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Russia Investigation

31 Mar

Last year, during the election there were reports that Russia was trying to interfere with our election.  While President Trump has denied there is link between him and Russia during the election, some of the people around him are under investigation for talking to the Russians before the election.  The investigation has hit a road block in the House of Representatives but it is going forward in the FBI as well as the U.S. Senate.  My hope is that the Democrats and Republicans pursue this and find out what happened in our election last year.

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was forced to resign recently after only several weeks on the job.  It was revealed that he had spoken to Sergey Kislyak around the time the Obama administration put sanctions on Russia because of their interference in the 2016 election.  Michael Flynn lied about it and was forced to resign.  He has since agreed to testify in exchange for immunity.  The President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner also spoke with Sergey Kislyak before Trump became our president.

The U.S. House Intelligence committee were looking into connections between the Trump administration and Russia.  That changed when Intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes rushed to defend Donald Trump and cancelled hearings this week.  Since congressman Nunes seems to be covering for Trump instead of investigating, Nunes should recusal himself and resign from congress if he is covering up a crime.  Attorney general Jeff Sessions has already recused himself from the FBI Russian investigation because of his contacts with the Russians before the Trump Administration took office.

I think President Trump had contacts with the Russians before the election and collaborated with them.  This would be considered Treason at the very least.  I am basing this on information we know already.  I do not make these charges lightly and I would like a full investigation to find out what happened.  The FBI and U.S. Senate are currently running investigations between Trump and the U.S. election last year.  We don’t know what all of the facts are so we need to find out so that we know what happened in the last election.

The Home Stretch

31 Oct

We are in the home stretch of the presidential election.  The candidates are making their final arguments to the voters and early voting is happening as we speak.  This election is important, but also a disappointing one.  With less than two weeks until the general election we have two most unpopular candidates in modern history.  In this presidential race we have reached the bottom.

In the beginning of the month an old tape of Donald Trump was released where he admitted to sexual harassment at the very least and sexual assault at worst.  The Access Hollywood tape has effectively ended the presidential race.  Republicans have finally condemned him and some have rescinded their condemnation of him.  The damage has been done.  After he got the nomination I thought that he had a slim chance of winning because of his tendency to act like a toddler.  The Access Hollywood tape has put his campaign in jeopardy and may even put the House Republican majority in jeopardy.

Republicans running for the House and Senate are in a bind.  Congressmen Joe Heck of Nevada is running for the U.S. Senate in Nevada.  His previous support for Trump may cost the Republicans a chance at picking up a senate seat.  Some Republicans are at risk of losing support if they abandon Trump.  What you are seeing happening right now is exactly what Republican insiders were afraid of when Trump announced his run last year.  He is damaging Republicans down ticket.

After the 2012 election the Republicans did an analysis on why they lost.  Although Romney won a high percentage of the white vote he lost women and Hispanics which cost Romney the election.  The Republican Party vowed change to appeal to more voters, but nominating Trump has done the opposite.  Trump is on track to get a lower vote of Hispanics than Romney did and Trump’s comments on women will cause him to lose a majority of the female vote.  The Republican establishment wanted to pass an immigration bill but they were unable to get it through the House of Representatives because Tea Party Republicans objected to it.

What happens after the election is somewhat uncertain.  If Trump loses (which he likely will) he will leave the Republican Party in ruins.  Trump’s supporters will probably blame a rigged system as well as the base of the Republican Party for not supporting Trump.  The Republican base will blame Trump and rightfully so for blowing a winnable election.  None of this had to happen.  If the Republicans nominated John Kasich or almost any other Republican candidate they would be leading Hillary Clinton.  The Republican Party will need to quell the talks of the election being rigged.

I will close my final blog before the election with this.  Please vote.  It is one of the most important things you can do as a citizen.  Go to www.ballotready.org and research candidates positions on the election and find your polling place.

Return of the Moderates?

28 Aug

Beginning with the 2010 primaries, some moderate Republicans lost to their Tea Party opponents.  Some Tea Party candidates won the general election that year but many in the U.S. Senate elections lost.  In 2012 Tea Party candidates again cost Republicans the chance to take back the Senate.  In 2014 the Republicans either marginalized their extremists, or had some of their candidates hide their previous views.  They won back the Senate that year.  This doesn’t mean the Tea Party is done for but they are still being marginalized and sometimes rejected from their own party.

The Republican Party has an identity crisis.  Part of the party still wants to pass immigration reform while the other part of the party wants to deport all immigrants.  Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for President because of the anti-immigration part of the Republican Party.  Republican insiders are panicked because they know that pissing off the Hispanic population is a recipe for disaster in a national election.  (Just ask Mitt Romney and Sharon Angle)  If the Republicans lose in a landslide in November the party leaders will get the message but some in their party will continue to be opposed to immigration reform.

