Thursday, December 7, 2023

4th GOP Debate Scores, Chris Christie's Excellence

I watched the GOP Presidential Debate last night and was pleased that Christie, Haley and DeSantis all did well. In fact, each seemed more relaxed and effective. Ramaswamy, unfortunately, was his usual disruptive self.

I have watched with great interest all but the third debate.

The New York Times has rated the debaters on their four debates. These are cumulative ratings which can range from 0 to 10.


Chris Christie earned first place:  6.6 points

He was calm, self-assured, courteous and complimentary where appropriate. He made relevant critical comments about the other debaters. He had the strongest personal presence on the stage--in a good way. Christie's likeability was at his best.

In the debates so far he's always impressed me as presidential.

This debate was watched by writer and expert debater Todd Graham who was so impressed with Christie's skills he wrote a lengthy essay on it. Graham gave Christie's speech a title: "Chris Christie's Retribution Speech."  The "Retribution" refers to Donald Trump's ominous threat of, "I AM your retribution." ["Retribution" means  punishment inflicted on someone as retaliation.]

Graham's article is a joy to read and especially fascinating because it points out the particular debate skills demonstrated by Christie; I really liked what Christie did, and because of Graham's article I understood better why it was so awesome. 


Nikky Haley earned second place:  4.9 points

She has done consistently well, occupying first place three times and second place in this 4th debate. She has always shown good debate skills, self-confidence, and not been rattled when attacked by others. She is exceptionally well-informed, quick thinking, and effective in her attacks. I think she didn't fall to second place, but Christie improved himself in a stellar manner into first.

In the debates so far she's always impressed me as presidential. She certainly commands respect, and it is in a natural and pleasant way.


Ron DeDantis was third:  4.3 points

I found his personality more likeable than in previous debates: there were fewer distracting mannerisms, he smiled more frequently, seemed to be enjoying himself more, and didn't show as much anger and insistence as he had before. 

In previous debates his negative emotional output along with his tendency to voice authoritarian attitudes made me wonder, "Why would we ever want this radical right authoritarian leading the country." 

So I was actually pleased that he did well for himself in this debate. In this debate, I feel he came across as presidential.


Vivek Ramaswamy was fourth: 2.0 

Ramaswamy in three debates has been consistently and severely "obnoxious" (to quote one of his fellow debaters). 

His puts out a jaw dropping display of: interrupting others, failing to end his talking when directed by the moderators, speaking too rapidly, and doing so without normal pauses. His talk rushes out of his mouth in a torrential flow, accompanied by holding up first one pointed finger and then the other--repeatedly throughout each diatribe. 

He doesn't seem to be aware of or concerned with his obnoxious qualities. And when he's finally done talking he confidently looks out at the world and smiles.

If that weren't bad enough, Ramaswamy proudly presents himself as a Trump supporter and voices various conspiracy theories. He was called out by fellow debaters as lying. By this morning what Haley pointed out to be a Ramaswamy lie was independently fact-checked and labeled falsehood.

I've never thought Ramaswamy presidential.

Additionally, whereas Christie, Haley and DeSantis can be seen in debate to relate well to one another interpersonally, Ramaswamy hasn't in the three debates I've seen.  

Any references not found above are on the page  BIBLIOGRAPHY / WORKS CITED  in the blog.

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Monday, December 4, 2023

If We Get Tyranny, We Voters Failed Democracy


1870 WORDS

When Googling a political topic last week, the suggested sites included a man's picture in a t-shirt with bold lettering saying:
 The System
Has Failed US
The man obviously is complaining that something outside himself has let him down and has caused his suffering. The statement covers the whole front of his shirt. And I wondered, what "System" is he talking about. And who's included in "Us"? The "System" is a vast territory. Is he talking about the Republicans, the Democrats, the society, or what? The t-shirt is provocative, but who is "Us" and exactly what piece of the system is faulty?
In America today most people are literate and can easily access more practical information than ever before. But they gravitate to watching funny videos on TikTok, following friends on YouTube, socializing and entertainment. 
The System most people are complaining about is the local, county, state and federal government. These four levels of government each have their owns sets of laws. The structure of government is based on all these laws.
Turns out the last attempt to count the laws was over 40 years ago. Back then the two year counting effort stopped before it could finish! At the last count there were 23,000 pages of laws!  

