Posts Tagged ‘Ted Cruz’

Donald Trump is the last Republican standing

May 4, 2016

trumpclinton,eononline.rs_1024x759-150709052426-1024.Donald-Trump-Hillary-Clinton-JR-70915_copyIt looks as if we Americans in November will have a choice between Hillary Clinton, a defender of the status quo, and Donald Trump, a right-wing populist.

I don’t think Donald Trump can be elected President, but, then again, I didn’t think, six months ago, that he would become the Republican nominee.

If he is elected, I know who the Democratic establishment will blame.  It will be Bernie Sanders, for arousing false hopes.

Their underlying assumption is that conservative Republicans have the power to bring about change, but we liberal Democrats do not, and therefore the best we can hope for is to ward off the Donald Trumps.   This attitude makes the Donald Trumps inevitable.

LINKS

America Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny by Andrew Sullivan for New York magazine.  An establishment viewpoint.

Here’s Why I Never Warmed Up to Bernie Sanders by Kevin Drum for Mother Jones.  Another establishment viewpoint.

Here’s A List of Hillary Clinton’s Accomplishment, So Quit Saying She Doesn’t Have Any on Addicting Info.  Pretty thin soup.

Can Hillary Win Sanders Supporters and the Never-Trump Faction? by Bill Scher for The New Republic.

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I wouldn’t be surprised if President Trump nominates Ted Cruz to the Supreme Court.

U.S. recruiting falls short of superpower needs

April 22, 2016

Senator Ted Cruz thinks the American military needs to be up-sized, not down-sized.

Our entire fighting force is shockingly undermanned and ill-prepared.  Last year, the Chief of Staff of the Army stated that his units were at “historically low levels” of combat readiness and the Commandant of the Marine Corps declared that “half of our non-deployed units are suffering personnel, equipment and training shortfalls.”

The Chief of Staff of the Air Force recently proclaimed that “we are getting too small to succeed.”  And, for the first time since 2007, the United States Navy was unable to maintain a carrier presence in the Arabian Gulf.  Every single portion of our Armed Forces has felt the strain.

In 2010, the U.S. Army was authorized 562,400 active duty soldiers, by the end of 2016 that number will have dropped precipitously to 475,000.

And this administration has plans to drive it even lower, to only 450,000 soldiers by the end of 2018. Unless our leaders are able to prioritize our national defense appropriately, there is a possibility that the Army could be reduced to as few as 420,000 soldiers by 2020.   Attempts to garner this “peace dividend” are assuredly met with enthusiasm by our adversaries.  [snip]

The entire end-strength of our Armed Forces must be rebuilt; we must strive to have a total active-duty force of at least 1.4 million Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.   Anything less creates a continuing training and readiness gap that risks the lives of the men and women who volunteer to serve this great Nation.

Source: Cruz for President

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter wants to continue to project American military power worldwide—to deal with what he terms the national security threats of terrorism, Russia, China, North Korea and Iran on a global basis.

Ted Cruz is right to point out that our armed forces are not large enough, and well-enough equipped, to carry out such a global mission.   As Andrew Bacevich, a respected military scholar, points out, it probably would take 500,000 troops each just to pacify Afghanistan and Iraq, let alone Carter’s more expansive goals.

Recruiters and potential enlistees at Fort Sill, OK

Troops and potential enlistees at Fort Sill, OK

But the problem is that U.S. military recruiters are barely able to fulfill their recruiting targets as it is.  A large proportion of enlistees are rejected because they are obese, or high school dropouts, or have criminal records.

It is impossible to increase the size of the U.S. armed forces as Cruz proposes without doing one of two things.

  •  Lower standards for recruitment.
  •  Re-institute a military draft.

The Obama administration has responded to the recruitment problem by trying to figure out ways to wage wars with minimum numbers of troops—bombings, targeted killings and plans to deploy precision tactical nuclear weapons.  Opening up the military to women and to openly gay enlistees also helps the recruitment problem, but probably not enough.

I have an alternate suggestion.

  • Limit the mission of the U.S. military to defense of the American homeland.

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The threat of a global holy war

April 21, 2016

One of the worst thing that could happen is an escalation of the U.S. “war on terror” into a global war between Christendom and Islam.  That is the goal of al Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS).

If it happened, the United States and much of Europe would become as beleaguered as Israel is today.  The devastation that has been visited on Gaza, Palestine, Iraq, Libya and Syria would be spread to the whole world.

