Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Handicapping the Field - Joe Biden

Now that the debates are here, I thought I would produce a series of posts that look at that Democrats applying for the nomination and try to summarize the outlook.  I am not going to predict the winner; that would be naive.  However, I am going to opine on who has the better paths to win.  Of course I am not going to go through all of the candidates because that would take longer than some will be in the race.  However, I will take a look at some that I think will last the longest.  First up, Joe Biden.

Biden is the front runner for a number of reasons - the most obvious is name recognition.  Everyone knows Biden's name because he has been around forever and his most recent gig was vice president for Barack Obama.  I remember that because Biden won't let anyone forget it.  He is always name dropping "Barack" anytime he gets a chance.  I am surprised that he doesn't call him "Barry" at this point.

Advantages:  In addition to name recognition, Biden has the advantage of having the image of bringing normalcy back to the White House.  He is genuinely a nice guy and is a safe, moderate pick for people who have political fatigue. He also has the DNC stamp of approval because he is the darling of the establishment.  That means he will be protected to a certain extent by the mainstream media and will have built-in surrogates every hour on CNN and MSNBC.

Disadvantages:  Nice guys finish last - particularly in this country. Four years, ago at this point in the election process, Jeb Bush was the huge front runner for the Republicans.  He was also a nice guy.

More specifically, Biden doesn't have anything new to offer.  His platform so far is that Donald Trump is a bad guy and that he is no Donald Trump.  The policies that he has hinted at seem to be retreads of old policies that he and Barry put together.  That isn't going to fly with the party that falls in love as opposed to one that falls in line.

Being the establishment darling and moderate will ensure he will get no support from a faction of the party. He is seen by some as the Hilary of 2020 and that leaves a bad taste for those that feel like Bernie Sanders got hosed.

Biden is also a gaffe machine.  He will, undoubtedly, say some things that he should not.

He is also dealing with old baggage.  He has been on the wrong side of things that have the woke Democrats up in arms.  He wasn't very accommodating to Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings. In addition, he earned a reputation of being pretty handsy.  He was also an architect of the controversial Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 which has earned the ire of the African American community.

In addition, Biden has to carry the baggage of being an old white guy.  In this election season, it is perfectly acceptable to hold age, race, and sex against an individual as long as it is elderly, male, and white.  That isn't to say that white males haven't had a power lock on positions of political power that must be addressed; I am merely speaking of how it will affect individuals in this particular election - for right or for wrong.

Outlook: Although Biden looks strong in the polls now, like Jeb Bush did, it is a long shot in my mind that he can take this LONG campaign wire to wire.  People have short attention spans and they are going to jump to the next shiny thing sooner or later because they get bored easily. The front runner is the big target and Biden will take a beating from other Dems and Trump.

Biden's only hope is to parlay political fatigue, establishment coddling, and his "nice guy-ness" to the nomination.  He must hope that a lot of people will latch on to him and tune out of the election process due to fatigue.  If the establishment dems and media come to his defense like they have so far when he is attacked, that will help establish him as a sympathetic candidate and also allow him to hold on to freshness.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Is Trump Framing Iran for Oil Tanker Attacks in the Strait of Hormuz?

Normally we would consider it unthinkable to believe a US president could be behind the oil tanker attacks that took place in the Strait of Hormuz last week. However, there is nothing normal about the current president.  As we have seen many times since the inauguration, President Donald Trump is blazing a trail of unorthodoxy - and that is being generous with the magnitude and ethics of his approach to government.

Don't get me wrong; I am not saying that Trump is behind the attacks.  However, unfortunately I simply can't rule it out.

The US was first out of the blocks to blame Iran for the attacks.  It may be that Iran IS responsible, but the quick leap to judgment would make any reasonable person suspicious.  The US states, through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that they have enough evidence to convict, but so far all we have seen is a grainy image of what appears to be an Iranian boat removing something off a ship - the US claims it is an unexploded mine.  Maybe it is.  However, the US has used grainy footage before to justify military force, and it blew up in their face . . . so to speak (see War: Iraq).

Great Britain and Saudi Arabia were also quick to join the US in blaming Iraq.  Iraq denies responsibility and the European Union and Japan have stated that they haven't seen enough evidence to draw any conclusions.

The argument for Iran's guilt is based on the position that they would be showing that they are going to be a big player in the  oil trade and no one else will transport oil through the channel if they can help it.  However, if that was the case, denying responsibility would weaken their position.  In addition, one of the tankers was Japanese and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Iran at the time on a diplomatic mission.  It doesn't seem to add up.

Although others have reason to sew discord in the area.  Saudi Arabia has long wanted the US to act against Iran.  They would benefit from the attack being pinned on Iran while tensions gear up between Iran and the US.  That is probably why they were eager to stand with Pompeo when he rushed to judgment to blame Iran.

What would Trump have to gain to frame Iran for the attacks?  First of all, it would help cement his standing with another repressive country, Saudi Arabia. Trump seems to be eager to up his reputation in the Deranged Despot Club (DDC) with Putin and Kim Jong-un.  Trump supports the horrendous war in Yemen waged by the Saudi's that has caused 50,000 deaths and millions in need of aid.  He also backed Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salmon (member in good standing in the DDC)  in his denial of having American resident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi killed despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Trump wants to continue support of the war in Yemen in addition to moving forward on selling arms to Saudi Arabia despite Congress blocking him in bipartisan fashion.  If tension heats up between Iran and the US to the point of military action, then Congress would feel pressure to back off  and allow the arms sale because of Saudi's conflict with Iran would make them an ally in the conflict.

In addition, Trump is feeling the pressure of the election.  Just about every poll picks a number of Democrats defeating Trump in 2020 - even in key states Trump won last time.  With the knowledge that Americans are hesitant to vote an incumbent president out of office in times of war or international conflict, a dust up with Iran couldn't come at a better time.

For some, the thought of Trump being behind the attacks in some way to frame Iran just seems untenable and ridiculous.  However, after two years of the Trump Administration, untenable and ridiculous have proven to be right in his wheel house.  Add National Security Advisor, and White House resident war monger, John Bolton, to the mix and its time to start hugging the national guard members in your family before they deploy.