The political establishment in the USA is peeing in its pants. Normally, the two political parties have colluded to not rock the boat in which the corporate fascist oligarchy cruises. The parties keep their public differences limited to things such as which public services to cut first, opportunities for prayer in public schools, and the availability of abortions, guns, and union representation. The parties theoretically agree on equal pay for men and women, with a subtle difference in emphasis. Democrats want to guarantee that women are paid as much as men for similar work while Republicans strive to assure that men are paid as little as women. Most Republican and many Democratic politicians join to support trade agreements which enrich a few corporate patrons while effectively disenfranchising entire nations, starting with the USA. CEO's, vulture capitalists and hedge fund managers keep getting richer and most everyone else poorer. 2016 was supposed to follow the same script. The Koch brothers pledged to spend a billion dollars to maintain the desired result.
Somewhere, the train of inevitability got derailed. The chosen heiress to the presidency now trails an older democratic socialist senator from Vermont in the polls in New Hampshire and may also fall behind in the coming Iowa caucuses. Bernie Sanders wants to break up the bailed out banks too big to fail or jail, but his name has virtually never been mentioned in the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the four national TV networks over the last six months of 2015. Despite the blackout, his rallies have consistently outdrawn those of his rivals in both parties and he has risen steadily in all polls. He's projected as an easy winner over any of the Republican candidates and running stronger against all of them than Hillary Clinton. The Democratic Party establishment is aghast that a pretender to the throne has stepped forward.
Meanwhile, the big noise is on the Republican side. Most of the Koch millions have gone to Jeb Bush but with the Jeb! campaign having peaked with the support of about 3% of the party faithful, some of that money is now being funneled toward Marco Rubio, who makes a strong case for being a malleable enough establishment puppet. Currently in second place is the radical right wing fanatic, Ted Cruz, the man most hated by his peers in the Senate, on both sides of the aisle. Many of the original seventeen GOP candidates have fallen by the wayside as The Big Noise, Donald Trump, has emerged from reality TV to take a commanding lead for the Republican nomination. While spewing hate in every direction in mono-syllabic tough guy rants, he's the only Republican in the race who doesn't want to destroy Social Security and Medicaid and who acknowledges a need for health care available to all.
|Il Duce II?|
Last week I spoke for the first time in years to an old friend who has known Donald Trump for most of his life and worked with him over several decades. He believes that Trump entered the race on a lark, primarily to gain a lot of free publicity which would enhance the value of his many properties. Having no particular ideology beyond the art of the deal, and no significant goals beyond making more money, he probably never dreamed that he'd get so far in the campaign. He may have never wanted to either, and his increasingly truculent statements may have been a tactic to be eased out of the contest. He has offended a wide array of people, from former GOP standard bearer John McCain to Latinos and Muslims. With each new outrage, rather than being drummed out of the party, Trump has seen his popularity surge. His recent endorsement by Sarah Palin has brought yet more support from beyond the lunatic fringe, while stirring more fear at party headquarters. How much further does he have to go, or can he go, before he's finally squeezed off the stage? A few days ago, after insulting Fox News host Megyn Kelly, and by proxy, all women, he chose to self-exclude himself from the stage by boycotting the GOP “debate” on Fox, the unofficial propaganda organ of the Republican Party. Whether or not Trump ever really wanted the job, or has ever actually been a Republican, the man does have a huge ego, and his success in the polls is no doubt feeding it.
I watched the Trumpless debate and came away with two impressions. First, the candidates all fully collaborated in the media blackout of Bernie Sanders. Every one of them said how much he looked forward to running against and defeating Hillary. Bernie's name was mentioned once, and that in a feeble jest about him being a good candidate for Sweden but not for America. Apparently Sweden is a hellhole. That was one more mention than climate change got, or the state of the economy for that matter.