That is why Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were careful to distinguish jihadist terrorists from Muslims in general.

Unfortunately, there are Americans, such as Lt. General (ret) William “Jerry” Boykin, who don’t.

President Bush fired him in 2007 from his post as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence for saying that the United States is in a holy war of Christian crusaders against Muslim jihadists.  Even though Boykin was a brave and patriotic soldier, Bush acted in the best interests of the United States.

Boykin has endorsed Ted Cruz for President, and Cruz has appointed him as one of his top advisers.  I think Cruz also wants to make the “war on terror” a religious war.

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Front-runners in the money primary

April 16, 2016

The first third of your campaign is money, money, money.

The second third is money, money, money.

The final is votes, press, and money.

Source: Rahm Emanuel

In American presidential nominating process, there are two primaries.  One is to determine who can get the most votes.  The other is to determine who can raise the most money, it is virtually impossible to campaign for votes without money.

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Hillary, Bernie and TrumpI visited the Open Secrets web site to learn how the candidates are faring in the money primary, and where their money support is coming from, which is a better indicator of where they stand than their campaign rhetoric.

Hillary Clinton is the front-runner in the money primary, having raised $222.6 million as of the end of February.  She received $48.7 million from just 20 donors, representing a range of financial institutions, labor unions and charitable foundations.

Her top contributor was Soros Fund Management, headed by the billionaire speculator George Soros, which gave her campaign $7 million.

Organizations aren’t permitted to give directly to candidates.  The Soros donation, and all the organization donations I mention in this post, are totals of donations by Political Action Committees and by officers, employees and their families.

Bernie Sanders is the runner-up.  He raised $140.2 million, of which $92.6 million came from small donations, which are defined as donations of $200 or less.

His top contributor was Alphabet Inc. (formerly known as Google).  Sanders doesn’t accept PAC money, so Alphabet’s $254,614 contribution was all from officers and employees.  His other top contributors were the University of California, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.

Ted Cruz is the front-runner among Republicans.  He raised just under $120 million.  Just three companies contributed $36.1 million of that.  His top contributor was Wilks Brothers, a fracking company, which gave $15,069,000.  Its owners are strong supporters of the religious political right.

Donald Trump hasn’t bothered much with fund-raising so far.  He received $36.7 million, which included a $24.7 million loan – a loan, not a gift – from his personal funds.  His top contributor was Manchester Financial Group, a real estate developer, which gave $50,000.

John Kasich raised $22 million, including $1 million from the Boich Companies, a coal marketing and trading business.

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The odd theology of Ted Cruz’s dad

April 13, 2016

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Opponents of Ted Cruz link him to Dominionism, a little-known Christian theology espoused by his father, the Rev. Rafael Cruz, a traveling Pentecostal preacher and lecturer.

Rafael Bienvenido Cruz

Rev. Rafael Bienvenido Cruz

They’re circulating videos of a sermon that Rev. Cruz gave at a Dallas-area mega-church, New Beginnings, in 2012, about how true Christians are “anointed kings” whom God has appointed to take dominion over the earth.

When I watched the short version of the video, which at the top of this post, I found his ideas both strange and alarming.  When I watched the complete version, which starts at the one-hour point in the next video, my alarm was a lot less.

Rafael Bienvenido Cruz was born in Cuba in 1939 and raised a Roman Catholic.  He came to the United States in 1957, worked his way through the University of Texas and went into the oil business.  He married, fathered two children and divorced, then married a second wife, Eleanor Darragh Wilson.  They were in the oil business in Calgary, Alberta, when Ted was born in 1970.

Somewhere along the line Cruz lost his religion.  He had a drinking problem, left his wife and 3-year-old son and returned to Houston.   He accepted a co-workers’ invitation to join a Bible study group, had an epiphany and became an Evangelical Protestant.  He turned his life around and invited his wife and son to rejoin him.  Ted Cruz said that if not for his father’s conversion, he would have been raised by a single mother.

Rev. Cruz accepts a theology called Dominionism.  In the sermon, he said that God has created “anointed priests” and “anointed kings” with dominion over society  He said is the right and duty of the “anointed kings” to “go into the marketplace and … take dominion over it” as part of an “end-times transfer of wealth”.

