Weekly Musing 3-1-15

Weekly Musing 3-1-15

Saul Anuzis

Conservatives Speak At Values Voters Summit In Washington

Cruz Wow’s CPAC…But Can He Win?

We need the right candidate, with the right message to win. And Ted Cruz is the right candidate – in significant part because of his ability to build and attract a coalition that will be vibrant beyond just expanding our grassroots conservative turnout.

Cruz is a leader who is not afraid to stand on principle, speak out for what he believes and ruffle more than a few feathers when it comes time to standing up and fighting for the future of our Republic and everything that has made America the greatest country in the history of mankind.

He’s the candidate many in the mainstream media and Washington chattering class love to hate. He is demonized by many while revered by so many more throughout the heartland of America. He speaks his mind, stands his ground and is willing to fight the fight.

Cruz is grounded by a loving family, his Christian faith, his conservative principles and a moral compass that is all too often lacking in political life.

Cruz is a movement conservative.

I will readily admit, like with any of the other candidates, he has his strengths and his weaknesses. I don’t always agree with his tactics or rhetoric. I might like to see a more measured approach to governing and politics. But I never question his principles or his values.

When I listen to him, I am often reminded of one of my first political heroes, Phil Crane. I will never forget when I first met Crane while still a college student when he told our group, “I would rather stand on my principles and lose, than lose my principles and win”.

Well, Ted Cruz is willing to stand on his principles AND because of that, I think is uniquely qualified and positioned to win.



After Five Years Of Obamanomics, A Record 100 Million Americans Not Working

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs report for December counted 74,000 jobs created last month. That was less than half the 200,000 new jobs expected.

Nevertheless, the BLS reported those 74,000 new jobs as reducing at least what it calls the U3 unemployment rate by three tenths of a percentage point, from 7.0% to 6.7%. That was because 347,000 workers fled the work force altogether last month, and so were no longer counted as unemployed.

Those 347,000 workers leaving the workforce altogether were almost 5 times (4.689) the 74,000 new jobs created. But the BLS, and the New York Times, still count that as headline unemployment plummeting on net to 6.7% from 7.0%. In fact, all of the decline in the U3 headline unemployment rate since President Obama entered office has been due to workers leaving the work force, and therefore no longer counted as unemployed, rather than to new jobs created.

Those 347,000 for December, 2013, however, are still out there not working, and suffering. Indeed, they joined a near record of more than 102 million Americans not working in December, all still out there and suffering without jobs. Those 102 million Americans are the human face of an employment-population ratio stuck at a pitiful 58.6%. In fact, more than 100 million Americans were not working in Obama’s workers’ paradise for all of 2013 and 2012.

The 102.159 million Americans not working in December is not the all-time record of Americans not working. That all-time record was set in October, 2013, at 102.896 million. The employment-population ratio that month was an even more pitiful 58.2%.


Jeb Bush to GOP faithful: ‘I am a conservative'; Ted Cruz to CPAC: ‘Demand proof’

In his speeches and appearances, Jeb Bush readily points to his conservative credentials — tax cuts and smaller government as Florida’s governor — yet convincing the activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference that he’s one of them might be a tougher sell.

A sign of what Bush faces at CPAC: His speech Friday in Washington follows those by conservative heroes Sen. Marco Rubio, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Rand Paul and former Sen. Rick Santorum. Tea party activist William Temple is urging people to walk out when Bush takes the podium.

“We’re tired of CPAC inviting non-conservatives to come to speak,” Temple told the Associated Press.

And then there is the challenge laid down for the party faithful by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Speaking at CPAC on Thursday, Cruz told an enthusiastic audience that Republicans must not let themselves be tricked into picking a moderate presidential nominee in 2016, instead demanding that hopefuls have a demonstrated commitment to conservatism.


Obama’s Multipronged Assault on Truth and Reality

President Obama is fond of invoking the term “narrative,” so it’s worth considering several instances in which he invokes exactly the wrong narrative–the wrong frame–around events.

The most obvious is the president’s repeated insistence that militant Islam is utterly disconnected from the Islamic faith. As this much-discussed essay in the Atlantic points out:

Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”

…Here, then, are three separate examples of the president imposing a false narrative on events. (I could cite many others.) Which makes Mr. Obama a truly post-modern president, in which there is no objective truth but simply narrative. Mr. Obama doesn’t just distort the facts; he inverts them. He makes things up as he goes along. This kind of thing isn’t unusual to find in the academy. But to see a president and his aides so thoroughly deconstruct truth is quite rare, and evidence of a stunningly rigid and dogmatic mind.

The sheer audacity of Mr. Obama’s multipronged assault on truth is one of the more troubling aspects of his deeply troubling president.


Putin Fist

The new Cold War: Putin issues chilling new threat as Nato chief says tensions with Russia could end in ‘all out conflict’ Military chiefs have warned that Britain has entered a new Cold War with Russia, as Vladimir Putin threatened anyone who tried to pressure his country.

Amid growing tensions over Ukraine, Putin said ‘no one should have any illusions that it’s possible to achieve military superiority over Russia or apply any kind of pressure on it’.

Adding that his forces would always have an ‘adequate response’, he vowed to step up an ambitious military modernisation, with hundreds of new combat jets, missiles and other weapons.

His comments sparked renewed concern about the UK’s capability to cope in the event of a conflict with Russia.

Britain’s top military commander in Nato spoke of an ‘era of constant competition with Russia’, while a former RAF chief said the UK was in ‘a different sort of Cold War.’


Putin Critic – Prominent Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov shot dead

Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down Saturday near the Kremlin, just a day before a planned protest against the government.

The death of Nemtsov, a 55-year-old former deputy prime minister, ignited a fury among opposition figures who assailed the Kremlin for creating an atmosphere of intolerance of any dissent and called the killing an assassination. Putin quickly offered his condolences and called the murder a provocation.

Nemtsov was working on a report presenting evidence that he believed proved Russia’s direct involvement in the separatist rebellion that erupted in eastern Ukraine last year. Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of backing the rebels with troops and sophisticated weapons. Moscow denies the accusations.

Putin ordered Russia’s top law enforcement chiefs to personally oversee the probe of Nemtsov’s killing.


NEW Facebook Page…

I’m heading over to a new Facebook page…PLEASE join me there… I started a new Facebook page to get around my “friend” limit…and play more politics-:) I’m going to slowly move off the “personal” page and only engage on this new page.  Join me & “like” here: https://www.facebook.com/SaulAnuzis

Stay In Touch…Feel Free to Share

My goal is for this to be a weekly political update…sharing political news and analysis that should be of interest to most activists.

Please share.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook.

On Facebook at:


On Twitter at:


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Thanks again for all you do!

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Weekly Musing 2-22-15

Weekly Musing 2-22-15

Saul Anuzis

Ronna Romney McDaniel

Congratulations Ronna Romney McDaniel

I was proud to watch our party elect a “new generation” of leadership, as Ronna Romney McDaniel and her Co-Chair Jeff Sakwa garnered nearly 55% of the vote in a three-way contest.   Ronna is a young, energetic woman committed to growing our party!  I’m excited to stand with her and wish her the best of luck!


Thank You Chairman Bobby Schostak

Thanks to Bobby Schostak and his Co-Chair Sharon Wise for their service over the last four years.  I still remember some of my earliest meetings with Bobby trying to convince him he “had to get involved” because he could make a difference.  He jumped in and gave it 110% from presidential politics to the grassroots…he travelled the state tireless for our party.  Thank you for your leadership.

Ronna Romney McDaniel new chairperson of Michigan GOP

National Committeewoman Ronna Romney McDaniel pledged to help elect a Republican president in 2016 as she was elected Saturday the new chairperson of the Michigan Republican Party.

McDaniel, the niece of former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was considered the frontrunner going into Saturday’s gathering at the Lansing Center and won over two other candidates with 55 percent of the vote. Oakland County businessman Jeff Sakwa was elected vice-chair.

The assemblage of more than 2,000 Republicans from across the state chose Romney over two other challengers, businessman Norm Hughes of Metamora, who held posts in the presidency of Ronald Reagan, and Kim Shmina, a nurse practitioner from Fair Haven.

McDaniel, who lives in Northville, announced her candidacy shortly after Bobby Schostak announced he wouldn’t seek a third term as chairman of the state party. She compiled an impressive list of endorsements from party insiders and Republican state lawmakers.

McDaniel was elected to the Republican National Committee in February of 2014 to replace Terri Lynn Land, who resigned to focus on an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate.

“We need to get a Republican in the White House through Michigan in 2016,” she said in her acceptance speech.


Swing-state poll: Voters want change

Voters in three key swing states that went for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 say they want the next president’s policies to be different from those of the current administration, according to new polls by Quinnipiac University.

Asked whether they would like to see the next White House occupant continue with Obama’s policies or go in a different direction, voters polled in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia replied that it’s time for a change in direction.

In both Colorado and Iowa, 58 percent of voters surveyed want the next president to have different policies, with 34 percent saying things should continue as they are. The number of dissatisfied voters is even higher in Virginia, where 61 percent say the next president should cut a different path from the current one.


Ted Cruz Big Flag

GOP 2016: Playbook’s Top 5 most likely to win The debut edition of our leader board of the Republicans most likely to win the presidential nomination, based on what we know now, shows the field may not be as big as most people think.

5) SEN. TED CRUZ (age 44): His right-wing lingo and street cred could propel him to an Iowa win, which would rattle the GOP establishment and ignite a media frenzy. He heads to Florida on Friday, venturing onto Jeb/Marco turf, as Rand did yesterday. Cruz is trying to look more serious and less scary by emphasizing national security – he did fine last Sunday in satellite interviews from the Munich Security Conference with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week,” and Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Don’t discount how much true-believers like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) like the guy.


The Great Blue Wall, the Republican race to victory

Since 1992, there have been six presidential elections. In that time, there are 18 states plus the District of Columbia that have voted Democratic in every one of those six elections. Those states total 242 electoral votes. The Democrats start 2016 within 28 electoral votes of winning the election.

Also since 1992, there have been only 13 states that voted Republican in every one of the last six elections, and they only total 102 electoral votes.

Someone needs to tell the Republican Party it is in serious trouble. If the party nominates the next guy in line, like it did with John McCain in ’08 and Mitt Romney in 12, it will be in trouble.

If the Republican Party nominates someone like Jeb Bush, the next guy in line, he will run a campaign dictated by consultants. Those are the same guys who blew the 2012 campaign where Mr. Romney could not lose.

All the Warren campaign will have to do is blast hundreds of millions of dollars from the legal and illegal campaign contributions the Democrats receive from liberal billionaires, liberal dark money groups, unions and illegal overseas contributors. The race will come down to Florida. Florida is a battleground state. In 2000 and 2004 it went Republican. In 2008 and 2012 it went Democrat. If the Democrat nominee wins Florida in 2016, it is game over. The Democrat wins.

