Wednesday, October 28, 2015

More Substantive Republican Debate; Carson, Rubio Big Winners

This third debate for the Republicans began in a clunky format with very vague, terribly cliché and gotcha questions. The first half was clearly focused on the personality and characteristic differences between candidates, whereas the second half seemed solidly issue-oriented. Overall, I would say this was more substantive and issue-oriented than the other two Republican debates. 

Clearly, Governor Bush maintained his strength and showed his policy prowess in all parts of the debate. He also had one of the best zingers of the night, directed at his fellow Floridian and Senator, Marco Rubio. “The Senate, is it like a French work week?” This was in reference to Rubio’s lackluster attendance and voting record in the Senate. Both Rubio and Bush faired better in the beginning of the debate than in the latter half. Rubio was able to share more of his own personal story throughout than anyone else on stage.

Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson were the lead men of the night. Carson appeared to be a bit off his game on some economic topics, but by the end of the night he had regained his focus, his message, and his connection to the audience in Boulder, Colorado. Despite his lack of experience and knowledge in and of politics and government, he has a keen ability to adapt and reflect in a way that does seem somehow genuine. This was honestly shocking for me to acknowledge.

Trump handled himself adeptly on nearly every challenge. Denying where he needed to, regardless of the facts, and repeating his grandiose claims, regardless of the need for actual plans and any moderator’s or candidate’s criticisms of his lack of either. 

Trump maneuvered himself throughout the debate and landed his best line of the night in his closing where he crystallized his mastery of negotiation by disclosing how he changed the terms of the debate by aligning himself with Carson and strong-arming CNBC into shortening the debate, causing the network to lose money in ads. This was another point of contention he had with one of the moderators, but there was substantial enough news coverage on social media for any Trump supporter to find his claim believable.

Carly Fiorina seemed a pale version of herself tonight. Her message was an important one, though. She continued to repeat how all of the reforms all of these men had been raising that all politicians had been raising for decades and that it never comes to fruition. Proven leaders were needed to push this reform agenda through. That might leave her out, some of the other candidates on the stage might have offered but no one was willing to engage her in any real way tonight. I think they learned the lesson Trump learned from the previous debate. 

Governor Chris Christie continued his defiant talk and his somewhat forced speeches to the voters at home. He may have actually made more headway in the second half. However, with so many candidates still in the race, it’s very difficult for any of these candidates to have a truly breakthrough moment if he or she isn’t already registering with voters.

Governor John Kasich, who in the first half seemed angry and downtrodden, appeared to perk up in the second half of the debate. He had a rousing, uplifting closing that may leave potential voters something to remember him by, but maybe not, considering his week of commentary about the race. Both him and Bush this week shared similar frustrations about the campaign, showing signs of stress and strain.

Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul seemed to blend together for me as they’re both political outsiders in the Senate Republican caucus. I think Paul articulated his message better, but Cruz is likely to resonate and feel more believable to Republican voters. Both have opportunities for grandstanding in the week ahead in Congress with the recent budget deal between House, Senate, and the President.

That leaves Governor Huckabee who was just full of clichés and other dreadful, insubstantial dribble that wasn’t even worth remembering. He’s selling a cookbook, I think. 

Overall, the big winner would have to be Carson, believe it or not, as by the end he looked more confident, more comfortable, and connected to reality. Trump and Rubio close behind. Followed by Bush, then Cruz. Kasich a bit over Christie, simply because Kasich is just a bit more likable. Paul, Fiorina, and last has to be Huckabee. 

Belief and Proof in Discussion; The America I Envision

"Just because you believe yourself doesn't make it true." 
This is not just a good line when it fits the situation, it's the perfect line when it's absolutely clear that this is what has been present in a discussion or debate. Especially after multiple attempts have been afforded for and never fulfilled by someone to lay out the proof or claims that is said to be in abundance, it is indeed usually true that the opinion is not actually factually based but is only belief or faith based. 

I strive to not make claims about the future, unlike some people. I strive to not make false claims about the past or mischaracterize people's past in order to smear someone's character or their present positions. This is often what happens on social media or in political discussions. Instead of actually constructing fact-based or logical, rational arguments for or against a candidate, some people resort to making an attack on the character of a person. That’s a belief about someone, not something that could ever be refuted and rarely proven to be true.

For example, I’ve not said whether or not any candidate will make great changes for the country. I believe we’ve all seen in multiple political campaigns how campaign promises becomes broken on the steps of Capitol Hill. However, I do feel that some candidates have better policies, better experiences, and a better overall package of proposals for our country’s current set of dilemmas and situations.
+Wonderful World 

Laying out the reasons for a candidate's positions juxtaposed with their history and experiences that buttress those positions and their campaign is how I choose to discuss any campaign or candidacy. I feel this is a more productive, inclusive way of discussing differences of opinions as opposed to attacking, demeaning, or demonizing candidates. 

One never knows what candidate will be able to actually deliver on their promises. Anyone who believes the candidate will deliver on all of those promises is frankly foolish. 

