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In which an older and wiser yet terminally earnest former liberal struggles to come to grips with the cynicism, hatred, and paranoia that plague both sides of the American political spectrum. "Can we all get along?"

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And I quote:

"The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again: and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered."

Edmund Burke, 2nd speech on conciliation with America, Mar. 22, 1775 (Bartlett's 16th ed., p. 331)

Mrs. Powel: "Well, Dr. Franklin, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?"

Benjamin Franklin: "A republic, if you can keep it."

After Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Sept. 18, 1787. (Bartlett's 16th ed.)

"As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other, and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves."

James Madison ("Publius"), The Federalist Papers No. 10 (1787)

"Of the three forms of sovereignty [autocracy, aristocracy, and democracy], democracy, in the truest sense of the word, is necessarily a despotism because it establishes an executive power through which all the citizens may make decisions about (and indeed against) the individual without his consent..."

Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795)

"To act successfully, that is, according to the rules of the political art, is political wisdom. To know with despair that the political act is inevitably evil, and to act nevertheless, is moral courage. To choose among several expedient actions the least evil one is moral judgment. In the combination of political wisdom, moral courage, and moral judgment, man reconciles his political nature with his moral destiny."

Hans Morgenthau, Scientific Man vs. Power Politics (1946), p. 203

"Thus, whenever a concrete threat to peace develops, war is opposed not by a world public opinion but by the public opinions of those nations whose interests are threatened by that war."

Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations 6th ed., rev. by Kenneth Thompson (1985), p. 288

"The texture of international politics remains highly constant, patterns recur, and events repeat themselves endlessly."

Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979), p. 66

"Men wiser and more learned than I have discerned in history a plot, a rhythm, a predetermined pattern. These harmonies are concealed from me. I can see only one emergency following upon another as wave follows upon wave, only one great fact with respect to which, since it is unique, there can be no generalizations, only one safe rule for the historian: that he should recognize in the development of human destinies the play of the contingent and the unforeseen."

H. A. L. Fisher, History of Europe (1935), p. vii [Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991), p. 80]

"Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favour."

Robert Frost, 'Black Cottage' North of Boston (1914), [Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991), p. 86]

"My thoughts encompass divinity, therefore divinity is. The divinity that my thoughts encompass is associated with the order that arises out of chaos... As we expand our knowledge of this realm, we ... see it in terms of one sublime order that awaits full realization."

Louis J. Halle, Out of Chaos (1977), p. 646

"Here, then, is the complexity, the fascination, and the tragedy of all political life. Politics are made up of two elements -- utopia and reality -- belonging to two different planes which can never meet."

E. H. Carr, The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939 2nd ed. (1946), p. 93.

"My biggest blunder in life was attempt to seek common ground with Keynesians, based on the naive thought that by putting my ideas in Keynesian language that I would make any dent on the Keynesians."

Milton Friedman, New York Times, July 4, 1999

"War made the state and the state made war."

Charles Tilly, The Formation of National States in Western Europe (1975), p. 42

"Americans like to mock Kuwaitis as rich and pampered and lazy and decadent, which is exactly what the rest of the world says about Americans. Actually, we shouldn't mock Kuwait at all. It represents the hopes and dreams of Americans of all political persuasions. For liberals, it's a generous welfare state with guaranteed employment and a huge government bureaucracy. For conservatives, it's a country with no taxes and plenty of cheap maids who aren't allowed to vote."

Peter Carlson, "Castles in the Sand," Washington Post Magazine Jan. 14, 1996, p. 32-33

"[Bill Clinton's] greatest strength is his insincerity... I've decided Bill Clinton is at his most genuine when he's the most phony... We know he doesn't mean what he says."

Newsweek reporter Howard Fineman, in a speech in Indiana quoted by Howard Kurtz, Washington Post Apr. 27, 1996

"Whatever one thinks of Bill Clinton, his opponents [*] must be thwarted. They are enemies of democracy and of the Constitution that insures its possibility. We long ago lost the luxury of choosing our allies. This is war."
* (referred to elsewhere in this piece as "mad dogs bent on political annihilation")

Eric Alterman, "Democracy Disappears" The Nation, Jan. 11-18, 1998

"There are no enemies in science, professor. Only phenomena to study."

