Archive for the ‘ben carson’ category

And Now There Are 5

February 22, 2016

On Saturday, South Carolina spoke GOP. When the vote count was complete, Donald Trump had won and Rubio/Cruz had finished 2/3. While the spin masters labored trying to make each finish a win, one candidates stepped back. John Ellis (Jeb) Bush suspended his candidacy and for a moment sounded like a President.

Jeb never really had a chance. Bush’s candidacy was about a fictional great Governor, a relative of two former Presidents and someone who could talk like a president or world diplomat. Jeb was about an idealized person just waiting to be recognized and nominated. Hmmm.

Bush’s campaign spent over $100 million and never got an enthusiastic following. In hind sight, Bush and his advisors never saw opponents coming who would run crude, “tell it like it is (even if it is only half true)”, “ I’m not connected to Washington” type, no holds barred campaign. Bush had no message other than “I’m Jeb” and simply got blown away.  Jeb had no Karl Rove to do his thinking.

Jeb’s campaign suspension does not just reflect that Bush was the sixth best candidate but in a game of resources, more to the point, Bush ran out of money and reasons to convince backers they should reach deeper into their pockets to bank roll him further. Without money there is no campaign. Hmmm.

The GOP is still staring at almost certain defeat unless they radically change their platform and drop the wedge issues they have used during the primary season. It will not be enough to say “Washington is broken” (which of course it is) and expect to win in November. The GOP nominee will need to explain how he will fix Washington, what it will cost, and how will he pay for it.

The GOP candidate will also be unlikely to escape grillings on immigration (Hispanic vote), family planning (women’s vote), gender equality (gay and women’s vote), and the traditional third rails, Social Security and Medicare (the senior vote). Of those remaining, Trump, Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, and Carson, which one could handle these issues best?

There is a remote possibility that the GOP convention will arrive with no clear winner. All bets are open whether is such a case, a second look at Jeb Bush might not seem the least of poor options. And then, of course, there is a rerun of Mitt Romney. Hmmm.

Iowa, Oh, Iowa

February 2, 2016

The Iowa caucuses have come and gone. The results provided the last nail in Martin O’Malley and Mike Huckabee’s campaigns and both suspended their efforts. For the rest, the race continues.  Who were the winners and the losers?

Ted Cruze appears the nominal Republican winner, and was quick to tell everyone that. Donald Trump actually came close to the closing poll numbers but a strong close by Cruze left Trump in second. Marco Rubio got his desired “strong third place” finish and spoke as if the nomination was practically in reach.

The top three finishers captured about 3/4ths of the votes and adding the 9% for Carson, everyone else was a loser, at least as Iowa stands.

On the Democrat side, for all intense purposes, the caucuses produced a tie. Clinton may have won by a few votes and may have snagged the delegate lead but the win was far from convincing. Bernie Sanders appealed broadly to the under thirty crowd, even though he was the oldest candidate in both parties.

Pundits will spin these results for days (until New Hampshire next Tuesday). For the GOP, evangelicals who voted for Cruz and Carson, will come to realize this segment does not reflect a national cross section.  More importantly, no GOP candidate received more than 28% of the vote, hardly a mandate for any of the positions each candidate has outlined.

The strength of Sanders, however, should send a strong message to both parties. Younger voters see the critical issues facing America differently than the “established” Washington politicians. Universal healthcare, college education without huge debt, and tighter Wall Street controls are issues of “fairness”. In the riches country on earth, instead of fairness, younger voters hear the watch words “American Dream is yours if you can afford it”.

(Regrettably, how to pay for healthcare and college education, or what might be the consequences of tighter Wall Street controls has largely been left unsaid.)

Sanders compact with younger voters is more than just about fairness. Sanders speaks “genuine” also. You may not like what he is saying but you are clear his message is un-nuanced.

In the greater picture, Iowa is a small State not representative of the country as a whole. Cruz’ victory is most likely meaningless on the larger US scale. For New Hampshire, Cruz is a cypher. The curious questions will involve Trump, Rubio, Bush, Kasich, and Christie.  Will any of these candidates begin the trek back toward the center?

For Clinton, it will be all about adjusting expectations and trying to lose by less than current poll numbers suggest. Hillary must not forget that her candidacy is about breadth, depth, and experience. She should do well with women and immigrants along with rank and file Democrats (once she defeats Sanders). It is not time for Clinton to change colors again like a chameleon.

