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Asheville, NC, USA
Updated January 31, 2016

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

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All essays by topic

Recent essays:
The Press in elections
The flap over voter ID
The Real population problem
Democrat Presid'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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Support Jim Webb
Suggested Related Essays:
"Rot of Campaign Financing"
"Presidential qualifications (2007)"

Current essay:

The Presidential Candidates, 2016

America, you've got to be kidding!

January 2016
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.

While the United States has a long history of electing inadequate leaders to the presidency, rarely has the gaggle of would-be presidents appeared as inadequate as in the present campaign. But we can't fault the candidates themselves for that; they are what they are, and they have a right to be what they are. They also have the right – though they ought perhaps not have the temerity – to announce their candidacy to a position they are wholly unfitted for. So the question is rather, "What on earth would lead the American people to accept unqualified individuals as serious candidates for President?" We have over 320 million people in this country, and we're looking for the best person to be our governmental administrator, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and international political spokesman. Is this (gaggle pictured on right with Stephen Colbert, courtesy CBS) the best we've got? Well, no, it isn't.

An irony in our selection process or criteria is that, as often in the past, several of the better-qualified candidates in this campaign were dismissed early with barely a hearing. To take the Democratic field of candidates, we are now left with a mere two candidates; the one asks us to believe he can achieve the impossible, the other asks us to lower the ethics bar so that even she can get over it. Senator Sanders is a good-hearted utopian whose total leadership experience is that of a small-town mayor. After 24 years in Congress we have to grant him "good policy chops" – which makes it even more strange that he doesn't seem to grasp that Congress will hardly accept a single one of his fine ideas. The other is of course the notorious wife of the former president, who the Secret Service White House detail knew as "the witch" during her years in the White House. On the strength of her experience as "first lady" and a recommendation from President Clinton she was awarded the post of senator from New York in a walk-over election, and was later made Secretary of State by Barack Obama, on the basis of the same recommendation (and no doubt a significant quid pro quo). In the former role she was one of the senators who started the disastrous Iraq war, and in the latter role she continued to show an astounding lack of understanding of the Middle East, by recommending the bombing of Libya that led to an ungovernable region largely in ISIS-friendly hands, as well as recommending sending U.S. troops into Syria, not to mention an evident failure to grasp basic national security rules (think email server). Like Sanders, she has never had a significant leadership role – in her Sec. of State role she was essentially a roving ambassador.

The dismissed candidates would not have been dismissed so quickly by a more knowledgeable and discerning electorate: Governor O'Malley of Maryland offered the most detailed and sensible program, and was a serious candidate who should have been polling in double digits, but neither the media nor the Democratic voters seemed to care; it was as if the movie was already scripted and he had wandered on to the set by mistake. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia – who may yet reappear as an independent – also has an excellent background for the job of president and will still be my own choice if he runs. His understanding of foreign affairs exceeds that of any other candidate in either party, his concern for dealing with poverty and his broad background as military hero, lawyer, Secretary of the Navy, Emmy-winning journalist, novelist, and senator is unique and valuable. His opposition to the Iraq invasion resolution in 2002 put him on the side of Sanders and Ted Kennedy, against the war lovers Bush, Kerry, and Hillary Clinton.

The Republican candidates this year seem to be in a contest to be seen as the most evangelical-Christian, the most anti-science, the most flag-waving and anti-immigration, the most pro-Israel and anti-Muslim, the most gun-happy, and the most opposed to social programs of any sort. For folks who claim to love their country more than the Democrats do (because the treasonous Democrats love Muslims and Mexicans, believe mankind is affecting the climate, and may not even believe that God created the world in seven days and made America for Americans), this love doesn't seem to extend to the actual people of the country, many of whom are starving and in desperate straits. The Republican electorate appears to have become transfixed by personalities – the more outrageous the better – in a demonstration of dissatisfaction with the party "establishment". They've at various times taken a fancy to the boorish and poorly informed Mr.Trump, the completely uninformed Dr.Carson, the inexperienced Mr.Rubio, and lately the nasty Mr.Cruz, who promises to "carpet bomb" entire towns in the Middle East if he gets the chance. It's difficult to see how a serious thinking American voter can want any of these individuals in the oval office.

