Archive for the ‘ Politics & Government ’ Category

Last Night’s Miami Showdown

The Republican debate in Miami last night was a substantive event, especially for Cruz and Rubio. They ran rings around Trump when it came to knowledge of policy while he repeated his tired old lines about how everything in a Trump presidency will be “great” and how he will ensure that all the deals he will make will be “good.” Thesaurus anyone?

Trying very hard to look presidential, Trump refrained for the first time from interrupting the others (except for one swipe at Cruz). That actually allowed a genuine debate to take place.

March Miami Debate

For Rubio, this may have been the last gasp, and he took advantage of it, having his best debate ever. He was relaxed and confident, at ease in his home territory and schooling Trump on the problems with Cuba, in particular.

Cruz turned in a fine performance—solid, steady, and knowledgeable, as always. He may have stumbled a couple of times when appealing to people to join his campaign as the only one that can beat Trump. Not that he wasn’t correct, but it was a departure from the issue orientation of the evening.

In the same way as Rubio gave a lesson on the Cuban dictatorship to Trump, Cruz showed the frontrunner that a senator with a sharp legal background knows more about trade and tariffs than the supposed successful businessman. The Frank Luntz focus group gave Cruz a 100 on their dials when he explained how he would deal with the corrupt Washington establishment.

Cruz also scored with his impassioned support of Israel and the foolishness of being neutral between Israel and Palestinian terrorists. Trump then declared that he was the greatest supporter of Israel on the stage—without any corroborating evidence other than having Jewish friends and relatives. It was kind of humorous, in a sad way.

I’ll even admit that Kasich was better than usual, less annoying overall. But even if he wins his home state of Ohio, that will be the high point of his campaign.

Although Trump did put on a more presidential veneer, his constant air of superiority never diminished. It’s just so hard to watch that demeanor without wanting to shake the man and remind him he’s only a human being, not a mini-god.

And he apparently couldn’t help himself when he decided to step on Ben Carson’s news, to be broken today in a press conference, that he will support Trump. He couldn’t wait to allow Carson to make that statement first; he announced it in the debate.

So Ben Carson, whom Trump basically accused of being a child abuser, has no problem forgiving him for such comments, yet somehow can’t forgive Cruz for what overeager supporters did in Iowa?

Carson, the one who constantly called for civility in the campaign, is now endorsing the chief proponent of incivility?

I’ve always respected Carson, but this endorsement, following on his unwillingness to accept Cruz’s apologies, has diminished the man considerably. I hope he will eventually see the error of his ways.

Will this debate have any effect on Tuesday’s primaries? Will it give Rubio the surge he wants in Florida? Will Kasich hold off Trump in Ohio? Will Cruz be able to grab the huge delegate pool in North Carolina (larger even than Ohio’s)?

We await the results. The future of the republic may depend on what transpires next week.

Tuesday’s Elections: Not a Conventional Analysis

Primary ElectionsFour states on Tuesday held either a caucus or a primary. As with last Saturday’s results, one can again go with the conventional analysis and give the night to Donald Trump or one can look a little deeper. I choose the latter.

Now, there’s no denying that Trump won three of those four states and that it moved him closer to the nomination. But it didn’t get him as far as one might want to think. Neither are the trends going in his direction.

Let’s look at each state individually.

Mississippi

This was a two-man race only. Kasich and Rubio were so far behind as to be nearly nonexistent. As with Louisiana, according to reports, more than 40% of the voters had already turned in ballots early, meaning they had made up their minds prior to witnessing the last two debates, both of which were problematic for Trump. In Louisiana, those who voted on primary day went for Cruz over Trump. I have to wonder if the same scenario played out in Mississippi. How many early Trump voters regretted their haste afterward?

Michigan

This one was quite interesting in that Cruz didn’t put any effort into the state. According to one report, his campaign spent about $1100 overall. In election terms, that’s like spending nothing. Yet he came in second, overtaking Kasich, who had labored to make Michigan his lead-in to Ohio next week. It’s amazing to hear some talking heads remark about Kasich’s “strong” showing in Michigan while seeming to miss the fact that he came in third out of four candidates. Comments about Cruz’s surprise finish, when he had pretty much written off the state, were few and far between.

I know it has become fashionable to blame the media for how much time they give Trump over Cruz, and I don’t want to jump on a bandwagon just for the sake of jumping on, but . . . the accusation is all too true.

Rubio, by the way, took last place by a convincing margin.

Ted Cruz 3Idaho

This was a runaway victory for Cruz, pulling in more than 45% of the vote; Trump was under 30%. Yet somehow it gets lost in the shuffle. Cruz spent more time here, giving an indication that when he concentrates on a state, he can make significant gains. Again, neither Kasich nor Rubio were major factors.

