The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

My message to readers

I do not really have a high regard for Donald Trump, but this November he gets my vote. The reasoning is:

  1. There are only two choices that really count;
  2. Hillary Clinton is certain to try to move this country in the wrong direction, and
  3. The only way to prevent this is to elect Donald Trump to the Presidency.

I hope most readers (and everyone else!) agrees.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Gay & lesbian rights and Donald Trump

I am on the e-mailing list of the Human Rights Campaign, mainly I think because I endorsed the gay marriage referendum in Maryland a few years ago. Unfortunately, the HRC has come out strongly against Donald Trump's candidacy, and in this action has forced me to strongly oppose this organization. Mr. Trump invited openly-gay industrialist Peter Thiel to speak at the convention last week. Mr. Thiel must have been worried about being booed for parts of his speech, but this did not occur. And Mr. Trump specifically complimented the delegates for that.

Donald Trump will not single-handedly make the GOP into a pro-LGB party, but he is working to move it in that direction. And HRC's backing of Clinton is working against Trump's attempts in that direction. I say “Shame on you!” to the HRC.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

“Dark” Donald Trump

Democrats have been criticizing Donald Trump for the “dark” tone of his speeches and those of his supporters at the Republican National Convention at Cleveland last week. Well, if (as most Democrats seem to believe) the last 7½ years were good for the U. S. A., then those speeches would seem unjustifiably dark. But if (as I do) you see these years as a period of decline in U. S. prestige abroad and order domestically, you (as do I) will see this “darkness” as entirely justify. The “darkness” is reason to support Trump, not oppose it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Endorsement for November

This blog endorses the Republican ticket for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency of the United States in November. This isn't quite the same thing as an endorsement of Donald Trump and Michael Pence—I would have preferred any of a number of Republicans who sought the post. But as it stands, it is necessary to vote for Trump and Pence to set this country in a proper direction, at least a better direction than the alternative would provide.

There is, in fact, a ticket I might prefer: the Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld, both experienced Governors with excellent records. But our election system guarantees they have no chance, and a vote for them helps Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine get elected. And it is preventing her election that is more important than Johnson's superiority over Trump. She would continue and expand the policies of the worst president in recent history: Barack Obama.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Donald Trump's approach to appointing people

There are a lot of things I do not like about Donald Trump, but in one way he's making me feel more comfortable supporting him (at least, in the general election). He's made some moves I think show his good talent in one area: appointing the people a President has to.

1. He has chosen Chris Christie to head his transition team. Governor Christie was early on my choice for the Presidency, and having run a state for several years he has the ability to help choose people for a Trump administration who would have the abilities to compensate for Trump's inexperience.

2. To reassure the Senate that his appointments to the Supreme Court will be more conservative than any Democratic president, he has said that he will rely on recommendations by the Heritage Foundation.

3. And finally, Trump's choice of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani to lead a commission on dealing with Islamic terrorism is a retreat from earlier proposals that just would not work — and were called out by Giuliani when he made them!

All of these selections make sense to me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Donald Trump is starting to make the right moves

Now that Donald Trump is essentially guaranteed to get the Republican nomination for the Presidency, he has begun to make the preparations that a candidate needs to do. He has picked someone to head the transition team that will prepare, if he wins in November, the list of appointments Trump will have to make to replace the team chosen by President Barack Obama. And he picked well. The man he has chosen is one of the two people I would have chosen for the Presidency itself: Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. And I think with Christie in charge of the transition team, if we have a President Trump following the November election, we will have a good team working for him.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

And now it's over

With yesterday's decision by John Kasich to end his campaign, Donald Trump has no opposition, and will be the nominee of the Republican Party for this year's Presidential election. He's not the one I would have wanted to see, but when it comes to November, I'll have to vote for him, given the opposition.

Kasich's leaving was fore-ordained. After Ted Cruz left, Trump was sure to make the 1,237 delegates he would need, so Kasich had no chance to get a later ballot where he might get the nod. It was futile to continue.

My wife has a visceral feeling against Trump. She will be supporting Clinton — even, just yesterday, gave the Clinton campaign a small sum of money — though she has some misgivings about her. For me, I'm more negative about Clinton than she is, and more willing to give Trump a chance, so my vote is going to go the other way. And in this very blue state, it won't make much of a difference. Clinton will win it. But I'm hoping Trump turns the polls around. We certainly don't need four years of Hillary Clinton after eight years of Barack Obama.

Right now, this blog is not endorsing Trump. That will happen if and when he is nominated. But on the chance that some unpredictable event happens that changes the picture of an inevitable Trump nomination, I'm holding up on a formal endorsement.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Ted Cruz has left the race…

…and while John Kasich continues to run — I got an e-mail from his organization today asking for funds — it doesn't really look to be at all likely that Donald Trump can be prevented from getting the nomination. The only way a contested convention can be brought about is if enough votes go to Trump's opponents to keep him from getting a majority of the delegates. And that would require Cruz to win a fair number. And he's not going to gain any more. So it looks as though Trump will be nominated.

I'm no fan of Donald Trump, as you know if you have been reading this blog. But in a race against Hillary Clinton, I have to support Trump. Clinton will continue President Barack Obama's unfortunate policies, and if anything, expand them. She was for Obamacare before Obama was. And she's exercised bad judgment in things like the e-mails.

Now I will not deny that Hillary Clinton is competent. But that makes the prospect of her in the White House even more of a scary proposition. While Trump's more outrageous proposals will never come to pass — Congress or the Supreme Court will knock them out — Clinton might actually get hers through, and I shudder to think of what she'll do, and this worries me more.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina really puzzles me. In 2010, she ran for the United States Senate in California, and I was hoping she would win, along with gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, but California has just become too “blue” to elect Republicans these days. (Arnold Schwarzenegger was an exception, but he was running in a field of over 100 candidates, and he was the best known, while the opposition was split.) Last year she decided to run for the 2016 Republican nomination for the Presidency, and though she was hardly my first choice, she was easily the best-qualified among the three that had no Governmental experience, so I was rather favorably inclined toward her. But I never anticipated the turn she has taken now.

When she withdrew from the race, it made sense because her polls were so low after an initial upward swing, but it troubled me to see her backing Ted Cruz. Still, I figured she was simply assuming that Cruz and Donald Trump were the only viable candidates, and she obviously did not like Trump. When subsequently she revealed that she had voted for Cruz even though her name was on the Virginia primary ballot, I cringed a bit, because at the time Virginia had its primary, there were others, such as Marco Rubio, who were still considered viable candidates.

And now she has accepted the role of vice-presidential candidate on the Cruz ticket. I never would have thought she'd be all in for Cruz to this extent. I'm obviously disappointed in Fiorina, and while previously I'd have thought she had a good political future (perhaps, now that she lives in Virginia, she could win a seat in the Senate), I've lot a lot of respect for her.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Donald Trump really won big

I am not very happy with Tuesday's results, and I'm getting more and more resigned to Donald Trump's nomination. If he does get the nomination, I'll hold my nose and vote for him in November, of course. The two main reasons are:

1. He's a clown and proposes all sorts of outrageous things, but we do have a Constitution, and most of his outrageous proposals will never happen, either because Congress will never pass such legislation for him to sign, or because the courts will knock them down, and

2. Hillary Clinton may be the most competent person running (assuming it's Trump against her!) but she wants to take this country in the wrong direction and she might actually succeed because she is so skilled. I'd rather take a Trump who might take us in unknown directions than a Clinton that I know will lead us in a bad direction.

