The Weiner Component #152 – Part 2: The Democratic Presidential Convention

Bernie Sanders, U.S. Congressman (now U.S. Sen...

The 2016 Democratic National Convention will take place the week of July 25 to July 28 2016 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia with some events at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  This is exactly one week after the Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.  There are to be 4,765 delegates.  They will officially choose the Democratic candidate to run for the Presidency in November of 2016, the Vice Presidential Candidate, and write the platform upon which the Democratic Party will stand for the next four years.


The Democrats are following the Republican example and holding their Convention earlier that in 2012.  Philadelphia was selected as the host city on February 12, 2015.  The time of the Conventions are earlier than usual to allow the parties’ next presidential nominees to have access to more campaign cash as they begin their contest for the presidency.


For the first ballot the candidates will be Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley.  Whether there will be more than one ballot depends on whether one of the candidates can achieve the 2,383 delegates voting for them.  As of Wednesday, April 27th Hillary Clinton had 2,165 primary and caucus delegates, Bernie Sanders has 1,357, and Martin O’Malley has 0 delegates.  The race is actually between Hillary and Bernie.


While the Republican Party leaders are able to control their conventions by rule changes every four years the Democratic Party is able to do the same thing with Super delegates, who are not elected by the Democratic public voting and caucusing in the individual states and territories.  These delegates are all free to vote for whoever they wish.  These are all Democratic members of the House and Senate, sitting and former Democratic governors, elected members of the Democratic National Party, distinguished party leaders consisting of current and former presidents, vice presidents, congressional leaders, and DNC chairs.  They are unbound delegates.  Taken together these are a formable number of votes that are not obligated to vote for any candidate.  These unpledged delegates are seated solely by being current or former elected office holders and party officials.  They are not bound in any way and may support any candidate they wish, including one who has dropped out of the presidential race.  And they are in addition to the other 4,765 bound delegates who are committed to a specific candidate for at least the first ballot.


In the current 2016 election where Hillary Clinton is currently leading by about 800 delegates Bernie Sanders strategy will be to get these Super delegates to vote for him at the Convention in order to make up for his possible shortfall of bound delegates against Hillary Clinton.  Will he be successful?


For Republicans there are 3 unbound Super delegates in each state.  These are the state chairman and two RNC committee members.  This gives them a total of 150 Super delegates.  For the Democrats the number is far greater.


Hillary Rodham Clinton has been a well-known figure in the United States for over the last ¼ of a century.  She was the wife of a president, Bill Clinton, who served two terms at the tail end of the 20th Century, later a Senator for most of two terms for the state of New York, a Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2009, and a Secretary of State for Barack Obama’s first term as President.  Because she served on important committees and attempted to set up a universal health care system during his husband’s first term as President and is a liberal she has been considered as a threat by most Republicans.  She was the first and only first lady to have to testify before a grand jury.  She was also the first former Secretary of State to have been vigorously questioned by seven separate investigative committees over the vicious attack at Benghazi in October of 2012, when three American diplomats were murdered at the American consulate.  It would seem the Republicans want to discredit her by placing the blame for the vicious action on Clinton even though it was the Republican dominated House of Representatives that had cut the protective funding for embassy protection.  The official Report on the last Congressional Benghazi investigation held in 2015 which found nothing against her will probably be released by November of this year when she is running for the Presidency.  All this has occurred in spite of the fact that the House Intelligence Committee issued a report in November of 2014 after in intense investigation stating that there had been no wrongdoing in the administration’s response to the attack.


Kevin McCarthy the Republican Whip in the House of Representatives, who could well be a relative of the dummy entertainer, Charlie McCarthy, and often has a problem coming out with a coherent sentence, came out with a statement to the press in 2015 that the Benghazi  Hearings were hurting Hillary’s standing in the 2016 Presidential Race.  Some of the Republican prospective candidates for the 2016 Presidential Campaign have called her “the worst Secretary of State ever.”  She is definitely a threat to the Republicans and the last thing they want is Hillary Clinton replacing Barack Obama as President of the United States.


Trey Gowdy’s House Select Republican dominated Committee, which will produce its findings between now and Election Day in November has spent 6.5 million dollars of taxpayer monies attempting to defame or discredit Hillary Clinton.  There have been many more addition millions spent by the prior congressional committees trying to do the same thing.  Congress has now spent four years in numerous investigations which are being held for purely political reasons.  This has been the longest investigation of an incident in the entire history of the United States and has accomplished nothing but a massive expenditure of money.  Will they be able to discredit Hillary Clinton?  Gowdy promises eye-opening evidence; but he has been promising that since the last hearing began.  For a political party that’s very money conscious the Republicans are free to spend taxpayer dollars for political purposes.


Hillary Rodham Clinton is a liberal democrat interested in the welfare of the people of America at a time when there is intense economic disparity and unreasonable treatment of various economic and racial groups within the nation.  She is a voice for the majority at a time when they are being pushed into a slow downward economic spiral by the super-wealthy minority.


She has focused her presidential campaign upon middle class incomes, the universal establishment of preschools and making college more affordable and she would like to improve Affordable Health Care.  Even though she is the first woman to successfully run for the presidency she is no doubt one of, if not, the best prepared candidates in the entire his of the country.


Ultimately she is pragmatic, capable of compromise; which may be necessary with a split Congress.  President Obama, after his first two years in office, was forced to work with a politically split Congress where the Republican House absolutely refused to work with him.  In fact for the last five years the Republican led House of Representatives opposed virtually everything he attempted.  Hillary, as President, may find a similar condition.  But Hillary may be able to get under their skins and to a certain extent work with them.


Bernard “Bernie” Sanders is the other viable Democratic candidate.  He is the junior United States Senator from Vermont.  Sanders has been the longest serving Independent in U.S. Congressional history.  He was a member of the House of Representatives from April 6, 1981 through April 4, 1989, eight years, and a member of the U.S Senate from January 3, 1991 to January 3, 2015, 24 years.


Even though he ran as an Independent Bernie Sanders considered himself as a Socialist.  As a candidate for the presidency he has called himself a Democratic Socialist.  He has continually caucused with the Democrats as an Independent and formally changed his party registration last year so he could run as a Democrat in the Presidential Race.


Initially, I believe, he saw himself as a protest candidate in the 2016 Presidential Race.  No one, and I believe that includes himself, saw him as having a possible chance to win the election.


Bernie Sanders has spent his life in protest movements.  In early 1969, while he was a student at the University of Chicago, he was involved in the Civil Rights Movement as an organizer for the Racial Equality and worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  In 1968, after settling in Vermont, he ran unsuccessfully as a third party candidate for both governor and U.S. Senator.  From 1981 through 1989, as an Independent, he was elected mayor the city of Burlington.  In 1990 he was elected to the House of Representatives.


Sanders rose to national prominence in 2018 following his filibuster against the proposed extension of the Bush tax cuts.  He favors policies like those of the social democratic parties in Europe, especially those in the Nordic countries: free health care for all, free education through college, parental leave, and LGBT rights.  He has demanded campaign finance reform, an end to corporate welfare, adherence to global warming and income inequality.  He has been a critic of U.S. foreign policy and has opposed the Iraq war.  He has strongly criticized the racial discrimination within the justice system and supported civil liberties and civil rights.  Most of what Bernie Sanders has stood for very few Democrats will argue against.


The best way to describe Bernie Sanders is to quote the last part of the article about him in the free internet encyclopedia that describes his political position:

“Sanders is a self-described socialist, and progressive who admires the Nordic model of social democracy and is a proponent of workplace democracy.  In November 2015, gave a speech at Georgetown University about his view of Democratic Socialism, including its place in the policies of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.  In defining what democratic socialism means to him, Sanders said ‘”I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production, but I do believe that middle class and working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a decent standard of living and their incomes should go up, not down.  I do believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America, companies that create jobs here, rather than companies that are shutting down in America and increasing their profits by exploiting low-wage labor abroad.’”


“Sanders focuses on economic issues such as income and wealth inequality, raising the minimum wage, universal healthcare reducing the burden of student debt, making public colleges and universities tuition free by taxing financial transactions, and expanding Social Security benefits by eliminating the cap on the payroll tax on all incomes after $250,000.  He has become a prominent supporter of laws requiring companies to give their workers parental leave, sick leave, and vacation time, noting that such laws have been adopted by nearly all other developed countries.  He also supports laws that would make it easier for workers to join or form a union.


“Sanders has advocated greater democratic participation by citizens, campaign finance reform, and the overturn of Citizens United v. FEC.  He also advocates comprehensive financial reforms, such as breaking up ‘”too big to fail’” financial organizations, restoring Glass-Seagull legislation, reforming the Federal Reserve Bank and allowing the Post Office to offer basic financial services in economically marginalized communities.  Sanders strongly opposes the U.S. invasion of Iraq and has criticized a number of policies instituted during the War on Terror, particularly mass surveillance and the U.S. Patriot Act.


“Sanders has liberal stances on social issues, having advocated for LGHT rights and against the Defense of Marriage Act.  Sanders considers himself a feminist.  He is also pro-choice, and opposes the de-funding of Planned Parenthood.  He has denounced institutional racism and called for criminal justice reform to reduce the number of people in prison.  He advocates a crackdown on police brutality, and supports abolishing private for-profit prisons and the death penalty.  Sanders supports legalizing marijuana at the federal level.  On November 15, 2015, in response to ISIS’s attack in Paris, Sanders cautioned against Islamophobia and said ‘”We gotta be tough, not stupid in the war against ISIS,’” and that the U.S. should continue to welcome Syrian refugees.


“Sanders advocates bold action to reverse global warming and substantial investment in infrastructure, with energy efficiency and sustainability and job creation as prominent goals.  Sanders considers climate change as the greatest threat to national security.”


I believe most people will largely agree with Bernie Sanders position on most things.  The next question is: Could he achieve most of what he wants?  Will expanding Social Security payments to everybody’s total income create enough to significantly raise Social Security payments?  Will taxing financial dealing generate enough money to pay for free college tuition throughout the United States?  The answer is probably in the negative.  In addition financial dealings would significantly increase the cost of such practices and could bring down the economy in a massive depression.  Also how would free medical care for everyone be paid for?


While much of what Sanders wants does exist in most other industrial nations it is paid for by everyone in their taxes.  Is the population of the U.S. currently willing to accept this responsibility?


Another consideration is: Can Bernie Sanders bring about legislation to allow much of this change to occur?  Barack Obama was elected under the theme, It’s Time for a Change.  After two years in office stopping a Great Depression and bringing about Affordable Health Care, a Republican majority was elected to the House of Representatives, and thereafter no bills were passed helping him govern.  In all probability Bernie will have the same legislative problems.  Currently both the House and the Senate both have Republican majorities.  The Republicans do not believe in anything Sanders wants.  The Senate may become democratic again in 2016 but the probability is that the House will retain its Republican majority.  Bernie will be in the same position that Obama has been in for the last five years, unable to get any progressive legislation through Congress.  How will he adapt to that?


While Bernie may be tough, still there has to be a limit as to how much frustration he can take.  There’s a good possibility that that limit will be reached with his four year presidency.


Currently Hillary is leading in the number of delegates.  She has 2,165, Bernie has 1,357.  On Tuesday, April 26th Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island held their primaries.  There were a total of 354 bound votes available.


In the recent, April 26th, Super Tuesday Hillary Clinton won four of the five state primary contests raising the number of delegates who will vote for her in the July Democratic Nominating Convention to 2,165.  The required number required to become the Democratic Candidate in 2016 is 2,583.


There are still 14 states and territories to go.  Indiana is on Tuesday, May 3 and the Democratic nominating conventions will continue through June 14th with a total of 1,207 delegates still to go.  Bernie Sanders currently has 1,357 delegates pledged to him.  The probability of Bernie overtaking her and achieving 2,583 votes in practically nil; he would need virtually all the delegates plus a small number of unbound delegates to just reach the total.


Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the next Presidential Candidate for the Democratic Party in 2016.


What Sander can realistically do at this point is to get as many of his ideas as possible drafted into the Democratic Platform.  After all with a few exceptions he and Hillary are philosophically not far apart.  Continuing to battle her might, in his mind, increase these possibilities.  Sanders has announced that he will stay in the race to the end.  He must be hoping that enough of the unbound or Super delegates will vote for him or that Hillary and the Democratic Party will accept most of what he wants added to the platform.  Either way he will be a winner even if Hillary Clinton is elected to the president.

The Weiner Component #152 – Part 1: The 41st National Republican Nominating Convention

English: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH Fr...

English: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH Français : Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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From July 18th to July 21st the 2016 41st Republican National Convention will meet at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Convention of 2,472 delegates will choose the Republican candidates for both President and Vice President of the United States.  They will also write a Party Platform for which the Party will stand for the next four years.


This will be the third time Cleveland has hosted this event since 1936.  In order to be chosen a candidate needs a simple majority, 1, 237 votes from convention delegates. 


The Republicans began holding nominating conventions throughout the states in 1912 when Theodore Roosevelt wanted to again run for the presidency.  It was done on a very limited basis then.  He ended up running as a third party candidate and lost to the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson.  It was widely used in 1952 to choose Dwight David Eisenhower as the Republican candidate.  Finally in 1968 the primary or caucus system was used throughout the 50 states and territories.   Initially when the primary elections began in 2016 there were 17 candidates for the office.  Another 5 attempted to enter but they had withdrawn before the primaries began. 


The major question at this Convention is: Who will be nominated to run against the Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the country?  Currently there are three viable Republican candidates: Donald J. Trump, Rafael Edward (Ted) Cruz, and John R. Kasich. 


Kasich currently has less delegate votes than Marco Rubio had when he quit the race after losing his home state, Florida.  There is no possible way he can attain the 1,237 delegate votes needed to be chosen as the candidate.  Consequently he is hoping that both Trump and Cruz will be disqualified and the Convention will choose him.


The race at this point is between Trump and Cruz.  In order for either one to win that individual needs to come up with 1,237 delegate votes on the first ballot.  Because once the delegates have voted their obligation for their designated candidate on the first ballot, if they do not reach the necessary number of votes their obligation to vote for their candidate expires, and they are free to vote for whomsoever they wish.


A week prior to the opening of the July commencement of the 41st National Nominating Convention its Rules Committee will meet in Cleveland and redefine or set the rules for the convention.  They could be a renewal of the 2012 Rules, a slight variation on them, a complete new set of rules, or a combination of any two of the above.  In essence the Rules Committee will establish a complete set of rules for the 2016 Republican National Nominating Convention.  What will they be?  That’s a very good question, which will not be completely answered until July 18th of 2016 in Cleveland when the entire Convention approves them.


There are important considerations in the process.  Every one of the 50 states and the territories have their own have their own specific election primary laws or practices.  Actual primary elections are run by the states, caucuses are done by the political party.  There are one or two states where the results of the primary election have nothing to do with appointing delegates to the National Convention.  Just about every state also has three unbound electors or Superdelegates who will go to the Cleveland Nominating Convention not bound to any candidate.  They usually, but not always, vote for the favorite.  In the state of Georgia almost all the delegates favor Cruz in 2016 but Donald Trump won the Primary Election there.  These people are legally committed to vote for Trump on the first ballot and possibly on the second one also but after that they will vote for Cruz.  Also according to the old rules (2012) caucus elections are not legal and the votes from open primary elections don’t count.  An open election is where the voters can vote for the candidate in either party.  In some states with closed primaries the voters have to be registered months earlier in order to vote in a primary election.  In other states they can register the day of the election or up to a day earlier.  Consequently what specifically will be a legal vote for a candidate what will not be will be determined the first day after the Convention begins on July 18, 2016 and is voted into existence on that day.  This means that a candidate like Donald Trump even coming to the Convention with 1,237 delegate votes may not legally have 1,237 votes by the rules of the Convention.


Donald Trump has been vociferously complaining about the unfairness of the Republican leadership, that he is the leading candidate according to the popular vote, has the most delegates committed to him, but that other delegates have been unfairly awarded to Ted Cruz, and earlier to other candidates.  Interestingly one of the Republican Party people stated on April 13th that if Trump comes to the Convention with 1,100 committed delegates he will be the Republican candidate; that the additional votes to make up the 1,237 will be found for him, presumably from the uncommitted delegates. 


Is this true or was it stated to pacify an unruly crowd?  The person who said this may have been a Republican official but he wasn’t the present head of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus is the current National Chairman; and I suspect he wouldn’t make a statement like that.  In fact he hasn’t.


It would seem that Donald Trump, when all is said and done, is an amateur politician; and this holds true for his staff also.  For example neither Trump nor any members of his staff made any prerequisite contacts in Colorado or Wyoming.  Cruz did do so and all the delegates from both states were assigned to him.  The state chairman from Wyoming made a negative statement about Trump several months earlier.  The caucuses or straw votes by the general Republican population were ignored.  The decision as to who the nominee would be was made by the State Republican chairman, the treasurer, the party secretary, and all the county chairmen.  All 37 delegates in Colorado were assigned to Ted Cruz.  The same thing happened in Wyoming; Cruz won all 14 delegates.  He was the only Republican to campaign there.  The victory occurred on April 16, 2016.  A member of his staff had been there for months working for that victory. 


