The Weiner Component #162 – The Presidential Election Conventions: Part 1: The Republican Convention

The candidates for the 2016 Presidential Elections have been chosen.  The National Party Conventions are over; the balloons have all been dropped and the candidates are officially named.


The Republicans met in the second week of July 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio; the Democrats convened in the third week of that month in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Not surprisingly the Republicans chose Donald J. Trump and the Democrats picked Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Donald Trump and the Republicans tended at their Convention to present a dark picture of the United States being taken advantage of by both its allies and its enemies.  The Convention lacked major politicians like the two living former presidents, the Bushes, both father and son, or other political figures.  Minor TV reality performers and some actors made presentations to the Convention.  Trump seemed to be stage-managing on all four nights.  The House Speaker, Paul Ryan, and the majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, both gave conditional support to Donald Trump, stating essentially that given the choice, Trump was better than Hillary Clinton, who the Convention strongly verbally attacked from the first day on.  In fact one of the main themes at the Convention was denouncing Hillary Clinton and voicing a need to put her into jail or even executing her.


As the last speaker, on the first night, Trump had his wife, Melania, make a presentation.  She, in her speech, plagiarized statements that Michelle Obama had made in 2008.  It seemed that two professional speech writers had written a speech for Melania but she was uncomfortable with it and decided to write her own with the help of a friend who had helped Trump write one of his books.  The woman researched prior speeches for her and Melania produced her own presentation which no one saw beforehand.  She gave the speech and the plagiarism was almost immediately discovered and discussed on all the TV networks that covered the Convention.  In fact they played Melania saying that part of her speech on half the screen and Michelle Obama initially saying those words on the other half of the screen.


Melania did not reappear until the fourth night at the Convention.  The woman, who had helped her offered to resign.  Trump told her to forget it.  He initially denied that there had been any plagiarism.  It also helped to set a grim note to the overall Convention.


Still the four days which were supposed to set Trump up as the greatest individual possible as the next president but instead the Convention set up a grim tone about America as a country that had lost its prominence in the world, currently being taken advantage of by both its friends and enemies and run by a failed president.  It was a dark and dismal version, low on facts and rich in generalities.  Trump would be the savior of the United States.  He and he alone could save the country from where it presently was.


He strongly made the point that if Hillary Clinton were elected she would continue the “failed” policies of Barack Obama.


I found it interesting that the presidency of George W. Bush was never mentioned.  It was as though he never existed.  Presumably the country went from the time of William Jefferson Clinton to that of Barack Obama and nothing that had happened in those 16 years was positive, had helped the people in the United States in any way.


In 2009, when Barack Obama became President of the United States, he inherited from former President George W. Bush an economic calamity later called the Great Recession.  It was the complete collapse of the Housing Industry in the United States, which was at the point of taking down virtually all the major banking houses in the U.S. and Europe.  Had it occurred the industrial nations would have faced a depression greater than the 1929 Great Depression.  It would have totally destroyed banking in the United States and slowed the flow of money to a trickle.  Unemployment would have gone well over 50% of the work force.  And the probability is that we would still be there today.  In fact Trump’s hotel business would, among many other businesses, have probably gone under.


The Obama Administration saved the banks by lending them billions of dollars.  It also saved the American automobile industry by similar lending policies that kept them from going bankrupt.  And with the Federal Reserve the Obama Administration largely solved the housing crisis by purchasing and then discarding the millions of mortgage loan pieces which the banks had sold as hedge funds.


During his first two years in office President Obama had a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress and was able to get the necessary legislation passed to do this.  In addition they brought Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) into existence.  After 2011 the Republicans by gerrymandering gained control of the House of Representatives and Obama was no longer able to get any legislation passed.  In fact under Ted Cruz’s leadership the House of Representatives closed down the government by refusing to pass the appropriate funding bills necessary to keep it functioning.  All this in attempts to force Obama to sign bills that they wanted, like doing away with Affordable Health Care or defunding Planned Parenthood.  They were successful in getting some things through, like Sequestration which attempted to bring across the board spending cuts.