From the movie The Thing, 1951 (a Cold War sci-fi allegory)

Julia Roberts: "Can you prove any of this?"

Mel Gibson: "No... A good conspiracy is unprovable. If you can prove it, someone must have screwed up somewhere along the way."

From the movie Conspiracy Theory

THE 16 WORDS: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Pres. George W. Bush, State of the Union address, Jan. 2003


May 7, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Trump secures victory; Sanders fights on

On Tuesday, Indiana voters handed Donald Trump the clear-cut victory needed to assure the Republican nomination, while Bernie Sanders scored yet another surprise win over Hillary Clinton, prolonging the fight on the Democratic side. On Tuesday night as the election results came in, Ted Cruz shocked his supporters by announcing the end of his campaign, and the next day John Kasich did likewise. Game, set, match to Trump.

Since then, Republican leaders have been scurrying about trying to figure out what to do. Paul Ryan said he is "not ready" to endorse Trump for president, prompting Trump supporters to label Ryan a "RINO." Pretty ironic. Ryan's in a tough position because he needs the support of the GOP right wing, many of whose members support Trump) in order to get legislative bills through the House of Representatives. If he could speak his own mind, there's no doubt he would decline to make such an endorsement. In contrast, Sen. Lindsey Graham made it clear that he will not support Trump (see Washington Post), while Mitt Romney has begun organizing some kind of last-last ditch effort to stop Trump, apparently via a third party candidacy. I was amused when Graham made a speech in February bemoaning that many in the Republican Party have gone "batshit crazy." (See

Many people have concluded that Trump will not only lose badly to Clinton, but will drag the Republican Party down with him. Maybe yes, maybe no. According to Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams, "Donald Trump will win in a landslide" because he has tapped into the emotions of American voters. See; hat tip to Shaun Kenney.

Delegate race scoreboard

Trump won all 57 of Indiana's Republican delegates, even though he only received 53% of the vote ("The system is rigged!"), while Clinton won 46 (39 pledged delegates plus 7 "super-delegates"), two more than Sanders' 44, even though Sanders received 52.5% of the popular vote. Apparently the Democrats are planning to sharply limit or eliminate "super-delegates" for the 2020 campaign. In any case, I updated the Decision 2016 page with the latest delegate totals.

Here are the current totals showing the delegates won by each candidate in each state that has had a primary election or caucus thus far. Sadly, John Kasich never caught up to Marco Rubio's delegate total, even though he campaigned for an additional month. I previously presented those figures on March 26 ("Trump triumphs, Republican Party implodes"). Today I updated the big spreadsheet which I placed on the wall at Sweet Briar College.

Democratic candidates # of delegates Republican candidates # of delegates
H. Clinton 2,228 D. Trump 1,068
B. Sanders 1,454 T. Cruz 564
Uncommitted 127 M. Rubio 166
Martin O'Malley 0 J. Kasich 153
- - Uncommitted, others 64
Needed for Nomination 2,383 Needed for Nomination 1,237


My takes on Trump

Since The Donald has nailed down the nomination, I thought I should check to see what I have written about him in the past. (I made a point not to mention him last year, either on my blog or on Facebook.) So I searched my archives for the years before 2015, and came up with this:

March 30, 2007: "Generally speaking, I pay little or no attention to the snit fits of Donald Trump vs. Rosie O'Donnell and other media personalities."

June 2, 2011: "Working in Romney's favor is the weakness of the Republican field. Donald Trump is a joke, and few of the serious candidates have much going for them."

November 4, 2012: "By now it is fairly well established that Barack Obama is a natural-born U.S. citizen, not a Kenyan or an Indonesian. Aside from Donald Trump or Glenn Beck, not many mainstream political figures would question that." Ironically, Glenn Beck despises Donald Trump, notwithstanding their common status as "birthers."

April 30, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Trump & Clinton take commanding leads

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton followed up their victories in the New York primary elections last week with decisive wins in five other mid-Atlantic states this past Tuesday. In all five states, Trump won by a wide margin, while Hillary won in four of them. Bernie Sanders won Rhode Island. Thus, after a momentary pause in Wisconsin earlier in the month, the front-runners have regained the momentum they had recently lost to "Ted" Cruz and Bernie Sanders.