In order for the generic Republican candidate to win, he must win every state the Republicans won in the last six elections. He must win every state the Republicans have carried in the last five presidential elections. He must also win every state the Republicans have carried in four of the last six presidential elections. In addition, he must carry every state the Republicans have won in only three of the last six elections. Then, the Republicans must win Ohio, which they have carried only twice in the last six elections; or win Nevada and two of the three states they have carried only once in the last six presidential elections; or if Ohio and Nevada are lost, carry all three states that have only gone Republican once in the last six elections.


Obama Changed His Party, Not the Country

As a presidential candidate, President Obama expressed his desire to “change the trajectory of America” along the lines of Ronald Reagan, rebuking the legacy of Bill Clinton’s pragmatic presidency in the process. Now that his own presidency is winding down, Obama is finding that his main legacy is only half-achieved. He has indeed transformed the Democratic party to his liking, but failed to get anyone else to follow suit.

At the same time, there’s no doubt he’s successfully pushed Democrats to adopt his favored policies with minimal dissent—and that will have lasting consequences for many elections to come. Despite uneven personal relations with his own party in Congress, there have been very few instances when his party’s members have split from his governing course, even on issues where the politics would dictate they should.

That’s the consequence of being the most polarizing president in history, according to Gallup’s latest polling analysis. Obama maintains strong support from his core supporters, even as Republicans have entirely abandoned him and independents have followed suit. Gallup found 79 percent of Democrats still backing him, even with a 42.6 percent average approval rating in his sixth year in office. That unusually large disconnect has emboldened the president to push forward on controversial issues that few other Democrats would touch, thanks to unyielding support from his base.


Potential candidates are using social-media accounts to show policy chops, personality

But social-media users mention her frequently. Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) is the only potential 2016 presidential contender who has garnered more mentions on Twitter than Mrs. Clinton since the November elections, according to data from Twitter. On Facebook, Mrs. Clinton’s name turns up almost twice as often as any likely GOP presidential candidate, according to Facebook.

In her scant Twitter messages, Mrs. Clinton mixes policy with nods to her personal life. A new grandmother, she urged parents to vaccinate their children at a time when Mr. Paul had questioned vaccine safety, with a message on Twitter that said: “The science is clear.” That message—ending with a hashtag, “#GrandmothersKnowBest”—was retweeted nearly 41,000 times, far more than recent tweets by any other White House hopeful.


Mapping Migration in the United States

On Thursday, we published a series of interactive charts showing how Americans have moved between states since 1900. The charts show striking patterns for many states: You can trace the rise of migrant and immigrant populations all along the Southwest, particularly in Texas and Arizona; the influx of New Yorkers and other Northeasterners into Florida starting in the 1970s; and the growth in the Southern share of the Illinois population during the Great Migration.

In 1900, 95 percent of the people living in the Carolinas were born there, with similarly high numbers all through the Southeast. More than a hundred years later, those percentages are nearly cut in half.

Taken individually, each state tells its own story, and each makes for fascinating reading. As a follow-up, here is the big picture: a map showing all of the states at a given time.\

Each shape represents where the people living in a state were born. Within a state, larger shapes mean a group makes up a larger share of the population.


The U.S. Should Arm Ukraine—But Not Because This War Is Winnable

This is perhaps the most salient point missing from the current argument over whether to send Ukraine more arms and gear. The question is not whether Ukraine can “defeat” Russia, any more than we’d ask whether a pot of honey could defeat a bear. Ukraine’s military remains desiccated from years of former President Viktor Yanukovych’s malfeasance and inattention. The Ukrainian military’s current stock of anti-tank/anti-armor weaponry is 20 years old, and 70 percent of it is out of commission anyway, as noted in a recent Brookings report led by former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer and former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. Cronyism and corruption have gutted the military, leaving the armed forces, like many other Ukrainian state institutions, sapped.

The point of increasing arms to Ukraine is not, as Bloomberg’s editorial board claimed, to simply “escalat[e] a fight that it’s almost certain to lose.” Nor is the aim to deter any form of immediate Russian retreat. The point, rather, is to inflict more casualties than the Russian government is willing to stomach. As noted in the Brookings report, “Only if the Kremlin knows that the risks and costs of further military action are high will it seek to find an acceptable political solution.” The Kremlin has already gone to inordinate lengths to keep this fight away from domestic scrutiny. Thus far, the Kremlin has proven capable of muddying its participation with the warlords of eastern Ukraine. But as bodies pile up, the Kremlin’s ruse will collapse.

While some analysts argue that the Kremlin will respond to increased arms deliveries by ramping up its own forces, the Kremlin has already crafted a wealth of fabricated reasons to swell its ranks in Ukraine. The Kremlin-controlled media have sold mass graves, American forces in eastern Ukraine, and toddler crucifixions to the Russian public. Moscow has beaten the drum of American and NATO support in Ukraine for months on end. That this new shipment could be played as some game-changer to a Russian public already saturated by images of putative fascist-lovers in Washington and Brussels remains unlikely. Plus, Washington has already sent Ukraine tens of millions of dollars in military assistance—with a further $350 million authorized through the Ukraine Freedom Support Act. This isn’t some volte face the Kremlin can point to.

Bringing Ukraine’s anti-armor weaponry into the 21st century won’t create a watershed the Kremlin couldn’t already create on its own. Providing Ukraine with drones and counter-battery radars will not convince the Russian public to accept more war dead. As a statement from the American embassy in Kiev noted, the United States has already pledged nearly $240 million in military support in 2014-15, with further military training programs due next month. The United States has been backing Ukraine’s forces for months. This talking point already exists. This claim is already firmly entrenched in the Kremlin’s playbook.

Updating Ukraine’s fighting capabilities—allowing it to defend its territory in earnest, rather than with the rust-bucket military it currently maintains—may yet see the Kremlin opt for a concomitant escalation. Yet that tack would end in the one result Moscow has gone furthest to avoid publicizing: its involvement in Ukraine, and a casualty rate almost certain to rise. The Kremlin’s strategy will lead to Russian economic calamity. In the nearer term, the polls reveal the Kremlin’s strategic weakness within eastern Ukraine, which Western analysts continually miss. Russians on the domestic front are willing to slog through inflation at the grocery store, or to forego social benefits. But as the casualties continue to rise, the Kremlin’s secrecy can last only so long.


College Football

N.C.A.A. Fan Map: How the Country Roots for College Football

Twice so far at the Upshot, we’ve published maps showing where fan support for one team begins and another ends — once for baseball and once for basketball. Now we’re pleased to offer another one: the United States according to college football fans.

Unlike professional sports, the college game is much more provincial, with scrappy regional programs dominating their corners of the country. Texas and Oregon are two of the most popular teams, but together they account for only 25 percent of territory in the lower 48 states. There is no team with a level of national support that approaches that of, say, the Yankees, the Boston Red Sox or the Los Angeles Lakers.

If you squint while looking at the college football map, you might even think you’re looking at a state map. In the Southeast, strong programs like Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana State and Oklahoma dominate their states — and stop right at the border.

But there are enough exceptions to make this quite different from the state maps we all grew up learning. The Minnesota Golden Gophers have been so mediocre for so long — failing to finish in the top 15 nationwide since the Kennedy administration — that fans have moved their support to the Wisconsin Badgers. And Nebraska! They do love their Cornhuskers across much of the Great Plains.

But programs can divide a state, too. Seven colleges, led by the Longhorns, lay claim to at least some part of Texas. Elsewhere, some teams have managed to carve out bits of territory, extending only a bit beyond their campus: Vanderbilt around Nashville; U.C.L.A. on the west side of Los Angeles; and Oregon State, around Corvallis, south of Portland. Then there’s the Northeast, with its relative lack of interest in college football. Once you’re east of the Hudson, no team dominates, and many teams claim a small percentage of fans.

All told, 84 programs can reasonably claim to be the most popular college football team somewhere in the United States.


NEW Facebook Page…

I’m heading over to a new Facebook page…PLEASE join me there… I started a new Facebook page to get around my “friend” limit…and play more politics-:) I’m going to slowly move off the “personal” page and only engage on this new page.  Join me & “like” here: https://www.facebook.com/SaulAnuzis

Stay In Touch…Feel Free to Share

My goal is for this to be a weekly political update…sharing political news and analysis that should be of interest to most activists.

Please share.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook.

On Facebook at:


On Twitter at:


My blog “That’s Saul Folks” with Weekly Musings & more:


Thanks again for all you do!

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Weekly Musing 2-15-15

Weekly Musing 2-15-15

Saul Anuzis



Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton were walking down the street when they came to a homeless person.  Then Romney gave the homeless person his business card and told him to come to his office for a job.  He then took $20 out of his pocket and gave it to the homeless person. Hillary was very impressed, so when they came to another homeless person, she decided to help.  She walked over to  the homeless person and gave him directions to the welfare office.  She then reached into Romney’s pocket and got out $20.  She kept $15 for her administrative fees and gave the homeless person $5. Now, …do you understand the difference between a Republican and a Democrat!

Prop 1 Say No

Vote NO on MI Proposal One

I would actually support an increase in taxes that would go to fix our roads, bridges and infra-structure.  And I’m sure there’s plenty of savings that could be found in other state programs as well.

However, Proposal 1 raises almost $2 billion a year (annually) from Michigan taxpayers by raising the sales tax by 1% and collecting the internet tax. HOWEVER, around 40% of that (annually) goes to something else…a payoff to get Proposal 1 on the ballot.

Instead of $2 billion going for roads, 40% of that is “spread around”: $300 million to schools, $95 million to local government, $130 million to local bus, transit and rail agencies and $260 million to restore EITC (tax credit).  That’s around $785 million EVERY year.

Vote NO on Proposal 1 this May 5th. (NOTE the Election Date)


Also…see what the Mackinac Center has to say:


RNC launching ‘Hillary’s hiding’ campaign

Nearly two dozen Republicans are in the early stages of clawing at one another over the 2016 presidential nomination, but that’s not stopping national party leaders from lobbing new attacks at Hillary Clinton ahead of the Democrat’s all-but-certain presidential campaign rollout.

The latest front in Republicans’ anti-Clinton effort launched Tuesday morning, with the Republican National Committee’s “Hillary’s Hiding” campaign designed to highlight the former secretary of state’s recent lack of straightforward political activity despite her presumed pre-candidate status.

The RNC’s effort will include billboards in early primary and caucus states — such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — op-eds, and videos like the 2-minute post it plans to unveil Tuesday featuring edited clips of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, White House press secretary Josh Earnest and Clinton, branding her candidacy as “#Obama’s 3rd term.”