Hawaii

No one knew what to expect here. Trump won over Cruz by about 42% to 32% in a state known to be one of the most liberal in the nation. Cruz won liberal Maine, so that 32% in Hawaii may indicate more strength than some are willing to admit.

Delegates

As I noted in an earlier post, the number of states won, at this point, means less than the delegate total. While Trump won more delegates on Tuesday, it wasn’t a massive take. In fact, Trump, despite winning three states to Cruz’s one, earned only 12 delegates more than Cruz on the night.  Overall, he now has either a 458-359 or 459-364 lead over Cruz (depending on which network is doing the calculation), still within striking distance.

The Media

Okay, I have another comment to make about the media’s role. After Trump won Mississippi and Michigan, he staged (I use that word advisedly) a so-called press conference that turned into an infomercial for his business “successes.” Yes, I put that word in quotes. He had steaks on the stage, but his steak business went bust; he had water and wines, but he doesn’t really manage those anymore. The water bottles on stage were just the typical kind you get at the nearest grocery store.

Donald TrumpHe then boasted that his defunct and fraudulent Trump University would rise from the ashes of the current lawsuits and be “great.” Have you noticed how often he uses certain words—great, tremendous, wonderful, etc.? Have you noticed that instead of substance, he simply keeps repeating the same words and sentences over and over?

Yet the media never broke away from his ramblings. They gave full coverage to this lovefest for himself. He truly is a media creation. And a juvenile one at that.

What Next?

The big states next week are Florida and Ohio. I really don’t mind Kasich staying in the race right now if there is any possibility he could take Ohio away from Trump. It won’t be the start of Kasichmentum no matter how often he says it will be.

In Florida, I sincerely doubt that Rubio can win. I live here. I have access to a lot of disgruntled people who believe he betrayed them on immigration, and they are not very forgiving, even a few years later. Rubio won’t step down before Tuesday, I’m pretty sure, so he risks his entire political future if he ever decides to run for governor. Losing a presidential primary in one’s own state is a badge of dishonor that will stay with a candidate for a long time.

Cruz’s decision to make a stronger play for Florida might be too little too late, but he is on an upswing while Rubio is heading in the other direction. Trends do matter. Even if Cruz cannot win Florida, if he puts in a surprisingly strong showing, that could help propel him into victories elsewhere.

If Rubio should lose Florida, his run is over, and he will need to acknowledge it, sooner rather than later. That will be the only hope for Cruz to overtake Trump. Despite some of the bad blood between the two campaigns, I find it hard to believe that the majority of Rubio supporters would migrate to Trump.

As far as I’m concerned, nothing has been decided for sure yet, no matter what you may hear in the media.

Remembering Nancy Reagan

Nancy ReaganNancy Reagan passed away Sunday at the age of 94. It’s like the end of an era. The students I teach now were born after Ronald Reagan left office; they have no personal knowledge of him or how he impacted our country. Lacking knowledge of perhaps the greatest president of the twentieth century, they obviously know nothing about his wife either.

Nancy Davis Publicity Photo 1949-1950Nancy Davis was a Hollywood actress in the late 1940s who was falsely accused of being a communist, her name being the same as another Nancy Davis who was the suspicious one. Out of concern for her future, she called on the president of the Screen Actors Guild, Ronald Reagan, to explain the situation. He got it straightened out and, in the process, their relationship began.

Reagan had just gone through a wrenching divorce from another actress, Jane Wyman, a divorce he didn’t want and for which he was not at fault. When Nancy Davis entered his life, he said later, she gave his life back to him. They were married in 1952, a marriage that lasted fifty-two years until his death in 2004.

Nancy Reagan’s film career pretty much came to an end after her marriage, and she spent those next fifty-two years as an anchor of stability for her husband. When he embarked on his political career in 1966, she was solidly in his corner. She also was his prime encourager to seek the presidency in 1980.

Ronald Reagan Assassination Attempt 2After the assassination attempt in 1981, she began to turn to an astrologer for some guidance, something that her husband did not engage in. When I had the opportunity during my sabbatical to interview the Reagans’ former pastor, Donn Moomaw, he indicated that he was never sure just where she stood spiritually but that he had stayed in touch with her and had recently (2014) spoken with her again about faith in Christ. He believed she was very open to his words.

Of course we have to leave it in God’s hands as to her eternal destination, but based on Rev. Moomaw’s testimony, I am hopeful that she is now not only reunited with her husband but also basking in the presence of her Savior.

Nancy Reagan was a woman of class and good taste, someone admired by many. May that be the memory we have of her this day. Her body will be laid to rest next to Ronald Reagan’s at his presidential library. The next time I visit there—and I do hope there will be a next time—my visit to the gravesite will be to commemorate both of them and the public demonstration they offered of a marriage—if not exactly made in heaven—that showcased how genuine love for one another can be achieved on this earth.

