Monday, August 31, 2015

Give Me A Break!

There has been some criticism levied against the three young Americans who subdued a heavily armed gunman on a high speed Paris bound train.

US Airmen Spencer Stone and National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos were traveling on vacation with their friend, Anthony Sadler. Also among the passengers: American born French citizen Mark Moogalian and British IT consultant, Chris Norman.

Moogalian became suspicious when he saw a young Moroccan, Ayoub el-Khazzani enter the bathroom with a large suitcase. Moogalian saw the Moroccan exit the bathroom brandishing a Kalashnikov assault weapon and tried to subdue him. He suffered a serious gunshot wound to the neck.

Stone, Skalatos and Sadler heard the gunshot and immediately charged the shooter. Stone grabbed the shooter in a chokehold; suffering stab wounds to his neck and a partially severed thumb. The trio subdued the shooter with the help of Norman; who secured the gunman with his neck tie. Once the shooter was secured Skarlatos picked up the rifle and checked the other passenger cars to make certain no other gunmen were onboard.

Stone, ignoring his own serious injuries turned his attention to the wounded Moogalian. Trained as an EMT by the military, Stone pinched off the bleeding artery in Mooglian’s neck until medics could arrive.

El-Khazzani was armed with an assault rifle, pistol, box cutter and several clips of ammo. Stone, Skarlatos, Sadler, Norman and Moogalian are credited with saving an untold number of lives on the 500 passenger train.

Days later Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler were awarded the Legion of Honor; France’s highest award.

Here’s where the controversy comes in.

Stone, Skalatos and Sadler were on vacation when fate summoned them. As typical American males they had little in their suitcases but shorts and tee shirts. With little more than a day’s notice that they were to be honored they didn’t have much time to procure “suitable” attire for the event. So they settled on the American staple…khakis and a collared golf shirt.

The couture police were horrified…ripping into the trio for not having the good taste to dress appropriately for such a prestigious affair. Apparently style trumps substance in the eyes of the fashionista.

Give me a break!

There are numerous reports that when the shot was fired the train personnel were nowhere to be found; having apparently decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

I’m sure they were immaculately attired as they ducked for cover.

Friday, August 28, 2015

"PC" Distraction

I can’t believe that I’m saying this! I agree with Donald Trump!

Trump says that political correctness (PC) in this country has gotten way out of hand. I agree! Not only do I think that we have become too thin skinned; I believe that smart people are skillfully using PC to distract us in order to further their agenda.

Case in point! Yesterday Hillary Clinton touched off a firestorm on the right when she compared Republican policies on women’s health issues to the manner in which ISIS treats women. As you might expect the right responded with hair on fire outrage:

“Hillary Clinton owes Republicans an apology. How dare she compare the opinions held by a large segment of Americans to the tactics used by the butchers who fly the ISIS banner.”

“Can you imagine the reaction from the left if a Republican had uttered those words?”

Yes I can. Republicans have been just as guilty of engaging in dog whistle politics to fire up their base and infuriate the left. For every racist remark Republicans fired off at Barak Obama I am sure I could find an equal number of left wing slurs against George W. Bush’s intelligence.

Hillary Clinton’s recent combativeness on the stump make it clear that she has grown weary of the constant questioning about her email issues. She has no good answer. That, along with her prickly demeanor and condescending attitude…are killing her in the polls. What better way to change the narrative than to roll out a new shiny object for the press and public to chase. Red meat for the press to quote...partisan rhetoric to fire up the base.

The immediate result…only one question about her emails.

As I said Republicans are equally adept at playing this game. The faux outrage over Clinton’s remarks fires up the right and turns the discussion away from Republican policies that ARE very unpopular with most women.

All of this nonsense distracts us from having a substantive discussion about the important issue at hand…women’s’ health…specifically a woman’s right to choose.

Of course all of this discussion hinges on whether or not you believe that government should have a voice in women’s health issues.

I don’t.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Taking The Coward's Way Out

Over the past several weeks the media and the ruling class of this country have been focused on the three ring circus that will ultimately elect the next leader of the free world. Lost in the entertainment value of this process is that we have a sitting government in place that has several weighty matters on its immediate agenda.

There is a contentious nuclear deal with Iran that needs to be approved, a transportation fund that is about to run out of money, a continuing resolution to keep the government open and the always popular raising of the debt ceiling. Oh, and there is the ongoing war against ISIS that congress has yet to approve.

These are important and complicated issues; each deserving of substantive and thoughtful deliberation on the merits. A thoughtful deliberation that cannot be achieved when an amendment defunding Planned Parenthood is thrown into the mix.

There is yet another conservative movement afoot to defund Planned Parenthood. The RNC talking points go something like this: The federal government funds Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood provides abortion services. We don’t believe that the federal government should be paying for the murder of innocent babies. Therefore we want to defund Planned Parenthood.

The conservative plan is to attach an amendment defunding Planned Parenthood to any bill that raises the debt ceiling, replenishes the transportation fund, or proffers a continuing resolution to keep the government open. The hardliners are willing to shut the government down if they don’t get their way.

What this argument lacks in matters of fact and responsible governing is only exceeded by its blatant pandering and ideological fervor.

Let’s take a moment to consider the facts.

Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of reproductive health services in the United States. According to its website, Planned Parenthood provides sexual and reproductive health care, education, information and outreach to over 5,000,000 women, men and adolescents. 97% of Planned Parenthood’s services focus on breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV screening and counseling and contraception. 3% of its clinical interactions are for abortion services; roughly 300,000 per year.

Planned Parenthood is supported by over 8,000,000 activists, supporters and private donors. Roughly one third of the organization’s $1 billion in revenues comes from government grants and contracts. Planned Parenthood is prohibited by law from using any of its federal funding for abortion services.