Cruz is well organized and will do whatever is necessary to win in those areas of the country where he can win or gather delegate votes.  As of, Tuesday, April 19th he has gotten 559 delegates.  He won no delegates in the New York primary.  Trump is still ahead with 845.  In the New York primary he won 89 out of 95 possible delegates.


Trump has vociferously called the Republican selection process unfair and rigged in both Colorado and Wyoming.  In fact it would seem that Trump and his staff did not understand the process in Colorado and did not contact the party there, nor did they bother in Wyoming.  They must have assumed that everything in these two states would automatically take care of itself.  Cruz did not make this mistake.


Delegates in Colorado are chosen through a process that starts with March 1st caucuses and ends at the state convention on April 9th.  Colorado delegates can go to the National Convention as either bound or unbound to a candidate.  This year they are all bound to Cruz.


Wyoming holds a primary election on April 5th and Cruz has had staff there for months working toward his candidacy.  He also visited the state earlier for a couple of days and held rallies there.


Even though the delegate nominating vote will not occur in the state of Washington until May 24th Trump’s staff has sent the paperwork necessary to be in the state primary to Washington, D.C.  While I imagine there is still plenty of time to correct this error is it the type of mistake that should be made by a candidate running for the presidency of the United States?  Both he and his staff are inordinately sloppy in their actions.  Is this the way professionals are supposed to behave?  I get the feeling when people feel they know everything there’s nothing they can ever learn.  And this behavior seems to be that of Trump and of his staff.


Trump is also a master at bellyaching.  He never seems to cease complaining about one or another injustice against him by the Republican Party.  He fumed over the results from Colorado.  He’s blamed the media and the press for refusing to point out what he has described as an injustice in the Republican primary contest.  “The media is so dishonest.  Honestly, I do wonder.  I’m millions of votes ahead which they don’t even mention, they don’t even talk about. They talk about delegates.  And I’m hundreds of delegates ahead but the system is rigged, folks.  It’s a rigged, disgusting dirty system.  It’s a dirty system and only a non-politician would say it.”


 He feels that much of the Republican leadership in Washington D. C. and across the United States is opposed to him.  A good example of this is what happened in Colorado and the fact that some Republican Super Pac’s are spending millions in ads to defeat him.  In fact there are three Republican Super Pac’s that are focused upon his defeat.  These are The Club for Growth, Our Principals Pact, and the American Futures Fund.  They are all unaligned without any specific candidate and it is estimated that they have so-far spent 23.5 million on negative ads against Donald Trump.


Another colorful example is Indiana, which will hold its Primary Election on May 3, 2016.  Indiana has 57 delegates.  This is the second largest block coming up next to California.  Of these 56 are now committed (April 15) to not voting for Trump.  One of the 57 delegates is committed to Trump.  The Primary Election will still take place on May 3, 2016; but ultimately it will have nothing to do with choosing delegates.  That has already been done by the Republican State Party Leadership.  Trump visited the state on Wednesday, April 20th, the day after his New York victory.


Are many leading members of the Republican Party out to get Trump?  Obviously.  Many see the potential of his candidacy harming the Republican Party for years to come.  He represents the undereducated, blue collar workers, the people who could never get themselves to vote Democratic, the bottom third of the Republican Party who have never gotten anything from the Party except the right to own guns.  They are essentially disgusted with their party and want something more in return for their vote.  These are the people who have continually supported Trump.


He, in his speeches, is telling them that if he is not the frontrunner in the Presidential Election then they should stay home and not vote.  It would seem that Trump is not only fighting to get elected but he is also fighting the Republican Party in order to be elected President of the United States.  He has also made comments or veiled threats about what will happen at the Convention if he, the frontrunner, is not elected.


If Trump does not reach the 1,237 delegates for the first vote at the Convention it is highly possible that Cruz’s organizational advantage could win him the nomination after the first vote in the election; but it is also possible that he will still not have enough delegates to reach the 1,237 votes needed to be chosen.  Trump won the Louisiana primary but Cruz might end up with more delegates than Trump by gaining Marco Rubio’s delegates and the unbound delegates from that state.


There is an interesting note or irony here.  These same class of blue collar men and women in Las Vegas, who are currently employed by Trump at his casino, are currently fighting for the right to unionize Trump’s International Hotel in Las Vegas.  His management is doing everything possible in what is mainly a largely unionized city to keep the casino workers from being able to unionize.  Consequently Trump is fighting a small section with a group of the very people who support him politically to keep them from being able to unionize. 


As a footnote: it should be noted that both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are generating a lot of hostility particularly among the school-age youth across a good part of this country.  Their remarks about Muslims and Hispanics are and have created bullying and tension among young children and teenagers in public schools.  It is increasing racial and ethnic pressure to the point where it is noticeable by their teachers.  Whether it is being picked up from conversations at home or from both conversations and television is beside the point.  The point is that there is a noticeable increase in this behavior being touched off by the two major Republican candidates.  And that is not good news for a country that prides itself on all the racial and ethnic groups that make it up!


Ted Cruz, the other major Republican Candidate, has said, that Muslim areas of the United States should be specially patrolled by the police.  In certain respects it is hard to tell the two Republican candidates apart for their negative qualities, which even though they are not all similar are equally bad. 


In 2012 Rafael Edward (Ted) Cruz was elected to the U.S. Senate.  He was the far right candidate, with heavy support from the Texas Tea Party.  He won the state Republican primary over Republican Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and later, in the election, beat the Democratic candidate.  Cruz failed to report two loans, which helped him finance his campaign, that were required by law.  Time Magazine reported the first one during the 2012 campaign and The New York Times reported the second one in 2016.  Cruz disclosed the loans on his Senate financial disclosure forms in July of 2012, but not on the Federal Election Commission form.  The second loan came largely from Goldman Sacks, where his wife worked as an executive.  Cruz stated that his failure to disclose these loans was accidental.  There was no evidence that his wife was involved in securing the second loan.  These monies, several million dollars, were repaid by later campaign fundraising.


Cruz has sponsored 25 bills of his own.  Among these were: a bill to cancel Affordable Health Care (Obamacare), two bills to investigate and prosecute felons and fugitives who illegally purchase firearms, a bill to permit states to require proof of citizenship for registering to vote in federal elections, a bill to increase coal, natural gas, and crude oil exports, to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, to expand oil drilling offshore, to give states the sole power of regulating hydraulic fracturing, to prohibit the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, to earmark natural resource revenue to paying off the Federal Debt, and to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to eliminate all limits on direct campaign contributions for candidates for public office.


Cruz was heavily involved in the Government Shutdown of 2013 which ended up costing the U.S. Economy about 29 billion dollars.  Cruz gave a 21 hour Senate speech in an effort to hold up a federal budget bill and defund the Affordable Care Act.  Cruz’s efforts encouraged the House of Representatives to effect the shutdown.  It did not really stop any bills from passing in the Senate.  Even Republican Senators denounced the move; Senator Lindsey Graham called the move ineffective and “shameless.” 


Cruz has denounced President Obama as an enemy of the Republic.  He has used harsh rhetoric against fellow Republicans calling a number of them who voted for a bill backed by the President a “surrender caucus.”  He accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of telling “a flat out lie.”  On abortion Cruz is strongly prolife.  He’ll allow the termination of a pregnancy only when the mother’s life is in danger; rape or incest are not grounds for an abortion.  He opposes both same-sex marriages and civil unions; marriage should be legally defined as a union between one man and one woman.  He supports school choice and opposes the state regulated common core standards.  He is totally against Affordable Health Care and would repeal that law.  He is a gun rights advocate and is opposed to certain religious groups (Muslim) immigrating to the United States. 


In terms of criminal law, Cruz has called for an end to “over-criminalization, harsh mandatory minimum sentences, and the demise of jury trials.”  He believes that most criminals are Democrats and that is the reason Democrats are soft on crime.  They want the votes of the criminal class.  He has accused the President and the Attorney General of vilifying police law enforcement. 


He believes in free trade, in a flat tax that everyone pays in terms of an equal percentage that they can file on the back of a postcard.  He wants to do away with the IRS.  He is opposed to a higher minimum wage.


Following the Tea Party theology Cruz wants to decrease the size of the Federal Government significantly.  He would do this by eliminating the IRS plus four other cabinet agencies: the Department of Energy, the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  He is also a staunch supporter of the Keystone XL Pipeline.


Cruz rejects what most scientists accept as fact that the earth’s surface is slowly and continually heating because of the gases that are continually being spewed into the atmosphere.  In March of 2015 he stated that there had been no significant global warming for the last eighteen years.


In foreign affairs Cruz stringently opposes the United Nations Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that brought about the non-nuclear development agreement with Iran and the U.N., calling it catastrophic and disastrous.  Of the 2014 thaw in relations between Cuba and the U.S., Cruz called it foreign policy that “will be remembered as a tragic mistake.”  In 2013 Cruz stated that American armed forces should not serve as “al-Qaeda’s air force.”  In 2014 he said, “The president’s foreign policy team utterly missed the threat of ISIS, indeed, was working to arm Syrian rebels that were fighting side by side with ISIS.”  He has also called for carpet bombing of ISIS, which would kill innumerable non-ISIS members and create a very negative image of America in the Middle East or wherever we attacked ISIS.


It should also be noted that Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is an American investment manager at Goldman Sacks, who currently is on a leave of absence from the company.  She has an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School and is currently Regional Head of the Southwest United States for the Investment Management Division in Houston.  She took a leave of absence to participate in her husband’s presidential campaign.  I’m sure Goldman Sacks would like to have one of their executives as first lady.


The meeting of the Republican Nominating Convention during the third week in July should be very dramatic.


From what I understand Rafael Edward (Ted) Cruz has a very good mind.  He was probably academically the top student both in his college class and in law school.  Over the years probably from his teenage period on or possibly even earlier he has worked out his prospective of the world around him and firmly believes what he says.  He tends to be at the right extreme or beyond from the Tea Party’s position.  He has a tendency to denounce anyone who doesn’t agree with him.  This includes the entire faculty of Harvard Law School.  He called them Communists after he graduated.  If anything, by his actions, he is intolerant of anyone who doesn’t agree with him; this includes at times the entire U.S. Senate.  From statements he has made, as President he will us his executive privilege, far beyond anything President Obama has done. 


A goodly percentage of the Republican Party doesn’t want him as their candidate.  And the probability is that neither he nor Trump will have the necessary 1,237 delegate votes to be nominated as the Republican candidate for the presidency.  The Republican Nominating Convention will be looking for, what has historically been called, a “dark horse.”  They will move into their convention without a specific candidate.  There is a very high probability that the Republicans will have to go through a large number of ballots before they choose someone that the majority can live with.  The process of doing this should be very loud and highly dramatic.


It then becomes an open convention and the search is on for an acceptable candidate.    Who will it be? 


The first person waiting in the wings is John Kasich; in fact, he seems to have planned to be in this position and he will be the only choice left.  Kasich served in the House of Representatives for 18 years, has worked in the private sector as an investment banker, and is now serving his second term as governor of Ohio.  He tends to be a more liberal or compassionate conservative than any of the other Republican candidates.  He has the smallest number of delegates, 148.  This is less even than Marco Rubio had when he withdrew from the race and who is no longer running for the office of president.  Kasich will no doubt claim to be the only real alternative that the Party has If Trump and Cruz don’t reach 1,237 votes.


Another possibility would be Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican Presidential candidate, who lost that election to Barak Obama.  He has stated that he has no desire to be president but is waiting in the wings to be asked to serve his country.


A third possibility is Paul Ryan, the current Speaker of the House of Representatives.  He has specifically stated: “Let me be perfectly clear: I do not want nor will I accept the nomination of our party.”  But he said the same thing about becoming Speaker of the House of Representatives.  Speaker Paul Ryan could be drafted.  He ran in 2012 for both the Vice Presidency and as a continuing member of the House of Representatives.  He will preside over the Cleveland Convention.


Ryan has indicated that he sees disaster for the Republican Party if either Trump or Cruz are nominated.  He has urged delegates to pass a rule limiting the nomination only to actual candidates.  If he is successful in doing this then he would seem to favor John Kasich.  But it would also open the convention up to all the former Republican candidates who have dropped out of the race.  And Marco Rubio, even though he dropped out after losing the Florida Primary, has a higher number of delegates than Kasich.  It would also resurrect Jeb Bush.  It’s a crazy situation.


Another important consideration is what will happen at the actual Presidential Election; Donald Trump seems to be contemplating rioting from his supporters if he is not nominated.  As to the final vote he is telling his followers to stay at home and not vote if he is not the candidate.  Will he be successful?  At worst, partially; at best, considerably.


Ted Cruz’s supporters seem to have a similar attitude.  They detest Trump and probably will not vote for him if he is the candidate.  Trump has a following of about 35 to 37% of the registered Republicans in the primaries.  To become president he will need over 50% of the combined vote from all the political groups.


If the candidate becomes Kasich or some other choice will that person, who is a compromise candidate, be able to unite the Republican Party or does it stay as splintered as it is currently?


I suspect it will stay splintered with many Republican votes never being cast.  The probability is that the Republican Party, which is the minority party in the United States, will lose the Presidential Election.

The Weiner Component #151 – Part 2: The Current State of the Presidential Election

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership...

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Tuesday, April 5th the State of Wisconsin held its nominating election for both the Democratic and Republican selections for 82 Democratic and 39 Republican delegates.  The winners were Bernie Sanders for the Democrats and Ted Cruz for the Republicans. 


There were 86 delegate votes available for the Democrats in Wisconsin.  Sanders won 46 delegates and received 567,858 votes and Clinton received 433,574 votes and got 36 delegates.  The remaining 4 unelected delegates generally vote for the winner but in this case are committed to Hillary Clinton, giving her 40 delegates for that state.  Among the Republicans Ted Cruz got 531,129 votes and 36 delegates.  Donald J. Trump received 386,290 votes and 3 delegates.  There are also 3 non-elected Republican delegates.


The Democratic delegate count, as it currently (April 10) is Clinton 1,756 and Sanders 1068 delegates.  One of them needs 2383 by the last week in July to be chosen the Presidential Candidate.  There are 4,765 available of mostly committed and some non-committed supper delegates.  There are still 1955 delegates left in the remaining states and territories.   Both Parties count their votes in different ways.


Of the Republican delegate count Trump has 743 and Cruz has 545 committed delegates.  One of them needs 1,237 delegates out of 2,472 possible delegates.  There are also a total of32 non-committed delegates in this group from the states.  Generally, but not always, they go to the leading candidate.  There are 811 delegates left in the states that still have to hold their primaries or caucuses.


John Kasich has a very low number of delegates, 143 delegates.  There is no possible way he can win enough of them to even make a showing;   but he is in to the finish, hoping that neither Trump nor Cruz will get the requisite number and that neither will be chosen at the July Nominating Convention.  Then he will be ready as a possible candidate for the presidency. 


What is interesting here is that Trump had the same percentage of votes in Wisconsin that he had in all the states where he came in first, 35%.  Only in all those elections there were a larger number of Republican candidates to split the delegate or caucus vote so that their numbers were lower than his.  But in what was essentially a two man contest in Wisconsin Trump still achieved 1/3d of the Republican vote.  This would indicate, if it holds constant, that there is no way, if he is chosen as the Republican candidate, that he will win a general election.  And that is true for an election even by his own party.


Trump’s reaction to these results was a statement or outcry of protest that he had been cheated of his deserved victory by a Republican Super Pac that spent millions to defeat him in Wisconsin and by the fact that Cruz was/is a puppet of the Republican leadership.  He takes no credit that his past or even present behavior during these elections might have turned off a lot of Republican voters, particularly women, their husbands, and the minority groups voting Republican.


The day before the Wisconsin primary, April 5th, Ted Cruz released a 30 second television ad criticizing John Kasich for the first time by exploring his ties with Worthington Industries, a Fortune 500 company in Ohio that last year laid off hundreds of employees, including 115 in Ohio.  The implications were obvious, showing Kasich’s ties to big business.  The note of irony, which to my knowledge no one has mentioned, is that Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is on leave from Goldman Sacks, a leading investment banking corporation.  She is a lead executive with that company.


In addition to the television ad the Cruz campaign also sent out a mailer attacking Kasich’s spending policies as governor of Ohio and his position on guns and the military. 


This was the first time Cruz or anyone has run an ad against Kasich.  It would seem that Cruz wants Kasich to drop out of the presidential race and leave it as a contest just between himself and Trump.  Kasich’s delegate numbers are 143, which is lower than Marco Rubio’s, who dropped out of the race after losing Florida, his home state.  Cruz called Kasich a spoiler in the Presidential contest.  Kasich, however, is determined to stay in until the end.  Apparently he believes that both Cruz and Trump will be disqualified and he will be left as the only choice.