The Evolution Of Political Sanity

January 17, 2016

The Republican Presidential Primary process has once again tested the limits of commonsense. In 2012, Republicans fielded a group of candidates which resembled more a Vaudeville act than a serious contest to pick the most qualified. Never the less, the GOP did select Mitt Romney who was certainly both qualified and heads and shoulders a better choice than the likes of Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, or Herman Cain. The elephant in the room in 2016 is who or will anyone emerge who can be viewed as a serious candidate?

Supporters of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio see their preferences as the inevitable nominee, while Chris Christie and John Kasich’s fans are sure their pick will be the last person stranding and gain the nomination. Ben Carson and Jeb Bush’s clubs are gently sleeping, while Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Rand Paul are secretly hoping a natural catastrophe sweeps all the others aside. And as if nothing each of these candidates have promised is relevant, House Speaker Paul Ryan has now announced the Republican controlled House of Representatives will construct the GOP Presidential platform. Hmmm.

I wonder who is taking who seriously?

Mainstream media is gradually changing its tone on Donald Trump. After a succession of polls have steadily boosted Trumps standing versus the rest of the pack, the media is now beginning to suggest Trump might win the nomination outright and save the party from a brokered convention. This recognition must be tough for the legitimate press given the widely unconventional campaign tactics and outrageous statements Trump has used so far. Can you think of one sensible and well articulated domestic or foreign policy position that Donald Trump has articulated? But I bet you can recall any number of inflammatory and relatively meaningless charges and counter charges he has made to gain personal attention.

Up to this point, the GOP candidates have been eating Donald Trump’s dust. As a candidate gained traction and rose to challenge Trump’s leadership position, the glare of the public spotlight revealed critical weaknesses in each.

Jeb Bush (with an exclamation mark) was the first to rise and fade. He was followed quickly by Ben Carson. While Carson is finished, Bush still could become the nominee in a brokered and exasperated convention. Both Cruz and Rubio are now receiving the blow back from the Donald. IMO while both Cruz and Rubio are mortally wounded by their own position statements when it comes to the general election, they are also looking weaker when compared to Trump.

Christie and Kasich are still low enough in the polls that they are not drawing Trump’s daily attention and are neither being helped or hurt by any comparisons. Both are trying to find some niche where their political and executive experience can be shown superior to Trump’s “smartest guy in the room” approach. Both of these men must be hoping for a brokered convention.

Florina is another issue. On paper she is intelligent, someone with proven executive experience, and of course is a women at a time when one of Hillary Clinton strongest appeals is her gender. Fiorina, lacks political experience and her work experience showed an arrogant leader, with a sort of rock star persona, a more “go it alone” person. So far in the primary process, Carly has not shown a warm, be my friend side. She is not likely to overcome this and attract a larger following.

Huckabee, Santorum, and Paul offer nothing that will attract a majority either in the primaries or in a brokered convention. They are just spending money and taking up space.
So what will the GOP do?

“Deer in the headlights” comes to mind. After 8 disastrous years with George W Bush and another 8 years with candidates running on anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, balanced with pro-wealthy, pro-evangelicals, and pro-extreme conservative platforms, it is no wonder the GOP has drifted into a party of extreme views representing small segments of the electorate which individually cannot get along with each other.

The GOP top guns have dug themselves into a huge hole and don’t know what to do.
Consequently each candidate is trying to call out the other candidates for the silliest of contradictions while they smugly look in the camera and say “I’m more qualified than that bozo”. Hmmm.

The shenanigans the American public is witnessing reflects personality, not genuine policy differences. Trump is Trump, Cruz is Cruz, Rubio is Rubio, etc. If one steps back and thinks about the GOP of Regan, or George H W Bush’s day, there would be no confusing them with Democrats or Democrat Party policies.  These past GOP Presidents would have stood upon a rational, far more moderate, and inclusive Republican Party platform.

It is hard to see how the GOP can stop digging and get itself out of this dysfunctional evolution of political sanity.

Vetting A Presidential Nominee

November 24, 2015

Watching the Republican Presidential nominating process unfold has been a lesson in fund raising, possessing the “right stuff”, and standing up to public vetting.  The GOP hopefuls list which began at nearly two dozen is slowly dwindling but the serious list (those with a chance) still remains close to 10.