Defunding Planned Parenthood will result in an increase in unwanted pregnancies and abortions as well as an increase in the instances and severity of breast cancer, cervical cancer and HIV infections.

I for one wish that the number of abortions was “0.” I wish that every pregnancy would result in the placement of the child in a warm and nurturing home. But in reality there are other factors that often come in to play. As a male member of our species I will never have to make that most difficult of decisions. I cannot fathom telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body; especially in a situation where the pregnancy is the result of a violent crime, incest or in those instances where the pregnancy places her life in danger.

Planned Parenthood has proven over time to be an essential part of our society. It has contributed in a positive way to an improved quality of life for millions of Americans. Defunding Planned Parenthood will have serious consequences going forward. Abortion adds a moral and emotional component to the discussion that cannot be overlooked.

It is for all of these reasons that any move to defund Planned Parenthood is deserving of substantive and thoughtful deliberation on the merits. Secreting the measure through as some sort of afterthought amendment does not give it the hearing it deserves.

So if Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood then let’s have that debate. But let’s have an open and transparent discussion. Republicans should put a stand-alone a defunding bill on the floor. Debate the merits. Look 5,000,000 women and men in the eye and tell them why them why Planned Parenthood is not worthy of the country’s hard earned tax dollars. Have the political courage to stand up for your ideology.

Attaching a measure of this importance as an amendment to some omnibus funding bill is not only bad governance…

…its political cowardice.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pushing Back

Donald Trump continues to thumb his nose at the establishment. Whether it’s the RNC, Washington politicians, the national media or the conventional rules of decorum; none are sacrosanct in Trump’s world. “I say what I say…and if you don’t like it…” says the never apologetic Trump.

So far it’s working.

Trump spent the past forty eight hours engaging in behavior that would kill the political career of any other politician.

You are no doubt aware of the dustup between Trump and FOX NEWS over anchor Megyn Kelly’s questioning of Trump during the debate. FOX NEWS president Roger Ailes had reached out to Trump and it appeared that fences had been mended.

Kelly, who anchors FOX NEWS’ “The Kelly File” returned from a two week vacation on Monday night. Trump took the opportunity to Tweet that he preferred the show without Kelly and that he hoped she would take another unscheduled vacation…soon. He then went on to call Kelly a “bimbo.”

Trump’s unprovoked attack stunned and angered Ailes who thought that a truce was in place. The respected news mogul normally does not lower himself to respond to lowly politicians. He simply unleashes his powerful “news” organization to bury them. Pity the conservative politician that dares to cross FOX NEWS. But this was Trump and Ailes thought he had been wronged.

Ailes fired off an unprecedented response in which he ripped Trump’s behavior, defended his anchor and called on Trump to apologize. One by one each of the FOX NEWS personalities piled on in like kind.

Unbowed, Trump defiantly refused to apologize; demanding instead that Kelly apologize to him.

Last night Trump traveled to Dubuque, Iowa where he was scheduled to hold a brief press conference before giving a stump speech to supporters.

Trump was systematically calling on reporters when UNIVISION anchor, Jorge Ramos interrupted Trump and began what amounted to a long winded speech criticizing Trump’s stance immigration. Trump told Ramos to sit down and wait until he was called upon. Ramos defiantly persisted with his rant. Trump eventually looked toward security who escorted Ramos from the room.

Trump was immediately asked if removing Ramos was the right thing to do. Trump said that Ramos was interrupting him, that he would be happy to have Ramos return and that he would be happy to answer Ramos’ questions. Ramos did return…Trump took his question…and he and Ramos engaged in a lengthy and heated debate over Trump’s immigration policies.

Trump, Ramos and UNIVISION have a history. UNIVISION is THE news source for the Hispanic community; boasting a viewership that exceeds all the other cable news network’s combined. Jorge Ramos is a highly respected news anchor for UNIVISION. Ramos is so highly regarded that he has been referred to as the Walter Cronkite of the Hispanic community.

UNIVISION was scheduled to air Trump’s Miss Universe Pageant but pulled the plug when Trump made his derogatory comments about immigrants crossing our borders. Trump has since sued UNIVISION for $500 million for breach of contract.

Ramos has tried for months to get Trump to sit down for an interview. Trump has rebuffed the ever persistent Ramos; going so far as to publish a letter Ramos had written to Trump that included Ramos’ private phone number.

Both men came into that room looking for a confrontation. Ramos pushed Trump’s buttons and Trump did not back down.

Backing down is not in Trump’s DNA.

The Des Moines Register is the largest newspaper in the key primary state of Iowa. The Des Moines Register Editorial Board recently criticized Trump’s campaign and called on him to bow out of the race. Trump responded by barring the newspaper’s reporters from his events.

I don’t know anything about running for public office but it seems to me that pissing off the most powerful men in the conservative and Hispanic news media would not be the way to go. But this is Trump and when it comes to Trump conventional wisdom need not apply.

Trump is the clear Republican frontrunner in all the national polls. A recently released state poll in New Hampshire shows Trump holding 35% of the vote among likely primary voters. That's up from 24%. That’s TRIPLE the support of his closest challenger, John Kasich…and DOUBLE the combined support for establishment candidates: Bush, Walker and Rubio. South Carolina shows Trump similarly positioned; widening his lead to double the numbers of his closest rival.

Toward the end of last night’s press conference Trump made an off the cuff comment that I think best explains his early success in this campaign.

A reporter asked Trump why he engages in these late night Tweets and harsh attacks. He said: “When you are pushed you push back. I think we could use a little more of that in this country.”

Apparently voters agree.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Stench Reminiscent Of Days Gone By

I’m starting to “Feel the Bern.”

Maybe it’s because Bernie Sanders’ message and genuine persona resonate with me. Or maybe it’s because I’m simply growing tired of the nonsense coming out of the Clinton Campaign.
The media firestorm that has engulfed the Clinton campaign over “Emailgate” continues to burn. Try as she might, the candidate can’t seem to stop herself from adding more fuel to an already raging inferno.