So if it's Trump vs. Clinton, I'll vote for Trump, not very enthusiastically, but as the lesser of two evils. And if it's still possible to nominate someone else (as long as it isn't Ted Cruz!) I'll be a lot happier to vote the Republican line. (However, as I said in an earlier post, if Cruz is the nominee, my vote will go to the Libertarian or another minor party candidate!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ted Cruz, the one Republican I cannot ever support

Ted Cruz has stated he was “a Christian first, American second…” A surrogate of his, Pastor Mike Gonzalez, has said, and this was never denied by Cruz,

Well, the reality is that this idea of the separation of church and state is a myth. I mean, you bring your faith into the marketplace like you do anything else. So Ted Cruz is a — will be a president, not just, you know who is a preacher and pastor in the White House. That’s not the idea. I believe all Americans can rally around Ted Cruz because he upholds the Constitution. I believe all Americans want to truly uphold the law.

Well, I have a different idea of what the Constitution says; it was expressed in this blog in a post entitled “On reading the Constitution,” dated December 2, 2010, and one entitled “Separation of church and state,” dated December 28, 2010. It is clear that on this issue, Sen. Cruz and I are diametrically opposed.

So while I have supported every Republican candidate for the Presidency for nearly 50 years, if Cruz is the nominee, I will vote for someone else, probably the Libertarian.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Bathroom bills, showers, and “gender identity”

There are really two different aspects to the quarrel we see between the sponsors of “bathroom bills” and so-called “transgender” individuals. There is actually a difference between bathrooms and showers: it is hard to enforce a “bathroom bill” on people simply entering a bathroom — are we going to have police examining everyone's genitalia as they enter? I can't imagine anyone, whether “transgender” or not, putting up with such an examination. On the other hand, in a shower, where everyone gets naked, the true sex of an individual becomes obvious. And what of dressing rooms, where everyone is naked at one point in the process of getting dressed or undressed?

When I was in high school, and again when I was in college, the physical education program required a year of swimming, which was done in the nude. I don't know whether nude swimming classes have everywhere been abolished, but even if they have, the students have to get dressed and undressed; you do not swim in street clothes. And usually students are expected to shower in a communal place. It is things like this that give me pause when “transgender” individuals want to be able to use the facilities of the sex opposite to their real sex. What is fair to all involved in such cases?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Two days till Primary Day…

…and as long as I can make it to the polls, I'll be voting for John Kasich. The polls all say that Donald Trump will win the state, but there seems to be some Kasich support in this district, and I'm hoping it shows that Kasich will win some delegates in the districts near Washington, D. C. (including the one I'm in). At least two of the candidates for my district seat in Congress on the Republican side have openly expressed their support for Kasich (one for Ted Cruz, and two haven't expressed support for anyone that I've seen), and this may be a sign.

Statewide, as I said, Trump will win it, but the polls differ on whether Kasich or Cruz will take 2nd place. I've seen recent poll results both ways.
Probably more eyes will be on Pennsylvania than Maryland, though. And That's probably justified because it's a bigger state. We'll be seeing results for a lot of the Northeast, though: from Rhode Island down to here, except for New York, which voted last week, every one of the Atlantic coastal states votes this Tuesday. It's going to be interesting!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I wonder how they got me

I've been receiving a lot of e-mails from everyone ranging from John Kasich to Paul Ryan (presumably from their staffs; I doubt that any of these people acrtually sent out the e-mails personally!) asking for contributions. And while, if I had money to spare, I might give to some of them — certainly to Kasich — I definitely do not have the money. But one source of e-mails surprises me: Ted Cruz. I get e-mails like one that begins, “Bruce, You are a key supporter. Your support has allowed us to take on the Washington Cartel and win. …” I wonder how I was tabbed as a Cruz supporter. I'm certainly anything but! While I have voted for the Republican nominee in every Presidential election for almost 50 years, a Cruz nomination would drive me to vote Libertarian! I wish I could write back to the actual people who send out those e-mails, and tell them that I think Ted Cruz is the worst possible choice for a nominee.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

I wish I could believe it!

There is a post I read yesterday, dated a week ago but first coming to my attention yesterday evening, by Seth Abramson on the Huffington Post site, with the title “John Kasich Will Be the Republican Nominee for President.” I really wish I could believe things will play out that way. It would cap a crazy primary election season with the best outcome I could possibly imagine: a Republican ticket that I could enthusiastically support.

The major premise of Abramson's post is that:

Donald Trump needs 1,237 delegates to win on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and not only will he not get to that figure prior to the Convention — he’d need to win well over 50 percent of the remaining delegates to do so, and even during his current run as front-runner he’s only won 46 percent of delegates — he won’t even get close enough to that mark to pass it via uncommitted delegates at the Convention.

Ted Cruz and John Kasich staying in the race through Cleveland not only will ensure that Trump can’t get close to 1,237 delegates via primary and caucus votes, it will also ensure that both men have a reasonable delegate total by the time they arrive at the Convention — more than enough to keep both of them in the picture in the view of Convention delegates.

So far I think he is right. There is a good chance, even a likelihood, that the first ballot in Cleveland will sho no majority for either Trump or Cruz. However, in his next point he strays into unpredictable territory; whether it will come about is unclear to me:

Republican Party elders have more than enough clout to make sure that “Rule 40(b)” gets changed prior to or at the Convention, thereby enabling Republicans like John Kasich who haven’t won a majority of delegates in eight states to nevertheless be considered for the nomination.

I hope so; it is very important that that rule be changed, and I think the probability of this happening is high enough that I cannot be certain whether it comes about. Certainly, without the change in the rules, Trump gets the nomination, even if Cruz is the one pushing hardest to keep the rule.

The next two points are crucial, and I devoutly hope Abramson is right:

After the first ballot in Cleveland — during which no candidate will have the require[d] delegates for nomination — most of the delegates will be free to vote for whomever they wish, and while Ted Cruz has craftily planted his supporters in many delegations, it’s not nearly enough to get him to 1,237 delegates on the second ballot.

Whereas Ted Cruz is loathed by the Republican Party elite, has lost to Hillary Clinton in head-to-head polls 55 percent of the time since November 2015, and has no actual accomplishments in government to point to, John Kasich hasn’t lost a single head-to-head poll to Hillary Clinton in 2016, is broadly if imperfectly acceptable to both Party elites and movement conservatives, and is far and away the most accomplished Republican primary candidate left.

If “electability” were what mattered most, the second of these would be very important. Will it? Most certainly Kasich is hoping so. It's also what I really wish would happen. I think that last point is the key to Abrahamson's argument. But the next point is equally critical:

Marco Rubio has deliberately held onto his 172 delegates so that he can create a unity ticket with John Kasich in Cleveland — a ticket that will begin with somewhere between 350 and 600 delegates on the first ballot at the Convention, depending upon how many delegates John Kasich wins going forward.

Has Rubio held onto his delegates “so that he can create a unity ticket with John Kasich in Cleveland”? I can't read Rubio's mind. He certainly has a plan to be an influence on the result. So Abrahamson's next point is a given:

Rubio is certain not to give his delegates away for free, nor to give them to his arch-enemies Cruz or Trump, nor to — as some suppose — merely fade into the background when he was and remains among the most ambitious politicians in the Republican Party.

And the next point is also certainly true:

A Kasich/Rubio ticket would appeal to both mainstream Republicans (Kasich) and Tea Partiers (Rubio), to both white and Latino voters, to younger voters who want to see someone relatively young on the ticket, to those looking for a ticket whose members run the gamut from executive to legislative experience at both the state and federal levels, and to those who believe all members of a presidential ticket should hail from a major battleground state.

