Monday, November 9, 2015











Friday, November 6, 2015

New Debate Rules! Bush 41 Unplugged!

WHAT A WAY TO RUN A RAILROAD – In spite of all the carping over CNBC’s handling of the last Republican debate the RNC is continuing with its questionable strategy of allowing the media to determine which candidates are worthy of a coveted podium spot on stage. Make the cut and you have the opportunity to make your case to 15-20 million people. Miss the cut and you are one step removed from a political funeral.

Next Tuesday’s GOP debate will be hosted by the Fox Business News network. Yesterday FBN announced the results of its arbitrary analysis of the heretofore secretive and arbitrary polls used to determine which arbitrary candidates they deem arbitrarily worthy to appear on stage.

For some arbitrary reason FBN decided to ignore the results of the highly acclaimed CBS News/New York Times poll and replaced it with the not so highly acclaimed Investor’s Business News Daily/TIPP poll. The network also changed the arbitrary criteria used to qualify for the prime time debate. Candidates now had to score an arbitrary 2.5% or higher in an average of the four most recent national polls to quality.

As a result only 8 candidates will appear on the prime time stage instead of the previous 10. Governor Chris Christie and former Governor Mike Huckabee will no longer be sparring in the prime time event; having been demoted to the undercard. Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore were arbitrarily deemed unworthy of even an appearance on the undercard.

I disagree politically with almost everything Lindsey Graham stands for. But Senator Graham is the only Republican candidate to have served in the military. He is the only Republican candidate that can contribute decades of experienced service on the Armed Services Committee to the discussion. Our country is conducting military operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen. I believe Graham’s contribution to this debate will be sorely missed.

Polls are important. But a candidate's standing in an arbitrary poll should not be the only thing one should consider when selecting a nominee for the presidency.

THANK GOD FOR GEORGE H. W. BUSH – History has been very kind to George H. W. Bush. Think what you like about his politics; there can be no denying that he is one of the most highly respected individuals to ever hold the office of president. His strength of character is above reproach.

It must have been hard for Bush 41 to listen to the endless stream of disparaging commentary leveled against his son, our nation’s 43rd president. It would be hard for any father resist the urge to lash out in his son’s defense. But true to his character Bush the elder kept his thoughts to himself.

Until now.

In a new biography to be released next week: “Destiny and Power: the American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush” Pulitzer Prize winning author Jon Meacham gets the elder statesman to reveal his inner most thoughts on his son’s presidency and those who gave him counsel.

For the most part the elder Bush agreed with his son’s policies. However it is clear that Bush 41 deeply regrets the “hawkish” nature of his son’s administration and he fault’s his son’s use of inflammatory “Axis of evil” rhetoric for fanning the flames. “Hot rhetoric is pretty easy to get headlines, but it doesn’t necessarily solve the diplomatic problem.”

The elder statesman saved his harshest criticism for his son’s primary advisors: former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former Vice President, Dick Cheney.

In the book the elder statesman refers to Rumsfeld as: “an arrogant fellow…I think he served the president badly…There is a lack of humility, a lack of seeing what the other guy thinks…he’s more kick ass and take names…I think that he paid a price for that.”

Bush 41 was equally hard on Cheney; who served as his Secretary of Defense: ‘He just became very hard line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with. Just iron ass…knuckling under to the real hard charging guys wo want to fight about everything…use force to get our way in the Middle East…he had his own empire and marched to his own drummer…The big mistake that was made was letting Cheney bring in kind of his own state department…But it’s not Cheney’s fault…It’s the president’s fault…The buck stops there.”

I have long believed that the Bush 43 administration was unduly influenced by the hawkish leanings of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. A war footing brought on by the embarrassment of being at the helm on 9/11 and a palpable fear that it could happen again. A thirst for revenge so blinding that it led to the worst foreign policy decision in our country’s history. Many, including the former Vice President, would have us re-write that history. Not Bush 41.

“It’s the president’s fault.” He said. “The buck stops there.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"Outsider" Shocker Sends Strong Message To Washington

Off year elections seldom resonate with the power brokers in Washington.

This off year there is one race that is certain to get their attention.

