Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Night of Cruzio

Last night the big story was that Jeb Bush lost and Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio won. Rubio lit up the stage with fantastic attacks on the media and the Democrats, basically giving bowls full of blood food to the GOP Base. His line that the mainstream media is a Democratic Super PAC was brilliant, and the best of the night, only rivaled by Ted Cruz’s sixty second, pointed, substantive smashing raillery against CNBC itself.

Even when he was on the defensive, Rubio managed to get in great shots, especially against Jeb Bush, who, in his attacks against Rubio came off as patronizing and condescending. He looked horrible last night, like he was the owner of some old book store looking over his glasses, through the clouds of dust to tell Marco Rubio he shouldn’t be in such a hurry. Since when did Jeb Bush become an Ent?
Ted Cruz managed to have substance and charisma, and he might slowly be starting to be feeling the surge of support he has across the country with the millions of progressive conservatives that are rallying to his standard.
Trump had a so-so night, although his closing statement was well delivered. He isn’t likely to be hurt much by the debate.
Ben Carson bombed. For months he has been talking about his 10% tax plan, and suddenly he has said that his plan call for more like a 15% tax. The man needs to go back to operating on brains, or better yet, retire and become a spokesmen for a Christian organization.
Christie did well, and if it were any other election cycle, he would be rising in the polls right now. But it’s not any other cycle, its 2015, and even though Christi had many good points, his ground game continues to fade, and he likely won’t make it much farther than Iowa, if he even makes it there.
Fiorina had several good moments, but her numbers continue to decline. Last night probably didn’t hurt her much, but it didn’t help her either. She seemed to be more of an “also-ran” this time around than in the previous two debates.
Kasich did poorly, while Paul caught no lightning at a time he really, really needs to. Unless a bunch of people die, I don’t expect to see him in Iowa.
Mike Huckabee was ok, no lightning, but the man continues to be a great communicator. He swung the bat when he got the chance, and while he didn’t hit any home runs, there were a lot of singles, a couple of doubles and maybe even a triple from him last night.
As for the network, CNBC fielded the worst debate I ever seen on national television, including the one moderated by Candy Crowley. It was awful last night. The moderators kept losing control, arguing with the candidates and asking ridiculous questions. Cruz and Trump were right to go after them. The network should never have let Jim Crammer from Mad Money ask any questions of the candidates. What with his investing and the many controversial statements he has made over the years, the man is not a journalist; he is a walking conflict of interest.
But above all, it was Cruz and Rubio's night.

Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, October 26, 2015

The GOP: A party trapped by small thinking

Birmingham, AL - There is an ancient proverb about a man in a boat in a rushing stream, and all he has is a pole. As he rushes down the stream and through the whitewater rapids, there is stone after stone, and a simple bump by his frail craft against any one of them will destroy it. Somewhere far ahead of him he knows there is a massive cataclysm of water pouring over the cliff, but he is so busy worrying about the present that he can’t worry about what is around the next bend in the river, let alone miles ahead. So all he can do is push himself away desperately from each rock, hoping the next one doesn’t sink him.
The Republican Party, it seems, has become much like that man in the raft.
It is true that there are many crises. The White House is not in the GOPs hands. The GOP might lose the senate, and public opinion has shifted against them in many areas. Not to mention that the country is starting to move slowly towards the great Niagara at the end of the run, the death of a truly capitalistic and free state.
The GOP has become, in many ways, a prisoner of small thinking. When the new congress came in in 2010, Mitch McConnell famously said that now his one goal was to be certain Barak Obama was a one term president. Instead of trying to find ways to better protect the rights of an unborn child to life, to end the surveillance state that exists in this country, and to begin the march back to capitalism, the GOP was concerned about making Obama a one term president, which they failed at. Fortunately however, the 112th Congress was able to rename over 40 post offices.
Today, the entire Congress is in the hands of the Republicans. But the great battles being fought are not how we are going fix the ever expanding debt problem, but rather something that should have been easy to solve, who will be the next Speaker of the House.
There is always public anger about something congress is doing. (Their approval rating generally hovers under 20%.) But instead of the public outcry coming from the bureaucracies because they are being gutted, Kevin McCarthy is busy running around on television creating scandals by saying the panels investigating Clinton were only there to hurt her poll numbers. Because that is a long term goal.
There is a presidential election coming up in a year. And there are real things that need to be worked through. How will we roll back the disaster of socialized medicine that is Obamacare. How will we be certain that guns remain in the hands of the populace as a check on the government, and how will we continue to fight to end the radical practice of abortion on demand. But right now the GOP is too busy arguing over little things, too busy nitpicking over brush strokes to see the larger picture. It has gotten too busy with incidentals and not enough with the grand theory of everything. I can offer little hope at this moment that this will change in the near future.
Numbers are good for a GOP victory in the White House in 2016, but any president that reaches there will have come through a clown show of a primary, and few of the candidates have much more than personality that they are riding on. The problem isn’t only there, the entire party seems to be worried too much about the next rock, instead of the waterfall that is surely coming.
Such a party is not truly ready to govern.
Andrew C. Abbott

