Crazy scenarios, stealth candidates, and flying lemons
So Senator Ted Cruz looks beat, which is excellent because almost everything he wanted to do as President is appalling.
Trump is triumphant, likely to be nominated despite the frantic shenanigans being plotted by several different strands of the now-shredded Republican Party. They could pull new rules out of the air at the Convention, to be held on July 18-21 at the Quicken Loans Arena (no kidding) in decrepit Cleveland, and block the bouffant bully from being their standard bearer – but they’re likely to fail just as the Republican top dogs failed to block their last unelectable candidate, Barry Goldwater, in 1964.
Trump has, by the way, withdrawn his pledge to support whoever the Republican Convention chooses. This means he’s considering running as an independent if they take away his prize. This would require him to convince enough states to add his name to their ballots for the November election so that he could at least theoretically win enough states to get a majority of the 538 votes in the “electoral college” that actually elects the president (ie 270 votes). Many states have laws banning defeated candidates from any party from running as indies – they’re called “sore loser laws.” He could try to convince minor parties that already have a slot on most state ballots to put his name as their nominee, but the big minor leaguers are the Libertarian Party and the Green Party, neither of which like Donald or his money.
One intriguing possible outcome is that Trump stands as an Independent, after the Republican poobahs anoint the (relatively) sane John Kasich (governor of Ohio). These two face off on election day against each other, plus the Democratic candidate, which could result in none of the three candidates getting the 270 electoral votes required to be president. In that case, the House of Representatives would choose a president from the three candidates, with the members of the House voting one vote per state, because that’s how the Constitution says it must be done. It’s hard to imagine getting all these Congresspeople to agree on anything, but since the Republicans have more members than the Democrats do in more than 30 states out of 50 (3 are tied), one of the Republicans would likely win the presidency. It could well be Kasich, being the least scary to House members used to the succour of the status quo.
Meanwhile, back in present time, Hillary and Bernie battle on. Hillary will win, barring some force majeure or her indictment and prosecution by the FBI under the Espionage Act (for mishandling state secrets, of which she is clearly guilty but for which she is very unlikely to be charged).
Bernie will stay in the race all the way to the convention in Philadelphia July 25-28, so he can keep pushing Hillary – and the Party platform due to be voted on at the Convention – to be more radical in demanding less expensive education and healthcare, a higher minimum wage, making corporate trade deals more people-friendly, getting mega-money out of politics, and making future primaries more transparent and democratic by, for starters, ditching unelected delegates.
Bernie will also try to push her away from being a hard-line “interventionist” in foreign policy. I wrote here two weeks ago about how H Clinton is a true believer in America’s destiny to make all nations conform to its rules, which are no longer so much about democracy and human rights but blatantly about allowing corporations to do whatever profit-making requires – including plundering, polluting, impoverishing, and trashing all resistance even if it’s grounded in concern for the planet and the greater good of humanity, tradition, culture, or anything else not on the spreadsheets of wealth-worshippers.
But that’s the point on which Sanders will be least likely to get concessions from Clinton. John Cassidy listed in the New Yorker last week all the Generals and other promoters of American raw power that Hillary Clinton trusts and admires. Top of the list is Gen. Jack Keane, a former vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army, who sold George W. Bush on the “surge” of extra US troops in Iraq in 2007. This “surge”, which was promoted as a strategic masterstroke, increased deaths among everyone but “terrorists”, and inspired 61% of Iraqis to tell poll-takers in 2008 that US troops in Iraq were actually worsening the security situation, and 42% of them to declare that attacks on US forces were now acceptable. As the surge fizzled, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops.
I return to this aspect of a likely Clinton Presidency because it is so rarely discussed in the US press, or in Australian media, or by otherwise wonderful people I know who are dying for a Hillary Clinton Presidency. My point is that millions of people could literally be dying if Prez Clinton keeps listening to “nail eating” generals like Buster Hagenbeck, Stanley A. McChrystal, David Petraeus, and Jack Keane -- and their back-ups in the State Department and media. We’ll soon be longing for the good ol’ days of President Obama, who told Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic this month that he was “proud to have broken with the playbook that has ruled Washington for decades, [which] prescribes militarized responses” as America’s first responses.
How can we ignore the assumptions, shared by America’s ageing ruling clique – including Hillary -- that war trumps diplomacy and commerce trumps people when there’s this:
The US spends several times more on the military than on education, energy, and the environment combined. Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet is expected to cost the US between $1 and $1.5 trillion, unless it is abandoned due to its poor performance, which it might be. That much tax money could pay for tuition-free public higher education for every student in the US until 2039.
Australia has committed to buying 72 F-35A aircraft at a cost of $17 billion and counting. We are “considering” buying another squadron of these flying lemons, which no less a militant than John McCain calls “a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule and performance.” Don’t expect much talk in our election, except perhaps from the Greens, about this budget-busting deal with the US military-industrial complex.
Then there’s our 12 French submarines, for another $60 billion. Cost of reversing budget cuts to the CSRIO, our most successful innovators, $115 million, which is 1/500th of 60 billion.
We need to talk about “defence” spending.