One Republican who clearly stands out in this crowd for his relative sensibleness is Governor Kasich of Ohio, who therefore has not appealed to the Republican voters. Mr.Kasich, with his reasoned approach to policy and his broad experience in both national and foreign affairs, should be the clear choice for voters who value such qualities. Alas, it looks like his quiet manner will not satisfy the Republicans' need for bluster this year. (I am reminded of the quote "Why is it that those who know the least know it the loudest?")

It is possible that the election year 2016 may yet be rescued by the appearance of one or two actually qualified candidates who are not paid for by influence-buying billionaires or firms, nor expecting to be crowned as a dynastic heir-apparent, nor appeal by crassness or simplistic utopian schemes. And how would such miraculous saviors appear?

I won't hide that I see a reappearance of Jim Webb as an independent candidate as a pleasant possibility. Assuming that the Democratic and Republican current frontrunners (either of the top two in both parties) get their party's nomination, we would have a choice between two candidates who, to put it kindly, would leave a lot of room for a qualified independent candidate, never mind that the last independent to win the presidency was George Washington, a few years back.

On the Democratic side, one can hope that the leadership sees the handwriting on the wall and warms up someone more acceptable to the general electorate. Perhaps Joe Biden may still be available. If there's not much positive to say about uncle Joe, neither is there overly much negative. He knows his stuff, and besides, he's friendly.

If the Republicans don't get around to nominating a moderate like John Kasich – and that doesn't seem likely – Mitt Romney is rumored to be waiting in the wings as a potential tie-breaker and fireman. He came close last time; who knows ...

All in all a depressing campaign season so far. The most likely result this year is that none of the what-if's will happen, and that we wind up with Sanders or Clinton vs. Trump or Cruz. In the absence of an acceptable independent candidate I would favor Sanders by the process of elimination; ... but just in case, I'm already scoping housing in Montreal.

H. Paul Lillebo

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Previous essay: 
The Responsibility of the Press in the Election

Will it be fair and full information, or the same old celebrity pap?

The press coverage of the current U.S. presidential election campaign suggests that neither print nor electronic news media have deviated from their everyday practice of "celebrity" reporting: reporting that which sells. I argue that the press must have a special and particularly responsible role in elections, beyond their usual profit motive. The Supreme Court, by its skewing of elections toward the well-connected, has made this role crucial.

Next previous essay: 
The political flap about Voter ID

A straight answer

An American minor movement, supported by the Democratic party, makes the claim that state laws requiring voters to positively identify themselves at the voting booth are prejudicial against those who find it difficult to obtain ID documents. Their simple solution is to not require positive ID of voters; but this would lead to worse problems than it would solve.

2016 Election:

What is it about Hillary Clinton and her constant need to lie? One of the more recent is the one about being rejected from the Marine Corps because she was a woman. (Reminds us of when she told of being shot at in Bosnia!) The word "shifty" comes to mind, as does this association:

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. He is considering running as an independent candidate. He will be the best candidate if he runs, and he deserves our support.

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 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. Those of us 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 this scheming wife of the former president and her unquenchable and unprincipled hunt 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.

House Benghazi hearing:
Another Hillary Clinton lie exposed.

Transcripts of Hillary's phone and email records made it hard for her to continue to lie about Benghazi. The day of the attack, shortly after telling the American people that the murders were an incidental part of a protest against an offensive video on UTube, she told her family, "Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al-Qaeda-like group." The day after the attack she told the Egyptian prime minister on the phone, "We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack – not a protest." For the next two weeks, Ambassador Susan Rice in the U.N. continued to tell the world that the attack was not a terror attack. The administration didn't want to admit that they had ignored the terror threat in Benghazi and the late Ambassador's pleas for additional security, so they preferred to lie.
Video here.

Clinton received TOP SECRET emails on home server

The NY Times reports that just-published reviews by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and by CIA have concluded that at least two emails received by Hillary on her home acount were "Top Secret". It can be assumed that her home email account was routinely tapped (hacked), and that the Top Secret material fell into the hands of foreign agents.

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.

To the question, "Would you say that [candidate] cares about the needs and problems of people like you?" asked about the same six politicians, most elicited positive responses, while only Clinton (51% "no") and Trump (60% "no") elicited negative majorities.

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