Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Observations No. 1

Posted on April 8, 2019

HAS TRUMP HACKED THE POLLS? How hard would it be to hack the polls? Not very hard at all. Why would anyone want to? Think about where we are now. The Conventional Wisdom holds that Trump can’t be removed from office because his base is still with him. We “know” his base is still with him because “the polls” say they are. In other words, the polls ARE the Conventional Wisdom.

The polls are Trump’s life line. They are key to whatever power Trump has left on Capitol Hill (elected officials watch the polls constantly) and his ability to draw crowds in so called “Trump Country.” Currently, Gallup has Trump at 39% job approval which is on the low side for a normal President interested in successfully governing. That’s not Trump. Trump is in survival mode. Actual public service and stewardship…please, that’s not Trump’s cup of tea. Trump has a desperate need to survive. He has to stay in the White House. Take him out of the White House and he’s looking at lawsuits, back taxes and criminal trials at the State and Federal Level.

If you look at Trump’s Job Approval numbers (Gallup) since he’s been in office they haven’t been above 45% or below 35%. That narrow band makes me suspicious. (Obama fluctuated between 69% and 40% and George W Bush between 90%, right after 9-11, and 25%). Trump’s poll numbers look managed and phony. How would Trump’s people execute a hack? Not my field of expertise…ask Mark Zuckerberg. I do know ethical considerations didn’t (or wouldn’t) stop them. Good poll numbers beget better poll numbers. The subject appears in command and looks like a winner. Bad poll numbers beget worse poll numbers as the subject appears out of control and looks like a loser.

Do you think the guy who gave us Trump University and bone spurs is going to leave his fate in the hands of his fellow citizens responding to poll questions and not seek to doctor the system? I don’t think so either. Continue Reading…..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: REP Ilhan Omar and Immanuel Kant…Plus Tropes and Dopes

Posted on March 13, 2019
I’m for Ilhan Omar. She’s got guts. And, to put it more elegantly, she has the right to call herself a Kantian. She’s earned that right.

Tell me more, you say. Immanuel Kant, German Philosopher ( 1724-1804 ) defined an “enlightened person” as someone who has the “courage to use their own understanding without the guidance of another.” In other words, someone who refuses to be silenced and suffocated by the Conventional Wisdom.

Am I a student of Kant, you ask. A little…very little.

I did spend a little time on Kant in college. I was mostly absent or hung over at the time. (You know the Irish.) Plus, a few years ago I was in Paris and I met a young man of the Jewish persuasion who was studying Philosophy at the Sorbonne. ( You know the Jews.) I asked him if he had read Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. He reached into his backpack, pulled out a book with that title, and said…”you mean this.”

Got my attention. Did a little more reading. Got to keep up.

My student friend was studying a philosopher named Gilles Deleuze who drew heavily on Kant. A little checking around and I found that Henry Kissinger’s Senior Honors Thesis at Harvard entitled, The Meaning of History, drew heavily on the Philosophy of Kant. Kissinger’s thesis was 386 pages long and caused Harvard to adopt what became known as the “Kissinger Rule” which sets a limit of 100 pages on current Senior theses. Henry and I don’t spend a lot of time chatting each other up, but my guess is he wouldn’t be the least bit threatened or offended by Ilhan Omar.

Kant was a quintessential realist. In his view, the future of mankind is in the hands of individuals willing to think independently and take responsibility for themselves and those dependent upon them regardless of the disapproval, and possible danger, from those who hold power and manufacture the conventional wisdom. By the way, the conventional wisdom is manufactured…you’re either involved in that process or you’re a victim of it. If you don’t know anything else, know that.

Not wanting to get ahead of my self, but our friend Ilhan intuitively saw what was happening and decided to take a shot at the Conventional Wisdom Manufacture Game…why not, looks like fun. If she got a word or two upside down, relax, it wasn’t that long ago that she was sleeping on the ground in a refugee camp in Kenya.