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Paul Ryan's Brilliant Move

Sir Walter Scott, the great poet and author of Rob Roy, Ivanhoe, etc. once said that people who play "hard to get" are often the most sought after, and the harder a goal is to reach, the harder people work for it.
So indeed, Paul Ryan, former vice presidential candidate on the ticket with Mitt Romney, and currently a representative from Wisconsin, has been playing hard to get. After John Boehner, almost compulsively, it seemed, decided to resign his position as Speaker of the House the day after a closed door meeting with the pope, the House was thrown into chaos, only made worse when the heir-apparent, Kevin McCarthy, mercifully dropped out rather than embarrass himself by saying more dumb things on television.
So then the rumbles, which were already there for Ryan, grew louder. But even after Boehner himself asked Ryan to stand for speaker, and multiple congressmen and women ambushed Ryan while he was at the gym working out Ryan was still coy, saying he didn’t want the position even after the most progressive part of the House, the powerful Freedom Cacucus said they might support him.
All the while the chatter grew, with representative after representative calling on Ryan to be “the white knight” to “save the party from itself.” Even Darrell Issa challenged Ryan to run, and he still said no.
But now Ryan has shown his hand. The man just might be a master manipulator after all; behind his youthful veneer of sincere intelligence. He has now announced he will run, if…
And the ifs are huge. Ryan says he will not get into the race unless and until every single group within the party in congress endorses him. Beyond that he wants the job of the speakership to be powerful, like really powerful. First things first, Ryan demands that if he takes the nomination of the GOP in congress, they have to change the rules to disallow challenges to be made easily against his position.
And really, for the GOP, there is nobody else. Webster is far-right, Chaffitz could never rule, Issa has no charm. If Ryan has not been playing a great game with everyone, it certainly does at least seem that way. He waited, and waited, until every other knight of any note had withdrawn from the lists. The he waited, while everyone begged and pleaded with him. And now he has what he wants. If Ryan becomes speaker, no one can say they didn’t really want him, he we will have such a referendum.
And his demand that everyone back him will accomplish the single hardest thing the new speaker will have to do, unite the fractured GOP. And Ryan will have done it before even taking the job. The brilliance of the move, if a move it truly was on Ryan’s part, is stunning. And Ryan has given the GOP until Friday to give him what he wants or he promises he will walk away.
The GOP can’t afford that and they know it. There is nobody else. If the party splits its vote, the Democrats will take over the speakership, and of course that is unacceptable. So at this point, for all sides, Paul Ryan has made himself the only acceptable man for the job. All by playing hard to get.
Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, October 19, 2015