One of the Republican goals was to reduce government spending by shrinking the Federal Government.  In a manner of speaking they were “penny wise and dollar stupid.”  By reducing the size of government during a period of Great Recession they helped worsen the unemployment situation in the country.  In addition to decreasing the number of Federal jobs they also cut the amounts of monies they sent to the states, thus causing the states to also cut their payrolls.  Not a clever thing to do during a period of depression.


During the Republican Convention President Barack Obama was charged with not passing the necessary laws to keep the country healthy.  The Republicans blamed him for what they themselves had not done.


In 2008, even before Obama took the oath of office, the Republican legislators from both Houses of Congress met in a two House caucus and all took an oath to make Barack Obama a one term president by not supporting any measure or program he put forth; and that is what they did.  The Republicans placed their political aims over what was necessary for the people of the United States.  They all ignored their oath of office for the next four years and beyond.


The Republicans met in their National Convention between Monday and Thursday, July 18 and 21 at the Quicken loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.  While Donald J. Trump was the clear winner of the state primary elections and caucuses there was some doubt among many Republicans whether he should be their candidate for the presidency.  The movement, however, failed and Donald Trump became the 2016 Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States.


A number of prominent Republicans announced that they would not be attending the Convention.  Among these were the former Republican presidents and many prominent Republican Congressmen, including John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, and Marco Rubio, who had run against him as presumptive Presidential Candidates.  Six major companies withdrew their financial support of the Convention.


The Platform Committee tended to move to the far right.  They came down on LGBT, taking a strict traditional view of social issues and ignoring Supreme Court decisions.  The Committee supported marriage between a man and a woman only, proposing a Constitutional amendment to bring this about.  They opposed abortion in every case.  They called for the appointment of only conservative judges who respected family values.  They wanted federal lands turned over to states so they could be privatized.  In foreign policy they were national security hawks, wanting increased military spending, a more isolationist approach, and called for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.


On Monday, July 18th the Convention began with a voice vote to accept the platform with a loud protest from the anti-Trump opponents who wanted a roll call vote.  Donald J. Trump was nominated and won the presidential nomination on the first ballot with 69.8% of the delegates.  The Vice Presidential ballot was held immediately afterwards, choosing Indiana Governor Mike Pence.  Pence won by acclamation.


Trump had earlier vowed to bring showbiz pizazz to the 2016 Convention.  He stated that the 2012 one was boring.  Many of his speakers were minor or has-been figures: Don King, former Alaska governor, Sarah Palin and Tom Brady, a New England Patriots quarterback and other equally unknown or dimly remembered individuals.  Many prominent Republicans refused to attend the Convention.  Ted Cruz addressed the Convention but did not endorse Trump.  Marco Rubio finally released his 173 delegates to Trump and spoke via a short recorded video.


Some of Trump’s adult children spoke on different days telling how wonderful their father was.  Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke on Tuesday giving Trump a limited almost negative endorsement; saying he was better than Clinton.  Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader of the Senate, did the same thing.  Both would later object to Trump’s criticism of the Gold Star Muslim Khan family.  Gold Star families are those who have lost a parent or child in the current wars in which the U.S. is currently involved.


On Wednesday the main speaker was Mike Pence accepting the Vice Presidential candidacy.  But Ted Cruz stole the spotlight by giving a rousing Republican speech which ended with him asking the Republicans to vote their consciences.  He did not endorse Trump.


Also on that night Chris Christy, the governor of New Jersey, gave a speech that was a mock trial of the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, in which the entire Convention served as the jury and he was judge and prosecutor.  Naturally they voted her guilty on every count.


I found this approach interesting because Christie may well have brought about the Bridgegate Case in his own state where traffic on the George Washington Bridge was purposely slowed to a crawl and Christie was either directly or indirectly involved.  That case is still slowly winding its way through the New Jersey courts and Chris Christie could conceivably be criminally charged before it’s over.