Reagans on Boat 1964

Cruz, Trump, & the Turning Tide

How should we analyze the voting in Saturday’s Republican caucuses and primaries? We could do it the conventional way and simply say it was a draw between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz since both won two states. That would also be the superficial way.

While I was in the Atlanta airport Saturday evening, I was taken captive by the monitor broadcasting CNN (since Atlanta is the home base for that network). I don’t normally watch CNN because I prefer actual news, but sometimes it’s good to hear what’s being said on faux news stations, if only to know what silliness is being spread around.

One commentator rather breathlessly stated that Trump’s apparent victory in the Kentucky caucuses was somehow a foothold in the South that marked some kind of important milestone for the candidate. Since I was in a public place, I refrained from laughing too loudly.

Going beyond the superficial, here’s what I see. If you look at the margins of victory for both Cruz and Trump, you see quite a difference. Cruz took 48% in Kansas, more than doubling Trump’s 23%. In Maine, Cruz had 45%, Trump 32%. Those victories were astounding, especially considering polls had shown Trump to be ahead in both states.

Ted Cruz at KS Caucus

Trump’s victories were somewhat less convincing. He took Kentucky 35-31% and Louisiana 41.4-37.8%, which is only a 3.6% spread. Again, polls had shown him well ahead, not indicating how close the races actually turned out. In fact, those who voted in Louisiana the day of the primary gave the edge to Cruz over Trump; the only reason he won was due to absentee ballots turned in weeks ago.

One wonders if Cruz would have won Louisiana if no one had been allowed to vote early. The last two debates were awful for Trump. The one last week, in particular, revealed him at his worst: making a sexual reference; changing his position on immigration (and having to “clarify” it later); and declaring that the military would obey him if he ordered it to kill women and children of terrorists (another one he had to walk back afterwards).

Those kinds of displays of waffling, budding dictatorship (interesting how they co-mingled), and vulgarity are making the more sensible erstwhile Trump supporters have second thoughts.

By the way, it’s the delegate count that matters, not how many states one wins. Trump’s delegate lead is 382-300 over Cruz. That’s hardly a done deal for the nomination when 1237 are required to become the nominee.

There’s another factor I hate to mention, but feel I must. Without Marco Rubio in the race, it is more than conceivable that Cruz would have won both Kentucky and Louisiana. Many are calling for Rubio to withdraw now, not only for the good of the Republican party but for the political salvation of the nation itself.

Rubio is determined to stay in, thinking a win in his home state of Florida will turn everything around. I’m not convinced. I don’t believe there is a viable path to the nomination for him even with a Florida win. All his continued participation is doing (and the same can be said for John Kasich—perhaps even more) is making a Trump nomination more likely.

I would be more than pleased for a Cruz-Rubio ticket to emerge from this, but in order for that to happen, there must be a meeting of the minds and a willingness on Rubio’s part to take the second spot. Or Cruz could promise him a cabinet position such as secretary of defense or secretary of state, especially since Rubio is so articulate on foreign policy.

Meanwhile, I believe Trump is becoming increasingly exposed as an easily ruffled bully who is, in his core, basically insecure. Most braggarts are. One evidence of his insecurity unveiled itself in an Orlando rally a couple of days ago when he asked his followers to raise their right hands in a pledge to stay loyal to him and vote.

Donald Trump Swear to Vote

When’s the last time a candidate felt he had to make his supposed supporters swear publicly that they will come out and vote? That’s not the action of a secure man.

I’m beginning to see the tide turn against Trump and toward Cruz. I’m rather perturbed by comments that imply the last debate was a total disaster for Republicans. Those who take that view are promoting a false moral equivalence: that all the candidates were a disaster. Not true. Only one was. Cruz, in fact, in much of the commentary I saw, even from those who are not public Cruz fans, was seen as above the fray and more strikingly presidential, seeking to explain policy rather than merely turning the tables on Trump.

I’m looking for Christian character and constitutional consistency. No one has a perfect record in that regard, but I’m convinced that Ted Cruz is the closest we have to that in this race.

Super Tuesday Results & the Way Forward

Donald Trump wins seven of eleven states and some people call the race over. Yet Super Tuesday’s results aren’t as clear as some would like to believe. Number of states won is not the same as number of delegates won—and that latter category is what determines the ultimate winner.

Trump-Rubio-Cruz

It appears that Trump now has 316 of the 1237 needed to win the nomination, while Cruz is at 226 in his delegate count. That’s not exactly a blowout at this point in the race. Rubio trails with 106. Kasich and Carson are not really in the game any more, despite what their campaigns say.

Cruz got the biggest delegate prize of the night, his home state of Texas. There are some more primaries on Saturday, and they are possible wins for Cruz as well—Kansas, Louisiana, and Kentucky. We’ll see if he can capitalize on those.

There were disappointments for Cruz last night, chief of which would be Arkansas going for Trump by about 2% over Cruz. But he did pick up Oklahoma and Alaska in addition to Texas.