So, as kids in high school gradually mature into adults, they need to (but will not want to) learn to avoid getting on the wrong side of the law. For as soon as juveniles start getting into trouble with the law . . . life becomes a lot more difficult.


I never felt I needed to get involved in politics until I was over the age of 60. As a businessman and psychologist, I followed the Golden Rule, used common sense, and was careful to observe what others did or didn't do. But about ten years ago I became aware of specific politicians and their political agendas that seemed inherently wrong. Such as:
  • Systematic voter suppression of Black Americans
  • Systematic manipulation of voting districts to suppress the voting power of the opposing political party or classes of voters (young, old, liberal or conservative, etc.)
  • Worsening Income inequality (rich getting richer and poor getting poorer)
  • Extreme and counter-productive distortions of truth and outright lies by politicians
Until Trump's 2017 election, few presidents (except Richard Nixon who was forced to resign by his own party) were totally out in left field. This was because they had political office experience and had many cabinet members and advisors with whom they hammered out reasonable policies and actions. 
But not Trump. He was an extreme outlier during the presidential debates and only got worse once he became President. I have written many blogs about his glaring deficiencies and shared dozens and dozens of examples from high quality authoritative books and articles

Check out these blog episodes for documented factual information about Trump in the White House:

10-25-2022  Department of Justice Stands Up To Trump & He Backs Down Jan 3rd 2021

7-26-2023  No Mysteries About Donald Trump--Dangerous To America, Unrepentant, Unredeemable

8-19-2023  Only Criminal Justice Will End Trump's Reign of Chaos

Of course, Trump has led the attack on Biden. And there are many people who say they "hate" Biden--even people who don't follow and listen to Trump! Same thing has happened with Mike Pence! WHAT IS GOING ON . . . ?
First, liking and hating presidents is largely based on personality factors in both the president/candidate and the rater of that president. Most voters cannot explain their feelings about presidents. The public personalities of Biden and Pence are quite different; but they're both honorable politicians who are disliked and/or ignored by the American voters. In contrast, Trump is a the most dangerous man in government and he's more popular than Biden. WHAT IS GOING ON . . . ?
Trump calls Biden "crooked Joe Biden" and claims that Biden has the "mind, ideas, and I.Q. of a First Grader."


Biden has spent most of his life serving in Congress, serving as a vice president to President Obama, and then successfully beating Donald Trump by a convincing majority in the 2017 election. 
Biden began his Presidency with capable advisors and a reasonable political agenda. Important accomplishments of Biden and his administration were:
Biden's COVID-19 response was based on medical science rather than conspiracy theories.

He successfully tuned up the economy by supporting the middle class and placing more tax burden on the wealthy and on companies.

He chose economic policies which successfully addressed the inflation and job losses that occurred during the Trump administration--due both to Trump policies and to COVID-19. 

He followed sensible economic ideas in responding to unemployment.
The Biden administration collaborated with Republicans to pass some gun control legislation.

In great contrast to Trump's time in office, the Biden administration was stable. American allies would benefit because of good communication and mutual respect. Gone were Trump's out-of-date ideas about treaties and economic policy. Biden made good use of his advisors; but Trump fought with his advisors.
Biden attended daily intelligence briefings, but Trump minimized such briefings and often had more confidence in what he got from TV than from his own intelligence briefings.  


Back in 2019 Donald Trump was in federal court trying to exert presidential executive privilege to keep the White House Counsel from having to testify (in the Mueller Russia investigation) before the House of Representatives. 

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson dismissed President Trump's executive privildge claim and ordered Counsel Don McGahn to testify.

Judge Jackson took time to remind President Trump that, "Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings."
Fast Forward to December 2023.
Almost five years later, Trump has lost the presidency, led an insurrection, been indicted four times (New York, Georgia, Florida and District of Columbia) for a total of 91 counts.  
He does not have the capacity to stop himself--probably due to his inordinate arrogance and presumptuousness. 
And for reasons none can explain, he will likely win the Republican Party nomination for president.


Lots of indirect evidence shows that American voters are voting out of ignorance of what political experience and personal qualities (honestly, willingness to put service to voters above self) are necessary in a candidate. 