Yes, a Kasich/Rubio ticket would be acceptable to many Republicans and to people who might be persuaded to vote Republican in November. It would be more than merely acceptable to me: John Kasich started off as one of my two favorite candidates, and ever since Chris Christie dropped out has been my #1 choice; Marco Rubio was originally the person I thought would be the Presidential nominee, and one I would not have any qualms about supporting if he had been nominated. The question is not whether Kasich/Rubio would be a good ticket; it is one which I have already said I would support with enthusiasm. The question is whether all these pieces of the jigsaw puzzle which Abrahamson has put on the table will actually fit together to produce a Kasich/Rubio ticket in reality.

I hope so. I wish I could believe it will happen that way. Nothing could happen at Cleveland that would make me happier.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The primary in just over two weeks

In two weeks and a day, the state of Maryland will hold its primary elections. I have said that the only way I could vote for Donald Trump in the primary was if it looked like the only way to stop Ted Cruz. But all the polls show that in this state, Cruz is a distant third. So I can safely vote for my true first choice: John Kasich. And that is the way I will vote on the 26th. And anyone else in this state that reads my blog, please do the same.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

I don't “get” transgender!

A few years ago, in this state (Maryland) there was a referendum on permitting gay marriage. At one point I signed a petition in favor of marriage equality, and as a result I was put on the e-mail mailing list of Marylanders for Marriage Equality, and ultimately on the mailing list of their affiliate, the Human Rights Campaign. Since I agree with a lot of what HRC stands for, I have no problem with that, although HRC's strong advocacy of Democratic Party candidates leaves me behind; there are other issues, more important to me than gay rights, which keep me on the Republican side in most elections.

Lately I have been receiving e-mail from HRC about the recent laws passed in Mississippi and North Carolina curtailing gay rights, and most of what HRC says makes sense. But in one way, I agree with what these states have done, and that part of the laws would meet with my approval if I were a legislator or executive involved with a state lawmaking process.

The laws state that a person must use the bathroom appropriate for the gender named on his/her birth certificate. I see nothing wrong with such a provision. I really do not understand why a person who is biologically male can call himself a woman, or one who is biologically female can call herself a man. In other words, I cannot understand transgender.

Bruce Jenner has fathered a child, so he is unquestionably a male, regardless of whether he dresses in drag or chooses to call himself “Caitlyn.” And in general the real test of someone's gender comes down to one thing: Is there a Y chromosome in his/her genome? (I deliberately use that rather than a test of the number of X chromosomes, because it is a known fact that people with unusual genetic makeup like one X and no other sex chromosome, or XXY, are biologically whatever sex the presence or absence of a Y chromosome determines. See the article on Klinefelter's syndrome, for example.) Apparently Bruce Jenner and his ilk have some new definition of “female” or “woman,” which allows them to claim they are; I would love to see that definition.

If Bruce Jenner dresses up in female attire, he is just a man in drag. If some day he has his male parts surgically removed, he will still be only a castrated male. This does not mean he cannot do these things; only that he can never become truly female.

And what does a man who likes to pretend he is a woman gain by being considered one? He does not gain the opportunity to marry a man; he already has that right, via the Windsor decision. He does not gain any other right that women have, either. Unless, of course, you count the right to use the ladies' restroom in those states that have not passed bills like the one to which I am referring.

Some men are attracted to men rather than women, and some women to women rather than men. (And some men and women are attracted to both!) Allowing them to marry the partner of their choice does not hurt anyone. Certainly, it does not prevent straight people from marrying their opposite-sex partners. So marriage equality is a reasonable thing. Anti-discrimination laws are also good things, as nobody should be treated unfairly just because of whom he/she loves. But there is a real danger that someone might claim to be transgender, just to get a free peek at the opposite sex. (In my younger days, I had an immense curiosity as to what a female body looked like!) While if a “transgender boy” (who is really a girl) is forced to use the ladies' restroom, or a “transgender girl” (who is really a boy) is forced to use the men's restroom, they only get to see bodies like their own!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

“I'm a Christian first”

Ted Cruz has been quoted as saying: “I'm a Christian first, American second, conservative third and Republican fourth.” Is this what we want for the Presidency? I think not.

Perhaps a clergyman, whose job is to serve God, should be “a Christian (or whatever religion he is) first.” But I think a President, whose job is to guide the country, has to be an American first.

While I don't like Donald Trump, I'd still take him over Cruz. My first choice is still John Kasich. But if, as Cruz has said, A vote for John Kasich … is a vote for Donald Trump, I say, “So be it.” I'd rather see Trump nominated than Cruz.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Whatever happens, I cannot support Ted Cruz

There are some signs that people who want to thwart Donald Trump's nomination as Republican candidate are coalescing around Ted Cruz. I am quite appalled at this. If Cruz is the nominee, for the first time in over 50 years I could not vote for the Republican candidate for the Presidency. It is clear. Ted Cruz is a religious fanatic, whose view of the Constitution is so far from mine, I could not vote for him. When I read things like

When Cruz says he wants to “reclaim” or “restore” America, he does not only have the Obama administration in mind. This agenda takes him much deeper into the American past. Cruz wants to “restore” the United States to what he believes is its original identity: a Christian nation.

it makes me shudder. This is not my America. I see our country as a pluralistic nation, one which may have a majority of its citizens Christians, but one equally open to all religions, which means the Government should be totally secular.

If it happens that I am forced to choose between Trump and Cruz, I will go with Trump. And if Cruz gets the nomination, though I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton, I will not vote for Cruz in November either. My vote will go to a third-party candidate: which one depends on who will be on the Maryland ballot.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

John Kasich for President

The results are in on yesterday's primaries. Marco Rubio, who was the man I expected to be the eventual nominee, did so poorly in his home state of Florida that he quit the race for the Presidency. But John Kasich won Ohio. He won it big. The most recent polls showed him narrowly defeating Donald Trump in Ohio, with the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls showing a 39% to 35% margin. The actual results were 47% to 36%.

I had been withholding an endorsenment, though ever since Chris Christie withdrew, those who read this blog knew that Kasich was my favorite, only because Rubio was still an acceptable choice, and if I thought he was more likely to beat Trump and Ted Cruz, and Kasich did not, I wanted a chance to endorse him. But now the race is down to three men:

  1. Donald Trump, an inexperienced-at-politics man whose knowledge of the Constitution is flawed and whose manner is decidedly un-Presidential,
  2. Ted Cruz, a religious fanatic whose accession to the Presidency would really hurt our First Amendment rights, and
  3. John Kasich, who has been such an outstanding Governor of Ohio that his popularity there, where they know him best, is immense.

With the above characterizations, it is clear that Kasich warrants my support. If it ever comes down to Trump vs. Cruz, I'd take Trump (unlike my wife, who has such a visceral dislike of Trump that she would certainly vote for any Democrat — even socialist Bernard Sanders, though she does not approve of his socialistic politics — to defeat him). But as long as Kasich is in the running, I have to say he is the best choice.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rally around Cruz? Never!

An article on the Chicago Tribune website entitled “To stop Trump, GOP establishment must rally around Cruz.” The author, John Kass, claims that the only way for the establishment to stop Donald Trump is to back Cruz. And to me, generally supportive of the establishment, this article s plain and simple anathema. The fact is that Cruz represents everything bad within the Republican party. He is simply a bigot, far more than Trump. Note that John Fea of Religion News Service says:

Cruz wants to “restore” the United States to what he believes is its original identity: a Christian nation.

Fea's article is worth reading. And it points out that Cruz' attitude is disavowed even by many “evangelical Christians.” As a non-Christian myself, I believe that the vision of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and others of a nation with a total separation of church and state is the correct one. And no matter what else may be a point of agreement between myself and Ted Cruz, I cannot support him. He wants this to be a Christian nation, and that is not a nation in which I can live. I will even support Trump, if it is the only way to deprive Ted Cruz of the nomination.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Another case of strange bedfellows

Another candidate that I liked and respected has endorsed someone surprising. I was surprised to see Chris Christie, who was one of my two favorites for the 2016 nomination, endorse Donald Trump a few days ago. Now Carly Fiorina, who was not among my top favorites but who I liked enough to count her as someone I could happily endorse if she won the nomination, has endorsed someone I dislike more than Trump: Ted Cruz.

