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Updated August 15, 2016

Blue Ridge Journal
"A Potpourri of Good Sense"
presented by H.Paul Lillebo

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All essays by topic

Recent essays:
Mindless campaign and media
Presidential Candidates 2016
The Press in elections
The flap over voter ID
The Real population problem
Democrat President'l Candidates?
The Georgia Guidestones
Islamist terror & Islamic culture
Unconstitutional amendments
Nationhood & Multiculturalism
Good Friday
NSA, Snowden, national security
Nebulous cosmology
Another Washington disaster
Bye-bye privacy
U.S. states as power centers
Asteroids, meteors, and us
World peace - regional security
A New Year's wish list
Israel and Palestine
No Emancipation Celebration?
Presidential debates again!
The "Roberts trick"
The sins of The Fathers
NC vote on same-sex marriage
Updating the U.S. Constitution
Reforming a moribund Congress
A Civilization built on hot air
The "Occupy Wall St." protests
Arguing about God
The irrational stock exchange
The danger of belief
Obama's asteroid boondoggle
Presidential MQ's
"Don't ask, don't tell"
The Second Coming
Glob. Warm'g - western guilt?
Rot of campaign finance
Health care debacle
Cities in the sea
On human population
Education for democracy
Are 3 gods better than 1?
Stupid is as stupid does
A new economics
Immediate energy solution
A Public Stock Exchange
The Dawkins delusion
Viceroy of the carpenter?
Charisma and Democracy
US missile shield for Europe
Eve of Eden
A fable of fools
China's cheap labor
Memorial Day: an addition
Congress & representation
On doing stupid things
The Calendar & diplomacy
Science & Religion
The American President
The spark of life
Liberal & Conservative
Real campaign issues
Evolut'n/Creat'n conundrum
The toy kings of Europe
The disease of militarism
The Supreme Court...
Reps, Dems & coup d'état
On going to Heaven
"Creationism" in school
Mars Madness
Global warming
Free public transit
Lotto: a new poor tax
EU: the new imperialism

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And just for fun:
Some odd tales

For your mental delectation:
(Click the puzzle to solve it)

The world's current top chess players:
(I'm left out again...) for more details and full list

Suggested Related Essays:
"Mindless campaign, mindless media"   and   "The presidential candidates."

Current essay:

The Fall of Mr. Trump, the rise of Madam President.

No, it's not who you think!

The Republicans need to renounce Mr. Trump and withdraw his nomination, replacing both candidates on the current ticket with a fresh slate. The winning ticket will feature not one but two women.

Mr. Donald Trump has managed, in the three weeks following the Republican Convention that nominated him, to show himself a perfect ass – even more perfect than we thought while he was seeking the nomination. The hopes of the party leaders that he might moderate his tone, might appear more "presidential" (or just grown-up) as the sun rose on the decisive days of his campaign, have evaporated like the morning dew. And the more sunlight falls on Mr. Trump, the deeper seem the shadows. He rails against Mrs. Clinton for not publishing her personal finances, and refuses to do so himself. His pronouncements about world affairs show him to be an ignorant buffoon in that field, frightening friendly nations and amusing the rest. His domestic strategy seems to include offending as many voter groups as he can. Could he actually be a mole in the Republican forces, planted by the Democrats?

The developments make us wonder again about the phone call that Bill Clinton placed to Donald Trump in May of last year, while Trump was still undecided about getting into the Republican race. According to the Washington Post (Aug 5, 2015), based on staff on both sides who heard the call, Trump "was candid about his political ambitions and his potential interest in seeking the White House" and "Clinton encouraged Trump's efforts to play a larger role in the Republican Party". I must say – and I say this admiringly – that if Bill Clinton actually realized in the spring of 2015 what a disaster Donald Trump would be for the Republicans, counseling Trump to get in the race was a brilliant piece of political trickery. Getting the Republicans to run a candidate even less popular than Hillary Clinton was a stroke of genius. Bill and Hillary have known Trump well for many years, and Bill knew well the kind of destruction he might wreak in the enemy camp with his untrammeled tongue. But only in Bill's wildest dreams could he have guessed the full impact of a Trump candidacy, which now has the GOP in a downward death spiral – a bad place to be in an election year.