As of now (see, Hillary Clinton has 2,165 delagates, and Bernie Sanders has 1,357. She is so close to the 2,383 mark she can almost taste it. Bernie has begun laying off staff workers, and has shifted his rhetoric from seeking outright victory to merely getting his way with the Democratic platform. In other words, for all intents and purposes, it's all over on the Democratic side. I updated the Decision 2016 page with the latest delegate totals.

As for the Republicans, Trump now has 996 delegates, far more than "Ted" Cruz's total of 565. That puts Trump within close range of getting the 1237 delegates he needs to claim a first-ballot automatic victory. In response, John Kasich and Cruz announced they will cooperate by not competing against each other in the upcoming primaries. Cruz will in effect run head-to-head against Trump in Indiana (election day is this Tuesday, May 3), while Kasich will do likewise in Oregon (May 17) and Washington (May 24). Whether this arrangement lasts that long is another matter. (According to Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post, the deal is already dead.) Rumors suggest that more Republican "establishment" figures are facing up to Trump as the "presumptive nominee." Nevertheless, hopes for a contested convention are not dead yet. It may come down the very last big state primary election, in California on June 7.

Here's an irony: Trump frequently complains that the delegate selection process is "rigged" against him, but the latest primary elections indicate the opposite is true. In all five states, John Kasich won at least 20 percent of the vote, but he only was awarded five delegates, in Rhode Island. In fact, the system is "rigged," but it's rigged in favor of the front-runner: Trump!

The other day, Kasich said he was going to make a special announcement, leading people to expect he was withdrawing from the race, and then after a pause for dramatic effect, he said he would remain a candidate. Good for him! Does he have a realistic chance of winning? Of course not! For those of us who worked for years in the trenches for the GOP, always putting the party ahead of self, only to be spit on and cast aside by a gang of thugs, it is a great tonic to see a courageous Republican leader. Kasich stared cold, hard reality in the face, and yet remains determined to give the voters a real choice!

Campaign signs Spr. 2016

Campaign signs for the presidential races and (at bottom) for the Staunton City Council or School Board.

Thoughts on Facebook

On his Facebook page, Bruce Bartlett often proclaims support for Donald Trump, but merely as a way to hasten the demise of the Republican Party. Prior to the Virginia primary on March 1, I explained why I resisted voting with such a extremely consequentionalist (indeed cynical) rationale:

I think it's probably too late to save the GOP, so strategic voting such as Bruce suggests is not likely to make a difference. Those in the center-right who still cling to hope are begging others to vote for Rubio as the only one who can stop Trump, but I plan to vote for the only remaining candidate whom I could respect as president: Kasich. Call it a futile protest vote.

On Ryan Setliff's page, I took exception to the suggestion that the Republican Party should identify itself with right-wing populism:

Historically, the Republican Party was never identified with "hard right populism," [as Ryan Setliff advocates] and the push to make it that has understandably met with some resistance by the "RINOs." (Ironic!) It is not neoconservatives who define the dwindling core of old-timers, but rather a commitment to free markets, international engagement (a middle course between unilateral interventionism vs. isolationism), and fiscal responsibility. Personally, I favor an amicable divorce, in hopes of cooperation in future years.

Humor the best medicine

On Jimmy Kimmel's show, they did a great parody of the movie and Broadway play The Producers, in which a couple of sleazy political operatives concoct what they think is a bogus presidential campaign for Donald Trump, taking advantage of gullible elderly donors, and then the whole scam goes south when Trump ends up winning. See Truth is stranger than fiction?

April 5, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Wisconsin badgers front-runners

After another week overflowing with disgusting "verbal diarrhea" from the leading Republican candidate, Donald Trump, along with reports that the leading Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, may soon be questioned by the FBI, voters in both Wisconsin party races went against the grain, strongly favoring the number two candidates: Rafael "Ted" Cruz and Bernie Sanders. As a result, the chances that there will be a contested convention on the Republican side have risen significantly, and the prospects for such a scenario on the Democratic side are slightly greater than before. No one doubts that there is profound angst among voters in both parties, and huge distrust of both parties' "establishment" leaders.

Wisconsin primary election, preliminary results
. Hillary Clinton
Bernie Sanders
Uncom- mitted
Donald Trump
Ted Cruz
John Kasich
Uncom- mitted
Vote %44%56% - 34%49%14%-
Delegates3143 22 3336

Convention chaos?

