Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Trump Angry That Allies Admit He Lost the Debate

You don't have to be in the Clinton camp to recognize the obvious, i.e. that Donald Trump tanked badly in the first debate.  Even Trump allies admit that the New York businessman was trounced badly by the much better prepared Hillary Clinton.  Admitting the (obvious) truth though makes the Donald very mad.  CNN reports:  
Donald Trump is angry that his aides and advisers have conceded to reporters -- largely without attribution -- that the Republican nominee struggled in his first presidential debate.
In a conference call with surrogates Wednesday afternoon, Trump aides made clear the Republican nominee is upset that his allies publicly acknowledged they pushed him to change his preparation and tactics before his next bout with Hillary Clinton. And he wants them to stop it immediately.
The message was "not subtle," a source familiar with the call said.  
Trump wants his supporters to make an energetic defense of his performance and refuse to concede that he didn't nail it.
As if his bungled debate effort wasn't enough, Trump went on Fox and Friends the next day and criticized Miss Universe Alicia Machado for gaining weight during her reign:
During Monday night's presidential debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton referenced Miss Universe Alicia Machado's claim that Republican nominee Donald Trump called her "Miss Piggy" when she gained weight. Trump revisited the topic on Tuesday morning when he spoke in depth about the 1996 Miss Universe on "Fox and Friends."  
In the debate, Trump repeatedly challenged Clinton over where she had heard that, then dismissed Clinton's comment that Machado would vote for her with "OK, good."
Trump told "Fox and Friends" it was a "real problem" when Machado gained significant weight after winning the pageant he then owned. He added that Machado was "the worst we ever had. The worst. The absolute worst. She was impossible."  
"She was the winner, and she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem... not only that, her attitude," Trump said. "And Hillary went back into the years and... found the girl and talked about her like she was Mother Teresa, and it wasn't quite that way, but that's OK. Hillary has to do what she has to do."
I'm no expert on women, but I'm pretty sure that criticizing a woman for her weight gain is not a way to win female supporters.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Trump v. Clinton: What to Expect from the Debate

As the national polls suggest that the Trump-Clinton race is deadlocked, and Clinton has only a narrow lead in several key battleground states, the candidates enter into the first of three debates tonight.  It may be the most watched political event ever.  NBC anchor Lester Holt is the moderator. The one certain thing in this debate is that Holt is unlikely to make either candidate happy regardless of how he handles his duties.

What is the debate advice being parceled out to the candidates?  The common advice to most candidates  is to "loosen up and just be yourself." This may be the one time that advice doesn't apply.
 The American public despises these two candidates.  Polling shows that they are the two most unpopular candidates the major parties have ever nominated, by a wide, wide margin.  The one consistent metric in picking presidential winners for over half a century is that the candidate who is best liked, wins.

Trump and Clinton have a mission.  They first and foremost need to come across as likable, someone for whom the 15% of the voters on the fence in this election would feel comfortable voting for.  Clinton and Trump need to show a graciousness and humility neither have demonstrated thus far.

A commentator on one of the Sunday morning political shows suggested that Trump needs to show depth on the issues.  That ship long ago left the dock.  Knowing details about policy is Clinton's strong suit and Trump would be foolish to sail into those water.  If Trump is smart, which I've seen no evidence of thus far, he will focus on the big picture, change themes which are winners in this election cycle. If Clinton is smart, which I've occasionally seen evidence of, she will bait Trump and get him to go off message and attack her.

Trump has an additional challenge - he needs to look presidential, like someone people (at least those few undecided voters left) would be comfortable with in the White House.

On paper, this debate should be no contest.  Hillary Clinton is an experienced debater and excelled in that forum against Senator Bernie Sanders.  Trump, on the hand, turned in very lackluster debate performances during the Republican primaries often appearing like a wallflower who never gets asked to dance.   Several times Trump was booed by the GOP audiences when he said outrageous things that  seemed to be more about gaining attention than serious policy proposals.  No one seriously viewed Trump as a "winner" of any of the GOP debates.  The best that was often said was that he exceeded expectations.

Indeed, that is Trump's ace-in-the-hole in his confrontation with Hillary Clinton.  In politics a debater's performance is never measured against the opponent, but rather against what the expectations are for that debater.  Everyone expects Trump to fail short on policy and not look presidential and to say outrageous things.  So if he doesn't fail as badly as is expected, suddenly he will be viewed as a winner.

Finally, the key to success in the debate might not be what happens at the debate, but what transpires afterward. Watch for the campaigns use the traditional media and social media to convince the talking heads and the public that their their candidate won.  In the first debate President Obama had with Mitt Romney in 2012, the Romney people outmaneuvered post-debate the Obama team and turned a win on points performance into a knockout.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Et tu, Ted?; Senator Cruz Gives Away His Political Soul to Endorse Trump

Yesterday, the unthinkable happened. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the so-called principled conservative, a man who bravely stood up to the Trumpkins who wish to forever destroy the conservative movement, decided to give away his political soul and endorse for president the wholly unqualified, liberal New Yorker, Donald Trump.

I can't say Cruz "sold" his soul because, unlike Judas Iscariot, the Texas Senator did not even bother to get 30 pieces of silver for his betrayal of the conservative cause.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Gee, let's recall what happened during the campaign

Trump suggested Ted's wife ugly, retweeting an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz juxtaposed next to a flattering picture of Trump's own wife.  Trump threatened to "spill the beans" on Heidi Cruz.  Trump suggested that Cruz's father was involved in the Kennedy assassination.   Trump's buddies at the National Enquirer published an expose of Cruz's supposed extra-marital affairs that appear to have been completely made up.  Of course, Trump immediately intimated the story was true, saying the tabloid publication has a good reputation for factual reporting.

Cruz, on the other hand called Trump a "pathological liar," someone who is "utterly amoral" and a "serial philanderer"  Unlike with Trump's sordid attacks, Cruz's observations about Trump were backed by solid evidence.  So too is the conclusion of Cruz and other Republicans that Trump is a con man who is completely unqualified and unfit to be President.