“What’s the only way not to seem like she’s campaigning?” asks RNC communications director Sean Spicer in the planned campaign kickoff memo. “Go into hiding.”

The memo notes that Clinton has not held a news conference in over 200 days and has not been to either Iowa or New Hampshire since November’s midterms. It also details 28 times Clinton’s camp has declined to comment on the record for news stories since May.



The Rise and Fall of the Parties – The Democrats should be worried.

This partly explains why Republicans feel bullish about 2016. One does not need a recession for power to transfer from one party to the other. More often than not a party’s hold on the White House expires after eight years. Since FDR and Truman, only once, in 1988, did a political party retain power for three straight terms. And 1988 was really an extraordinary confluence of good luck for the incumbent party. The nation’s economy quickly sloughed off the Wall Street downturn of 1987 to post an impressive growth rate of 4.2 percent. Tensions with the Soviets had largely waned. The Iran-contra scandal did not come close to damaging the reputation of George H. W. Bush, who ran a competent campaign. And the Democrats nominated a cold fish in Michael Dukakis.

What makes political cycles especially interesting, and adds a wrinkle to the foregoing analysis, is the electorate’s relentless hedging of its bet on the majority party. Almost as soon as a new president is elected, the defeated opposition starts down the comeback trail—in Congress, as well as in governors’ mansions and state legislatures all across the country. Not always, of course, but the pattern is clear.

Sean Trende and David Byler of Real Clear Politics have produced an interesting metric of party strength, combining the standing of each party in the White House, Congress, governorships, and state legislatures. Their data indicate that there have been seven full political cycles in the postwar era (from Eisenhower to George W. Bush). In five of them, the dominant party’s first White House victory was its high-water mark. In the other two, it was the reelection four years later. After that, the opposition party began improving, often substantially.




The View From NATO’s Russian Front

‘I believe the Russians are mobilizing right now for a war that they think is going to happen in five or six years—not that they’re going to start a war in five or six years, but I think they are anticipating that things are going to happen, and that they will be in a war of some sort, of some scale, with somebody within the next five or six years.”

So says Lt. Gen. Frederick “Ben” Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe. It’s Monday evening at the Army’s Lucius D. Clay garrison near Wiesbaden, a small town in southwest Germany. The air outside is freezing, the ground coated by a thin layer of snow. Moscow lies 1,500 miles east, but Russia comes up almost immediately as I sit down to dinner with Gen. Hodges and one of his aides in a cozy dining room at the base.

“Strong Europe!” reads a sign on one of the walls. Next to it is the U.S. Army Europe insignia, a burning sword set against a blue shield. The two signs represent the strategic framework the three-star general has introduced—building on America’s decades-long role on the Continent—since taking command last year of the 30,000 or so U.S. soldiers stationed in Europe.

The U.S. military presence in Europe is more vital at this moment than it has been in many years. American engagement is essential if the West is to deter a revanchist Russia that has set out to “redraw the boundaries of Europe,” Gen. Hodges says with a native Floridian’s drawl.

He points to the recent increase in violence in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Kremlin forces in January assaulted the Black Sea port of Mariupol, killing 30 civilians, and are now consolidating their gains.

“What’s happening in eastern Ukraine is very serious,” the 56-year-old West Point alumnus says. “When they fired into Mariupol that got my attention. Mariupol is an important place, city of 500,000 on the Black Sea. Russia has to resupply Crimea by sea or air, and that is very expensive, so obviously they would like to do it overland. Mariupol sits right in the way. They would really like to drive right through there.”

What Russian President Vladimir Putin “has done in Ukraine,” he says, “is a manifestation of a strategic view of the world. So when you look at the amount of equipment that has been provided, and the quality and sophistication of the equipment that has been provided to what I would call his proxies . . . they clearly have no intention of leaving there.”


Good Lesson for ALL My Social Media Friends:  How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life

In the early days of Twitter, I was a keen shamer. When newspaper columnists made racist or homophobic statements, I joined the pile-on. Sometimes I led it. The journalist A. A. Gill once wrote a column about shooting a baboon on safari in Tanzania: “I’m told they can be tricky to shoot. They run up trees, hang on for grim life. They die hard, baboons. But not this one. A soft-nosed .357 blew his lungs out.” Gill did the deed because he “wanted to get a sense of what it might be like to kill someone, a stranger.”

I was among the first people to alert social media. (This was because Gill always gave my television documentaries bad reviews, so I tended to keep a vigilant eye on things he could be got for.) Within minutes, it was everywhere. Amid the hundreds of congratulatory messages I received, one stuck out: “Were you a bully at school?”

Still, in those early days, the collective fury felt righteous, powerful and effective. It felt as if hierarchies were being dismantled, as if justice were being democratized. As time passed, though, I watched these shame campaigns multiply, to the point that they targeted not just powerful institutions and public figures but really anyone perceived to have done something offensive. I also began to marvel at the disconnect between the severity of the crime and the gleeful savagery of the punishment. It almost felt as if shamings were now happening for their own sake, as if they were following a script.

…I would be the only person she spoke to on the record about what happened to her, she said. It was just too harrowing — and “as a publicist,” inadvisable — but she felt it was necessary, to show how “crazy” her situation was, how her punishment simply didn’t fit the crime.

…It was a profound reversal for Sacco. When I first met her, she was desperate to tell the tens of thousands of people who tore her apart how they had wronged her and to repair what remained of her public persona. But perhaps she had now come to understand that her shaming wasn’t really about her at all. Social media is so perfectly designed to manipulate our desire for approval, and that is what led to her undoing. Her tormentors were instantly congratulated as they took Sacco down, bit by bit, and so they continued to do so. Their motivation was much the same as Sacco’s own — a bid for the attention of strangers — as she milled about Heathrow, hoping to amuse people she couldn’t see.




NEW Facebook Page…

I’m heading over to a new Facebook page…PLEASE join me there… I started a new Facebook page to get around my “friend” limit…and play more politics-:) I’m going to slowly move off the “personal” page and only engage on this new page.  Join me & “like” here: https://www.facebook.com/SaulAnuzis

Stay In Touch…Feel Free to Share

My goal is for this to be a weekly political update…sharing political news and analysis that should be of interest to most activists.

Please share.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook.

On Facebook at:


On Twitter at:


My blog “That’s Saul Folks” with Weekly Musings & more:


Thanks again for all you do!

Posted in Blog | 1 Comment

Weekly Musing 2-8-15

Weekly Musing 2-8-15

Saul Anuzis

RedBlue States

The Surprising Power of Blue-State Republicans

There is a basic mystery at the heart of modern Republican presidential politics. The party’s voters, despite electing conservatives to the House and Senate, have repeatedly chosen relatively moderate nominees, like Mitt Romney and John McCain, in the primaries.

With the 2016 campaign underway, and candidates positioning themselves for money, endorsements and staff, the establishment of the party is again at the center of the conversation. Even though Mr. Romney said on Friday that he had decided not to pursue the nomination, a third Bush seems poised to run, and has suggested he will not bow down to conservative activists.

How does a Republican Party seemingly dominated by the South, energized by the Tea Party and elected by conservative voters also consistently support relatively moderate presidential nominees? The answer is the blue-state Republicans.

The blue-state Republicans make it far harder for a very conservative candidate to win the party’s nomination than the party’s reputation suggests. They also give a candidate who might seem somewhat out of touch with today’s Republican Party, like Jeb Bush, a larger base of potential support than is commonly thought.

It’s easy to forget about the blue-state Republicans. They’re all but extinct in Washington, since their candidates lose general elections to Democrats, and so officials elected by states and districts that supported Mr. Romney dominate the Republican Congress.

But the blue-state Republicans still possess the delegates, voters and resources to decide the nomination. In 2012, there were more Romney voters in California than in Texas, and in Chicago’s Cook County than in West Virginia. Mr. Romney won three times as many voters in overwhelmingly Democratic New York City than in Republican-leaning Alaska.

Overall, 59 percent of Romney voters in the Republican primaries lived in the states carried by President Obama. Those states hold 50 percent of the delegates to the Republican National Convention, even though they contain just 19 percent of Republican senators. Just 11 percent of House Republicans hail from districts that voted for President Obama.


‘SEC primary’ could have a lasting effect for Southern voters

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s push to make the South among the first in the nation to vote in the 2016 presidential primaries has landed squarely on the national radar — an eye-opening experience for a region used to being taken for granted.

Now experts say it may even have lasting effects in elections well past next year’s, as potential candidates shift long-term strategies toward the region. Its creators are riffing on the name of the most powerful college football conference in the country. So they have nicknamed it the SEC Primary, a nod to the NCAA’s Southeastern Conference.

“A lot of candidates have taken the South for granted, and it’s long been fragmented in primaries. It hasn’t been as valuable a bloc like it was in the 1980s,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political scientist who has written extensively on presidential primary strategies. “This is going to put the South back in the center, and Georgia would be right in the middle of it.”

The plan involves a March 1 primary, essentially a new Super Tuesday spate of elections for Southeastern states and a few neighbors. The move is all but guaranteed to give the South more influence in choosing presidential nominees, particularly if there are a number of candidates contending for the nod.

Moreover, all parties can participate. Any serious candidate, be they Republican, Democrat or other, will have to pay attention.

And that, supporters said, was the point.


Watch America drift more and more to the right since 2008

The reddest states in America in 2014 were Utah and Wyoming, according to Gallup surveys. The most Democratic were Massachusetts and Maryland — states that last November elected new, Republican governors.

Every year Gallup provides an assessment of how Democratic and Republican states are, by subtracting the percentage that identifies with one party from the percentage that identifies with the other. In 2014, 51.4 percent of Marylanders were Democratic or leaned Democratic, compared with 29.6 percent that felt that way about Republicans. That’s a net margin of 21.8 percentage points for the Dems.

But clearly this isn’t politically predictive, since the new governor of that state is Larry Hogan (R), not Anthony Brown (D). What the Gallup data is instead particularly good at is showing trends over time.

Since the dawn of the Obama era, the whole country has shifted to the right. Literally every state but one is now more Republican it was than six years ago. (Which one? Be patient.) We colored the lines according to how strongly Democratic or Republican the states are now; note that red lines (Republican states in 2014) drift across the halfway mark into Democratic territory as you go back in time.


How We Won Texas – Greg Abbott’s campaign can teach the 2016 GOP how to win.

As Greg Abbott takes the reins as the 48th Governor of Texas, political operatives on the right should take a closer look at his campaign and learn a lesson or two for 2016.