The Clinton Campaign, tired of being beat up in the press over her use of a personal server to store her government emails, decided to take the offensive. The candidate held what turned out to be a prickly press conference. A combative Clinton reasserted her defense that she did nothing wrong and that she never sent nor received emails “marked classified” via her personal email account. She concluded the session dismissing any negative effects the email inquiry may have had on her campaign; insinuating that the general public wasn’t interested: “No one is asking about this except you guys.” At the same time her surrogates were taking to the news broadcasts and delivering the same message. “Nothing to see here.”

Unfortunately for Mrs. Clinton, the Obama Justice Department has flagged 305 emails that they consider sensitive enough to deserve further investigation.
Reuters has reported that emails received via a Freedom of Information inquiry document numerous pieces of substantive correspondence with foreign officials and heads of state. Though not marked specifically as “classified” they are documents of a sensitive nature whose preservation one might argue is ill suited for an unsecured private server.

And then there is the matter of the State Department and its culpability in all of this. One has to wonder why then Secretary of State Clinton was permitted to use an unsecured personal server to house her emails. Why didn’t the State Department…or the White House for that matter… demand that she follow White House protocols and use the government email account/server as required of all federal employees.

Both the State Department and the White House have been suspiciously reluctant to comment.

Secretary of State John Kerry was asked about his predecessor’s use of a personal email account to conduct official business. Kerry, who uses the government provided email account to conduct his government business, just shrugged as if it didn’t make any difference: “I expect the Russians and the Chinese have already hacked into my emails as well.” Apparently keeping our sensitive information safe isn’t worth torpedoing the party’s leading candidate for president.

There are those that have compared this email controversy to the depressing days of Watergate. Some would consider that pandering to score political points. I won’t go there.

But I will say this. Throughout their decades of public service, Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill have demonstrated a ”Nixonesque” revulsion for the press and an anal retentive obsession with their personal privacy; while operating under the theory that rules are merely suggestions and compliance is merely a choice.

How else does one explain why Secretary Clinton, in clear defiance of a White House directive, made the conscious decision to archive her email correspondence, not a secure government server, but on a personal server kept in her home. How else does one explain why she elected to back up that server, not via one of the fifteen government approved/secure vendors, but an off book mom and pop operation out of Chicago; who backed up her sensitive correspondence on a server stored in the linen closet of the owner’s apartment. Is there any reason to make these conscious decisions other than to control the data and thwart any press inquiries through the Freedom of Information Act? There may not be anything illegal to see here. However Clinton's lack of good judgement speaks volumes.

I don’t know if this situation is comparable to Watergate…but there is a stench here that is reminiscent of those days gone by.

That’s why I’m starting to “Feel the Bern.”

I’m hopeful that Vice President Biden will enter the race as well. Win or lose Biden will bring a breath of fresh air to a campaign that could certainly stand a bit of “airing out.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Clinton Has No One To Blame But Herself

I just don’t get Candidate Hillary Clinton. One would expect a woman as intelligent and accomplished as she is would learn from her past mistakes. Yet Candidate Clinton, much like Secretary Clinton, Senator Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton continues to operate under the misguided belief that the rules of propriety and law do not apply to her. This sense of entitlement has once again placed her in the crosshairs of her political enemies. More importantly, this time it is the Justice Department that has her in its sights.

You have no doubt heard all the hubbub about Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email account and server while acting as Secretary of State. The legal question is whether or not Secretary Clinton improperly sent, received and preserved classified material via that personal account and server. The question of her use of good judgement is another matter.

There has been a lot of stuff reported in the media about this situation. Most of it is wrong. So I thought that I would provide an unvarnished outline of the facts that have been corroborated by numerous sources. No politics here...just facts. Then you can judge Hillary Clinton’s veracity for yourself.

While serving as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used her personal email account to send and receive government emails. She says that she did this for convenience because she believed that using her personal email account for personal business and the email account provided to her by the State Department for her government work would be too cumbersome. Mrs. Clinton also chose to archive all of her emails on a personal server which she kept in her New York home. She says she believed this to be appropriate because the server was the same secure server her husband, Bill Clinton, used while serving as president.

Mrs. Clinton says that all emails sent to or received from State Department officials and or employees were archived on the State Department’s server and that any other emails were of a personal nature with no connection to the government. She says that many of her predecessors used personal email accounts to conduct the governments business. She said that she never received or transmitted any classified material via her email account.

Mrs. Clinton did not break any laws by using her personal email account to conduct government business. She did not violate any laws by archiving those emails on a personal server. However upon taking office President Obama issued a directive that all employees of his administration would use the government provided email account to conduct all government business. Mrs. Clinton’s actions violated that directive.

A few months after Secretary Clinton left office the State Department began a systematic cleanup of their archived communications. They contacted all former secretaries of state and asked them to turn over all their old emails for proper archiving purposes. In compliance with that request Mrs. Clinton ordered her staff to review all the emails on her personal server in order to determine which emails would be turned over to the government. She and her staff determined that 55,000 pages of emails would be released to the government in compliance with the request. 30,000 emails were not released. Mrs. Clinton subsequently had the 30,000 emails deleted and the server scrubbed.

In reviewing the 55,000 pages of emails the State Department found 6 that they believed were of a sensitive nature and required more investigation. The FBI began a review of the 55,000 emails and found sufficient cause to believe that a review of the other 30,000 emails was warranted and requested that Mrs. Clinton turn over her personal server. A subsequent review of the previously scrubbed correspondence has thus far brought 305 emails into question due to their sensitive content.

Mrs. Clinton has adamantly denied any impropriety. She has stated that this whole topic would have never come up had she not voluntarily released her emails to the State Department for the sake of transparency. She has brushed aside the entire firestorm as “politics as usual.”

