Friday, January 29, 2016

The Night of the Empty Podium

Atlanta, GA – Last night Ted Cruz was fall-guy out, so, in no matter how artificial a way, he was the frontrunner on the debate stage, and he had to go at it in that way.

He began with a terrific blast: “I’m a maniac, and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat, and ugly. And Ben you’re a terrible surgeon. Now that we’ve gotten the Donald Trump portion out of the way…” There was no better way to start off, and he moved along at lightning speed for some time after that.
However, later in the debate he began to stall out, arguing with the moderators and sounding a bit shaky overall. He tried for a repeat of his CNBC thunder, when he attacked the mainstream media. Whatever you think about FOX, however, the audience didn’t buy Cruz’s attempt to catch lightning a second time, and the moment died in a painful way. However, Mr. Cruz’s closing statement, where he promised to kill terrorists and, without saying it, “make America great again" brought thunderous applause and showed that Cruz could win Iowa come Monday.
Marco Rubio, in contrast, had a horrible opening statement, which was obviously scripted, not funny, and not very memorable. However, he became stronger as the night went on, and while he didn’t win, had the fight gone into overtime, he might have gotten Cruz onto the ropes. His closing statement was well delivered and powerful, and while this is still not a three horse race, Rubio might only be three lengths behind, instead of ten or twenty.
Jeb Bush had a good night, actually getting a Republican crowd to applaud Bushes once again when he talked about his father and mother. It was an odd, rare moment in these post-Bush days. This won’t cause Mr. Bush to win the presidency, but it might be a small moment of dignity for him to get off the train at.
Ben Carson had few interesting things to say, and his closing statement was so bad I could have delivered it better, and I’m not a world famous speaker and writer like he is. I don’t expect him to come in anywhere in the top three in Iowa.
Rand Paul had a good night, going after Senator Cruz for his lack of principle on mass, unconstitutional collection of data by the government. He continues to say that he is doing much better in Iowa than the polls currently predict. I have no way of telling whether he’s right or not, but if he were to win Iowa, like he says he can do, or at least come in the top three, it would be such a massive upset that it could propel him all the way into the top tier.
Governor Chris Christie had a fantastic night, going after the Democrats and being tough on terror. I had a thought while watching him-what if he was from Texas? It is possible that if Christie came from there, with its long history of staunch conservatism, rather than New Jersey, a state suspect too many Republicans for the crime of being in the East, that Christie would be doing much better than he is. Could you imagine the governor in a cowboy hat?
At first I was surprised to see that it was audience participation night, with a crazy voter on the stage reading insane tweets sent to him by a monkey banging on a typewriter. Then I realized that it was John Kasich. If he ever drops out it will come as a disappointment to his supporter.
The moderators Chris Wallace and Bret Bair both had horrible nights, arguing with the candidates, not holding them to their cut off times, and generally running a poor show. Their questions were not as good as they could have been, and while the debate was not CNBC style bad, it fell far below the level of FOX Business first debate, the best one so far, and FOX’s own first debate, which was second best.
However, the winner of the debate was Megyn Kelly. She has managed to remain professional throughout, despite having a multi-billion dollar juggernaut throwing everything it has at her. She has been accused of horribly demeaning things, her name has been trashed, and she has been called unrepeatable names. However, Mrs. Kelly has not once bothered to stoop low enough to answer her critics. Her questions were concise, and she held the candidates to their cutoff times. From the moment she began, talking about the nine hundred pound elephant who had ran and hid from her, to the last time she signed off; after over three hours of continuous live television coverage in which she tangled with seven men who all want to be president, the night was hers, and hers alone.

