Weekly Musing 3-29-15

Weekly Musing 3-29-15

Saul Anuzis

Ted Cruz Family Announcement 2

Courageous Conservative – reigniting the Miracle of America!

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Cruz’s strategy: Destroy the ‘mushy middle’

Ted Cruz premises his presidential hopes on the proposition that anti-establishment voters of all stripes won’t settle again for a nominee like Mitt Romney or John McCain. And the Texas senator believes that he has as good a chance as anyone to emerge as the leading alternative to Jeb Bush or whoever else becomes the favorite of what he likes to call “the mushy middle.”Cruz is not closely identified with issues like abortion and has not been covered as one of the evangelical candidates in the 2016 field. So his decision to formally kick off his presidential campaign at Liberty University in rural Virginia on Monday surprised many Republicans, including social conservative stalwarts from the camps of Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.

Advisers to the 44-year-old say he is not trying to repackage himself as primarily a social conservative. Instead, the senator’s team sees four brackets in the GOP primary field: the tea party, evangelicals, libertarians and establishment Republicans. The goal, they explain, is to establish Cruz as the first choice of tea partyers and become at least the second choice of evangelicals.


Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz declares candidacy, vows to ‘reignite the promise of America’

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced Monday that he is running for president, making him the first official candidate in the 2016 race for the White House                         .

“I believe God isn’t done with America yet,” Mr. Cruz said during a speech at Liberty University , sending a strong signal that he plans to compete for the evangelical Christians that traditionally play a big role in the GOP nomination race.

“I believe in you. I believe in the power of millions of courageous conservatives rising up to reignite the promise in America,” he said. “And that is why today I am announcing that I am running for president of the United States.”

The big question for Mr. Cruz is whether he can build a big enough coalition to claim the mantle of the conservative alternative to the establishment candidate in a Republican race that will likely also feature former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

“He potentially can rebuild the Reagan coalition by adding a populist, anti-Washington message that attracted disaffected Democrats and Independents,” said Craig Shirley, a biographer of President Reagan.

Liberty University was founded in 1971 by the late Jerry Falwell, the televangelist preacher who also led the formation of the moral majority that helped propel Ronald Reagan to the presidency in the 1980 election.


Meet Ted Cruz, “The Republican Barack Obama”

No member of the 113th Congress will arrive in Washington with as much hype as Cruz, who in late July survived one of the most expensive primaries in Texas history to knock off Gov. Rick Perry’s second-in-command, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. George Will calls Cruz, the Princeton- and Harvard Law School-educated son of a former Cuban revolutionary, “as good as it gets”; National Review dubbed him “the next great conservative hope,” gushing that “Cruz is to public speaking what Michael Phelps was to swimming.” Political strategist Mark McKinnon channeled the thinking of many in the party when he proclaimed Cruz “the Republican Barack Obama.” He is, with apologies to fellow Cuban American Marco Rubio, the up-and-comer du jour of the conservative movement.

Cruz, who turns 42 in December, represents an amalgam of far-right dogmas—a Paulian distaste for international law; a Huckabee-esque strain of Christian conservatism; and a Perry-like reverence for the 10th Amendment, which he believes grants the states all powers not explicitly outlined in the Constitution while severely curtailing the federal government’s authority to infringe on them. Toss in a dose of Alex P. Keaton and a dash of Cold War nostalgia, and you’ve got a tea party torch carrier the establishment can embrace.

…Cruz’s worldview has remained unflinchingly consistent. Challenged at a Federalist Society panel in 2010 to defend his proposal to convene a constitutional convention to draft new amendments aimed at scaling back federal power, he paraphrased his 21-year-old self: “If one embraces the views of Madison…which is that men are not angels and that elected politicians will almost always seek to expand their power, then the single most effective way to restrain government power is to provide a constraint they can’t change.”

One thing had changed, though, in the two decades since Cruz penned his thesis: His views had started to creep from the fringe to the fore.


3 Reasons Ted Cruz Could Win

Welcome to Thunderdome, Ted Cruz!  And wow, that’s a video straight out of the consultant minds of Veep. Maybe throw in a puppy? Seriously, though, if announcing via Twitter is the new thing, I’m all for it. It could’ve saved us sending a reporter to Lynchburg this morning. Maybe somebody will announce via Meerkat and we can all stay at our desks and not drive somewhere to see candidates give the same speech they gave at CPAC but with a couple more paragraphs? It’d save us all a lot of time and it’d be environmentally friendly, too. Lower your carbon footprint: announce by Tweet.