I think in each case the former candidates saw the likely matchup as a Trump-vs.-Cruz competition and endorsed the one they disliked least. Christie (who once was asked his beliefs on evolution and responded “That’s none of your business”) obviously agrees with me that religious beliefs should not override the Constitutional ban on establishment, and like me, he is trying to avoid a Cruz presidency. Fiorina, in her statement endorsing Cruz, said she was horrified by Trump. And she obviously sees Cruz as the best hope to beat him.

As for me, I'm more horrified by Cruz. Sorry, Carly. I like a lot about you, but between Cruz and Trump, I'll hold my nose and choose Trump.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

In a Trump vs. Clinton election, the vote will be strange

I'd heard before of well-known Republicans who might vote for Hillary Clinton rather than see Donald Trump in the Presidency, and others, like Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who might go for a third-party candidate. Now along comes former Senator Jim Webb, who considered himself enough of a Democrat that he entered the competition for that party's nomination, who looks to be headed the opposite way.

This November may see some strange voting patterns.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump?

I got a surprise today. One of the two candidates I considered my favorite at the start of this campaign, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who withdrew after the New Hampshire primary, gave his support to Donald Trump.

I guess, on the issues, they are not far apart. When I did a CNN questionnaire a while ago, it showed Christie #2 and Trump #3 in closeness to me. But Trump is someone without any governing experience (something I would think Christie would consider important), and he really turns off a lot of people. (Of course, Christie turns off a lot of people too, but not in quite the same way.) It's not a development I expected — I figured if anyone would get Christie's endorsement, it would be another governor, John Kasich.

Which should drop out? Kasich or Rubio?

I had lately been thinking that even though I preferred John Kasich to Marco Rubio as a candidate, the best thing for the Republican Party this year would be for Kasich to drop out and let the reasonable people in the Republican Party coalesce around Rubio to prevent Donald Trump, or even worse, Ted Cruz, from gaining the nomination. But I saw a post yesterday by Tom Bevan entitled “The Case for Kasich Staying In” which makes a case for the reverse, and I quote it in full:

Admittedly, 2016 is a year in which the electorate—especially the rebellious voters who have turned the GOP primary season upside down—aren’t putting a premium on political experience. But of the five Republican candidates left in the field, there's one person who has the traditional résumé indicative of a president of the United States.

That would be 63-year-old John Richard Kasich of Ohio. He’s a pro-life conservative who emphasizes the working poor. He’s a fiscal conservative who helped maneuver President Bill Clinton into balancing the federal books in the 1990s budget wars. He is also, not to put too fine a point on it, governor of a big Midwestern state with a significant distinction: No Republican has ever ascended to the White House without carrying Ohio.

And the Republican “establishment” is trying to force him out of the race.

I don’t have a horse in the GOP nomination fight, but it was hard to argue with Kasich, who said yesterday that anyone calling for him to leave the 2016 race needs to “chill out.” He has as much right to stay in this race as anyone else—and more than some. I’ll come back to that in a minute.

First, let’s talk about the panic that has gripped vast swaths of the Republican Party in the wake of Donald Trump’s smashing victory in Nevada on Tuesday. After months of denial about the strength of Trump’s appeal and wishful thinking about his imminent demise, the GOP establishment now fears that Trump is on the verge of running away with the nomination. Hence the frantic calls for some sort of “unity ticket,” or for Kasich and Ben Carson to get out—or even for Rick Perry, freshly cleared by the courts Wednesday of bogus and politically motivated charges, to get in as a third party alternative. Republicans are grasping for something, anything, to stop Trump before it’s too late.

The trajectory of this race reminds me of the plot of the classic 1983 anti-war movie “WarGames.” The film starts innocently enough, with a teenager trying to pirate the latest video games accidentally hacking into the U.S. defense network. The computer responds by asking the now iconic question in its halting, robotic voice: “SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?”

This is more or less how the Republican establishment viewed Trump’s entry into the 2016 race: a harmless diversion that would be over in a few weeks. Eight months later Donald Trump is at DEFCON 1, threatening to nuke the Republican establishment and win the nomination, and GOP elites are running around shrieking like Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy trying to break into NORAD and pull the plug on the whole thing.

Except it’s looking more and more like this movie ends with the computer winning. Trump heads into Super Tuesday on March 1 with the wind at his back. He’s leading in 10 of the 11 states up for grabs that day, with a combined 595 delegates in play.

The only state where Trump isn’t leading is Texas. Ted Cruz currently has a 5.2-point lead in the RealClearPolitics Average, though the most recent poll, by TEGNA/SurveyUSA, shows the two candidates tied.

Obviously, Texas is a must win for Cruz. If he loses his home state to Trump, his rationale for being the Trump-stopper is demolished. Similar tests awaits Rubio and Kasich on March 15, when both Florida and Ohio are up for grabs as winner-take-all states, for 99 and 66 delegates, respectively.

In Florida, polls taken in late January show Trump with massive leads and, equally as stunning, with support over 40 percent in a multi-candidate race. A new poll is expected later this morning from Quinnipiac University, which will take into account most of what has transpired in February and will give us a better understanding of where Marco Rubio stands in his home state.

In Ohio, there’s not much data to work with either. The most recent poll, also conducted by Quinnipiac last week, shows Kasich trailing Trump by five points, 31 to 26. Things could, and probably will, change by mid-March, but at the moment Kasich remains within striking distance.

Imagine we wake up on Wednesday morning, March 16, to find that Sen. Rubio has lost Florida to Trump, while Gov. Kasich has beaten Trump in Ohio. If that happens, how do Rubio’s supporters, which include much of the existing GOP officialdom, make the case that Kasich should defer to Rubio? Why wouldn’t the logical argument be the other way around?

Kasich bolsters his argument by pointing to the fact that he runs far better against Hillary Clinton in general election match-ups than either Cruz or Rubio. So why wouldn't establishment Republicans rally behind the most "electable" candidate who carries his home state in the primary?

As we’ve already seen, anything can happen in a race as crazy and unpredictable as this one. Which is why John Kasich has every right to stay in this contest through March 15 and let Republican voters in Florida and Ohio have their voices heard. Until then everyone should listen to Kasich and chill out.

An interesting point. And perhaps that is right. Let's see where things stand on March 15.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mark Salter's vew of Donald Trump… is it John McCain's?

There is a posting by Mark Salter dated yesterday, entitled “Donald Trump, the Anti-Patriot,” which I've been reading. Now Salter's name is not widely known, but he has co-authored a number of Senator John McCain's books, and I suspect that he and Sen. McCain have very similar views on many political topics. In Salter's post, there are a number of points, and one of the counts he has against Trump is the remarks he has made about Sen. McCain:

By his own admission, the closest he came to combat was his sexual adventurism in the 1980s, when HIV/AIDS was claiming the lives of better men than him. It was his “personal Vietnam,” he told shock jock Howard Stern in 1997. “I felt like a great and very brave soldier.”

While Americans with little wealth and few family connections were dodging bullets, mortars and booby traps in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam, our Sergeant York of well-appointed bedrooms was bravely jumping in harm’s way, armed only with the aphrodisiac of his daddy’s money.

From his brush with mortality in service to his libido he acquired the self-regard to find John McCain’s heroism wanting, and by implication the heroism of all POWs. What’s to admire about being shot down, imprisoned in solitary confinement and tortured? Losers.

