Weekly Musing 5-3-15
Will Rick Snyder Run for President? The question is what that “maybe, maybe not” stance signifies. Does it foreshadow a serious bid? Is it a coy attempt to attract national attention? A reminder to other candidates of his potential as a running mate? Or is it just the largely overlooked, fairly successful GOP governor of a blue state wanting a bit more recognition? Talk of a Snyder bid exploded last Friday at a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, after former Minnesota senator Norm Coleman told reporters: “I met with Rick Snyder yesterday. He’s running. He’s running.” Either Coleman misheard something in that meeting, or he let the cat out of the bag early. Snyder’s team is sidestepping the remark for the moment.
Republicans in 2016: Rubio Edges Ahead of Walker – But this field remains remarkably large and jumbled
For Republicans looking ahead to 2016, Florida is the pivotal state in the Electoral College. Naturally, we can’t know exactly what will happen a year and a half from now, but from our current vantage point, it appears very likely that the GOP must win the state to have a shot at winning 270 or more electoral votes and control of the White House.
Given the state’s importance, particularly to the Republicans, it seems appropriate that the top two contenders for the party’s presidential nomination in the Crystal Ball‘s rankings now hail from the Sunshine State.
Moving into the number two spot on our GOP list is Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. The state’s junior senator has enjoyed a solid couple of weeks since announcing his candidacy on April 13, and his new position in our candidate list reflects that. He jumps ahead of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, while ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush remains at the top, though it’s important to stress just how tenuous Bush’s slotting remains at this very early point. This trio (Bush, Rubio, Walker) continues to make up our first tier, and they are tightly bunched together.
New survey data reflect Rubio’s improved stature. Prior to his announcement, Rubio had last seen double digits in national GOP primary polling in February 2014. Based on RealClearPolitics‘ list of polls, Rubio’s average in the nine 2015 polls taken before April 13 was 5.9%. In the three surveys since his official entry, Rubio averaged 13% and held a (slim) lead in two of them. It’s true that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz got a similar poll bounce after his entry in late March, which seems to have receded somewhat, so it’s entirely possible that Rubio is just the latest benefactor of an announcement bounce.
On the other hand, there’s little question that Rubio is relatively well-regarded by a wide variety of Republicans, from Tea Party stalwarts to establishment types. His potential to receive support from a broad swath of Republicans is one major reason Rubio is a top-tier candidate. In our reaction to Rubio’s entry, we mentioned that Rubio was actually relatively unknown compared to some other GOP contenders, leaving him room to grow as potential voters got to know him. Now that he’s an official candidate, one might say that his poll numbers are catching up to expectations.
This is not to say that Rubio won’t face major challenges. His murky stance on immigration — Rubio has pulled back from a reform plan he once touted — leaves him open to attack on his right flank and could undermine his support among Tea Partiers. Having worked on comprehensive reform in the Senate, many Republican donors have been happy to oblige him with checks. But the GOP grassroots are suspicious of any dealings regarding immigration, calling the 2013 Senate bill that Rubio helped pass “amnesty.” Considering the hit he took during that episode, where Rubio ends up on this issue could make or break him in the long run.
Two More for 2016? Kasich, Snyder Would Bring Heterodoxy to the Mix
The Republican field of 2016 presidential candidates keeps on expanding — and now it looks like it could be expanding in a surprising new direction.
Two Republicans with records of departing from conservative orthodoxy — Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and Rick Snyder of Michigan — are getting closer to a decision on whether to run for president.
The two newly re-elected Midwestern governors are cut from a very different cloth than the first three GOP candidates to officially enter the 2016 race — Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida — all senators who have come from the party’s conservative wing and have tea-party roots.
Unlike those three senators and much of the party’s activist base, Messrs. Kasich and Snyder support Common Core, the national education standards that conservative critics say smack of federal control of schools. Mr. Kasich has drawn fire from conservatives for supporting an expansion of Medicaid in Ohio and, on a hot-button immigration issue, he has said he is open to allowing a pathway to citizenship for people in the U.S. illegally. Touching another conservative third rail, Mr. Snyder is supporting a sales-tax increase to fund road construction, a ballot initiative that is coming to a vote in Michigan next week.
Millennials don’t trust anyone. That’s a big deal.
Millennials aren’t, it seems, the trusting type.
Of 10 major societal institutions, just two — the military and scientists — garnered majority support from millennials on the question of whom they trust to do the right thing most of the time. That’s according to new polling by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics of this most-written-and-talked-about generation, which encompasses those ranging in age from 18 to 29.
The lack of trust in longtime pillars of society among millennials is striking both for its depth and its breadth. No one is spared their side-eyed looks.
The media gets its worst — with 88 percent of millennials saying they only “sometimes” or “never” trust the press. Wall Street doesn’t fare much better, with 86 percent of millennials expressing distrust. Congress is at 82 percent. Three in four millennials (74 percent) sometimes or never trust the federal government to do the right thing, and two in three (63 percent) feel the same way about the president. The Supreme Court, once a beacon of trust societywide, isn’t seen that way by millennials, with 58 percent saying they only sometimes or never trust the nation’s highest court to do the right thing. Heck, even local police aren’t spared; 50 percent say they trust the cops only sometimes or never to do the right thing, while 49 percent said they trust police “all” or “most” of the time.
Doubts about Clinton’s honesty after emails
Americans appear to be suspicious of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s honesty, and even many Democrats are only lukewarm about her presidential candidacy, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.