The 2014 election cycle was a very good year for Republican candidates across the country, but the challenge of re-claiming the White House in 2016 is staring us directly in the face. And while Attorney General Abbott’s 20+ point win in the gubernatorial election seems like a foregone conclusion in hindsight, it was not always a sure thing. In fact, at the point that State Senator Wendy Davis entered the race, she was the darling of national Democrats, as evidenced by the fact that much of President Obama’s top campaign talent descended upon Texas to help her turn the state blue.

Turning the Democrat dream of a blue Texas into the nightmare of a massive loss happened because we ran a campaign that used every tool and strategy a modern campaign has at its disposal, and did so in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Too often campaigns try to fight the last winning war. For Texas Democrats that meant trying to remake their campaign in the shape of Barack Obama’s successful 2012 re-election. And we saw the results.

Candidates running in 2016 should see this as a cautionary tale. The Obama campaign did many good things, but every campaign is different and candidates need to adjust to changing demographics, technology and public opinion.

With that in mind there are certain principles on which successful campaigns like ours can build. We were guided by three basic principles that every Republican running for President needs to apply to their campaign: (1) talk to one audience; (2) measure outputs, not inputs; and (3) test and retest.


Why wages aren’t rising – Obama is scooping up investment money that had created jobs

The people who have gotten whacked by this tax are wage earners. Here’s why: When you raise the tax on investment, you get less investment. When businesses invest less, fewer workers are hired, and existing workers have less machinery, technology, computers and equipment to work with. This means they can’t be as productive on the job and their wages stagnate.

Incomes rose in the 1980s and 1990s when investment taxes fell under Presidents Reagan and Clinton. Wages have stagnated under Mr. Obama as taxes have risen on capital.

The nearly flat growth in middle incomes is, in part, a result of the higher taxes on the rich.

A landmark study on this topic by economist Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute looked at business tax rates and wages around the world. He found that business taxes were inversely related to average wages. This is, in part, because capital flees from places where tax rates are rising.

Even worse is the increase in taxes Mr. Obama plans on estates. The Obama plan would eliminate what is called “step-up basis at death” on capital gains taxation. Under current law, at the time of a parent’s or grandparent’s death, the increase in the valuation of an asset from when it was originally purchased is not taxed. This is to offset the effects of the estate tax. Mr. Obama‘s plan would tax estates and impose the regular capital gains tax on inherited assets — a business, property or stocks. And he would raise the capital gains tax to 28 percent.



The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment

Here’s something that many Americans — including some of the smartest and most educated among us — don’t know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.

Right now, we’re hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is “down” to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.

None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news — currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast “falling” unemployment.

There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 — maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.

Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find — in other words, you are severely underemployed — the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.

There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.


Is Libertarianism Mainstream or Extreme?

William F. Buckley Jr. offered a slightly different assessment: “He’s conservative, but not a conservative.”

Rand Paul is no George W. Bush fan. He’ll probably wind up being a Jeb Bush primary opponent. Paul is nevertheless more credibly positioning himself as a “right-wing moderate” by being libertarian, but not a libertarian.

The distinction is important. While full-spectrum libertarians remain a small minority, most of the electorate holds at least some libertarian views. Classical liberalism still suffuses the political culture. If they look hard enough, libertarians will find themselves in agreement with virtually everyone at some point.

Except if you’re a libertarian, your preference might be to disagree with virtually everyone all the time, especially other libertarians. Elements of libertarianism are totally mainstream and becoming more so, but to some of its adherents the essence of libertarianism is to be drawn to the fringe.

Back to Rand Paul. Traditionally, Republican presidential candidates present themselves to the primary electorate in one of two ways. One approach is to try to be seen as the One True Conservative in the race. Ted Cruz will probably try to claim that mantle in 2016.

The alternative is to argue you are a reasonable, electable Republican who can pivot to the center and reach beyond the base in order to win the general election. For whatever reason, this is popular with Republicans named John or Jon: John Anderson in 1980, John McCain in 2000, Jon Huntsman in 2012 and maybe John Kasich and John Ellis Bush in 2016.

Paul is trying to use libertarianism to somewhat combine these two strategies while also doing something completely different. He can simultaneously position himself to the right of most Republicans on economics while moderating the party’s image on mandatory minimum sentences, drug laws, even foreign policy.


Putin Fist

Putin’s Shaky Hold on Power

In fact, the Russian leaders now face a crisis of their own making. The steady rise in living standards during the 2000s, stemming from high prices for oil and gas, led to euphoria and an implicit deal between the authorities and the population according to which the authorities would be free to steal as long as the income of the population continued to rise. Living standards did rise but corruption crippled normal development. Now that oil prices have collapsed, Russia has no other comparable source of revenue and Western sanctions are preventing badly needed investment.

Under these circumstances, there is a serious danger of social tension. In Russia today, 110 persons, including Mr. Putin’s cronies, control 35% of the country’s wealth while 50% of adults have total household wealth of $871 or lower. In 2014, food prices rose 15.4%. It is a measure of the government’s concern that it has cut the price of vodka, despite the need to fill the treasury. This is a transparent attempt to use vodka to tranquilize the population.

If the economic situation in Russia continues to worsen, many Russians may come to see that the Ukrainian model of a peaceful and spontaneous rebellion against a corrupt regime can have relevance for them. It was because of the potential power of the Ukrainian example for Russia that Mr. Putin began the war in Ukraine in the first place.

The cost of the fighting has been hidden from Russians but, as the death rate climbs, the war may soon become less popular. The Russian authorities state officially that there are no Russian troops fighting in Ukraine but the movement of thousands of troops is impossible to hide and it is similarly impossible to hide soldiers’ funerals.

In St. Petersburg, calls are coming in to the hot line of the Soldiers’ Mothers organization from parents of soldiers who report anonymously that their children are being commanded to sign contracts that enable them to be sent to Ukraine. Such reports are also coming from a number of other regions.


Our Amazingly Plastic Brains

The basic neuroplastic principle of “use it or lose it” and the benefit of forming new brain connections through intensive learning also apply to people without brain problems. Physical exercise produces some new cells in the memory system, but mental exercise preserves and strengthens existing connections in the brain, giving a person a “cognitive reserve” to fend off future losses and to perfect skills.

Brain exercises developed by the neuroscientist Dr. Merzenich have been evaluated in a National Institutes of Health study, published by George Rebok of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and colleagues in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. People who did the brain exercises—called Brain HQ—showed benefits 10 years later. They didn’t just improve on the brain exercises; their cognitive function improved in everyday life. Earlier studies showed that the exercises increased a person’s mental sharpness, so they could process information with the speed and accuracy they had when they were 10 years younger.

We still have a lot to learn about the brain and its powers of recovery, of course. But increasingly we have the evidence to conclude that we have been seeing our brains the wrong way for too long. Metaphors often conceal as much as they reveal. One day, we may well marvel at how odd it was that, for several centuries, we chose to view our ever-changing, activity-craving, animate brains as fixed, passive, inanimate machines.


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Weekly Musing 2-1-15

Weekly Musing 2-1-15

Saul Anuzis

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney to the GOP: I Won’t, But I Could Have…

In the end, Mitt Romney made the decision that most Republicans expected him to do when he was denying any interest in a presidential campaign last year. But his announcement made it clear how close he was to saying yes, how tantalizing he found the prospect of a third-straight presidential campaign, and how unenthused he is about the GOP alternatives.

He offered only a lukewarm endorsement of the other GOP candidates, saying on a conference call to supporters that “it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee.” On the call, he dwelled on all the polls showing him with strong numbers, even rebutting skeptics that suggested his support would drop once he entered the race. He touted the team of supporters he’d been putting together in preparation of a possible run.

Romney’s decision ends a three-week roller-coaster ride for his advisers, allies, and supporters, most of whom sprung into action when he announced to financiers in Manhattan three Fridays ago that he was considering another campaign. The consensus among Romney loyalists, as he headed to San Diego the next week for a speech to the Republican National Committee, was that he was planning to run in 2016.

In the weeks since, conversations with a handful of longtime Romney allies reflected enormous uncertainty. Many former Romney operatives were “on ice,” waiting for him to signal a definite return to the political arena. But that sign never came.

“Romney realized the old rule: The best day of the campaign is your first and last. Everyone who was cheerleading him on were followed by a good number of people who told him it would end up being a giant family feud,” said Republican strategist Rick Wilson.


After Mitt: A GOP Message of Incentives, Sound Money and Growth

Mitt Romney showed once again that he is truly a class act. In his announcement that he will not be running for president in 2016, he stated, “I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee.”

This was unusual political humility. But let me highlight this specific phrase: “one who has not yet taken their message across the country.”

If there’s anything the GOP needs — besides a winner — it’s a confident, incentive-based, pro-growth message. The party didn’t have one last year, but it won the midterms thanks to President Obama’s ineptness. That won’t be enough in 2016.

… So the next Republican candidate should state a desire for the Fed to return to a market-based discipline using gold, commodities, dollar-exchange value and bond-market indicators. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the King Dollar comeback, along with falling energy prices, has not only delivered a tax-cut effect to consumers, it’s reduced all business production costs, making the economy more competitive. GOP candidates should not be afraid to talk sound money. It’s pro-growth.

They also must focus laser-like on the importance of incentives to grow the economy. For instance, rather than propose spending roughly $1.6 trillion on child tax credits (according to the Tax Policy Center), Senator Marco Rubio, an otherwise sound thinker, would be better advised to propose a flattening of marginal tax rates to perhaps 15 and 28 percent. This would give everyone in the middle class larger tax savings and stronger incentives to keep more of the extra dollar they earn.

President Obama doesn’t understand that taxing capital is a negative for new businesses, jobs, incomes and family spending. But Republicans should make darn sure they have a completely different vision.

And the GOP must recognize it can’t outbid the Democrats on lower- or middle-class benefits. Instead, they can talk incentives: If it pays more to work than to collect food stamps, or unemployment insurance, more people will work. The incentive model carries over to education and health care, where choice should be maximized. And Romney is right about this: Marriage is a key answer to poverty.

We’re about a year away from the first Republican primaries. The GOP has a solid bench. But the wannabes must get cracking on the central growth message of incentives, freedom of choice and sound money to unleash a new wave of American prosperity.


What If No One Wins the GOP Presidential Nomination?

Normally, I dread commenting on presidential nomination contests. But as much as I might like to return to the days of short presidential nomination processes (Franklin Roosevelt didn’t declare his intention to seek a third term until the summer of 1940), the reality is that the year-long nomination process is here to stay, and it is time to start writing on it.

But in truth, I’m actually hopeful about this year’s campaign, because I think it could be unlike anything we’ve seen in a very long time. I think the Republican Party really could wind up with a brokered convention – that is, a race where no candidate receives a majority of the delegates by the end of voting. In fact, it might well be the most likely outcome, if only because no particular outcome is particularly probable.