Again, if I make a false claim about something or someone that I'm not able to prove or that others are not able to refute, please, call me out on it or refute it. I welcome being challenged. I need that. However, that challenge should come in the form of facts, logic, and reasoning and not character attacks, baseless allegations, and innuendos. Our society and media too often resorts to these in order to stifle progress and open discussion. 

Sometimes, I am mistaken. I check myself even more than I check others. I didn't arrive at my perspective or opinions out of thin air. Each is based on research, broad-based pooling of many alternative views and perspectives of others, and an in-depth examination of as many factors as possible. I’m always accruing more information, experience, and perspectives. 

I attempt to look into my own blind spots and discover where those blind spots are because I purposefully seek out those who have extremely oppositional views or very strongly held views that will challenge me.

So, yes, if someone isn't actually saying or proving something specific, thinking they've proven it but they've never actually done so, I will always call them out on that. I expect the same in return. I certainly don’t take it personally. 

Perpetuating false beliefs is not healthy. I don't want our nation to fall even deeper into divisiveness and partisanship. The Democratic party seems at a critical stage and has the potential to fall ill to the same pitfalls that the Republican party fell into decades ago, but I won't give up on my country. 

I may not be a Democrat, but right now I see the Democrats as the only hope for a governing party as the Republicans are in such disarray as they've stoked fear, anxiety, anger, and rage within their base for so long that it’s now being directed back at their establishment leaders.

Government isn’t the problem. Bad governance is.

Finding the middle ground where solutions & progress meet, revenues & the economy grow, and liberty & opportunity thrive is the America I envision. I’ve not given up on her. Neither should any of us. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Remaining Optimistic During a Long Campaign- Message to Bernie Supporters

I think this doomed to fail mentality and this conspiracy-woven mindset that is more indicative of the far right has begun to seep into the Bernie camp of his most ardent supporters. Maybe, don't get caught up in the moment and remember what a primary is about-- it's a campaign; it's about rallying public opinion and support behind your vision for the direction of the country. 

If anyone says that Hillary Clinton has had it easy from the MSM, you're not being honest with yourselves or the public. In fact, for the vast majority of this year, the MSM went out of there way to perpetuate the scandals and to give Bernie every opportunity to seize control of the democratic electorate. 

Bernie just hasn't managed to do that beyond where he was a couple months ago. That's just the reality. I don't know if he's at his ceiling of support, but his numbers haven't budged much at all, especially since the first debate. 

Admittedly, Hillary Clinton has had a phenomenal couple of weeks, especially when juxtaposed with the rest of her campaign. That wasn't some conspiracy. She performed at the highest level. No one else sat in front of a committee and was grilled for 10 hours by Republicans hellbent on painting her as the villain. Only one presidential candidate has ever had that happen and that candidate is Hillary Clinton. 

There's nothing in her strong performances in the debate and now in front of the congressional committee designed to bring her down that denigrates or takes away from the Bernie Sanders campaign. He just hasn't found a message that broadens his support.

What he did do during that debate was shore up his enthusiastic support by repeating the same four points or themes of his campaign. There are five more debates. 

There's no reason for Hillary supporters to be making a victory lap either, which some have been doing. I find that behavior as appalling as I found some of the brazen, disingenuous attacks by Bernie supporters on Hillary and her campaign over the summer and into the fall. This is why I'm not a Democrat. Some tend to gloat and think they've won or do the opposite and fear what they've done and runaway from their principles in the face of difficulty, adversity, and obstruction. 

We're still more than a year out from the general election. This is most definitely a marathon. Don't become discouraged. 

What is most important is that the country continues to move forward next November, not that whomever our preferred candidate is must lead that charge. Personality politics is bull.

What matters are the policies, the arguments, and the ability to fight and win through next November and for the four years after that.

Right now, I don't see one reasonable candidate on the Republican stage that has even a chance to win the Republican nomination.

Let's keep our shared goals for progress in mind. We don't want the country to fall back toward failed policies that brought us to the brink of economic collapse and led into mismanaged, unwarranted wars.

We need to remain hopeful, forward thinking, and optimistic for the future of America. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Eye of Hurricane Hillary in the House

So, most probably, not many people could watch nearly 12 hours of testimony before Congress today. Hillary didn't have to watch it. Even members of the committee didn't sit through all hours of the testimony. 

You know who did? Hillary Clinton. 

Not only did she sit through every minute. She was in a question & answer . . . Back & forth . . . Allegation skewed innuendo intent on skewering her . . . with a very few brief breaks. 

Not only did she not disrespect those that were out to disrespect her and the four Americans that died on September 11th, 2011, Hillary Clinton was determined to keep the focus on the loss of those four American lives and those that actually cared about figuring out what had actually happened to prevent it from ever happening again.

It's a sad day for the House of Representatives, but, it's an even more tragic day for the Republican Party. I grew up with a conservative set of governing principles. The Republican Party has now walked away from them all. 