Is she strong and decisive? Yes, say a majority of people. But inspiring and likable? Only a minority think so.
Clinton’s struggles to explain her email practices while in government, along with questions about the Clinton Foundation and Republican criticism of her openness, wealth and trustworthiness seem to have struck a nerve in the public’s perception of the dominant Democratic figure in the 2016 campaign. In the survey, 61 percent said “honest” describes her only slightly well or not at all.
Nearly four in 10 Democrats, and more than six in 10 independents agreed that “honest” was not the best word for her.
Even so, she is viewed more favorably than her potential Republican rivals, none of whom are as well-known as the former secretary of state, senator and first lady.
The Cruz Doctrine: Ted Cruz Opens Up About His Foreign Policy Worldview
Ted Cruz wants you to know that he isn’t a Rand Paul on foreign policy – but he isn’t a John McCain either.
The Texas senator and Republican presidential contender outlined his foreign policy worldview Friday in an in-depth interview with The Daily Caller from the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental in Sin City, where he was in town to attend both the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Spring Meeting and a convention of evangelical pastors.
“The touchstone of foreign policy should be the vital national security interest of America,” Cruz said, arguing his foreign policy was neither “full neocon” nor “libertarian isolationist.”
“I believe America should be a clarion voice for freedom. The bully pulpit of the American president has enormous potency,” he added, before praising former President Ronald Reagan for changing the “arc of history” by demanding Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev tear down the Berlin Wall and lambasting President Barack Obama for not sufficiently standing on the side of freedom during Iran’s 2009 Green Revolution.
Holder’s Legacy Of Politicization
If there’s a government agency that ought to stay above the political fray, it’s the Justice Department. But outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder used his department to pursue a racially polarizing political agenda.
In his farewell speech Friday at Justice, Holder asserted that he restored Justice “to what it always was — free of politicization and focused on the mission without any kind of interference from political outsiders.”
This from the man who just last year proudly described himself as “an activist attorney general.”
Baltimore, a Great Society Failure
This is a failure exclusively of Democrats, unless the root causes of Baltimore’s troubles are to be traced to its last Republican mayor, Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin, who left office in 1967. And it is an indictment of a failed model of government.
Baltimore is a hostile business environment and high-tax city, with malice aforethought. “Officials raised property taxes 21 times between 1950 and 1985,” Steve Hanke and Stephen Walters of Johns Hopkins University write in The Wall Street Journal, “channeling the proceeds to favored voting blocs and causing many homeowners and entrepreneurs — disproportionately Republicans — to flee. It was brilliant politics, as Democrats now enjoy an eight-to-one voter registration advantage.”
To counterbalance the taxes, they note, developers need to be lured to the city with subsidies, and the developers, in turn, contribute to politicians to stay in their good graces. This makes for fertile ground for the city’s traditional corruption.
Baltimore’s preferred driver of growth has been government. Urban experts Fred Siegel and Van Smith write in City Journal that Baltimore has “emphasized a state-sponsored capitalism that relies almost entirely on federal and state subsidies, rather than market investments.” The model makes for some high-profile development projects, but trickle-down crony capitalism hasn’t worked for everyone else.
…The schools, predictably, are a disaster, run by and for the teachers unions. (If the left’s vigilantes for justice really wanted to strike a blow against The Man, they would have besieged the headquarters of the Baltimore city schools.)
On top of all this, two-thirds of births in the city are out-of-wedlock. Toya Graham is being rightly celebrated for smacking her 16-year-old son and getting him out of the streets during the rioting. You can admire her pluck and still be daunted by the challenges she faces as a single mother of six.
What is Obama offering in response to this deep, decades-long decline? Among other things, more pre-K education and job training, even though these programs have a long history of ineffectiveness.
The imperative in Baltimore should be to think and act anew. But the left’s take-away will be that there’s an urgent need for more of the same, as Baltimore and places like it continue to rot.
Peace is over for the Baltic States
The Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are the most endangered. Freed from the Russian yoke but 25 years ago and for centuries oppressed and enslaved by Russia, the Baltic people are most aware of the threat posed by Russia’s resurgent nationalism… or at least Estonia is, because Latvia’s and Lithuania’s defense preparations are ridiculous. They scream for help, solidarity and Western forces to defend them, but have way too few soldiers, way too small defense budgets and an amazing lack of urgency. Personally I believe that if within this year both do not rectify this situation, NATO should only defend them while on its way to stand and fight with Estonia…
…Ultimately, the defense of the Baltic nations stands and falls with their level of cooperation. Sweden has the easiest task: defend and hold Gotland, while Poland faces the unenviable task to fend off attacks on two sides: from Kaliningrad and Belarus, while at the same time being the main reserve force for the Baltics. Therefore, Poland has much higher financial, logistic and preparatory hurdles to clear before its military is capable to withstand each and every type of Russian attack. But as for the Baltics, nothing will give them as better chance to deter a Russian attack and in the worst case withstand it until help arrives, than combing their defense structures and leaving just operational command in national hands (for now).
All five nations under threat along the Baltic Sea will have to plan and prepare to fight on their own, as help from Western European nations is not something they can count on. Therefore, these nations, just like Romania and Ukraine, will have to prepare for the worst and with the current nationalistic hysteria sweeping Russia the worst is yet to come and it will come. Therefore either be prepared or surrender and acquiesce to living under the Russian yoke once more. I for my part say: Never!
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