Kasich response to Cruz has been that he, Cruz never helped create any jobs but that he got a sweetheart loan from Goldman Sacks for his Senate campaign which he failed to disclose to the FEC during his campaign for the Senate.  “Cruz’s attack and his own hypocrisy are further proof that the voters can’t trust him and he will do anything to win.”


On Saturday, April 9th the Wyoming Democrats held their caucus; there were 14 possible delegates.  Bernie Sanders received 55.7% of the vote and won 7 delegates and Hillary Clinton got 44.3% of the vote and received 7 delegates.  Their delegate and super delegate numbers now are: Clinton 1756 and Sanders 1068.  The next nominating election will be in New York on April 19th .  247 delegates will be up for grabs in that election. 


Sanders has done well in mostly white western states.  New York is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic city and state.  It is questionable that he will do as well there.  But he has attracted the young, first time voters. In addition Hillary Rodham Clinton was originally one of the senators from that state.


One of the major difference between the Republican and Democratic Parties has to do with climate change, with the fact that the carbon wastes are being massively spewed into the atmosphere and as a result is warming the planet and its oceans, slowly melting the ice caps, and very gradually changing the ecology of the planet in a negative way for mankind.


Ted Cruz says that the concept of climate change is nonsense, that what is happening would occur on the planet even without man being present.  Donald Trump says it’s a rumor begun by the Chinese Communists for their own purposes.  John Kasich states that climate change is occurring but he doesn’t know why.  Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton would like to see more done by the U.S. to reverse it.


If we attempt to examine and understand the Republican position on this problem, using an historical example should make it easier to comprehend where they are coming from.  They continually resist what is now an essentially proven theory of climate change, accepted throughout most of the world, including by the majority of non-Republicans within the United States.


To the early European Christian Church the Medieval concept of the cosmos presented a major dilemma.  Their concept was based upon their religious belief, which in turn allowed their early Church Fathers over a period of centuries to logically work out an image of how the universe functioned based upon their religious belief. 


Accordingly, God created the earth, heavens, and mankind or Adam and Eve in six days.  He made the earth the center of this universe around which everything revolved.  Hell was in inner center of the earth, purgatory was the moon separate from the heavens, and the heavens was the area of the stars, wherein God sat upon a majestic throne surrounded by angels and the souls of worthy human beings glorying in his reflected light. 


Those who had not accepted God’s primacy and existence but had not sinned resided in Purgatory.  And those who had sinned in life suffered in Hell.  The life on earth was the testing ground for all persons or souls.  The good souls who, for one reason or another, had not accepted God as their savior resided in Limbo, the first level of heaven which was removed from the light of God.  While this is a simplistic version of the early Catholic Churches view of the cosmos it is still generally accurate.


The problem with this interpretation is that the actual cosmos and religion are two entirely different entities.  The early Christians who defined the universe did so in terms of their limited knowledge and understanding.  They saw the world as a much simpler place than it is believed to be in the present.  Interestingly or strangely there are still people around who believe a variation of the earlier interpretation of the cosmos.


As telescopes were invented the awareness of the universe changed among an educated few.  But to the then living Church fathers the new scientific knowledge challenged their absolute belief in their religious faith.  It could in time, many of them believed, repudiate their religion.


Initially everyone who had this new learning became a heretic.    Copernicus, during the Sixteenth Century, in his major work, propounded the theory that the earth and the planets revolved around the sun.  He did not have this book published until after his death in 1543 for fear of being declared a heretic and imprisoned and possibly executed.  The book was largely suppressed by the Church,


Galileo, 1564 – 1642, constructed the first complete astronomical telescope and confirmed Copernicus’ theory.  He was forced by the inquisition to abjure his discoveries and verbally go back to the earth centered universe.  There were others who followed these two and eventually, when it had no other choice, the Catholic Church and other religious groups accepted modern astronomy and separated religion from science.   The process took hundreds of years.


In the case of the Republican Party: they are mainly funded by large contributors from the fossil fuel industries and other pollution producing corporations who would tend to lose fortunes if green energy became the major source of electric power.


The problem with modern politics in the United States is that it cost to get elected to public office and it costs equally large amounts of money to stay in office and get reelected.   Since 2010 when the Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission case was adjudicated in the Supreme Court spending on political campaigns became equated with the First Amendment’s Free Speech right.  Spending on an election became an Unlimited Free Speech Right.  This right of Free Speech was expressed by essentially unlimited political contributions by unions, corporations, political action committees, wealthy billionaires, and others.  This even allowed foreign government’s shell corporations to influence American elections.


In 2002 $17 million was spent on the elections.  By 2006 that amount rose to $52 million.  And in 2010 it was $290 million.  This did not count independent spending.  These were not Presidential Election years. 


During Presidential Election years the amount rises exponentially.  The amount spent on the 2012 Presidential Election by both the Democrats and the Republicans is estimated at over 6 billion dollars.  The Democratic and Republican Parties spent 2 billion dollars; the political committees and Pac’s spent 2.1 billion dollars; and the candidates in their campaigns expended 3.2 billion dollars.  Since all contributions over $200 have to be registered, the Federal Election Commission processed 11 million pages of campaign funding related documents.


The Presidential Election is just one of the many elections held in 2012.  There were also Congressional Elections: the entire House of Representatives and 1/3d of the Senate, and numerous state and city elections.  If we rank the cost of all of these together the cost is astronomical.   And all this will be recurring in November of 2016


The probability is that the cost of the 2016 Election will be even greater than the 6 billion dollar figure estimated to have been spent in 2012.  In the Wisconsin Republican Nominating Election a Super Pac emerged whose sole function was to debunk Donald Trump; they spent millions doing so.  This does not count all the other spending that went on.  President Obama attended two political dinners on the weekend of April 8th where the entry fee was $20,400 for a couple.  The overall amounts expended for the 2016 Presidential Election will not be known until well into 2017 but it should exceed the prior 6 billion dollar mark for just the Presidential Election.


The thing to keep in mind is that there is no built in mechanism to fund political campaigns.  All this money has to be raised voluntarily.  The process puts an extensive burden upon the candidates and elected individuals serving in government.  They have to continually raise money. 


This process affects politicians in an adverse manner.  The Republicans have to a certain extent solved their problem in an interesting fashion.  No one likes to feel bought or owned by large contributors.  They have like the earlier Catholic Church worked out a rationale to justify their acceptance of many large contributions and that is to take the position that a percentage of modern science is nonsense.  By internally rejecting pollution as a cause of changing climate conditions on the earth they justify the support of petroleum industries by individuals like the Koch Brothers who contribute multi-millions every year to Republican causes.  In essence they have internalized the needs or desires of these corporations and made them part of their own rationales.  They, the Republicans, are not being bought by the polluters, instead they are merely cooperating with likeminded people.  It’s an interesting process of self-deception.


No doubt this is done by both political parties; but the degree to which it is done by the Republicans far surpasses anything that the Democrats do.  Remember according to Donald Trump the concept of climate change is a Chinese Communist plot.  Ted Cruz considers it a hoax and John Kasich, while admitting that it exists, doesn’t know why it does.  He wants to put pollution control in the hands of the states and the companies that produce it.  He feels that self-regulation, which has never worked in the past, will work in the future.


What is the current state of politics and the oncoming Presidential Election in the United States today?  Both of these can certainly use some reform.  In France, for example, a maximum amount is set the can be spent on a Presidential Election, 30 million dollars.  Should we have a maximum amount?  The United States covers a far larger area than France.  Should a larger maximum amount be set?


Should the Federal Government finance future elections requiring the press and the media to provide free time and space for the candidates as a public service?  Some of this was done in the past.  It was dropped because some of the candidates wanted far larger amounts and these could be raised privately.


There would have to be rules as to the requirements for an individual to become a candidate for public office on city, state, and national levels before they would receive aid from the particular level of government which is holding the election.  I imagine it would be quite complicated to organize.  Could it be done?


Do we need a Constitutional Amendment limiting the level of contributions to a political campaign?  Would we be better off that way?  The issue get more and more complicated.

The Weiner Component #151 – Part 1: The Current State of the Republican Party

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

English: Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in...

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership...

John Kasich

John Kasich (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Originally there were a large number of Republican contenders for the 2016 Presidential Election in the United States.  That number by March was whittled down to three prospective candidates.  In the order of Republican primary and caucus approval they are Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich


Donald Trump the business executive currently has 743 delegates from Republican Party state nominating elections and caucuses.  Ted Cruz has 545, and John Kasich has 143.  1,237 are needed for the first ballot at the Party Convention during the third week of July 2016.  There are also a total of 32 uncommitted delegates.  After the first ballot the delegates are free to change their minds about who to vote for. 


The issue is further complicated by the fact that the party rules and the state primary elections and caucuses don’t always agree.   Among other things the party rules require closed primaries where only registered Republicans vote.  Open primaries where anyone can vote for a Republican candidate is practiced in some states but is against the Republican Party rules.  They also do not allow caucus votes to be counted, since those are physically counted party voters.  And in addition an early order of business at the party Nominating Convention will be the Republican Rules Committee evaluating and possibly changing some of the other rules.  Consequently even if one of the candidates has the magic number of 1,237 designated delegate votes which he has gotten in the primaries and caucuses he may not have the 1,237 necessary votes on the first ballot to be named the designated Republican candidate.  There is no way for this to be known until after it occurs. 


It should be noted that the difference between a primary election and a caucus is that the election is run by the state while a caucus is an actual counting of people in groups and is run by the local party.


It seems that even with televised debates and individual prenominating elections the National Republican leadership has not given up control of choosing its candidate for the Presidency.


To the Republican leaders, both National and State, Donald Trump is the reincarnation of the Frankenstein Monster.  He knows about government but doesn’t quite understand the process.  This can be said about both domestic and foreign affairs.  He will do away with Obamacare and introduce his own less expensive system which will, if it were to happen, end up causing a number of people who currently have coverage to lose it and others to be involved in an unbelievable mess.   Many of his public statements strongly indicate this.


Presumably, he is, by his own admission, the master of making “the deal”.  He can far better negotiate than anyone who has ever lived.  From his indications he does this by bullying.  If one nation attempts to bully another this often results in war.  After two years of negotiating, six nations: Great Britain, France, the United States, Russia, China, and Germany have come to an Agreement with Iran in terms of Iran no longer working to develop her own atomic bomb.  Iran has voluntarily agreed to do this and has given up the necessary equipment, shipping it out of her country.  Trump and a number of other Republicans find this agreement unacceptable.  He wants to abrogate it and renegotiate a separate treaty with Iran.


The five negotiating nations are all permanent members of the United Nations’ Security Council.  They and Germany have spent two years working out a treaty that allows constant monitoring within Iran.  This is the best treaty that could be achieved short of war that the six nations and the majority of members belonging to the U.N. believe could be gotten.  Trump and the other Republicans know better.


Donald Trump, without even reading the document, feels it is unacceptable.  Among other things he wants to renegotiate, what he calls, giving Iran 150 billion dollars.  The money, that may or may not be as high as 150 billion dollars, is the Iranian funds that were in American and other international bank accounts and were frozen by the prospective governments after the student seizure of the American Embassy members in Iran.  These funds, which have gotten interest since the late 1970s, have been freely used by the assorted banks which held them.  Some of that money may have come from foreign Iranian government accounts, the rest would belong to individuals and companies in Iran.  They were all enforced savings accounts that belong to various Iranian entities.  The money has always belonged to Iranian citizens.  The same thing can be said for Cuba. 


Donald Trump objects to giving the Iranians their own money because he objects to the way he imagines they will spend those funds.  It’s the equivalent of the Federal Government telling Trump how to spend his money.  On that basis I don’t think he’d be too happy but to do it to Iran is okay.  Either he doesn’t understand what’s going on or he’s intentionally clouding the situation. 


Trump likes to give the impression that he is the most brilliant man alive, a master deal-maker who has virtually outsmarted everybody at one time or another.  Examining his life another impression results.  His hotels and casinos have been involved in four bankruptcies between 1991 and 2009.  He has been and probably is currently being investigated by the IRS for the last five years.  He has publically released no tax documents to prove he has great wealth but currently claims to be really rich, to have over 10 billion dollars.  He is actually estimated to be a multimillionaire rather than a billionaire.    According to a 2016 edition of the Economist they concluded that Trump’s economic performance (1985 to 2016) had been mediocre compared with the stock market and the increasing value of property in New York, noting both his successes and bankruptcies.


In terms of his Presidential Campaign Donald Trump is a rare if not unique entity.  It has been approximated that he has gotten about two billion dollars’ worth of free television coverage from the media.  When he appears on TV in any type of presentation many millions of people tune in to watch him.  The TV stations are charging phenomenal rates to sponsors during these appearances.  A 30 second TV advertisement at this time costs about $250,000.  The networks profits have hit the ceiling since the appearance of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate.  The two billion dollars’ worth of free coverage Trump has gotten has netted the networks at least six to eight billion in additional profits.


Toward the end of March the Make America Awesome Super Pac posted a 15 year old nude picture of Melania Trump on Facebook posing as a model for GQ Magazine.  The picture was artfully done but now had a new caption: “Meet Melania Trump, your next first lady.  Or could you support Ted Cruz on Tuesday.”  This was done for the benefit of the Mormon voters in the Utah primaries.


The purpose of Make America Awesome has been to hurt the Trump candidacy which is the underlying purpose of this Pac.  Legally the candidates are supposed to have no contact with their Super Pac’s but Trump accused Cruz of setting it up.  Cruz, in turn, denied this.  Trump calls Cruz, “lyin’ Ted Cruz.” 


Subsequently Trump posted a picture of Cruz’s wife, Heidi, with a wry expression on her face.  Then the National Enquirer posted an article accusing Cruz of having had sexual relations with five women.  Their pictures were posted with their faces partially blocked out.  There was no evidence presented, just the accusations and five pictures of unidentifiable women.  These were denied by Cruz who came out with a statement that he would have trouble supporting Trump if he became the Republican candidate.


These incidents were embarrassing for the Republican political party, the people of the United States, and should also have been for both candidates.  Historically there has been all sorts of drama during National Elections going back to the one in 1800; but I don’t believe any have reached the level of these incidents.  It was like two junior high youngsters having a shouting argument.


Is Cruz telling the truth?  Trump denied that he had anything to do with the National Enquirer article.  Is he telling the truth?  The editor of the Nation Enquirer, a scandal sheet generally sold in supermarkets, is a good friend of Donald Trump.


Since that time the two have vociferously denounced one another in terms just short of crude.


Trump in his vigorous and dramatic campaigning has probably alienated more people than any other candidate in the entire history of the United States.  He has verbally attacked women, Hispanics, Muslims.  The majority of Blacks also do not favor him. 


According to an April 2nd article in the Los Angeles Times, Donald Trump is the least popular guy in politics.  “Polls show up to 68% in the U.S. have an unfavorable view of Trump.”  His base in the Republican Party, far less than 50% of the American voters, have continued to support him but among the rest of the population, which had a negative view of him before he became a candidate, the dislike or distrust has increased exponentially since he began running for the Presidency of the U.S. 


In a March 31st Town Hall, held on MSNBC, with Chris Matthews as moderator, Trump stated, among many other things, that women who had abortions should be criminally punished.  Interestingly the man who brought about the pregnancy is totally innocent even if he helped the woman find the abortionist.  Trump backed off the position of the woman’s guilt after the Town Hall and just made the doctor performing the abortion the criminal.  But the issue was picked up by the candidates in both parties.  The other Republican candidates used it to show how unprepared Trump was to be President.  Bernie Sanders called it “shameful,” and Hillary Clinton stated that it demonstrated how all the Republican candidates really think.  In any event it considerably lowered his low approval rating among women.


If Trump were to win the Republican candidacy the negative perception of him by the majority of the electorate would not only cause him to lose the election it will also, in all probability, take down a large number of other Republican candidates running for public office with him.  The 68% figure came from a recent Bloomberg poll.  A CNN one came up with 67% and a resent CBS/New York Times poll emerged with 67%.  This is one of the many fears that many Republicans have of having Trump as the Presidential candidate.


While Donald Trump has been criticized by many Republicans as not being a true Republican and by others as being largely ignorant of the functioning of the Government, none of these comments could be applied to Ted Cruz.  He is as far right as any strict Tea Partier could be and is well aware of all the machinations of government.


Ted Cruz is another enigma like Trump who is disliked and distrusted within the Republican Party.  He is far enough right to be considered an ultra-reactionary but he is also the second leading candidate for the 2016 Presidency.  Unlike Trump and Kasich, Cruz opposes abortions in cases of rape or incest and has successfully closed down the U.S, Government over the issue of funding Planned Parenthood.  Presumably Cruz was guilty in starting the controversy with Trump over their wives and earlier in the primary where phone calls were made by his staff stating that Carson had dropped out of the presidency contest while he was still in it, and that the voters should switch their votes to Cruz. 