Benghazi hurt the Republicans, and nobody else

The Benghazi Hearings have now gone on for over a year and a half. They have spent nearly five million dollars in interviewing dozens of witnesses, lasted through a midterm election and the start of a presidential one, all with the purpose of...well, your view of what the committee's purpose is depends on which political party you belong to.
On September 11th, 2012, a mob of terrorists breached the gate and the walls at the American embassy in Libya, supposedly they were angry about the YouTube video Innocence of Muslims, although it turned out later that this was actually concerted attack, and had nothing to do with the cheap film, not that it would have been in any way justified had the film offended them.
Four Americans died that night.
The hearing seemed to be a natural occurrence. An American ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens had died, and we needed to get to the bottom of it.  And so the hearings began, and have been going on for month after month. But Republicans are still angry, possibly justifiably so, (the context of the statement can be debated) over Hillary Clinton saying “at this point what difference does it make?” Whatever Hillary was trying to say there, it was in poor taste, and yes, it does make a difference.
But at the same time, while President Barak Obama’s administration has been full of scandals, from the former attorney general Eric Holder being held in contempt of congress, to the Secret Service to the IRS scandal to the Obamacare rollout scandal, none of them have come back to bite him. Perhaps none of them really were his fault. But even liberal writers like Richard Reeves agree that “the president knew everything, and the president knew first.” Plausible deniability doesn’t mean you didn’t know, it just means we can’t prove it.
Trey Gowdy
The Republicans in the House have not helped their cause, or, indeed, anyone at all by the way  the investigations have been run. Sometimes they have been like a bar room brawl, such as when Cummings was screaming at Issa and Issa ordered the mic turned off. Other times they have been like House of Cards, when only a couple of weeks ago Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House destroyed his own chances to be Speaker of the House when he went on FOX News and said that part of the reason for the investigation was to bring down Hillary’s poll numbers.
Currently e Republican run House of Representatives is in shambles. John Boehner is on his way out and there is no replacement for him. Hillary Clinton will finally make her way under the dome covered in scaffolding in a few days to testify, but now, when serious questions put to her she can simply it’s all partisan. The last Republican standing with any credibility is on this issue if Trey Gowdy, who continues to say those staffers and members of the committee who say this is partisan have no idea what they are talking about, and don’t know what is going on. He says it is all about facts.
When you run an investigation, you are either supposed to find everyone innocent, or find everyone guilty and destroy them. The investigation is not supposed to destroy the investigators. But it’s been three years now, Clinton has not been punished, in fact she is running for president. The biggest loser here is the Republican House. They don’t have a leader, they don’t have the backing of the party, and they aren’t getting anything done.
Investigations are important things to have. But so is public trust in the investigators, and the Benghazi investigation is losing any public support it once had. Gowdy certainly doesn’t want to stop now, he believes it is his duty to find out why J. Christopher Stevens died that night, and whose fault it was. It still makes a difference, but because of the bungling of the investigation, from many quarters, we may never know who messed up, allowing armed terrorists to kill American citizens.  And Hillary Clinton, even if she is guilty, will never pay.

Andrew C. Abbott

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Democratic Debate: Living in a world all their own

Last night in Vegas, Hillary Clinton shouted that all Americans should stand up to the NRA., which is odd, since the people at the NRA are Americans, and are supported by millions upon millions of Americans. What does she think the NRA is, the mafia? They are just a group of people standing up for their second amendment rights, much like the many journalistic organizations that stand up for first amendment rights.