This race is intriguing not just because of one possible outcome. It is interesting because it is difficult even to formulate a workable theory of the race. Charlie Cook uses a brackets metaphor, while Jim Geraghty and Larry Sabato think of the race in terms of tiers, but all of these have problems. Instead, I see a race that is largely chaotic. It is one where an unusually large number of candidates have perfectly plausible paths, if not to the nomination, then at least to lengthy runs deep into the balloting process.

This is because 2016 really is the deepest GOP field in a very, very long time. In fact, it isn’t even close. To be clear, that doesn’t mean that eventual candidate is (or will be) the strongest Republican nominee ever. I think that’s unlikely, and in fact, that is crucial to my analysis. It just means that number eight is unusually strong. In 1996, eighth place in Iowa was businessman Morry Taylor. In 2008, it was Alan Keyes (who placed fourth in 2000). This year, eighth place will probably be a candidate we now see as a legitimate contender for the nomination.


Senate’s swing-state Republicans break ranks – 2016 electoral map complicates life for new Senate majority.

Just three weeks into Mitch McConnell’s reign as Senate majority leader, he’s already confronting the challenges of running a caucus filled with blue-state Republicans who face reelection next year. They’ve begun departing from the GOP stance on issues like energy and climate change — a move that lets them espouse independence back home, but also exposes divisions that are bound to intensify as 2016 draws nearer…

The Senate’s dynamic was on display in a series of amendment votes over the last week on the Keystone XL oil pipeline: New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, one of the Democrats’ top targets in 2016, repeatedly broke with her party, including by opposing efforts to hamper Obama’s international climate negotiations. Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk was the lone Republican to back regulations on petroleum coke, a byproduct from oil refining. And conservative Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey was one of 15 Republicans to endorse a statement that humans contribute to climate change.

…What makes this class of Republican senators particularly vulnerable is the expectation that they will be running in a far different climate in 2016. When they won their elections in 2010, the political environment heavily favored Republicans, as the rise of the tea party and fears over Obamacare drove GOP turnout in the midterm elections. But with the presidential race driving a larger number of voters in 2016, and Democrats hopeful that Hillary Clinton will draw women to the polls, Republicans could face a daunting path to holding the majority. The GOP has 24 Senate seats in contention, compared with the Democrats’ 10.

The dynamics put blue-state Republicans like Kirk in a tricky spot. To pull off a victory, the former 10-year House veteran will have to show he can work with Democrats and espouse moderate credentials, without leaving himself vulnerable to a primary challenge.


2016 Presidential

The GOP Bracket Challenge – There are at least four distinct types of Republican presidential candidates battling for 2016 supremacy.

Those who avidly follow politics always seek clarity and understanding, simply to figure out what is likely to happen. At this point, at least on the Republican side, we’re all going to have to accept that this presidential nomination fight is going last a very long time with no clarity on the horizon.

Despite the best efforts of Republican National Committee members and Chairman Reince Priebus to shorten a process that just about everyone acknowledged went way too long in 2012, this contest is likely to go very long as well. It may not take on the appearance of The Gong Show—the wacky late-1970’s TV game show populated by contestants with dubious, if any, talent—as much as 2012 did, but it is very difficult to see anyone emerging early as a clear favorite for the Republican nomination.

While it’s pretty safe to say that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is a huge favorite to win the Democratic nomination, my hunch is that even if we absolutely knew today that she would be the nominee, at some point along the way, Clinton will stumble or someone else briefly catch fire, introducing some real element of doubt about the outcome. Whether it is Clinton having been out of the campaign game for a long time and needing time to get back into the political rhythm, simply resistance to the inevitability of her nomination, or even a real revolt on the far left of the party, it is unlikely that she will make it from the opening gate to the finish line without a stumble or spirited challenge.

But it is the Republican contest that today looks more likely to dominate attention. My current theory (in my business you have to have a theory or schematic of an upcoming race) is that there are at least four brackets of candidates and Republican voters, with a competition between GOP contenders to win a spot in the nomination semifinals.

First there is the establishment bracket, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and possibly former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney competing for that semifinal slot. Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina would likely fit into this group. GOP nominees traditionally come from this bracket.

Then there is the conservative governor/former governor slot—with, potentially, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker competing, all seeking to be non-Washington and non-Congress candidates, but each with more conservative, or at least better conservative, credentials than Bush, Christie, or Romney. In this anti-Washington environment, being able to say that you effectively governed, in contrast with Congress and Washington, certainly has some advantages among the non-purist conservatives.

In the third bracket are the more identifiably tea-party candidates, principally Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, but also former Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, possibly former 2008 vice presidential nominee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and even real-estate mogul Donald Trump (though both Palin and Trump are unlikely to make it past the first lap if they end up entering at all). This bracket is for the “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” conservatives.

Finally, there is the social, cultural, and religious conservative bracket, made up primarily of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, tapping into the same feelings as the third group but with a distinctly moral dimension.


GOP’s Top 10: Introducing the Fox News First 2016 Power Index

Yes, yes. We know. It is 53 weeks until the start of the first 2016 nominating contest and more than six months until the first Republican presidential debate. But despite a lot of big talk about contenders waiting until later to jump in, two big-name candidate forums and a spate of buzz-generating announcements over the past weekend proved that there would be no delay in the start of this cycle. And so the time has come for the making of lists and the inaugural Fox News First 2016 Power Index.


Don’t count out the non-establishment Republicans

The political chattering classes, who love a good story, are obsessed with the battle for the establishment choice for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination: Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney or throw in a little Chris Christie.

Bush and Romney are marquee names in U.S. politics and the Republicans haven’t nominated an anti-establishment candidate since Barry Goldwater more than a half century ago.

Yet there is an equally interesting, and perhaps as important, struggle for the movement-conservative or non-establishment crown. There is a sizable segment of Republican voters who believe it’s time to break that 50-year run.

This time, these candidates are a remarkably diverse group whose central commonality is that they aren’t the favorites of the Republican political establishment or Wall Street and other major business backers of the party.

They include Rand Paul, a limited government libertarian; the social conservatives Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum; Sen. Ted Cruz, the combative and most forceful foe of immigration reform; a national security neoconservative, Sen. Marco Rubio; governors in and out of office; as well as the latest darling of the tea party crowd, Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon who has never run for office.

The political right believes its prospects of winning are enhanced by this diverse field, which seems more formidable than in the past, when it contained aspirants such as Herman Cain, a pizza executive, magazine publisher Steve Forbes and ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

“The movement conservative field is much stronger this time,” says Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.


Ted Cruz Big Flag

Ted Cruz Details ‘Path to Victory’ for ‘Epochal Fork in the Road’ 2016 Election with ‘Miracle of America’

Cruz introduced a new major theme, the “Miracle of America,” in his speech to the thousands of Iowans gathered at the event hosted by Citizens United and Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

“What I want to talk to you about today is reigniting the Miracle of America,” Cruz said in his speech in the Hoyt Sherman Place theater in downtown Des Moines. “This country was built on an extraordinary miracle. The Miracle of America began with a revolutionary idea—which was that our rights, they don’t come from government. They come from God almighty. The Constitution, as Jefferson says, serves as chains to bind the mischief of government.”

He used the phrase, “Miracle of America, many more times throughout the speech, and after almost every line, Cruz earned loud applause from the thousand-plus in the room.

When asked to explain the meaning of the phrase during his exclusive interview with Breitbart News backstage, Cruz said that it signifies the “extraordinary challenge” Americans are facing over the next two years—and the importance of how big of a deal it is to actually fight for those values laid out by America’s founders. Cruz said:

We’re facing a time of extraordinary challenge right now and over the next two years. Americans need to come together to reignite the ‘Miracle Of America.’

The Miracle of America consists of the principles this country was founded on, first and foremost that our rights come from God Almighty—not from government—and that the Constitution serves, as Jefferson puts it, as chains to bind the mischief of government.

Secondly, the unlimited opportunity of free men and free women to achieve their dreams—if you’re single mom waiting tables, if you’re a teenage immigrant washing dishes, the miracle of America is that you too can achieve your heart’s desire with hard work and diligence. Anything is possible.

Third, American exceptionalism—that we are a unique nation, the indispensable nation on earth, a clarion voice for freedom that we will speak for liberty, for truth. That we will be as Reagan put it, a shining city on a hill.


The Kochs put a price on 2016: $889 million The Koch brothers’ operation intends to spend $889 million in the run-up to the 2016 elections — a historic sum that in many ways would mark Charles and David Koch and their fellow conservative megadonors as more powerful than the official Republican Party.

The figure, which more than doubles the amount spent by the Republican National Committee during the last presidential election cycle, prompted cheers from some in the GOP who are looking for all the help they can get headed into a potentially tough 2016 election landscape.

But while the leaked details seemed in part a show of defiance to Democrats, who had targeted the brothers as bogeymen, the spending goal also appeared to be a show of dominance to rival factions on the right, including the RNC.


Barack Obama, Empire Builder – Not since the 1930s and early 1940s have we seen so many malevolent empires on the rise.

Empires can rise and fall quickly. After World War I, the Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman, and Russian Empires abruptly collapsed amid military defeat, rising nationalism, and revolution.

Yet on the eve of World War II four new empires suddenly grew out the wreckage of old Europe and Asia. A weak Italy under Fascist Benito Mussolini in just a few years grabbed much of East and North Africa, as well as the Dalmatian coast. Hitler’s so-called “Third Empire” carved off Austria and strips of Eastern Europe — and planned to go to war for more. The Soviet Union absorbed the Baltic states and southern Finland. Japan declared first Manchuria, and then Southeast Asia, part of its new “Co-Prosperity Sphere.”

But by the war’s end in 1945, the Japanese and Italian empires had collapsed. So did the Third Reich — and soon the British Empire as well. The Soviet implosion in 1991 was expected by very few.

We are now in an equally turbulent age of rising empires — mostly due to a new American indifference and passivity. Or, to put it more exactly, President Obama believes that his own legacy rests with avoiding all confrontations overseas, withdrawing as many troops as he can, and cutting the defense budget as much as Congress will allow so as to use the funds to address supposed inequality at home. If chaos results abroad, he can either blame his predecessor, George W. Bush, or assume that his successor will have to deal with what he wrought — or both. Obama is running out the clock of his presidency on the premise of Après moi, le déluge.


Federal Budget Deceit

The problem—and it’s a big one—with that statement is that federal spending in 2015 is projected to be $138 billion higher this year than it was in 2009 ($3,656 billion this year compared to $3,518 in 2009).

Think about that! Spending is higher than it was but the media says spending cuts are the reason for declining deficits.

