Archive for the ‘Ted Cruz’ category

Ted Steps Up

September 25, 2016

Ted Cruz announced yesterday he would vote for Donald Trump. Hmmm.

One can ponder the motivation that engulfed Cruz and brought him to this endorsement. His words were that he could not support Hillary Clinton and (implied) he would hold his nose and endorse the Trump-ster. Trump said he was honored to receive this endorsement.

This comedy of the absurd is just another chapter in an extremely unconventional Presidential race. Ted Cruz is probably the most unqualified person, a step further than Trump himself, to become President. So for Cruz to say he was trying to save America from Hillary clinton is asking the listener to overlook Cruz’ fringe position.

Cruz is squarely his own best fan. Almost every move Cruz performs in public is for his own self aggrandizement. But then who cares. The evangelicals think Ted walks on water. The Tea Party-ers love his “government shut down” charades. And the “truth challenged” love Ted Cruz for who he is, “lie’n Ted”.

The Clinton camp should take note but not get exercised over this endorsement. Cruz is the darling of a very finite group. The un-obvious concern, however, is that Trump is consolidating the Republican (I won’t vote for Hillary) base, adding one more extreme faction.

Trump is the antithesis of Cruz’ evangelical supporters. Trump has a reserved place in Hell’s waiting line (should there be such a line). And with the Trump “give aways” he has promised voters so far (infrastructure spending, new child care support, and enormous tax cuts), he must have real conservatives and the Tea Party crowd apoplectic. How does Ted reconcile this “free lunch” spirit?

For the Trump campaign this endorsement must come as an expected (and welcomed) surprise. As long as Cruz keeps his mouth shut or reads from a teleprompter, Cruz support removes someone who might have lobbed a grenade in the closing days of the race.

But then, reading from a teleprompter seems good advice for the Donald too.

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How About Some More Division?

July 21, 2016

When President Obama was elected, the Republican Party decided to just say no. For President Obama’s first two years, the Democrats enjoyed a Senate majority (thanks “W”) and some legislation was passed, notably the Affordable Care Act. Beginning in 2011, however, it was “NO” in capital letters.

The height of Republican “no-ism” came early this year when Senate Leader Mitch McConnell promised not to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee vowing to wait until the next President was elected. Unprecedented and clearly outside the spirit of the Constitution, this was a politically divisive act of the first order. Many Republicans cheered McConnnell anyways.

This past week in Cleveland, Republican conventioneers have bemoaned the division of their own party, the division gripping Congress, and the division drenching America. Calls for unity and making America great again were heard everywhere. Has the GOP decided to turn the page on division and go back to governing in the entire country?

Hmmm.

Senator Ted Cruz had other thoughts.  Cruz called for all voters to vote their mind. Read that no endorsement for Donald Trump. Cruz is all for GOP leadership… as long as Congress acts the way he thinks it should. And Cruz is just not so sure about Trump.

Most of the GOP speakers have been in agreement on only one subject. Hillary Clinton.

Each speaker tried to out vilify Clinton compared to the other speakers. The hyperbole went as far as to call for sending potentially the next President to jail for acts which up to now have not been judged criminal by any competent authority.

These anti-Hillary chants are not likely to sway any Clinton supporters and the raw demographics currently point to a Clinton victory. So, what is the real message to be taken from the Republican Convention?

How about more jobs, improved foreign policy, ending poverty, immigration reform, or tax reform?

Hmmm.

There has been no road map for new and better jobs laid out. There has been no plan revealed on how American foreign policy can be made more effective. There has been no ground swell behind ending poverty or dealing comprehensively with immigration and the 11 million undocumented living here now. While there has been broad support for tax cuts (a gift to the rich), there has been no discussion how such cuts would be offset with spending decreases.

In short, the only totally agreed upon position has been to demonize, if not outrightly label Hillary Clinton as a criminal.

Does anyone think these charges befit a party which claims it wants to govern the entire Country, let alone bring unity back?

The Republican Titanic?