Of course we now know that Mrs. Clinton did not voluntarily release her emails for the sake of transparency. She responded to a State Department request by selectively releasing 55.000 pages of emails while attempting to permanently destroy 30,000 others. It is only natural to question the content of those 30,000 deleted emails.

Assuming that Mrs. Clinton did not transmit any classified documents; we know that Mrs. Clinton did not break any laws by using her personal email account to conduct government business. But we also know that she violated a directive from her boss…the President of the United States.

There has been a great deal of speculation as to why then Secretary Clinton elected to use a personal server to archive her government emails. I’m not going to get into speculation. I will simply say that while her decision to operate in this manner may not have been illegal it certainly calls her judgement and sense of propriety into question.

As for Mrs. Clinton’s assertions that this is all just “politics as usual”; let me say this. The formal inquiry into this matter is being conducted by Justice Department officials appointed by the leader of Mrs. Clinton’s Democrat Party…President Barak Obama. It is anything but “politics as usual” when the FBI is involved.

Candidate Hillary Clinton finds herself embroiled in yet another firestorm. It is a firestorm fueled by a long history of questionable behavior, obfuscation and entitlement. It is a firestorm that could seriously threaten her run for the White House.

It is firestorm for which she has no one to blame but herself.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

This Is A Disaster!


That was respected conservative “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough’s take on the Republican Party’s latest sojourn down the rabbit hole.

The festivities began Sunday when frontrunner Donald Trump unveiled his immigration policy on “Meet the Press.” In a 1900 word position paper Mr. Trump reiterates his call for strengthening our border security. He advocates building a wall along our southern border; which he promises under his leadership will be at Mexico’s expense.

Then Mr. Trump goes where that no Republican with presidential ambitions has dared to go. Mr. Trump calls for the mass deportation of all 11 million immigrants here illegally including all of their children...EVEN THOSE CHILDREN WHO WERE BORN WITHIN OUR BORDERS.

Translation: Mr. Trump’s position on immigration reform is to repeal the birthright provision under the fourteenth amendment of the constitution which grants automatic citizenship to anyone born within our borders. Mr. Trump claims that the 14th amendment along with other related federal statutes are the driving force behind the country’s illegal immigration problem.

Trump’s announcement forced his opponents in the race to once again find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to address an issue better left unsaid. Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie tacitly supported Trump’s position. Jeb Bush, looking like he would rather be anywhere than running for president, dismissed Trumps plan saying: “his plan, if that’s what they’re calling it, needs to be grounded in reality. We need to stop focusing on all the things that are wrong and start focusing on the solutions.”

A few days ago you had Marco Rubio, considered by many the Republican’s “Candidate of the Future” calling for legislation that would make abortion illegal with no exceptions; even in the case of rape, incest or the health of the mother. Now you have the Republican frontrunner calling for the mass deportation of all illegals including children born within US borders.

If you want to win elections...ticking off women and Hispanics may not be the way to go.

It should be noted that nowhere in this conversation did any of these allegedly fiscally conservative Republican candidates mention that the deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants would cost over $10 trillion dollars and crash economy.

Hillary Clinton is stumbling badly with “Emailgate.” This should be an opportunity for Republicans to make some headway in national conversation.

Instead Donald Trump is framing the narrative and the supposed “legitimate” candidates are stumbling and bumbling to keep up.

Scarborough is right! If you are a Republican…


Monday, August 17, 2015

A Tip Of The Cap To Donald

Let me start off by saying that I am not a fan of Donald Trump. Based on what I have seen thus far I think he would make a terrible president. A good king or dictator perhaps…but a terrible president.

Would I like to see him seated across a negotiating table from Putin? Absolutely! Do I think that he is a good fit for the complexities of the White House? No! I find him to be long on bravado and short on substance.

That said…

I think our country owes him a debt of gratitude.

Donald Trump brings to the political arena something that has been missing for a very, very long time; a willingness to speak his mind without fear of ideological or political retribution. Trump says what he thinks. It may be offensive, sexist and na├»ve to the ways of constructional protocol but it is what it is. And you won’t find him walking it back the next day.

Unlike most of our politicians Trump is “beholdin” to no one. Neither lobbyist nor PAC…constituent nor bundler…can pressure him to do their bidding. This financial and political freedom allows Trump to be himself…to be Trump. It is a freedom that the other candidates can only dream of as they find themselves struggling to keep up.

Trump’s candor is refreshing; and it is catching on with a considerable element the American people.

The New York Times recently ran an article where they asked Trump supporters why they supported Trump. The gist of their reasoning…Washington is broken…Trump is not another member of the Washington political class…and he carries an unvarnished message that resonates.

Trump says that our politicians are stupid, losers and stiffs. He says they are puppets and can be bought. He says that have made terrible mistakes that have ruined the country; and he, a very successful businessman, has the ability and the balls to fix it.

Trump says that illegal immigrants are bringing crime and drugs across the border. He wants to build a wall and force the Mexican government to foot the bill. He wants to round up all the illegals and send them packing. He wants to create jobs and rebuild our roads, bridges and infrastructure. He want to get tough on China, Japan and Mexico. He wants to fix our education system, repeal and replace Obamacare and take care of our veterans. And he wants to defeat ISIS by bombing the hell out of its primary source of income…oil.

He says the country is a mess and he is the guy to fix it. He offers his multi-billion dollar career as proof that he can back up his bravado.
His message may be crass, long on rhetoric and short on specifics but it is resonating with voters.

Many feel that though Trump may not be qualified in the traditional sense but he could not possibly do any worse than the current bunch in Washington. After two unnecessary and costly wars, a $19 trillion dollar debt, a broken education system, deteriorating infrastructure, a banking collapse, an economy on the verge of depression, massive unemployment and a host of scandals over sex, greed and graft…they might have a point.