Is he equal to Trump or “slimier?”  His tax program could double the National Deficit in a relatively short time giving the upper 1% a massive tax break.  Whether he was directly involved in the 15 year old nude photograph of Trump’s wife being posted on Facebook is beside the point.  His Pac did it and in so doing, lowered the level of the campaign to the level of the gutter. 


Rafael Edward (Ted) Cruz was born in December 1970 in Canada of a Cuban father and an American mother.  He is currently the Jr. Senator from Texas.  He graduated from Princeton University in 1992 and Harvard Law School in 1995.  Shortly thereafter he denounced the entire law school Harvard faculty as being Communist. 


He has few friends in the Senate, where he has denounced that institution numerous times, even calling it majority leader a “liar” several times. 


He believes in decreasing the size of the Federal Government, intending to get rid of the IRS; replace it with a simple flat tax that everyone will pay.  They will all pay the same low percentage of their income, no matter how rich or poor they are.  This should shoot up the National Debt like a rocket.  He will further downsize the Government by eliminating the Departments of Energy, Education, Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  He will reinstitute the trans-Canada Keystone XL Pipeline.  Cruz does not believe in global warming.  As far as he is concerned the evidence is invalid.  There is no climate change going on.


He is against the United States participating in the United Nations Treaty with Iran and with the U.S. having friendly relations with Cuba.  Cruz is against the U.S. bombing in the Syrian Civil War.  He has stated that the U.S. should not serve as al-Qaeda’s air force.  He believes that if Assad falls ISIS will take over Syria.


Cruz in November of 2014 accused President Obama of being “openly desirous to destroy the Constitution and this Republic.”  He denounced Obama’s planned executive actions on immigration reform before it came into effect, has used rhetoric against his fellow Republicans in the Senate, in 2015 called Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate, a liar.  He believes in abortion only when the mother’s life is in danger.  Even in cases of rape or incest the fetus should come to term and the mother should be responsible for raising it. 


He strongly wants to do away with Affordable Health Care (Obamacare).  In fact he sponsored such a bill in the Senate.  He would like to end criminal jury trials.  He believes that the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats and that the real reason Democrats are soft on crime is that the convicted felons tend to vote Democratic.  This in a country with a greater prison population than any other nation in the world. 


On his first day as President Cruz has stated that he will cancel our Treaty with Iran and Obamacare.  In fact he will carry his executive actions out far beyond anything President Obama has done.  The impression Cruz gives is that he not only wants to be President of the United States but he also wants to be the leader of the country.  It might be more apt to use the German word for this position, Fuhrer of the United States.  That way he will have both administrative and legislative powers combined.   This is the man who has the second position in the Republican nominating conventions.  The overall Republican Party regards him with the same distain that they hold toward Donald Trump.


As an aside note: Ted Cruz married Heidi Nelson Cruz in 2001.  They have two young daughters.  Heidi Cruz is currently on leave from Goldman Sacks, one of the leading financial investment bands, where she was/is the head of Southwest region in the Management Division of Goldman Sacks.  Cruz also received a loan from Goldman Sacks during his Senate campaign which he failed to note in his disclosure to the FCC.


Of the three conservative Republican Presidential Candidates John Kasich is the least conservative, conservative.  As Governor of Ohio he signed a bill shortening the voting days but after some protest he opened up some evenings for voting and he vetoed a section of a bill that would have required college students living away from home to get special state Identification cards at a cost of $75, stating that this was tantamount to a poll tax.  Was he being a true conservative Republican?  The answer is Yes and No.


Kasich served in the House of Representatives from 1983 to 2001.  He is solidly against abortion but will allow it in cases of rape, incest, and danger to the life of the woman.  Since 2011 he has, as governor of Ohio, signed 16 anti-abortion measures into law.  Also he has acknowledged climate change as a real problem but stated that the EPA should not regulate carbon emissions, which should be done by the individual states and private companies.  In 2015 he stated that he did not know the cause of climate change.  He seems to be trapped by his political party’s philosophy even when he seemed to know better.


Kasich supports fracking in Ohio state parks and forests.  He signed a bill protecting Lake Erie’s water quality and supports the Keystone XL Pipeline.  But he accepted Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) for his state.  He supported criminal justice reform but is against Collective Bargaining for public employees like the police, firemen, and teachers.  He strongly believes in a balanced budget and has cut programs and funding to cities in order to achieve it.  He holds the Republican position on guns and believes in a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.


In foreign affairs Kasich considers the war with Iraq a mistake but believes also using ground troops in Syria.  He supports the drone policy of the current administration.  He would like to remove the military from the Sequester.   Kasich seems to be a man caught between two worlds, and not totally knowing to which one he belongs.  He tends to vie toward the Republican world but is also caught up by the real one.


Of all the Republican candidates John Kasich seems the most reasonable, more willing to cater to his citizen’s needs than the other two.  In terms of non-desirability I would rate the Republican candidates as Cruz, Trump, and Kasich. 


Which of these would the majority of the Republicans prefer as their Presidential candidate?  My guess is none of them.  The National Republican Nominating Convention meeting in July should be interesting if not overly dramatic.

The Weiner Component #150 – The Press & the Media

The overall purpose of journalism and the media is to provide us with the information to make the best possible decisions about our lives, communities, society, government, and the world in general.  The press and television or the media tends to give us general information and direct images of people and events.  To a large extent they do interviews with assorted noted individuals.  Currently we are going through a primary season that will determine who the leading candidates will be in the oncoming Presidential Election on the first Tuesday of November, 2016.


Are we being honestly informed about the world around us?  Is this what the assorted journalists and the media are doing?  Are they gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting largely unbiased information?  When assorted people are interviewed are we getting honest images of them?


This process is very important in a Democratic Society where people’s decisions are based upon the news and information they have.  In the oncoming 2016 Presidential Election will the general population be honestly informed or will they be propagandized?  Where does the press and media stand?


In the world today we are constantly surrounded with bits and pieces of information denoting what is both in the country and in the world around us.  At times such as elections we have to sort through some of this information and come to certain realizations before we can make rational decisions.  This is particularly true if we are functioning in a Democracy and have to choose the best candidate in a Presidential Election.


The question then arises if we are dealing with a Presidential Election, as we do every four years in the United States, is: Are we getting proper relevant information about the prospective candidates to make informed decisions concerning the elections.


The agencies through which we gain this information are the newspapers, radio, television, ads and news, the press, the media, and the internet.  The newspapers, depending upon their bias, generally give factual information and opinion, favoring one or the other candidate.  While some tend to be a little to the right or to the left, in their opinion sections, they are more or less neutral in their factual information.  Virtually anything can be published on the internet.  Here the reader has to decide the value of what he/she is reading.  In terms of the media or television, the question arises: Are these interviewers truly doing their job?  Are they honestly presenting interviews or are they being used by the people they are supposedly interviewing?


I would say that it is a combination of the two which essentially means that they are both being used by the candidate to present whatever he or she want the audience to understand and by the interviewer to present as good an image as he or she can.  An obvious example of the former was the Vice Presidential debate in 2008 between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.  Palin clearly stated at the beginning that she would respond to questions by talking about what she felt like saying, that she would not be answering any questions asked.  And that’s what she did.


Today if a politician doesn’t want to answer the question asked for whatever reason he tends to talk but what he says has no relationship to the question.  The news broadcaster generally goes to another question.  If he attempts to ask the question over again with a follow-up question the same thing will happen again and, this time, the interviewer will definitely go on to another question.  This can happen a number of times during an interview.


What about blatant lying or prefabricating during an interview?  Donald Trump seems to do this all the time.  He is never challenged.  Carly Fiorina had a story about fetus parts being sold by Planned Parenthood.  When she was challenged on this her response was something to the effect of, Prove it didn’t happen.  Presumably the interviewer was put on the spot and the issue went away.  In any case she was not about to respond to the question.


Trump’s obvious prefabrications have never even been directly challenged.  But then if Trump is challenged he will verbally attack the reporter as he did with Megyn Kelly during the first presidential debate, when she asked him about his treatment of women.  Trump is also very careful in choosing his interviewers.  He skipped one debate at Fox News because Megyn Kelly was one of the interviewers.


Are the TV interviewers doing their jobs?  An interesting question in terms of news casting today.


There is a history behind what is going on in the present.  Generally the same games have historically gone on but the role of the interviewer, for various reasons has changed.  If we go back to the time before Richard Nixon became President of the U.S. in 1969 or earlier then we are in a period when questions were specifically answered or skipped.  Specific information was given to the press generally when it was asked for.  There were a group of commentators who evaluated the information the various candidates enunciated.  The entire process of news gathering was more direct and more specific.


With the Nixon Presidency in 1969 conditions began to radically change.  Nixon’s axe man, Vice President Spiro Agnew, began in a mildly oblique way to threaten the electronic news media, suggesting that when their Federal Communication Commission license became due for renewal the request might be rejected as the station, be it radio or television, might no longer qualify as doing a public service. To individual reporters who might come out with a somewhat negative view of the President at some time it was suggested that they might no longer be welcome at White House briefings.  Gradually this pressure began to spread beyond the White House press meeting throughout the entire Republican Party.  At that time there was a new price that had to be paid if one was a reporter; there were new limits to reporting.  The press and media was beginning to be controlled by the administrations.


When Nixon ran for reelection in 1972 members of his staff sanctioned the Watergate Hotel break-ins at Democratic Headquarters.  They also helped fund George McGovern as the Democratic candidate for the office of President, working on the assumption that if overly liberal McGovern became the Democratic candidate Nixon would have an overwhelming Republican victory.


Nixon’s Reelection Committee was correct in their assumption but in order to be sure they had a group called “the plumbers” break into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel several times to go through the Democratic documents there.  On their third visit they were caught and arrested.  At some point early on in the process Nixon became aware of the break-ins.  Meanwhile Nixon was reelected by an overwhelming majority.  For the next two years as the information gradually emerged the question became: “What did the President know?  And when did he know it?”  Basically the issue was: Was Nixon involved in the Break-in?  And did he participate in the cover-up?  The answer that came out two years into his second term was YES and he was involved in the cover up.  Nixon would resign from the presidency the day before he was to be impeached.


Meanwhile, while this was going on, the Justice Department was investigating the Vice-President, Spiro Agnew.  He was charged with an eighty-nine page indictment charging him with extortion, tax fraud, bribery, and conspiracy.  He had accepted bribes of over $100,000 as Governor of Maryland and as a government official before that, as well as vice president.  Because of the ongoing investigation over Watergate Agnew was allowed to plead “no contest” to a single charge that he had failed to report $25,000 of income, pay a fine, resign as Vice President, and leave Washington, D.C.  As a note or irony ten years later in a civil suit by the State of Maryland Agnew had to pay out nearly $270,000, stemming from the bribery charge.


Nixon appointed Senator Gerald Ford as his new Vice President.  President Ford would end America’s involvement into the Viet Nam War and pardon former President Nixon for any crimes he had or may have committed


It is important to remember that when Richard Nixon became President in 1969 one of his major goals was to get the United States out of Viet Nam “with honor.”  Former President Lyndon B. Johnson had vigorously increased the extent of the war to force the Vietnamese to capitulate to America.  He did not succeed.  Richard Nixon had promised to end the war if elected.  He would do this by upgrading the war effort to the point where the U.S. could have an honorable settlement.


The Viet Nam War had been reported practically battle by battle.  Cameramen went along with the military daily and filmed practically every battle.  This, then, was shown that night on national television in the U.S. as the nightly news.  The effect of this was to engender a massive protest movement throughout the country.  The population did not enjoy watching American soldiers or Vietnamese nightly being machine-gunned or blown to bits.


To demonstrate that we were winning the U.S. military came up with the concept of the daily “body count,” the number of American’s killed that day versus the number of Vietnamese militants who died.  Their number was always far greater than our number of dead.  In fact if one totaled the count it would seem that soon there would be no Vietnamese left to fight the war.


It was President Gerald Ford who ended this war in 1975 and we did not leave “with honor.”  Interestingly today there is a Hanoi Hilton and Vietnam is an inexpensive vacation country that welcomes American citizens.  The press would never again be allowed to report a military operation in the same way it did in Viet Nam.


In 1976 the Republican, Gerald Ford, ran against the Democrat, Jimmy Carter, for the office of President and lost.  Jimmy Carter became President of the United States in 1976.  He would serve one term.  His relations with the press and media eased up but a note of caution remained in their reporting.


During Carter’s tenure there would be a revolution in Iran and the autocratic Shah, a longtime ally of the United States, would be replaced by the religious far right leader, Ayatollah Khomeini.  Presumably a group of students raided the U.S. Council and made the American Embassy employees prisoners.  The U.S. military mounted a helicopter mission to rescue them which failed.  52 hostages were held from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981.  They were released just hours after Ronald Reagan became president.


With the assent of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States the press and media underwent a new metamorphosis.  Reagan, our 40th President and his staff managed the media largely for eight years to their advantage.


He was called the Teflon President.  As a former actor he never stopped acting. He has been called the most ideal, congenial President in modern history, continually telling his audience, the American Public, what they wanted to hear, always in positive terms.  Even, at the end of his presidency when he was telling the public on a television broadcast about his guilt in the Iran-Contra Affair, a breach of law that could have gotten him impeached and sent to prison, he was able to do it in such a way that it didn’t seem to be his fault.


While the media was warry of him they also fell under his influence and allowed him to manage the news.  Even though he was to the right of the majority of the American people he was able to get massive tax cuts for the wealthy.  An average member of the middle class might from 1981 on save $200 on their income taxes while someone in the upper echelon might save $20,000 or more in income taxes.  While he did this he was able to significantly cut social programs to the needy.  Reagan actually espoused welfare for the rich.


He was the first President to raise the National Debt over a trillion dollars and then with his massive military spending and tax cuts, more than doubled that amount.


Through his overspending he did end the Cold War.  He and his administration were convinced that militarily the Soviet Union was far ahead of the United States and that we had to catch-up to them.  In doing this he inadvertently bankrupted them as they tried to keep up with us.  This brought about the end of the Cold War.


It was after his administration that reality set in with the press and many of them, after the fact, reevaluated him on an extremely negative basis.  But that was after the fact.  Some of his staff went to prison for the Iran-Contra affair but Reagan, in whose name it was brought about, was essentially untouched by it.


Reagan was followed by his Vice President, George H. W. Bush, as the 41st President for one term with a Democratic Congress.  He was guilty in bringing about a war with Iraq, Operation Desert Storm, by inept diplomacy, which also cost numerous lives on both sides but also raised the National Debt additional trillions of dollars.  Saddam Hussein, the ruler of Iraq would unsuccessfully attempt to have Bush assassinated.  His son would later punish him.


With Bill Clinton there was much drama involving some of his proclivities.  The press was not threatened, instead they were treated to various colorful stories about the man and to his attempted impeachment.


George W. Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush became the 43d President.  His presidency is marked by the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001.  It was then that the War on Terror earnestly began in the United States and was used by the Bush Administration to get a myriad of laws passed.  “9/11” became a key term and was freely used from then on by the administration to get their way on many issues.  The press was largely patriotic and went along with most of what the government wanted.


The second Bush was followed by Barack Obama.  Currently there are no threats to the press.  But with the oncoming 2016 Election and the belligerence among the Republican candidates like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz we are coming into another era of risk to the press and media.


The very nature of live reporting seems to have changed.  Candidates, with a very straight face, blatantly lie or prefabricate in front of the camera or in speeches at rallies.  But they are never challenged on this.  It’s as though the press or media are afraid of the people they are interviewing.  Donald Trump is particularly noted for this.  If he doesn’t like the question he will verbally and vindictively challenge the reporter.  Ted Cruz tends to pick his interviewers as well as reinterpret the questions asked.  Reporting has become a heady occupation.  Somehow the original purpose of the reporter seems lost or confused.  The public seems left to make their decisions on an emotional basis.






The Weiner Component #149 – The 2016 Presidential Election: The Democrats & the Election

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are the Democratic candidates for the presidency in 2016.  He is now a Democratic Socialist who has always caucused with the Democratic Party.  Hillary Clinton has always been a liberal Democrat.  Both would like to be President of the United States.


Bernie was born on September 8, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York.  He is 71 years old and the junior Senator from Vermont.  Bernie is also the longest serving independent member of Congress in the history of the Institution.  As of 2015 he officially became a member of the Democratic Party and now calls himself a Democratic Socialist. 


In 1964, as a student at the University of Chicago, he was a civil rights protestor.  After settling in Vermont he ran as an unsuccessful socialist candidate for governor and U.S. Senator in the 1970s.  He was elected as mayor of Burlington as an independent in 1981 and reelected three times.  He was then elected to the House of Representatives from Vermont’s at large congressional district where he served through 2007 when he was elected to the Senate.  He is still serving in the U.S. Senate.