The highpoint of the Convention was Donald Trump’s final speech where he formally accepted the Republican position of candidate for the presidency of the United States.  Trump’s older daughter, Ivanka, introduced her father.  Trump spoke for 75 minutes; one of the longest acceptance speeches ever given at a nominating convention.  He emphasized the crisis the country was facing by attacks on the police and terrorist assaults in our cities, stating that he was the “law and order” candidate.  He promised to limit U.S. participation in global crises and to renegotiate international trade deals.  He continually attacked President Obama and Hillary Clinton, stating that the world had become less safe during their time in office.


Going back to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “forgotten man,” a term that Trump used, he offered, in addition, to support both Bernie Sanders’ supporters and those who were “down and out” by being their voice in Washington, D.C.


The speech had tones of the technique Hitler used in Germany in the 1930s.  It assumed powers for the leader that are not present in the Constitution.  Donald Trump presented an image of current gloom, saying that he was the agent of positive change while Clinton would continue, what he called, Obama’s failed presidency.


With the dropping of the red, white, and blue balloons the Republican Convention ended and Trump went on to campaign for the presidency.


As a sort of addendum or footnote on Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, it should be noted that in her introduction of her father while she spoke of him bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. and other commendable things he will achieve as president she was wearing (or modeling) a dress which her company produced overseas in an Asian country like Vietnam where labor costs are very low compared to the United States.  I suppose one could argue that those jobs wouldn’t have to be brought back to America because they never existed there.  Therefore they could stay overseas.  Her company sells many millions of dollars’ worth of clothing every year.


It would seem that Donald Trump believes in projecting all his personal negative features onto his opponents.  He has had well over 2,500 lawsuits and out of court settlements so far in his lifetime, going from not paying taxes to New Jersey for his Taj Mahal Casino, where the state settled for seventeen cents on the dollar, after Chris Christie became governor, to not paying overtime to his employees, to not paying his bills or fully paying off his construction contracts, to innumerable other negative treatment of people, both employees and nonemployees.  The probability is that if he wasn’t rich and had a large number of lawyers working for him he could well be in jail instead of running for the presidency.  While he call Clinton “Crooked Hillary” she could easily call him “Disreputable Donald” or, since he seems to be a pathological liar, she could easily dub him as “Lying Donald.”

The Weiner Component #152 – Part 3: The Continuing Presidential Campaign

In the April 26, 2016 Super Tuesday Republican primary election whining Donald Trump won all five states giving him a total of 996 bound delegates.  He is now assuming that he is the “presumptive” Republican candidate.  Up to that point in time he was bitterly complaining that the whole primary process was rigged against him.  In fact he was acting more like a third party candidate than one who was part of the Republican Party process.


As the presumptive candidate Trump has begun his verbal attack against Hillary Clinton with a sexist statement, saying that if she were a man she’d only have five present of her current support.  Leave it to Donald to inadvertently attack all the women who have supported her as well as all the other women in the United States, clearly marking them as secondary creatures.  Only Donald Trump would come up with a statement that demeans over 50% of the population, letting them know of their second rate standing.


Interestingly a percentage of the Republican leadership have changed their tones suddenly about Donald.  A number of Republican celebrities earlier announced that they voted for Donald but do not support him but since Tuesday have been giving second thoughts to supporting him.  Many Republicans seem to be in the process of changing their minds about Trump; they now see him in a new positive way.  Whether this will unify the Republican Party is another question.  Donald has said that he can win without a unified Republican Party.


According to the surveys taken one in four Republicans will stay at home rather than vote for Trump.  Will this happen?  Another factor is that the number of Democratic voters in these primaries has decreased in most states while the number of Republican voters has increased significantly.  Does this mean that people are changing political parties?  If they are then politically incorrect candidates who are divisive and tend to be prejudicial against racial and ethnic groups as well as a whole gender attract more people than traditional campaigns.  And that means that negative campaigns work for better than other attempts to gain public office.  It also means that the country is overflowing with racial, ethnic and gender bias.


It’s still possible that between now and July Trump will come out with numerous stupid statements that will alienate additional numerous people within his own party and suddenly the Rules Committee will find that he doesn’t have enough legal delegates to be nominated as their candidate.


