Archive for the ‘chris christie’ category

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.

Shameful and Dangerously Misleading

November 17, 2015

Was it a shameful and dangerously misleading interpretation of the current Syrian refugee crisis or just plain old politics? Some two dozen plus Republican Governors lock stepped declared they would not allow any Syrian refugees into their States… in order to protect their State residents. Governor Cris Christie added that this prohibition would apply to even a 5 year old. It simply was too dangerous. Hmmm.

The almost simultaneous announcements dripped of a Republican plan aimed at discrediting Democrats, in particular President Obama and by inference Hillary Clinton. Republican spin masters did not even care that current law specifically place control of refugees in the hands of the Federal Government and Governors are powerless to interfere.

Hopefully these Governors know this and have issued their statements simply as a bluff. Otherwise, they risk a confrontation with the Federal Government and who knows what unexpected consequences that might bring.

The Governors rationale overlooks commonsense facts. The US has signed up for 6,000+ Syrian refugees now living in camps in Jordan. This is a pitiful small number compared to the magnitude of the refugee problem. Probably most obvious is that there are more than an estimated 200,000 Middle East immigrants already living in and around Detroit.

And, 7 of the 8 Paris attackers were French or Belgium citizens indicating terrorists come normally from residents who are converts to terrorist thinking.

Consider also that the 9/11 terrorists all entered the country legally and operated openly. Even more to the point, Major Nidal Hasan (Fort Hood shooter) who went to the dark side while on active duty. Hmmm.

America, as every history book will tell, is a country built on immigrants. Xenophobia, however, is not a fear America has been immune to. Over the years immigration has been widely accepted and widely feared. The GOP has grabbed this xenophobic fear and converted it to a political strategy.

This is a desperate and relatively shortsighted move, and is unlikely to stand up well with the test of time.

Christie – Chutzpah or Gall

July 25, 2015

All’s fair in love and war. Hmmm. So goes the old saying. One wonders whether Governor Chris Christie’s desperate efforts to make the cut for the first GOP televised debate was the inspiration of this phrase, or whether he was inspired himself by these well known words?

Christie’s problem is actually quite simple. In a field of 16 candidates, how can the Governor gain the name recognition necessary to garner a top 10 rating. With Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio already sucking most of the oxygen from the room, the remaining field all appear lackluster and undifferentiated. Why Christie and not Kasich or Santorum or Carson or etc?

Christie has elected to show us his “chutzpah” (or was it his gall). He has launched an ad in Iowa calling President Obama a liar. Hmmm. The lie, Christie says relates to how the President described the nuclear deal with Iran. Hmmm.

The bad taste Christie has displayed is jaw dropping. President Obama is, of course, President and even if someone disagrees strongly with the President’s actions, there are civil ways to express those feeling without debasing the office. For those who disagree with everything the President does or says, Christie’s words flow like honey.

Ironically Christie has some baggage of his own. He embraced the President after super storm Sandy racked the New Jersey coast. President Obama and Federal aid could not come in big enough quantities. Governor Christie was effusive over the President’s help. Oh yes, earlier in Christie’s term the Governor withdrew New Jersey’s support for a new rail tunnel to New York City. Christie said the tunnel was too expensive and wasn’t needed. Here’s another, The Governor also made a deal with the Democrat controlled legislature over fixing the Pension Fund deficit. I wonder how these decisions have turned out?

Three years after Hurricane Sandy, many communities have still not recovered. Federal money has been spent for all sorts of other pet projects while many residents who suffered Sandy losses wait. Hmmm.

The Northeast rail corridor which runs from Washington to Boston is creaking. Delays getting into and out of New York City have become routine events. Oh, it would be nice to have a new tunnel. Christie’s decision, however, has pushed this project back and when inevitably it is restarted, the price tag will be much larger for tax payers… the bill, however, will also come due on someone else’s shift.

Like many States, New Jersey has underfunded its State employees pension. Hmmm. Christie struck a deal with the legislature which involved changes to future obligations in exchange for Governors promise to make specific yearly contributions. This year when the bill came due, Christie reneged on his promise and short changed the State pension payment. Hmmm.

Christie is not alone in his Iran nuclear arms deal opposition. Being for a better deal is the popular view of most GOP Congressional members. And that was Christie’s problem. How could he campaign on “me too”?

It just seems a bit short sighted on Christie’s part. New Jersey residents have no problem confusing “Honest Abe Lincoln” with their Chris Christie. My guess is soon so will the entire country and they will see most of the GOP Presidential hopefuls in the same light.

14 Candidates, 14 Blueprints?

July 1, 2015

There are 14 announced Republican candidates for the 2016 Presidential nomination. Most likely there will be 16 and that is leaving out Mitt Romney. What could each of these candidates be thinking will be their blueprint for success?

Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum ran last time and might have some idea about how they would alter their previous losing “god is my friend” campaign strategies without abandoning their former supporters.  Good luck.

For the rest, will they follow Mitt Romney’s broad drive hard to the right during the primaries and then veer back to the center for the national election… and do it with a straight face as if no one has been following the primary campaign?

Donald Trump sort of ran last time but he has already demonstrated he has no clue on how to run for President so we must assume he is running for some new TV show.

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are not serious about running for 2016. While they put on a game face,the upcoming months will be a turn up for 2020 and 2024. Their current views are so unique that they cannot even hope for a 2016 VP nod.

Ben Carson, George Pataki, and Carli Fiorina will mount serious, issue based candidacies but low national name recognition coupled with low funding will essential eliminate their chances.