But there is a real concern there as to Trump's own proposals on how he might treat our enemies:

His cluelessness about what a genuine love of country entails seems to have liberated Trump from other conventional scruples including a respect for the inherent dignity of human beings that is central to Judeo-Christian values.

Trump is also ignorant, it seems, about just what constitutes a war crime; what is and is not permissible in lawful warfare. Or worse, he vaguely knows and doesn’t care.

Trump’s ignorance is a distinctive kind, familiar to schoolyard bullies everywhere. It’s indifferently stupid and reflexively brutal, a dumbass cruelty exercised by people too emotionally incontinent to let reason govern passions, too selfish to develop a conscience, and too insecure to relate to others by means other than base instinct.

In the war against terrorists, he’s recommended deliberately killing their wives and children. He promises to waterboard captured prisoners and torture them even more severely though the practice of waterboarding was ended by executive action and outlawed by congressional legislation. He can’t reinstitute it without new legislation and without changes to war crime conventions.

Were he to order military and intelligence officers to employ torture, as he insists he would, they would resign rather than comply, as they would if he ordered them to take innocent lives on purpose. He would deserve to be impeached. He would belong in an international court of justice, on trial for his life, the fate met by enemies in World War II who authorized the torture of our prisoners.

Trump recently cited as an example of how to deal with captured Muslim insurgents an anecdote from America’s occupation of the Philippines in the beginning of the 20th century. Gen. John J. Pershing ordered 49 of 50 Muslim prisoners shot with bullets dipped in pig’s blood, defiling them under Islamic law, and ordered the survivor to report to his confederates what he had witnessed. After which, Trump assured his audience, “for 25 years there wasn’t a problem.”

In fact, Salter points out,

The story is fiction. Pershing did nothing of the kind. He was a disciplined general officer, whose sense of honor remained intact through the trials of war, as did his loyalty to our country and values. See what I mean about dumbass cruelty? Trump’s never more ignorant then when he’s playing at being a tough guy.

And I did some checking. Salter is right about this story being fiction; perhaps Trump actually believed it, however, as such a story has been circulating on the Internet:

On Friday in South Carolina, Donald Trump told a story of how General John J. Pershing executed 49 Muslim prisoners in the Philippines.

In the early 1900′s, Trump said, Pershing “caught 50 terrorists that did tremendous damage and killed many people.” So Pershing “dipped 50 bullets in pig’s blood” and executed 49 of the men. Then he released the 50th prison to tell others what had happened. Trump’s point was that America needs to get tough on terrorism.

But the story is not true. There was no mass execution led by Pershing. That is a rumor created on the Internet.

A Chicago Daily Tribune article from 1927 reports the true story that Pershing was holding prisoners from the Moro Rebellion in the Philippines. The Moros were Muslims who resisted American or any other occupying force. The Moros included swordsmen, called Juramentados, who were killing Christians in the uprising. It had to be stopped.

The Tribune story reports that Pershing sprinkled some prisoners with pig’s blood, which the Juramentados believed would condemn them for eternity. But then Pershing let the prisoners go. He issued a warning to others about being sprinkled with the pig’s blood. And, according to the Tribune story, “those drops of porcine gore proved more powerful than bullets.”

There were no executions as described by Trump.

In fact, Pershing was more inclined toward peace talks with the Moros rather than violence. The general met with the Moros and read from the Koran with them. Pershing wanted to build bridges. An illustration accompanying the story shows the general in peace talks in the jungles of the Philippines.

Salter continues:

Wars have brought out the worst as well as the best in Americans. We have struggled at great cost to uphold the values that distinguish us from our enemies. In every war, soldiers under enormous strain have committed atrocities. In some cases they had been ordered to. But those instances were aberrations, considered a national disgrace and are remembered that way. Except, I guess, by Donald Trump, the man who fought his war in the discos of New York and would have American soldiers commit atrocities as a matter of national policy.

Much of what Salter says has validity. However, his final conclusion gives me pause:

Trump is not trying to make great America great. He’s trying to make us the worst we can be to satisfy his own vainglory. There’s no dealing with him, no trying to encourage him to behave like a grown-up, much less a statesman. If you can see him plainly and you love our country, you must vote against him. Even if that means electing Hillary Clinton.

That last sentence goes, in my mind, too far. “Even if that means electing Hillary Clinton”? I hope that Sen. McCain does not agree with this part of what Salter says here. For she has her own problems. She may not plan to torture our enemies. However, she has a direction for this nation that goes counter to our greatest needs. She has said,

I'm a progressive, but I'm a progressive that likes to get things done

and “progressive” is a term that here means “extreme leftist, possibly socialist.”

I do not know whether Sen. McCain agrees with Mark Salter on this position. I strongly respect Sen. McCain, and wish he had been elected eight years ago and was now coming to the end of two terms as President, rather than the man who is actually in that office today. But if he agrees with Salter's remark that Hillary Clinton is preferable to onald Trump, I must there respectfully disagree.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The South Carolina results

I'm not unhappy with the results of yesterday's South Carolina primary. Yes, the winner was Donald Trump, whose nomination would be a disaster. But I am glad to see that Marco Rubio beat Ted Cruz for second place, and this in a state where Cruz' extremist conservatism might be expected to do well. Since Jeb Bush (who has now withdrawn) and John Kasich got together over 16% of the vote, and Trump's plurality over Rubio was only 10%, if the supporters of so-called “establishment” candidates combine, Trump can be beaten.

And he will be. Trump, even in “winning,” got only a third of the vote. A lot of commentators seem to think this was a big win for Trump, but they don't seem to understand that he only “won” because there was a split in the opposition. As it consolidates, and it looks like Rubio will be the one it consolidates behind, Trump will lose the nomination.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Will Rubio be the candidate?

For a long time, I've been saying that while I preferred Chris Christie (now dropped out) or John Kasich as the candidate, I thought Marco Rubio was the actual probable winner. Then, along came New Hampshire, and Rubio stumbled badly, leaving me in doubt as to the likelihood of his win. Now at least one post that I've seen seems to imply that Rubio has once more emerged as the candidate to beat Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Possibly. But we will have to see what happens in South Carolina tomorrow.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Sen. Grassley is right!

On the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, there was a response by Sen. Mitch McConnell:

The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.

President Barack Obama, of course, does not agree:

The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now. I am amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the Constitution suddenly reading into it a whole series of provisions that are not there. I am going to present somebody who indisputably is qualified for the seat and any fair minded person, even somebody who disagreed with my politics[,] would say would serve with honor and integrity on the court.

Frankly, I find it hard to believe that President Obama, given his far-left ideology and his record on nominations to all those posisions where he has the power to nominate, could come up with “somebody who indisputably is qualified for the seat and any fair minded person, even somebody who disagreed with [his] politics[,] would say would serve with honor and integrity on the court.” But I think he should be given a chance. This is why I agree with Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decisions [on holding hearings]. In other words, take it a step at a time.

It is interesting that when Bruce Braley was running to become a Senator, he addressed a gathering of lawyers in Texas with the following words:

If you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice — someone who’s been literally fighting tort reform for 30 years in a visible and public way on the Senate Judiciary [Committee]. Or you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary. Because if Democrats lose the majority, Chuck Grassley will be the next chair of the Senate Judiciary.

It looks to me that this “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school” is doing a pretty good job as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I have to note that former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has taken the position that Pres. Obama should pick the next nominee and have him approved. Much as I respect Justice O'Connor, who was probably closer to my own views than any other Supreme Court Justice during her tenure on the Court, I think she is partly wrong here. Yes, President Obama should be accorded the right to nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia. But the Senate should heed Obama's own words, uttered when he was a Senator:

I believe firmly that the Constitution calls for the Senate to advise and consent. I believe that it calls for meaningful advice and consent that includes an examination of a judge's philosophy, ideology, and record.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Senate's role in evaluating a President's Supreme Court nominees

There is an interesting article, dated today, by David Harsanyi entitled “GOP Has A Duty To Reject Obama’s SCOTUS Pick.” It furnishes a good rejoinder to Harry Reid's quote, posted here yesterday:

The President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away. With so many important issues pending before the Supreme Court, the Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible. It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat. Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate's most essential Constitutional responsibilities.