Andrew Abbott

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Battle Iowa

Atlanta, GA – In six days, it will all go down. In Iowa, at over a thousand locations, the fights will break out. Politely called caucuses, they are no more than mad scrambles and desperate struggles for votes among the candidates.
Trump, who was in the state over the weekend, is comfortably in first place, and has left to campaign in others. Some sources on the ground tell that while Trump’s supporters are many, they have never been involved in these glorified fist fights before, and it may hurt them that they cannot simply call everyone a “loser” and walk out with a win. Trump has been calling on his people, saying that if their wife dies, if their husband dies, they still need to go out and caucus.
Ted Cruz is in this state to win it. He consistently has downplayed expectations, saying that he will do well but does not need to win. However, he is barnstorming the state, going “Full Grassley,” shaking hands, kissing babies, and fighting desperately for the first in the nation state, to prove that Trump is really nothing but hot air, and that Cruz has a pin to pop that bubble.
Marco Rubio polls in third, while not having much support in the rural areas in the state. However, he recently received a huge endorsement from the Des Moines Register. Rubio has been doing well in the debates, but questions remain as to how conservative he is, and he has not yet surged to Trump-Cruz heights. If he does well in Iowa, he might be able to continue on, but he is a man with a struggling campaign.
Future former presidential candidate Ben Carson is there…and that’s about it.
Rand Paul continues to promise a surge in the state, and his people certainly are devoted. While he is polling in fifth, it would not be the most shocking thing in history if he were to pull into third.
But for contenders, there is where the story ends. No one has ever won the Republican Nomination who did not come in the top three in Iowa, and no other candidates really have a chance to win. Unless something happens in the next week, the above lineup, (minus Dr. Carson, really) is the final scorecard of contenders for the nomination. Expect some people to start dropping out soon after the first of February.
On the Democratic side, Martin O’Malley won’t win Iowa. That’s done with.
Now for Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders, it’s all up in the air.
The establishment of both parties, reports indicate, are dying a horrible death of unnatural causes. However, Hillary is trying to keep the Democratic big-boys around for one more cycle. Sanders is determined to prove that any little boy or insane old man can grow up to be president.
It’s here at last. Real votes will soon be cast. The election is almost upon us. Hang in there, there is an end to this tunnel.
I think.
Andrew C. Abbott

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Had Enough?

Atlanta, GA – Had enough?
In the last seven years, our nation has doubled its debt, our economy has weakened even further, and there is no indication we are out of the woods, or even fairly into it, yet. Had enough?
In the last seven years, multitudes of unborn children has been murdered in the so-called “land of the free and home of the brave,” in a nation that chastises other countries for their human rights abuses, we have so many of our own, and all to pacify a voting block and to further a petty politician agenda. Had enough?
In the last seven years, the leaders of our nation have derided and mocked those who wish to hold onto the sacred rights of all men and women to defend themselves, and bear arms to do so. Not only have our leaders mocked, but they have fought tooth and nail, doing all they could to be certain that the lawful are disarmed, while at the same time doing next to nothing to go after the lawless. Had enough?

In the last seven years, our leaders have gone around the world apologizing for us, while at the same time weakening our military, and violating one of our most sacred policies, that we do not negotiate with terrorists. Our leaders have then turned around and said that it will be many years before the terrorists are defeated, while at the same time only using a fraction of the strength necessary, and then pretending to wonder why they get no results. Had enough?

In the last seven years, our nation’s colleges have gone from being the boot camps for the soldiers of the next age, to being the nurseries where we coddle the thumb-sucking children of the last one. These twenty year old children demand safe spaces, complete with bubbles and cookies, so they can hide away from the realities of the world, and not be offended. And our leaders have barely even fought back. Had enough?
In the last seven years, that outside world that these perpetual children are fleeing has at the same time become worse, and more violent, with riots in Baltimore, and unrest in St. Louis, while our president has not even had the self-control to wait for a verdict from the court before appearing on national television to all-but-say he believed a man was guilty without trial. Had enough?

In the last seven years, with terrorists firing shots in Paris, murderers walking the deserts of the Middle East, Communists hacking into multi-billion dollar systems and stealing from millions of Americans, with unemployment staggeringly high, with millions of illegal immigrants having poured across our southern border and living here as outlaws with impunity, our president has had the nerve to say that those who want to fix all this were “crazies.” Had enough?
If you’ve had enough of all of this, if you think that it is time for a change, if you love liberty, despise lawless rioters, and believe that if someone is a thug they should be called that, if you think that someone should have the freedom to believe as they would like, to worship as they choose, and should be allowed to exercise their God-given rights without fear of prison, or fine, or of having their business shutdown or taken away from them, never fear. We have come through seven years of the current regime, but time is on our side. We have but one year, or twelve months, or three hundred and sixty five days, or eight thousand, seven hundred, and sixty hours, or five hundred and twenty five thousand, six hundred seconds, before our current president leaves office. To make matters worse, this is a leap-year.
Hang in there.
Help is one the way.
Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, January 18, 2016

My Year being spammed by would-be-presidents

Atlanta, GA, - Spam. Either in phone message, email, text, or supposedly edible form, the vast majority of sensible people would rather spend a day, (or at least five minutes) in purgatory than ever see the stuff again. However, always a glutton for punishment, early on in 2015, as a sort of social experiment I gave my email address to every single presidential campaign, as well as both major political parties, and sat back to watch what would happen.