The debate last night some several moments of real arguments between the candidates, such as when Clinton went after Sanders on being weak on gun-control. But perhaps the two biggest and important moments in terms of the horse race of who will be the Democratic Nominee was two times when there was no argument at all on the stage. The biggest was perhaps when Sanders shouted that “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your (blank) emails.” To resounding applause, and the second one was when Clinton simply said “no” when asked if she would like to respond to Chafee’s attack on her over her emails.
But the main theme of the night seemed to be a spirit of divisiveness while pretending that anyone to the right of those on the stage, indeed, anyone who cares about the email controversy, is an idiot or a partisan player. Clinton calling the attacks on her politically motivated, even while Anderson Cooper tried to remind her that despite the thunderous applause in the room many Americans do care about the emails, as shown by Hillary’s plummeting poll numbers.
Clinton obviously has pulled left in recent months, if anyone was still wondering, as evidenced by many of her stances in the debate. She talked about being someone who can stand her ground, despite the fact that she flip-flops so often she makes Mitt Romney look like a steady guy.
Sanders had an ok night, but he is much like Donald Trump in that he is already spouting so much nonsense, (or common sense, if you are a Democratic Socialist, whatever that is, it doesn’t sound very American), that his base will stick with him no matter what.
As for Vice President Biden, the debate showed that he needs to hop in soon if he is to have any chance of winning the nomination. The debate is already shaping up, and not only are voters making up their minds, but bundlers, donors, staff, and good political managers are being taken, and Biden will need all of those if he is to launch a successful campaign. The hour is late, and Joe is still absent.
The three other guys that were up, mainly to fill the airwaves, Chaffee, Webb, and O’Malley, were little concern. They didn’t do much, and didn’t get much, and their dials aren’t likely to tick upwards that much.
As for CNN and the moderators, Cooper probably did the best job we have seen so far in the debates with the possible exception of Megyn Kelly’s stellar performance under pressure from Trump at the first GOP Debate. Cooper managed to keep the discussion going while explaining important subjects to people at home, while at the same time not engaging in any Candy Crowley moments.
Bill Clinton consistently says those who have been attacking him and his dynasty for years have been in their own world. But last night we saw so much anti-capitalism, so much denying of science when it comes to the right of an unborn child to live, we saw so much cowering before the big anti-gun lobbies and their money and activists, we saw so much denying that the former Secretary of State did anything wrong or that anybody should even care if she did, that it seems the ones living on their own planet were Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Democratic Debate: The most boring thing in Vegas

San Marcos, CA – During both of the Republican debates that have happened so far, there has been an early, Junior Varsity Debate for weak candidates and a later Varsity Debate for the more serious contenders. In Las Vegas, tomorrow night, on CNN, the Democrats will barely be able to put together a Junior Varsity Debate.

Of course, first in the polls will be former First Lady, Senator of the great state of New York, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The questions she will be asked are obvious. What about Benghazi? Are the hearings politically motivated? She will say yes. What about the emails? She will probably say drop dead. After that she is likely to be asked about Joe Biden and her declining poll numbers. She will likely give answers that mean less than the minion’s banana song.
Of course there is Bernie Sanders, the junior senator from Vermont, who has promised that he will not keep the debate boring, not going after people or sending out sharp attacks. With hair as legendary as Donald Trump’s, (although nowhere near as cool) he has been having to eat honey recently because his 74-year-old vocal cords have been hurting due, (literally) to his constant screaming about how evil rich people are. (In case you are wondering, yes, Sanders is himself a rich man.) Sanders will likely be asked about his socialistic policies, what he thinks of Clinton, should he be nominated by the Democrats even though he’s actually not a Democrat, and does he think he can win? I would also like to hear him asked about his stance that the media should be owned by the government, as well as his paper in which he stated women want to be raped.
There will also be, on the periphery of the stages, Lincoln Chaffee, Jim Webb, and Martin O’Malley. They will get a few questions, probably mainly about “why are you running?” If they are smart they will spend their time going after things that will rally the base and also attacking Clinton, Biden, and Sanders. A question that is likely to be asked of everyone on the stage is "what about abortion?"
And of course, the shadow, the ghost, the spirit flitting around and through it all will be the man who isn’t there, the master of political intrigue, Joe Biden, who some say is so cunning he has been using the death of his own son for political gain. Whether or not that is true, and we all certainly hope it isn’t, it cannot be denied that Biden has played the rumors about a run for president very well, keeping the excitement up so well that it seems impossible that he will not be brought up during the debate. If he is not, and that does seem very unlikely, he will be brought up during the commercial brakes, as the Draft Biden campaign will be running an add asking to run during the debate.
And to finish up this story, we would be remiss if the last word on the debate, which is expected to garner less viewers due to Donald Trump’s absence, were not given to him . (By the way, he will be another absent spirit who will be still be felt, as Clinton at least is sure to be asked about the billionaire.) Trump said of the debate "You know, I think people are going to turn it on for a couple of minutes and then fall asleep,"