That’s the short version.  If you have the patience to watch the long version, you’ll see that what this means in practice is that people become “anointed warriors” by being baptized in a church and pledging to turn over a large portion of their income to the “anointed priests,” the pastors of their.

The test of faith, according to Cruz, is how much of your income you are willing to turn over to the “anointed priest”.  A tithe (10 percent) is the minimum, half your income is desirable and there are those who give 90 percent.

When you make the commitment, you will move immediately from the “land of not enough” and “the land of just enough” to the kingdom of abundance.  The priest, of course, does not use the money for his own benefit, but to advance God’s purposes.

This is foolish and sad.  I don’t question Rev. Cruz’s sincerity.  But a lot of people who believe this will be disappointed.  I wonder what Rev. Cruz will say to poor people who give to the church at great financial sacrifice in the hope of becoming “anointed kings” and then find they are still poor.  Perhaps that their faith was not strong enough!.

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The religious right’s last stand: Ted Cruz

April 12, 2016

[Added 4/14/2016]  I think that of all the five current Democratic and Republican candidates, Ted Cruz would do the most harm if elected.  The reason is that he says what he means, and means what he says.  When he speaks of carpet-bombing and torture, it is not hyperbole.  He should be taken literally.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

The post-Reagan Republican Party has been supported by three pillars—(1) the so-called neo-conservatives who think there is a military solution to all problems, (2) the so-called neo-liberals, who think there is a corporate solution to all problems, and (3) the so-called religious right, who think there is a Biblical solution to all problems.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is a hard-line supporter of all three, but his championship of the religious right is what is most politically significant, both for him and for religious conservatives.

The reason is that the interests of military contractors and Wall Street bankers are well-represented in both parties, but fundamental Christian preachers are represented only in the Republican Party and, from their standpoint, not too well.   Unlike the military and high finance, they are not part of the so-called “deep state“.

Ted Cruz’s platform on his web site gives more information about the specifics of where he stands than that of any of the other candidates.  It shows that he has obviously given a lot of thought not just to what he believes, but how he would accomplish it.

That makes him a more formidable candidate than Donald Trump, who answers questions about policy as if he were thinking about the issues for the very first time.

I have respect Cruz as a intelligent and committed ideological warrior.  But adoption of his political program would mean perpetual quagmire war, upward redistribution of wealth and a vain and divisive attempt to enforce the morality of an earlier America.

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Voters divide on issues mostly along party lines

April 4, 2016

voters-2016-pew

I think the current crisis of American politics is the inability to fit three radically different political movements—for change in our capitalist system (Bernie Sanders), for change in our democratic system (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz) and defenders of the status quo (Hillary Clinton, John Kasich).

Evidently voters see things differently.  Recent Pew Research polls, summarized in the chart above, show that the opinions of American voters on most issues are divided very clearly along party lines.

I was surprised that fewer Sanders supporters said they are angry at the government than are supporters of any of the Republican candidates.

I was not surprised that Trump supporters are more united in opposition to free trade than supporters of any other faction, but I was surprised that Sanders supporters favor free trade in almost the same numbers as Clinton supporters.

The only big difference among the candidates that overlaps party lines is that more Sanders and Trump supporters think that U.S. global involvement makes things worse than Clinton, Cruz or Kasich supporters do.

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Who would be hit by the candidates’ tax plans?

March 7, 2016

blog_tax_income_gain_rubio_trump_cruz_clinton_sanders

Source: Kevin Drum.

Analysts for the Tax Policy Center, which previously analyzed the Rubio, Cruz, Trump and Clinton tax plans, released its analysis of the Sanders tax plan on Friday.

What it shows is that the Republican candidates would reduce taxes for everybody, but mainly for the rich, and the Democratic candidates – Bernie Sanders much more than Hillary Clinton – would increase taxes for everybody, but mainly for the rich.

Other things being equal, tax cuts are better than tax hikes, and low taxes are better than high taxes.  The issue is how necessary are the things that the taxes go to pay for.

The Republican candidates’ argument is that much government spending is wasteful and unnecessary, and that the important think is to allow wealthy people to accumulate capital.  Economic growth created by private investment will be best for the country in the long run.

Bernie Sanders’ argument is that the country has huge unmet national needs, and that tax increases are necessary to pay for them.  Economic growth created by government investment will be best for the country in the long run.