The chattering class is finally starting to come to the conclusion that Trump isn’t going anywhere any time soon. In fact rather than the usual pompous “Trump is doing well but of course he’ll never be the nominee.” we are starting to hear: “Trump is really starting to have an impact on this campaign.”

Trump has tapped into the frustration and anger that most people feel about our politics. He has the Washington insiders scrambling. Thanks to him same old same old just isn’t good enough anymore.

For that alone we owe Trump a debt of gratitude.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Manna From Heaven

While most of us in the chattering class have been following the shiny object that is Donald Trump there is an equally compelling story playing out on the left side of the political ledger.

No, I’m not talking about Hillary’s “Servergate” soap opera. I’m referring to the amazing campaign being waged by Bernie Sanders.

Trump has been conducting a very successful national campaign from the comfort of his opulent Trump Tower. If Trump has something to say he simply calls the media outlet of his choice and presto, he reaches millions of voters while lounging in his robe and slippers. Last Sunday Trump appeared via phone interview on every single one of the morning news shows to defend his dustup with Megyn Kelly and to gloat about how powerful FOX NEWS President Roger Ailes called him to make nice.

Trump affords media access like no other candidate. He loves the attention and the media loves covering him even though his media appearances offer little in the way of policy substance. They usually morph into a rambling dialogue of self-conscience. Seldom do they end without including some amount of criticism of his opponents; often referring to them as “stupid” or “stiffs.” And of course no interview is complete without a healthy dose of how great he is and how fortunate we all are to be in his presence.

As ridiculous as it may seem Trump's strategy is working and he continues to lead his primary opponents in every single poll.

While Trump has been conducting a media based campaign from the comfort of his living room, Bernie Sanders has been quietly gaining momentum the old fashion way.

Sanders is out on the stump, knocking on doors, shaking hands and kissing babies. Where Trump is engaging in an air war Sanders is running a very effective ground game that is built for the long haul. The response has been nothing short of incredible.

Sanders draws huge enthusiastic crowds…larger than any other candidate. Sanders’ advanced teams are constantly having to move planned events to larger venues to allow for the enormous interest in “Bernie.” His last four appearances averaged over 25,000 each. Those are enormous numbers this early in the contest.

Once Sanders takes podium he does not disappoint. The self-described Socialist Democrat offers a populist message that is long on specifics and short on rhetoric. Where Trump criticizes his opponents at every turn; Sanders refuses to say a negative word about any of his challengers. There is something very genuine about Bernie Sanders that resonates with the voters.

The results speak for themselves. Sanders has been steadily climbing in the polls to where he has whittled Hillary’s once insurmountable lead to within the margin of error. Yesterday, for the first time a just released Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll has Sanders leading Clinton 44%-37%.

Can either Trump or Sanders sustain their current success? Most pundits think it highly unlikely. Anytime any of the talking heads comments on the incredible success that both of these campaigns are achieving, they always end somewhat smugly with: “But of course Trump/Sanders will never be the nominee.”

Why not? The “experts” ridiculed Reagan and he won. They ridiculed Carter and he did too. No one thought we would elect a black president until Barak Obama came along. Why not Trump. Why not Bernie.

I don’t know if Trump or Sanders can sustain their current run of success over the long haul. What I do know is that they are making this campaign very, very interesting.

For political wonks like me they are manna from heaven.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

This & That

RUBIO – If you can get past all the hubbub about Donald Trump you will see that one of the biggest winners coming out of last week's debate in the eyes of the conservative faithful was Marco Rubio. Rubio’s performance has provided him a bump in the polls and a place in the conversation that rivals the mercurial rise of Carly Fiorina.

Rubio likes to portray himself as the fresh new face of the new Republican Party. A candidate who can appeal to both the moderate establishment and the more radical Tea Party base. But like most of the conservative candidates he has a problem with women.

Rubio is a pro-life candidate that opposes abortion even in the instances of incest and rape. When asked about a possible exception in cases where the pregnancy endangered the mother’s life he said: “Well, of all the exceptions people talk about, certainly protecting the life of the mother is the one that I think holds the highest validity. And there is a debate today, given modern medicine, whether there is any condition that only abortion could save a mother’s life in a viable pregnancy.”

I have to wonder how Senator Rubio would feel if it was his wife or daughter whose life was endangered by continuing “a viable pregnancy.” Would he make the same clinical analysis?

HILLARY – Hillary Clinton has agreed to release her controversial personal email server to authorities. Secretary Clinton is reported to have scrubbed the server after releasing 55,000 pages of handpicked emails to the State Department. By all reports an estimated 30,000 emails were lost in the scrubbing process. The technology nerds tell us that you can never completely scrub a server and that the emails will still be retrievable.

My guess is that if the emails are recovered they will reveal some previously unreported communication that will paint the secretary in a bad light. I would expect there to be either classified information or correspondence that ties favors granted by Secretary Clinton and her State department to donations to the Clinton Foundation or monies paid to the former president for personal appearances. Why else would you scrub the server?

BERNIE – Bernie Sanders is the hottest draw on the stump. Sanders has drawn wildly enthusiastic crowds averaging 25,000 to each of his last four events…far surpassing any other candidate. His performance has garnered him a steady rise in the polls to where he is now within the margin of error of the presumptive Democratic nominee; Hillary Clinton. His message appeals to the middle class and his refusal to attack his opponents has resonated with the voters.

Could Sanders sneak up on Hillary like Barak Obama did eight years ago?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Conventional Wisdom Does Not Apply To Trump

There is an old adage that cautions: “Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel.”

With that thought in mind…conventional wisdom says that if you are a conservative candidate looking for support you never criticize the national news
network that is in the business of supporting conservative candidates.

Unless you are Donald Trump.