Caleb Howe, writing for the RedState blog, nails the problem with the Cruz endorsement (though I don't endorse the shot at the candidates' ages or their looks): 
But first, we should dispense with some of the reasons fans of this decision have been offering. They, and by they I generally mean Trump voters, say he is choosing the good of the country over the good of the conservative movement. Impossible. Conservative values and policy ideas are good for the country. Trump's ideas are bad for the country. Dumping the former in favor of the latter isn't doing something good for your country.
Stopping Hillary is an admirable cause. In the abstract. But that's primary season talk. That ship has sailed. There are now and instead two Hillarys running; they both have dumb hair, they are both older than dirt, they are both pathologically incapable of honesty, and they are both big government liberals determined to destroy the conservative movement forever. If you believe, as some do, that she's even MORE destroy-happy than Trump is, then try to stop her. Many good people have made that choice.
But don't try to turn it into a virtue. That's what the monsters do. In a classic case of projection, they cast upon #NeverTrump that which they are the most guilty of. Namely, they accuse the #NeverTrumpers of sanctimony or condescension. A laughable complaint from the people who never stop piously bragging about how they are putting country first or how they are stopping the real threat, and in this Cruz is no different. Say you want to stop Hillary. Don't martyr yourself as making some big sacrifice for your country. It's gauche.
The Stop Hillary At All Cost movement is, frankly, stupid.  Donald Trump is the male version of Hillary Clinton.  He is a big government liberal, and has been a big government liberal his entire life.   The major difference between the two is not the policies they would pursue in office or their (lack of) honesty, but their competence.  I loathe Hillary Clinton, but at least she is qualified, intelligent, and has the temperament to be President.  Trump, a simpleton of a man who can be baited with a Tweet, has no business being anywhere near the White House.  I don't even want him to be allowed to visit.
I was never a big fan of Ted Cruz.  I think his caustic, take-no-prisoners approach to politics is harmful to the conservative cause.  But at least he stood consistently for conservative priinciples (though he abandoned some of them in response to Trump during the campaign).  Now he has abandoned the conservative movement all together.
Who would have thought when the going got tough for American political conservativism that the the real heroes would be people like John Kasich, Mitt Romney, and the Bushes?  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ogden on Politics is Back in Business; Don't Buy Your Domain Through Google!

My blog has returned.  Sometime during the past year, I got a new credit card and my blog's domain didn't renew automatically.  I didn't get any email on the subject, even though Google Blogger has two of my email addresses.   The domain expired on 9/20.  The company which was listed as the new owner of until 9/20/2017 is apparently some sort of holding company for the website host.

My blog is hosted through Enom which contracts with Google.  I can't go through Enom to renew though.  I have to go through Google.  And I can't go through Google Domains either. You can talk to Google Domains and Enom people via phone, but it turn out my website is hosted via Google Apps.  To communicate via phone or email with the Google Apps people you need a special code from your administrator page.  You can only get to the administrator page by entering your administrator name and password, which I never have to use for any other reason.  In frustration, I finally started guessing at the admin name and password and, eventually, guessed right.  That got me to billing and let me update the credit card information.

This reminds me a few years ago when my blog had picked up as primary email an email I rarely ever use.  I tried to change the primary email back to the one I use most often and my doing so actually deleted my website! To get my deleted website back, I had to obtain information from several years old emails that were sent to me when I first set up the blog. Fortunately, I had not deleted them.

Some advice.   Anyone who is thinking about starting a blog, and paying for a domain, do NOT do it through Google. Choose some other company, such as GoDaddy, that has representatives you can pick up the phone and talk to when you have a problem.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Trump Used Charitable Contributions to Pay His Private Businesses' Legal Expenses

The Republicans have, rightly, hammered Hillary Clinton over the Clinton Foundation raising funds from foreign leaders at the same time she was Secretary of State. That is at the very least an appearance of impropriety that should have been avoided.

Leading the attacks on the Clinton Foundation has been GOP nominee Donald Trump.  Not surprisingly, as he is on so many subjects, Donald Trump is a hypocrite. Turns out the Trump didn't just engage in an appearance of impropriety with his foundation, he apparently brazenly engaged in outright impropriety. The Washington Post today reports that Trump used foundation money, i.e. other people's charitable contributions, to pay settlements of lawsuits involving his for profit businesses:
Donald Trump spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses, according to interviews and a review of legal documents.
Those cases, which together used $258,000 from Trump’s charity, were among four newly
Donald Trump
documented expenditures in which Trump may have violated laws against “self-dealing” — which prohibit nonprofit leaders from using charity money to benefit themselves or their businesses.
In one case, from 2007, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club faced $120,000 in unpaid fines from the town of Palm Beach, Fla., resulting from a dispute over the size of a flagpole.
In a settlement, Palm Beach agreed to waive those fines — if Trump’s club made a $100,000 donation to a specific charity for veterans. Instead, Trump sent a check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a charity funded almost entirely by other people’s money, according to tax records.
In another case, court papers say one of Trump’s golf courses in New York agreed to settle a lawsuit by making a donation to the plaintiff’s chosen charity. A $158,000 donation was made by the Trump Foundation, according to tax records.
The other expenditures involved smaller amounts. In 2013, Trump used $5,000 from the foundation to buy advertisements touting his chain of hotels in programs for three events organized by a D.C. preservation group. And in 2014, Trump spent $10,000 of the foundation’s money for a portrait of himself bought at a charity fundraiser.
Or, rather, another portrait of himself.
Several years earlier, Trump had used $20,000 from the Trump Foundation to buy a different, six foot-tall portrait.
If the Internal Revenue Service were to find that Trump violated self-dealing rules, the agency could require him to pay penalty taxes or to reimburse the foundation for all the money it spent on his behalf. Trump is also facing scrutiny from the office of the New York attorney general, which is examining whether the foundation broke state charity laws.
More broadly, these cases also provide new evidence that Trump ran his charity in a way that may have violated U.S. tax law and gone against the moral conventions of philanthropy.
“I represent 700 nonprofits a year, and I’ve never encountered anything so brazen,” said Jeffrey Tenenbaum, who advises charities at the Venable law firm in Washington. After The Post described the details of these Trump Foundation gifts, Tenenbaum described them as “really shocking.”
“If he’s using other people’s money — run through his foundation — to satisfy his personal obligations, then that’s about as blatant an example of self-dealing [as] I’ve seen in a while,” Tenenbaum said.
Rosemary E. Fei, a lawyer in San Francisco who advises nonprofits, said both cases clearly fit the definition of self-dealing.    
 “Yes, Trump pledged as part of the settlement to make a payment to a charity, and yes, the foundation is writing a check to a charity,” Fei said. “But the obligation was Trump’s. And you can’t have a charitable foundation paying off Trump’s personal obligations. That would be classic self-dealing.”
The article includes copies of checks and other documents.  It also goes on to tell the story about one of of the legal settlements of a lawsuit filed by a golfer playing in a Trump charity tournament that promised a $1 million prize for a hole-in-one during the tournament.  The golfer got the hole-in-one. But it turns out the prize's rules required the shot to go 150 yards and the Trump course was designed so the hole would only be 147 yards.  

Using a charity funded by other people to pay his private legal bills... yes that sounds like Donald Trump.  Promising to pay $1 million for a hole-in-one while designing the course so that the hole is 3 yards short to qualify for a payout, yep that is exactly the sort of stunt Donald Trump would pull.  Is there any wonder why Trump would be audited by the IRS?  Why anyone would consider voting for such a fraud, a man who thinks he is above laws that the rest of us have to follow, is a mystery to me.