Also, Sanders claims that average Americans will save more on reduced premiums and co-pays under his Medicare-for-all single-payer health plan than they will pay in increased taxes.

Hillary Clinton is somewhere in between, but closer to Sanders than she is to Trump, Cruz or Rubio.  She is probably more concerned about fiscal responsibility and balanced budges than the other four.

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Polls show Sanders as stronger Dem candidate

March 6, 2016

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Bernie_Sanders_the_Democrat_and_Donald_Trump_the_Republican__for_whom_would_you_vote_

Donald Trump may have an overwhelming lead in television coverage, but Bernie Sanders is ahead in major public opinion polls.

A compendium of recent polls by Real Clear Politics indicates

  • Sanders leads Trump, 49.8 percent to 41.8 percent.
  • Sanders leads Ted Cruz, 50 percent to 40.3 percent
  • Hillary Clinton leads Trump by only 45.4 percent to 42 percent.
  • Clinton trails Cruz 45 percent to 46 percent.

It’s way too soon to count Sanders out.

LINKS

General Election: Trump vs. Sanders by Real Clear Politics.

General Election: Trump vs. Clinton by Real Clear Politics.

General Election: Cruz vs. Sanders by Real Clear Politics.

General Election: Cruz vs. Clinton by Real Clear Politics.

Can Hillary Clinton Beat Donald Trump? A Preliminary Look by Gaius Publius for Down With Tyranny!  [added 3/8/2016]

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A guide to the candidates’ economic plans

March 4, 2016

Over the past few months, The Street, an investment news service, published these useful guides to the candidates’ economic proposals.

If Hillary Clinton is elected President, here’s what will happen to the U.S. economy by Leon Lazaroff.

If Ted Cruz were President, here’s what would happen to the U.S. economy by Ross Kenneth Urken.

If Marco Rubio was President, here is what would happen to the U.S. economy by Rhonda Schaffler.

If socialist candidate Bernie Sanders was President, here is what would happen to the to the U.S. economy by Emily Stewart.

If Donald Trump was President, here’s what would happen to the U.S. economy by Emily Stewart.

Report card on the candidates’ foreign policies

February 25, 2016

hawishness-scorecard-revised-554x380

Although I call myself a liberal, I find myself agreeing with writers for The American Conservative these days more than I do with writers for supposedly liberal publications such as The Atlantic.

The editors of the American Conservative published useful summaries of the candidates’ views on foreign policy issues, although with their evaluations, which I agree with.

Their evaluations are based on the idea that (1) the United States should not attack countries that do not threaten us, (2) the United States should not intervene in foreign conflicts that do not concern us and (3) the main mission of the American military should be defense of the homeland rather than world military supremacy.

It is noteworthy, though, that all six issues on which TAC editors focus are problems which the USA has created itself – problems that would not exist if Washington did not seek world military supremacy and had not tried to destabilize Ukraine, conquer Iraq, overthrow Libya and Syria and wage cold war against Iran.

There are less urgent, but more important, problems that we Americans should be thinking about:

  • How to manage our economic relationship with China, the main rival for the United States economically.
  • How to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war, accidental or otherwise, with Russia, the only nation that has the power to destroy the United States militarily.
  • How to help Mexico achieve political stability and economic progress, the only long-range
  • How to work with other nations to mitigate (it is too late to prevent) the threat of global warming.
  • How to manage international trade in a way that benefits Americans and our trading partners (the TPP isn’t it).

But The American Conservative editors are not wrong to focus on the issues they do.  The first step toward making things better is to stop making them worse.

LINK

A 2016 Foreign Policy Report Card by the editors of The American Conservative.

Election 2016: Iowa winnows the candidates

February 2, 2016

What the Iowa caucuses determined is that neither Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton nor any other candidate is a sure thing for their party’s Presidential nomination.

Here are preliminary vote and delegate counts.

Republicans

  • Ted Cruz, 28 percent, eight delegates
  • Donald Trump, 24 percent, seven delegates
  • Marco Rubio, 23 percent, seven delegates
  • Ben Carson, 9 percent, three delegates
  • Rand Paul and Jeb Bush, one delegate each

Democrats

  • Hillary Clinton, 50 percent, 22 delegates
  • Bernie Sanders, 50 percent, 21 delegates

Iowans winnowed the field to five candidates — Cruz, Trump and Rubio among the Republicans, Clinton and Sanders among the Democrats.  And they made Marco Rubio rather than Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or John Kasich the candidate of the Republican and conservative establishment.