April 29, 2016

In the wake of the Acela Primaries, news reports are coalescing around the inevitability of Donald Trump’s nomination. This outcome has been reinforced by the apparent rejection of Ted Cruz’ VP selection of Carli Fiorina, and the seemingly unexplainable coalition with John Kasich. With Trump’s opponents self destructing in real time, who is there to oppose Trump?

Politicians are many things but normally brave, predictable, and principled are heard less and less these days. Republican leaders are in a tough spot. They do not like Trump (and predict bad things in the general election with the Donald at the top of the ticket) but Kasich has not caught American’s interest and Cruz is held in lower esteem than even Trump. So, GOP big whigs don’t want to get caught without a chair when the music finally does stop. QED, hold our noses and get behind Trump.

There are certainly elements of the GOP leadership, including big money, who hold hope that Trump can be defeated in a contested convention. It simply unclear who the GOP could put forward to unite the Party and have a chance to do better in November.

A thoughtful Republican must conclude, one would think, that the Grand Old Party is about to disintegrate. This is probably an exaggeration. But disintegration into two or three large pieces is not only possible but long over due.

The Freedom Coalition (Cruz and Tea Partiers) present an evangelical/fundamentalist, no compromise approach to social values and an austere fiscal policy. Since the rise of the Tea Party, this group has been trying to hijack the Republican Party by claiming to be more Republican than any other Republicans. The views they hold and policies they endorse are backward looking and are not where US demographics are heading. The GOP would be wise to let them go.

Donald Trump followers are people who feel let down by Democrats and assign their economic worries to the “handouts” Democrats call entitlements. This group is largely uninterested in social issues and believes in “live and let live”. For this group the future is all about sensible policy which puts the American dream back in play. The GOP would be wise to build upon this base.

Third largest segment might be the old fashion “establishment” characterized by Jeb Bush, Haley Barbour, and the Koch Brothers. This group knows best what is in Americans best interest. They also know what’s best for themselves and see any path forward as featuring a tax cut for the wealthy (no matter how a tax cut is packaged). Benign neglect and civility are the hallmarks of this segment.

How might this all play out?

If the world was perfect, the GOP would realize two things. (1) The Cruz followers have no place to go. Their world view is held by an ever decreasing number of people and their no compromise stand will prevent others from joining. (2) The GOP needs to take a drubbing again in the general election in order for it get real on its core beliefs and policies. (For example, person center healthcare (Paul Ryan’s proposal) in place of Obamacare is the same as “the best healthcare money can buy” and that will not fly.)

In this perfect world, the GOP would return bravely to the center (slightly right of center is ok). Repairing and improving the infrastructure which is necessary for jobs and commerce doesn’t know what a Democrat or Republican is. Income inequality is real but the idea that cutting taxes on the wealthy is somehow going to bring about high paying jobs is a cruel pipe dream. And, saber rattling (how the US is going to get tough with other countries) has no place in the real world of globalization, the US is either militarily strong or it isn’t, and oh by the way, that country the US just shook its saber at is a key trading partner).

If the GOP doesn’t think the middle is for them, then the GOP may need to receive a thrashing more than once.

America needs the GOP to regain its senses. There are important issues facing the country which needs a more diverse set of eyes and minds thinking about them. The budget is unbalanced and without more tax revenues, the only path to a balanced budget is by decreasing government spending… which moves quickly to reductions in entitlements as well as defense spending. Cutting entitlements and not defense spending at a time of income inequality is a prescription for social unrest.

There is a chance that the GOP can escape the Titanic’s fate but only if they move away from the destructive policies of the Freedom Coalition/Cruz faction. If the GOP doesn’t move, the majority of current GOP members will.

Acela Has Spoken

April 27, 2016

Tuesday’s primaries along the Acela train route have confirmed, at least for the Northeast, the two Presidential candidates which Democrats and Republicans prefer. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump won by impressive margins and with the wins, piled up delegate vote leads which make their ultimate selections as presumptive. And both candidates seem genuinely pleased to run against the other.

If there remain pockets among the GOP elite who cannot accept Trump, time is getting short. Trump’s oppositions finds itself in a pickle. Ted Cruz is absolutely unelectable nationally and John Kasich seems unable to gain any traction despite not being disdained.