Who will prevail and how long will it take?

Most everyone has been amazed at the success to date of non-politicians Donald Trump and Ben Carson. For a few weeks these two “outsiders” garnered over 50% of the polls. Trump still is hanging in at around 30% while Carson has fallen back to the high teens.

Carson’s recent drop in the polls highlights the amazing aspect of his prior success. Carson has no idea about foreign policy or current events. The Paris attack, ISIS and Syrian refugee issue, when vetted in the public forum, has shown he is not ready for prime time.  He would be a dangerous choice for Vice President since he appears to lack even the remotest background in diplomacy and world events.

Donald Trump is a quite different story. He has offered some of the most outlandish proposals on immigration, 9/11, taxes, and refugees and still is standing tall in the polls.  Trump seems to have offered a segment of voters someone who “says it as it is”, at least in their minds.

Anti-immigration, xenophobia, and gigantic tax cut promises have boosted Trump’s support even though his specific claims or proposals are patently unfounded. But 30% of the maybe 30% card carrying GOP base in a national election is not enough to win. Hmmm.

While Trump and Carson occupy the top positions, gradually Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasick are rising. This trio still are not a numeric challenge to Trump but are making life pretty rough on Jeb Bush and Carli Fiorina. The rest, Chris Christy, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, and Lindsay Graham have absolutely no chance and must be staying in hoping to get a VP nod.

The Primary race has been marked by pledges and promises which cannot reasonably be believed. No candidate is immune to the urge to say things which in hours are shown unfounded or unattainable. With the exception of Donald Trump, each candidate who has put forward some policy position crafted to appeal to the right, has lost a point or two in the polling standings. If things continue on the same path, by February or March, it should be clear that none of the current candidates has enough support to win in the general election even if they can secure the GOP nomination.

There is one unannounced candidate, however, who does poll well and would make a formidable candidate. That person is Mitt Romney.

Recent national polls show Mitt as by far and away the choice of Republican voters and a solid candidate against Hillary Clinton. If Mitt can stay patient, he could get the nomination without having to announce he is “severely conservative” again.

As time passes, the GOP should recognize in an election where less than a third of voters are true GOP believers (same percent holds for Democrats),  that unless the GOP offers a sane, responsible alternative, the mass of independent voters will side with Democrats and again keep the GOP out of the White House.

For my money, Mitt is by far the best choice if there must be a GOP President.

What Should Jeb Do?

October 25, 2015

If there have been any questions about Jeb Bush’s view of his right to become President, these doubts should be vanishing. Bush entered the race as the presumptive nominee, someone who just had to act Presidential, raise a lot of money, and wait until crowned at the convention. At the time this did not seem that unusual given the declared and rumored potential candidates. Oh, how differently it has turned out.

Bush like Scott Walker hired expensive staffs and set up elaborate fund raising apparatus (which also cost a lot of money) and went to work creating policy positions. Bush chose to distinguish himself by telling anyone who would listen, “I’m the only true conservative in the field”. Hmmm, what does that mean?

The “most conservative label” appeals only to a precious few and has a lasting value of just the Republican primary. In the general election, it is more about specific policies on specific issues. A “real conservative” position on women’s rights, gay issues, immigration reform, taxes, healthcare, Social Security, and the wide list of entitlements will drive the election outcome.

As Bush has rolled out his policy positions, it should be clear that Jeb has set up a losing hand.

Beyond the policy substance, Jeb has been confounded by the apparent appeal of Donald Trump and Ben Carson, both of whom have not bothered to speak definitively about policy. Both candidates have caught the eye of early GOP voters and have left Jeb in their dust. Bush seems genuinely disgusted with the popular response and acts as if he thinks the electorate is too dumb to recognize that he is the better candidate (if not the only legitimate one).

So what should Jeb do now that he is running out of money and must reduce his staff?

Of all the “missing the moment” things Jeb could do, he has picked probably the most tone deaf one, he is meeting this weekend with his Mom and Dad and brother George W to discuss next moves. Would Donald Trump do that? Would Ben Carson do that? What would a President Jeb Bush do in a national crisis? Hmmm.