LINKS

Cruz wins Iowa Republican caucuses; Clinton and Sanders in near-tie by Patrick Martin for the World Socialist Web Site.  [added later]  Hat tip for this to Bill Harvey.  As he said, this is excellent analysis from an off-beat source.

The Field Guide to Ted Cruz by Erica Grieder for Texas Monthly [added later]

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Good sense (relatively) from Cruz and Trump

December 16, 2015

I wouldn’t vote for Ted Cruz or Donald Trump, but they advocate a less dangerous foreign policy than Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush or even Hillary Clinton.

TedNRCover-775x1024They both recognize that U.S. military interventions in the Middle East have been disasters and that further military intervention is unlikely to produce any better result.   They both think that the best way to fight ISIS is to get out of the way of the enemies of ISIS – Russia, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

[Update 12/17/2015.  On the other hand, Ted Cruz thinks carpet bombing is the route to victory over ISIS, which cancels out any seemingly sensible thing  he might have said.  See the new Juan Cole link below. ]

That makes them significantly different from Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, who want to send ground troops to the Middle East.

The problem with Cruz and Trump is that, while reluctant to increase the number of America’s foreign enemies, they are eager to wage political war against domestic enemies.

trumpweb21n-1-webFor Cruz, these are atheists, secularists, abortionists and gays.  For Trump, these are Mexicans, Muslims and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

This is in contrast to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who seek harmony at home while treating the lives of foreigners in majority-Muslim countries as expendable.

I don’t see why Trump, who wants to bar Muslims from the United States, is morally worse than Rubio, Bush or Clinton, who support aggressive wars resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslim bystanders.

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Five candidates’ economic policies reviewed

October 28, 2015

The Street, an on-line business news site, has published a series of reports on the economic policies of some of the candidates and their possible impact on stock prices and business profits.

I’m more interested in the possible impact on wages, jobs and overall prosperity, but these articles contain good information and fair comment.   The various writers aren’t all that impressed with any of the candidates.

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If Jeb Bush Becomes President, Here’s What Would Happen to the U.S. Economy by Tobias Burns for The Street.

If Ted Cruz Were President, Here’s What Would Happen to the U.S. Economy by Ross Kenneth Urken for The Street.

If Ex-HP Chief Carly Fiorina Was President, Here’s What Would Happen to the U.S. Economy by Carleton English for The Street.

If Socialist Candidate Bernie Sanders Was President, Here’s What Would Happen to the U.S. Economy by Emily Stewart for The Street.

If Donald Trump Was President, Here’s What Would Happen to the U.S. Economy by Emily Stewart for The Street.

The political scene – August 25, 2015

August 25, 2015

The Do-Something-Else Principle by Doug Muder for The Weekly Sift.

The simple-minded populism that controls the GOP by Paul Waldman for The Washington Post.

teaparty.GOP.USA.worldDoug Muder and Paul Waldman wrote about how the leading Republican candidates operate on the principle that “ignorance is strength”.

They not only are uninterested in the details of policy.  They lack understanding of how a Constitutional government works.  They seem to think that Presidents can do anything they want by decree, and the only qualities needed are decisiveness and average common sense.

Dr. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump have no experience or interest in government.  Senator Ted Cruz, although he holds public office, also manifests no interest in actually governing.  The popular appeal of such candidates is a measure of the frustration of the American public with the present bipartisan consensus.

One-party system: What total Republican control of a state really means by Herman Schwartz for Reuters.

The Republican Party has much more grass roots strength at the state level than the Democrats.  But except for those who think gun rights and the suppression of abortion are more important than anything else, they’re not governing in the interest of American working people.

The Age of Imperial Wars by James Petras.

Insouciance Rules the West by Paul Craig Roberts.

The establishment Democrats and Republicans understand the workings of government better than the Tea Party Republicans do.  But in their overall policies, they, too, are either disconnected from reality or powerless to change the direction of a government that is on automatic pilot for drone warfare, covert warfare and proxy warfare.

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The Republican scene – August 13, 2015

August 13, 2015

The War Against Change by John Michael Greer for The Archdruid Report.

Greer argues that the Democratic Party is the party of a failed status quo, except maybe for Bernie Sanders, who wants to restore a few of the New Deal programs of the past.  It is the Republican Party that is the party of change—change for the worse.