So, now the Republican leadership needs to take action to save the party from Mr. Trump's excesses. They have already tried talking sense to the candidate; clearly that hasn't worked – he seems rather to have become more rambunctious as a result. They may even have suggested to him that he withdraw from the race, but that would not comport with his self-image as a hero figure. It turns out, though, that a party rule allows the GOP National Committee to replace a nominee for almost any reason. This is the needed correction, but time is of the essence. The dates are fast approaching when the states need to receive confirmed candidate slates from the major political parties. (It's a key point that the slots allotted on the state ballots to the major parties are owned by the parties, not by the candidate.) Given that both time and options are both quickly running out, the RNC needs to quickly put together a replacement President/VP ticket, and inform Mssrs. Trump and Pence that they are out. I see this course as the only way for the Republican Party to become relevant in this year's presidential election. It's possible that this would result in a law suit by Mr. Trump, and even an injunction enjoining the RNC from certifying a new slate, but this would get a fast-track judicial resolution, given the pressing calendar. (But there may not be a suit. Between you and me, I don't think Donald Trump really wants to be president. He knows he'll have no patience with the endless meetings and policy discussions in the White House. I think he really just wants to win something – and he certainly doesn't want to lose. Since he has already won the nomination, being removed before losing the general election may be the rescue he's secretly yearning for.)

The question then is, WHO?   Whom does the GOP have that is well-known and respected, moderate in views, reasonable in negotiations, and who can look good on a campaign poster? (If the party's right wing wins and replaces Trump with a "tea party" Republican a la Ted Cruz, they'll just be digging their grave deeper.) We can ask, which voters do they need to attract? First, of course, they will need the mainstream and conservative Republicans. Second, as many as possible of the Trump devotees, many of whom may be irretrievably lost by this plan. Third, everyone who can't stomach the Clintons, including those who plan a protest vote for a third candidate. That's a lot of voters. Fourth, women generally, even Democrats – especially those who are reluctantly considering voting for Hillary mainly because she is female. Fifth, but by no means least, minorities – chiefly blacks and Hispanics.

Here is my suggestion: Take away the "first woman president" issue from Hillary by nominating a woman for president. Double down on this by nominating a woman for vice president. This would be an exciting ticket, and would be truly historic. I would say that only a stunning move like nominating an all-female ticket can carry the Republicans to the White House this year. So the question is still, Who?   The Republicans actually have a number of capable and experienced women in responsible political positions.

Susan Collins

Susana Martinez

Condoleezza Rice

Shelley Capito

Kelly Ayotte

My recommendation for the presidential nomination is Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Senator Collins, 63, has demonstrated her ability to work with the opposition to forge bipartisan solutions. Her nearly twenty years in the Senate, with work on a variety of committees, has given her a good grasp of the full gamut of national and international affairs. Other candidates, preferably for the vice presidential nomination, could include the Governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez (whose Mexican roots can't hurt), former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. Certainly, these are not the only candidates; but a sine qua non should be the ability to work toward bipartisan solutions to the problems in our society that have gotten short shrift during the current standoff between a deadbeat Congress and a feckless president.

A few words about the "Grand Old Party" before I sign off. Why should I care? After all, I rarely vote Republican any longer. I did quite often back when the party was a centrist/conservative reasonable alternative, with much of value to contribute to public policy. In Chicago in the 1960s I was proud to vote for Republican Senator Everett Dirksen as well as for Democratic Senator Paul Douglas, who were both known for their willingness and ability to work through differences. For the hundred years up to the mid-60s, the Republican party was the party of civil rights. They freed the slaves and built the Reconstruction program in the South, which was later closed down by the Democrats leading to the era of segregation and Jim Crow. The Republicans proposed civil rights bills right up to the 1960s, which were invariably filibustered to death by the Democrats. In '64 President Lyndon Johnson, invoking the memory of President Kennedy, finally got enough of his fellow Democrats in the Senate to agree to a civil rights bill – much the same as one proposed by the Republicans in the late 50s. The GOP was a grand old party before it was invaded by the "tea party" ideologues, a group of people constitutionally unable to see others' points of view as anything but evil. With the tea party, politics – the art of achieving progress despite differences – stops cold; their only way is their way. My hope is that moderate Republican leadership in the White House will show the party the way back to their tradition, which is that of constructive policy-making with concern for both individual and social good.

What we need in the White House at this time is a pragmatic, non-ideological leader who can work constructively with both sides in Congress, who can help the Senate get its house in order and return to the era of decision-making, and who is dedicated to ending the corruption that stains both our election process and the workings of Congress. The Democrats this year have not chosen a candidate who can achieve any of that. They could have nominated Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, or Martin O'Malley, any one of whom could have succeeded, but chose instead a candidate best known for the systemic corruption of both her campaign and her own very being. A "President Hillary Clinton" would guarantee four years of a virtual clamp over White House relations with Congress, and further growth of corruption at the highest levels of government.

I call on the Republican National Committee to bite the bullet and do what it must to give us a chance at an acceptable choice for president this fall. The US government was not designed to fail, and the American people have a right to expect that their political leaders will make it work. The all-woman, fully capable ticket I've suggested can revitalize the party and give us again a functioning government.

H. Paul Lillebo

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Previous essay: 
Mindless Campaign, Mindless Media

Where's the beef?