Indianapolis' Two Tax Increases to Hire More Police Officers Actually Resulted in Fewer Officers

Two times during the past several years, local politicians from both parties argued that Indianapolis should raise its local income tax to hire more police officers.  Duly alarmed by the growing murder rate and convinced of the need for more officers, residents reluctantly supported those tax increases. But as some local bloggers and other critics have argued that those tax increases would not be used to hire more police officers.  Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. In a lengthy investigative report, the Indianapolis Star reports:
Since 2007, the city of Indianapolis has raised income taxes twice in order to hire new police officers. 
The first time, city leaders promised to add 100. The next, as many as 150.
But on Sept. 1, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department had 59 fewer officers than it did before the first tax hike took effect. And yet, the city is spending 33 percent more on police — an estimated $259 million this year, including retiree pensions — than it did in 2007.
Over the years, city officials and City-County Council members have blamed troubles growing the police force on a number of factors: the recession and property tax caps, the rising costs of health care and equipment and challenges associated with attrition. And all have played a role. 
IMPD's 1,600 or so officers get paid upwards of 25 percent more today than they did nine years ago. 
Nonunion city employee pay went up around 5 percent in the same period; that's essentially a pay cut when you account for 16 percent inflation. Meanwhile, the typical Marion County household — in short, the people paying for the raises — lost even more ground. The median income here dropped 5 percent from 2007 to 2014, according to the latest Census estimates. 
When you add it all up — the rising personnel costs, inflation and the city's plummeting revenues — the 2007 tax hike wasn't even enough to pay for the officers the city already had, much less add 100 more. So when the council voted in 2014 to raise taxes again — again, promising the money would hire more officers — some of the $16 million a year it generated for IMPD is still paying the bill for nine years of contractual pay raises that the city hasn't been able to afford. 
Meanwhile, murders continue to rise. Indianapolis already has recorded 100 criminal homicides this year, putting it on pace to break 2014's record-setting 144. Nonfatal shootings are up more than 20 percent.
The Star article goes on to look at the two tax increases in particular and looks more specifically how the money has been spent.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

My Email Response to GOP Chairman Reince Preibus

Dear Mr. Priebus: 
Reince Priebus
I wanted to respond to your email asking Republican grass roots leaders like me to support Donald Trump. It is not going to happen. I love my country too much to back a nominee who is completely lacking in qualifications to be President and has repeatedly demonstrated zero temperament for the position. Trump is a big government liberal who has no appreciation of limited government or federalism. His comments reflect that he has no understanding or respect for our Constitution. Trump has also expressed affection for brutal dictators and indicated Americans have too much freedom to criticize public figures, like him. Those are not Republican principles. Those are not American principles.  
Mr. Priebus, you are lowering yourself and MY party with your enthusiastic backing of Donald Trump.  I would encourage you to instead focus on holding on to GOP majorities in the House and the Senate and not divert precious resources in a quixotic effort to elect such a repugnant character to the Office of the Presidency.  
On Election Day, I will NOT pass out any literature that has the name “Trump” on it. I will not lift a finger to help that embarrassment get elected. I am sure there will be hundreds of GOP grass roots workers like me. We conservatives,and those who believe in Republican values, lost the election the day Trump was nominated. Donald Trump is a stain on the grand legacy of the Republican Party and I will not support him. Ever. 
Paul K. Ogden 
Elected Republican Precinct Committeeman

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Clinton Stumbles on Health Issue While Trump Reneges On Promise to Discuss His Own Medical Exam

The Hillary Clinton presidential bus ran off the road and hit a tree this week.  Television cameras caught indisputable evidence of her failing health and the issue became no longer one just reported by right wing bloggers, but rather an issue reported by the mainstream media.  As usual with Hillary Clinton, her default position of secrecy and obfuscation caused more harm to her than the underlying
issue of her health.  Had she simply disclosed that she was trying to battling through pneumonia, she
Hillary Clilnton
could have earned the public's sympathy.  Instead she came across as unsympathetic because of the attempt to hide the issue.

The bungled issue by the Clinton campaign gave Trump a pass, at least thus far, on his own medical condition. Thus far all Trump has disclosed is a ridiculous letter signed by Dr. Harold Bornstein, a gastroenterologist by training.  The letter, supposedly written by the doctor in 5 minutes, doesn't sound like it is written by a medical doctor or any professional for that matter.  It repeatedly employs Trump-type hyperbole and exaggeration.  The letter declares that Trump's health is "astonishingly excellent" and his "physical strength and stamina are extraordinary."  Dr. Bornstein also wrote that "[i]f elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."   When asked to justify the hyperbole, Dr. Bornstein said "I like that sentence to be quite honest with you and all the rest of them are either sick or dead."   Of course, the comment focused on the health of a presidential candidate at the time of that person's election, not that person's current health, but facts never seem very relevant to people who have boarded the Trump train.  Dr. Bornstein admits that he's jumped on that train explaining "I like Donald Trump because I think he likes me. That's the same reasoning Trump cites for his deep affection for the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin who has his political opponents killed.

Donald Trump
One doesn't have to be a genius to figure out that, given the language used, Trump was the real writer of the letter and Dr. Bornstein simply signed it.  Trump promised to disclose the results of a recent physical exam publicly on the Dr. Oz show.  But today Trump changed his mind about doing that and indicated the discussion on Dr. Oz will be a "general discussion about health and wellness, not one anchored to the fitness of one of the two major candidates for President." Does anyone doubt that if Trump was as healthy as the Dr. Bornstein letter claimed, Trump would have hesitated to discuss the issue publicly?

Unlike matters related to her health, Hillary Clinton has disclosed publicly her tax returns.  In doing so she is following the tradition every presidential candidate has followed for decades.  Trump though tis breaking that tradition.  While initially promising to disclose his tax records, Trump has reneged on that promise claiming that he is under audit and therefore can't release the tax returns. (Of course, an audit doesn't stop the release of tax records.)  Trump's campaign, however, can't or won'teven  produce the IRS record notifying him of the audit and they won't release tax forms from the years before the audit.  It could well be that Trump's tax forms will demonstrate that Trump pays little, if any taxes, and claims of his great wealth (which would produce substantial income that would have to be reported) simply are not true.  Or the forms could show that Trump has received substantial business loans from the Russian investors and even government officials.  