Inside the GOP Clown Car by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

RepublicanpartylogoThe Republican candidates in Iowa are trying to out-crazy Donald Trump, and failing.

The 10 Trump Rules by Barry Lefsetz for The Big Picture.  [Added 8/14/2015]

Donald Trump understands how American politics has changed, and the other candidates don’t.

Jeb Bush and Carlos Slim by Steve Sailer for The Unz Review.

The foreign policies of George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Jeb Bush are all shaped by the Bush family’s business ties with Mexican business and political dynasties.

Election 2016: Jeb Bush Leveraged Political Connections for Clients and Allies After Leaving Florida Governorship, Emails Show by Andrew Perez, David Sirota and Matthew Cunningham-Cook for International Business Times.  [Added 8/15/2015]

Scott Walker Gets Schooled by His Neighbor by Eleanor Clift for The Daily Beast.  [Added 8/14/2015]

Democratic Minnesota outperforms Republican Wisconsin.

Scott Walker wants to fire academics with whom he disagrees politically by Michael Mann and Randi Weingarten for The Guardian.

Chris Christie vs. Rand Paul by Andrew Napolitano for The Unz Review.

Chris Christie doesn’t care about the Fourth Amendment or the rest of the Bill of Rights.

How Bobby Jindal Broke the Lousiana Economy by Stephanie Grace for Newsweek. [Added 8/14/2015]

Ted Cruz Wants to Subject Supreme Court Justices to Political Elections by A.J. Vicens for Mother Jones.

Rick Perry Is on the Payroll of His Super-PAC’s Biggest Sugar Daddy by Patrick Caldwell for Mother Jones.

Sam Brownback guts Kansas even more: This is life under America’s worst Republican governor by Paul Rosenberg for Salon.  [Added 8/14/2015]

 

Pro-TPP companies, groups bankroll Clinton

August 7, 2015

CLQEBW4XAAAMhhvSource: LittleSis.

Hillary Clinton in her book, Hard Choices, endorsed the Trans Pacific Partnership.  If she makes any statements appearing to back off from that position, I’d read them like a lawyer looking for loopholes.

She’s been paid more than $2.5 million—actually, more than $2.7 million—in speaking fees by companies and organizations that lobby in favor of the TPP.

Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, two other Democratic candidates for President, are opposed to the TPP, as are Republican candidates Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump.

Republicans Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Perry support the TPP.

I think the TPP is a terrible idea because, based on information now available, it appears to lock in a corporate wish-list as international law.  International corporations, but no other entities, would have the right to appeal to a special tribunal against laws they deem unfair, and the tribunal would have authority to fine governments for allegedly unfair laws.

At the very least Congress should have time to discuss and debate it fully rather than having it rushed through on fast track.

LINKS

Groups lobbying on trade paid Hillary Clinton $2.5 million in speaking fees by Julianna Goldman for CBS News.

TPP Agreement: Where Do 2016 Presidential Candidates Stand on the Trans Pacific Partnership? by Howard Koplowitz for International Business Times.

Donald Trump slams Pacific free trade deal by CNN Money.  Trump appears to be right for wrong reasons.  Like some TPP supporters, he talks as if the TPP is mainly about free trade.

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How PACs control candidates

August 3, 2015

Four PACS – supposedly independent Political Action Committees – have raised $39 million on behalf of the presidential candidacy of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

fatcatBut only a trickle of that money has been released to the Cruz campaign.  Why would a PAC collect money and hold it back?

One answer is that it is a way to keep the candidate in line.  Act in a way that is pleasing to the millionaires and billionaires who give to the pact, and you get your money.  Displease them, and your campaign is cut off.

I can only speculate as to what Ted Cruz has done to displease his political benefactors—whether he has been acting too crazy, or not crazy enough.

But if campaign financing law continues as it is, I think political campaign funders are going to become more obvious in the way they exert control over candidates.

LINKS

Ted Cruz’s Super Stingy Sugar Daddies by Betsy Woodruff for The Daily Beast.

Small Pool of Rich Donors Dominates Election Giving by Nicholas Confessore, Sarah Cohen and Karen Yourish for the New York Times.

Million-Dollar Donors in the 2016 Presidential Race by the New York Times.

The New Holy Grail of Republican Primaries by Rick Perlstein for the Washington Spectator.