So to hijack Trump’s nomination in a contested convention will spell disaster for the GOP slate come November. Trump may not appeal to a majority of all voters but he does have enough stalwart support among Republicans (and some cross over Democrats) that the perception of the nomination haven been stolen will significantly reduce Republican turn out on election day.

Hillary has morphed her campaign from a coronation to a grind it out, traditional battle. She has cleverly evolved and in some cases revamped her campaign policies to narrow the differences between her and Bernie Sanders without sacrificing a more centrist position for the general election.

Sanders has his same campaign lines, once seen as original and motivational, and now appear somewhat flat.  He seems to be running out of gas. The stage is almost set.

To be sure, the Northeast, does not speak for America. Our Country is broader and more varied. Never the less certain demographics came forward in 2008 and 2012 and should be expected to hold again in 2016. Women’s rights, immigration, religious tolerance (acceptance of the LBGT community) will once again tilt the vote in favor of Democrats… simply because the GOP will choose a Platform emphasizing the opposite.

GOP positions on tax cuts, ending Obamacare, and reducing entitlements will be equivalent to shooting themselves in the foot. Further, comparing Hillary Clinton to President Obama will backfire too. There simply is no evidence that any of the “just say no” GOP rhetoric of the past 8 years has been based upon sound thinking. In fact, the GOP statements have been 100% wrong.

What should not be lost by either party is that the next 4 or 8 years may not be anything like the past, and may require new policies and resource deployment. There is no reason to believe at this point that Hillary Clinton would be better at operating under new conditions than Donald Trump.  Will the GOP make the case that the next four years will be significantly different from the past?

Voters will be left with the issues and policies which both parties present. In this sense, Donald Trump represents a genuine risk to Clinton. Trump, who has voiced some shallow thinking policies could flamboyantly walk away from anything he has already said in the primaries as if they didn’t count.  And there is little doubt Trump will relish trash talking about Hillary (and Bill). Maybe something will stick.

Voters will undoubtably see Hillary as the only adult in the room but if there wasn’t a chance for Trump, there would be no horse races.

Pandering To “Deeply” Held Religious Views

April 16, 2016

The Constitution’s first amendment guarantees that Government will not restrict expression of religion. But what is included in this presumed freedom? Can mothers prevent their children from being vaccinated to guard against a communicable disease if their brand of religion believes god will safe guard their child? Or, what if ones religion rules out blood transfusions? Could an individual refuse a transfusion? Could that individual refuse a life saving transfusion for his spouse or child? Hmmm.

Many religion are associated with certain wearing apparel. In America, there is fairly wide acceptance or probably better daid, an indifference) to religious dress such as Jewish Kippah, Muslim Hijab, or Amish traditional dress. And underlying this acceptance (or indifference) is that no one else is forced to wear these items.

The operating principle over the years has been religious freedom means that an individual can believe what they want providing their beliefs do not hurt others.

The secular world is another place altogether. Here is where the economy and daily living takes place. One would nowadays never expect to see a door at Walmart which said “Christians Entrance”, or another which said “Blacks Only”. Over the years, secular laws have evolved to provide a commercial world open to all.

The rub arises when religious worlds cross paths with the secular world. Christians normally have religious services on Sunday while Jews hold services Friday evening. In the recent past, there existed a set of laws restricting commercial activity on Sundays. These so-called “blue laws” attempted to discourage most commercial activity on Sundays.

Today there are no laws requiring a commercial establishment to operate on Sunday but more importantantly there are no laws preventing them from being open. Commercial businesses, even those associated with specific religious groups have a choice. No one is required to shop on Sunday and no business is required to be open.

Now a new conflict has arisen testing freedom of religion.

Over the past few years as the Country’s social conscience has evolved to where a majority of Americans accept the LBGT community and recognize same sex marriage.Unfortunately many religious organizations have brought forward objections under the headline, homosexuality, changing gender identity, and same sex marriage violate “deeply held religious views”.

While the law of the land might be that same sex marriage is legal in all 50 States, certain individuals holding “deeply held religious views” believe they possess a right (from the first amendment) to withhold service (during their work) from those who are in some way in violation of their “deeply held religious views”.