Secondly, the absence of Trump gave the remaining candidates more time to display their mind-boggling ignorance and other endearing traits. Rand Paul, the only source of rationality in the evening's festivities, mentioned that arming both sides in an expanding civil war didn't seem like a particularly clever or conservative idea, but that was lost on the herd of belligerent fools he shared the stage (and the auditorium) with. They see the world in terms of good guys and bad guys but can't tell a Sunni Muslim from a Shiite, much less a jihadi terrorist from somebody just terrorized out of his home. Nevertheless, they want to arm all the good guys, whoever they are, to kill all the bad guys. If they can't get it done, Ted Cruz will carpet bomb them all, although he might not wait. The good guys are us, (Republicans) while more or less everybody else, except those aspiring to legally emigrate to the US and become Americans, just like Ted Cruz himself, are the bad guys.
Witnessing this spectacle must make those urine drenched seats of power particularly uncomfortable now. Trump could cost the party not only the presidency but the congress as well. Cruz could put the party in the freezer for generations, if not in the morgue. Various types of remedial action are under consideration. Efforts to exhume the Jeb! campaign will continue. After all, the original plan was for a Hillary-Jeb! election to maintain the Bush I- Clinton I- Bush II- BushLite- Clinton II or Bush III line of succession. Jeb's mild public persona may lure many to ignore his rabid ideological bent, most evident in his efforts to suppress public schools while governor of Florida, and to ignore his important role in getting his dimwit brother appointed to the presidency in 2000. However, his recent defense of Gov. Rick Snyder, who knowingly poisoned the 102,000 residents of Flint Michigan, as a good man trying his best to solve an awkward problem, may not help his chances in a general election. Still, if he can let his inner nastiness shine through that bland facade, he might still have an outside shot at the nomination.
|They've done it before|
Weeks ago we heard rumors of a plan to draft Mitt Romney, should the convention become deadlocked. Unless Trump proposes something unimaginably hostile to the base, such as ending all aid to Israel or contracting his planned Tex/Mex wall construction out to China, a deadlocked convention seems increasingly remote. Just the other day, a Republican Congressman suggested that a non-controversial candidate, such as Paul Ryan, should be persuaded to step in. Paul Ryan? Non-controversial? The same Paul Ryan who occupies the Koch funded Dick Cheney Chair in Applied Sociopathy at the American Heritage Foundation? Perhaps Gov. Rick Snyder would be ready to step down and join the ticket as VP.
None of the above options looks plausible at the moment so what's the Establishment to do? If it comes down to a narcissistic Mussolini-style real estate tycoon running against a democratic socialist who thinks this is Sweden, somebody must step up to keep the Empire safe. Michael Bloomberg is considering a run as an independent to save New York and the rest of the country from the fascists and Bolsheviks. Can he do it? He has the chutzpah and, more important, the money to undertake this quest. A few years ago he gained an illegal third term as mayor of New York City by buying the City Council's vote to make an exception of him. As mayor he launched a successful campaign to convert Manhattan into a millionaire ghetto.
This could shape up as a three way, all Empire State contest: Trump- Sanders- Bloomberg. While Bernie Sanders is a senator from Vermont, he was born and grew up in New York. Hardly a reassuring prospect for The Establishment! Trump and Bloomberg would split the billionaire and wannabe billionaire vote, opening the road to the White House for Bernie. Will they call in the CIA, or will unlimited money alone prevail to reverse the trend and have Hillary Clinton, another New Yorker, albeit an adoptive one, displace Bernie on the ballot. That should be enough to dry out the seats of power, keep the Koch blood pressure down and keep Sheldon Adelson's hair from falling off. Two NYC billionaires and one NYC multi-millionairess. A win-win-win choice even if The Donald is still not fully house-broken. The plutocracy is accustomed to running the government through well-paid surrogates. Taking on the work directly might be a challenge but seeing the number of volunteers in their midst, they seem to feel they're up for it, but would Donald Trump really want to live in that shabby old White House?