The Acela corridor mindset about Ted Cruz is basically: “he has no path”, “why is he doing this”, or “he’s a disruptive pain in the butt and should shut up and go away”. Allow me to quote one of the emails I received last night on this topic: “he’s a disruptive pain in the butt and should shut up and go away”. Yes, I understand that Cruz’s approach to politics and speechmaking rubs some people the wrong way, but there is actually a counterintuitive case to be made that he has a clearer path to the nomination than his critics might like.


Of Course Ted Cruz Could Win

“Reagan can’t win, Ford says.” That’s the 1976 version. The 1980 New York Times version, with the nearly identical headline: “Ford Declares Reagan Can’t Win.” Ford was really quite sure of himself: “Every place I go, and everything I hear, there is a growing, growing sentiment that Governor Reagan cannot win the election.” New York magazine: “The reason Reagan can’t win. . . . ” “Preposterous,” sociologist Robert Coles wrote about the idea of a Reagan victory.

The founder of this magazine worried that Reagan simply could not win in 1980, and several National Review luminaries quietly hoped that George H. W. Bush would be the nominee. There were serious, thoughtful conservatives who thought in 1980 that their best hope was to have Daniel Patrick Moynihan run as a Democrat that year, while many others were looking to ex-Democrat John Connally to carry the conservative banner on the GOP side. Things have a funny way of working out differently than expected. (And then much, much differently.)


Michigan for Ted Cruz

Here is where a bunch of Michigan supporters for Ted Cruz who are gathering to share information.


Republican Bracketology

Maybe the biggest recent development has been in the Tea Party/Populist bracket. Rand Paul was the early leader here, but Ted Cruz’s impressive performance in his announcement speech at Liberty University elevates him to running even with Paul. Cruz’s stock was probably undervalued early on, as few seemed to appreciate his impressive intellect and communications skills. (He wasn’t a championship debater in college for nothing.) Instead, pundits focused on his often acerbic and polarizing manner on Capitol Hill. Cruz’s reception in Congress brings to mind the old joke about a guy asking, “Why do people immediately dislike me so much?” The response: “Because it saves time.”

But at a dinner I attended with a small number of journalists and Cruz last year, he didn’t come across as a jerk or a bully. Instead, he seemed like a very smart guy who may be less attentive than he ought to be to the feelings and reactions of others. More important, unlike the libertarian Paul, he doesn’t have unorthodox positions that could put him at odds with some conservative voters.


20 Republicans who are gearing up to run for president

As many as 20 Republicans are taking a serious look at running for the White House in 2016. A handful of candidates have moved aggressively into the field, and others are expected to ramp up in the coming weeks, with several announcements expected in April.

Recent races haven’t attracted such a large and unsettled field before, and time is sure to winnow the contenders before the first debate in August 2015.

In 2011, as many as nine Republicans participated in one early debate. The field of declared candidates in that cycle was never greater than 10 at any one time.

Here are the 20 Republicans likely to make a run for the GOP nomination.


Republicans Have Little to Fear From a Divisive Primary

In reality, winning a nomination fight elevates the stature of the victor, who quickly brings partisans into the fold (especially during conventions), offsetting any damage to party loyalty or unity that the primary might seem to have incurred. By the time of the general election, the state of the economy plays a dominant role in determining who wins and loses, not whether one party’s candidates were mean to one another at a time when relatively few people were paying attention.

Moreover, while the winning candidate may have to spend more money or campaign harder to win in a divisive primary, he or she can also benefit from the organizational efforts required to win a tough primary fight. President Obama, for instance, seemed to perform slightly better during the 2008 general election in states that were more competitive during his nomination fight against Mrs. Clinton.

Why, then, is belief in the theory of divisive primaries so pervasive? One factor is the seeming correlation between divisive presidential primaries and general election losses. But vulnerable incumbents tend to attract credible challengers, whereas strong incumbents do not. When researchers take the state of the economy and the approval ratings of the president into account, the relationship disappears.


Bush and Rubio might swing Florida for the GOP. It probably wouldn’t matter, though.

Put together the chance of a home-state swing and the likelihood of it being decisive, and there’s a 5 percent chance a Florida home-state advantage for Bush/Rubio would swing the presidency in 2016. That dips to 4 percent for Ohio and 2 percent for Wisconsin. This estimate is rough and might be an underestimate, since two of the closest four elections have occurred recently. But even if we look at competitiveness of six elections since 1992, the chance of a Florida or Ohio home state bump swinging the presidency rises to 11 percent — a one in nine shot.