As mainstream Republicans become more petrified at the mere thought of Donald Trump becoming their party's nominee, the candidacy of Ted Cruz has been greatly rejuvenated. Only a few weeks ago, Cruz was languishing with few electoral victories to boast. But more and more commentators have relegated the third-place candidate John Kasich (who still lags behind Marco Rubio in total delegates) to "also ran" status, preferring Cruz as the only viable alternative. To me, that's a shame. There is talk of a compromise candidate from outside the current field, focusing on Wisconsin's own Paul Ryan as the proverbial savior on a white horse. But Trump has already threatened violence if he is denied the nomination, and any such initiative would surely meet with screams of outrage from the party's "Base." That's what you get for years of pandering to "low-education voters," whom Trump proudly welcomes. The whole idea of a convention is to choose a candidate that is most acceptable to the greatest number of party members. It is not supposed to automatically confer nomination upon whichever candidate is the number one choice of more voters than any other.

At present, many Trump supporters refuse to accept Cruz as the GOP nominee, and vice versa. Are those sentiments rock solid, or merely transitory? Obviously, many people (including me) abhor the mere thought of Donald Trump as president, and wouldn't even consider voting for him in November.

I'll explore possible solutions to this bitter conundrum in the near future, but I readily acknowledge that chances for unifying the party are virtually zero. Of course party leaders such as Reince Priebus, as well as the candidates and leading members of Congress pay lip service to party unity, but Donald Trump has pretty much killed that.

New page: Decision 2016

Since this primary election season is unusually dramatic and unpredictable, I decided to create a new Web page with the state-by-state delegate counts, including the preliminary Wisconsin results tonight: Decision 2016: The Race to the White House!. I computed the totals based on the individual state data, and also show the "reported" totals, which include delegates who were unbound by candidates who dropped out, etc.

U.S. Cabinet, current

Department Secretary
State:John Kerry #
Treasury:Jack Lew #
Defense: Ashton Carter &
Justice: Loretta Lynch &
Interior: Sally Jewell #
Commerce:Penny Pritzker #
Labor:Tom Perez #
Agriculture:Tom Vilsack
Health & H.S.: Sylvia Burwell
Housing & U.D.:Julian Castro ##
Transportation: Anthony Foxx #
Energy: Ernest Moniz #
Education: John King &&
Veterans Aff.: Bob MacDonald ##
Homeland Sec.: Jeh Johnson #
Other cabinet-level posts:
W.H. Ch./StaffDenis McDonough
EPA Admin. Gina McCarthy #
OMB Director Shaun Donovan ##
U.S. Trade Rep. Michael Froman #
Amb. to U.N. Samantha Power #
CEA Chairman Jason Furman #
Small Bus. Adm. Maria Contreras-Sweet #
NOTES: # = Began serving in 2013. ## = Began serving in 2014. & = Began serving in 2015. && = Began serving in 2016.
* = Republican

Last updated: 29 Feb 2016

114th Congress (2015-2016)

U.S. Senate
(Web site)
Post Republicans Democrats
Pres. Pro TemOrrin Hatch--
Leader Mitch McConnell Harry Reid
WhipJohn Cornyn Richard Durbin
Seats5345 + 2
Two independents caucus with the Democrats.
U.S. House of Representatives
(Web site)
Post Republicans Democrats
Speaker Paul Ryan *
Leader Kevin McCarthy Nancy Pelosi
Whip Steny Hoyer
The real leaders in each chamber are in bold face. NOTE: John Boehner resigned as speaker of the house in October 2015, and was replaced by Paul Ryan.

Last updated: 29 Feb 2016

Virginia Government

Executive branch
Post Name Party
GovernorTerry McAuliffeDem
Lt. GovernorRalph NorthamDem
Attorney GeneralMark HerringDem
Virginia Senate
Post Republicans Democrats
Pres. Pro Tem Stephen Newman --
LeaderThomas NormentRichard Saslaw
Virginia House of Delegates
Post Republicans Democrats
SpeakerWilliam Howell--
LeaderKirk CoxDavid Toscano
The real leaders in each chamber are in bold face.

In the November 2015 elections, the Republicans retained a 21-19 majority in the Senate, while the Democrats gained two net seats in the House of Delegates.

Last updated: 29 Feb 2016


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