Harsanyi points out that when President Barack Obama was a Senator, and Samuel Alito's name came up before the Senate in 2006, then-Senator Obama made a floor speech (of which I quote even more than Harsanyi does) including these words:

As we all know, there's been a lot of discussion in the country about how the Senate should approach this confirmation process. There are some who believe that the President, having won the election, should have the complete authority to appoint his nominee, and the Senate should only examine whether or not the Justice is intellectually capable and an all-around nice guy. That once you get beyond intellect and personal character, there should be no further question whether the judge should be confirmed.

I disagree with this view. I believe firmly that the Constitution calls for the Senate to advise and consent. I believe that it calls for meaningful advice and consent that includes an examination of a judge's philosophy, ideology, and record. And when I examine the philosophy, ideology, and record of Samuel Alito, I'm deeply troubled.

I have no doubt that Judge Alito has the training and qualifications necessary to serve. He's an intelligent man and an accomplished jurist. And there's no indication he's not a man of great character.

But when you look at his record — when it comes to his understanding of the Constitution, I have found that in almost every case, he consistently sides on behalf of the powerful against the powerless; on behalf of a strong government or corporation against upholding American's individual rights.

If then-Sen. Obama could use such language, the Republicans in the Senate have every reason to follow his words that “I believe firmly that the Constitution calls for the Senate to advise and consent. I believe that it calls for meaningful advice and consent that includes an examination of a judge's philosophy, ideology, and record.” And assuming that President Obama's nominee has an unacceptable “philosophy, ideology, and record” in the opinion of the Senate majority, they have every reason to reject that nominee. I agree with Harsanyi.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Justice Scalia has passed away. Now what?

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away at the age of 79. President Barack Obama has nearly a year remaining in his term, so he will certainly send a nominee to the Senate. (He has already announced that he will.) The nominee will likely be so far to the political left that the Republican-controlled Senate will not confirm him. This will probably mean a 4-4 tie on a lot of Supreme Court votes. What will this mean?

Of course, Senator Harry Reid has sounded off:

The President can and should send the Senate a nominee right away. With so many important issues pending before the Supreme Court, the Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible. It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat. Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate's most essential Constitutional responsibilities.

Note that Senator Reid says “unprecedented in recent history.” President John Tyler had a situation much like Obama's, where his term was coming to an end and the Senate kept rejecting his nominees, so the position remained vacant for more than two years. But Senator Reid has a point: a lot of cases will end up in tied votes if the vacancy remains unfilled. But given that President Obama may well nominate a left-wing extremist, the Senate obviously would have a difficult time confirming someone whose views are so contrary to theirs. It will be very interesting

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Our long election campaigns

People have been pointing out that Canada, for example, has much shorter campaigns than the United States; for example, the most recent election campaign that made Justin Trudeau Prime Minister was 11 weeks long, and people complained that this was too long! But they are comparing apples and oranges. In countries like Canada, with parliamentary systems, everyone knows who the candidates for Prime Minister will be — a party has a recognized leader. Our long campaigns are a result of the fact that we first have to choose the candidates who will run for President. Yes, Ted Cruz filed over a year and a half before the election, but this was as a candidate for the Republican nomination, not for the actual election this coming November. Justin Trudeau became leader of the Liberal Party on April 14, 2013, winning on the first ballot with nearly 80% of the vote. So in effect he has been able to define himself as the Liberal candidate since that time. The Republican and Democratic candidates for the presidency will be officially chosen this summer. This makes a difference. One can really say that Trudeau's campaign for the Prime Ministership began in 2013 and lasted until October 19, 2015, when Trudeau's Liberals defeated Stephen Harper's Conservatives — about 2½ years. This compares with about three months that our candidates for the Presidency (whoever they will be; Hillary Clinton probably for the Democrats, but who knows for the Republicans?) will have after the conventions. Now whose campaigns are longer?

Friday, February 12, 2016

It's now down to six

It starfted with 17 candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination. Now there are only 6: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, and John Kasich. Of course, if you've read my earlier posts, you know I prefer Kasich among those six. But I could support anyone but Cruz if he were the nominee. I prefer that it not be Trump (who has a limited knowledge of what the Constitution says a President can do) or Carson (who, with Trump, has little relevant experience, though I think he'd make an excellent chair of a task force studying how to replace Obamacare). Jeb Bush is, as that CNN questionnaire I took showed, quite close to me on the issues; I'd think he'd make a good President, but I'm afraid that many whose opinion of his brother's Presidency is poor would not vote for him, so my only objection to Jeb Bush is electability. Rubio is somewhat more conservative than I'd prefer. However, he's still within the bounds of acceptability. And running against either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, of course Rubio would get my vote: both of those prospective Democratic nominees are far further to my left than Rubio is to my right.

That is my current take on this election.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Christie withdraws… I'm sorry to say, but…

Chris Christie has withdrawn from the race for the 2016 Republican nomination. It's sad to see this — I thought he was really the best choice, but John Kasich finished very strongly in the New Hampshire primary and the two candidates appealed to a lot of the same voters, I'm sure, as they did to me. So faced with having to vote for one, they settled on Kasich.

And if you look at the three Governors, Kasich, Christie, and Jeb Bush, they got as many votes combined as Donald Trump, the winner. If the people who want an experienced candidate, as I do, unite behind a single candidate, Kasich is a good choice, and could well win the nomination.

Another candidate who also withdrew was Carly Fiorina. I thought she was a promising choice, but needed some political experience. If she had won the California Senate race a few years ago, she might well have been my choice for President this year. But I think she's still a voice that should be heard in the future: perhaps a Cabinet post or the Vice-Presidency.

Monday, February 08, 2016

It isn't an "either-or" choice!

This past Saturday, there was a debate in New Hampshire among the candidates for the Republican nomination for the Presidency. And the most talked-about exchange was between Chris Christie and Marco Rubio.

Now as I've said before, Christie is among my favorite candidates for the nomination, while Rubio is the one that looks like the actual winner. So I'm a bit uncomfortable with such a degree of hostilities between them; should Rubio actually get the nomination, I should hope that Christie could support him against the far worse candidate (probably Hillary Clinton) that the Democrats will nominate. But the gist of the exchange was that (according to Christie) Rubio's short experience in the Senate — comparable to Barack Obama's when he first ran eight years ago — is insufficient preparation for the Presidency. And Rubio's retort was that Obama's failure is not from inexperience, but that there is a “fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing.”

Well, in my estimation, it is not an either-or choice. Obama's inexperience has led to many problems in the past seven years or so, thus Christie is right in pointing to Obama's election and saying, “What we need to have in this country is not to make the same mistake we made eight years ago.” But Obama has chosen a direction for this country that is contrary to its best interests, as Rubio has implied.

So both Christie and Rubio have valid points to make. And we should recognize this.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

According to CNN, I agree most with Jeb Bush!