USA Today was not alone in making this mistake. It’s the way the story line comes from official Washington and it conveys a misleading impression of why deficits are lower today. Too many reporters have become part of official Washington rather than translating the official statement into the language of everyday Americans.

A translation would note that federal spending has remained relatively stable in recent years following a huge jump in 2009. Deficits are down today because federal tax collections are now more than one trillion dollars higher than in 2009 ($3.2 trillion this year compared to $2.1 trillion in 2009).

Keep all this in mind when reviewing media coverage of the president’s budget proposal.


China Diplomacy

China’s Alternative Diplomacy – China has just made its biggest foreign policy adjustment in 25 years.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has certainly kept China experts busy since he came to power in 2012. Xi has made major changes to Chinese policies, domestic and foreign. These policies have been quite different from those of his predecessors, keeping China scholars occupied explaining their meaning and implications. This has been particularly evident in the foreign policy sphere. China watchers have been combing through the details of the new initiatives and proposals Xi has recently introduced, such as “One Belt, One Road” (1B1R) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Even though these new initiatives are still under construction, the fact is that this has been the biggest foreign policy shift in Beijing since 1989. The bigger question here is, what is the grand strategy behind Xi’s plans?

I call it China’s “alternative diplomacy.” Xi’s strategy is a sophisticated and progressive one. Instead of directly challenging the current existing international institutions, the Chinese are trying to create new platforms that Beijing can control or substantially influence. Through these new initiatives, Beijing aims to create a new international environment that is more favorable to China, one that will limit strategic pressures from the United States. Beijing wants to gradually take progressive, but not provocative, steps forward in these endeavors. On the surface these steps aim only to further economic development enterprises, and Beijing is trying to promote them as pure economic and trade initiatives. Below the surface, however, Beijing is trying to work for China’s greater security and long-term strategic objectives.

… On the surface, “one belt, one road” simply addresses a far-reaching economic development plan and focuses on improving trade, infrastructure and connectivity in this region. The new Silk Road Economic Belt will link China with Europe through Central and Western Asia, and the so-called 21st Century Maritime Silk Road aims to connect China with Southeast Asian countries, Africa and Europe. The real purpose of this initiative, however, is security. China is using this plan as an attempt to improve relationships with its Asian neighbors. Its neighbors in East and Southeast Asia meanwhile hope this initiative will help mend relationships after much divisiveness over the South China Sea in recent years. China is also looking to increase friendly dealings with countries in Central Asia and West Asia. Its reasons are twofold. First, it simply wants greater access to resources, specifically oil and gas. The second relates to China’s trouble with the Muslim population in western China, especially the Uyghur separatists who have connections with Central and West Asian countries. Beijing hopes this initiative will help in dealing with these security challenges by gaining better support and collaboration from the governments of the Central and West Asian Countries.

“One belt, one road” can also be seen as China’s first formal response to the United States’ Asia pivot. Since the U.S. announced its Asia rebalance policy the Chinese have perceived it as a major threat to its security. While making Beijing very uncomfortable, for several years there has been no direct response in the form of policy or behavior from Beijing. In fact, 1B1R is China’s own Asia pivot. Beijing is in a manner masking the real intent of the proposal to avoid a direct confrontation and challenge to the U.S. rebalance. Beijing has been smart in borrowing the Silk Road moniker to name the initiative, reducing the sensitivity of the geopolitical connotations, and the PRC government has refused to agree that the initiative is China’s Marshall Plan.


This is scary… This is what happens when a civilian kills a cop during a no-knock drug raid

…in most cases, Americans who kill a narcotics officer during a drug raid are vigorously prosecuted—even if the evidence indicates that they genuinely believed they were acting in self-defense and the raid was not justified.

…A very similar incident occurred in Burleson County, Texas on December 19, 2013, when a SWAT team carried out a no-knock drug raid on the home of Henry Magee (who is white). An informant had claimed that Magee had a major marijuana-growing operation, and during the raid, Magee shot and killed one of the officers, Adam Sowders. Although Magee stressed that he believed he was being robbed and had no idea he was shooting at police officers, he was facing the possibility of being prosecuted for capital murder. But in February, a grand jury decided that Magee legitimately believed he was acting in self-defense—and Magee was not indicted. The Magee case has been referenced in a Change.org petition urging prosecutors to “please drop the capital murder and attempted murder charges against Marvin Louis Guy.” The petition notes that Guy thought he “was defending his wife and home, just as Magee believed he was doing.”


NEW Facebook Page…

I’m heading over to a new Facebook page…PLEASE join me there… I started a new Facebook page to get around my “friend” limit…and play more politics-:) I’m going to slowly move off the “personal” page and only engage on this new page.  Join me & “like” here: https://www.facebook.com/SaulAnuzis

Stay In Touch…Feel Free to Share

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Weekly Musing 1-25-15

Weekly Musing 12-25-15

Saul Anuzis

2016 Presidential

2016 GOP candidates: It’s time for a Republican president

The huge field of potential GOP presidential candidates responded to President Obama’s State of the Union address with a message of their own on Tuesday: It’s time for the country to put a Republican in charge.

“I wish I had better news for you, but all is not well for America,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said to begin his YouTube rebuttal to the president. “America is adrift. Something is clearly wrong. America needs many things, but what America desperately needs is new leadership.”

Paul was the most aggressive of the bunch, lambasting the president in a 12-minute YouTube address, mocking him on Twitter, and fact-checking him on Facebook. In addition, Paul test-drove what could be the early framework for his message on the campaign trail, focusing on economic inequality and lifting people out of poverty by means other than the federal government.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sought to draw attention to his record as governor, which would be his touchstone for a presidential run. Walker took aim at Obama’s “top-down, government-knows-best philosophy,” contrasting the political gridlock in D.C. with what he and other Republicans have accomplished at the state level.

“While Washington stands at an impasse, Americans are increasingly turning to state leaders for answers because we are pushing big, bold reforms,” Walker said in a statement. “Our American revival is not going to be led by a lame duck president who would rather pick fights with Congress. It will be led ​by reformers who know how to get things done.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) echoed that sentiment, arguing that Obama’s policies and goals “don’t match up” and that the GOP is equipped to bring better solutions.

“I think he’s exactly right when he says one of the fundamental challenges of our time is this disconnect of middle-class life in comparison to what it was in our country a decade or two decades ago. And there’s this disconnect — people are being squeezed between the higher cost of living and paychecks that aren’t keeping pace,” he said. “The problem is that I think our ideas to solve them are better.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said it’s “time to move beyond” Obama and instead focus on the “bold leadership” Republicans could provide to “bring back jobs, to bring back economic growth, to bring back opportunity, to rekindle the miracle of America.”


The 2016 race is turning into a fight between veterans and newcomers

The Republican Party has long been riven between its establishment and conservative wings, a split that plays out every four years in the race for the White House.

But for 2016, the divide in the early race for the GOP nomination is as much generational as ideological — pitting familiar, entrenched party figures from past battles against a younger crowd of ambitious senators and governors whose politics have been forged during the Obama years.

Moves by business-friendly favorites Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush toward 2016 bids have only served to widen the gap, as has the return of conservative Mike Huckabee, who had been perched at Fox News since George W. Bush was in the Oval Office.

Calls for a new GOP order have intensified in part because the budding contenders know they need to act fast: By the time the primaries begin, Republicans traditionally rally around seasoned candidates. The competing hopefuls — from Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.) to Govs. Scott Walker (Wis.) and Chris Christie (N.J.) — believe they have a narrow window of time to make the case for an alternative.


12 keys to the GOP presidential race right now

As the Freedom Summit marks the unofficial start of the 2016 Republican presidential campaign here in Iowa, the race is already too sprawling, with too many characters and too many crosscurrents, to have a single theme. But here are a dozen keys to understand what is happening now:

See the article…

Those are 12 factors at play in the race now. One could easily list 12 more, and 12 more after that. It’s going to be a very complicated campaign.


Obama Shhh

Obama Blows Smoke

We know that supply-side economics emphasizes serious cuts in tax rates and Keynesianism relies on massive amounts of government spending.  But how in the world does “middle class economics” work?  After President Obama cited it repeatedly in State of the Union speech, I waited and waited for him to explain how it works. He never did.

Instead, he confused a cause with a result. Middle class economics, he said, “is the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” That’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not an economic policy.

“So what does middle-class economics require in our time,” he asked rhetorically.  First, “it means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change.”  That’s a worthy goal.  Second, “we have to do more to help upgrade their skills.”  That suggests still another government job training program is on the way.  And finally, “we need the new economy to keep churning out high-wage jobs for our workers to fill.” That sounds like a hope and a prayer.


Obama’s Attempt to Turn the Page Undermined by Policy Failures

It’s not in the printed text, but the most revealing words in President Obama’s seventh State of the Union address came near the end. After the scripted line, “I have no more campaigns to run,” elicited Republican applause, Obama ad libbed, “I know, because I won both of them.”

Thus the last quarter of Obama’s presidency resembles the first quarter, when he shut off discussion with House Republicans by saying, “I won.” But his second winning percentage was lower than his first — the only American president of which that can be said — and the House now has a record and the Senate a near-record Republican majority.

The first half of Obama’s speech was a deft attempt to, as he said, “turn the page.” The year 2014, he said, was “a breakthrough year for America,” the economy was finally growing at a respectable rate and U.S. troop deployments in war zones are nearly down to zero.

He was playing on the uptick — a “small” but real uptick, as FiveThirtyEight put it — in his polling numbers and in positive assessments of the economy. To give it voice, he quoted, twice, a woman (a former Democratic staffer, it seems) in the gallery.

In contrast to previous Obama speeches, he took some care to cite accurate statistics. No mention of the discredited claim that one in five college women will be raped or the misleading claim that women’s earnings are only 77 percent of men’s.

He cheered America for being number one in oil and gas production — something his administration has tried to prevent. He boasted that wages are rising — though not by much. His brief allusions to Obamacare sparked applause from Democrats — but the law remains highly unpopular.


Conservatives Speak At Values Voters Summit In Washington

Ted Cruz: Loose Cannon or Libertarian Reformer?

As they used to say in the old westerns, it was quiet out there-too quiet. So no one was really surprised when Ted Cruz announced to The Washington Post the weekend before the November election that his brief flirtation with civilized behavior was nearing its end.

For months, the Texas senator had abandoned his “the guy with dynamite strapped to his chest” persona, as one Republican political strategist describes it, to be a team player, crisscrossing the country to campaign for GOP candidates. No filibusters on the Senate floor to hold the federal budget hostage to the repeal of Obamacare; no fund­raising letters on behalf of Tea Party insurgents seeking to knock off what Cruz likes to call “squishy” Republican incumbents.