John Kasich and Lindsay Graham are competent candidates who are eying a deadlocked convention. A Bush, Walker, Rubio deadlock would open the convention to who else. John Kasich is less well known than Graham but comes from a State with more electoral votes. A deadlock, of course, opens the gates wide for Mitt to reappear. Hmmm.

Bush, Walker, and Rubio must figure out how to separate themselves from each other? How will these candidates try to gain the nomination without also putting a large hole in their national race hopes? Bush seems to be betting on his “Presidential” look and feel, strong, steady, unflappable. Rubio sees his best chance on looks and generational difference. Rubio, however, must win Florida and some other big State to make GOP leaders think Bush cannot win in November. Walker has remained relatively quiet up to this point. He looks like he will be the Bible thumping, tough on unions candidate, something Bush and Rubio will have a hard time matching.

Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie entered the race this week. Both have lack luster records in their home States (Louisiana and New Jersey) and both were considered hot commodities several years ago but have seen their national images fade recently. Both must be hoping for an improbable win in an early primary and then somehow lasting until there is a deadlocked convention. Hmmm.

Jindal is speaking out for religious rights and against the GLBT community. Good luck with that approach.

Christie has called himself the “say it as it is”, “tough talk” candidate. He has no foreign policy experience but is sure President Obama is wrong in his policies. Christie is also a “no new taxes” and even better, “a tax reform based upon tax cuts” candidate. While Christie is formidable talker, there is no way he can hide these positions from tax cuts for the rich and attacks on entitlements. It is a blueprint but not one that is likely to build a winning house.

Get It?

April 15, 2015

Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie opened his unofficial run for the GOP Presidential nomination with speeches in New Hampshire. It is well accepted that Governor Christie needed to do something especially noteworthy to gain the public’s attention. And he did.

Most everyone recognizes that Medicare, Medicaid, and the overall Federal Budget are spending more than they are receiving in tax revenues. Social Security while technically solvent is projected to produce a huge deficit in the years ahead. Christie chose to speak about these entitlement programs and proposed some steps to reign in their future costs. Was that bold? Was that wise?

The ideas of means testing Social Security or increasing the age when one qualifies for entitlement benefits is not new but for a politician seriously running for a major office, it is extremely noteworthy.

It will take a few weeks to know whether Christie’s proposals have any measurable impact upon his candidacy. In the meantime, however, it is worthwhile to recognize how unfair and unbalanced Christie’s proposals are.

To be clear, I do not mean that “means” testing is unfair or that increasing the age of the onset of benefits is out of hand a bad idea.

What I mean is that these measure done by themselves transfer the burden of balancing the US budget to many of those who can least afford the costs, and in effect shield the very wealthy from paying for the services that enable them to accumulate so much wealth.

Further, similar changes to Medicare simply display ignorance of the fundamental underlying healthcare problem, US healthcare costs are the highest in the world (two times) and deliver no better outcomes.

If Governor Christie wants to be America’s President and if he interprets that to be all Americans’ President, he will need to broaden his domestic economic views. Tax reform where loop holes and exemptions are eliminated, increased marginal rates will apply to the highest income levels, Federal expenditure reductions will include both Defense and Entitlements and are proportionally, and a determination that Government services exist for the benefits they provide citizens and not as an employment vehicle are worthy additions.

With Governor Christie’s words, the GOP candidates all sighed in relief that someone else had said what they wanted to say.

I wonder whether the other candidate “get it” and will add to these proposals cuts in Defense, tax reform and an overall attack on healthcare costs?

To Vaccinate Or Not – The Story Of Gotcha

February 3, 2015

This past week, Governor Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul fell prey to the sensational aspects of a free press. Both GOP Presidential hopefuls were asked whether Americans should be required to be vaccinated or left to decide for themselves. Mindful of the upcoming primaries, both who know better about public health, waffled giving the nod to individual rights. The press had a field day.

Christie and Paul invite these questions unintentionally when they agree to interviews which they hope will raise the public awareness of them. Never the less, there should be some judgement applied to the message the major news agencies are sending when they jump on a sound bite.

Rand Paul is a medically trained eye doctor and must know the relationship of vaccinations and public health. Governor Christie must also understand the public health inferences since he was quick to impose mandatory quarantines for returning Ebola healthcare workers. Being a politician, however, is practicing the art of speaking to the audience and telling them what they want to hear. In interviews, the audience is not always specified.

Individual rights and religious rights are frequently used to justify the reason someone refuses vaccination. Sometimes these positions have been coupled with so called scientific data.   In a recent controversy involving vaccine preservatives, the “scientific facts” were subsequently debunked. Still many insist it is their right to refuse vaccination. Hmmm.

From an individual rights perspective, Paul and Christie have a valid point that public policy should include the views of those who reject vaccination. From a public health perspective, however, it becomes much more complicated. Vaccination has been overwhelmingly shown to protect the public so mandating vaccination should be accepted… for most Americans. There will be, unfortunately,  individual cases where some people cannot tolerate vaccines.  There must be a way out for these people, I would think.

End of story? No.

If someone refuses or is unable to take public policy approved vaccinations, they still bear a responsibility to not hurt others. The whole point of mass vaccination is the protection of everyone, not just the person vaccinated.

The “ambush interview” type of questions that Rand and Christie fielded are a disservice to public health. Just as with the Ebola scare, public officials suddenly get confused on the role of public health and individual rights. Common sense goes out the window and in its place flows the “prepared talking point”.

If the purpose of these interviewers’ questions was to embarrass Paul and Chrisite, then they scored their points. If the purpose was to get an informed opinion about a serious public health issue, they missed the mark.