Andrew C. Abbott

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ryan, Run

A couple of days ago, when, with almost everyone else who was looking at the situation, I declared in my article The Secret Ballots that yesterday’s vote in the Republican House Conference for a new Speaker of the House of Representatives would yield a winy y for heir-apparent Kevin McCarthy, I was dead wrong.
To the joy of progressive, highly conservative Republicans, McCarthy, embattled by comments over Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi controversy, McCarthy dropped out, leaving only two dark horse candidates in the race. The voting was canceled for the time being as there is now a scramble to get someone that the House Freedom Caucus can stand, and that the old guard can either control or at least work with. 
Of course, while McCarthy’s dropping out is a win for the progressive right flank of the party, his entire fiasco is a loss for the GOP as a whole. Not only re McCarthy’s comments going to embolden Hillary Clinton in he bid for the White House, the fact that the Representative from California took so long to drop out will cause questions from many corners about how unified the Republicans in the House actually are.
Although it remains highly unlikely that Republicans will come before the full House for a vote they can’t win, Democrats in congress, while not getting the speakership out of the ordeal, will certainly tell the media this is proof the GOP is clueless.
Some of the blame here rests of course with John Boehner, the outgoing speaker, in that he compulsively resigned without making sure someone the whole conference could rally around. Now new names are being kicked around, but Paul Ryan has been reportedly asked by both McCarthy and Boehner to run. Some are calling him the only qualified candidate.
Ryan is 45, and represents Wisconsin's 1st district. He is a Catholic.
He seems to be the best candidate available for the job, as Webster is not well known, and Chaffitz unlikely to be the best choice, and Issa is too divisive. Ryan, who was immensely popular during his bid to become Vice President, (some of my friends whispered they hoped Romney would win and then resign, letting Ryan become president) could bring a youth and vigor to the office, as well as be the man who finally makes the office of Speaker of the House powerful again.
For the moment we can only wait, and hope. In the past Ryan has said that he didn’t want the job and is as of this moment yet to announce he is running. But even as an undeclared candidate for the speakership, he looks like a much better option than those are already in.

Andrew C. Abbott

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Secret Ballots

San Jose, CA- Tomorrow, in the chambers of the Republican Caucus in The House of Representatives, the secret balloting will begin on who will replace John Boehner after his surprise resignation from being Speaker of the House. This is sort of like the primaries, with the general election happening later on, with the full House, including Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

The winner of the secret ballot will most likely have the near-universal backing of the Republicans later on when the full house votes. However, even though upon emerging from the War Room the house GOP will probably be an almost united front, for the time being the battle will rage behind close doors.

There are three candidates to succeed Boehner to the third highest office in the land. The winner will be two heart beats away from the presidency, and all the power that that entails. The candidates are the Heir-Apparent Kevin McCarthy, from the 23rd district of California. He has already gotten himself into trouble over comments about politicizing the Benghazi Hearings concerning Hillary Clinton's possible mistakes and errors in her handseling of that situation.

The second one is Jason Chaffetz, from Utah's 3rd district. He has his own battle with the Secret Service after that embattled group leaked information that he tried to join the Service several years ago before being turned down. Chaffetz has said he does not expect to win. Daniel Webster from Florida's 10th district rounds out the numbers. He has very little support.

In the early 1990s, when Newt Gingrich was speaker, the office was powerful, as Gingrich was almost considered by some a second US President. He had massive clout, causing Clinton huge headaches. Even with a Democratic President, the Speaker then was able to not only keep Clinton from getting a good deal of what he wanted, but also to pass legislation Republicans desired.