Utah Senator Mike Lee took a hit in the polls for supporting the 2013 government shutdown.  He has since joined with Democrats to fight for a Criminal justice reform bill.  Mike Lee’s change in tone was somewhat of a surprise, but some of the most surprising political news came in an election primary in the state of Kansas recently.  One of the most Conservative members of congress Tim Huelskamp lost his primary in Kansas by 16 points.  He clashed with John Boehner when Boehner was the Speaker.  Boehner removed him from the Agriculture Committee which is a crucial committee to be on when you represent a rural state like Kansas.  His inability to work with either party was his downfall.  One voter outlined why he voted against Huelskamp in the primary.  “Getting kicked off the Agricultural Committee is a crime that can’t be forgiven.  I don’t mind the independent voice, but you’ve got to figure out how to work with people.  (NY times “Tim Huelskanp, Anti-Establishment House Republican, Loses Primary in Kansas.”)

Congressman Tim Huelskamp lost in a wave election in Kansas that ousted conservatives across the state.  Kansas governor Sam Brownback has caused massive budget problems for his state, and has endangered some Kansas Republicans in the process.  Last election cycle, an independent came within striking distance of winning one of the two U.S. Senate seats.  Brownback was lucky to get re-elected in 2014.  Governor Brownback’s budget cuts could cause permanent damage to his party in Kansas.

Elections have consequences.  Kansas has already seen some of that.  I don’t know what will happen in the election this year but the Republicans are worried about Donald Trump’s impact on congressional senate races.  In a way they are in a lose-lose situation.  If Trump wins he could cause permanent damage to the party if he loses he could cost them control of the U.S. Senate.

 

  1. New York Times, “Tim Huelskamp, Anti-Establishment House Republican, Loses Primary in Kansas.”http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/03/us/politics/tim-huelskamp-roger-marshall-kansas-primary.html?_r=0

Faux Patriots

31 Jul

The DNC and RNC conventions were the past two weeks.  We saw hope and optimism from the Democrats and more fear-mongering from Republicans.  How did we get to this?  We used to have two different but sensible political parties.  Shutdowns or threat of a government shutdown use to be almost non-existent.  Now they are the norm.  The Republican Party values use to be small government, limited to non- intervention in foreign wars, and prided itself on being a big tent party.  Those days are long gone.

I am a Democrat.  I have voted for Democratic candidates in pretty much every election.  I have never been a Republican but there used to be people in the Republican Party I respected.  Most of the Republicans I respected have either left the party or lost reelection.  The Republicans had people who stood for Civil Rights like Senators Everett Dirksen and Nelson Rockefeller.  Now they have politicians like Senator Jeff Sessions and congressman Steve King who………

Fear mongering and hate have taken over the Republican Party and this began before Donald Trump officially became their party’s nominee for president last week.  After the Civil Rights Act passed, the Republicans used the Southern Strategy (which is?) to take back the south.  Fear and hatred were used to rile up people when talking about immigration.  The RNC convention in particular last week seemed free of any facts.  Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the country and build a wall along the southern border.  Discouraging immigration is not patriotic, it is denying who we are as a country.

The Republicans have embraced Trump as their nominee and are denying what this country is made from.  The United States was founded to escape religious intolerance and we were built by immigrants.   We keep hearing Republicans refer to “real Americans” and say that they want to take their country back.  Oh, back to where or from whom?  The ideals of America don’t come from a small group of people; they come from everyone in the country and the Constitution from which it was designed. Fareed Zakaria referred to this on his show when he said about Conservatives,

 

They are misty-eyed in their devotion to a distant republic of myth and memory and yet they are passionate in their dislike of the messy, multiracial, capitalist-and-welfare-state democracy that America actually has been for half a century – a fifth of this country’s history. At some point, will they come to realize that you cannot love America in theory and hate it in fact?

 

I think it is time for Republicans to realize that American and Americans have changed.  If they are unable to realize this, then hopefully they will in November.

 

  1.  Zakaria: Can Conservatives love ‘real america’

http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/10/21/zakaria-can-conservatives-love-real-america/

Dirty Campaigning

31 Mar

There have been few if any clean election campaigns. Thomas Jefferson once called John Adams a hermaphrodite (look it up).  Many people remember President Lyndon Johnson’s infamous daisy ad or George W. Bush’s Swiftboat ads against Senator Kerry.  Dirty or negative campaigning has been going on for some time.  Recently though, we have been digging further to the bottom.