Matt Bevin woke up this morning as the newly elected Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He becomes the first Republican to win the Kentucky governor’s mansion in four decades.

Bevin is multi-millionaire and a political outsider. Until yesterday his political claim to fame was a failed Tea Party challenge for Mitch McConnell’s senate seat in the 2014 mid-terms. McConnell destroyed him. When the polls opened yesterday Bevin trailed his Democrat opponent, Jack Conway by 5 points. The talking class all but ruled him finished; his outsider status, lagging poll numbers and IRS issues deemed wounds too fatal to overcome.

Kentucky voters discounted all of that and handed him the win…by 9 points.

Bevin is not the guy that the moderate Republican establishment want to see in power. Neither do the Democrats.

Bevin appealed to the far right fringe. Bevin is pro-life…wants to defund Planned Parenthood…and campaigned hard against gay marriage.

But the number one message that he carried throughout the campaign was a call to repeal Obamacare. Bevin made it clear that if elected his first priority would be to cut back on the state’s Medicaid expansion, shut down its state run insurance exchange and end Obamacare.

Under current Democratic Governor Steve Beshear, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has become the poster child for all that is good about Obamacare. Beshear accepted the expansion of Medicaid and established Kynect; the state run insurance exchange. Kynect has been incredibly successful; the most successful state run exchange in the nation. Today, over $480,000+ previously uninsured Kentuckians have health care coverage through the exchange.

Bevin says he will tear it all down. He has yet to explain what if anything he will do to replace it.

Matt Bevin’ election will send a shiver through the political elites on both sides of the aisle. Will his “outsider” triumph be a political outlier or a harbinger of things to come in the 2016 general election?

You can be sure that the power brokers on both sides of the aisle will be watching Bevin’s first 100 days in office with keen interest.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"What's Past is Prologue!"

There is an axiom in Republican politics that says: “A Republican candidate cannot win the White House without winning 40% of the Hispanic vote.” This is a principle with roots dating back to the 2004 campaign when George W. Bush won the White House with 40% of the Hispanic vote.

Latino Decisions for the America’s Voice is a polling organization that analyzes Latino voting trends. According to their findings; in 2004 the Hispanic community constituted roughly 7% of the voters. In 2008 that number rose to 8%. In 2012 that number increased to 9% and in 2016 it is expected that Hispanics will make up almost 11% of the voters. Latino Decisions estimates that in 2016 a Republican
candidate will need 47% of the Hispanic vote to have any chance of winning the White House. The increase a direct result of the surge of voting age Hispanics living in the country.
Not convinced? Consider this…

Michael Murphy and Steve Schmidt are two of the most reasonable, thoughtful Republicans that I know. They have long and successful careers as Republican strategists on the national stage and are highly regarded in conservative circles. Both of these distinguished gentlemen have been preaching to their fellow conservatives that the 40% rule is still valid today. In fact, given the change in demographics they believe that the number is more like 42%-47%.

FYI…the losing Romney campaign won only 20% of the Hispanic vote.

So…given the critical importance of the Hispanic vote in 2016…what steps has the Republican Party taken in the first 100 days of campaigning to win over the Hispanic community?

On June 16, 2015 Donald Trump officially declared that he was running for president. In his announcement speech Trump said this about the Hispanics flooding over our southern border: “They’re bringing crime. They’re bringing drugs. They’re rapists…” Trump also announced that if elected he would use law enforcement to round up all of the 12 million illegal immigrants in this country and send them back over the border. Trump would also deport the children of illegal immigrants including those children born in the United States. Trump was rewarded for his immigration views by likely primary voters who voted him frontrunner status in all national polls taken during the first 100 days of the campaign.

As of this writing all 14 candidates for the GOP nomination support the deportation of all illegal immigrants currently living in this country. All 14 candidates oppose any path to citizenship for illegals.

All 14 candidates have spoken out against President Obama’s use of executive orders to grant temporary amnesty to illegal immigrants living in this country.

The Republican led House and Senate favor the deportation of all illegal immigrants and oppose any path to citizenship.