In the years since then however, the office has fallen into disrepair. Boehner has been barely visible, and unable to work with the media to get his message across. None of the candidates look to be much of an improvement on Boehner, and McCarthy, who will probably succeed him, is already embattled.

The dream candidate would perhaps be someone like Paul Ryan, with large name recognition, progressive, pro-life, fiscally responsible conservative principles, real ideas as to what needs doing and with an obvious knack for working the media. But Ryan isn't running, of course, McCarthy Webster are. Ryan should run, but its unlikely he will. McCarthy now needs to be certain that Ryan is on the new leadership team, and that the modern Republican Party is represented. That is a lot to hope for from a man who seems to think he lives in House of Cards, and at one time locked the doors of his California office, (the office which was supposed to be open to the public) because he didn't want anyone who disagreed with him talking to him.

McCarthy is a Republican from California, not only an endangered species, but also not the heartiest and most progressive group of the Republican Party. One can only hope that he becomes betters once he gets in, but that is a lot to ask for. At best, he won't get any worse.

Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ahmed, the clock maker

Ahmed's Clock

Donald Rumsfeld, Former Secretary of Defense once said in his Rumsfeld's Rules that to have a strong opinion on something, you have to know either everything about it or nothing about it.

By now everyone has heard  about that 9th grade student named Ahmed Mohamed, who brought a clock to school that looked for all the world like a bomb from the Canadian show Flashpoint. Ahmed was arrested, and then the president invited the kid to the White House. Richard Dawkins criticized Ahmed, the CEO of Facebook offered him a job, and liberal comedian Bill Maher said that the clock did look like a bomb, and the school did the right thing.

On Twitter and Facebook the hash tag #IStandwithAhmed has been trending, and Microsoft Corporation sent Ahmed loads of free stuff, while several FOX anchors criticized Ahmed for bringing the clock in the first place, and billionaire Marc Cuban, who is reportedly considering a run for elected office said that Ahmed's sister, who claims she was suspended by the same school in the past, has been giving him many of the answers. Ahmed has since been pulled from the school, and is now being homeschooled by his parents, to the approval of FOX's Greg Gutfeld

The entire nation has an opinion, including the president, about this kid. But we need to slow down. Firstly, we do not know the entire story, the police are not done with their investigation. Secondly, Maher is right that is Muslims had not been blowing things up around the world for the past thirty years this would not have happened.

It is unfortunate that Ahmed was arrested for his clock, but the outrage in this incident was misplaced. It should not lie with the Police Officers and Teachers, whose job it  is to protect the other children at the school. The outrage should lie with the uncivilized, godless barbarians who had been blowing things up all over the world for so long that we now actually need to be concerned when a kid brings a weird looking clock to school.

There may have been wrongdoing on both sides here. The investigation is not done, and, to be safe, unlike the president, we should not rush to assume that the hard working Texas Police did wrong here until we have actual evidence to that affect. Perhaps the boy should not have been arrested, but perhaps he also should have had enough sense not to bring something that looks like it could easily be attached to explosives and blow the school sky high for show and tell.

However, setting aside Ahmed for the moment, we should look back  at the debate that has been going on, with the controversial and unstable Jorge Ramos saying that this was the result of Islamaphobia. Of course no on wants to be Islamaphobic, but we also do not want to have a phobia of being Islamaphobic. This could easily result in the next time something like this happens, nobody does anything because it just might be their "white privilege" talking. And it turns out to be a bomb, and everybody dies.

I don't stand with Ahmed, because, like you, like Jorge Ramos, and like the president, I don't know Ahmed, and I don't know enough about him to say I support him. But I do stand with the police. And it is better to have to apologize to one kid's parents because he spent a couple of hours in handcuffs, than to have to explain to 500 kids' parents why a guy who had something that looked like a bomb wasn't stopped, and all their kids are now in body bags.

Andrew C. Abbott