This year’s presidential race is now down to 5 candidates. All of the candidates have been attacking each other but one feud has gotten particularly ugly and that is between Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.  It started before the Iowa caucuses when Trump went after Cruz to try to close the gap between them in the caucuses.  Recently it has escalated over each other’s wives.  I think that as long as the candidates significant others don’t make overwhelmingly controversial statements, they should be off-limits.

I understand why Ted Cruz is upset but he is certainly the wrong person giving the message. Senator Cruz hasn’t done much in the Senate besides obstruct and be a demagogue.  He accused former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel of getting money from North Korea without providing the slightest bit of evidence.  Before the Iowa Caucuses’ Senator Cruz spread rumors that Ben Carson had dropped out.  He also sent out a borderline illegal letter to voters in Iowa impersonating the Secretary of State’s office in Iowa.  The Republican primary race has devolved further since then.

Donald Trump’s supporters and rallies are worse than Trump himself has acted. People are being kicked out of rallies for doing nothing other than being different.  Trump’s rallies have become even worse over time.  Some of his recent rallies include people getting kicked out for protesting.  There have been outbreaks of violence by his supporters and even his campaign manager.  That is not how campaign rallies are suppose to happen.

Donald Trump is doing next to nothing to quell the violence in his rallies. He is even encouraging violence at his rallies.  Trump’s opponents have been calling him out on this.  I don’t blame a candidate for all of their supporters but it is the candidates’ job to tone down the rhetoric.  On the Democratic side there have been disagreements on approach and policy, but nothing compared to the rhetoric on the Republican side.

I mentioned in my previous blog post that Donald Trump has been able to get this far partially because of the racism that exists in the Republican Party. In some ways it goes beyond that.  In 2008 we saw the birth of the Tea Party (yes, you read that correctly).  At Sarah Palin’s rallies, she would say, “What do we know about the real Barack Obama?”  People in the crowd shouted, “Terrorist, kill him!”  Sarah Palin stood there and smiled.  Senator McCain quelled some of the anger at their rallies.  It was from those rallies that the Tea Party were born.

Right now there are three candidates running for president on the Republican side. Two out of the three have most of the Tea Party support.  Donald Trump’s rhetoric matches what the Tea Party have said in the past.  In the last presidential election the Tea Party candidates lost.  They are making a comeback in the Republican primaries with a disastrous effect on their party.  The Tea Party cost the Republicans control of congress in 2010 and 2012.  This time it could cost them the presidency and control of the Senate.  Donald Trump is the current front runner for the Republican nomination for president.  As bad as he is for the Republican Party he is worse for the country.  I have no confidence in Donald Trump’s temperament as a candidate, because judging by the way Trump runs his campaign rallies; he’s not fit to run our country.

2008 Presidential Election

31 Jul

The 2008 election was what some thought the 2004 election would be.  A push for higher voter turnout resulted in what was one of the highest U.S. election turnouts in recent history.  The country was ready for a change in direction.  The 2006 election showed voter dismay over the Iraq War as well as how the Republicans were running the country.  The 2008 election became an exclamation point on the 2006 election.

I didn’t know what to expect for the 2008 election.  In 2007 I discussed with some people what the 2008 race could bring.  We talked about how the Democrats had a realistic shot winning back the White House for the first time in 8 years.  I had some skepticism, as I have with almost every election.  The other part of the conversation was who could take on Hilary Clinton in the primary.  The Democratic primary the following year would end up being just that, Hilary Clinton vs. who?

By the fall of 2007 most people assumed that Hilary Clinton would easily win the Democratic nomination for President of The United States.  Then Senator Barack Obama was trailing her by double digits.  I told people that although she was poised to win the Democratic nomination she was by no means certain to win.  I didn’t know what was going to happen in the 2008 primary fight but I knew that almost anything was possible.  She was formidable, but I didn’t think it would be a blow out like some presidential primaries.

The Republican primaries were somewhat murky.  Rudy Giuliani was the early front-runner, but history showed that John McCain would win the nomination.  The Republicans usually go with the logical successor, i.e. Dole in 1996.  Giuliani ended up going nowhere and Super Tuesday ended with McCain leading his rivals with Romney and Huckabee still in the race.  Mitt Romney dropped out of the race leaving McCain and Huckabee as the last contenders in the Republican primary, with Ron Paul well behind in the delegates.  Mike Huckabee dropped out after Senator John McCain sealed enough delegates to win the nomination.

The Democratic primaries were clearer from beginning to end.  Before the primaries began it was a Clinton/Obama race and it ended that way.  The Democratic primaries were a three-horse race between Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards.  After Edwards dropped out the momentum went towards Obama until he secured enough delegates towards the end of the primary season.  The contentious primary between Clinton and Obama brought questions as to whether the party could recover by November.  I was concerned, but Hilary didn’t put up a fight at the convention and campaigned for Obama.