Outraged over CNBC’s treatment of the GOP candidates during the most recent presidential debate; Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced that the RNC was suspending the debate currently scheduled to air on Telemundo; another NBC affiliated network. Telemundo is to the Hispanic community what Fox New is to conservatives. Telemundo is THE new outlet where Hispanics get their news.

In an interview aired this past Sunday on “Meet the Press,” newly elected Speaker of the House told moderator Chuck Todd that the House would not be bringing a comprehensive immigration bill to the floor for a vote as long as the current president is in off because “the president is untrustworthy on the subject of immigration reform.”

In ninety days the American people will officially begin the process of selecting the next leader of the free world. Iowa will hold its caucus on February 1st. New Hampshire voters will cast their primary ballots on February 9. South Caroline is next on February 27.

The general election is one year from today.

What will the GOP do to attract the Hispanic vote that is key to their winning the White House?

If the last 100 days are any indication of what lies ahead…

Monday, November 2, 2015

We Are Moving!



A few weeks ago I received a transformative email from a childhood friend. Bob Hermann, Principal of Liaison Consulting Services, read my blog and found enough worthy content in my ramblings to offer some professional advice.

Bob felt that I could expand the reach of this space exponentially through the use of social media. He offered several interesting ideas on how the process might work.

As a social media dinosaur I understood the concept but had no idea how to go about it. Bob graciously offered to lend his considerable expertise to the undertaking.

For the past several weeks Liaison Consulting Services has expended considerable time and effort to construct a very cool website for this space; augmenting it via platforms on Facebook and twitter. To say that I am pleased with their effort would be a gross understatement. The site is awesome and I am excited about the possibilities moving forward.


Viewers will get my usual take on politics, archival access to previous posts and links to the most important sources framing our political discourse. You’ll also be able to follow and interact with me via Facebook and twitter.

I’ll be spending the next few days honing my social media skills. I’ll also be keeping my eye on the important topics of the day.

Watch this space for more info on the new website.

As the wise and worldly George Jefferson once said: “We’re movin’ on up!”

Friday, October 30, 2015

GOP Candidates Revolt! Meet To Bargain Collectively!

The GOP candidates are mad as hell…and they’re not going to take it anymore!

The Republican Party has railed against the liberal bias of the main street media for as long as I can remember. And so it came as quite a shock when I learned that the Republican National Committee had decided to cede production control of its important presidential debates to various new outlets.

Now, three debates into the cycle, it appears that the committee’s decision has resulted in a candidate revolt against both the media and the RNC.

The GOP candidates are up in arms over the debates. They are unhappy with the selection process and the length of time on stage. They are unhappy about the type of questions being asked…the “gotcha” questions and what they claim to be demeaning queries posed for the sole purpose of embarrassing the candidate. They are unhappy with the inadequate time they are given to respond. They are unhappy with the tone and tenor of the moderators. And they are unhappy with the RNC; who they believe failed to adequately represent their best interests during negotiations with the biased media outlets.

Two days ago the nation watched as this anger was unleashed during the third presidential debate. Almost every candidate on stage took valuable debate time to lash out at the media in general and the moderators specifically. They stood united against the evils of the biased left wing main street media.

Last night we learned that the GOP candidates are taking their dissatisfaction with debate process to another level.

POLITICO is reporting that this coming Sunday representatives of each of the GOP contestants will meet behind closed doors to discuss their dissatisfaction with debate process. It is expected that they will cobble together a list of demands that they expect to be met moving forward.

It is interesting to note that the leaders in organizing this meeting are the “unqualified never held an elected office outsiders” Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

It is also interesting to note that the RNC was not invited to attend.

One of the major tenants of conservative ideology is a push back against workers’ rights to bargain collectively. The GOP has no stomach for unions. Any elected official whose resume’ includes a history of fighting successfully against organized labor is a hero in the eyes of the Grand Old Party. For example Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is highly regarded for beating back the employees’ union in his state. He made his bones and won three gubernatorial elections on the strength of his success against organized labor. Walker is not the first to ascend within the Party largely due to his stance against organized labor and he most certainly will not be the last.

So given the Party’s history of fighting against organized labor, I find it fascinating that fourteen of the most highly accredited members of the Republican Party would pool their resources to bargain collectively for better working conditions. Presidential wannabes who have worked tirelessly to deny others the right to bargain collectively now coming together when it suits their personal interests.