There is a page on CNN's site called the Election Candidate Matchmaker. You answer a series of questions, and it finds the candidate whose positions are closest to your own. I took the quiz, and was interested to see that the candidate it picked out for me was Jeb Bush. Not too bad a choice, but a little surprising. I was a little happier with its 2nd choice for me, which was Chris Christie. But the third was Donald Trump, a big surprise. But I guess it is clear, my opposition to Trump is not based on his positions on the issues. I think he is not acquainted with the limitations imposed on the Presidency by the Constitution, and his manner is unbecoming to a President. And this is why, unlike my wife (who is so opposed to Trump to the point that she could never vote for him against anyone being discussed) I am more willing to accept Trump than some other politicians. In particular, we've discussed a Trump vs. Hillary Clinton matchup, and though she mistrusts Clinton, she would vote for her over Trump. I would vote for Trump over Clinton, because he would at least take the country more in a direction I favor than she would.

The page only gives the top three matches; it doesn't rank them all. So it doesn't put John Kasich in a rank that I could find. And yet I like him about as much as Christie. I wonder where we differ most.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Nothing much has changed, but...

More and more, it looks as though the Republican nominee will be Marco Rubio. That at least two former candidates who have dropped out, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal, have specifically endorsed Rubio (though, from my point of view, Santorum's support is a negative!) shows that Rubio is collecting support in the way he needs to be nominated.

But this is really what I've been thinking for some time, and most recently stated in a post a few days ago. While I would prefer to see Chris Christie or John Kasich, I can certainly back Rubio if he is the nominee. And so nothing is really any different. There isn't much more to post about this election.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Montel Williams' post on John Kasich

On Fox News' site, dated yesterday, is a post by Montel Williams entitled “John Kasich is the only GOP candidate who can unite America.” It makes interesting reading.

In it, among other things, Williams says, “I don’t agree with John Kasich on everything.” And I don’t agree with Montel Williams on everything either. In fact, I don't think Kasich is the only good choice. But the column is worth reading, and it points out why Kasich is a much better choice for the Republicans than Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. And in fact, Williams doesn't say in his column what he has against any of the other candidates besides those two, so it isn't clear why he says Kasich is the only one.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Mike Bloomberg

The Wall Street Journal has an article dated February 3 entitled “Why Mike Bloomberg Can Win,” by Douglas E. Schoen. It makes the case that the Republican Party has moved so far to the right, and the Democratic Party so far to the left, that Bloomberg, running as an independent, could win. I admit that if the Republicans nominate Ted Cruz they would lose my vote, and Bloomberg would get it if he ran. However, against any other Republican now running (since both Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have withdrawn) I could not support Bloomberg, in part because our electoral system is so biased against third parties and independents that I do not give him a chance, unlike Schoen.

But Bloomberg is an attractive candidate. He certainly did a good job as Mayor of New York, extending the accomplishments of Rudy Giuliani, who in fact recruited him. I'd rather see Bloomberg as president than anyone the Democrats could come up with. And although I would probably still vote for Trump or Rubio against Clinton or Sanders even if Bloomberg were in the race, I think in some ways I'd actually prefer Bloomberg. But unless Cruz is the nominee and I vote third party/independent in protest, I can't see leaving the Republican fold this year — the real task is to defeat the Democrats, and unlike Schoen, I hardly believe Bloomberg can win.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Is Ted Cruz ineligible for the Presidency?

An argument has been made that since Ted Cruz was born in Canada (of an American mother and a Cuban father) he is not a “natural born citizen,” and therefore ineligible under Article II of the United States Constitution for the Presidency. This question was addressed at some length by Daniel Jack Williamson, whose “Buckeye RINO” blog always makes interesting reading, whether I agree or not with his positions.

The key to the discussion is the provision in the United States Constitution, in Section 1 of Article II, which spells out the eligibility of presidential candidates:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

The problem is that the Constitution never defines “natural born citizen.” It is true that Congress passed, in 1790, the Naturalization Act, which contains the following passage:

And the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States […]

Under the terms of this statute, Senator Cruz is demonstrably a citizen of the United States. His Cuban-born father did reside in the United States for a few years in advance of Ted Cruz’s birth in Canada. But what does the phrase “shall be considered as natural born citizens” mean? If it were “are natural born citizens,” this would settle the question, or so it would seem. However there is even an ambiguity there. Does Congress, after the fact, have the right to change the meaning of a passage in the Constitution (other than by amendment, which requires a two thirds vote and ratification by three fourths of the States)? Actually, the key there is whether this is a change. I would maintain that, since the Constitution does not have a definition of “natural born citizen,” Congress is acting within its rights, merely clarifying the Constitution's specification of eligibility. But, as Williamson points out, “shall be considered as natural born citizens” is not the same as “are natural born citizens.”

But why say “shall be considered as” rather than “are?” If the statute were to read, “And the children of citizens of the United States … are natural born citizens,” then no question would remain about Cruz’s eligibility. But “shall be considered as” might signify that a person in such circumstances is naturalized at birth, not needing to follow the same processes of naturalization that others born off of U.S. soil must go through, but it still falls under the auspices of naturalization law. Does this statute create a “naturalized at birth” citizen separate from a “natural born” citizen, with the one being “considered as” the other? Is there a distinction there? Or does “shall be considered as” equal to “are,” relegating the concept of “naturalized at birth,” in an instance such as this, to mythology?

In fact, this is a question that could only be settled by the Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court never gives advisory opinions. A court case would have to be raised, and this could only take place after Cruz were nominated and elected, because the Court does not rule on hypotheticals. This in turn raises a question: who would raise a case? Some might say the Democrats. But in that situation, even if Cruz were ruled ineligible, this would simply make his vice-presidential nominee the President — not a very satisfactory outcome for a Democrat!

In any case, even if a Court case were to be set up, what would the Court do? Remember that in 2012 the Supreme Court (in the case Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida) upheld the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, because the Constitution gives Congress the right to levy taxes, even though the Adminstration maintained that the penalty was not a tax.

Chief Justice Roberts went on to say that the penalty for failing to carry insurance met the criteria for a tax. Because of the court's duty to defer to the elected branches when possible, the mandate must be upheld, he wrote.

Neither the label of "penalty" nor the fact it was intended to influence behavior mattered, he wrote. The penalty functioned like a tax—and other taxes, such as those on cigarettes, are enacted principally to create incentives rather than raise revenue, he said.

Note the words “the court's duty to defer to the elected branches when possible.” I believe that in a challenge to ine eligibility of Ted Cruz, Congress's right to define “natural born citizen” would be upheld. So the question of Cruz's ineligibility is really a non-starter.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Sorry for my absence

I haven't been posting here for a few months, in part because of my own life's being complicated (including a surgery and more than a month in a rehabilitation facility), and in part because I do not know what to make of the large support being gathered, according to the polls, by Donald J. Trump in his candidacy for the Presidency. I see him as a very poor choice, though if he is nominated against Hillary Clinton he will get my vote in November, mostly because his direction for the country is closer than hers to what I would like to see. He has no political experience (which his supporters see as a positive! and seems not to understand the Constitution (based on some of his proposals), and thus I see him as really poorly qualified for the office of the Presidency. I certainly would prefer Chris Christie or John Kasich.

However, the Iowa caucus just completed inspired me to resume posting. I was, on the one hand, glad to see Trump receive a lot less support than the polls indicated, though, on the other hand, not very happy that the man who beat him was Ted Cruz, who I like even less than Trump. Yet Cruz' victory is not a big surprise. Iowa seems to be very hospitable to the religious Right; in the two most recent previous elections it gave its support to Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.

I do not, however, expect Cruz to be the nominee, any more than were Huckabee and Santorum. For some time, I have been predicting that the eventual nominee would be Marco Rubio. And Rubio's near-tie with Trump for second place makes me even more convinced that this will be the outcome in the end. And while Rubio is not my first or second choice (or even my third or fourth!) I see him as certainly a nominee I can live with.