In the time since then, through a never-ending series of emails that would often number well over twenty a day, I was asked by the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee for money; as well as Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Martin O’Malley, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, (somehow Paul Ryan and Trey Gawdy) etc. etc.
Most of the tactics were quite straightforward; Hillary Clinton would drop a line every few days asking for one dollar. Occasionally I will get one from her campaign that is ostensibly nothing more than a reminder where and when Hillary will make her next appearance on the silver screen, but there is always a button at the bottom of the email reminding me that if I CLICK HERE, I could instantly relieve my conscience by helping women, minorities, and Democrats everywhere by giving Mrs. Clinton one of my Georges.
Other campaigns have been more devious, Ted Cruz using some of the most questionable tactics of all. He has sent more than one email out saying that he will drop out if he doesn’t get amount X by the deadline. Of course, if I were his supporter, I would be expected to panic and then empty my cyber pockets into his cyber hat in an effort to keep him in the race. Just a couple of days ago, I received an email from him that sounded like the apocalypse had happened. I was told that Bush and Rubio are outspending him in Iowa, and that he needed the money now!!!!!! If he was to even survive to Iowa. (Yes, there were that many exclamation points.)
Marco Rubio often relies on guilt shaming, sending me emails from local GOP leaders that support him, asking why I haven’t given any money yet. Right at the turn of the New Year I received an email asking if I would give Rubio any money in 2016, with two huge buttons saying “YES” and “NO.” I suppose I could have pressed one or the other, sort of like a “choose your own adventure” book, but instead I deleted the email.
After Walker dropped out of the race, I received at least three emails from his campaign entitled “What now?” And while they didn’t explicitly ask for money, each of the three, (which were exactly identical and sent over a period of about a month) seemed to make it clear that Walker wanted me to pay off his campaign debt. Jindal was more open, pointedly asking for money after he had already announced an end to his candidacy, to help defray the costs already incurred.
Sometimes there is some fun, like the contests held by Rubio before each debate for two lucky supporters to attend the scream fests. Ben Carson raffled off breakfast with himself, (imagine how boring, if educational, that would have been) and Hillary had at least two contests for dinner with her and Bill, and another for an all-expenses paid trip to her Christmas party in New York. I didn’t win any of them, but I imagine it would have been the greatest time of my life, to sit across from the former secretary of state and tell her I’m not even voting for anybody at this point, and I actually signed myself up as a “dedicated supporter” of hers for the fun of it. The most interesting competition by far was Senator Cruz’, in which he gave away a personalized shotgun to one of his supporters selected at random. I hope the gun is legal in whatever state the winner lives.
It is always entertaining to hear each and every candidate proclaim themselves the winner of each debate, and even to quote news articles saying that they had a strong performance. (Somehow, all of them find a few to back up their narrative.) Also, all of them always seem to be leading in the polls according to their emails, or, as Rand Paul’s campaign often puts it, they are “about to have a surge.”
Sometimes their emails are can be funny, such as the time Huckabee sent a video claiming that cars with his bumper sticker on them got better gas mileage. Sometimes they can be serious discussions of policy, such as ones Rubio often sends out. Others feel like the candidate is heading some Ponzi-scheme or pyramid “multi-level-marketing” strategy, with emails asking for money and instructing me to forward it to five of my friends. (I don’t.) Occasionally, their pitches are actually well thought out, giving fresh, hopeful looks at politics; so good in fact, that one can see how some readers might really be tempted to turn some more of their hard earned dollars over to government officials, and even smile about it.
None of the videos, emails, links, jokes, articles, or speeches have worked yet on me, however, as not a single shiner has gone from my fists to theirs.
Of course, even the best candidate’s campaign has to have money, and maybe even Trump’s campaign will someday ask for some. Not all of the candidates have deep pockets or “sugar daddies” that can bankroll them eternally, so they must rely on we, the people, to give them the green.
I’ve learned quite a bit being spammed over the past year; Cruz can be a scare-monger, Carson’s emails sound like reading a medical journal, and Rand Paul seems to think he’s one of the founding fathers, signing off “In Liberty, Rand Paul.” But the email that stood out to me the most was the time I got one from Rick Perry’s campaign asking for funds because they were “doing well” in the polls and wanted to “keep the momentum rolling.” The funny thing was, due to some computer mix-up, the email must have been sent late, because Mr. Perry had dropped out of the race about an hour before I got it.