Voters have a right to know potential financial conflicts of interest that might be revealed on tax forms. They also have a right to know the medical condition of those running for President.  Disclosure of tax forms and medical records should be a requirement of running for President.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Both Indiana State Superintendent Candidates Oppose A-F Grading System for Schools

The Indiana Business Journal reports:

Opponents of assigning A-F letter grades to Indiana schools have reason to be optimistic: When voters go to the polls this fall to decide who should run the state’s top education office, both candidates will be people who believe that one grade isn’t enough to reflect
Jennifer McCormick
the work of an entire school or district.
The current superintendent of public instruction, Democrat Glenda Ritz, and her Republican challenger, Jennifer McCormick, a superintendent in Yorktown, both say they think slapping a school with an A or an F is overly harsh—and far too simplistic at a time when educating children is a complex task, affected by many variables. 
“I want to eliminate the A, B, C, D, F, and have a category assignment in our accountability system that actually reflects school improvement,” Ritz said, although she can’t make that decision unilaterally without state board or lawmakers’ approval. 
I have always thought there needed to be two grades, one for performance and one for improvement.  But to eliminate the grading system entirely...well that would be a step too far and hopefully one our lawmakers won't take.   Parents are entitled to information about the quality of the school to which they send their children.  An A-F grade provides that information in an easily understandable format.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Is Donald Trump Using Campaign Contributions to Enrich Himself and His Family?

Campaign reporting of the presidential candidates has a tendency to focus on which candidate is raising the most money.  Reporting generally overlooks the spending side.  You can raise a ton of money as a candidate, but if it is foolishly spent it is as if that money is not being raised at all.

That brings me to the confusing spectacle that is the 2016 election.  After a slow start, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is, during many months, matching or coming close to matching the fundraising prowess of Democrat Hillary Clinton.  Even during the months he falls short, Trump still
raises tens of millions of dollars.

We know how Hillary Clinton is spending her money.  You see the TV commercials.  She has scores of field offices in every battleground states and offices in states that aren't battlegrounds.  What about The Donald?  Trump has ONE campaign office in the critical battleground tate of Florida.  In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney was criticized for not having enough presence in the Sunshine State.  Romney had 43 offices in Florida that year.

Maybe Trump is burning through the money running TV commercials to build himself up and Hillary Clinton down?  No, that doesn't appear to be the case.  Trump's advertising has been virtually silent all summer as he ceded the airwaves to Hillary Clinton.  The former Secretary of State has used the opportunity to drive down Trump's negatives by running ads that use Trump's own words to show he lacks the temperament for office.  Of course, Trump has done, for free, much of that work for Clinton by making outrageous statements that only his most fervent supporters would find acceptable for a person running for President.

Could it be, just possibly, that Donald Trump is running for President, not to actually win, but to enrich himself and his family?  Consider the evidence thus far. When donors instead of Trump himself was paying rent for campaign offices at the Trump Tower, he had the rent quintupled...even though he had fewer staff were employed at those offices.  Further, a review of Trump campaign expenditures shows that 20% of the money spent by the campaign going to businesses that have "Trump" in the name.  Here is a sample of expenditures made through May.

My guess is this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Trump using other people's money to enrich himself.  If you know Trump's career, you know that's what he has done all of his life.

Monday, August 29, 2016

University Tells Incoming Class That "Trigger Warnings," "Safe Places" Are Incompatible With Academic Freedom

In a letter welcoming the Class of 2020, the University of Chicago's Dean of Students penned a letter that should be read by anyone who thinks college campuses should be about restricting what young men and women hear. NPR reports:
 Dear Class of 2020 student," the welcome letter from the school's Dean of Students John Ellison begins. It goes on to explain the university's commitment to freedom of expression and inquiry. Students "are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn without fear of censorship. 
 And that means the school "does not support so-called 'trigger warnings' " to alert students
of upcoming discussions or speakers that they might find offensive.  
 The University of Chicago won't cancel controversial speakers, and it "does not condone the creation of intellectual 'safe spaces' where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own."  
 Law professor Geoffrey Stone says the letter's intent was based on a report from a faculty committee he chaired on freedom of expression and academic freedom.  
 "This is really exciting," Stone says. "You're coming to an amazing institution."  
He says the University of Chicago has a long history of standing for those principles.  
 "We've been deeply committed to the notion that we're here to learn from one another and to learn from the world and to study things and to figure out the answers. And the best way to do that is to hear all sides of everything."
This is a great lesson from a university with a great reputation.  Increasingly the notion has taken root in liberal quarters that people have a right to be free of hearing ideas incompatible with their world view.  Nowhere has this nonsensical notion taken root than on college campuses where students often shout down conservative speakers if they can't get them disinvited altogether.  Your right to free speech does not include the right to stop others from speaking.

To read the entire letter click here.

To see a great book, from a former Democrat activist no less, on liberal attempts to suppress free speech, click here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Polls Show Trump Badly Trailing Republican Down Ballot Candidates

State polls are rolling in now and they demonstrate the stark reality that Donald Trump has little ability to attract Democratic-leaning voters while holding on to his GOP base.  In state after state, Trump badly lags behind Republican statewide candidates.  Let's look at some recent polls in battleground states:

Ohio (Monmouth) 
Clinton leads by 4
Portman (R) leads by 8
Swing:  12 points

Iowa (Quinnipiac)
Clinton and Trump are tied
Grassly (R) leads by 7
Swing:  7 points

New Hampshire (CBS)
Clinton leads by 9
Hassan (D) leads by 1
Swing:  8 points

North Carolina (NBC)
Clinton leads by 5
Ross (D) leads by 2
Swing:  3 points

Pennsylvania (Quinnipiac)
Clinton +9
McGinity +3
Swing:  6 points

And in what must be the biggest finger in the eye of Trump and his cult-like following:

Florida (NBC)
Clinton +5
Rubio (R) +6
Swing:  11 points

Although Indiana is not (yet) considered a battleground state, it stands out as an exception:

Indiana (Monmouth)
Trump +11
Holcomb (R) +1
Swing -10 points

I know my Democratic friends have trouble accepting it, but the fact Trump runs ahead of state-wide Republicans in Indiana might have to do with Govrnor MIke Pence on the ticket.  Thus far, the Pence selection seems to be the only thing Trump has not screwed up in the general election phase of his campaign.

At the end of the day, however, the unpopularity of Trump at the top of the ticket will doom many down ballot Republicans.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Evan Bayh Continues to Vote Illegally from Indianapolis Condo Where He Does Not Live

