The Republican primaries and caucuses dominate the news coverage. This is understandable because the outcome is uncertain and things seem to get crazier every day. However, I think Saturday’s Democratic caucus results have been underreported.
Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton by 40-60 percentage points in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington. Obviously it won’t make difference in the nomination but it absolutely incredible that the front-runner should lose by such a huge margin.
She has moved even to the left of President Obama yet they have not warmed up to her. Without Obama running, it is likely that black turnout will drop. If the young, Sanders’ most enthusiastic supporters, don’t turn out for her, she could be in trouble.
There is one group that could come through for her and give her the election. That group is the Republican Party. They seem bound and determined to blow the opportunity they have been given.
I thought I would take a look at the two political parties independent of all the presidential silliness. First, let’s examine this year’s congressional races. I expect the Republicans to hang on to the House. The districts are so gerrymandered that the vast majority of seats are safe for one party or the other. The Senate is more interesting. Republicans must defend five seats in states that Obama won in 2012 plus find a replacement for Marco Rubio in Florida. If Trump or Cruz heads the ticket, I expect them to lose the Senate. If Kasich or someone like him is nominated, we will have a real dogfight.
Longer term both parties face serious challenges. Republicans are particularly vulnerable. The current Electoral College map strongly favors the Democrats. The only reason they have a chance this year is that Hillary Clinton is a terrible candidate. They face a tremendous demographic challenge. Their core constituency of older white males will make up a smaller percentage of the population. By 2050 minorities make up a majority of the population. This is already the case in Texas. The Trump candidacy undermines efforts to expand the base.
The Democrats also have a real problem; lack of leadership. Hillary Clinton is 68 and Bernie Sanders is 74. Both Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are 76. Barack Obama and the Clintons have sucked up all the oxygen for the last quarter century and have done little to build up the bench. Quick, name a future leader. The only name I could come up with is Elizabeth Warren. She is 66.
Most Americans are somewhere between moderately liberal to moderately conservative. However, both parties have ignored them as they head to the extreme. They are making promises that can never possibly be enacted into law. I doubt John F. Kennedy could win a Democratic primary in Massachusetts today or that either Bush could get the presidential nomination.
Both Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan established a path for their party that lasted into the next generation. In the next twenty years I think we will see someone set a centrist course emphasizing inclusion and cooperation. It is entirely possible they will be neither a Democrat nor a Republican.
I am by no stretch of the imagination a fan of Donald Trump. He is a blowhard and a bully who exploits people’s fears to gain votes. I can understand why people are upset with him but there are still limits on what they can do to express their opposition. Enough is enough.
Time and time again I have seen him compared to Hitler. There are all kinds of other ridiculous charges being made. Naked pictures of his wife are published. Much of the behavior goes beyond just being tasteless. People try to shout him down or block roads to his rallies. Family members are receiving death threats.
I believe we may be seeing a resurgence of the violence we saw in the 1960’s. Some in the Black Lives Matter movement condone looting or chant about killing police. I don’t believe that leaders on the Left condone these actions. They should speak out against them.
People should get involved in the political process but they should respect the rights of others.
Now Brussels has been added to the growing list of cities that have suffered a terrorist attack. A number of Americans are among the injured. We can’t predict where they will hit next but there will be more attacks.
It is vital that we recognize we are at war. In a traditional war we know where the enemy is located. In this war they are hidden among us. They are a very determined enemy and are willing to die for their cause.
Unfortunately the Obama administration seems to see it primarily as a PR problem. It isn’t called a war. The religious aspect of it is ignored in the interest of political correctness. The Fort Hood massacre was workplace violence. The Libya attack was a demonstration that got out of hand. We are engaging in bombing missions against ISIS but the rules of engagement are so strict that not a single bomb is dropped in the vast majority of missions.
I do agree with Obama on one point. We should not demonize all Muslims for the acts of a few. The vast majority of them are good law-abiding people. We need their help in finding evildoers in their midst. This is less likely to happen if they feel under attack.
While we need to be aware of the possibility of a terrorist attack, we shouldn’t let it control our lives. If we do, then they win.
President Obama’s trip to Cuba has certainly generated headlines. Virtually every story uses the word historic to describe it. Liberals have praised him while conservatives have scorned him.
I have a different take. To me it’s not that big a deal. It probably makes sense to communicate with a country so close. Ted Cruz said that Obama legitimizes the Castro brothers and their brutal regime. Our ignoring them hasn’t made a difference and I doubt that going there will either. We need to recognize that what we do will have little effect now or when the Castros are gone.
Nearly six decades of communist rule have left the country an economic basket case. They still drive old 50s US cars. They have no money to buy anything from us and I doubt that American companies that invest there will fare that well.
This trip was about one thing and one thing only; to burnish Obama’s reputation in the history books. Like his dealings with Iran, he eagerly made accommodations to get his day in the sun. Unlike Iran, this really doesn’t have consequences. I listened to his opening remarks and didn’t care for him repeating Castro’s criticism of the US. It sounded like the apology tour he took early in his presidency.
The next president will face many foreign affairs challenges. Cuba isn’t one of them.
In the aftermath of 911 the Bush administration established a terrorist prison at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This was done to get around the Geneva Convention and US constitutional guarantees. I will have to admit I’m a little uncomfortable with this approach and certainly reject the excesses which occurred. On the other hand, the war on terror is not like a conventional war in which the fighting stops once a peace treaty is signed.
