trump campaign issued a "clarification" which was, in point of fact, a complete reversal, adopting the social conservatives' position against abortion but now opposing criminal penalties on the women who had abortions.

A commentator on CNN shortly after Trump had taken his initial position with Chris Matthews and before the "clarification" offered the best "explanation" as to why Trump made the statement in the first place: given that Trump has no core values and is a pure opportunist, opined the commentator, when asked the question by Chris Matthews, who was demanding very quick responses, Trump had to quickly figure out not where he actually stood but, rather, what he imagined Wisconsin and other voters would want to hear him say. And that is what he said.

If only the Republicans had a presentable candidate for President, just in case the GOP wins. No, not Trump. Not Cruz. And Kasich is no moderate either.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

For those who miss my tweets ... here are some recent ones.

  1. Lindsey said nominating Trump or Cruz meant death to GOP in Nov. "Death by being shot or poisoning." Flip-flopping, Lindsey? 😳
  2. It appears plays neutral journalist when he chooses and expresses personal opinions at other times. That's okay but fuzzes lines
  3. || to give major address begging the #47% he rejected in 2012 who support to abandon Trump & vote for Establishment.🙄
  4. : who gave us the 47%, self-deportation & hidden tax returns is the last person to be wheeled out to take down 🙄
  5. : headline "Bernie Sanders isn't going anywhere". He's neither abandoning his political revolution nor creating one
  6. : campaign strengthening as candidate. Wrong. It's weakening chances to retain POTUS aft 8 yrs
  7. As I tweeted long ago, Trump opponents shd have done what Gingrich did to Romney w/ Bain Capital video. has done it. Use it.
  8. Pundits lacking historical perspective still talk of old guard as East Coast monied interests. BS. Nixon/Reagan overthrew them. Grow up
  9. . continues to field multiple panels filled w/shrill partisans like Jeff Lord, speed talker , uninformative .
  10. Unimpressed by political pundits. opined might well win Texas. Wrong. & that Trump on KKK was merely careless. Wrong 2x
  11. Viewed & tonite. MSNBC won. Better panels, not as scattered. & disappointing. CNN partisans terrible.
  12. . 's white male issue this time? Not Obama. Read article predicting Sanders winning OK re white workers
  13. If donors & operatives who want to defeat were at all smart, they'd begin by circulating 's video widely.
  14. Gosh , which candidate or office holder hasn't been flawed? Do you really think & are equally flawed?
  15. The thing about O'Donnell is that he talks so authoritatively but is so often wrong. Pawlenty as nominee? Trump will never run? 🙄😳
  16. Watching shout his way to analyzing contest. fading as analyst. Nothing meaningful said.
  17. .'s victory in Mass. primary tonight is significant given its proximity to ' Vermont & its liberal bent.
  18.  In reply to 
    . showed he could win in caucus states. Otherwise he did poorly, OK being an outlier, Vt his home.
  19. . further burnishing his credentials as the extreme right wing hope. But he'll never become the establishment candidate. Narrow lane
  20. . Don't simply describe 's behavior. Take responsibility for giving him more free TV exposure in a mock "press conference".
  21. Another example of mainstream media giving extended free exposure right now. . And then media wonders why he's doing well.
  22. While people are now listening to champion his leadership they should watch 's video exposing his emptiness
  23. looks like an undertaker in introducing tonight and standing behind him. Duh.