What I find interesting about Trump is that up to Super Tuesday, April 26th he has been running as a Third Party candidate within the Republican Party.  He’s been at war with them, vigorously denouncing their unfairness.  Presumably after winning the majority in the five states that held the Republican Primary Elections on Tuesday, Trump now assumes he’s the Republican “presumptive winner.”  Is he?  A lot of Republicans have since denounced him.  Some of them said that if he were the candidate they would vote for Hillary.


On Wednesday afternoon at about 4 pm, the day after Super Tuesday, Trump gave a formal “foreign policy” speech using television prompters for the first time in order to dramatically read the presentation.   It was done in a very dignified fashion; basically the speech was much of what Trump has stated during the overall campaign combined with some traditional Republican attitudes.  Here we had a presidential Trump seriously reading a speech obviously written by members of his staff.  Basically the main concept is “America First.”  He would rebuild our military, make all our allies pay their “fair share” of the security burden, quickly destroy ISIS, and so on.  There are no specifics, just a general outline of how tough the U.S. is going to be.  Trump explained that he’s not giving specific information because that would prepare the enemy to resist. The United Nations Treaty with Iran was bad news, he said.   He’ll get a better deal for the United States.  And he’ll make a deal with Russia that will make Russia more positive about dealing with us.


The speech was about generalities.  He doesn’t want to tell how he’ll do these things because that would put us at a disadvantage.  His basic weapon in dealing with everyone is the ability to walk away from the negotiations if we don’t like them, this includes allies and antagonists.  Again, presumably the U. S. under Trump will be so tough and so feared that every nation will give in to us or be isolated from us or go to war with us, both allies and enemies.


Trump’s interpretation of what is happening in the world and what the United States is doing tends to be mostly wishful thinking or prefabricating on his part.  He freely makes statements without knowing what is really going on.  Ted Cruz’s statement about Trump being a pathological liar may be close to if not the actual truth.  He actually may not know the difference between fact and fiction.  He may believe that if he says something it must be a fact.


Trump’s claim that ISIS is making millions and millions of dollars a week selling Libyan oil is nonsense.  There is no evidence to support this statement.  ISIS has attempted to destroy a number of oil fields there  by bombarding them and moving on.  There was one incident when navy seals in 2014 stopped an attempt in Eastern Libya to smuggle oil out of the country in an oil tanker called the Morning Glory.  This also contradicts Trumps claim that the U. S. doesn’t “do anything about” unauthorized oil sales from Libya.


Trump claimed that the North American Free Trade Agreement “has been a disaster for the United States” and it has “literally emptied our states of our manufacturing and our jobs.”  Actually economic studies demonstrate that NAFTA’s impact on U. S. jobs has been very slight.  In fact it may have added slightly to the overall employment in the U. S. 


Trump has stated that he was against the War with Iraq and that he said it would destabilize the Middle East.  There is no evidence of this.  On September 11 2002 Trump was asked in a radio interview whether he supported the war.  His answer was, “Yeah, I guess so.”


Trump stated that Obama “crippled us with a huge trade deficit.”  Actually the amount of the trade deficit has gone down during Obama’s Presidency.  In terms of Clinton and Benghazi, Trump said, “Clinton blames it all on a video, an excuse that was a total lie, proven to be absolutely a total lie.”  The Obama administration originally cited the release of an anti-Muslim video by a Florida pastor as a possible reason for the Benghazi attack.  Clinton was quicker than other government officials, including the President, to call it a terrorist attack.  Trump has an active imagination about what constitutes facts for him.


What Trump proposed is a formula for disaster.  Even without war with allies and/or enemies the U. S. could end up isolating itself from the rest of the world.  That could take us back to the diplomacy that followed the Great Depression in the early 1930s and led directly to World War II.


Donald Trump, if he were to achieve his goal, has promised to wipe out everything that Barack Obama over his eight years as President has done.  That would take the nation back to the year he initially assumed office, 2008.  President George W. Bush left the nation in that year on the verge of a depression greater than the Great Depression of 1929 at the end of his second term as President.  Obama turned it into a recession and largely got the country out of it with no help from the Republican dominated Congress.  Is this where Trump wants to take the country?