Whether or not it was right to open the prison, we need to recognize that it holds dangerous terrorists that will do us harm if given the chance. President Obama says it hurts our security because it incites terrorism. No matter what we do, they will hate us.
He proposes to close the camp and bring the prisoners to the United States. Once they are here, they will either be convicted or released. After all these years I doubt that convictions could be obtained on many of them. They would be free to kill once more. We have already seen released prisoners rejoining terrorism groups.
I think there is only once reason for his proposal; to improve his political image by fulfilling a campaign promise. If he truly cares about stopping terrorism, he wouldn’t have released five senior Taliban leaders to get a deserter back.
The once crowded field of Republican presidential candidates has been winnowed down to three after Marco Rubio dropped out. At one point in time, he looked like he had a real chance of getting the nomination. So what happened? I think he had the following factors hurt him.
Crowded field – There are three roads to the nomination; establishment, right wing or outsider. The only real competition Trump and Cruz had was Ben Carson. Several candidates were vying for the establishment path. Bush spent a lot of time and money going after him. Christie devastated him with the comments about him being programmed and repeating himself.
Lack of experience – Experience doesn’t seem to matter with the other two roads but is important to the establishment.
Immigration – Trump has whipped up the country into a frenzy over immigration. Rubio’s common-sense approach didn’t fit the mood.
Trump attack – Rubio went after Trump in a very clumsy way and had some pretty stupid comments.
This certainly isn’t the end for Rubio. He is only forty-four. There is a governor’s race coming up. There is a long list of candidates that failed the first time out but later got the nomination. He may well be one of them.
If anyone wants proof that we are facing a growing political divide, all they need to do is look at the riot that broke out at a Trump rally in Chicago. Everyone is pointing fingers but all involved share the blame.
Donald Trump has used stereotypes against Hispanics and Muslims to gain votes. That is despicable. However, we live in a country where people are allowed to express their opinions, even those most find abhorrent. However, he does NOT have a right to encourage violence. On more than one occasion he has talked about punching demonstrators that interrupt him. It is unthinkable that a presidential candidate behaves so recklessly.
Leaders on the left also share some of the blame. President Obama once pledged to be a post-racial president but has worked to increase the racial divide for political gain. To his credit, he has generally refrained from Trump bashing. Others have not been so reticent. Certainly they have the right to refute his ridiculous assertions but the attacks have gone too far. Time and time again we have seen him compared to Nazis and the KKK. This is the same bunch that equates being a Republican and a racist. They are deliberately fanning the flames.
The protestors also have First Amendment rights. Clearly their intent was, at the very least, to stop the rally. Hundreds, if not thousands, showed up with professionally printed signs. They, and many like them, believe it is perfectly acceptable to shout down people with whom they disagree.
Many Trump supporters are also out of line. One elderly man sucker-punched a protester who police were leading out of the arena. He said next time he would kill him. The vast majority of Trump supporters are decent people. Idiots like this guy do harm to the Trump campaign.
It saddens me that millions of people on both sides of the political spectrum are willing to deny others their constitutional rights. I want no part of their America.
Obviously the Republican presidential contest is a real mess. The biggest question is whether anyone can attract enough delegates to get a majority. If not, we will have an open convention and anything could happen. Certainly Trump has the best chance so I did a little analysis. If you want to skip all the gory details, go to the last paragraph.
Generally states award delegates in one of three ways: proportional, winner take all or conditional winner take all. In the latter category, the allocation is proportional unless the winner gets a majority of the votes. There are a bunch of other mind-numbing rules but I won’t get into that.
It takes 1,237 delegates to get a majority. So far Trump has 458. That means he still needs to get 779 more delegates. So far he has never received a majority of the vote in a single state. If that continues, then all of the conditional winner take all states would be awarded on proportional basis. So far he has been getting 40% of the delegates that are awarded proportionally. If that trend continues, he would pick up 413 more delegates, giving him 871. He would still need 366.
There are twelve states or territories left that are winner take all. They have 409 delegates. I think it is extremely difficult for him to pull it off. He does best when states let Democrats and Independents vote. Most of these states have a closed primary.
In conclusion, if Trump keeps going like he has been, he has virtually no shot at getting enough delegates. He has to start winning the majority of votes in states, something he has not done so far.
In a hard-fought campaign we expect name calling and mudslinging, especially if Donald Trump is in the race. Dirty tricks are another matter. Unfortunately we are seeing a pattern coming from the Cruz campaign.
It started in Iowa. They sent out a mailer designed to look like a government document grading voters on how often they vote. Just before the caucus they picked up a false CNN story that Ben Carson was dropping out and emailed it to supporters. Cruz then had to fire his spokesman over him questioning Rubio’s religion. Now they are in trouble again over emails based on another CNN story that Rubio’s advisors are pushing him to withdraw.
I don’t care for his political views or confrontational approach to governing. I do believe that he is a decent person. It seems unlikely that he would sanction dirty tricks yet this keeps happening. Obviously a candidate doesn’t see every mailer or email. At this point it doesn’t matter whether this is a deliberate strategy or staffers getting out of control. He needs to take action to ensure this doesn’t keep happening.