The tough primary helped prepare Obama for the general election against Senator John McCain.  Although McCain had won the primary, his party had doubts of his conservative credentials.  His advisers wanted him to pick a running mate who could energize the base, so he picked the then unknown Governor Sarah Palin from Alaska.  His pick initially gave his campaign a much needed boost.  After the convention McCain briefly led in the polls.  That faded when Sarah Palin had several disastrous TV interviews.

John McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin cost him a shot at winning the election.  I still don’t think he would have won if he had picked someone else.  After the financial crisis hit the country Obama was poised to win big.  McCain was further hampered by the damage that President Bush did to the Republican brand.  McCain’s campaign went negative which did nothing to help his struggling campaign.  On Election Night Obama won in a landslide both electorally and by popular vote.

I was in Whitewater on Election Day trying to get out the vote for President Obama.  By the end of the day I was exhausted and ready for the election to end.  I watched the returns in the University Center with some of my friends.  I was watching with the UW-Whitewater BSU (Black Student Union) when then-Senator Obama was announced to be the projected winner.  Tears were streaming down faces in the room.  History was made that night.  A country which once had slaves and segregation elected the first African-American president.  I doubt I will ever see an election as amazing as the 2008 election ever again.

2014 Election Review

30 Nov

The 2014 Midterm elections have come and gone.  The Republicans have re-gained control of congress after taking the senate.  They also picked up several governors races across the country.  What does this mean?  As with many elections, we won’t know everything from this election for a while.

Leading up to the election many people predicted that the Democrats would lose the senate, but only give the Republicans a narrow majority.  Many of the polls were wrong.  Republicans were projected to lose senate races in North Carolina and Kansas.  They won both seats.  They were also projected to lose governors races in Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Florida, and Kansas and they won all of them.  Polling numbers aren’t always reliable, but they are still one of the best indicators on how an election will turn out.  It has been said over and over again by many people, “The only poll that matters is on election day.”

One of the first things to look at to understand the results would be the voter turnout.  The turnout was way down this election from previous elections.  Turnout fluctuates every election, with the midterm elections drawing smaller groups of people going to the polls.  Here is a list of turnout numbers from recent years.

2004- 60.1%

2006- 47.8%

2008- 61.6%

2010- 40.9%

2012- 58.2%

The turnout for this year’s election was 36.4%.  That is low even by midterm election standards.  I have spent every election year that I have been eligible to vote, trying to convince more people to get out and vote.  It is sad to (say the least) that such a small amount of people came out to vote in this election.  I think one of the reasons the turnout was so low was because there was no enthusiasm about either party.  Another reason so few people came to the polls were because many candidates didn’t run on any issues.  They ran on mostly feelings and the Democrats were too busy running away from President Obama rather than standing up for what they believe in.

One of the most bizarre things that came out of this election were the conflicting results.  The Republicans made gains in the house and the Senate, but the voters approved ballot measures supported by Democrats.  Things like the minimum wage, and legalization of Marijuana passed in several states, even as voters elected Republicans in some of those same states.

The next election is two years from now, and the process for that election is already underway.  By March of next year, we will likely know some of the people running.  Hilary Clinton will likely announce in the beginning of the year.  We can’t predict what will happen in 2016 by looking at the 2014 election.  (In 2011 some Republicans said that President Obama was toast in 2012)  What the Democratic Party needs to do before the next election is motivate their base.  If the Republicans want to win back the White House they need to show people they can govern and pass immigration reform.

So, to recap the results the winners in this election are Republicans.  (Specifically moderate Republicans)  The losers are the Tea Party and the Democrats.  I say the Tea Party are the losers because in most of the primaries the Tea Party candidate lost.  Even in Conservative Mississippi the Tea Party lost.  If the Tea Party candidates had won primaries like previous elections the Republicans might not have taken the Senate.

The Democrats still have an easier road to the White House in 2016 when you look at the electoral map.  The Senate map will also be better for the Democrats in 2016.  Out of all of the Senate races, Democrats have 1 or 2 competitive seats that they will have to defend.  The Republicans have at least 7 senate seats that will be competitive.  Control of the senate in two years could depend on what happens in congress in the next two years, and who is elected president.  We will have to wait and see.

Voter turnout by year was taken from the following sources

1. Time: Voter Turnout in Midterm Election Hits 72-year low

http://time.com/3576090/midterm-elections-turnout-world-war-two/

2. U.S. Census.gov report

http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/p20-557.pdf

3.http://www.electproject.org/national-1789-present