Another reason to be skeptical is looking at the candidates whose home-state advantage was decisive in winning the state. Only one – Benjamin Harrison – actually became president, while many others got trounced. Here’s a comprehensive rundown of how those “wins” played out.


Some Americans paying attention – favorability rating dropped from 38% to 26% since the email scandal.

Most Americans (65 percent) say their opinion of Clinton has not changed in the wake of the email controversy, but 29 percent say their opinion of her has grown worse. Forty-nine percent of Republicans say their opinion of her is worse, as do 28 percent of independents.

More generally, 26 percent of Americans now have a favorable view of Hillary Clinton, while 37 percent view her unfavorably; another third are undecided or don’t have an opinion of her. As Clinton weighs a presidential bid, her favorable views are 12 points lower than they were in the fall of 2013, just months after leaving her position as secretary of state. Her unfavorable views have ticked up slightly, but the percentage that is undecided about her has risen eight points.

Clinton’s highest favorable rating in CBS News polling occurred in March 2009, early in her tenure as Secretary of State, when 58 percent of Americans viewed her favorably. Clinton received her lowest favorable rating – 24 percent – in June 2003, soon after the publication of her memoir Living History.


China’s Fragile Evolution

Last week, China’s anti-corruption campaign took a significant turn, though a largely overlooked one. The Supreme People’s Court released a statement accusing former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, the highest-ranked official thus far implicated in China’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign, of having “trampled the law, damaged unity within the Communist Party, and conducted non-organizational political activities.” In Chinese bureaucratic speak, this was only a few steps shy of confirming earlier rumors that Zhou and his former political ally and one-time rising political star from Chongqing, Bo Xilai, had plotted a coup to pre-empt or repeal the political ascension of Chinese President and Party General Secretary Xi Jinping. Thus, the court’s statement marks a radical departure from the hitherto depoliticized official language of the anti-corruption campaign.

Of course, it has long been clear that the Xi administration’s anti-corruption campaign is far more than just a fight against graft — it is also a political purge designed to tighten the new leadership’s control over Party, government and military apparatuses. But up to now, official language on the anti-corruption campaign has been couched in terms of fighting graft and abuse of power “for personal gain.” So far as we are aware, very few if any official statements have alluded to “political activities” by suspects — and certainly none concerning high-profile figures like Zhou, whose position at the top of the country’s energy industry and domestic security apparatus made him one of the most powerful Chinese politicians of the 2000s. Whatever the court’s precise intent, that it chose language even hinting at a coup by Bo and Zhou is extraordinary.

If we accept that the use of a phrase like “non-organizational political activities” is significant, then we have to ask what the decision to use that phrase at this time may signify. To our minds, two possible interpretations stand out. First, it could mark a nascent shift in the way Chinese authorities frame the anti-corruption campaign and imply that going forward the campaign will become more overtly political. Second, it could signal that Xi and his allies, confident of having fully eliminated any threat posed by Zhou and his associates, are acknowledging an end to one phase of the anti-corruption campaign — the elimination of competing factions — and are now embarking on the further consolidation of authority and control over the far reaches of the bureaucracy.

If the former interpretation is correct, the anti-corruption campaign is about to get more brutal and potentially more destabilizing, as it moves from a relatively focused purge and general cleansing of the Party to a full-on assault against those who have the strength to challenge Xi’s nascent authoritarianism. According to the latter hypothesis, with the would-be challengers routed and acknowledged as anti-Party plotters, and with political power firmly centralized under Xi and his allies, China’s leaders can now put politics aside and move on to the more difficult and important task of building a government ready to manage the profound social and political disruptions that will almost certainly accompany China’s economic slowdown.

…The fundamental question, however, is whether China has time for an evolutionary change. Other Asian nations that underwent significant economic and political transformation, from Meiji-era Japan to Park Chung-hee’s South Korea, each made more radical and rapid changes — something that may be forced upon China’s leaders. But each did so with the attending major social disruption and a heavy hand in domestic security. Major economic overhauls are messy affairs, and China has decades of dead wood to trim from its economy due to the lingering effects of Mao’s intentional drive to ensure massive industrial redundancy, as well as to mismanagement and frequent unprofitability among state companies.