Trump’s highly publicized dustup with FOX NEWS’ revered news anchor, Megyn Kelly was supposed to signal the end to The Donald’s run for the White House. Conventional wisdom said that the powerful FOX NEWS Network would certainly spend the next several news cycles in “retaliation mode” effectively tanking Trump in the polls and ending his run.

But FOX NEWS is in the “ratings” business. A record 24 million views tuned in to Thursday night’s debate and they weren’t there to watch Jeb Bush. Then Reuters released its post-debate poll showing Trump maintaining his substantial lead; doubling up his closest rival, Jeb Bush by 12 points.

FOX NEWS president, Roger Ailes is no dummy. He knows where his bread is buttered.

Yesterday, according to Donald Trump, Ailes CALLED TRUMP, and assured him that the FOX NEWS network would be fair to him in their future reporting. Last night Megyn Kelly appeared on her show and stated that she was ready to move forward. As I write this Trump is scheduled to appear on the FOX network’s “Fox and Friends” morning show.

Donald Trump is alive and well and still in this race.

Conventional wisdom does not apply to Donald Trump.

Monday, August 10, 2015

How Do You Spell Hypocrit? G...O...P

The conservative movement is in disarray. Its standard bearer, the Republican Party, is embroiled in a ruinous chaotic firestorm that is fueled by hypocrisy and an inflated sense of entitlement. And at the very core of the chaos and contention we find the ever present Donald Trump.

Trump added fuel to the fire on Friday when in his post debate comments he appeared to attribute moderator Megyn Kelly’s aggressive tone and tenor to her menstrual cycle: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her…wherever.”

The main stream media, conservative news outlets and most of the other Republican candidates reacted to Trump’s comment with righteous indignation. RedState’s Erick Erickson reacted by disinviting Trump to speak at his important GOP confab this past weekend. “I don’t want Donald Trump around my daughter so I disinvited him.” Even the liberal New York Times published a front page lead article taking Trump to task. Pundits opined that most certainly this would be the straw that finally drove The Donald from the race.

Trump’s reaction was typical Trump. “No I’m not going to apologize. I have nothing to apologize for…When I said that I was referring to her eyes and nose...Only a deviant would think that.” He then went on to further castigate Kelly and Erickson.

One would expect that Trump’s comments, his pummeling in the media and his unremarkable debate performance would hurt him in the polls. Not so much.
Instead of crushing Trump’s candidacy the tsunami of criticism from both the media and the GOP establishment has turned the country’s most outspoken bully into a sympathetic figure. The most recent NBC poll has Trump still leading the pack by double digits. Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio round out the top five. Noticeably absent…establishment anointed frontrunner Jeb Bush and rising establishment star Scott Walker.

So what in the hell in going on here?

The RNC chieftains and the folks at FOX NEWS feel Trump is a cartoon character that is hurting the Party. They want him gone. Their sense of entitlement is stunning. FOX kicks off their debate by going after him aggressively in a clear effort to embarrass him in the eyes of the viewers and force him from the race. Instead of asking him substantive questions jobs and the economy…thoughtful questions that might unveil his lack of knowledge about key issues…FOX goes for theater. First they ask if everyone will pledge fealty to the Party and the Party’s ultimate candidate knowing full well Trump is the only one up there that will not. Then they try shock and awe by repeating some of his disparaging comments about women.

I’m not defending Donald Trump. But I didn’t hear the FOX moderators ask the other candidates if they would support Trump were he to emerge the victor. I didn’t hear them ask Jeb Bush to explain why he scoffed at spending $500 million on women’s health issues. In fact I didn’t hear any of the candidates asked about jobs or the economy or our outdated infrastructure or how to stop ISIS.

While the GOP establishment and its media partners are ripping Trump for his misogynistic comments its legislative branch in congress is saying no to equal pay for equal work, no to abortion, no to funding Planned Parenthood, no to contraceptives and no to funding women’s health issues. The hypocrisy here is palpable.

There is a very good reason that three of the top five in that post debate poll have never run for elected office. The GOP faithful are frustrated. They are tired of their politicians making promises that they never keep. Donald Trump has touched a nerve. Disparaging Trump plays right into his “outsider” narrative. It is why he is still standing in spite of his continued efforts to shoot himself in the foot.

The ruling class and the main street media scoffed at Reagan and said he would never win. They said Carter would never win either. They said the same about Clinton…and Obama. To discount Trump’s appeal to the GOP masses is to do so at one’s own peril. Force Trump to run as an Independent and Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.

Speaking of Hillary! Note to the GOP. Stop all the faux outrage over Trump’s dustup with Megyn Kelly. Had Trump said the same thing about Hillary Clinton you’d be laughing your asses off and buying him a drink.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fiorina, Kasich, Rubio Shine!

Last night the Republican Party staged its highly anticipated coming out party for the GOP’s slate of presidential candidates. The reviews are in and by all accounts the event met expectations.

Here are my votes for the evening’s winners and losers.

The post-debate buzz was all about Donald Trump and The Donald still holds serve the morning after. Trump was vintage Trump. Any expectations that Trump would tone down his “Trumpness” in order to appear more presidential were quickly squashed.

It was clear from the beginning that the FOX NEWS moderators intended to zero in on the frontrunner. The night began with the moderator asking the candidates to raise their hand if they were UNWILLING to pledge their support for the eventual Party nominee; and UNWILLING to promise that they would NOT run as a third party candidate. Donald Trump was the only candidate to raise his hand…and FOX knew that would be the case.

In quick succession the moderators asked Trump about some of his unflattering comments about women and his four bankruptcies. Trump dismissed them both; the first as an obsession with political correctness in this country and the second as a legal tool commonly used by all successful businessmen.