So, what did Rep. Omar do to bring upon herself the charge of a “trafficker in anti-semitic tropes.” Continue Reading……

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Seven with a Chance….Amy on Fire…Plus Country Boys

Posted on February 11, 2019

KAMALA HARRIS. Smoking hot with the eye of the tiger. Great listener. Infectious laugh. Lots of charm. Smart. Tough. Charismatic. Question: Can our President and our Dominatrix be the same person?

AMY KLOBUCHAR. As they say in the South, “You say you like Amy Klobuchar, I been liking her.” Calm. Almost sleepy. Very smart. Not a slash and burn type. Opposite of Rick Santorum. Gracious. Not the first choice to lead a revolution. Question: Will Amy Klobuchar be able to stay awake long enough to finish her own Inaugural Address? Oops! Spoke to soon. Amy just knocked it out of the park announcing her candidacy in the MN snow. Dynamite launch. Like I say, I been liking her.

JOE BIDEN. The perfect heart, mind, soul, and temperament of a Vice President for a cerebral aloof somewhat exotic President with a name like Barack Hussein Obama. Joe did that and did it well. His presence on the ticket was an assurance to middle class blue collar whites that Obama was “OK”. When Joe runs for himself he’s like the baseball player who runs until he makes an out. Joe talks until he says something stupid. Question: Can Joe accept the fact there is no shame in never being President?

ELIZABETH WARREN. Stick a fork in her. Continue Reading……

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Tallest Man in the Room and Other Stuff

Posted on January 23, 2019

Five foot six inch Sheldon Adelson, the self described “tallest person in the room when I sit on my wallet”, hasn’t forgotten he paid for a war with Iran…not a wall with Mexico. Sheldon, who has increased his net worth a little over a billion dollars per year every year for the last thirty years, is not in the habit of forgetting who owes him. Adelson didn’t come in with $30 Million in the last ten days of the 2016 campaign, when it looked like Trump was dead in the water, because he wanted good government. Adelson wanted our embassy in Israel moved to Jerusalem, the US out of the Iran Deal, and Iran nuked. Not kidding. Listen up.

Iran and Israel. Know at least this much. Iran is not as bad as the American Press says and Israel is not as good. Iran has fought and died for us…in Afghanistan after 9/11. Israel has never put a soldier at risk for the US anywhere anytime. Iran has never received aid from the US and has never been caught spying on us. Israel, took our money ($250 Billion and Counting in 70 years) and our protection and gave us Jonathan Pollard, one of the most damaging spies in US History. Israel has never given us a full accounting of what Pollard took from us and what they did with it. Seymour Hersh and others have accused Israel of giving some of the secrets Pollard stole from us to Russia in return for Russia allowing some Jewish scientists to migrate from Russia to Israel.

Information. Where do we get information on Iran and Israel? It’s almost all from Israel-friendly sources. Murdoch, the son of an orthodox Jewish Mother will not allow anything bad about Israel or good about Iran to be said on FOX, The NY Post, or the Wall Street Journal. MSNBC hosts pretend Sheldon Adelson doesn’t exist and Israel has never done anything wrong. Amyam Mohyeldin was reporting from Gaza on four young boys playing soccer on a beach who were vaporized by two Israeli strikes. His reporting was powerful and effective and he was immediately pulled off the assignment by MSNBC management. MSNBC is owned by Comcast whose controlling shareholder is Brian Roberts. Roberts is Jewish and a frequent visitor to Israel to participate in Maccabee games. Rachel Maddow and the gang have been appropriately timid and manageable since…nobody is willing to go to Gaza or Tehran and actually do journalism. Continue Reading……

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Trump – Dumb Like a Fox

Posted on December 27, 2018
Just when you think the best you can expect from our President is that he get through the day without mistaking the Queen of England for the Dalai Lama, Trump hits a policy bullseye.

Specifically, on December 19, 2018, out of the blue, Trump announces the transfer of 2,000 American troops out of Syria. I love the move. I know it’s a fabulous idea because “the let’s fight one more war for Israel” crowd is apoplectic. Anything that causes them heartburn gives me the warm fuzzies.

What we’re talking about is Iran, or Persia, as it has been known for millennia, and its position in the mideast vis-a-vis Israel. The Persians in Iran and the Jews in Israel represent two of the great cultures and contributors to civilization in world history. They have one thing in common… each of these peoples wants at least 200% per cent of what they are justly entitled to. Ergo, enmity and conflict between them.