Andrew C. Abbott

Friday, January 15, 2016

Cruz wins on points

Atlanta, GA – At the beginning of the sixth Republican Debate, it was all Cruz. From the first moment, when the senator talked about the ten Americans captured by Iran, he started hitting home runs. Even when most would have been on the defensive, about his place of birth and his “unreported” loan, he was still knocking the balls over the fences. But, then something happened about thirty minutes in, a guy named Donald woke up, and DJT started punching back.

Like a great machine that had not been revved up in a while, Mr. Trump took a few minutes to come on. But when he did, his attacks were suddenly dynamic. Instead of yelling at Cruz, he offered him the vice presidential spot, instead of screaming that the senator was born in Canada, he just said that there were questions. Instead of railing about Cruz’ “New York” comment, Mr. Trump staged an epic putdown, and did it the harshest way possible-with a soft spoken voice. Trump's Nikki Haley response was also well done.

So the debate eventually shaped up to be a fight that Cruz may have won on points, but in which Trump went the distance, and could have possibly won in a split decision.

As for the moderators, they were good, but not quite on par with last time's performance. They were not hard enough on cutoff times, and Donald Trump should not have gotten the seventh question of the night; as the man in first place, he should have been brought in sooner. However, FOX Business was at least a B+.
Senator Marco Rubio, who continues to poll in the crucial third place in Iowa, had an ok debate, but was unable at any point to dominate for longer than a few moments. As long as he remains in third place in Iowa, he looks to be able to move on from there. There remains a path for him to the nomination, but it’s getting narrower, and it’s getting steeper.
Governor Chris Christie had another good debate, right from his opening line where he attacked the State of the Union Address as “story time with Obama.” But Christie is not doing fantastic, and the essential right wing of the Republican Party, without which the nomination cannot be won, remains united against him. It seems more likely that Stephen Colbert was right when he said that Governor Christie will drop out of the race to go to work at a bowling alley, where he can “close a lane any time he wants.”
In a strange twist, Jeb Bush at last looked fully presidential last night. He seemed less like a nerd who was angry at a jock for misrepresenting physics facts, and more like a man who could be a serious contender in a presidential election. But it is too little, way, way too late. It seems safe to say, even without the benefit of tarot cards, that Jeb Bush will not be the nominee.
As for the two other guys on the stage, the doctor and the annoying kid from every Disney Show you hopefully were never forced to watch. Well, at least they can say they were there, you know they might not graduate but at least they’ll have a class picture, so that’s something, right? Carson continues to have a dedicated group of supporters, so dedicated that, depending on the weather, they might manage to squeeze Team Rubio into a disastrous fourth place finish in Iowa. But they wouldn’t be able to do much more than that. As for Kasich’s supporters...he should get himself some.

Andrew C. Abbott

Friday, January 8, 2016

In Iran, it all goes south

Atlanta, GA - While Americans have been busy hearing about Donald Trump’s latest racist/sexist tweet, while we’ve been reading stat lists about the most recent additions the Baseball Hall of Fame, (guys, Pete Rose needs in!) the actual business of governing and making foreign policy goes on.