The most cost efficient step would be for Jeb to abandon his run and give back any residual funds to his supporters. Jeb Bush has a losing policy platform and a persona completely out of line with the electorate. Why waste time and money?

If Mom and Dad, and “W” were to provide advice, other than retiring, it might be to keep his head down and his mouth shut. Trump and Carson have no credentials to become President and sooner or later will be shown to be paper thin on policies. That’s 50% of the vote. As these candidates fade, others will rise. The only long shot position for Jeb is to appear, among the others, the best option in a wounded field.

This means Jeb needs to dial back his “I know it all” policy making positions and if cornered, boast about his experience (Governor), his maturity (his age), and stability (family centered values). And then Jeb should cross his fingers and hope that Carly Fiorina fades faster, that Marco Rubio stumbles under the pressure of almost winning, and John Kasich just doesn’t connect.

In my opinion, Marco Rubio and John Kasich are the two most likely nominees. Rubio will sell his energy and relative younger age while Kasich will lean on his wider experience than Bush and his much more forceful presence.

This weekend, Jeb will probably mumble, “you were right Mom, I shouldn’t have run.”

Hillary, Don’t Panic Yet

September 10, 2015

Recent poll numbers show Donald Trump and Ben Carson pulling noticeably ahead of other GOP Presidential hopefuls. It is simply mind boggling to imagine either one as President. Never the less, they lead the GOP field and no serious candidate is close. If you were Hillary Clinton wouldn’t you be breathing easy?

Maybe. But Hillary has her own challenges to face. Bernie Sanders has moved ahead in both Iowa and New Hampshire according to recent polls. Sanders’ message and “authenticity” has been well received. Democrat primary voters seem ready to pick him over Hillary. Hmmm.

This past week, Clinton launched a “refresh” of her campaign. She “apologized” for having used her private email account while Secretary of State using the “sorry” word. Hmmm. That really makes a difference.

Hillary might profit more from paying attention to the word “authentic”. While Trump is gaining GOP attention with bombastic statements, it is hard to imagine his persona wearing well until November 2016. Ben Carson is as cool as Trump is hot but neither has any experience with foreign policy. The GOP primary is now concentrated on 2 maybe three States. When it opens up to the remaining 48 States, it is doubtful either candidate can prevail especially when negative ads are released.

The same analogy can be made for Sanders’ campaign and then some. Women’s rights, immigration reform, and foreign policy concerns will not be as easy to discuss as his current emphasis on banks and low pay for workers. Hillary should do much better.

“Authenticity” may hound Clinton if she continues to keep a tight hold on her public exposure. Leaking to the press you are about to “refresh” your image is about as dumb and public opinion insensitive as one can get. As they say, just do it. People are not so obtuse that they can only pick up on human qualities if you tell them in advance to look for them.

Hillary is carrying a lot of baggage. To be specific, she has dozens of high paid advisors and strategists who are choreographing her every move. Nothing could be more “inauthentic”.

Clinton needs to look long term. At this point there is no GOP candidate who has a platform and demographic edge on the 2016 electorate. All suffer from some typical GOP base loving disease, you know those issues which will lose in a general election. GOP hopes lies in the Democrats nominating someone who also represents minority views.

Despite her wounds, Clinton is still the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Is It Really Time For A Third Party?

September 1, 2015

With Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Bernie Sanders attracting so much attention in the Presidential Primary polls, the question being bandied about is whether it is time for a real third party in American politics. Discounting this question a little because the media will fan the flames of anything that will sell more advertising, regardless of its newsworthiness, the question seems attractive if only as a possible way around the current Washington gridlock.

Trump, Carson, Sanders, and add, Fiorina do not see eye to eye on most all issues so the notion they represent a third party is bogus. They might legitimately each represent a potential third party but together they represent four new parties to add to the existing two. Hmmm, six altogether.

Trump has raised some interesting propositions in his unorthodox campaign. Recently he has hinted at raising taxes and imposing import duties (both GOP no-no’s) and this has raised the spector that should Trump get the GOP nod, there could be a schism within the party. Carson, Sanders, and Fiorina all propose personal behavior were they elected which has no room for the unproductive “shut down the government talk” which predominates the GOP controlled Congress now.

The Washington law making process has become so crippled with the combined burdens of hugely expensive campaigns and the need for Congress Members to continually raise money (at he expense of legislative work).  Add in the equally corrupting influence of special interests and lobbyists, one gets the formula for no action.  If it would take a third party to change this, then “bring them on”.