There is a cartoon circulating which shows a number of grocery store check-out lanes. In the first lane, the employee tells the customer that due to his “deeply held catholic beliefs” the condoms the customers wishes to purchase must be taken to another lane. In the next lane, a Muslim tells the customer that due to his “deeply held religious beliefs” he can not ring up the bacon and that the customer must take the product to another lane. Sound ridiculous?

Consider then the recent move by some Republican majority States to pass laws nibble away at rulings by the Supreme Court.  These individual instances are not isolated but reflect a broader effort by evangelical and fundamentalist religious groups to have it both ways. They want freedom of religion and they want the right to take certain freedoms from others. Hmmm.

These religious groups want the right to deny service to others whose life style they deem an offense to their “deeply held religious beliefs”. As private organizations, one might understand rules excluding others who can not meet religious tests but when members of these religious organizations are working in the public sector, this seems way over the line. What ever happened to “love thy neighbor as thy self”?

As disappointing as these religious groups behavior, even more disappointing, yet not that surprising, are the political leaders who are pandering to these evangelicals and fundamentalists.

So it should be no surprise that States like Indiana, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama have all proposed or implemented State laws which in some way attempt to “guarantee” religious freedom and protect individuals who discriminate from civil suits…  anyone, that is, who withholds services due to “deeply held religious views”.

For these religious groups, it takes very small people to think and act in a mean and discriminatory way.

For these political officials, the bar is even lower. Politicians only seek enough votes to remain in power while feeding off the public trough.  Votes are just votes.  Et tu Ted Cruz.

The Dark Side Of Cruz and Trump

April 8, 2016

With New York as the next big primary delegate prize, an amazing yet frightening picture is emerging. Main stream Republicans are racing to support Ted Cruz in order to block Donald Trump from gaining the nomination.

Conservatives, that is real conservatives like Ted Cruz see the US quite differently from most everyone else. These conservatives seem to lack any capacity to comprehend income inequality and the hardships it brings to so many. Getting “government” out of the way and getting “tough” on undocumented workers will reignite America’s economic growth, they say. Hmmm.

Getting government out of the way, of course, includes repealing Obamacare, eliminating government departments (like Department of Education), and doing away with the “inconvenient” regulations which provide the rules businesses must follow. Cruz promises that jobs will grow practically on every tree when he is President. He neglects, however, to say how much these jobs will pay, nor why Americans will line up for the jobs currently performed by soon to be deported undocumented workers.

Another GOP theme this year deals with law enforcement. The conservative candidates promise to have law enforcement’s back. They point a finger at those politicians who have supported careful reviews of incidents where excessive force was suspected of having been used. For Ted Cruz, it is black and white, police are your friends, suspects are the enemy.

Exactly how much of Cruz’ campaign rhetoric he actually believes, of course, is debatable. That Cruz is a calculating, mean spirited, ego centric demagogue seems pretty clear. His policy statements could be self serving and aimed to simply build a support base. But there is no reason to believe that a President Cruz would walk away from his pronouncements on Obamacare, religious freedoms, immigration, and “neoconservative” foreign policy.

Donald Trump is different.

Trump has said some outrageous things. For example, black mailing Mexico in order for Mexico to pay for building a wall along the border, or stopping entry into the US for anyone who is Muslim (whether US citizen or not), or unilaterally renegotiating trade deals involving China, all masquerade as solutions designed to improve a hurting middle class.

In reality Trump’s proposals will just create more problems… if they were actually implemented… And there in lies the difference.  Trump is highly likely to walk away from these extreme views.  He is a business man after all.

Both candidates have spewed half baked ideas which are economically foolish and values wise bankrupt, but one candidate is backed by Americans who believe in Tea Party conservatism and the other who is backed by Americans who are sick and tired of income inequality, don’t know its cause, and see Trump as the only candidate who promises to try and rebalance the playing field.

What a mess.

For those who always look for a bright spot, this current GOP front runners situation presents a potential which might not be obvious. There is no longer a majority and genuine Republican Party in America. The Cruz segment, Tea Party or Freedom Coalition members, espouse economics which are dead ended mixed in with quasi religious values which allow an individual to pick and choose who they wish to disadvantages… with a clear conscience.