    Trump was and continues to be very popular. In popularity surveys he's always above 50%. And he is predicted to be the Republican nominee for president. He is so consistently popular that after his presidential loss 95% (yes that's 95%) of republican congressmen and women became election loss deniers. Even now he's very influential. 
But now when surveys are taken about how he rates as a president, he is rated as one of the worst. In the 2021 C-SPAN survey, presidents were rated by 150 professional observers and historians. The result was that "Donald Trump is ranked near the bottom of all U.S. presidents by a group of historians, getting the lowest grades for leadership of any commander in chief who has served in the White House in the past 150 years." (Historians rank Trump near the bottom of U.S. presidents as Obama rises into the top 10)

     Since the Republican debates prior to the 2017 election, both the personal and public attitudes and behavior of Trump have found their way into the national news. Anyone who wanted to evaluate whether Trump would be good or bad in political office could do so. He has been on full display. There's very little he tries to hide. He commands attention by his outlandish statements, behavior, and indifference to how people feel about him.  

     The New York Times in the past kept track of Trump's lies and at last count was 30,000 lies! Trump lied about anything!
The Times analyzed how Trump's lies had a trickle down effect to state legislatures, especially in battleground states. In those battleground states there was no evidence of significant election fraud. In swing states Biden won, 357 lawmakers "took concrete steps to discredit or overturn the results of the 2020 election."



Donald Trump is very politically influential in a very bad way. He clearly never rose to the occasion of serving his country, serving most of the people most of the time. It was all about Trump being himself, feeding his ego, and no one else mattered.


Any long-serving men of integrity who are well informed about Trump will have observed him to be very destructive to democracy. For example, author Bob Woodward, James Clapper Director of National Intelligence, Mitt Romney Senator, and William Barr Attorney General, all have seen and documented Trump's continuing danger to America. 

For the most authoratative, inside look at what a misfit president Trump was, read Bob Woodward's book, FEAR: Trump in the White House.  Woodward knows our presidents--he's over a dozen books about them.


Many men and women informed Trump he had lost to Biden; but Trump didn't care. He was going to go down fighting--no matter how destructive to himself or others. He is still trying to do the impossible, namely:

    Lead a successful insurrection. January 6th didn't work, but Trump is still trying.


I have been working to understand democracy and the possible American transition toward tyranny and dictatorship. I read about nations who went through that transition. From the excellent book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century  by Timothy Snyder. I highly recommend this book; it's easy to read and will give you vital knowledge about authoritarianism and tyranny.


Snyder writes that there are several basic values we must thoroughly practice in order to resist tyranny.


1. Don't obey in advance. (Meaning: "Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then offer themselves without being asked. A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do."

NOTE: What is quoted above in #1 is true about the Nazi SS anticipating what Hitler might want and on their own beginning concentration camps and gas chambers. And, also, if you didn't know, Hitler was legally elected  into power. 

2. Defend institutions.

3. Beware the one party state.

6. Be wary of paramilitaries.

8. Stand out.

10. Believe in truth.

11. Investigate.

13. Practice corporeal (physically present) politics. (Meaning: "Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.")

17. Listen for dangerous words. (Meaning: "Be alert to the use of the words extremism and terrorism. Be alive to the fatal notions of emergency and exception. Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.")

18. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. (". . . [T]he sudden disaster that requires the end of checks and balances, the dissolution of opposition parties, the suspension of freedom of expression . . . These are the oldest tricks in the Hitlerian book. Do not fall for it.")

19. Be a patriot. (Set a good example.)

20. Be as courageous as you can. (If we aren't prepared to be well informed and to work hard for freedom, then where we live will evolve into tyranny.) 


National election politics can be nasty, complicated, and even bizarre at times. Don't react emotinally, just see it calmly and get used to seeing it more so you can gradually get more comfortable with it. Take pride in your efforts. Be patient. Learning about politics takes time.

I expect that most voters will have to do some hard work to listen carefully to candidates. Do hard work to listen to both sides of any stories. Do hard work to read some news magazines and talk with others. Do hard to work to hear the dangerous words. Avoid trying to correct anyone.


Every voter is vitally important.


Any references not found above are on the page  BIBLIOGRAPHY / WORKS CITED  in the blog.

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