The winning political formula in Israeli politics is to magnify the threat from outside actors and promise to hit “preemptively” any threat real or imagined. At the same time, keep the US suffocatingly (for US) close by having American friends of Israel throw massive resources into the American political process earmarked to insure that the US finishes problems that Israel starts.

Pretty cool gig if you can pull it off. Israel gets massive US Aid and points us in the direction of countries they would like us to fight. They got their way with the war with Iraq in 2003. Check out Benjamin Netanyahu’s Testimony before a US House Committee September 12, 2002, one year after 9/11. Netanyahu was more than willing to hold our coat while the USA gave Saddam a good thrashing. The fact that there were no “weapons of mass destruction” as Netanyahu promised… well, details, details. C’est la vie. Nobody’s perfect.

Trump’s move to pull troops out of Syria was a not so subtle message to Netanyahu and Adelson and their indentured servants in the US like Bolton, Pompeo, Rubio, Cruz, Graham, and Cotton that he’s hip to the scam. Having our troops operating in Syria where they were likely to encounter Iranian forces who were there by invitation of the Syrian Government ran the risk of giving the “let’s fight one more war for Israel” crowd something to pitch a bitch about. As soon as there was a US casualty…allegedly at the hands of Iran…well, you can imagine the indignant speeches on the floor of the US Senate from Joe Lieberman wannabes. Continue Reading……..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Nancy Pelosi gets a life

In 1987, the Congresswoman in the Northern California District where Nancy Pelosi lived, Rep. Sala Burton, died of cancer. Before she died, Sala asked Nancy to consider running for her congressional seat when it became vacant.

At the time, the youngest of Nancy’s five children was a senior in high school. Nancy decided she had to ask her youngest daughter for permission to make the run. Her daughter’s response was, “Mother, get a life.”

Nancy got the message. She ran and won the first of seventeen winning races for congress. In her thirty one year congressional career she has been a force for liberalism and peace on every major issue or legislative initiative that has come before the congress. She’s served on the Appropriations and Intelligence Committees and occupied virtually all the leadership positions in the House plus four years as the only woman Speaker of the House in our history.

Of the 10,947 individuals who have served in the House of Representatives since the founding of our country it would be hard to name five members who have had a greater impact on their time than Nancy has had on hers. Plus, it’s not over for Nancy, not by a long shot.

On November 28, 2018 Democratic members of the House of Representatives will caucus to select their leadership team. The conventional wisdom holds that Nancy Pelosi will be the choice of an overwhelming majority of Democratic Members to be the next Speaker of the House. That’s the conventional wisdom. I’m a Nancy Pelosi fan so I hope the conventional wisdom will prove to be true. Continue Reading…..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Everything is Coming Apart

Everything is coming apart.There’s no place to hide. We depend upon each others sanity. We drive down a two lane road betting the car coming towards us is not being driven by a homicidal/suicidal maniac. We live in a state of mutual dependency.

We assume our leaders have a modicum of good will and sanity so we can watch football and go to the gym. We assume civilization will run itself like a perpetual motion machine. Not so. Never has. Never will. One person’s passivity provides another person with more space at the political table to dominate and manipulate. “The love of money (and power) is the root of all evil.” The rapaciousness of the very rich and very powerful must be checked by the idealism energy and tenacity of the many.

Might doesn’t always make right. Sometimes right magnifies might. Huh? Read it again it makes sense. Ask John Lewis and the surviving family members of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney.

The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are not going to save us. Franklin’s response to the question about what the constitutional convention had produced is instructive…”A republic if you can keep it.” Can you dig it? It doesn’t run itself. We run it by our engagement…Or others run it because of the vacuum left by our disengagement. Shaw had it right. ” Democracy is a device that ensures that we are not governed any better than we deserve.” the corollary is that the people who outwork us get the government they deserve.