In Saudi Arabia, the country some claim was involved in the 9/11 terror attacks, and a nation in any event not known as a great haven of human rights, but kept on America’s “Friends List” because it isn’t as bad as ISIS or Syria, decided that they needed to execute Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr for the crime of being critical of the kingdom’s ruling family.
That caused the head of the UN to say he disagreed with the decision, (strong action that, disagreeing with someone while watching them kill a guy) and led to a mob of Iranian Shiites storming the Saudi embassy in Tehran, Iran, before being kicked out by police.
Across the region several nations have severed or downgraded their diplomatic ties with the rouge terror state of Iran, while yesterday morning Iran claimed that their embassy in Yemen, (a nation that was declared this morning by Global Post to be the world’s worst for human rights,) was bombed by Saudi Arabia. A prince from the kingdom of Saudi stated yesterday that war remains unlikely between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which, of course, it does. But all of this further complicates America’s already difficult situation in the region.
In a nation as authoritative as Iran, it seems unlikely that mob would have been able to storm a foreign embassy without either implicit or explicit permission from the hardline chanters of “Death to America” that run their sorry excuse for a country. But an embassy is supposed to be a sacred place, and an attack on one is an attack upon them all. An action against an embassy of any nation in any nation is an action against that nation itself. In other words, when the Iranian high command failed to stop the mob, or perhaps even egged it on, they slapped in the face four thousand years of international law.
If you don't think that's bad, consider this, Iran continues to test dangerous missiles.
Our president continues to try and save what he calls his “accomplishment” or deal with Iran, by which we will pay them roughly a hundred billion dollars not to make atomic bombs. However, with their recent behavior, and with Democrats in congress at last joining Republicans to say that we have to sanction Iran for their illicit missile tests., the president's rhetoric is warring a bit thin The head of the Democratic Party even went so far as to sign a letter to the president that stated “The United States and our allies must take immediate, punitive action and send a clear message to Iran that violating international laws, treaties, and agreements will have serious consequences.”
The letter continued: “Inaction from the United States would send the misguided message that, in the wake of the [nuclear deal], the international community has lost the willingness to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its support for terrorism and other offensive actions throughout the region,” and she couldn’t be more right.
One is left wondering why the “Iran Deal” was reached in the first place, if we can’t trust Iran to not play around with missiles or to respect other countries' embassies. Either way, as the situation continues to deteriorate, we can rest on the president’s promises that he will “fix” the situation, sort of like when he “fixed” Ukraine, or when he “brought peace to Yemen.” Not reassured? Neither am I. Christmas is over, and now we are facing a brave new world, with a lame duck president in his last year, a middle east as bad as its been for a hundred years, and our president still claiming he is winning. God bless us, everyone.

Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Shrinking Field

Terre Haute, IN – At last, 2016 is here, and we are finally about a month away from a time when actual people will be going to actual polling places to cast votes that actually matter. After all the debates, the guessing, the polls, the attack ads, whatever happens in Iowa might seem a bit anti-climactic.

But now that we are so close to the early voting states, there are several things that will happen. First, candidates will begin to drop out. That’s right, the impossible will become probable, candidates will be forced to start bowing out. This will be happening not just because many candidates numbers are in the basement, but also because they lack money, their candidates are exhausted and tired of fighting for seventh place, and because the media will start to have actual content to cover in the race, thus making stories about Huckabee and Santorum less and less needful. Already the noose is being tightened, as the next GOP Debate will reportedly only have six candidates on the stage.
The candidates that do not look to be dropping out anytime soon on the Republican side are of course Trump, who remains, despite all, on top, as well as Cruz, his current biggest rival. Rubio, the establishment’s last hope, does not look to be going anywhere. Those to be less sure about are Rand Paul and Chris Christie. Paul continues to go nowhere in the polls, but he isn’t a quitter, and as long as he runs, he knows that is able to lay forth his unique view of the need for liberty from government. On the Democratic side, it does not appear likely that any of the last three standing will drop out of the race. Bernie is far too arrogant, Hillary is doing far too well, and Martin O’Malley is far too necessary as a last option to take a bow.
The biggest name likely to go, either before Iowa or just after, running away in disgrace, is Jeb Bush. He has spent fifty million dollars on ads, and has gone nowhere. He has spent millions of dollars on consultants, but has gone nowhere. Americans simply do not want another Bush era. Recently he announced that, bowing to reality, he would be canceling another ad buy that would have cost him three million dollars. Mr. Bush has done everything he could, but he is starting to find that his name and his “dynastic connections” cannot save him.
Another candidate that is likely to drop out is John Kasich, you know, that guy you only watch for comedic relief when you can’t sleep at night. In a way, his eventual exit from the race, which is at last very near at hand, will be bitter sweet. It has long been written in the stars that the governor who doesn’t even know what the second month of the year is would be departing, but it the debates will be less fun without him screaming at the moderators and spouting more nonsense than a horse would have, had one been put at the podium.
The next month will see the field grow smaller, possibly seeing Mrs. Fiorina drop out, and maybe even Mr. Carson, although that is by no means a given. Either way, it seems likely that we are on the verge of a serious race breaking out, as we come closer to the wire, and normal people begin to pay attention to politics.

Andrew C. Abbott