The questions were fair. The problem that I had is that while the FOX moderators were throwing fastballs at Trump’s head they were lobbing softballs down the middle of the plate to the other folks on stage. It is a view shared by a large segment of the audience and the subject of scathing remarks in both the conservative Drudge Report and the liberal New York Times.

In my opinion the clear winners of the prime time event were Marco Rubio and John Kasich. Rubio’s youthful appearance and flawless delivery of a number of salient points garnered him an “A” in my book. Kasich’s comfortable good guy persona, his ability to highlight his very successful record as Ohio’s governor, his moving views on gay marriage and his compassionate rational for accepting Medicaid expansion in his state placed him right up there with Rubio as a clear winner last night.

Jeb Bush got better as the night moved along but did little to assuage concerns about his readiness for the task. Scott Walker, much like Bush, was there but did little to stand above the fray. Chris Christie had a few good moments; thanks mostly to a back and forth with Rand Paul. Paul was the clear loser of the evening. It was clear from the beginning that he was desperate to draw attention to his floundering campaign. To me he came across as a desperate little boy throwing a hissy fit to get someone’s…anyone’s attention.

If your favorite candidate was on stage for the prime time debate…and I have not mentioned his name…it’s because I cannot remember who he is.

Yesterday I wrote that it has been my experience that many times in big events such as these it is a previously unknown personality that steals the show. Such was the case last night when Carly Fiorina not only dominated the 5PM debate but gave a performance that will undoubtedly get her on the prime time stage next month. Words would not do justice to her performance. Suffice to say she licked ass. And if last night’s “kids table” performance is a predicator of things to come; she will be a force to be reckoned with.

Carli Fiorina was he overall winner of the evening’s festivities with Rubio and Kasich right behind.

As for Trump…it has been proven thus far that any intellectual analysis of Mr. Trump’s future in this race has been dead wrong. It think Trump may slide a bit in his dominance in the polls but that will be more do to a surge from Fiorina, Rubio and Kasich then any damage inflicted by the FOX moderators. In fact according to early reports, the unfair manor in which Trump was treated seems to have strengthened his support among the Trump faithful and deflected what would be game ending blows to any other candidate.

We’ll see what the polls say next week.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


If you are a political wonk today is Christmas in August.

Tonight 17 Republican presidential hopefuls will make their case to the American people. The top 10 poll ranked candidates will take the prime time stage at 9PM. Seven remaining contestants will precede them at 5PM. A record 15 million are expected to tune in to the FOX NEWS produced event; the largest audience in cable news history.

Here are a few of the things that I will be looking for.

TRUMP – All eyes tonight will be on the surprising front runner; Donald Trump. No matter what Trump does he WILL make news. The question is will we see the bombastic, opinionated non-scripted Trump that has doubled up his shocking lead over his closest challengers? Or will we see a more thoughtful, well prepared, dare we say presidential Trump that aspires to be the leader of the free world. How will he respond if attacked? Will he stumble if asked for policy specifics? Trump already has some seasoned political operatives grudgingly admitting that he may be the real deal. A good performance tonight will legitimize his frontrunner status.

BUSH – Jeb Bush started out strong but he has wobbled of late. His performance as a candidate has paled in comparison to his ability to raise campaign funds. His recent campaign appearances have been plagued by stumbles and gaffs. He often seems uncomfortable out on the stump. Many have questioned his toughness and his commitment to the race. Tonight he has an opportunity to show his $100 million dollar donors that he not only wants to be in the race but that he is willing to fight for the prize.

FROM OUT OF NOWHERE – I am an avid sports guy. I have seen hundreds championship games in all the major sports. I can tell you that often times it is a relatively overlooked personality that steps out of the shadows to have the biggest impact on the biggest stage. Might that be the case tonight? For example, Mike Huckabee has been largely ignored by the media. But Huckabee is the only person on that stage that has been through this debate process before. Will Huckabee be able to draw on that experience to emerge from the shadows? Or will someone on the 5PM undercard give a performance so newsworthy as to launch himself/herself into the top tier.

Tonight’s debate is more about entertainment and performance than it is about substance and specifics. I doubt those of us old enough to remember the event can recall the policy differences between Kennedy and Nixon. But we remember the startling screen shots of the young composed Kennedy and the sweaty rumpled Nixon. We remember Reagan’s “There you go again” to Jimmy Carter. We remember Lloyd Bentsen chastising Dan Quale: “I knew John F. Kennedy. John F. Kennedy was my friend. You sir are no John Kennedy." We remember Rick Perry's "Oops!" and Mitt Romney's $10,000 wager. Will there be that kind of “moment’ tonight?

Optics matter! This will be the first opportunity that many of the viewers will get to look at these candidates. In order to emerge from this crowded field you have to project strength, likability and some command of the issues. If you aspire to win the presidency you have to make a positive impression tonight. There just aren’t that many head to head opportunities to let this moment pass.

The stakes tonight cannot be overstated.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

FOX NEWS Arbitraily Changes Its Arbitrary Rules

If you follow this space you know that I have a real problem with the way the RNC has decided who will be allowed to run for its nomination for president. My angst revved up a notch when I learned that the RNC and its communication arm, FOX NEWS, arbitrarily changed the rules for admission at the eleventh hour.

Perhaps a little background is in order.

In 2012 the RNC staged 20 some debates which included enough presidential aspirants to field a softball team. The debates went on for months with the single common thread of everyone on stage beating up on the prohibitive front runner and eventual nominee; Mitt Romney.

The RNC concluded that the lengthy and often times heated process weakened Romney in the eyes the voters. Eventually the RNC decided that there were A.) far too many debates and B.) way too many potential nominees on stage.

In order to prevent a reoccurrence of that debacle for the 2016 election, the RNC decided they needed to cut the number of debates and winnow down the field as quickly as possible. What the RNC did not want was to assume the responsibility (RE: take the heat) for who was in the mix and who was out. So the RNC ceded the entire mess over to FOX NEWS.