But secure in the knowledge that private tracking polls showed a Republican landslide on the way, Cruz unchained his not-so-inner werewolf. The first thing on the agenda for the new, Republican-led Senate, he said, should be hearings on President Barack Obama’s “abuse of power, the executive abuse, the regulatory abuse, the lawlessness that sadly has pervaded his administration.” To break up the monotony, Cruz added, the Senate will mount a human-wave attack against Obamacare, voting to repeal the whole thing and then, when the president vetoes their measure, attacking the law one provision at a time, forcing another 10 or 20 or a hundred or a thousand vetoes.

To much of official Washington and its media courtiers, this sounds like insanity. As one of Trent Lott’s former staffers told the Post, Cruz “will certainly get the base jazzed up about what he’s doing, but he won’t get rid of the law.”

If you’re a presidential candidate, though, getting the base jazzed up is the whole point. The same weekend that Cruz announced his return to the warpath, The Des Moines Register published a poll showing that the single biggest issue motivating voters who supported Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (a Republican who a couple of days later would win an upset victory in her race for the U.S. Senate) was, by a large margin, “to get one step closer to repealing Obama-­care.” Iowa also happens to be the site of the first 2016 presidential caucus. The man with the dynamite strapped to his chest will be there, and what explodes may be the chattering-class perception that Ted Cruz is too crazy to be considered a serious candidate for president.


With opposition research, Democrats look to define GOP candidates

Pushed up against the basement wall of the Democratic National Committee headquarters stands a drab, four-drawer file cabinet — an infamous reminder of political opposition research pressed to the criminal extreme.

The file cabinet was in the DNC’s Watergate office on June 17, 1972, the fateful day when five people were arrested for burglary — a crime that would lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Nearly 43 years later, a team of 20 Democratic staffers are working three floors above where the filing cabinet now stands, compiling opposition research on the more than two dozen Republicans who have expressed interest in running for the presidency. Just blocks away, a team of Republican researchers is doing the same thing — with a specific emphasis on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The difference in what the DNC and RNC aides are doing now and what happened in 1972 is that today’s research activities are legal.

The process of gathering and unearthing opposition research on individuals has evolved over the years, but the goal remains the same: find embarrassing information that can be used against your opponent or create an unflattering narrative that will turn voters off.

The folklore of political opposition research suggests that it can be dangerous work including having operatives go “dumpster diving” in search of information. DNC research director Lauren Dillon said that is simply not true.

“Believe it or not, we don’t go through people’s trash,” she said. “But we do find a lot of good stuff.”


The myth of the ‘Asian vote’

As demographer William Frey notes in his book, The Diversity Explosion, the Asian population has grown from 0.8 percent of the population in 1970 to nearly 5 percent in 2010. In fact, Frey writes, the Asian American population could soon reach 20 million “if Asians of mixed-race heritage are included.”

Asians have also tripled their share of the electorate in recent years, from just 1 percent of voters in 1992 to 3 percent in 2014. And while they’ve tilted Democratic in the last few presidential contests, Asians voted Republican in 2014 (50 percent to 49 percent), putting them firmly into “swing” territory and leading The Daily Beast’s Tim Mak to proclaim Asian-Americans “the new Florida.”

But while the ranks of Asians are swelling, is there really an “Asian vote” that campaigns can reliably court and an “Asian agenda” that candidates should pursue? Could Asians become another powerful interest group in the mold of labor or the religious right?

The answer might well be “no.”

Given their extreme diversity — ethnically, economically and ideologically — Asian voters simply aren’t a monolithic, formulaically winnable political constituency. In fact, they stand as testament to the limits of race-based, demographically driven politics.

For one thing, Asians are resistant to political pigeonholing because “Asian” covers vast geographic, ethnic and cultural territory, including 30 percent of the world’s landmass and nearly two-thirds of the world’s population.


Ukraine’s drive to become a European country leads Russians to see their country isn’t one

At the end of the 19th century, only 21 percent of Russians were literate, and 87 percent lived in the villages. Many of the townspeople were “closer to the Black Hundreds than to Europe. Indeed, “then as now, only about 10 to 15 percent of Russians could legitimately be called “‘Europeans.'”

“However strange it may sound, the deepest and most successful effort to Europeanize Russia was undertaken by the Bolsheviks: Marxism-Leninism unlike semi-Asiatic ‘Orthodox Autocracy’ was 100 percent a European ideology based on the ideas and pathos of the Enlightenment.” But at the same time, for the Soviets, “Europe was an opponent.”

The collapse of the USSR and communism led Russians to accept many of the aspects of capitalism, but beneath the “glamor” of wealth for some, there also reemerged something “enormous and dark” which has now assumed the dominant position – an antagonism to Europe and all things European.

One might call this “the triumph of ‘nationality'” in the Uvarov sense with its “ideology of ‘a new medievalism,'” something that might have been appropriate in the 14th century but looks like “a caricature” in the 21st.

“Present-day Russia does not have any allies unlike Europe or strength like China or an iron religion like the Arabs,” and thus it is increasingly defining itself not in terms of what it is but of what it is not – and it is not European, the Russian journalist suggests, however much some would like it to be otherwise.


Google Chairman Eric Schmidt: “The Internet Will Disappear”

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt on Thursday predicted the end of the Internet as we know it.

At the end of a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where his comments were webcast, he was asked for his prediction on the future of the web. “I will answer very simply that the Internet will disappear,” Schmidt said.

“There will be so many IP addresses…so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it,” he explained. “It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.”

Concluded Schmidt: “A highly personalized, highly interactive and very, very interesting world emerges.”


NEW Facebook Page…

I’m heading over to a new Facebook page…PLEASE join me there… I started a new Facebook page to get around my “friend” limit…and play more politics-:) I’m going to slowly move off the “personal” page and only engage on this new page.  Join me & “like” here: https://www.facebook.com/SaulAnuzis

Stay In Touch…Feel Free to Share

My goal is for this to be a weekly political update…sharing political news and analysis that should be of interest to most activists.

Please share.

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On Facebook at:


On Twitter at:


My blog “That’s Saul Folks” with Weekly Musings & more:


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Weekly Musing 1-18-15

Weekly Musing 12-18-15

Saul Anuzis

Mitt Romney

I love Mitt…but Peggy Noonan Raises Some Good Points: Don’t Do It, Mr. Romney – He’d have been a better president than Obama. That’s not nearly enough.

the news this week was of Mitt Romney ‘s seriousness in considering running again for the nomination. I just spent two days at the Republican joint congressional retreat in Hershey, Pa., and can tell you there was exactly no Mitt-momentum. The talk, when it turned to 2016, was of others. Those in attendance seemed to be trying to get the possibility of Mitt Part 3 through their heads, because while they understand it on a personal level—no one who’s been in the game ever wants to leave the game—they could see no compelling political rationale.

Everyone this week came down on Mr. Romney. In major newspapers and on political websites they listed their reasons he shouldn’t run. He is yesterday, we need tomorrow. He is an example of what didn’t work, we have to turn the page. He is and always has been philosophically murky—it’s almost part of his charm—but it’s not what’s needed now. He ran a poor campaign in 2012 and will run a poor one in 2016. He was a gaffe machine—”47%”; “I have some great friends that are Nascar team owners”—and those gaffes played into the party’s brand problems.

In defense of Mr. Romney’s idea, and what must be the impulse behind it, is this. If every voter in America were today given a secret toggle switch and told, “If you tug the toggle to the left, Barack Obama will stay president until January, 2017; if you tug it to the right, Mitt Romney will become president,” about 60% of the American people would tug right.

It must be hard for him to know that, and make him want to give it another try. But it’s also true that America would, right now, choose your Uncle Ralph who spends his time knitting over the current incumbent.

I add two reasons Mr. Romney should not run.

This is a moment in history that demands superior political gifts from one who would govern. Mitt Romney does not have them. He never did. He’s good at life and good at business and good at faith. He is politically clunky, always was and always will be. His clunkiness is seen in the way he leaked his interest in running: to mega-millionaires and billionaires in New York. “Tell your friends.”

Second, Romney enthusiasts like to compare him with Ronald Reagan, who ran three times. This is technically true, though 1968 was sort of a half-run in which Reagan got in late and dropped out early, because he wasn’t ready for the presidency and knew it. But his 1976 run was serious, almost triumphant, and won for him the party’s heart.

The real Romney-Reagan difference is this: There was something known as Reaganism. It was a real movement within the party and then the nation. Reaganism had meaning. You knew what you were voting for. It was a philosophy that people understood. Philosophies are powerful. They carry you, and if they are right and pertinent to the moment they make you inevitable.


Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty

For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.

“We’ve all known this was the trend, that we would get to a majority, but it’s here sooner rather than later,” said Michael A. Rebell of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College at Columbia University, noting that the poverty rate has been increasing even as the economy has improved. “A lot of people at the top are doing much better, but the people at the bottom are not doing better at all. Those are the people who have the most children and send their children to public school.”

The shift to a majority-poor student population means that in public schools, a growing number of children start kindergarten already trailing their more privileged peers and rarely, if ever, catch up. They are less likely to have support at home, are less frequently exposed to enriching activities outside of school, and are more likely to drop out and never attend college.


Maybe??? Here’s how Democrats win back the Senate in 2016. And it’s surprisingly simple.

The Senate map is Democrats’ friend in the 2016 cycle. They are defending only 10 seats while Republicans have two dozen of their own seats to hold. But wait, it gets better. Seven of those 24 Republican seats are in states that President Obama won not once but twice: Florida, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

To win the majority back, Democrats need to win five of those seven seats in November 2016. (If Hillary Clinton, or some other Democrat, wins the White House in 2016, then Senate Democrats need to win only four of those seven. That’s the exact path Republicans took to the Senate majority in 2014 when, needing a six-seat gain, they won all six of the states — Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia — that Mitt Romney carried in 2012 and were represented by Democrats. (Republicans also won two states — Iowa and Colorado — that Obama carried twice and one, North Carolina, that Obama won in 2008 and Romney won in 2012.)

Of course, 2014 was a historically good year for Senate Republicans. The last time the party won more than nine seats in a midterm election was 1994 when they won 10.  Prior to 1994, you have to go all the way back to 1946 when Republicans netted 12 seats.

And, while the map looks great for Democrats on paper, several of those seven races look less rosy in reality. Iowa is a very tough Democratic pickup unless Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) decides to retire, which he insists he isn’t going to do. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is a gifted politician and fundraiser while the Democratic bench in the state is decidedly thin.  The Democratic fields in New Hampshire, Florida and Illinois are still quite muddled. And neither Sens. Pat Toomey (Pa.) nor Ron Johnson (Wis.) are political dead men walking.

