Archive for the ‘Ted Cruz’ category

The Quadrennial Republican Lemming March?

February 19, 2016

The 2016 GOP Presidential primary appears strangely similar to mythical death march of the lemmings. In 2012, the GOP staged a lengthy circular shooting contest until Mitt Romney emerged, seriously wounded, yet still with a general election ahead of him. Each of the GOP candidates had picked one more extreme position than the other to prove that they were the unquestionable conservative.

Romney, despite his flawed strategy (bearing hard to the right for primary voters before attempting to slip to the middle for the general election), was at his core a serious and competent candidate. In the 2016, it is hard to pick the Mitt Romney from the field likely to be left standing.

One would probably pick Jeb Bush and John Kasich as Romneyesque. Both were/are governors and speak in measured ways. Both are broadly experienced and in comparison to the rest of the GOP field, are moderate Republicans (despite their protestation other wise). And, both are at best long shot candidates, currently garnering less than 20% of the vote combined. Hmmm.
One must wonder whether this apparent GOP dysfunction comes from the candidates who choose to run, or from the nature of the voters who make up the deciding faction of the GOP primaries. In short, are the candidates crazies or are the GOP voters the crazies who attract crazy candidates?

The handle “crazy” is probably not apt. The GOP candidates are quite sane and calculating politicians. They are dead set on gaining the nomination and going on to become President. The unknown is whether each of the candidates really subscribes to the “crazy” (extreme) policies they propose, or are their statements simply bait to appease and attract certain voters who claim to be Republican, Tea Party, or Libertarian? Each candidate’s goal is the GOP nomination, and it appears each is each willing to say whatever it takes to obtain it?

For example, the candidates have each echoed the following ideas:

  • No new taxes and a reduction in marginal rates (gift to the already wealthy)
  • Balance the budget and begin reducing the national debt (no plan, lots of assumptions)
  • Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (with no plan to replace and no commitment to basic healthcare for everyone)
  • Larger military through an increased Defense budget (no new taxes so where does funding come from)
  • Foreign policy where when America speaks, others listen and do what the US says (This anachronistic notion may have never existed but in any case is totally detached from reality in today’s world)
  • Stronger economy with more job creation (with no supporting comprehensive plan or funding proposal)
  • Defense of traditional religious values (providing those values are christian, ignoring the Constitution is acceptable)
  • Sealing the Mexican boarder (while ignoring the 11 million undocumented aliens already in the US)
  • Denying the resettlement of refugees if the State Governor decides to not accept them (even though the issues of immigrants and refugees are a clearly defined Federal responsibility)

If one of the leading candidates (Trump, Cruz, or Rubio) proposes to take drastic steps versus one of these issues, the others in quick succession promise to do the same or even much more. The lemmings are nearing the cliff edge.

Many congressional GOP members are speaking out on these same issues and demanding that Americans’ voices be heard. The Antonin Scalia replacement controversy is a telling example where GOP congressional members say the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice should wait until the “American people” have spoken at the next election. What American people are they talking about? Did Americans not speak in 2012 and elect a President for a four year term?

The GOP primary behavior (not to mention many in Congress) is very worrisome. They are preaching a brand of politics much like a quack medicine man. Their proposals promise a better life but fail the tests of logic and history. Whether its “take back America” or “make America great again”, these salesmen have a bag with nothing inside. Watch out, don’t get to close to the cliff’s edge when these lemmings (or better yet, charlatans) go over the edge.

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New Hampshire’s Messages

February 11, 2016

The New Hampshire primary is in the books. Here are the messages the candidates left.

  • Bernie Sanders – Bernie’s huuuugh message was about a set of government services, now routine in most other modern countries and what many Americans feel appropriate when they see the American dream as a thing of the past. Universal healthcare, public education through college, and affordable housing. In Bernie’s democratic socialism world, income inequality will be reduced and abuses of Wall Street firms lassoed. Sander’s message, I believe in fairness so voters can trust me in all other Presidential dealings.
  • Hillary Clinton – Hillary has an experience and gender based message. Hillary reminds voters she would be the first woman President and as a former Senator and Secretary of State, she knows government as well as foreign leaders. Hillary says trust me, vote for me.
  • Donald Trump – Donald continues to tell whom ever will listen that he is the smartest person in the room. He has fixed every obstacle he has encountered already and can fix anything in the future. And although his speeches have at times been crude, once he is President he is smart enough to speak properly. Trump offers himself as voters’ security blanket against all the world’s ills while he makes American great again.
  • John Kasich – John offers a far more nuanced world view. He offers his private and public sector experience coupled with his “big hearted” scrappy demeanor as the right combination for the next President. Kasich tell voters that his experience as a Governor makes him uniquely qualified to “straighten out Washington”.
  • Ted Cruz – Looking down his nose at the camera, Cruz speaks knowingly, without evidence, that he is the one candidate who can “take American back” for the people. Ted conducted a “below the radar screen” campaign in New Hampshire and captured 12% of the vote. Cruz is one of the “I’m against anything President Obama is for” people and oh, by the way, I’m also a god’s friend candidates.
  • Jeb Bush – Jeb wants voters to know he is the “adult” in the room, not to mention the most civilized. His 11% of the vote was an indicator Jeb says of his viability. Hmmm.
  • Marco Rubio – Marco stumbled in New Hampshire he would admit. An unfortunate five minutes of the debate Rubio says. Hmmm. Marco says his time on the Senate foreign relations committee makes him the most experienced GOP candidate. Rubio’s good looks, youthful appearance, and confident manner are voters take aways even though Marco received only 11% of the vote.
  • Ben Carson – Snooze (at 2%).