The U.S. Senate votes against torture

June 20, 2015

Torture is the ultimate crime against humanity.  It aims at the destruction not just of human life or the human body, but of the human spirit.

So it’s a good thing that the U.S. Senate last Tuesday voted, 78-21, to ban torture by the U.S. government, codifying into law an executive order by President Obama.  As The Guardian explained:

Should the McCain-Feinstein amendment be made law … it will be harder for future administrations to repeat the actions of the Bush administration, which used controversial legal opinions to justify torturing detainees.

Sadly, that’s the most that can be hoped.  A law against torture will not guarantee that the government will not use torture, but it will make it harder to do so.  If law were enough, the Constitution of the United States and international treaties would have been enough to prevent the George W. Bush administration from engaging in torture in the first place.

tortureimageAll 21 Senators who voted in favor of retaining the power to torture were Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senate Majority Whip John Comyn of Texas and Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, one of the Republican presidential candidates.

However, the bill was co-sponsored by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, along with Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.  To their credit, two other Republican presidential candidates, Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and (to my surprise) Senator Ted Cruz of Texas voted in favor.

On the campaign trail, ex-Gov. Jeb Bush said “enhanced interrogation techniques” were necessary during his brother’s administration, but are no longer needed now—leaving open the possibility that torture may be needed in the future.

The very worst statement about the bill was made by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a Republican presidential candidate, who said he’d have voted against the bill if he hadn’t been campaigning.

The fundamental problem we have in America is that nothing matters if we’re not safe.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument ordinary Americans are in serious danger from the likes of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State—which we’re not.  Let’s also assume for the sake of argument that that the Bush torture program made us safer—which it didn’t.

That still wouldn’t make it right to torture prisoners and suspects.   George Washington and Abraham Lincoln led the United States when it was in real danger, and they didn’t stoop to authorizing torture.

The fundamental problem we have in America is that nothing matters if we’re too fearful to care about fundamental human rights and human decency.

LINKS

Senate passes torture ban despite Republican opposition by Paul Lewis for The Guardian.

Marco Rubio’s Fear-Mongering Slogan by Charles P. Pierce for Esquire.

Election 2016: Hillary Clinton’s head start

April 20, 2015

This chart, despite its headline, is good news for Hillary Clinton.

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True, she is a controversial character.  About 48 percent of those polled look on her favorably and 45 percent unfavorably.   But she has a better favorability rating than any of the plausible Republican candidates, especially Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Chris Christie.

She also is a superstar.  Almost as many people recognize her name as recognize the name of the sitting President of the United States.  No Republican candidate is anywhere near as well known as she is.

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Why would ‘boots on the ground’ even work?

February 10, 2015

Conservative and Republican leaders are calling on President Obama to put American “boots on the ground” to resist Putin in Ukraine and the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Middle East.

And the President reportedly plans to ask for authorization to use military force against ISIS.  Since he does not consider aerial bombing, drone strikes or Special Operations missions to be military force, it must be “boots on the ground” that he has in mind.

troops-on-the-groundMy question is:  Given the failure of “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Afghanistan and, before that, in Vietnam, why would you expect success this time?

Over the years, the American armed forces have taught insurgents in countries they occupy how to defeat us.  The Pentagon has not learned how to defeat insurgents.

The U.S. military has the power to attack virtually any nation except Russia or China and reduce it to chaos.  What is doesn’t have the power to do is to pacify the nation afterwards and make its people submit.

Or, as a friend of mine remarked during the Vietnam era, the United States had the power to kill all the North Vietnamese and kill all the South Vietnamese, but it didn’t have the power to make any Vietnamese do what the US wanted.

Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.  This insanity is the real Vietnam Syndrome.

LINKS

Boots on the Ground? Yes by Thomas Donnelly for The Weekly Standard.

John McCain: US Boots on the Ground Better Than ISIS on American Soil by Greg Richter for Newsmax.

Gov. Scott Walker Wouldn’t Rule Out U.S. Boots on the Ground in Syria by Jessica Puckett for ABC News’ The Note.

Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham at Odds Over ‘Boots on the Ground’ by David Knowles for Bloomberg Politics.   Interesting that Cruz resists being sucked into this.

Obama readying request to use force against Islamic State by Patricia Zengerle for Reuters.