Bernie Sanders rose to prominence in 2010 with his filibuster against Bush’s extension of his tax cuts.  He favors policies similar to those in the Social Democratic parties of Europe, particularly of the Nordic countries.  He is a leading progressive voice on issues such as campaign financial reform, corporate welfare, global warming, income inequality, parental rights, and free universal healthcare.  He has been critical of U.S. foreign policy and was an early and outspoken critic of the Iraqi War.  In addition he is outspoken on civil liberties and civil rights.  He has criticized the racial discrimination of the criminal justice system and advocated for privacy rights against mass surveillance policies as the patriot act.


I suspect that Bernie Sanders chose to run for the presidency of the United States in 2016 as an act of protest against the traditional political structure of the U.S.  As a long-time member of Congress he knows that there is little he could do with the current Republican dominated Congress.  After all, they make the laws and the President just carries them out. 


Inadvertently Sanders picked a time when a goodly percentage of the population was disgusted with the inaction of Congress over the last five years, since the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, and later in 2014 when they also gained dominance in the Senate.  The Republican majorities in Congress have either not cared to or not been able to pass any laws needed by the nation.


In addition the overall population that was either fourteen years of age to just below eighteen years old in November of 2012 has now come of voting age and they want a candidate to represent them; most of these people believe that Bernie Sanders is that person.  They represent a goodly percentage of the over 350 million people who make up the population of the United States.


To Bernie the extent of his success has been euphoric; he apparently believes that a Giant Revolution is in the process of occurring and that he will not only be elected President of the United States but that the Democrats will sweep into Congress with giant majorities in both Houses of Congress.


Is this true?  That’s an interesting question.  It could happen in the Senate where 24 Republicans will be running to get reelected, some in swing states.  We could get a lot of politically disgusted people in those states voting for Democrats.  In the House of Representatives through gerrymandering in 2010 the Republicans were able to assign Districts along the line of the voters.  This will not change until 2020 when the next census occurs.  In 2012 over a million and a quarter more votes were cast for Democrats running in the House of Representatives but the Republicans still maintained the majority.  It will probably take at least two million addition Democratic votes for the Democrats to win control of the House of Representatives.


Donald Trump has attracted those disgusted with the government who, for whatever reason, could never get themselves to vote for Democratic candidates.  It would seem that most of Trump’s followers are not overly educated.  Many of them like his simplistic view of the world.


The election has its own special energy and no one can truly predict where it is going.


The other major Democratic candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, was born in 1947, which makes her currently 71.  She is the wife of the 42nd President, Bill Clinton, has served in the Senate from 2,000 to 2007, then unsuccessfully ran for the presidency against Barack Obama in 2008, was his Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, and is at present the leading Democratic Candidate in the 2016 Presidential Election. 


She came originally from the Chicago area and graduated from Wellesley College in 1969.  She achieved a doctorate from Yale Law School in 1973, married Bill Clinton in 1975 and moved to Arkansas, where her husband became governor.  While first lady of Arkansas she led a task force that reformed the state’s public school system. 


Her husband, President Bill Clinton appointed her to lead the Clinton health plan of 1993 which failed to reach a vote in Congress.  The Republican protagonists came out with a catchy slogan, “There has to be a better way.”  The “better way” was no health care bill.


She played a major role in advocating the creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Adoption and Safe Families Act and the Foster Care Independence Act.  During most of her adult life Hillary Clinton has been involved in causes for the needy.


In 2,000 after the end of her husband’s term as President of the United States, she moving to New York and was elected as the first woman Senator from that state.  Clinton was reelected to the Senate in 2006.  She ran against Barack Obama in 2008 for the presidency.  Instead she became Obama’s Secretary of State for the first four years of his term.  Probably no other candidate in the history of the United States for the presidency has had as much experience as Hillary Clinton.  She has been involved in public service most of her adult life.


If an individual has watched the debates in this 2016 Presidential Election year that person gets the impression that two separate and distinct elections are going on.  The magnitude of the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats tends to give the impression that we are dealing with two entirely different countries.


For the Republicans this country has been abused and taken advantage of by all the other nations on the planet.  We have been militarily inept, not capable of carrying out any military operation.  We have signed unfair treaties with countries like Iran.  Our trade agreements always favor the other nation or nations, taking needed jobs out of the United States.  The U.S. under its current leadership, as a nation, is totally inept.  Only by electing Republican leadership can the country properly function again.


Listening to them one get the impression that treaties need to be renegotiated and other countries need to be straightened out in their relations with the United States.  If the United States reneges on past agreements with other nations this could be a direct path to war.  Iran spent two years negotiating a compact with 5 Security Council nations plus Germany.  I can’t see the Republican U.S. President telling them that the terms are now unacceptable and that the treaty now has to be redone on a much harsher basis with the U.S.  To me that’s a recipe for war with Iran.


If Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) were to be suddenly cancelled, then no matter what is said a large number of people will suddenly lose their current health coverage.  They and others adversely affected will be extremely unhappy.   The Republicans have continually denounced this program since it came into existence in 2010.  It was initially a Republican plan put into existence by Mitt Romney as governor of Massachusetts.  It was voted into existence by the Democratic majority.  The Republicans have denounced it since its inception, calling it a job-killing bill.  They have never offered any real proof of its so-called negative aspects.  Mainly they seem to object to it because it came into existence under a Black President, Barack Obama. 


Somehow it seems that the Republicans have forgotten that the prior President was George W. Bush and that he got the country involved in a needless war in Iraq, wastefully spending trillions of dollars while reducing taxes mostly for the wealthy, and massively increasing the National Debt while making the U.S. a laughing stock to other industrial nations.   It was also toward the end of his administration that the economic Real Estate Bubble burst almost bringing about the greatest economic decline in the history of the nation.  It appears, to many Republicans that these events never did really happened.  It was also Bush’s actions that destabilized the Middle East and brought about the current situation there.  Basically a study of our current economic and military problems can be traced back to Republican Administrations which were then left for Democratic Administrations to deal with and, of course, were blamed on the Democrats by their Republican colleagues.


On the Democratic side we have a country with a broken or outdated infrastructure where state governors like Rick Snyder of Michigan can appoint inept city managers who then can arbitrarily switch a healthy water supply to a toxic one, poisoning a whole generation of children with lead infested water arbitrarily and even after that fact comes out, continue charging the residents of Flint for using the poisoned water and then when questioned about it by a Congressional committee blame the inexcusable problem upon the EPA.    


We have a country where roads are filled with pot holes, bridges, in many instances, were built 100 years ago; where ports cannot handle modern shipping, railroads are today inadequate for properly transporting goods, many airfields are out of date, many school buildings are so old they are unsafe.  Flint’s problem of unsafe water exists in many cities and buildings.  The list goes on and on.  In essence we are living in the 21st Century with an early 20th Century infrastructure.


According to Bernie Sanders we have, among many other problems, a broken legal system that incarcerates more people than a dictatorship like Communist China or Russia.  And the bulk of those jailed tend to be Hispanic or Black.  We have serious racial problems which are not really being dealt with.


As far as both Democratic candidates are concerned, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sander, this country needs a lot of internal repair and the major factor that has kept any of it from happening has been the Republicans in Congress and the state governments who apparently believe that this country can go on forever with little or no  maintenance.  Upgrading the infrastructure will probably take a decade or more and will cost trillions of dollars.   Both feel it’s time we got started, particularly since the country still has an unemployment problems left over from the Great Recession of 2008.


It would seem that the Republicans have no understanding of the principles of economics.  Most, if not all, Republican members of the House of Representatives believe that all economics is Microeconomics.  That is, if one has raised a family and provided an adequate income then that person has a proper understanding of the discipline.  They have a total knowledge of all they need to know about financing the United States.  The nation takes in so much in taxes and that is its income.  If it spends more than that it has to borrow the money and pay it back at some time in the future.  That is all a person needs to know about finance it order to run the country.  It’s a rather naïve and limited view of National financing.


To them money is like gold, it has an intrinsic value.  Actually money today is just paper that is treated by most people as something of great value.  It has not been gold since 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal collected all the gold coins, melted them down into blocks that were then buried in underground depositories, like Fort Knox, and issued paper certificates in their stead known as Federal Reserve Notes.  Gold then was worth $18.00 an ounce, today an ounce of gold is worth slightly over twelve hundred dollars and the Federal Government has sold most of its gold bullion.


Money today is just a token that is used in the exchange of goods and services.  It has no intrinsic value.  The Central Government can print and issue as much as it wants.  There are, however, general rules and regulations that govern this process which is done by the Federal Reserve.  Both the 2008 oncoming depression and the banking collapse of the Housing Market were largely resolved by the Federal Reserve through its use of Creative Monetary Policy.  This became necessary because the Republican dominated House of Representatives refused to deal with the problem with Fiscal Policy.  In fact they exacerbated it by shrinking the size of the government and increasing the level of unemployment.


The Republican dominated Congress today cannot even accept the existence of the idea.  Their concept of increasing employment is to get rid of the EPA, lower taxes for the rich, and allow increased pollution.  The increased wealth that the rich gain through lower taxes, they say will allow for industrial expansion and the new wealth being spent on new productivity will tinkle down to the middle class and the poor.


This is the Republicans basic concept of job creation.  Lowering the costs of production by allowing for more pollution.  We can have industrial centers like China where the air is dangerous to breathe.  This they believe, according to what a number of the candidates have said in the Republican Candidates 2016 Presidential debates, that if they do away with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) restrictions on production, unemployment will automatically disappear and there will be more jobs for everyone. 


It’s a nice thought but it does not deal with reality.  During the Reagan years as taxes for the wealthy declined their additional wealth was put into old production, the stock markets and what was then considered other safe areas of the economy.  Very little, if any, trickled down to new production.


During Ronald Reagan’s Administration it was called “Supply Side Economics.”  Its chief advocate was David Stockman who became President Reagan’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1981 to 1985 when he resigned from that position.  Eventually even Stockman admitted that it didn’t work.


It should be noted that under Reagan the National Debt not only reached a trillion dollars for the first time in U.S. history, it also rose to over double that amount.


The Republicans are also convinced that climate change is a hoax that the earth is too large to be affected in any way by anything man does.  It seems that they are never bothered by evidence of what is going on around them as they plod through life.  Donald Trump believes that the Chinese started the rumor of climate change. 


To the Republicans the melting of the Southern and Northern ice poles and the decreasing glacier areas would have happened even if man did not live on this planet, it is a normal, natural event.  And this is also true of the rising ocean water levels.  The tons of carbon that automobiles spew out into the atmosphere and other gases added by man to the air do not effect temperature change on the planet, which is naturally getting hotter.  


The real problem for the Republicans is that the people who fund their elections are the producers of all this garbage that pollutes, fouling the air and warming the planet.  It is to their advantage that pollution causing oil is used.  The Koch Brothers who deal heavily in oil have had a law passed in Kansas making green energy illegal.  The law is generally ignored but the brothers had enough political influence to get their state to pass it.  They are heavy contributors to the Republican Party.


The Republicans mainly have vested interests in maintaining their contributor base—the wealthy producers and political contributors in the country.  They have consequently adjusted their prospective to support the upper economic percentile of the population, making the interests of these people their interests and ignoring the needs of their economic base.  As a result they cannot accept any facts about global warming being true, since that reality would separate them from their major political contributors.


If Donald Trump is not chosen as the Republican candidate for president he has threatened riots by his followers.  That would seem to mean that if he is short the 1,237 delegate votes but is still leading the other two potential presidential candidates he still expects to be nominated.  Trump has not mentioned being a possible third party candidate if the Republican Nominating Convention in July were to choose another candidate. 


In terms of public statements he seems to be moving toward total monomania at this point in the election process.  2016 may be an historic election year!

The Weiner Component #149 Part 3 – The 2016 Presidential Election: The Republican Dilemma, Donald Trump

According to Harry Reid, the current minority leader in the Senate, the Republicans have created their own Frankenstein Monster with Donald Trump and don’t know how to get rid of him.  Currently they are spending many millions in negative ads attacking him and they don’t seem to be making many dents in his popularity.


To the leaders of the Republican Party in Washington and most, if not all, of the 50 states Donald Trump is totally unacceptable as their standard bearer in the 2016 Presidential Election.  Tom DeLay the former speaker of the House of Representatives, when questioned by Chris Mathews, could not conceive of any circumstances that would make Donald Trump acceptable as the leader of the Republican Party.  To many Republicans he is not even a real conservative and he wants to take over the Republican Party. To all these anti-Trump Republicans he seems to be getting worse all the time.


Originally Donald Trump was considered a joke when he entered the 2016 Presidential Race.  After he won a couple of primaries they considered him a phenomena that would soon wear out and be rejected by the public.  After Super Tuesday on March 1st, the elite Republicans were in shock; by then Trump was leading all the Republican candidates with 325 delegates and people were jumping aboard his “band wagon.”   After the March 15th Super Tuesday he had won four out of five primaries and was well on his way to the late July Party Nominating Convention.  There seems to be a distinct possibility that Trump could achieve the 1,237 delegates needed to become the Republican candidate if he wins that number of delegates on the first ballot for the 2016 Presidential Election.


According to the Republican Rules he can be nominated as the 2016 Presidential candidate only if he has 1,237 delegates supporting him during the first ballot.  After that vote all the delegates he has won are no longer bound to him.  They can vote any way they see fit.  The choice of a candidate actually falls to the Nominating Convention and they will continue voting until someone achieves the 1,237 votes.


Statistically, in order to win the nomination Donald Trump needs 51% of all the nominating Conventions coming after March 1, 2016, Super Tuesday.  51% will give him all the delegate votes for each of the states involved.  If he can get that majority he will have 1,237 delegates or more voting for him.  If he doesn’t achieve the nomination on the first vote then, there is no chance he will be chosen. 


Historically in a few prior conventions the delegates’ vote has been cast up to a hundred or more times before a candidate was chosen.  Usually in these conventions a “dark horse” is chosen, a compromise candidate that everyone can reluctantly agree upon.  It would seem the both Mitt Romney and John Kasich are hoping to become the “dark horse;” that is the final compromise candidate chosen.


After Trump won seven states on the first Super Tuesday Romney, in a dignified afternoon speech made in a statesman-like-fashion, stated that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both unfit to become President of the United States. He appeared as an elder statesman speaking for his Party.   In a later interview Romney said that he didn’t want the position of President of the United States; but he modified that statement slightly the next day and indicated obliquely that he had a staff ready to jump in.  He apparently is waiting to be asked or told that he is the only man fit for the job so he can reluctantly sacrifice himself for his country. 


Of course Donald Trump later ridiculed him as a failed has been.  I am reminded of Conan Doyle’s character in his Sherlock Homes stories; “The game is afoot, Watson;” and so it is, within the Republican Party, Trump v. the Republican leaders or elite.


Entering the Republican race since Super Tuesday, March 1st for the first time has been conservative “dark money” groups that are going after two GOP hopefuls, primarily Donald Trump and to a lesser degree, Ted Cruz.  These are non-profit groups whose donors can remain anonymous.  Originally these groups targeted Democrats with negative advertising.  As of March 2nd they targeted Trump, denouncing him as a fraud.  In one ad a trio of individuals are making statements which in effect say, “America, don’t make the same mistake we did with Donald Trump.”  They then each separately say that they were scammed by the Trump University real estate course out of thousands of dollars. 


Trump commented upon these ads the next day, after winning two out of four states on Super Saturday, saying that nobody has ever been hit by so many negative ads by his own political party. Ted Cruz won the other two states.  Neither had 51% of the vote so the delegates in each state were split between the four delegates running at that time.


As of March 13th Donald Trump has 460 delegates, Ted Cruz had 359, Marco Rubio had 153, and John Kasich had 54.  On Tuesday, March 15th a number of states held primaries and a total of fifty percent of the states will then have held their primary elections.  The candidates are a long way from the required 1,237 delegates needed on the first vote in order to be nominated as the Republican candidate.


On negative advertising against Trump, the American Future Fund, had initially spent 1½ million dollars on ads attacking mostly Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.  As of March 5th, it’s estimated that they have spent 5 million dollars.  It was suspected that they might have been supporting Marco Rubio; but he was then a distant third and did not have enough support to become the Republican candidate.  It is also possible that they want to throw the choice of a candidate to the full July Convention.


The use of the term “dark money” which the newspapers have adopted is reminiscent of the Star War movies from which it comes.  The implication being that “dark” is evil because it stays hidden.  Consequently implying that these “dark funds,” unknown funds, are evil funds, which they may very well be. 


There is an interesting note or irony here.  The American Future Fund is a tax free organization that is supposed to support the education of the American public.  They are tax free because they provide a public service.  The people who contribute to the group, and whose names are secret, can and do deduct their contributions from their income taxes.  But only the IRS knows who they are, if they pay attention to the tax deductions.


Incidentally Senator John McCain also verbally attacked Trump in a news interview saying that he is uniformed and dangerous.  Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, endorsed John Kasich and will appear with him at a rally.


Romney stated at the University of Utah that, “If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished.  His domestic policies would lead to recession.  His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe.  He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president.”