For years, Evan Bayh has used an Indianapolis condo assessed at just over $50,000 as his declared "residence" for voting even after leaving the Senate...all the while living in the Washington, DC suburbs.  CNN now reports that Bayh has twice been declared to be an "inactive" voter due to postcards addressed to the Indianapolis condo being returned as undeliverable because, well, he doesn't actually live there.
Election officials in Indiana have concluded that former Sen. Evan Bayh is an "inactive" voter in their state after they failed to confirm he lives in Indianapolis, creating a new problem for the Democrat as he mounts a late effort to win back his old Senate seat.According to records obtained by CNN, Bayh has been listed as an inactive voter twice
since leaving office -- once in July 2014 and the second time last week. 
Bayh has voted by absentee ballots in Indiana elections since leaving office, requesting those ballots be sent to his home and office addresses in Washington, the records show. (He voted in person in May, his office said.)
Perhaps more significantly, the inactive designation is only bound to intensify GOP accusations that the former senator had swiftly abandoned his state for Washington in his nearly six years since leaving office, only to come back to Indiana last month in a last-ditch effort to return to power.
The new revelations come just days aftear a CNN report showed Bayh consistently listing his two multi-million-dollar homes in Washington as his main places of residence, not his $53,000 condo in Indianapolis, contradicting his public claims that he "never left" the state after giving up his seat in 2011.
It is similar to the problems that dogged former Sen. Richard Lugar, the veteran Indiana Republican who lost his 2012 primary after he was sharply criticized for not owning a home in Indiana and for living in the Washington suburbs instead.
The fact is both Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh, and their family members, have on numerous occasions voted in Indiana using addresses that were clearly not their residences.  Every time they did so, they could have been prosecuted for a felony.  Yet they have been given a pass on prosecution while former Secretary of State Charlie White now has to live with multiple felonies for being accused of violating the law on a single occasion because he voted at his ex-wife house instead of the condo he had purchased, but arguably had not yet moved into.  Democrats and Republicans who engaged in the Charlie White lynching should be ashamed of themselves.   White deserves an apology.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Polls Show Trump, Republicans Facing Electoral Disaster in November

Polls released in the last couple weeks show the presidential race turning into a presidential route. Trump has fallen behind, in many cases far behind, in several key states.   As I predicted, the number of battleground states has increased not because Trump is putting blue states into play, but because his unpopularity and (correctly) perceived unfitness for office is giving the Democrat Hillary Clinton the chance to win traditionally red states.
Let's look at Hillary Clinton's lead as reflected in the Real Clear Politics average of polls in those states: Pennsylvania 9.2, Michigan 6.6, Ohio 2.6, Florida 3.6, Iowa .4, North Carolina 2.0, Wisconsin, 9.4, Virginia 10.0, New Hampshire 8.2, Georgia .3 Colorado 11, Nevada 2.3

In only two of the battleground states is Trump above water: Missouri 5.3 and Arizona .3. I think once newer polling in Missouri comes in, it will show Trump's margin in that state decreasing.

Today a survey by Public Policy Polling shows Trump with only a 6 point lead in Texas. I fully expect, despite the presence of Indiana Governor Mike Pence on the ballot, that Indiana will be in play come November.

I have been tracking statewide polling for months to see how Trump is faring against Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's performance in 2012. Trump is beating Romney's numbers in 14 states, while Trump's polling numbers lags behind Romney's in 24 states.

I still harbor doubt that Trump will want his legacy to be that of running an incompetent campaign that leads to a landslide loss.  I think there is a significant chance - today I will put it at 35% - that Trump drops out of the race. Departing the race would allow him to avoid becoming one of the biggest political LOSERS in American history, while claiming that he would have done better than his successor. In walking away, Trump would likely blame the media and talk about how "Crooked Hillary" and turncoat Republicans were conspiring to rig the election against him. Don't expect Trump to offer any proof. Just accusations. That's the Trump way.

Here is the thing though. Any replacement candidate fielded by Republicans (assuming they can navigate state ballot access laws to replace Trump on the ballot) immediately becomes competitive with extraordinarily unpopular Hillary Clinton.   

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Former Marine Loses Religious Freedom Case Involving Biblical Phrase

Fox News reports:
Monifa Sterling
A former Marine court-martialed in part for refusing to remove a biblical phrase from her workspace lost her appeal on Wednesday, when a federal court concluded the orders from her superiors did not constitute a "substantial burden" on her First Amendment rights. 
Monifa Sterling, who was a lance corporal stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was court-martialed for various offenses relating to separate incidents – including disrespecting a superior officer, disobeying lawful orders, and failing to report to an assigned duty.
But the part of the case that fueled her court challenge involved orders to remove a personalized version of the biblical phrase from Isiah 54:17: "No weapon formed against thee shall prosper." 
Sterling taped the verses in three spots on her workspace. Court testimony said Sterling's superior repeatedly ordered her to remove the signs -- and when she refused, trashed them. 
In its 4-1 opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces turned away Sterling’s case. 
At issue is the extent a federal law on religious freedom protects members of the Armed Forces. The intersection of free speech on government property, especially within a military context, has made this case closely watched by a number of advocates on both sides of the debate 
"This is absolutely outrageous," said Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty Institute. "A few judges decided they could strip a Marine of her constitutional rights just because they didn't think her beliefs were important enough to be protected."...In a dissent, Judge Kevin Ohlson said, "while the military's asserted interest in good order and discipline surely deserves great deference, it does not demand reflexive devotion." 
The key dispute for the judges was interpreting a 1993 federal law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, requiring the government to seek the "least burdensome" and narrowly tailored means for any law that interferes with religious convictions.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Second Poll Shows Trump Trailing in Georgia; Will Trump Leave the Race if Historic Defeat is on the Horizon?

Shock waves reverberated through the political world with the release last week of an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll late last week showing Republican Donald Trump losing Georgia by 4 points. Georgia hasn't voted Republican for President since 1992 when the state was won by former Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.  Before that you have to go back to Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter for a Democratic presidential election victory in the state.  

Now comes the release of a second poll showing Trump trailing in the Georgia, this time by 7 points. The poll, conducted by JM Analytics, included Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein.  The AJC poll also included a multiple party candidate field question.   Clinton's lead fell from 4 to 3 points in that poll when the additional candidates are included.  That is consistent with virtually every poll which shows Hillary Clinton's support dropping slightly when additional candidate options are provided.

I have long argued that the focus on Trump switching blue states to red is misplaced.  The New York businessman's real "legacy" to the Republican Party will be flipping many states from red to blue. I think there is a very good chance that Indiana will be one of those states come November.  I think
Hillary Clinton's electoral vote will pass 350 and may go as high as 400.

Finally, one thing to watch out in the days ahead is the very real possibility Trump will leave the race. If Trump is headed toward an historic defeat, one that will damage his reputation and his future business interests, he may well choose to drop out saying that "Crooked Hillary" was "rigging" the election."  (He appears to be already laying the groundwork to that end.)  Letting a successor take the "L" would allow Trump to claim to his cult-like followers that he could have won the Presidency if he chose to stay in the race.  Most certainly his followers will believe him.

As a side note, the 168 member Republican National Committee would meet to select another nominee should Trump drop out.  (As an alternative, the RNC could call another convention of the thousands of Republican delegates to replace the nominee...not likely.)  News accounts make it sound like an easy process. I question that.  State ballot access laws govern the placement of candidates, including federal candidates, on the ballot.  I am not so sure that a new presidential candidate could simply be substituted within the last 60 days on all 50 state ballots.  Needless to say, there could be considerable litigation involved in the process.