It’s the lessons the U.S. didn’t learn from Vietnam that makes its loss there the real tragedy by Robert Freeman for Salon.  (Hat tip to Cannonfire).

Burying Vietnam, Launching Perpetual War by Christian Appy for TomDispatch.

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Graphics with words speak louder than words

November 12, 2014

Graphics with words can be a better form of communication than words alone.

Two cases in point:

Old white guy power, and other election topics

November 4, 2014

Who’s Buying the Election? A Bunch of Old White Guys by Zoe Carpenter for The Nation.

Speaking as an old white guy, I do not feel represented by the rich people who finance the election campaigns.  And I can say the same is true of my old white male circle of friends.

The problem with our system of campaign financing is that it is dominated by a tiny group of super-rich people, less than 0.1 percent of the population, whose economic interests run counter to the rest of us, including the vast majority of us elderly white males.

Making this elite more diverse will not change this.  What’s needed is to reduce its power.

Two Charts on Why the Obama Economy Sucks by Ian Welsh.

Ian Welsh points out that the percentage of working-age Americans with jobs fell and remained low all through the Obama administration, as did median household income.  Although the election is influenced by many factors, Republicans would not have a shot at controlling the Senate if economic conditions were better for most Americans.

Now the Democrats did not create the recession, nor are they responsible for the fact that it is much worse than a normal economic downturn.  And it is true they face obstruction from Republicans in Congress and on the Supreme Court.  But what have they done, or tried to do, or talked about doing, aside from a modest economic stimulus plan, that would make things better?  It seems to me they’ve swallowed the meme that reducing the budget deficit takes precedence over putting Americans to work.

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The passing scene: Links & comments 10/7/14

October 7, 2014

Foreign Policy by Ted Cruz: Bible thumping and carpet bombing by Philip Giraldi for The Unz Review.

Senator Ted Cruz, the junior Republican Senator from Texas, appeals to the type of person who thinks that every problem has a military solution, a Biblical solution or a free-market solution.  His foreign policy is to double down on everything the United States is now doing wrong.

He rejects any attempt to make peace with Russia or Iran.  He advocates quick, decisive and short military interventions—in other words, make messes and walk away from them.  He believes in standing with Israel and standing with the world’s embattled Christians (which I do, too, to the extent that it is feasible), but overlooks the fact that the interests and policies of Israel don’t necessarily coincide with the interests and views of Arab Christians.

No nation, no matter how powerful, can afford to anger and frighten the rest of the world, because, sooner or later, the rest of the world will unite against it.  This is the problem of American foreign policy.  If Ted Cruz were in charge, and did what he said, the process would accelerate.

Who is Saul Alinsky and why does the right hate him so much? by Dylan Matthews for Vox.

The late Saul Alinsky, like Ted Cruz, was called a demagogue, but he was the exact opposite.

Alinsky is the father of community organizing.  Right wingers demonize him, while they admire and imitate his tactics.  What they despise is his goal, which was to empower the powerless.

Hillary Clinton once met Alinsky, and Barack Obama was a community organizer himself, but neither followed in his footsteps.  I wish they had.

Inside the Koch Brothers Toxic Empire by Tim Dickinson for Rolling Stone.

Charles and David Koch, each with a fortune of more than $40 billion, pour their money into campaigns of Republican politicians who oppose government regulation.  They get their money from Koch Industries, one of the nation’s most notorious polluters, with a record of air pollution, toxic waste dumping and oil spills caused by lack of preventive maintenance.  The Kochs’ business interests and political philosophy are one.

Why doesn’t President Obama compromise?

October 1, 2013

FundingLevelCharticle-1

Why doesn’t President Obama compromise with the congressional Republicans on the budget?  As the chart above shows, he already has compromised a lot—more, in my opinion, than he should have.

The congressional Republicans say that the President is more willing to negotiate with the  Iranian government than he is with them.  I would say that the reason is there is more possibility of give and take with the Iranians than there is with the Republicans.

government-shutdownIt is the hallmark of a revolutionary party that when it runs candidates for elective office, it is not for the purpose of participating in government, but of undermining it.   Revolutionaries do not regard governmental power as legitimate.  The radical right-wingers in Congress, and their grass-roots supporters do not regard the present U.S. government as legitimate.  They think it is a good thing, not a bad thing, when government ceases to function.

So long as they hold that attitude, there is no point in trying to work with them.  It is necessary to find a way to work around them.

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