Relatively speaking more moderate GOP members find themselves handicapped with unattractive policies necessary to maintain their coalitions majority and looking at the wrong side of demographic trends. In America, the voices of gays, Hispanics, and women see the Cruz type Republicans unfavorably and will express this dissatisfaction at the polls.

For those who look for what can go wrong, Democrats without a strong and viable opposition represents only a slightly better economic policy option and within a short period of time could drive the ship of State onto the rocks.

But given the current candidates, is there really any other choice?

Belgium – How Could You Have Been So Unprepared?

April 6, 2016

To listen to US Congress members, the GOP Presidential primary leaders, and talk show talking heads, one would think that Europe in general and Belgium in specific, know diddli-squat about national security. Do you know that someone can travel from Germany to France to Spain and then to Portugal and no one needs to verify his “papers”. Hmmm. I wonder whether that like traveling from Boston to Houston and then onto Los Angeles?

Those pointing a finger at Belgium believe that Europe’s lack of border checks between European countries is paramount to an abdication of police duties. Once a terrorist gains entry to any European country, the terrorist has free movement across borders to any other European country. Now that I think about it, it is the same in the US.

Another complaint involves European security services not talking to each other. Hmmm. Does that remind one of 9/11? And critics suggest the number of police jurisdictions found in Belgium and Brussels are too many. But how does that compare to the DEA, DHS, FBI, AFT combined with State, County, and local police units. Life is complicated.

Most Americans hearing these self-serving critique of the European and Belgium security services think these foreigners have something to learn… and none better than the US to teach them. Hmmm.

As in most of life, things are the way they are for reasons. If one thinks things should be different, one must begin by understanding why things are the way they are.

Europeans and Belgians are not mentally challenged nor are they lazy. Rather they carry memories of authoritarianism common through out the histories of these countries and most recently dramatically demonstrated when the NAZIs occupied other countries during World War II. The Nazis were simply good at knowing who you were and where you were suppose to be, and if that wasn’t what they thought best, one paid a heavy price.

The recent rise of muslim terrorists, not withstanding previous colonial bouts with the IRA, Algerians, Moroccans, and Turkish extremists, has undoubtably raised the stakes in keeping track of residents who wish to act on a different agenda. The world has seen a steady increase in criminal, bordering on terrorist, activities for the last 50+ years. Plane hijackings, suitcase bombs, ransom demands, and now suicide bombers have become more frequent and more sophisticated each year.

The socialization of weapons know-how coupled with the availability of physical weapons of all types (if one has the money to afford them) has changed the balance of power. Do it yourself, buy them pre-made, or inherit them from a friend, with guns, explosives, or dare I say, poisons plentiful, is a wonder that anyone who wants to be a killer or a terrorist can obtain the tools of the trade easily.

So, the terrorism threat is not really about ISIS (as fear mongering candidates would like us to think). Separatists, anarchists, and religious zealots have all offered the disconnected a cause to give their lives meaning. And for sure ISIS does attempt to provide that type of meaning but ISIS is just another group in a long list.

We must not overlook, that it takes money, methods (training, communications), and means (guns, explosives, lethal materials) to carry out terrorist activities. Someone is providing money (even if it is someone else’s money), someone is providing weapons and lethal materials. And, of course, someone must be the person willing to give up their life to carry out the terrorist act.

The GOP political spin attempts to assign causality to ISIS (and Europe and Belgium are just too dumb to know this). Get rid of ISIS and the problem vanishes, we are told. Wrong.

The world is awash in weapons and lethal materials. Money seems also to be no obstacle, either to be available or to be delivered to feed, house and cloth terrorist and to pay on-going businesses which manufacture weapons or lethal materials. Why don’t these politicians focus on the tools of the terrorist trade and seek to shut down these operations?

The most likely answer is that the real world is far too complicated for a five second sound bite and not nearly enough of a message to rouse fear in voters. In other words, those criticizing Europe and Belgium appear unable to understand the breath and depth of terrorism and far more interested in leveraging fear to their political advantage.

I suspect Europe and Belgium could teach the US (and certainly the GOP candidates) a thing or two about how the world really operates.