The Democrat primary results underscores the difference between the heart and the mind. Bernie is way ahead in attracting voters’s hearts based upon what they hope would be the case. Hillary’s “you should recognize I am the most qualified” approach is feeling flat compared to the excitement of Sanders’ message.

The GOP primary outcomes are totally inconclusive. There is no obvious winner even when the list is hypothetically narrowed. If Rubio, Bush, or Kasich withdrew, it is unlikely their supporters would naturally gravitate easily to Trump or Cruz, and vice versa. The GOP race remains a mystery.

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.

Unforced Errors

September 22, 2015

This morning, following a weekend of political gaffs by several GOP hopefuls, Republican pundits and apologist are lamenting the withdrawal of Governor Scott Walker. Walker withdrew after his poll numbers dropped below 1% reaching almost the same level as his funding accounts. Walker had been conducting a national campaign while he frittered away a substantial Iowa lead. There in lies an important message for other candidates. If your campaign is suppose to go through Iowa, make sure it does a respectable job even if you are not destine to win.

Instead Walker focused on building a national staff and breezed around acting as if he was above the fray of every day retail politics. He also built his campaign around the narrow plank of Union busting as opposed to something positive. Frankly the world has not lost much in his campaign suspension. Remember Scott Walker would not confirm that the thought the earth was more than 5,000 years old.

Ben Carson broke into jail on Meet The Press. He volunteered that he could not recommend a Muslim to be President but depending upon the individual Muslim, he might vote for that person for a lesser job, like for Congress. On one hand this speaks to Carson’s sincerity and on the other his naivety. The only acceptable answer is religion does not count as long as the candidate is qualified and their policies are acceptable. Religion, or the lack of any religion is expressly prohibited as a test for public office in the Constitution.

Donald Trump lost an opportunity earn a “statesmanship” badge when a questioner claimed President Obama was a muslim. Instead Trump ignored these allegations and later said it was not his job to defend the President. Hmmm. If you are a Democrat, you can’t hide your glee that Trump is still leading the GOP pack.

Carli Fiorina made a dramatic pronouncement on Planned Parenthood during the debate and got her facts all wrong. For the pro-life choir, it made no difference. She was speaking to them.

The lesser names, like Huckabee, Santorum, and Bush each picked contradictory targets. Huckabee jumped on the Kim Davis bandwagon and hitched his “religious freedom” kite to it. Religious freedom is a nebulous right that if one claims their religious view prevents them from adhering to some law, it’s ok. I wonder whether a Muslim’s beliefs count too? And this guy wants to be President?

Rick Santorum and Jeb Bush want to go a le carte with Pope. Since the Pope’s views on global warming don’t fit the GOP take on this subject, the Pope’s still a great person but they don’t listen to him on climate or monetary matters. Hmmm.

Oh, and Ted Cruz is still full speed ahead for a government shutdown.

The immensity of the hole the GOP is digging one candidate at a time is impressive. GOP leaning pundits are now waking up to their plait. There are few candidates in the current field who have currency to turn this around. Marco Rubio has been far more careful with his public statements. John Kasick is clearly the most experience executive with conservative credentials. And the seven dwarfs (Graham, Pataki, Gilmore, Paul, Christie, and Jindal, ok just six) can’t mount a credible campaign separately or together.

Following the 2016 elections GOP bigwigs gathered and concluded they needed to modulate their rhetoric so as to not alienate so many voters. No one proposed they reexamine their policies and confirm their policies were right for the times. The problem with the current GOP field is not their answers to specific questions, it is their fundamental policies on subjects like women’s rights, sexual orientation, taxation and economic wealth distribution, foreign policy, and healthcare for beginners.

The GOP seems more in love with the idea of being President than what policies are appropriate for the country as a whole.

The Business OF Politics

July 6, 2015

The Washington Post reported that Ted Cruz raised $10 million in the second quarter and a total of $14.2 million since announcing his candidacy. In addition, his super PACs have raised an additional $37 million. That’s a lot of money (and he’s not done yet) for someone who has about zero chance of gaining the GOP Presidential nomination.

So $25.2 million that Cruz directly controls and another $37 million “uncoordinated” (my foot it is uncoordinated) is over $60 million to flow through a lot of hands. Hmmm.

Could a creative person divert 10-20% through selective business entities that provide services to the candidate? Or even better, what if these campaign funds purchased services from a business that in turn purchased services from etc until the money made it to Cruz or a family member?

Hold on, I am not accusing Ted Cruz of any illegalities, I am simply asking what if?

Most likely, only the crassest and least sophisticated politician directly syphons off money from their super PACs or direct campaign funds. The experienced politicians, I would prefer to think, would instead steer the money towards purchasing necessary services from those who would later throw business, influence, or favors back to the candidate (who presumably would be back in civilian life). Hmmm.

With 16 GOP and 5 Democrat candidates, it is not hard to imagine a cottage industry flourishing around Presidential, Congressional, and Governor races. Billions will be thrown at the 2016 Presidential race alone. And among friends what’s a few hundred million?

One must wonder why the Supreme Court chose to throw out campaign donation limits? Was it a clever plot to trap unsuspecting and greedy politicians? Or, was it a conspiracy of sorts to throw temporary advantage to conservatives who were suspected of having more money to distort public opinions? Hmmm.

Think about it.  Free speech being equated to corporations and unlimited spending seems far removed from the average voter. How could “Joe Average” compete with the Koch Brothers in mounting a civil debate over public policy? Hmmm.

It almost seems that candidates garnering some of the political donations for themselves is the lesser of the real problems created by Citizens United.