One argument that has come out is that by throwing the choice of the candidate to the convention a weak choice can be made, who will take orders from the elite leaders of the GOP.  Is this true?  I have no idea.  But I do know that none of the three major potential candidates stand out in any way as dynamic leaders; they are poor material.  Trump exaggerates everything and is a blatant prefabricator who doesn’t seem to really understand our form of government or how it really works.  He was for torturing prisoners before he discovered it was illegal and was against it.  As Commander and Chief of the Military he seems to think he can give orders, tell people what to do, and they’ll automatically carry them out, as long as they are legal orders.  He seems to think he’ll straighten out the world in a short period of time and get rid of the terrorists overnight, especially of ISIS.


Ted Cruz doesn’t seem quite honest with some of the tricks he and his staff have pulled.  And Marko Rubio, who withdrew after March 15th seemed sly; a man who has been working to become President since he was elected to the Senate and ignoring the job he was sent to do.


And what I find fascinating is the fact that the entire GOP is ignoring the fact that made Trump, a billionaire, popular with the poorest and largest groups within the Republican Party.  They see Trump as a threat that could seriously hurt the Party but they are oblivious to the reason for Trump’s popularity.  And the probability is that they will get their way with the Convention, Trump will not be nominated on the first vote and consequently will stand no chance of winning the nomination.


On Super Tuesday, March 1st, Trump won seven out of eleven states but he did not get all the delegates in each of the states he won.  He needs 1,237 delegates to win.  He then had just under four hundred.  In his victory speech he sounded as though he was ready to take command of the Republican Party.  I imagine that upset a goodly number of Republicans.


On Super Saturday, March 5th, Trump split his victory with Cruz.  Both won two states.  At that point Trump had 388 delegates and Cruz had 305 delegates. 


What I find particularly interesting is that Trump said publically earlier that he would support any candidate chosen by the Republican Party at the Nominating Convention on July 18th to the 25th.  I suspect that meant that if he was treated fairly but if he feels he was not treated fairly what will he do?


It seems that Donald Trump has a problem with people protesting at his rallies, and noisily interrupting him.  In the past he has ordered them vigorously removed by security and some of his white-supremacy followers have exercised their right to aggressively push and abusively denounce these people to their faces particularly if they are Black.  This has turned off or cooled off some of his supporters.  By Monday, March 7th he seems to be getting more protestors at his rallies.  Will he continue to be aggressive or will he be more tolerant?


Generally speaking Donald Trump seems to be aggressive and vindictive toward anyone who crosses him in any way.  A good percentage of the leadership of the Republican Party does not, under any circumstances, want him to be their candidate for the presidency in 2016.  Many, if not most of them do not even consider him a true Republican or even a conservative.  Directly after Super Tuesday, March 1st, Republican non-profit packs began spending upward of 5 million dollars in attack ads and commercials to demonize him.  He even complained about it.  After the nominating votes and caucuses on Tuesday, March 8th Trump stated that 48 million has been spent by fellow Republicans on attack ads.


On March 15th the second Super Tuesday occurred, five states held their primary elections on the same day: Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. 


On the Republican side Trump won four of the five states.  Governor John Kasich won Ohio; his home state, Trump won the other four.  With the exception of Florida which was a winner take all race Trump did not get all the delegates in the other three states he won.  He increased his number of delegates to 655, still a good way from 1,237 needed.  In order to win on the first ballot it is estimated that Donald Trump will have to win 60% of all future primaries and caucuses. Can he do that?


Another effect of the Second Super Tuesday is that Marco Rubio lost the election in his home state, Florida.  This has caused him to drop out of the race, leaving only three potential candidates: Trump, Cruz, and Kasich. 


On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton won all five states bringing her total to 1,565 delegates.  She needs 2,383 to win the nomination and become the Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States.  This number does not include the super delegates that are appointed by the Political Party and that make up about 20% of the over-all delegates.  They do not owe allegiance to any candidate for their first vote.


Hillary Clinton won large majorities in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio and got all the Democratic delegates in those states.  In Illinois and Missouri she had slight majorities and there the delegates will be split with Bernie Sanders.  But with a total of 1,565 delegates she is close to being the Democratic candidate.


Shortly after the Republican Party Presidential Debates began Trump and the other presidential candidates swore publically to support whoever ended up being chosen in July.  He was initially reluctant to agree but finally did.


The impression I got at the time was that Trump would stick to his word if they, the Republicans, played fair with him.  He is currently the leading candidate and the Party leadership is trying to torpedo him.  It seems that they want to throw the final choice to the leadership at the Nominating Convention in July.  They want a “dark horse” candidate.  The leadership objects to both top candidates, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.  They find both of them unacceptable.


Donald Trump has a tendency to get even with anyone who attacks him in any way.  He denounced Mitt Romney as a “has been,” after Romney made a derogatory speech about him.  Will he run as a third party candidate if the Republicans drop him?  The probability is that he will have the most delegates of any of the remaining three potential presidential candidates but he will not have the required 1,237 required to be nominated on the first ballot. 


If for no other reason than just spite would he run as a third party candidate or might he think or believe that he could take enough voters with him to win.  It’s an interesting question!


In the 1912 Nominating Republican Convention the then President, William Howard Taft, refused to allow the convention to nominate Theodore Roosevelt instead of himself.  Roosevelt, who had chosen and backed Taft in 1908, was dissatisfied with the way he had run the country for the last four years and wanted the presidency for a third term in order to straighten it out.


When he couldn’t get the nomination he broke with the Republican Party and organized his own third party to run him for the presidency.  This was the Bull Moose Party.  Roosevelt, at an earlier time, had stated that he felt as strong as a Bull Moose and the name had stuck.


While all the popular votes gotten by both Roosevelt and Taft exceeded fifty percent of the vote neither was high enough to beat the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson.  He won the election with less than 50 percent of the vote.


The question with Trump is whether he is really rich enough to stage a third party candidacy.  He tends to exaggerate most things.  Does he really have ten billion dollars or more?  If he does, is he willing to spend around a billion dollars on his third party candidacy? 


If he’s exaggerating the size of his fortune then he probably could not afford to run as a third party candidate.  We’ll have to wait and see.


A Third Party candidacy means 50 separate state plus territory elections throughout the United States which have to be separately organized within each individual state and territory.  He will need an organization in each state and territory to register, get the required signatures, and pay whatever fees are required.  And this is just to get his name on all the ballots.  Then the organization will have to get him elected in every one of the states.  Normally this is done by the Party organization.  But Trump will have to have one in each state and territory.  It can be a very expensive process.  Can Trump really afford it in order to get even?  And if he does it he is practically guaranteeing that the Democratic candidate, who will probably be Hillary Clinton, will win the election.  But Donald Trump will have gotten even with the Republican leadership for not treating him fairly.


Somehow all this bogs the mind and shows how broken or dysfunctional the Republicans have become.  I recently read an autobiography of Barry Goldwater, who can be considered as the father or originator of the modern Republican Party.  In his last chapter, which he calls “The Future”, writing in the mid to late 1980s, he warns against what is happening now in the Republican Party.  If Goldwater were alive today he would call his party dysfunctional and out of sync with the needs of the United States.  He might even question if it is truly conservative.

The Weiner Component #149 Part 2: The 2016 Presidential Election: The Republican Candidates

Official photo of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Official photo of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All one has to do to become a candidate for any particular political office in the United States is to announce his/her intention of running for that particular office and then go through a process of becoming a registered candidate.  In the case of an office, like the presidency of the U.S., the individual needs an organization operating in all fifty states and territories of the nation.  This is generally what the political parties do; but one needs to be well organized to get the process started.  A person is elected to the presidency in each of the fifty states and territories.  There are that many separate elections that will be combined into one gigantic one on November 8, 2016.  The new President will take office in the middle of January 2017.


Originally there were a host of Republican hopefuls for the 2016 Presidential Election.  Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was the first candidate to announce his run on March 25th 2015.  Kentucky Senator Rand Paul came next on April 7th 2015.  He had a problem in that he wanted to also run for the Senate at the same time in case he wasn’t elected President and Kentucky law does not allow that.  His problem seems to be solved now that he is no longer funning for the presidency.  He had originally wanted the state law changed. 


Then came Marco Rubio, officially announcing his run on April 13. Senator Rubio had been campaigning for a much longer period of time.  He has apparently missed more sessions of the Senate that any other member. In fact the Republican leadership in Florida has offered to support Ben Carson for Rubio’s senatorial seat in November.


Both neurosurgeon Ben Carson and businesswoman Carley Fiorina made their announcement on May 4, 2015.  Then came Mike Huckabee former preacher, former governor of Arkansas, 2008 presidential candidate, and former Fox news anchor on May 5th.  The list goes on to include former Senator Rick Santorum, ex New York Governor George Pataki, Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, former Governor Rick Perry from Texas,


Next came Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, and younger brother of former President George W. Bush, and son of former President George H. W. Bush, who apparently saw himself as the heir to the presidency.  I imagine he felt it was his turn.  Before formally announcing his run for the presidency on June 15th Jeb Bush raised over $100 million dollars that went to his pact for his campaign.  He apparently spent over $70 million on his failed campaign before withdrawing in February of 2016.


On June 16, real estate and casino developer and reality TV host Donald J. Trump dramatically announced that he was running for the presidency.  Trump began his campaign with an anti-Hispanic statement against Mexicans and has continued an essentially negative campaign successfully feeding on the prejudices and fears of most of his blue collar supporters.  He glories in being incorrect in what he says.  He has the support of White Power groups like the K.K.K. and a Southern pastor who preaches that Adolph Hitler was sent by God to punish the Jews for not converting to Christianity, among others.


Next on June 24th came Bobby Jindal, the outgoing governor of Louisiana.  He was followed by the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie on June 30th.  Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, announced his candidacy on July 13th.  Ohio governor John Kasich joined the race on July 21st.  And former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore came in in on July 30th.


That makes seventeen candidates who were all vying to become the Republican candidate in the Presidential Election of 2016.  By the end of February 2016 the number had dropped to five, twelve had withdrawn.  As of March first, when Supper Tuesday occurred, there were only five Republican candidates still running.   After Friday, March 4th Ben Carson, who gained no delegates on March 1st officially dropped out.


March First was Super Tuesday.  Twelve states (Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado caucuses, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Alaska and Wyoming, caucuses)  In addition American Samoa will hold a Democratic caucus.  All these states will hold primary elections or caucuses.  The difference between a caucus and a primary election is that instead of a person casting a ballot for a member of his/her party the people from each party meet in various places and support their candidates in groups which are then individually counted.  Also a primary election is paid for by the states holding it, while a caucus is paid for by the political party holding the caudus.


For the Republicans 1,237 Representative elected delegates are needed to become the Party’s candidate in the 2016 Presidential Election.  About ½ of that was available on Super Tuesday.  The people elected are bound to cast their initial vote at the Nominating Convention in November. About 600 delegates would be elected on March 1st.  The Democrats would be electing 880 delegates, about 1/3d needed to win their nomination


Of the Republican candidates, Donald Trump is the most successful, representing mostly the silent majority of Republicans who have gotten the least from their party.  This majority seems to be the blue collars high school graduates and those with even less education.  Their rugged individualism and generally love of weapons never allowed them to vote Democratic but, outside of protection for gun ownership, they have never gotten anything from their Republican politicians.  To them Trump represents their political incorrectness and is a voice expressing their prejudices and dissatisfaction with their political party and the overall society.


Donald Trump was born in 1946.  He is 69 years old and has five children by three wives.  He has stated numerous times that his campaign is self-funded so he cannot be bought or influenced like the other candidates who are mainly funded by large donners.


Trump claims to be really rich; he says he has over ten billion dollars.  He does have a tendency to exaggerate in many areas.  This figure is disputed by various financial experts who have presumably figured out his finances; they place him in a much lower billionaire class.  He’s been involved in at least three bankruptcies.  It is assumed that true information will come out when he releases one or more years’ worth of income tax information.  The probability is that he has paid little or no taxes and that he doesn’t want this information released.


It is an interesting note of irony that a billionaire most represents the poorer Republicans, that they trust him with their futures.  When Donald Trump entered this political race on June 16th most Republicans and others took it as a joke.  It was something he would do for attention.  As he came out initially well ahead of all the other competing Republicans he was generally treated as a phenomena that would eventually wear out and pass from public attention.  Toward the end of February his support by the Republicans continued to increase and it became fashionable for many people to jump on the “band wagon.”   Today it looks like Donald Trump might well become the Republican Candidate for the November 8th Presidential Election.  Presumably the Republican turnout on Supper Tuesday and some earlier primaries has increased perceptibly while the Democratic turnout has decreased.  Trump claims that it is so because he is running and has brought out the vote. 


Trump could be correct in his belief that he is bring out more or new voters.  More Republicans have come out to vote for him or many Democrats and Independents have reregistered Republican for the primary Elections and Caucuses in order to vote for him.  After all he does reflect the feelings and prejudices of many in the lower classes.  And he is politically incorrect and can be expected to say almost anything.


Trump’s Political Party affiliations have been Democrat, Independent, declined to state, and Republican.  He has changed his position on wealth, abortion rights, and healthcare over the years.  Recently he has changed his mind on using torture on prisoners; he found it was illegal.  His anti-immigration remarks have cost him ruminative relations with NBC, Macy and others, including the areas of the world he has ranted against.  His political positions are prolife; he is against late term abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or where the health of the mother is concerned. 


He supports the 2nd Amendment.  In fact he holds a New York concealed weapon gun permit.  But he supports background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the medically unstable.


He opposes recreational marijuana but supports its medical use.  He believes in traditional marriage (apparently to the point of being married three times).  He wants to replace Obamacare with a Free Market System and competition to lower costs.  He has in the past also supported a single payer system for universal medical care.


Donald Trump believes veteran medical facilities need to be upgraded and there should be increased aid for female veterans.  He wants local control for primary and secondary schools.  He is against common core.  (Basically this is state standards for English and Math which 40 states have adopted.  It is not a Federal program and if he were to become President he would have no say in the matter.)


He believes in free trade between nations but he will tax American companies that have moved overseas when they bring their goods back to the United States to be sold.  Apparently, in this fashion, he will force them to bring their manufacturing back to the United States.


He wants to reduce corporate taxes to 15% and not raise the minimum wage. (The Federal Minimum Wage was last set in 2009, seven years ago, at $7.25 per hour.  (It’s a good trick if a person or family can live on that.)  Living costs have gone up considerably since 2009.  The minimum wage has purchased less every year since it was established.


On immigration he wants to increase border security, build a thousand mile wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and send all illegal aliens in the U.S. back to Mexico; to him they all seem to be Hispanics.  And he also wants to temporarily close our borders to all Muslims, apparently until the terrorist situation is solved and he wants all Muslims in the U.S. all the millions of them, put under surveillance.


Environmentally he believes the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) hampers economic growth and jobs.  He supports fracking (which I understand helps bring about earthquakes), and has criticized wind power as being inconsistent, it’s not always windy.  He considers global warming a hoax.


He wants to replace Obamacare with a Free Market System.  He believes competition will lower costs.  However On Wednesday, March 2nd he released some details about his health plans.  Obamacare will be fully repealed; this includes the mandate for universal coverage.  People will be able to buy their own health insurance which is to be sold across state lines.  Presumably this competition will lower costs.  People will be able to make tax-free contributions to a Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).  HSAs are paired with a high deductible health insurance plan and are intended to make people more conscious of how they spend health dollars and reduce costs.  The problem here is that many people do not have the health care dollars; they will lose the coverage they currently have with Obamacare.


Trump proposes to turn the Medicaid program into block grants to the states.  This creates a situation where the money may be delegated for medical use but it could be used for other purposes. This situation has occurred before with block grants.  In addition for prescriptions Trump’s plan calls for allowing drugs to be imported from overseas to increase competition and drive down prices.


Two notes of irony or irony here: one, is that people would be buying the same drugs that many drug companies have sold overseas at lower prices than they sell them for in the United States and two, Hillary Clinton has the same plan.  He has also called for Medicare to negotiate drug prices.


Trump has also pointed out the need for mental health reform.  He says that his overall principles are to “broaden healthcare access, make health care more affordable and improve the quality of care available to all Americans.”  No one living on a minimum wage or close to it will be able to afford health care no matter how inexpensive it is.


 It seems to me that we had a Free Market system before Affordable Health Care came into existence in 2010 and some of the problems with it were that price rises were out of control, insurance companies would not insure anyone with a prior medical condition, and children were dropped from family policies at 18 years of age, generally when they were still in high school.  That was the so-called Free Market. 


In addition one of the problems that was never solved was the cost of medications, they continually rose and are still rising.  In fact medicines are less expensive outside the U.S. because in this country Congress has fixed prices so the government cannot negotiate with Drug companies.  It seems that the pharmaceutical corporations are some of the main contributors to political parties and laws have been passed protecting their pricing. 