They walked away from limited government intervention. They walked away from paying for government bills. They walked away from being responsible and accountable for what they do. They walked away from being non-partisan for the benefit of America.

They tear down Hillary Clinton because she can actually do what they cannot.

She can govern. She can lead. She can acknowledge what she has done and what she can do better. She can learn from the past and do something different today to build a better tomorrow. She's relentless.

For a woman to become President . . . That's more terrifying than Obama becoming President to them. 

Keep an open mind about this fighter. As much as she fought today, she will fight for us all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The First Democratic Presidential Debate

The Democratic Presidential Debate was in stark contrast to the Republican debates that we’ve seen. I must say the two candidates on either end of the stage were off the mark, ill-prepared, and obviously in need of getting out of the race. Martin O’Malley held his own. He had a very Bill Clinton-esque tone and tenor to himself that seemed likeable, non-hostile, but seemed possibly leaden compared to the energy of both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

So, the juggernauts . . .

Obviously, the debate will probably shore up support behind both Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton. There were a few key moments and policy issues that drew my attention as well as the style each used were striking different.

Stylistically, Sanders comes off as angry, defiant, and relentlessly opposed to Wall Street, big business and corporations, money in politics, and focused on climate change. No matter the topic or policy issue brought up by the moderators, Sanders always went back to one of these bullet points. At times, this seemed to work in the room, but as the debate dragged on, it definitely seemed overly repetitious. 
+Wonderful WildLife 

Clinton’s style seemed mostly optimistic, laced with intermittent defiance with an uncharacteristic moment of joviality in response to a question about her ethics from Lincoln Chafee, which caught some in the audience off guard. The audience roared in laughter when she was asked if she would like to respond, and she simply looked out and said, “No.” 

Topics of significance ranged from capitalism versus socialism (a potential weakness for Sanders), changing of positions (a potential weakness for Clinton), and gun control (a massive point of departure and difference between Sanders and Clinton). 

I leave foreign policy as a separate issue as it is so diverse and cumbersome. For many, Sanders and Clinton both have issues regarding foreign policy. Clinton, because of her votes after 9/11 on the Iraq War Authorization and the Patriot Act, and Sanders, because of his isolationist views, personal history during the Vietnam War, and general lack of experience. 

Secretary Clinton managed to put the past behind her when her judgment was questioned by the peripheral candidates regarding her vote for the Iraq War. She offered that her judgment didn’t concern President Obama when he asked her to become his Secretary of State. She then delineated various foreign policy issues and concerns that she navigated while in that position, also highlighting when she helped President Obama secure the first climate change deal with China in history. 

Sanders seemed to flounder a bit on foreign policy, reiterating previous points he had made and nearly repeating what Clinton had just offered as her solution as if it was a rebuttal. However, the Middle East is a very complicated set of situations. None of these foreign policy problems are static, and that’s important to keep in mind as these candidates answer these questions. 

The most interesting and engaging part of the debate was about Wall Street and financial reforms. This was difficult to follow as everyone wanted to one up the other candidates and be the best candidate for the middle class. The only attack point leveled directly at Clinton was her lack of support for Glass-Steagall. She focused on making Dodd-Frank work better, giving regulators real power, in keeping Republicans from dismantling all the protections that have been put in place, and going further with her five point plan she wasn’t able to go into detail about. This is her five-point plan here:

Clinton seemed most prepared for this style of debate. She obviously is well versed in every topic and  every subject that was debated. Sanders stuck to his core themes. No matter the topic, his answer would somehow touch back on the root problems he believes to be money in politics from Wall Street, big business, and corporations. Consistency may win the day over in-depth specificity. Optimism may win out over anger. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

They're Coming for Your Guns! Right . . . Sure

I'm so glad I haven't seen any of the coverage of yet another school shooting in America. For one, I'm sure it's fairly relentless and much ado about watching pain and suffering unfold than it is about doing anything about it or covering actual facts.

We ALL know that there will never be gun sense legislation ever passed by Congress. They can't even pass a jobs bill, an infrastructure bill, immigration reform, tax reform, budgets, fixes to ObamaCare, authorizations for war against ISIS/ISIL, or much of anything that actually matters to the American people.

Yet, somehow, people keep reelecting their representatives to Congress. Bravo, America. Y'all elected a Congress that spends hundreds of millions of dollars investigating a faux scandal to undermine a former Secretary of State because she's of the opposing party and the likely nominee for President . . . all on the taxpayer dime. Brilliant plan.

Sick of it. Meanwhile. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are dying. More and more every year as more guns are pumped into the marketplace, into the streets, and all while existing gun laws are being loosened in many jurisdictions.

If you have any doubt, ask cops. Prominent, experienced cops will tell you that it's too easy for criminals to get cheap guns legally. And, when criminals commit crimes with guns, cops cannot keep them locked up because of lack of enforcement measures due to Second Amendment enthusiasts that are too scared someone is going to take their guns that they freak out public officials into passing insane public policies.

No one has come for your damned guns. If you think they are, you need help and you probably shouldn't own any.