It’s on us. It always has been. We don’t chose our time or place to live but we chose how to respond to the challenges of that time and place. Kant said an enlightened person is a person with the courage to have his or her own opinion. If you don’t have an opinion, get one. Courage, same drill. Continue Reading…….

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: Liars, Creeps Suck-Ups and Saudis

We’re being governed by liars, creeps, and suck-ups. What other words would you use to describe Jared Kushner, John Bolton, Giggling Mike Pompeo, Chuckling Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Donald (He Denies It) Trump, and the behavior of the Trump Administration in the aftermath of the gruesome murder and dismemberment of an American Resident inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul?

Who sits at the top of this suck-up chain of command? A name no so-called liberal dares to mention, Sheldon Adelson. He is, by far, the most powerful private citizen in both the United States and Israel. Say that out loud and some jerk like Bret Stephens at the Times will charge you with “dealing in anti-semitic tropes.”

Liberals are cowed. Unfortunately, that’s their default state. They’ve got no problem gang tackling Kavanaugh, waxing outraged at comparative nobodies like the Mercers and the Kochs or some dopey evangelical with a bird nest hairdo who gets caught on a recording talking weird with his mistress. Rachel will work that for weeks.

Where the hell did the Saudis get the idea that they could kill and dismember an American Resident in the Saudi Consulate in a NATO State, Turkey? Reflect on that please. Turkey is a tried and true friend of the Untied States. They fought and died with us in Afghanistan after we were hit by individual Saudi citizens under the direction of Saudi Osama bin Laden. Continue Reading……..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: I Know I’m not the only one

Posted on October 9, 2018
I know I’m not the only one who likes and has supported Barack Obama and ended up supporting Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a Justice of the Supreme Court.

How could that be you ask. Easy. In politics, hate (or dislike) is a far stronger motivator than love (or like). That’s not my bright idea, it’s the observation of a couple of very savvy political operators, Kevin Phillips and Ed Rendell.

Phillips was a strategist in Richard Nixon’s 1968 successful Presidential run. He helped develop and implement Nixon’s southern strategy. According to Phillips, “the secret to politics is understanding who hates who.” Ed Rendell, a two term Governor of Pennsylvania and Chairman of the Democratic National Committee has said, “In politics hate is a far stronger motivator than love.”

Applying Phillips ideas, say you’re running in a part of the country that is suspicious of the New York Times, the Faculty at Harvard, and Wall Street. The strategy would be to tie your opponent to those so-called “enemies of the people” and tell the world you believe they represent the essence of evil. In case you haven’t noticed, Trump is pretty good at implementing the strategy. And, by the way, none of us is immune from being pulled in one direction or another by what we literally can’t stand. Talk to the people in those three PA counties that gave Hillary less than 20% of the vote. Obama never got blitzed like that anywhere. He even got the votes of people who “knew” he was a Muslim, born in Kenya. Continue Reading……..

Other Voices | Tom Callaghan: I Don’t Believe Dr. Ford

Posted on September 24, 2018

Why should I believe her? I haven’t met her. I haven’t seen and heard her describe what she claims happened to her and respond to questions about the details of that event. In fact, none of the the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, with the exception of Sen. Diane Feinstein, have met her.

So, she starts out entitled to as much respect and credibility as any human being one encounters for the first time. But, in Dr. Ford’s case, she has revealed herself to us incrementally, by what she has done. She has demonstrated that she is clever and strategic and calculating. Clever to the point of sneaky.

When President Trump announced he was nominating Kavanaugh to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, Dr. Ford started the process of telling her story…anonymously. How is what Dr. Ford did with her anonymous campaign any different than writing on a restroom wall “Judge Kavanaugh tried to rape me”?

Isn’t there something wrong, on its face, with leveling a charge against someone without putting your name on it? If you’re having trouble with the question, you shouldn’t. It stinks. It reveals the character of the person making the charge. It puts their character in question.

For 60 days, Dr. Ford got her story out, anonymously, and allowed the hearings to come and go. With her story fully in the the public domain and the firestorm raging at fever pitch she reveals her identity, hires three (!) lawyers and public relations folks, raises serious money on Go Fund Me and says she’ll testify if her conditions are met. Continue Reading……