A presidential election campaign is the great quadrennial opportunity for a national conversation about our future – about how well we've done and where we've failed; about how we will improve our society as we go forward. The conversation is carried by the candidates for that high office, and is urged forward by "The Press", which is expected to remind the people of our failures and urge the candidates toward solutions. But our Press, print and electronic alike, is completely failing to fulfill its necessary role in a democracy.

Next previous essay: 
The Presidential Candidates, 2016

America, you've got to be kidding!

In a seemingly endless process – arcane, tedious, unfair, and corrupt – a great country is in the middle of failing to find a suitable candidate for the job of President.

2016 Election:

Clinton protegee, PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane, has been convicted on 9 counts of felony for abuse of power and lying under oath. (Sounds Clintonesque.) She is reportedly considering whether to resign her office before sentencing, which will come in September. At that point the question should be moot, as it will be difficult to perform her duties from a jail cell.

FBI chief excoriates Hillary Clinton for "extremely careless" treatment of classified material (here's an interesting contrast of fact and fiction), but predictably declines to indict the candidate his boss supports. Mr.Comey said he declined to prosecute because Ms.Clinton's carelessness was not intentional. But as many have pointed out, the federal penal code prescribes criminal penalties for "gross negligence" in guarding classified material, with no requirement of intent. One might think that four years of extreme carelessness with secret and top secret material – and Hillary's mail setup was very much intentional – would meet that standard. In any case, in Mr.Comey's testimony to Congress today he said that FBI's examination of the email traffic on Hillary's server contradicted on several points the testimony she had given to Congress under oath. Some members of the committee seemed interested in that information.

Washington ethics watchdog ("FACT") names Hillary Clinton the most corrupt politician of 2015.
It's nice to see someone get the recognition they deserve. On a list of the eight most corrupt politicians of both major parties, Hillary was in a class of her own. She was cited for "overwhelming evidence" of a range of ethics violations and abuses of the public trust, involving the Clinton Foundation, preferential corporate donor treatment as Secretary of State, and campaign violations. Isn't it about time we call a crook a crook?

Visit the Hillary Page:
"Thanks for the Memories"

The true Hillary Clinton is not the construct we see running for president of the United States. Indeed, "true" is not a word we are used to associating with Mrs. Clinton. Her 40 years in the public eye call up vivid memories of scandals and lies, incompetence, bribery and other corruption, financial irregularities, felonious friends, and a supremely embarrassing tour in the White House with a supremely embarrassing husband, "Horny" Bill Clinton, who again is a co-applicant to return to the White House.

For some inexplicable reason, a substantial portion of the Democratic Party's voters seem to have excused Bill and Hillary's past outrages, or – if they're young – they may simply be unaware of the real Hillary, who by now has learned to play nice to the public. Many who do remember the 90's find it astounding that the party cannot find an honest, qualified leader as a candidate for the presidency. The above link should help with recalling the nature of the schemes of the former president and his wife, and their unquenchable and unprincipled lust for power.

It's particularly strange to see both the Democratic and and Republican parties offering us family members of recent presidents as candidates. We have 320 million people in this country. The attempt to convince us that the wife, brother, or son of the president would be the best president reeks of corruption, of improper money influence and maintenance of the political power elite. Family dynasties have been customary in some countries, but it's not a custom we ought to adopt in the U.S.  The effort by Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush to seem and sound "progressive" or "renewing" is a sham and a fraud. One can only hope that the American people will, in the end, not allow themselves to be duped by these slick snake-oil hawkers.

Washington Post: Jim Webb on the need for an Independent President
Webb decries the development of extremism and triviality in our elections, and the partisanship threatening to destroy this country's ability to govern itself.

Poll: Not trusting Hillary
The nationwide Quinnipiac University poll (PDF) sampled eligible voters.

To the question, "Would you say that [candidate] is honest and trustworthy?" – asked about six candidates of both parties, Sanders led the positive responses, while Clinton led the negative responses with 61% "no", and Trump elicited 54% "no" replies.

In an unprompted word association question, the words most often immediately associated with Hillary were 1. "liar", 2. dishonest, and 3. untrustworthy. Most frequently associated with Donald Trump were arrogant, blowhard, and idiot. So it could be an interesting election.

Interesting election footnote:
The Washington Post reported on August 5 that Bill Clinton had a phone call with Donald Trump a couple of weeks before Trump's declaration as a presidential candidate. Aides to both men say that the former president urged Trump to get more involved in politics, and that Trump's ideas could be a valuable addition to the Republican party's discourse. No one says Mr.Clinton urged Trump to run, but he knew Trump was near the moment of decision. Was Clinton sowing the seeds of tumult in the Republican camp? Setting up a perfect foil for his wife's barbs? Dangerous sport, exchanging barbs with Trump.

All text © H. Paul Lillebo