But New Hampshire may tell a different story next week. We will have to see.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ben Carson, Sharia, Kim Davis, the Bible, and the Constitution

First, Ben Carson said he does not believe a Muslim should be President. Subsequently he backtracked, saying he “can support a Muslim who denounces Sharia law.” Apparently, his professed belief is that the Constitution and Sharia are incompatible, and this is his basis. And of course, he has some supporters in this belief, such as Rush Limbaugh. But in fact there are disagreements among Muslims as to what Sharia actually calls for.

If Carson would quit at the point where he said that only a Muslim who is willing to govern according to the Constitution of the United States is qualified to be President, I would agree. And some of what he says is of that nature. Just as I feel that Kim Davis forfeited her ability to serve when she let her religious beliefs trump the Constitution, so would a Muslim who held that he had to observe some aspect of Sharia that contradicted our Constitution forfeit his right to serve. Yet many of the people who applaud Kim Davis's actions agree with Carson's statement — and these are totally inconsistent!

The Constitution clearly states that “…all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Clearly a Muslim who supports the Constitution has a right to serve, and a Muslim who places Sharia above the Constitution does not. Similarly, a Christian who supports the Constitution has a right to serve, and a Christian who places the Christian Bible above the Constitution does not. The two are opposite sides of the same coin.

One person who sees this clearly is, of course, Mitt Romney, a member of a minority religion which has also been condemned by certain people. And his comment is well called-for, as has the comment by one of the current candidates, Rand Paul. I'm glad to see these two prominent Republicans speak up.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Returning to posting

I haven't posted much for a while, because I was hoping that the Republican candidates' standings would coalesce about something reasonable. It is still astonishing that Donald Trump maintains so much support, though he is also opposed by so many that I doubt that he will actually get the nomination. But right now, nobody else seems to be emerging as a plausible candidate.

There is a strong freeling that a non-politician should be nominated. Besides Trump, the names that show highest in a lot of polls are Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. I don't agree with this idea — I think (as was enunciated by Scott Walker in a recent debate) that “we don't need an apprentice in the White House” — although he was specifically talking of Trump, it really applies to all the non-politician candidates.

Although Walker himself has dropped out, it seems (How the mighty have fallen! Just a few months ago he was at or near the top in many polls.), there are other governors who might make good Presidents: I've written favorably of Chris Christie and John Kasich, but I could easily see Jeb Bush as a good choice, too. But if we must have a non-politician, the best of the lot seems to be Fiorina. In debates and interviews, she has shown that she does her homework. If there's an area which her background does not provide her with the knowledge, she studies it. She wouldn't be my first choice as a presidential candidate, but she's the best of the ones who do not have what I consider the necessary experience.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Comments on Thursday's debate

First of all, I have to confess that I did not watch the debate. I do not, these days, like to stay up late, and I decided to spend my evening going early to bed. So these comments are based, not on observation of the debate itself but on others' comments on the debate.

The consensus was that three of the candidates helped their cause. Of the candidates considered “major,” the winner seems to have been Marco Rubio; however John Kasich seems to won a new-found attention (about which I am, of course, very happy, as can be evinced by my comments of a few days ago), and one candidate who was not even in the main event, Carly Fiorina, has impressed a lot of people. In addition, my actual favorite (though Kasich is becoming something of a “co-favorite”), Chris Christie, seems to have done well. And the beginning of Donald Trump's fall from the top seems to have occurred.

Since Christie and Kasich appear to have both improved their positions and Trump has hurt his own, I think the debate has helped in the struggle to winnow down the candidates. Such candidates I really dislike as Mike Huckabee do not seem to have changed anyone's opinion, which on balance is probably good. So all in all, I'm happy. But the biggest surprise is Carly Fiorina. As I've said, the biggest flaw I see in her is a lack of political experience, but after this debate, it seems she is being considered more seriously. To me, she and Ben Carson form a matched pair — brilliant exemplars of what they are good at, but simply not experienced in the specific needs of political leaders. But their performances were dead opposite in this debate. Fiorina has made people wish she had been in the main debate; Carson has prompted comments as to why he was on the debate stage at all.

Before the debate, I was of the opinion that Scott Walker was the eventual nominee, and I could certainly support him in November 2016 if he were the nominee, though Christie and/or Kasich ranked much higher in my preference list. Now I'm not so sure. I'm more optimistic about the chances of my two favorites, less certain that Walker will pull it out, but even less certain that if it's not Walker, it'll be Jeb Bush. Both Walker and Bush seem to have turned in disappointing performances. But what will happen next? Will Fiorina move into the top ten? Will Trump decide he's an independent and quit running for the Republican nomination? (This would scare me a bit, because it could take just enough votes from the actual Republican candidate to throw the election to Hillary Clinton.) I guess all I can do is wait and see.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Going into the big debate

In a couple of days, the first big debate of the 2016 Presidential campaign will take place. And this time around, more controversy has been attached to the question of who will participate than what will be discussed, because the networks have decided that there is room for only 10 candidates, and already 17 have announced. We've never seen anything like this crowd before. But I breathed a sigh of relief to see that both Chris Christie and John Kasich will qualify, because I think these two are the best choices of all.

Of course, polls now show Donald Trump, who is not really a serious candidate but, as most sensible people rightly have noted, not much more than a clown whose knowledge of the powers and duties of the Presidency is negligible (as shown by his statements!), in the lead. But in previous campaigns, equally big leads have been shown by such candidates as Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain — whose nomination would have been disasters — and Rudy Giuliani, who I would have liked to see nominated. None of those four lasted when the actual primaries began to winnow the candidates down. I am sure the same will happen to Trump.

Hopefully, either Kasich, whose greatest handicap is that he is unknown to most non-Ohioans, will show people his value in this debate, or Christie will show people why he was for a while the favored candidate. Or even both. In any case, I can't see Trump improving his standing among the people who have already dismissed him as not a serious candidate; and most Republicans already have an unfavorable view of him. It is simply that everyone else is splitting the vote of those who want a serious and well-qualified candidate.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

An interesting discussion

It is so nice when you can argue with somebody on the basis of their principles without compromising your own beliefs. Such a discussion happened this afternoon.

My wife and I were sitting at a long table in the café area of a supermarket (with a Starbucks inside, so the café was jointly used for both sets of customers), and a woman sitting a couple of seat-lengths away started a conversation.

She began by asking whether we were Christians, to which both of us replied in the negative; then “Are you Jewish?” getting this time a “Yes” from both of us. She then went on to say that her mother was Jewish, but she now “follows Christ.” To which I simply responded, “We don't.”

At this point I expected to get a long sermon on why one should follow Jesus' teachings, but fortunatey this did not happen. Instead the next thing that came from her mouth was “What do you think of all these homosexual laws?” Obviously that, rather than a defense of Christianity, was her main point. And I simply answered “Well, they deserve their rights.” Her response was “God created men and women.” And this really totally opened up the discussion to my own answer, which she, obviously, had no basis to refute: “God created, among all of us, those homosexuals you don't seem to like.” She was simply reduced to “If that's what you believe…” — and she fell silent.

I was actually expecting her to make some remarks about the Book of Leviticus — in which case I would point out that she probably violates a lot of those commandments too, like eating pork — But from this point on she had nothing more to say.

Basically, I believe there are two sorts of commandments: those that are universal, like those directing us to be ethical towards our fellow humans, and those for a specific time and place. God (or His prophets) could not tell a people who had neither clocks nor thermometers that they needed to cook pork at at least some minimum temperature for at least some minimum time, so He simply said not to ever eat it. And the anti-homosexual commandment — like the one against “spilling one's seed” — was in the same context as “Be fruitful and multiply” — to ensure that the Jewish population would grow in a world which was underpopulated. So I don't think God meant those commandments to be universal. I didn't, however, need to go into these principles in this discussion.

All in all, an interesting discussion.