Friday, August 5, 2016

City Councilor Zach Adamson Won't Face Charges

The Indianapolis Star reports:
A special prosecutor has decided charges  are not warranted against City-County Councilman Zach Adamson after a 19-year-old man accused him of rape.
“From the beginning, we have maintained that the allegations against me were false,” Adamson said in a statement. “We are pleased that after 7 weeks of extensive investigation by the police, they have come to the same conclusion.”
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tami Napier of Marshall County said she spent about a week reviewing information police had gathered, listening to interviews and conferring with detectives in the case.
“I determined criminal charges were not merited based on the information we had,” she said.
Good to hear. I have had many interactions with Zach over the years and consider him a friend despite our political differences. (He is often wrong on policy issues while I am always right.) As I wrote before, we have to assume people are innocent until proven guilty when facing these types of accusations. Just because accusations are of a sexual nature, doesn't mean the "victim" is telling the truth.  Sometimes those making the accusation are lying, for whatever reason.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Obama Adminstration Secretly Sent Money to Iran as Iran Released Hostages

The Wall Street Journal reports:
The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.
Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.
The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
The settlement, which resolved claims before an international tribunal in The Hague, also coincided with the formal implementation that same weekend of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran, the U.S. and other global powers the summer before.
Why Obama administration officials denied that the payment was ransom paid, the they admit that the Iranians wanted something "tangible," i.e. the cash, for entering into the deal. Iranian officials in the Iranian press described the payment as ransom for release of the prisoners.

And if it wasn't "ransom," then why the secrecy and why all the work in securing other currencies to make the payment?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Trump, Once Again, Imports Foreign Workers Instead of Hiring Americans at His Florida Resorts

Yet once again, Donald Trump's actions belie his words when it comes to bringing American jobs back.  Even the glare of possible publicity on his employment practices didn't stop Trump from stiffing Americans in favor of foreign workers, workers who would be captive employees, i.e. individuals who could market their skills to other employers to improve their pay.  The Daily News reports:
Donald Trump wants to bring jobs back to America — and some foreign workers to fill them.   
Trump is looking to hire 78 servers, housekeepers, and cooks for his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and the nearby Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, according to Federal labor records.
As he has for years, the Republican presidential nominee filed this month to import Buzzfeed News first reported Wednesday.
foreign workers for the jobs instead of hiring Americans,
Department of Labor records show Trump has sought H-2 visas for hundreds of foreigners to fill temporary positions at the two properties in recent years.
The visas are issued through a legal program that allows employers to temporarily hire foreign workers when there are no Americans available to do the work.
But hundreds of U.S. applicants either applied or were referred for the jobs, but only a handful were hired, the New York Times reported in February.
Since 2010, nearly 300 U.S. residents applied or were referred for jobs as waiters, waitresses, cooks and housekeepers there, but only 17 were hired, according to The Times.
Trump’s two properties are looking to hire 37 waiters and waitresses, who will be paid $11.13 an hour, and 26 cooks, who will earn $12.74 an hour. Additionally, Mar-a-Lago needs 15 $10.17-an-hour housekeepers.
This exposure comes on the heels of another loss by Trump in court. The New York businessman attempted to stiff a painting contractor on the remaining $34,863 on a $200,000. The judge found not only that he owed the $34,863 but he owed the contractor's attorneys nearly $300,000 legal fees for having to sue to recover on the bill.

Trump has a long history of not paying small business owners and employees what they are owed. The Trump business practice is to claim unhappiness with the quality of the work as justification. Although that is generally not a defense, Trump knows that few small businesses and employees have the financial resources to challenge Trump in court. With regard to the painting contractor, Trump gambled wrong. The painting contractor found attorneys willing to take on Trump without having to front the legal fees.

By the way the name of the judge in the case? Jorge Cueto.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Movie Review: Documentary "Fastball" Narrated by Kevin Costner

Baseball fans and even those who aren't fans but enjoy the science behind the game, should watch the documentary Fastball currently available through Netflix.  The 2016 film, narrated by actor and baseball fan, Kevin Costner explores the history and science behind baseball's most common pitch - the fastball.  From the film's website:
The heartbeat of the game of baseball is the battle between the pitcher and the batter – one man with a ball, one with a stick. As the pitcher winds up and the batter zeroes in, both of their bodies tense up and suddenly spring into action against each other. All actions of the game arise from that confrontation, sixty feet and six inches and barely a second in the making.
As explained in the fascinating new documentary FASTBALL, that seemingly arbitrary
Steve Dalkowski - the fastest pitcher to never make the majors?
distance is actually a nearly perfect balance point between the two players on either side of the ball. From that distance, a pitch thrown as fast as a human being can possibly throw – somewhere just above 100 mph if you are an elite pitcher – is delivered at a speed that is right at the threshold for how quickly the most talented of hitters can see, process, and react to the pitch. At that highest level of execution, batters and umpires alike swear the ball “rises” as it reaches home plate – something that physics tells us is impossible.
That’s just one of the mysteries, myths, and memories investigated and revealed in FASTBALL, based on the original idea by the film’s Producer, Thomas Tull, who also produced the feature film “42” and who is a Board Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The film features interviews with dozens of former players, from legendary Hall of Famers to up-and-coming All-Stars. FASTBALL documents the history of the “fastest” pitcher – from Walter Johnson’s famous speed of 122 feet per second, to Bob Feller’s post-war record of 98.6 mph, to Nolan Ryan’s “officially” clocked best of 100.9, to the current speed gun king Aroldis Chapman’s 105.1.
But it also remembers the many stories and statistics surrounding the greatest fastball pitchers of all time. Sandy Koufax’ perfect game is remembered with rarely seen footage shot from behind home plate; the intimidating stares of Hall of Famers Goose Gossage and Bob Gibson are echoed in the observations of modern-day fastball mavens Chapman and Craig Kimbrel; and early problems with wildness ultimately lead to two very different careers for Hall of Famer Ryan and former phenom Steve Dalkowski, the fastest pitcher in history who never made it to the majors.
While players, historians, and scientists might disagree on who was actually the fastest pitcher in history – and yes, the film does the math and seems to come out with a very clear verdict that might come as a surprise – FASTBALL tells the story of the game itself. Filmed at baseball’s most hallowed grounds, from the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to Yankee Stadium to the sandlot field in Weiser, Idaho, where Walter Johnson's fastball changed the game over a hundred years ago, the film provides unparalleled insight into both the mechanics and the mythos of our National Pastime.
Some background on the science behind the "verdict" regarding the game's fastest pitcher of all time.  The methodology to calculate the speed of a baseball pitch has varied over time.  Only very recently has it become standardized. Pitch velocity is now measured 50 feet from the plate, or approximately 10 feet after it leaves the pitchers' hand.   Earlier rudimentary measures of pitch speed were done calculating velocity nearer or past 60 feet six inches, i.e. where the plate would be.  By adding in the decline in the velocity of the pitch over distance (a constant), the scientists were able to recalculate the speed of earlier pitchers so they could be compared on a level playing field.  I won't spoil the surprise but instead leave my readers guessing pending their review of the movie.  Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan, Aroldis Chapman...who is the fastest pitcher of all time?