Rubio won Minnesota and thought he might take Virginia, but fell short. His path to the nomination might be over, but he will pin all his hopes on his home state of Florida and try to believe a victory there will be the springboard into future successes.

However, to me at least, it seems it’s either going to be Trump or Cruz and that Cruz’s only hope is that Rubio will bow to the inevitable and graciously withdraw now. I realize that conclusion will raise the ire of Rubio’s backers, but I honestly don’t see how he can win. If he’s staking everything on a brokered convention, I think that is a mistake, and rather unlikely.

Let Me Out

Trump has turned this election cycle into a mess and has badly damaged the entire Republican brand. Some will object that the Republican establishment already damaged the brand (with which I won’t completely disagree), but he has found a way to pull the wool over the eyes of angry voters, somehow convincing them that he is a viable candidate and someone to be trusted.

Love the Suckers

The latest rumor in the rumor mill is that if Trump gets the nomination, there will be two new entries into the race, former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg—who will draw votes from the Democrats—and an as-yet-unnamed conservative who will bolt the Republican party in an attempt to coalesce all those who will remain unreconciled to Trump. I am one of those.

Under that scenario, with four candidates, it’s possible that no one will be able to get the majority of the electoral votes, thus throwing the decision into the House of Representatives, as was done in the elections of 1800 and 1824. Republicans control the House, thereby making the final choice either Trump or the conservative alternative.

Interesting scenario. How feasible is it? I don’t think it’s likely, but I wouldn’t rule it out or think that it would spell the end of the republic. We’re already near that end with either a Clinton or Trump presidency. At least this scenario would offer the possibility of avoiding both of those outcomes.

But in the meantime, we are still in the primary season and, despite dire predictions Trump has it all sewed up, I’m not ready to accept that nightmare. I still believe Cruz has a narrow path he can follow, especially if Trump continues to shoot himself in the foot with his out-of-control comments and actions. There’s still time for people to wake up and see him for what he really is—the ultimate political insider with illusions of grandeur.

The Trump Takedown

How many times have I commented that Donald Trump had a bad debate, only to then see him win the vote afterwards? That doesn’t deter me. Here goes: Donald Trump was taken down more than a few pegs in last night’s Texas debate. He practically shrank in stature while standing on the stage. Now, will that translate into greater sanity at the ballot box this coming Tuesday?

Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz

The reason for Trump’s worst debate performance to date is that both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio finally figured out they needed to man up and tackle him directly. No more of this “my good friend, Donald” approach, but being brutally honest publicly about a good many of Trump’s shortcomings.

Rubio was marvelous in mocking Trump’s constant repetition of words and phrases, humorously recalling his own stumble back in the New Hampshire debate. He was quite articulate throughout on a variety of issues and showed he could stand up to Trump even when the latter thought the best policy was to reprise his role as The Constant Interruptor.

Cruz also didn’t let up. He pressed Trump on a number of points and again proved his mastery of issues. As with Rubio, Cruz didn’t back down when Trump did his best to disrupt Cruz’s comments.

Trump was his insulting self, particularly petty toward questioner Hugh Hewitt, who reminded him that he had promised, when being interviewed on Hewitt’s radio program, to release his tax returns. When Hewitt reminded him of that promise, Trump’s riposte was to denigrate Hewitt by saying his ratings are dismal.

That’s the tried-and-not-so-true Trump tactic: when you don’t have a real answer, be rude to the questioner and find a way to call him a “loser.”

For me, the most satisfactory result of this evening, besides seeing Trump being challenged and revealing his vulnerabilities, was the way both Cruz and Rubio focused on Trump and barely attacked one another. I’ve been waiting for that. For the first time, they awoke to the reality that the real problem is the man who stood between them on that stage, not one another.

Trump’s diehard supporters won’t be fazed by any exposure of their idol’s falseness. Real hope lies with those voting on Tuesday who may have had their eyes opened watching this debate. I pray there were a multitude of those.

A Choice That Is No Choice

Donald Trump wins the Nevada caucus. Polls in upcoming states are looking good for him. He’s the Republican (sort of) version of the Obama messianic complex, but perhaps illustrated differently:

Know He's Wrong

In my view, as much intellectual power is being shown in supporting Trump as Democrats exercised in their worship of Obama. And the two candidates who might have a shot at doing something about this are trying to destroy each other instead.

Car Crash

If you think this makes no sense, that means you still have some sense.

Meanwhile, on the other side, we have a candidate who ought to be prosecuted and sent to prison, but the focus of the media is not exactly on her misdeeds.

If Only

So we face a choice between a progressive, entitled, and should-be-convicted liar on one side vs. an arrogant, profane, deceptive liar on the other.

Hold Your Nose

A Trump-Clinton election choice is no choice at all.