The hypocrisy here is beyond the pale.

Just another example of those who find it easy to preach their conservative ideology to others but are unable to practice it themselves.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Winners and Losers! Payback?

“Governor Huckabee…you have said that a candidate for president must have the moral authority to unite the country. When you look at Donald Trump do you see someone who has the moral authority to unite the country?”

That was just one of several “controversial” questions directed by moderators toward the candidates in last night’s Republican debate. CNBC’s John Harwood the author of that particular query.

Another Harwood gem. This time to Donald Trump: “Is this (Trump’s run for the White House) a comic book version of a presidential campaign?”

If you watched either of the previous two GOP presidential debates you had to tune into last night’s event with expectations of some amount of mudslinging among the candidates. I bet you didn’t anticipate that the moderators would be there in the pit with them.

You know it’s bad when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, having been interrupted by the moderator several times says: “to tell you the truth…even in New Jersey what you are doing is called rude.”

What was supposed to be a debate about economic issues turned into a hot mess. The largest applause lines came after Christie, Rubio, Cruz and Trump called out the moderators and the media for their bias and faulty reporting. It was as if decades of pent up Republican anger over perceived main street media bias finally exploded.

Who won the debate? Who knows? It depends what you are looking for.

It terms of optics and performance…Rubio and Cruz shined. Rubio’s comments and responses were more scripted whereas Cruz let it fly off the cuff. Both were effective. Christie had some notable moments.

As far as substance…it was a train wreck. Christie did a good job of laying out the facts about the solvency problems of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. His solutions, which include raising the retirement age, are politically unpopular but economically accurate. He demonstrated political courage in putting them out there. Kasich did a good job of explaining how his economic strategies worked to balance the federal budget in Washington turn a deficit into a surplus in Ohio. Ben Carson’s economic proposal made no sense in part because he could not articulate it in any form of the English language. The other candidates’ economic plans and tax reform proposals were pure pandering with no grasp of reality.

Trump was very quiet. The other candidates didn’t bother Trump much after he eviscerated Kasich’s opening bell attempt to marginalize both the Trump and Carson candidacies. He remained in the shadows until the end where he rightly took full credit for negotiating a deal with CNBC that reduced the scheduled length of the debate from 3.5 hours to 2 hours. He gave Carson credit for joining him in the effort. Trump’s parting shot: “CNBC wanted the debate to go 3 to 3 and a half hours. It’s too long. Nobody is going to watch. I found out that CNBC was charging $250,000 for a 30 second commercial. They wanted a 3-3.5 hour debate. So even though it cost them a lot of money in 2 minutes I negotiated them down to 2 hours so we can all get the hell out of here. I’ll do the same for America.”
Current Iowa frontrunner Ben Carson, ended the night unscathed. The presumed full frontal attacks never happened.

Still looking for winners and losers? Consider this…

The pundits all had Rubio and Cruz as the co-winners with Trump right on their heels. Post-debate online polls from Drudge, Times and CNBC all had Trump as the clear winner going away.

There was no debating the loser. Jeb Bush.

In the run up to this debate the Bush Campaign was in a death spiral. The consensus was that the former governor needed a strong performance to soothe the rattled nerves of supporters and donors. Last week’s big summit meeting with Bush 41, Bush 43 and major donors and divisors gave credence to the narrative. Bush came out as before…flat…docile…in a nerdy kind of way. His attempts to go on the offensive often backfired. His performance lackluster. Bush knew it. In post-debate comments he told reporters: “If they want a performer, I’m not the guy.” Unfortunately the ability to “perform” in difficult situations is a key component in being president. There are more debates to come. More chances for “Jeb!” to repair his image. Is it too late?

The other big loser last night was the main street media in general and the CNBC moderators in particular. Presidential debates should be about the candidates and their views on the issues. They should not be about the moderators. They should not be about “gotcha” questions and orchestrating must see TV mudslinging moments.

There is an old adage about dealing with the media that says: “Never enter into a war of words with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” Ten GOP candidates tested that theory last night. Payback can be a bitch.