The movie does whiff on one point, however.  While there is a great deal of discussion about the physical challenges in hitting a 100 mph fastball, the movie misses the boat when discussing why such a pitch is so difficult to hit. While the reaction time to judge the location of a fastball and swing if in a hitting zone is extremely brief, a fact well documented in the movie, major league hitters can do successfully adjust to hit 100 mph pitches.  What makes a good fastball such an effective weapon is that the batter doesn't always know it is going to be a fastball - it could well be an off-speed pitch such as a changeup or slider, a pitch that looks a lot like a fastball until it breaks.  These off-speed pitches throw off the batters' ability to focus solely on timing the fastball.  Indeed the great fastball pitchers discussed in the movie all had strong off-speed pitches.

I highly recommend Fastball.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Indianapolis Library Attempts to Seize Private Property Via Eminent Domain

With much of my attention focused on the national political scene, this story of eminent domain abuse by our local Indianapolis library passed under the radar.  At a June 27th meeting of the library board, members voted to allow former Councilor and library CEO Jacie Nytes the authority to use eminent domain to seize several property parcels located in the Martindale Brightwood area from an elderly window who runs a business from that address.  The taking also includes a local church.
Jackie Nytes, Indianapolis Library CEO

Readers of this blog will note that I have noted that years Republican nominee Donald Trump partnered with Atlantic City government officials to try to seize the house of an elderly widow so he could expand limo parking for his casino. After a protracted court battle, Trump failed in his effort when the court found the taking would not have been for a "public purpose."

It appears that our local library is trying to do a similar thing.  Although the issue of whether the taking would be a "public purpose" will not be in dispute, at a June 27th meetin gof the library board, members voted to give former Councilor and library CEO Jackie Nytes the authority to use eminent domain to seize several property parcels locaed in the Martindale Brightwood area from an elderly window who runs a business from that address. The taking would also include a local church.

WRTV reports:
The plan ... is to close the small library and build a new free-standing one, right across the street on a plot of land that’s owned by people who don’t plan on selling.
That includes Lum Woodard, owner and pastor of Greater King Solomon Baptist Church. He says the $60,000 he’s been offered for the land is not enough to relocate and reopen somewhere else.
“It could be devastating,” Woodard said. “We would have to close, because $60,000 wouldn’t even buy a house in this neighborhood.”blockquote>
Sheena Schmidt, who owns several buildings in the area, says construction of the library would negatively impact those businesses, cutting off a crucial alley for deliveries.
"The alley is going to cause all these people to go out of business," Schmidt said. “It’s sad. It’s unbelievable what they’re doing.”
The WRTV report notes support for the project from neighborhood organization President, Amy Harwell:
“This is stupid, plain-and-simple stupid,” Harwell said. “We shouldn’t have to take measures – eminent domain – to get this property. Most of the people who are saying it doesn’t need to be there don’t live in this community.”
Ms. Harwell might well be right - that owners of the property are "stupid" for not taking the money.  So too may be the 100 plus people who signed a petition against locating the library at the site.  But being "stupid" for not accepting an offer does not make the library's use of eminent domain right.  Absent a compelling government need, private property owners should be able to refuse to sell their property.

This use of eminent domain does not involve the building of a road a scenario in which government may not have many options in terms of where to locate the road.  A library is not required to be built at a certain location.  Here it appears that the library has many options to build on property owned by people who are actually willing to sell, without resorting toeminent domain. These options include acquiring property owned by Martin University that is being offered almost for free.  As the Martin University property is vacant there would be no need for demolition.

Nytes and the library board apparently want the "perfect" property to build the new facility and if property owners won't cooperate, they're apparently willing to seize their land by force, backed by government, if necessary

To proceed with eminent domain, the library will have to get approval from the Council.  I will update this story as it develops/

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Why I Became a Republican and Will NEVER Support Donald Trump for President

I was not born a Republican.  I chose to become one.

The number one influence on party affiliation is family. In particular, people tend to adopt the political party of their parents.  That factor has more influence on party affiliation than any other.

My mother is a Democrat.  My father was the quintessential "yellow dog Democrat." I remember sitting at the dinner table during which my father pontificated on politics..  He would always rail about how horrible Democratic elected officials were, people like then Indiana Senators Birch Bayh and Vance Hartke. He, no surprise, didn't like the Democratic candidate for president in 1972, Senator George McGovern. One day I asked him if he disliked Democrats so much, why he was not a Republican. I remember his response like it was yesterday: "The Republican Party is not for the working man."

My father passed away when I was 14 and did not live to see to see me become a Republican. It was in my late teens that I began to question the wisdom of my parents support of the Democratic Party.

During the late 1970s, as I was transforming from boy to adult man, the Republican Party at was also going through a transformation.  A conservative movement was gathering steam.  It was a movement based on the belief that Americans can create a better future if the federal government is limited to its constitutional functions and business owners are freed from the shackles of government regulation.  It placed an emphasis on the family unit as the critical building block of society.   It was aspirational but had as its foundation the ideas of intellectuals in the party, people like the late Congressman Jack Kemp, economist Milton Freedman, constitutional scholar Robert Bork, and the editor of the National Review William F. Buckley, Jr. There was no hating people because of their religious belief, their ethnic background or political positions.  Democrats were not reviled but rather viewed as last souls who were simply wrong on the issues. If ever questioned, conservative intellectuals of the day could provide a laundry list as to exactly why they were right and the liberals were wrong. All this was done without engaging in school yard name calling or demonizing the opponents as evil.

Of course, the ultimate triumph of the conservative movement was the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Reagan gave conservativism a face as well as one of the best communicators in political history.   I am proud to say that my very first presidential vote was for Reagan, a vote in the 1980 Indiana GOP primary. Of course, the Gipper went on to win in a landslide that November, an achievement accomplished while running unapologetically on the ideas deeply rooted in the conservative movement of which I had become a member.

Over the years, Republicans often fell short of the conservative ideals embodied in the conservative movement Reagan initially led. Sometimes too the ideas of that movement fell short as well.  The conservative idea of enterprise zones flopped.  Likewise, privatization mostly failed, chiefly due to political cronyism driving the process instead of market forces.  It doesn't take much to find other examples.

Nonetheless, the Republicans Party, post-Reagan, was extraordinarily successful at the ballot box.  Democrats were ousted from power in the Senate in 1980, after nearly 30 years of being in the majority. Fourteen years later, Republicans won a majority in the House for the first time in 40 plus years. While the GOP's success stalled during the Clinton years, Republicans have enjoyed unprecedented success since Barack Obama's election in 2008.  By 2014, the GOP had a record number of governors and majorities in an unprecedented number of state legislative chambers. The Republicans also had a majority in the Senate and a majority the size of which hadn't been matched in 80 years in the U.S. House. The only thing the Republicans failed to win since 2004 is the White House. The GOP was poised to do exactly that in 2016, having the opportunity to run against an extraordinarily unpopular Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. The victor would also tip the balance of the Supreme Court, having the opportunity to appoint as many as three new justices. 