It should also be noted that Trump has in the past supported a single payer system of medical coverage for everyone such as exists in Europe, Israel, parts of Asia, and elsewhere.  Here the Central Government insures everyone and it is paid for in taxes. 


In foreign policy he has both favored and opposed sending U.S. troops to the Middle East to fight ISIS and has promised that he’ll get rid of terrorists quickly when he becomes President.  He has stated that they should be scared if he becomes President.


Trump verbally attacks journalists, politicians, competing candidates, just about anyone who he feels bothers him.  He has thought about running for President since 1988.  He even thought about running for Governor of New York in 2006 and 2014.


The debate on Thursday, February 23 was an overall verbal attack, with two people constantly speaking at the same time.  It was Cruz and Rubio continually going after Trump and Trump responding while they were still speaking.  At one point John Kasich stated in exasperation that if they kept on in this fashion the Democrats would win.  Ben Carson, at one point, asked the others to attack him so he could respond.  A liberal news commentator, Chris Matthews, dubbed the debate as a meeting of the three stodges.  


Donald Trump has a long history of dealing in real estate starting with entering his father’s business and taking over the company with his father’s demise.  He began as a real estate entrepreneur, has been a TV personality with his own reality show, “The Apprentice,” has done bits in several films.  He has built hotels and casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.  He has also licensed out his name for numerous products and he had set up an unlicensed school originally called Trump University, which extorted millions of dollars from its unsuspecting students.


He is currently Chairman and President of the Trump Organization.  He employs some of his children as executives and has stated that if elected they will run the company.


His anti-immigration remarks have cost him remunerative relations with NBC.  His reality show “the apprentice,” which had been running for a number of years, paid him over a million dollars an episode.  Macy and other stores have stopped selling products with his name on them.  Great Britain’s Parliament held a debate about giving Trump a visa to enter the country.  Others have also denounced him for his anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim remarks.  He has been denounced by leading Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan.


In 2011 Trump questioned President Obama’s U.S. citizenship and presumably sent an investigator to Hawaii.  He made some exaggerated claims but never presented any evidence.  He did claim that he got President Obama to release the long form of his birth certificate at that time.


Donald Trump is either amoral or immoral.  From his comments about his bankruptcies and the people who were never paid money owed to them he has given the impression that legal bankruptcy is a method of getting out of debt without paying your bills. 


What should be noted about Trump is that he seems to know what he will do as President but he has given no information as to how he will do any of this.  It is also worth noting that most of what he says he will do requires laws being passed by Congress.  Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, has criticized some of what he has said.  The Senate would be no friendlier than the House in attempting to pass laws he would require.


 His argument about building a thousand mile wall between Mexico and the U.S. is complete nonsense.  Trump claims that there is a trade imbalance in goods and services between Mexico and the U.S.; we buy more goods and services than we sell them.  He would just deduct the money from what we owe Mexico.  The Mexican President has strongly stated that Mexico will pay nothing for a wall.


If there is an imbalance of trade between the countries it is between individuals and companies who are buying or selling to one another.  It is not between two governments.  Is Trump going to have a law passed to tax companies and individuals buying and selling between the two countries?  If he can somehow manage that then what happens to his principle of free trade between sovereign nations?


Perhaps the worst case scenario of what he has done has been and is still his involvement with the now defunct unlicensed Trump University which has nothing to do with teaching but was a way to obtain money from essentially desperate people.  Trump invested about two million dollars in setting up this project.  That was the extent of his involvement.  Students paid about $35,000 for a group of three elite seminars to learn Trump’s real estate secrets.  They were told that they would make their money back in 60 days.  From the numerous people that are suing him it would seem that they didn’t earn their money back.


Trump University was founded in 2004 and was based in the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street in Manhattan.  It was an unlicensed school that met in assorted places, usually rented hotel rooms, across the United States and gave seminars.


The seminars were given by motivational speakers.  They started with a free 90 minute presentation.  People barrowed $36,000 to go to Trump University.  About 7,000 people bought the sales pitch across the country.  Trump had little to do with the school.  Each seminar had a life-sized cardboard cutout of Trump that could be used for student pictures.  The students were initially offered three seminars for $1,495; then they were offered three elite seminars for up to $35,000.  They were verbally guaranteed they could earn the money back in two months. 


By 2005 the New York Department of Education warned Trump University that it was operating an unlicensed institution in violation of state law.  In 2010 the name was changed to Trump Entrepreneur.  The marketing plan remained the same: the free pitch, the three day $1,495 seminar, and the Elite Membership & Apprenticeship for up to $35,000.  The teachers were paid according to how many students they pulled in.  People are still paying off this debt, the money they borrowed to go to Trump University.


There are numerous lawsuits going on now.  New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman accused Trump University of running a “bait and switch” operation.  Their ad published 170 times stated that students would “learn from Mr. Trump’s handpicked instructors and would have access to Trump’s real estate secrets. 


Trump had little to do with picking instructors or developing curriculum for the seminars.  This was done by people with motivational speaking backgrounds.  Compensation was based upon how many people were motivated to sign up for additional seminars.


On March 2nd, Super Tuesday, the New York Court ruled that “Trump and his sham For-Profit College defrauded more than 5,000 consumers out of millions of dollars.”  The Trump Organization’s general council said the ruling was would be appealed and called the case “politically motivated,” Trump has obliquely stated that it will take three years for the appeal process.


In California there is a class action suit against the now defunct Trump University.  In addition there are numerous other suits throughout the nation.  Trump apparently employs a small army of attorneys and they all seem to be experts at delay.  Trump’s comment, true or otherwise, has been that he’s won most of the cases that have come up for trial and that he could easily pay all these people off but not paying them is a matter of principle. 


It strikes me that this is the type of case that would be featured on the TV series, American Greed.  It would seem that this scam would end up with the perpetrator being sent to jail for criminal activity.  Could this happen in Trump’s case or is he too rich and powerful.  Instead he is running for the presidency of the United States.


It should also be noted that among many Republicans Ted Cruz is considered a liar and a dirty trickster.  During one primary his employees issued false information that Ben Carson had dropped out of the race and that his voters should vote for Cruz.  After another primary he fired one of his employees for a similar type action.  Even if he were innocent he created the milieu that allows this type of behavior.


Marko Rubio is the Tea Party candidate from Florida.  He is also a former protégé of Jed Bush.  Rubio is known for his very low attendance at the Senate and for his constant campaigning for the presidency.  We have a case here of someone who if he were appointed or hired for the job would have been fired for extended absenteeism.  It seems his constituents in Florida are thinking of running Ben Carson for the Senate in his place in 2016.


John Kasich may have won one of the Republican races on Supper Tuesday.  He is the only Republican who has appeared as a legitimate Presidential Candidate.  But Kasich has won very few delegates.


For Super Tuesday Ben Carson gained no delegates.  For general purposed he wasn’t even effectively in the race.


Super Tuesday. As we’ve seen, refers to one or more Tuesdays early in a U.S. presidential primary season when a number of states hold primaries or caucuses on the same day.  More delegates can be won on that day than on any other during the primary season which can precede an election by a year or more.  In 2016 it was held on March 1st


The participating states were Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia.  Colorado, Minnesota, Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming held caucuses.  The territory of American Samoa held a Democratic caucus.


The Republican candidates could win about half of the 1,237 delegates needed to become the candidate.  What happened is that Donald Trump received the most delegates, then came Cruz, followed by Rubio and Kasich.  The two Democrats were after 880 delegates, about 1/3d needed to win.  Texas has more delegates than any other state, 155 for Republicans and 252 for Democrats; Cruz and Clinton got those.


For the Republicans Donald Trump won seven states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia with 243 delegates.  Ted Cruz won Alaska, Oklahoma, and Texas, with a total of 220 delegates.  Marco Rubio won one state, Minnesota.  John Kasich did not win any states but did win 21 delegates and Ben Carson did not win any states or delegates.  The results from North Dakota and Wyoming are yet to be determined.


Among the Democrats Hillary Clinton won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, seven states.  She received 486 delegates.  Bernie Sanders won Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Vermont, four states.  He received 321 delegates.


The Republican candidate needs 1,237 delegates to win the nomination while the Democrats need 2,383.  Among the Republicans Donald Trump has 325 delegates from the first 15 primaries in which he has participated.  Ted Cruz has 257 and Marco Rubio has 117.  John Kasich has only 21.


For the Democrats Hillary Clinton so far has 1065 delegates; from the eleven states she had carried through Super Tuesday, March 1st.  She needs 2383 to win the nomination.  Bernie Sanders has 434 delegates from the first five states he has won.


The race with the primaries and caucuses will continue until the actual Party Nominating Conventions.  After Tuesday, March 15th half the states will have held their primaries.  The Democrats have chosen Philadelphia for their Convention during the week of July 25th, immediately after the Republican event.





The Weiner Component #149 Part 1 – The 2016 Political Presidential Campaign

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Candidates from both political parties have completed a number of debates and also some TV Town Halls.  The Republican debates have been considered more dramatic by American viewers, so they have had larger audiences. 


It is important to keep in mind that only Republicans are voting for Republican candidates and that their debates and current actions are aimed at being chosen as the Republican candidate at the Nominating Convention in late July and conversely only Democrats are voting for their candidates for the same reason.  The debates are a means for each to demonstrate his/her ability and political position.  The public is getting a view of all the candidates so that they can make up their minds about the candidates of both parties.  Only one will emerge from each party and the voters will have a choice as to whom they want to be President over the next four years.


For those who like drama, the Republican debates have been more interesting because their leading candidate, Donald Trump, will say almost anything and often does so.  At least he did so in the earlier debates.  In the first one he verbally attacked one of the female reporters who was asking questions.  Apparently he didn’t like her question.  In the other debates he tended to verbally attack the other Republican candidates.  The Democratic debates dealt with issues concerning the nation only and didn’t get as many million people watching them.


The Democratic Town Halls, having different people in the audience asking questions, had both candidates, each using half the time.  The Republican Town Halls have had only one of the possible candidates taking questions from an audience. 


On the Saturday, February 20th the Democrats held a Caucus and the Republicans a Debate in South Carolina.  Of the remaining six potential candidates in the Republican debate, Donald Trump was the winner by about ten points.  He had 32.5% if the Republican vote.  Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were second and third, separated by two tenths of a point, 22.5% and 22.3%.  John Kasich and Jeb Bush were tied for fourth with 7.8% of the vote each and Ben Carson came in last.  Bush suspended his campaign after dropping lower than he had been in his prior debate.  In the Democratic primary Hillary Clinton won 52.7% of the Democratic vote and Bernie Sanders got 47.2%.


There is an interesting psychological phenomena at work when it comes to choosing the candidates to support in the election.  It seems that there are two kinds of people, one that lives in the right now and one that makes most decisions with an eye toward the future.  The first group is instantly taking satisfaction from immediately solving or seeming to solve a problem.  They will similarly handle all other problems when they come along in the future.  And the second group who deal with everything with an eye to the future. 


The first group would be backers of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. These are the protest candidates for the two major political parties, who are the living symbols for the dissatisfied generally silent majorities in both parties, who have been duly voting for their political candidates over the years and getting nothing in return.  To the blue collar, and, I would suspect, in most cases, the gun loving and/or evangelicals, who could never find themselves in a position to vote Democratic, Trump represents their basic attitudes, prejudices, and beliefs.  He will, in their minds, to quote him, “Make America Great Again.” 


He also gives them an innate satisfaction when they listen to him because he expresses what they feel and believe.  Presumably he represents smaller government, that is: getting government out of everyone’s lives, and lower taxes.  He is the protest candidate who will lower their taxes, increase the military, beat-up the terrorists, make America feared by every other country on the planet, actually make The U.S. the bully of the world.  His words themselves give these people a sense of satisfaction.


In order to solve the illegal immigration problem Trump will also build a high wall separating the United States from Mexico that he says will be paid for by Mexico; deducted from money the United States owes Mexico.  Governments do not lend or give money generally to other countries.  There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Mexico lent or gave money to the U. S. that the American Government has to return.  If there is an imbalance of trade and Mexicans are selling more to American businesses than Mexican businesses are buying from the U.S. then those are arrangements between Mexican individuals and companies and American individuals and companies.  There is no legal way that our government can seize any of those funds to pay for a border wall, unless suddenly extremely high taxes are placed upon all trade between the two countries,


A good percentage of the blue collar Republicans and Evangelicals have constantly given their vote to the Republican Party but have not, like the wealthy upper percentile, really gotten anything for their continued allegiance to the party.  Trump is their hero.  He will give them, this silent majority to the right, true justice, make the Republican Party mean something to Blue Collar and Evangelical America.


Of course all this rests on the proposition that we were great before, forgetting the fact that U.S. foreign policy under George W. Bush was a joke to most of the world.  The United States invaded Iraq because of a lie pushed by Bush and his administration.  The U.S. was then able to bribe some of the smaller nations with massive aid contributions to join into a sort of wartime coalition to look for “weapons of mass destruction,” which never existed.  The Bush White House, while serving as sheriff of the Middle East destabilized the entire region and through its actions indirectly helped establish the growth of the terrorist organizations like ISIS.


Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Socialist who is registered as an Independent but caucuses with the Democrats, is the other left extreme of Donald Trump.  Trump is on the far reactionary right while Bernie Sanders is on the far radical left.  They are both appealing to people, who are in the main, are either disgusted with Washington politics that seems to promise everything during elections and deliver nothing during the course of the elected term.  Both candidates are promising the world if elected. 


Sanders is promising free education through college and free medical coverage for everyone as a right.  He says he will pay for these by taxing Wall Street for speculative spending.  What is speculative spending?  I suppose it’s any investment, buying or selling stock or property.  That would certainly raise the price of every stock or property bought or sold. 


In both the Scandinavian countries and the rest of Europe the population gets free medical care by paying heavier taxes than we do in the United States.  The public shares in the paying of the “free” medical care with increased taxes. 


The same can be said for public education which goes from kindergarten through college, if the student is qualified.  In the United States education is a right that everyone has through high school.  While there are public colleges and universities they still have a cost factor for the participant.  In Europe education is free but it has to be earned.  A student moves from level to level by continually proving his/her capability to function on a higher level.  If a student cannot pass the examinations they are shunted to vocational training and an exit from the school system.  This also is paid for by increased taxes shared by all the taxpayers.


My feeling is that most people actually agree with Bernie Sanders.  The model he is using is Scandinavian Socialism which also exists in most European and successful Asian countries.  Even Hillary Clinton likes what Bernie is representing.  But is it real in the United States?  Can he do it if he is elected President without massively raising taxes?  Most Americans are complaining that the current tax system is too high.  For that matter is what Donald Trump says he is going to do real? 


First off: What is the power of the President?  If elected can he decree free education or universal medical care?  Or, for that matter, a great wall between the United States and Mexico?


The answer to all of these changes is NO.  The President is the elected Chief Administrator of the laws passed by Congress and himself.  His major function is to carry out the laws and keep the country functioning.  He can issue Executive Orders; but these are not laws.  His legislative powers are almost nonexistent.  The President can recommend and negotiate with Congress or veto a bill; but that is the full extent of his legislative powers.


Bernie Sanders has called for a Populist Revolution.  Donald Trump has not.  Unless the one who gets elected has an overwhelming majority in both Houses of Congress, well over 50% in the House and a super majority of 60 or more Senators he will be extremely frustrated in office, feeling he is totally unable to bring about or, for that matter, even begin his program. 


In fact the probability is that regardless of who is elected as President the House of Representatives will, in all probability, have a slight Republican majority because of gerrymandering, having the voting districts set up in the states to benefit one particular political party.  This was done in 2010 by the Republicans and will not be redone until 2020 when the next population census occurs.  In the 2014 Midterm Election for the House of Representatives 1¼ million addition votes were cast for Democratic candidates, over what the Republicans received, but the Republicans still maintained the majority in the House.


The Senate will probably end up in 2016 with a slight Democratic majority, since i/3d of the Senate will be up for reelection.   The Senators are elected by all the voters of each state.  Since the Democrats are the majority party the Senate will probably be returned to Democratic control by a slight majority.  And there is a very high probability that Congress will again be gridlocked from 2017 through 2020.  The only candidate who might get some legislation through, and that by constant “horse trading” is Hillary Rodham Clinton.  The next four years are not going to be a fun time!


It has been my observation that there is one very important point that everyone seems to ignore in every major election.  How many people were fourteen to just short of eighteen during the prior Presidential Election four years earlier?  The number has to be, in this country of over 350 million people, somewhere in the millions.  These youngsters come to the election generally with a certain amount of disgust.  They’ve heard their parents, relatives, and others continually complain about deadlock in Washington, D.C. and gridlock when it comes to passing necessary laws.  And, of course, the loud complaints by the Republicans about the Democrats.  They may have learned about the principles of government in high school; but the country doesn’t seem to be operating that way.  To them someone like Bernie Sanders would be a living symbol of hope.  Watching him at his televised rallies one sees a lot of young faces wanting a positive future.