But is taking away the money enough?

A somewhat overlooked perspective on Washington gridlock is why do these otherwise intelligent people engage in such patiently destructive behavior?

IMO, another big factor stems from unstated beliefs.  The “thinkers” on both sides of the aisle believe their opponents, if left uncheck, will create laws which simply will not work. There is unfortunately no willingness to share these feelings or to attempt constructive compromise.

From the GOP perspective, more entitlements and government jobs will sap the energy out of average Americans who instead of working hard and preparing for the future, will instead demand another handout from Uncle Sam. In time the cost of this path will squeeze out defense spending and soon leave the country defenseless. Democrats, on the other hand, highly suspect that the GOP will continuously tweak the tax code in a way that dilutes the value of entitlements, reduces the role of government, and builds permanent barriers between classes while increasing the wealth of the wealthy.

Hmmm. Cynical or realistic?

One reality in today’s world is globalization and that it offers the lowest cost, highest productivity option. Sourcing some manufacturing in lower wage countries is a must for America. How does the US keep the playing field level?  Another reality involves global warming and coming to grips with changing the climate and rising seas is a must. The world is a big place and US only measures will most likely make little impact.  Consider also economic and political refugees and how they will impact America even if these immigrants land in Europe.

And changing social values such as gender, gender ID, sexual orientation, and race which we have come to accept in the US will continue to cause difficulties with other nations and their religions and mores.  A third party could address all these realities in a fresh manner.

If there is to be a third party, it would make only sense if this new party populated Congress too. Further the work of a new third party would need to be aimed at pragmatic solutions to US domestic and foreign policies, not some ideology. If the US ship of State does not steer a more sensible course, our status as the world’s wealthiest land could soon change.

On the other hand, if the lazy media just wants to talk about something and cares not what the underlying issues and implications might be, then talk of a third party is as good as any.  Hmmm.

Good News, God’s In The Race

May 5, 2015

Mike Huckabee will announce his candidacy for the GOP Presidential nomination today, in of all places Hope, Arkansas, Bill Clinton’s birthplace… Mike has the franchise on evangelical politics and will thump the bible when ever it will move the crowd effectively. Along with his religious beliefs will come a list of things he would expect others to be denied based upon his beliefs. Hmmm.

Carly Fiorina entered the race yesterday and has positioned herself as the hawk on foreign affairs. Carly told Fox News yesterday that she would arm the kurds, Egyptians, and anyone else in the Middle East as the means to defeat ISIS. Ben Carson announced his candidacy too and promised that he would follow through on his promise to end Obamacare. Hmmm.

The fun is just beginning. There are dozens more GOP hopefuls who have not announced. In many regards this could be a benefit to candidates like Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, or John Kasich. These candidates might dilute the message and consequently these candidates might not feel it necessary to attack gay rights, women’s reproductive health, or propose invading any foreign country that doesn’t pay tribute.  These later entries instead may attempt to appear presidential compared to their primary challengers.

Huckabee probably represents the most disruptive GOP hopeful. His oratory skills are exceptional, his record as Governor was strong, and his smooth, non-hesitating comfort in invoking supreme authority threatens the rhetoric of other candidates. Consider that the GOP could present a reasonable story about how they could lead the economy and protect Americans while ensuring that Government works. A moderate GOP candidate could promise to eliminate inefficiencies, trim back waste, and hold the line on taxes. This would be an attractive message.

Once Huckabee starts down the path of what God is against and attracts voters in early primaries, the main stream candidates will be tempted to match his rhetoric. The end result will be a clear distinction between Hillary Clinton and which ever candidate emerges in voters minds, even though there might in reality not be a sliver of light between them.

For sure some of the announced or soon to be announced GOP candidates are really running for Vice President or some other high Administration position. This will become clearer as we see who attacks who and on what grounds.

The greatest unknown, IMO, is which candidate will attract the most dark money. The dark money (ha, ha, uncoordinated money) could flood television markets and distort whatever any specific candidate has said. In the Presidential campaign, Republican dark money is usually offset by Democrat dark money, and in the end neither side gains a decisive advantage. In the primary, the impact of dark money can only be about character assassination. Hmmm.

The fun has begun.