But by 2016, things had changed. The aforementioned conservative intellectuals - Kemp, Freedman, Bork and Buckley - all had passed away long ago. So too had Ronald Reagan.   Those great minds which led the movement were replaced with television and radio talk show hosts. Detailed position papers on the issues were replaced with sound-bites and talking points. Those conservative media types told us it wasn't enough to think our liberal opponents were wrong on the issues, we also had to hate them.

Into this intellectual vacuum stepped Donald Trump, a life-long liberal running for the nomination of the conservative Republican party.  Spewing hate and vitriol from the podium, Trump echoed the talk show conservative media's denigration of political discourse by engaging in school yard name-calling. But that wasn't all. Trump mocked a reporter's disability, made a racist comment about a judge presiding over the fraud case against "Trump University," and praised brutal dictators. Indeed reporters in general became a Trump target.  Any truthful news report showing the New York businessman in a negative light, stories such as his sexist treatment of women, his failing to follow through with donations promised to charities, his repeated failure to pay vendors, employees and lenders what he owed them, were dismissed as just being examples of media bias. It didn't matter to Trumpites that the stories were true.

But it was not just the lack of substance, Trump attacked conservative values across the board.  He advocated that the federal government be more powerful and demonstrated through he recognized no constitutional limits on the power of the President.  He advocated the end to free trade.  Indeed, Trump's suggestion for a trade war would deal American consumers a huge blow and will undoubtedly trigger a recession if not a depression. Trump even attacked the First Amendment, suggesting that Americans have too much freedom to criticize public figures.  Of course, Trump had been for years filing SLAPP lawsuits to silence his own critics.

But intellectual consistency to Trump mattered not.  Trump reversed his position on taxes and the minimum wage.  He changed his position on banning Muslims from entering the country.  He reversed his position on Planned Parenthood a documented seven times. Throughout the campaign, Trump demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt he has absolutely no core political principles and will change his position at a whim and then deny his former position ever existed. 

Even Trump's claim of being a successful businessman is belied by four bankruptcies, numerous failed businesses, and a trail of unpaid bills.  Rather, examined more closely, Trump's entire career is one of being a con man, a grifter, the consummate huckster, a person always taking risks with other people's money, rarely his own.  If Trump would not have inherited $100 million from his father, he likely would have had a Kevin Trudeau type infomercial career, hustling the modern version of snake oil.  Not to insult Mr. Trudeau. Trudeau is plenty smart while Trump clearly is not.

This week, Trump was officially nominated by the GOP national convention being held in Cleveland.  I am told that now I must give up everything I have ever believed in as a card-carrying conservative Republican and the future of my party to support the election of a life-long liberal Democrat to the White House, someone who is a serial womanizer, someone who hates people based on their religion and/or ethnicity, someone so lacks even a modicum of talent and ability, or the temperament or maturity, needed for the job as President of the United States.  I am told that I need to put aside my concerns for the future of this country including the possibility of the initiation of nuclear war due to some petty Trump dispute with a foreign leader all because, well, Hillary will be worse. Forget the illogic of attacking Hillary Clinton's dishonesty and immorality with the most dishonest and immoral candidate we could find wearing a Republican jersey. I am told that we Republicans should all get behind Trump because it is his party now.

Wrong.  It is not Trump's party.  Those of us who toiled in the trenches for conservative causes were doing so long before Trump began pretending to be a Republican in order to run for the GOP nomination. We will be fighting for those causes long after Trump leaves the stage. It is our party, not Trump's. To support Trump would be a betrayal of the legacy of Ronald Reagan and the conservatives who fought the political battles over the past four decades.  I am not going to betray those conservative principles.

My Republican Party needs to be about limited government,  not unlimited executive power.  Republicans need to understand and respect the Constitution, not dismiss the document out of hand.  The Republican Party needs to welcome all people to the conservative cause, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background.  Trump fails to live up to the ideals of the Republican Party on every score.

Unlike people like George Will though, I will not walk away from my party because it is temporarily led by someone who makes a mockery of everything I believe Republicans should represent.  It is my party, the party I chose, after all. Come November 9th, the fight begins for the soul of the Republican Party. You will be able to find me on the front lines of that battle.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Dissidents Maneuver to Force Floor Vote on Allowing Republican Delegates to Vote Their Conscience

According to a just released story from U.S. News and& World Report:
Signaling a potentially boisterous start to the Republican convention, anti-Trump delegates claimed on Monday that they'd collected enough signatures of delegates to force a state-by-state roll call vote on changing party rules, a battle that party leaders hoped to avoid.
It seemed highly unlikely that the insurgents would prevail. After a brief meeting in the convention arena, members of the rules committee said there will be no amendments to the rules that could deny the Republican nomination to Donald Trump.
A slow-moving roll call of the states still seemed possible, which the rebels seemed likely to lose. But even staging that vote would mean that instead of using the convention's first day to emphasize unity behind Trump, the gathering could underscore the tumultuous relations between Trump and party leaders on one side and social conservatives on the other.
Republican Party leadership and officials from Trump's campaign said Monday they'd held 11th-hour talks with anti-Trump delegates to see if they could avert a messy floor fight, live on television, over the rules. But one official said the negotiations had failed, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.
Some socially conservative delegates — many backers of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's failed presidential bid — have wanted to force the convention to hold a state-by-state roll call on whether to change the party's rules in ways that would take power from GOP leaders. That bid includes an effort to let delegates back any candidate they want.
Party rules say a roll call should be held if a majority of delegates from seven states demand one.
But there are other requirements too — such as delivering proper documents to the secretary of the convention — that must be met to qualify for a roll call. The conservative delegates have said they think party leaders could thwart a roll call by taking steps like making it hard for them to deliver their documents.
After a frantic search on the crowded convention floor for the secretary, Susie Hudson, the rebellious delegates found a GOP official who said he would deliver the petitions.
"Now we take this fight to the floor," Dane Waters, a leader of the Delegates Unbound, said in the email.
First, I should clarify that, contrary to what is indicated in the story, there are no rules yet governing the operation of the 2016 GOP convention until the convention adopts those rules. That is the first order of business at these types of conventions   But the 2016 GOP Convention Rules Committee's report contains the recommendation that delegates be bound and, thus, not allowed to vote their conscience.  Overcoming that recommendation for a floor vote on those rules is quite difficult, especially when technicalities can be used to stop challenges.

It is encouraging though that there are so many of my fellow Republicans who are refusing to back a liberal, unqualified con man as head of the GOP ticket.