On Tuesday, May 3, 2016 both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won the primaries in Indiana.  The Republican primary was a winner take all race.  There were 57 delegate races in the state and Donald Trump got them all.  As a result Ted Cruz dramatically withdrew from the race.  It was the first time I heard what sounded like a victory speech from a loser.


What is interesting here is that the winners in both parties are the protest candidates, the ones chosen by the young and frustrated in both parties that feel they are not being properly represented by the people they have elected to office.  These are people who want to feel their party is returning something positive to them for their vote and support.  Instead up to this point they have gotten nothing in return for their vote.


Donald Trump now has 1068 committed delegates who will vote for him on the first ballot.  He needs 1,237 legal votes to become the Republican candidate for the Presidency in November of 2016.


Bernie Sanders won 52.5% of the Democratic vote, winning 44 delegates which gives him a total of 1,401 committed delegate votes.  Hillary Clinton won 47.5% of the vote, gaining 38 delegates.  She now has a total of 2,205 committed delegates.  2,383 is the number needed to become the Democratic candidate to the presidency in November of 2016.


The probability is that the last Super Tuesday in June will more than give Hillary Clinton the required number of votes needed to become the Presidential Candidate.  Bernie may even score some more victories but even in those the vote is split and Hillary gains more delegates. 


To Bernie Sanders the presidential nomination is within sight but always out of reach.  The question then is, why does he persist?  The answer, I believe, is to get his program on the Party Platform.  He has, no doubt, pushed Hillary Clinton farther left than she would have otherwise have gone.  He will try to push her farther left.  His success will be what the Party achieves over the next four years.


Donald Trump currently is king of the hill.  Whether that hill is below sea level in Death Valley or on its way to Washington, D.C. is currently unknown.  The man is an irresponsible monomaniac with no sense of consequences for what he may say.  He does not understand the government of the United States or how it works.  He certainly doesn’t understand the function of the President since what he describes he will do in that office are the actions of a dictator with absolute power.  His current dealings with Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, indicated that he might fire him when he becomes president.  It’s as though he expects to rule by executive order.


And he doesn’t understand economics in the functioning of government.  Trump apparently sees the National Government as a larger version of a business.  He doesn’t understand the difference between Macroeconomics and Microeconomics.  He has said that defaulting on government debt is a way of getting rid of or reducing the debt.


The basic currency in the world today is the dollar.  The value of most other currencies are tied to it.  If the U. S, were to default on its debt then the entire world financial systems would be affected.  We could see a group of national depressions that would make 1929 look like weekend holiday.  Trump has no idea of the trouble he could cause if he were elected president.


But I suspect that that is of low probability.  Even if he gets the 1,237 delegates he may not have 1,237 legal delegates.  That still has to be decided when the Rules Committee meets in Cleveland on July 18th to 21st.  All that depends upon the various stupid remarks that Trump makes between now and July 18th.  He’s already made a major blunder affecting the credit of the United States.


The Republican Party is split now.  I suspect the split or splits will widen between now and the convention.  I understand that Jeb Bush is thinking of organizing a group called, Republicans For Hillary.  A number of prominent Republicans have announce they will not vote for Donald.  A number of others have announce that they will vote for him but will not endorse him.  Trump has denounced anyone who has denounced him.  The situation gets crazier and crazier. 

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 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 #49 – The Tea Party: Hypocrisy, Intolerance, & Extortion

English: Sarah Palin at the Americans for Pros...

On Wednesday, October 1, 2013, Darrel Issa, the California Tea Party Republican, who chairs the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, was addressing the Executive Park Ranger, who heads all the National Parks in the nation, at a committee meeting. He asked him why the Parks had been closed during the Government Shutdown. Several Democrats on the Committee responded negatively to Issa’s comments. One held up a hand mirror and said something to the effect of: “If you want to see who shut down the Parks look at me.” Issa’s statement at the end of the questioning was that the head of the National Park Service should resign over his handling of the government shutdowns of the public national parks.

It’s an interesting behavior pattern. Blaming someone else for what you helped bring about. It shows Issa to be as sensitive as a boulder rolling down a mountainside. Is it gall, hypocrisy, or just insensitivity to the rest of the world? Does Darrel Issa feel that his view of the world is the right one and that everyone who holds a contrary view is wrong and should change their prospective to match his? Is he the perfect representative of the Tea Party?

Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachmann, Sara Palin, and other prominent Tea Party Republicans were in shock, several days earlier when they usurped a veteran’s meeting at the new World War II Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, D.C., to protest both the fact that it was closed during the Government Shut Down and that the Obama Administration had done this. The fact that Cruz and the Republican House of Representatives led the charge for the Government Shut Down was beside the point. It’s amazing how these people can set up a negative situation and then blame the Government for what they themselves have done. It’s like, with a straight face, claiming that white is really black and black is really white. They are arrogant with no sense of shame for their own inappropriate behavior.

The Tea Party’s actions are reminiscent of the functioning of the old Communist Party. The member or adherents of that group were so sure they were right in their beliefs and that everyone else was wrong that anything they did to advance their cause was acceptable, even to robbery, murder, or even blatantly sacrificing the lives of any number of people. Their cause was the ultimate cause; the next step in the inevitable flow of history, to them the destiny of mankind. It justified any behavior that enhanced its cause.

The old Communist Party of the late Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries are gone now and so are their doctrines, all casualties of historic change. Russia (the old Soviet Union). China (The People’s Republic), and Vietnam like the United States, Great Britton, Germany, and France are all combinations of both Socialism and Capitalism.

This historic change will also happen to The Tea Party, they will, like the Know Nothing Party of the 1840s and 1850 eventually become casualties of history. But before they disappear they can cause all sorts of havoc to the current generation. Up until the end of the possible government default they, a small minority of elected government legislators, had achieved control of the Republican Party moving it to the far reactionary right. They have done this by essentially controlling the money contributions that the politicians need to stay in office and by threatening their fellow Republicans with having more extreme candidates run against them in the primaries when they came up for reelection. This mode has been successful, first in shutting down the government by not passing an acceptable budget, and then up until the day of the default when the Speaker of the House brought up a Senate Bill that would extend the debt ceiling and reopen the government, created great negative problems for the Government. While the Tea Party members voted against this measure both the Democrats and moderate Republicans passed the bill and almost immediately it became law.

Various far right groups like the Heritage Foundation threatened primary runoffs against any Republicans who supported this bill. This means so far that there should be runoffs in the primaries against the majority of Republican Senators who are running for office in 2014 and the House of Representative members who supported the bill.

The 2014 Midterm Election will be very interesting and important. Particularly since the question of the Debt Ceiling will come up again in February of 2014. Hopefully by then the country will have a new budget to finance the running of the Government. Ted Cruz, among others, has threatened a Government Default. Many of the current Tea Partiers are very angry over losing the current battle over this twenty-four billion dollar fiasco. Will the far right and the Tea Party have the clout to bring about another twenty-four billion dollar crisis?

To date Tea Party control of the Republican Party has lasted three years. The Heritage Foundation and other far right organizations will have to spend billions of dollars to get their way in the primary races. They will again have to spend that much money in the actual elections against Democratic candidates. Will their contributors be that generous, particularly since the banks and other corporate contributors lost a lot of money in the first Government Shut Down and the near-default by the Federal Government.

Meanwhile the public is going to be subjected to all sorts of rhetoric about what the Tea Party will and will not do. They will be regaled with hypocrisy and intolerance.

Refusing to deal with the budget and bringing the country to the edge of default over the Debt Ceiling cost the government of the United States twenty-four billion dollars and about 250,000 jobs. This does not count other losses in industry and consumption, which could bring the lost amount to over a trillion dollars. I haven’t heard anyone in the Tea Party taking responsibility for these actions. In fact the Tea Party members in the House of Representatives all voted against raising the debt limit and funding the government. Do they even understand what they are doing? Are these the actions of a group claiming to want to reduce Government spending and increase employment? They seem to want to bend the government to their will by any means. They would destroy the state if they can’t get their way and their means of enforcing their will is blatant extortion. They feel they are that right and everyone else is that wrong. They are very much like the old Communist Party.

English: US Representative Michele Bachmann (R...

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