FOX NEWS decided that there would be 6 debates (good) and that the participants would be decided by inviting the top 10 ranked candidates in the “five most recent national polls” to appear on the prime time stage (bad).

Last night FOX NEWS announced the top ten winners with Ohio Governor John Kasich narrowly bumping former Texas Governor Rick Perry off the stage. They also announced the 5 polls used to select the winners.

Here’s the thing.

Instead of using the "5 most recent national polls" as they indicated they would…they inexplicably skipped the 5th most recent poll…the NBC NEWS/WALL STREET JOURNAL poll…and chose to use poll #6…the Quinnipiac poll.

The NBC NEWS/WSJ poll had Kasich and Perry tied at 3 points each. The Quinnipiac poll had Kasich leading Perry by just over a point. In the final analysis factoring in either poll puts Kasich in over Perry. The NBC poll puts Kasich in by .8% over Perry while the Quinnipiac poll puts Kasich in by over a point.

So why the switch?

FOX NEWS says it skipped the NBC poll because: “The NBC/WSJ poll did not list the names of all the candidates when asking voters who they would pick for the GOP nominee.” Translation…”the Quinnipiac poll showed Kasich as the clear #10 while the NBC poll had Kasich and Perry tied. The Quinnipiac gives our process a greater sense of legitimacy in picking the top ten candidates. Please ignore any reference to the margin of error cited in each of the polls.”


Let me get this straight. The RNC decides to hand control of its presidential nomination process over to a cable news network. The cable news network sets a list of arbitrary criteria that includes polling which places half the field within the margin of error. Then the cable news network decides at the eleventh hour to change the criteria because one poll failed to follow a never before announced set of polling rules.

The result is that the governor of Ohio, and former FOX NEWS employee gets to appear on stage in his home state while the former four term governor of the second largest state in the union watches as his campaign arbitrarily ends.

As I watched FOX NEW announce its top 10 list I couldn’t help but remember what John Kasich said when he announced his candidacy. A reporter asked Kasich if his late announcement would hurt him in garnering enough support to be included in the important first debate. Kasich replied: “I’ll be in that debate whether or not I’m in the top 10.”

Apparently the former FOX NEWs host knew something we didn’t.

FOX NEWS arbitrarily decided to change its arbitrary rules.

What's next?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Is This How We Want Our Democracy To Work?

Sometime after 5PM today the Republican Party's communication department, FOX NEWS, will announce the names of the 10 Republican candidates that will be invited to participate in Thursday’s prime time debate. The seven losers will be relegated to the 5PM undercard.

If you are a Republican hopeful and you are not on that prime time debate stage there is a very real possibility that your campaign is over. For that you can thank the RNC and FOX NEWS.

The Republican National Committee in its infinite wisdom has relegated control of its nominating process to FOX NEWS. FOX NEWS has decided that the top ten candidates in five national polls will be invited to the prime time party. FOX NEWS refuses to name the 5 polls on which they will base their decision. They also refuse to divulge how they will determining the winner in the event of any ties. Are they rounding up to the nearest hundredth…nearest tenth? Are they rounding down? We don’t know.

Why do the calculations matter? Here’s why.

According to the average of five likely national polls Donald Trump is doubling the field. The first five or six winners are pretty clear. But candidates 7-15 are within mere percentage points of each other and all of them fall within the polls’ 2.5%-3.5% margin of error. It looks like Christie and Kasich are in and Perry is out. But who is to say? All three fall within the margin of error. Fiorina and Jindal, the only female and Indian candidates in the field, are out. But they fall within the margin of error as well. Ultimately FOX NEWS decides who gets featured on prime time television and who does not.

Pollsters are pissed. Monmouth has issued a strong statement objecting to the use of their polling data in determining the Republican field. They reason that their data is intended to track history not determine it. Marist announced that they will no longer poll voters regarding the ultimate nominee for the same reasons.

FOX NEWS could fix this. They could stage two consecutive 90 minute prime time sessions with candidates randomly chosen for each session. People would tune in.

Is this how we want our democracy to work? Do we really want billionaires setting the field and news outlets determining who gets national exposure?

Monday, August 3, 2015

"Biden Values" = Game Change

The big news over the weekend is that Vice President Joe Biden is considering a run at the White House. Those who characterize Biden as more cartoon character than serious politician may scoff at the thought, but I see a Biden candidacy as a game changer.

There are serious concerns among the Democratic faithful that Hillary Clinton’s candidacy may be vulnerable to a qualified Republican opponent. While Mrs. Clinton remains the clear frontrunner for the nomination, drama and scandal seem to follow her wherever she goes. Questions regarding her veracity and character dominate the news cycles to the extent that her unfavorable poll ratings continue to soar. Recent revelations about her emails and ties between her state department directives and huge donations to the Clinton foundation only fuel the narrative. Throw in coincidental seven figure payments to her husband for a nominal days work and you have the makings of conspiracy theories writ large.

Where Mrs. Clinton is seen as evasive, cold and calculating Joe Biden exudes warmth, honesty, integrity, decency and strength of character. While critics may like to point out his “crazy uncle” screw ups no one has ever questioned his values. Add decades of experience in the senate and as Vice President and you have the makings of a formidable candidate. President Obama called his choice of Biden as his Vice President: “the best political decision I ever made.” No small revelation from the guy who picked Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.

During his final days before succumbing to cancer Biden’s son Beau encouraged his father to run. He told his father: “Washington needs “Biden" values.” Truer words were never spoken.

I don’t know if Joe Biden will enter this race. I don’t know if candidate Biden could ever make up the early organizational and fundraising lead amassed by the Clinton campaign. But should Joe Biden decide to run he will offer a stark and refreshing contrast to the political narrative that we have borne witness too for these past several months.

He will bring “Biden values.”

That’s a good thing.