Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in February 2016

First take/Iowa

Iowa is over, and the presidential contest has been wrenched. As was likely, candidates have dropped out in the last 24 hours - Republican Mike Huckabee, Democrat Martin O'Malley - and others have seen their positioned improved or weakened.

On the Republican side, the crush had to come among the Donald Trump crowd. Trump's underperformance compared to his polling not only blew his "winner" balloon - the New York Daily News ran a huyge headline with his pictured, tagged "Loser" - but also raises the question of how much his polling may be inflated elsewhere. Odds are that it probably has been to some extent, and pollsters may be trying to find ways to correct. But besides that the form of the contest in Iowa, public caucuses where you had to commit an evening to the process, may be less suitable to disaffected Trumpers than a simple ballot, as in New Hampshire. We'll get a read on that next week, in a place where Trump still leads strongly in the polls.

The happy faces were those around Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both of whom exceeded expectations. The pressure will be on for other "establishment" candidates like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie to drop out quickly in favor of Rubio; Rubio is dependent on that to make gains. But Cruz also may have room to grow, from the remaining Ben Carson contingent (still close to 10% in Iowa), from the remnants of the Huckabee troops and possibly from a deflated Trump crowd. Not that Trump should be written off yet. Second place may have failed to hit expectations, but it's still an indicator of substantial strength.

The Democrats had a tie. That's the only reasonable thing to call it, since the race was so very close and some local decisions were settled by coin flips. In most places around the country, a public election this close would be subject to an automatic recount. (Not to mention the fact that actual numbers of voters supporting the candidates were not released.) Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders can claim some bragging rights.

And for all, it's off to the Granite State. - rs (photo/Tony Fischer)

The new Oregon session

A discussion on the new Oregon legislative session by Ridenbaugh author Scott Jorgensen.

The rightward march

raineylogo1

Never - no, not ever - not once - I mean EVER - have you read anywhere in these continuous musings a defense for Faux Noise! Fox News for the newer readers. No, not ever. But, in the following verbiage, it may happen.

The continuing embarrassment that is the Republican presidential “contest” fills our airwaves, print and living rooms with the utterances and actions of the most unqualified bunch of applicants ever assembled. Even my pick of the litter - Kasich, the only marginally acceptable voice - is so flawed, with a hair-trigger temper and the habit of stretching his resume that he is only borderline acceptable. The rest continue to slip-slide on an always moving base of lies, false claims and skating to woo voters.

Watching these political lemmings offers little information. Polls are all over the place. The media chases Trump like he’s the “Hunny Pot” Pooh Bear seeks to find. He draws massive amounts of undeserved attention for conducting the most hateful campaign for president since George Wallace.

Every four years, Idaho traditionally produces a guy named Harley Brown in gubernatorial races. Even he makes sense sometimes. Oregon has nut case Art Robinson, perennially running for something - anything. Nationally, we have Trump continuing his deplorable “campaign” without regard for facts, with no position on any issue confronting this nation and offering no proof he can conduct the office he seeks with anything closely resembling what’s required. Each boast - each lie - each affront to public decency - is met with higher poll numbers and even more adoring fans.

In this surreal and obnoxious campaign, we’re now told voices are being raised - mostly by Trumpeteers - that their basic source of information has deserted them. Yep. They’re angry at Faux Noise. Imagine. The mother’s milk of disinformation has soured for them. The “reasoning” - if reasoning there be - is that Faux is no longer “conservative” enough and has sold ‘em out. “Faux,” they say, “has moved left.” Just another “liberal voice” crying in the political wilderness our national electoral system has become.

Now - wait for it - here it comes. That “defense” of Faux I never thought I’d make.

Rather than “Faux” moving leftward from being the usual unreliable source of factual information it is, it seems to me those doing the complaining have moved further to the right. They’ve followed Trump into new and more unexplored factless ground - ever closer to the edge of their square earth.

What these folk best represent is that minority portion of America with strong, uninformed, rock-hard beliefs which will accept no new information if it represents anything different from what’s already there. Even facts. These folk are not new. But, the Trumpster espouses new lies and baseless B.S. and they accept his new “facts.” They do so because he reinforces their already mythical thinking and dives deeper into the perceived conspiracy they believe has come to reflect any politics but theirs.

Watching Hannity, O’Reilly and the rest in recent days - with teeth tightly clenched - I find no movement away from the usual bile they’re noted for. Same hatred for all things not to the extreme, still espousing the same phony “conservatism,” still playing fast and loose with the truth. No, Faux seems to be still plowing that same old furrow of tainted “news” it always has.

Trump represents just about everything wrong with the country’s political landscape. That’s bad enough. But he’s also pushing the envelope of disinformation further than any major candidate in recent history. Doing so, he’s become the lightening rod of the uninformed, misinformed and disinformed. He’s hardened a base of millions willing to acknowledge his lies and deceits but still cast their votes for a guy whose feet are clay clear up to his coiffed hair. They’ll recognize his obvious faults while, at the same time, treating him as some sort of political messiah.

As the various states start their nominating activities, Trump sits comfortably atop all the polling. All the other wannabees straggle behind. Huckabee, Santorum, Fiorina and a few others will soon be eliminated. For most of us, they’ll disappear. They’ve hustled a few billionaires and gullible supporters for dollars to keep their “campaigns” active so they’ll be able to demand - and get - fatter fees on the right wing chicken dinner circuit. They’ll all write some unnecessary books and demand higher publishing fees because of their faux celebrity status. They’ll up the price on their videos. The same con Gingrich raised to a fine art.

But Trump will remain. His name will continue to show up on primary ballots and in nominating caucuses. The most unqualified, most inexperienced, most contemptible of the lot will still be with us. Those one or two others who may have some minimum qualifications, may have the experience and may legitimately have a reason to run, will be buried in a sea of angry voters. Trump - at least for the foreseeable future - will remain.

Anger is the poorest possible reason for supporting someone. Anger clouds. Anger distorts. Anger subverts reason. Anger hides truth.

No. Faux Noise hasn’t moved away from the crowd of the clueless. It’s still selling the same spoiled vegetables at the same old stand on the same old corner. It’s the clueless who’ve moved. It’s Trump who’s done the moving. To the anger of the rest of us.

First take/new phase

In a few hours (as this is written), the 2016 campaign for the presidency moves for into a decisively new phase, the first such change since the major candidates finished entering the race around the middle of last year.

As some analyses have put it, up to this point, "anything can happen" - meaning that candidates can rise and fall and shift around because of many factors, some of them within their campaigns' control. Beginning tonight, that changes. Each new round of voting, starting with the Iowa caucuses tonight, will increasingly constrain what will happen, limit the possibilities.

After tonight, you may see candidates dropping out. After New Hampshire, in a few more days, you may see more. After the next rounds in South Carolina and Nevada, the field likely will be down to the final batch of contestants.

And we'll get some answers. How real is Trump's support? (It could be over-estimated by the polls, or underestimated - you can find evidence both ways.) How about Sanders? How solid are the ground organizations of Clinton or Cruz? Is there a hidden well of support for someone that hasn't been apparent up to now?

The rounds of diminishing possibilities begins tonight. It doesn't end there. But this is the point when the theoretical and potential hits the road of reality. -rs