Not yet, at least.



Good Summary & Right On – Finley: Nobody wants Dave Agema

The final straw for the GOP came after a New Year’s Day post by Agema of an article from an outfit called American Renaissance. I read the post before Agema scrubbed it from his page, and it was a pure segregationist rant straight out of the 1950s.

The author, who described himself as a public defender, derided blacks for their limited intellectual capacity, poor work ethic, cultural devolution and inability to follow the law. His thesis was that Americans should have a right to protect their culture against such miscreants.

Agema posted it with the endorsement: “Very interesting article by a public defender. We are in a cultural battle. Very enlightening for anyone who is concerned about crime in America …”

This was not a blunder. It is consistent with the tenor of Agema’s social network tripe.

Nor is it about free speech. Agema can say and think whatever he wants; party members likewise can decide they don’t want someone with those views representing them.

And it’s not about upholding Republican or Christian values, as Agema contends.

Racism, bigotry, sexism are not core values of either conservatives or Christians. Agema represents a narrow, hateful subset who have attached themselves to the Republican Party.

The party should scrape them off, starting with Agema.

Party rules apparently don’t allow the committee to eject a member short of a felony conviction. Who knows whether a narcissist like Agema will take the hint and step down, no matter how overwhelming the vote against him. If he won’t, the GOP should convene an emergency session to change its rules.

There’s some concern in the state party about making Agema a martyr in advance of its late February convention. But that’s as good a time as any to take a stand against hatemongers.


Call it Lack of Discipline, Filter or Misunderstanding – It’s An Unnecessary Distraction: GOP committee censures Agema over comments

The Republican National Party’s Executive Committee voted to censure embattled committeeman Dave Agema and is calling on the state Republican Party to explore ways to formally remove him from his post.

The vote came Wednesday during RNC’s annual winter meeting this week in San Diego. The move to censure him also demanded his resignation.

For more than a year, Agema — who has been blasted for a string of public and social media outbursts that critics have decried as racist and homophobic — has resisted resignation calls from top Republican leaders. Officials have said they don’t have the power to remove him, short of a felony conviction.

“It is clear that Michigan’s current Republican National Committeeman is not an effective party leader or representative, and has demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to change his behavior,” Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak said in a statement Wednesday. “My position remains unchanged from a year ago, I hope Mr. Agema will voluntarily resign, but if he does not, the Michigan Republican Party will continue exploring all possibilities to address his actions.”

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus added: “Dave Agema’s history of harmful and offensive rhetoric has no place in our party, which is why the RNC Executive Committee acted in the swiftest way possible to avoid giving him a platform,” he said. “We have voted to censure him, and we are urging the Michigan GOP and their voters to explore options to discipline Agema for his actions. Today, we used all available tools to remove him from the committee.”


Rethinking the Electoral College

The other idea, which is actually moving forward, is an informal compact of the states – which Congress would not have to ratify – to change the laws governing the awarding of electors to insure those selected are the ones declared the winner of the popular vote. “This proposal would guarantee that every vote matters, every state is relevant, every town and community would have the same value to each candidate for president in every presidential election,” former Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis says.

He has a point. Ever since 1988, the Republican candidate for president has either failed to target Michigan altogether or pulled out of the state before the race was over. In the electoral calculation, therefore, the state matters neither to the GOP, who expect to lose it despite having the governor and control of the state legislator, or to the Democrats, who expect to carry it easily and feel little need to do anything but make a few token campaign stops.

Anuzis says the idea is gaining steam, with 29 legislative chambers in 19 states having passed some legislation awarding presidential electors based on the outcome of the national popular vote. To critics who argue this proposal would only help the Democrats he counters that the GOP leaves millions of votes on the table ever year by not pursuing them in states like Utah and South Carolina – where victory comes easily – and in states like New York and California where it may not come at all. He argues the Republicans have more room for growth in their vote than the Democrats do in theirs.


Romney And The GOP’s Five-Ring Circus

What is Romney thinking? Candidates who lose general election campaigns don’t have a good track record when they’ve tried to run again. But as my colleague Harry Enten pointed out last week, Romney isn’t nuts to think he has a shot. The GOP field is historically divided, and Romney has more experience than anyone else in the party uniting (or at least placating) its constituencies. And Romney is vetted, skilled at raising money and starts out with near-universal name recognition.

But Romney also enters a crowded field. In the past, we’ve sometimes conceived of the GOP field with a Venn diagram that we call the “five-ring circus.” It portrays the major constituencies within the party — the establishment wing, the moderate wing, the tea party, libertarians and Christian conservatives — and how they overlap. Here’s how we think of things as shaping up so far for 2016:



George Will: Romney’s third presidential run would be no charm

The nation was mired in a disappointing recovery, upward mobility had stalled and the incumbent president’s signature achievement was unpopular and becoming more so. Barack Obama, far from being a formidable politician, was between the seismic repudiations of 2010 and 2014. Running against Romney, Obama became the first president to win a second term with smaller percentages of both the popular and electoral votes. He got 3.6 million fewer votes and a lower percentage of the electoral vote. Yet Romney lost all but one (North Carolina) of the 10 battleground states. He narrowly lost Florida, Virginia and Ohio, but even if he had carried all three, Obama still would have won with 272 electoral votes.

If it seemed likely that the Republican field of candidates for 2016 would be unimpressive, this would provide a rationale for Romney redux. But markets work, and the U.S. electoral system is a reasonably well-functioning political market, with low barriers to entry for new products.


Early 2016 moves by Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney spur other GOP contenders into action

A broad field of GOP candidates are ramping up preparations for presidential runs in the wake of early maneuvering by establishment favorites Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, kicking off the race for the 2016 Republican nomination at a breakneck speed.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who is making a swing through New Hampshire on Wednesday, has tapped a campaign manager for his expected bid, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is quietly mobilizing the group of wealthy donors who would finance his effort.

Other possible contenders — such as former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former New York governor George Pataki — are holding meetings with party activists and donors, emphasizing their interest in running.

“Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney both threw a very interesting wrench in the mix,” said GOP strategist Saul Anuzis, former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. “I don’t think anybody expected them to come out so early or to come out so forcefully. If everybody stays in, it’s truly a wide-open ballgame.”

Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sought to use separate State of the State addresses Tuesday to lay out rationales for their anticipated GOP bids, underscoring how 2016 considerations are now driving state and national politics on the right.


How To Win The 2016 Elections: 6 Cutting-Edge Digital Tactics

The 2014 midterm elections demonstrated tremendous growth for digital campaigning, with digital ad spending jumping nearly 2,000% from the 2010 midterm spend. The 2016 elections will be won or lost on the digital battlefield, so it is more important than ever that political campaigns, party committees, and outside advocacy groups make use of the most cutting-edge strategies.

Based on my time inside the Beltway and in Silicon Valley, it’s quite clear that campaigns are startups of the political world, promoting politicians instead of products and acquiring voters instead of users. Campaigns looking to gain and maintain an edge over the competition should look to places like Silicon Valley for innovative approaches to digital marketing.

Some campaigns are already doing this, and they’re winning. Before he even started his job, the campaign manager for President Obama’s 2012 campaign met with executives from companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple in order to learn how the campaign could “exploit technology in ways that hadn’t been possible before.”

Having run digital for a winning campaign in one of the closest U.S. Senate elections of 2014, I believe that winning in 2016 will depend on whether or not campaigns adopt the following approaches to their digital marketing strategy:


This year, Millennials will overtake Baby Boomers

This year, the “Millennial” generation is projected to surpass the outsized Baby Boom generation as the nation’s largest living generation, according to the population projections released by the U.S. Census Bureau last month. Millennials (whom we define as between ages 18 to 34 in 2015) are projected to number 75.3 million, surpassing the projected 74.9 million Boomers (ages 51 to 69). The Gen X population (ages 35 to 50 in 2015) is projected to outnumber the Boomers by 2028.

The Millennial generation continues to grow as young immigrants expand their ranks. Boomers – a generation defined by the boom in U.S. births following World War II — are older and shrinking in size as the number of deaths exceed the number of older immigrants arriving in the country.



Too Late – But Interesting Discussion:  Appease Putin and avert a second Cold War

A spectre once again haunts Europe. No, I don’t mean radical Islam, which once again reared its ugly head last week. I’m referring to a new Cold War, one that represents a far more dangerous threat to the continent.

Russia’s illegal incursion in Crimea and insurrection in eastern Ukraine has drawn the wrath of the West. In Russia, meanwhile, anti-Americanism has reached new highs, Barack Obama is widely despised and Russian supermarkets use US flags as doormats for customers to wipe their feet on.

It’s been a quarter of a century since the collapse of Soviet Communism. Yet here we are at the dawn of second Cold War between – let’s not forget – two nuclear giants. Why?

The conventional wisdom says Putin is a monster bent on reviving the Russian empire. Put the past year’s events in a broader historical context, however, and you’ll reach a more plausible conclusion.


According to foreign-policy realists (including this writer), Putin’s conduct has been understandable. It has been a reaction to the West’s attempts to pull Ukraine and other former Warsaw Pact satellite states away from Russia’s strategic orbit.


10 Least Tax-Friendly States for Retirees

These 10 states impose the highest taxes on retirees, according to Kiplinger’s 2014 analysis of state taxes. Five of them treat Social Security benefits just like Uncle Sam—taxing up to 85%. Exemptions for other types of retirement income are limited or nonexistent. (To see how retirement income is taxed by state, go to the Retiree Tax Map.)

This year, we also looked at states’ capital gains rates because the six-year-long bull market has left many retirees with larger taxable portfolios. While investors typically pay lower federal tax rates on long-term capital gains, most states treat capital gains like ordinary income, notes Kyle Pomerleau, an economist for the Tax Foundation. That can take an unexpected bite out of the investment income of retirees who live in states with high income tax rates. For example, the top combined federal and state capital gains tax rate in California is 33%, according to the Tax Foundation, almost 10 percentage points higher than the fed’s top 23.8% tax rate on such profits.

Most retirees keep a close watch on their expenses, and they tend to vote in large numbers. That may explain why lawmakers in several states have attempted to make their environs more welcoming for older residents. In the past year, Maine increased the amount of pension income that’s excluded from state taxes. Nebraska boosted its exemption for Social Security income, starting in 2015. And New York and Maryland moved to gradually increase their estate tax exemptions to match the federal exclusion (currently $5.34 million).


NEW Facebook Page…

I’m heading over to a new Facebook page…PLEASE join me there… I started a new Facebook page to get around my “friend” limit…and play more politics-:) I’m going to slowly move off the “personal” page and only engage on this new page.  Join me & “like” here: https://www.facebook.com/SaulAnuzis

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