The same can be said for President Barack Obama back in 2008 when he first ran for the presidency.  His slogan was: “It’s time for a change.”  But Barack Obama inherited the beginnings of a major depression from George W. Bush.  He spent his first two years in office avoiding a depression that would have been greater than the Great Depression of 1929 and he helped pass a universal type health law, the Affordable Health Care Law.  Two year later in 2010 the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives and Congress would function from 2011 on in a state of gridlock with nothing positive happening.  The young voters and minorities stayed at home on election days because they had not seen the change they wanted.  Changes had occurred that saved the country but they had been largely invisible.  The Republicans stayed in control of the House of Representatives.  The Senate in 2014 was also taken over by the Republicans because people did not vote and there was some Republican suppression of the vote.


The noted economist, Paul Klugman, called Sander’s view of the changes he wants to bring about “fantasy economics.”  I strongly suspect that Sanders was shocked or amazed at the reception he got for his bid for the presidency.  He was used to being a voice of protest in the Congress for a large number of years.  He no doubt expected to be a Democratic Socialist protest candidate.  With the reception his campaign has and is receiving he talks about a Revolution that he’ll bring about.  By “Revolution” Bernie Sanders means that the majority of the people will verbally rise up and force their legislators to pass the laws he is talking about.


If 74 year old Bernie Sanders were to be elected President of the United States he would spend four years in total frustration because no part of his program will happen with a Republican controlled House of Representatives.  Probably very little would happen with a fully controlled Democratic Congress. 


Change occurs slowly.  Public colleges were essentially free when I went to one of them in the 1950s.  Since then life has become more expensive and complicated.  I remember my parents in the 1940s taking their children to the doctor when they were sick and paying for the visits and for the prescriptions.  They spent far less providing medical care for themselves and three children than I spend now at Kaiser with full Medicare.  And that does not include what we spend on my wife who also has full Medicare.


The House of Representatives will probably remain Republican because of gerrymandering and the Senate may return to Democratic control.  Twenty-four Republican Senators will be standing an election.  Many of them are in swing states which could go either way.  This would be particularly true if the Republicans gain bad publicity by impeding the functioning of the government by not holding  hearings for the vacancy on the Supreme Court or doing some other outlandish things.


Essentially for four years Sanders will face Congressional gridlock.  If he survives the four years in which he will be largely helpless to bring about any kind of change then he will be 79 at the end of his term in office.  If anything conditions may well get worse that they are now.  And 79 is longer than most people live, particularly men.


Looking at the current five remaining Republican candidates, that’s five out of the original twelve or so.  Bush is gone; he has suspended his campaign after spending 70 million dollars.  Mainly that leaves Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.  Of the remaining two, John Kasich may be looking forward to a possible Vice-Presidency and Ben Carson seems to be along for the ride.  I understand he is also selling an autobiography and doing book signings along the way. 


Chris Mathews called the Thursday night, February 25, Debate a meeting of “The Three Stodges.”  Trump, Cruz, and Rubio spent most of their time verbally attacking one another.  Usually two of them were talking at the same time and most of what they said was incomprehensible; it’s difficult to understand what’s being said when two people are continually talking loudly at the same time.  They gave an outstanding performance of how a President should not act.


Both Rubio and Cruz are Tea Party Republicans.  Strange to say Trump seems to be the most liberal among the three who are now considered serious candidates.  Both Trump and Cruz are considered unacceptable to the Party leadership but the Party has no mechanism to get rid of them, at least not until the Party Convention.  Some Republican Party leaders have said that if Trump becomes President it would be a total disaster and that it could destroy the Republican Party.


Both Ohio Governor John Kasich and Dr. Ben Carson were also in the Debate but they did not have much to say.  Of the five, Kasich appeared mostly as a President should, but he ranked only at 9 plus percent among the Republican voters of Texas.


As a sort of footnote it is worth observing what the Republicans in Congress are doing about the public protest of their actions over the last six years.  Many of the Blue Collar Republicans are supporting Donald Trump to demonstrate their betrayal by the Republican Congress.  The Republican leadership objects to him.  The least the Republican led Congress can do is to hold hearing concerning their needs and wants.  But instead they are doing nothing, essentially ignoring the protest and objecting to Trump.  It is business as usual, expecting to get reelected and continue representing the upper 1% of the country. 

The Weiner Component #148 – Death of a Supreme Court Justice: The Ultimate Irony

English: President Barack Obama and Vice Presi...

English: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden with the members of the Supreme Court and retiring justice David Souter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The United States Supreme Court, the ...

English: The United States Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States, in 2009. Top row (left to right): Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Bottom row (left to right): Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Antonin G. Scalia, and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

photograph of the justices, cropped to show Ju...

photograph of the justices, cropped to show Justice Scalia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(For a more detailed discussion of the significance of the 2016 Election upon the Supreme Court see: The Weiner Component #136 Part 1, which deals with the current Supreme Court.)


With the unexpected death of 79 year old Antonin Scalia a strange and dynamic situation exists on the Supreme Court.  Judge Scalia was probably the most conservative member of the Court.  His death, from a heart attack, neutralizes a Conservative Court.  There are currently four liberal Justices appointed by Democratic Presidents and four conservative judges on it appointed by Republican Presidents, with one vacancy.  Most of the important cases now have four conservative and four liberal votes.  A tie means the case returns to the prior decision made by a lower court.  Whoever the ninth Justice will be, would determine whether the new Court will be liberal or conservative.


President Obama has announced that he will do his Constitutional duty and choose a candidate for the court and that he hopes the Senate will do their Constitutional duty and provide “advice and consent,” that is acceptance or rejection to the individual chosen.  Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and other Republican Senators have announced that they will absolutely not hold a hearing on anyone for that position.  They have said that they want the people of the United States to choose whether the candidate should be liberal or conservative by voting for the next President to be elected.  Their assumption is that if the next President is a Republican then he will choose a conservative judge.  Actually they feel that a Republican will be elected and they can replace Scalia with another conservative and maintain conservative control of the Supreme Court.  Of course their assumption may be wrong and a Democratic President would choose a more liberal candidate.


The question here goes back to the Constitution.  On the one hand the Republicans tend to believe in a strict interpretation of the Constitution.  They believe that one should adhere to the original intent of the document.  Meanwhile the Democrats, beginning with Thomas Jefferson, the original founder of the Democratic Party, believed in a loose interpretation of the Constitution.  They would rely on the general meaning or intent of the document. 


The point to keep in mind is that the founding fathers came from both free and slave states.  They needed a document that could be agreed upon by both groups.  In fact when Thomas Jefferson, a slave holder, wrote the Declaration of Independence he, among other things, denounced the King of England for forcing slavery to be brought into the original colonies.  Benjamin Franklin edited that section out of the document.  The problems, which arose a number of times in the writing of the Constitution, was that issues arose that the two sides couldn’t agree upon.  Their solution in these cases was to get vague so that both sides could agree.  All of this would today be called compromise.  The document is a series of compromises; and the meaning of many of these has changed over the years as the conditions within the United States have changed.


In addition specific changes have been made to the Constitution by Amendments being added to it or just general historical usage.  The one major question over who was dominant, the Central Government or the State Governments was resolved by the Civil War.  Women are never mentioned in the Constitution.  It took an Amendment early in the 20th Century for them to obtain full civil rights for them and also the vote.


Today much of these arguments are nonsense.  The real question is: How would the Founding Fathers have behaved or have meant if they lived in the 21st Century?  In the instance of Antonin Scalia’s death the Republicans vie toward a loose interpretation of the Constitution and the Democrats toward a strict reading of the document.


The Constitution itself states in Article 2, Section 2, Second  paragraph:

          He (the President) shall have Power, by and with

          the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make

          Treaties, provided two thirds of the present concur;

          and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice

          and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors

          other Public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the

          Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United

          States. . .

The next paragraph states:

          The President shall have the power to fill up Vacancies

          that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by

          granting Commissions which shall expire at the end of

          the next Session.


What does the Constitution actually say?  According to President Obama it can mean that he has to choose a candidate to serve on the Supreme Court as soon as he finds someone competent.  President Obama will be in office until the middle of January 2017, which is approximately eleven months from now.  According to the Senate, he is a lame duck president, who cannot be reelected, therefore he should allow the next president to choose a replacement for Scalia. 


Who’s right, according to the Constitution?  I suppose you could say, whoever wins the argument.  But a year is a long time to wait for a replacement on the Supreme Court!  A lot of decisions will not be able to be made with its current makeup by a Court divided into four liberals and four conservatives.  Also in the entire history of the Court there has never before been this long a dormant period in the nonfunctioning of the Supreme Court.  Putting the Court on hold for a year is really stretching out the Constitution.  What this does is politicize the Court according to the majority will of the Senate.


While the major issue is whether the newly constituted Supreme Court will lean toward the right or the left, there is also in the minds of most Blacks in the United States the fact that they, the Republicans, feel that Barack Obama has never been a real President to the majority of their group.  They have questioned his citizenship and his religion.  Presumably many still believe that he is neither a citizen of the United States nor a Christian. 


The bulk of the Blacks in the United States believe that no white President would have been treated as Barack Obama has been, even though he won the presidency twice by overwhelming majorities.  They feel that the issue of confirming a new Supreme Court would never have arisen with any other white president, that a good part of this issue is race prejudice.  While a good part of the Republican leadership would vehemently deny this, I do believe it is largely true.


In addition ten Republican controlled states will be placing voter restriction laws into place shortly before the 2016 Presidential Election in November.  These laws range from new hurdles to registration to cutbacks on early voting to strict voter identification requirements.  These ten states have a collective population of over 80 million people and will yield 129 of the 270 electoral votes needed to elect the next President.  The theory here being that by passing these qualifications at the last minute no law suit or any other restriction can be put on them until after the election.  There will not be enough time. 


Whether this holds true is another question.  But taken with the so-called legal voter restriction that already exists, in addition to the long lines and long periods of waiting in order to vote, taking in some cases eight hours or more, the Republican pattern is to keep Democrats from voting.


Irony is an interesting topic!  For example: the current Republicans in the United States Senate refused to allow Elizabeth Warren to become head of the new U.S. Commercial Financial Bureau which she strongly helped bring into existence.


Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is a legal scholar and former Harvard Law School Professor specializing in bankruptcy law and commercial law.  From 2010 – 2011, as special advisor she helped develop the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  In September of 2010 President Obama named Elizabeth Warren, Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to set up the new agency which had been, among numerous other things, specifically included in the new Dodd-Frank Law of 2009.  Elizabeth Warren was supposed to head the new agency as its director but was strongly opposed by Financial Institutions and Republican Senators who believed that Warren would be an overly zealous regulator.


President Obama, believing that Warren could not be confirmed, appointed Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray in January of 2012, over the objections of Republican Senators, to the post in a recess appointment.  (The Republicans and the banks did not want anyone to head the agency.)


Elizabeth Warren went on that year to run for the Senate as the Democratic candidate from Massachusetts.  She ran against the Republican, Scott Brown, who was known as the centerfold in an issue of Playgirl magazine.  He had won his Senate seat two years earlier in a Special Election after the death of Senator Ted Kennedy.  She defeated Brown and won the election.


There was in 2015 a movement for her to run for the presidency in 2016 which she turned down.  She has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the current Supreme Court Opening. 


Elizabeth Warren is the Republican’s worst nightmare.  If they had let her head up the agency she helped bring into existence then, at least, she would have been quiet outside of her agency.  But the Republicans apparently felt that if they never confirmed anyone to head up the Consumer Protection Agency it would never function.  It is functioning and doing its job protecting American consumers. Their biggest mistake was attempting to force their will or opposition upon the President.  It didn’t work.  To them and a number of other conservatives outside of Congress they now have a strong force representing the rights not only Massachusetts but also of a lot of ordinary Americans, functioning in Congress who could conceivably run for the Presidency in 2020 or 2024.  In addition she might become the ninth Supreme Court Justice. 


This is true irony.  In essence the Republicans have set themselves up by attempting to force their will upon the President.


On Thursday the 13th of February, 79 year old Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died as a guest in a luxury ranch in Cibolo Creek, Texas, of a heart attack.  His death has upset the balance on what has been a Conservative Supreme Court.  That night, during the Republican Debate of the potential candidates Donald Trump, who is currently leading the group in national popularity, stated that the Republican Senate should stall and refuse to act.  Others in the Republican Presidential Debate also indicated delay.  The consensus was that they wanted the next President to choose a Court successor.  That would be almost a year after Scalia’s death.


Later, in an ABC interview, Ted Cruz, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee stated, “Let the election decide it.  If the Democrats want to replace the nominee, they need to win the election.” 


Marco Rubio stated that the Republican controlled Senate should ignore any nomination made by President Obama.


Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader in the Senate clearly said that President Obama should not try to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia since there was less than a year left in the President’s term.  Actually there is only 11 months left.


The Democrats stated that a refusal to even consider a nominee would be an outrageous act of obstructionism.  No such case has ever existed in the entire history of the United States.  The Democrats predicted that there would be a voter backlash, particularly in swing states that the Republicans need to win in order to maintain control of the Senate after 2016.


Scalia died on Thursday, February 13, 2016.  By Wednesday the 17th of February a number of Republicans had cooled down.  For one thing they are afraid of a backlash and losing control of the Senate and for another since 1900 there have been over a half dozen instances where Presidents have appointed Supreme Court judges on election years.  One of these was President Ronald Reagan.  He filled a vacancy that occurred in 1988, his last year in office.  He first chose Robert Bork who was defeated in the Senate and then chose Anthony Kennedy who was confirmed.


President Obama said that the Republicans who call themselves strict interpreters of the Constitution were suddenly citing unwritten precedent about not confirming Justices during an election year to justify their position.  “It’s pretty hard to find that in the Constitution… The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now. 


Senator Charles E. Grassley, the 82 year old Iowa Republican who chairs the Judicial Committee, said Tuesday that he may be open to holding hearings on President Obama’s nominee.  “I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decisions…In other words, take it a step at a time,” he told radio reporters in Iowa.  Three days earlier he had insisted that the “standard practice” was to not confirm Supreme Court Judges in an election year.


Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina warned that if fellow Republicans rejected an Obama nominee “sight unseen” they would “fall into the trap of being obstructionists.”  Republican strategists said that GOP leaders may have made a tactical error that could trigger a public backlash.


As of Monday, February 22, the Democrats were for nominating a new Supreme Court Justice and the Republicans who were totally against it earlier were then sort of against it.  By Tuesday, February 23 the Republicans had probably held a party caucus and were again definitely against the idea.  Mitch McConnell stated that “If the shoe were on the other foot, the Democrats would not approve a Republican nominee.” But they did on February 18, 1988 when President Ronald Reagan’s choice, Anthony Kennedy was confirmed for the Supreme Court.  Another Republican Senate leader stated that there was no point in Obama appointing anyone because the Senate will turn him down.  On Wednesday, February 24th President Obama responded to the Republican declaration with the statement that he will nominate a fit candidate for the vacancy on the Supreme Court.  What will happen is anyone’s guess.


If the Republicans are successful in not confirming anyone to take Scalia’s place.  After all they can hold endless hearing and conceivably vote down all the possible candidates.  It could happen with everyone President Obama nominates then I would suggest an interesting alternative.


The probability is that the Democrats being the majority party will win the Presidential election, especially after these shenanigans and either Hillary Rodham Clinton or Bernie Sanders will be the next President of the United States.  It will then be the job of one of them to nominate a candidate for the open position on the Supreme Court. 


In addition it is also probably that the Senate will return to Democratic leadership.  There is a total of 100 Senators, two from each of the 50 states.  Of these currently there are 54 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and 2 independents who caucus with the Democrats.  In the November 8, 2016 election 1/3 of the Senate seats will be up for election.  A number of these are in swing states.  There the election could go any way.  The probability is that the Democrats will again take control of the Senate.  It seems that a lot more people come out to vote in Presidential Elections; this has historically tended to benefit the Democrats.  In nonpresidential elections more people tend to stay home and this has benefited the Republicans.


It is very possible, if the Republicans are successful in forestalling the Supreme Court appointment until after mid-January of 2017 when the new president takes office that the new incoming Democratic President will appoint an attorney who has taught Constitutional Law and is well experienced in the current problems of the United States.  And that would be Barack Obama, who would then have become unemployed.  He would, in my opinion, make an ideal candidate for the Supreme Court in 2017.  And the precedent is there, William Howard Taft was President from 1908 to 1912 and was appointed as chief justice to the Supreme Court in 1921.


This would be the worst nightmare the Republicans could experience.  Not only would the Court become liberal, it would have someone who could argue many of their cases from direct experience.  The Republicans seem to have an innate ability to “shoot themselves in the Foot,” to make a minor victory into a later tragedy for themselves as they did with Elizabeth Warren.


There is a good probability that the Senate, after the election, will move back to Democratic control.  If this were to happen it would be the ultimate in irony for the GOP, for they would have brought it about themselves, on themselves by their own stubbiness and irascibility.