Although Singapore and even Prussia may be idealized models for China as countries that were able to transform and retain tight central authority, Lee Kuan Yew and the kaiser never had to manage a population of nearly 1.4 billion people, more than two-thirds of whom have effectively been left behind over three decades of promises that everyone would get rich in the end. As China tries to transition away from low-end manufacturing and economic stimulus driven by government-financed construction, it is the low end of the economic spectrum that will be disproportionally affected. A gradual shift in its economic model would allow China to slowly metabolize these displaced workers, but it is far from certain that China has the time to allow for this slow change, as the rest of the global economy is shifting with or without Chinese consensus.


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Weekly Musing 3-22-15

Weekly Musing 3-22-15

Saul Anuzis

Ted Cruz Big Flag

Run Ted Run!!  Ted Cruz Plans ‘Important Speech’ in Virginia

Sen. Ted Cruz‘s political operation appears to be strongly encouraging attendance by the media at an event in Lynchburg, Va., Monday for what’s being billed as “an important speech.”

Aides to the Texas Republican, who has been contemplating a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, were tight-lipped Friday about the details of the visit to the campus of Liberty University, but the timing of the speech would be right for getting somewhat ahead of the curve on announcing a White House run, at least among senators.

Cruz has spoken previously at the private, Christian university in Virginia, delivering the convocation address in April 2014.

Cruz focused his remarks that day on a topic of significant interest to his audience, actions by the government that conservatives view as attacks on their religious liberty.

“For a nation that was founded by pilgrims fleeing religious oppression, how, through the looking glass, have we gone that the federal government is now litigating against our citizens trying to force us to violate our faith?” Cruz asked at the time.

Multiple reports have indicated that another could-be presidential contender from the Senate is blocking off April 7, as a time to make news. That’s when Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is expected to make an announcement in Louisville.


Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Matt Salmon

Ted Cruz is the most underrated candidate in the 2016 field

A prominent Republican consultant — who isn’t working for any of the 2016 presidential candidates and who has been right more times than I can count — said something that shocked me when we had lunch recently. He said that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had roughly the same odds of becoming the Republican presidential nominee as former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

Jaw-dropper, right? After all, the conventional wisdom is that Bush, the son and brother of presidents, is the frontrunner to be the Republican standard-bearer, while Cruz, a conservative’s conservative, is a factor, sure, but not someone who could actually win the nomination.

How, I asked this guy, could he say such a thing? He explained it this way.

Think of the Republican primary field as a series of lanes. In this race, there are four of them: Establishment, Tea Party, Social Conservative and Libertarian. The four lanes are not of equal size:  Establishment is the biggest followed by Tea Party, Social Conservative and then Libertarian. (I could be convinced that Libertarian is slightly larger than Social Conservative, but it’s close.)

Obviously the fight for the top spot in the Establishment lane is very crowded, with Bush and possibly Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leading at the moment. Ditto the Social Conservative lane with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson and Rick Santorum all pushing hard there. The Libertarian lane is all Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s but, as I noted above, it’s still not that big.

Which leaves the Tea Party lane, which is both relatively large and entirely Cruz’s. While Paul looked as though he might try to fight Cruz for supremacy in that lane at one time, it’s clear from his recent moves that the Kentucky senator is trying to become a player in a bunch of lanes, including Social Conservative and Establishment.

So, Cruz is, without question, the dominant figure in the Tea Party lane. What that means — particularly in the early stages of the primary process in places like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — is that he will likely be able to win, place or show repeatedly, wracking up enough strong-ish performances to keep going even as the Establishment lane and the Social Conservative lane begin to thin out. (Cruz’s ability to raise money, which remains a question, is less important for him than it is for other candidates — especially those in the Establishment lane. His people are going to be for him no matter how much — or little — communicating he does with them.)

The trick for Cruz, according to this consultant, is to hang around long enough to not only be the preeminent figure in the Tea Party lane but also in the Social Conservative lane. (Cruz is decidedly conservative on social issues and talks regularly about his faith on the campaign trail.) The complicating figure in that consolidation effort is Huckabee, who is a) likely to run, b) an ordained Southern Baptist minister, and c) likely to be able to stay in the race for an extended period of time because of the number of Southern primaries in the early stages of the primary process.


Why Primaries Aren’t All Bad

Primaries can be expensive and divisive, but treating them like the plague — as party spokesmen are prone to do early every cycle — distorts electoral reality.

GOP strategists looking to hold the party’s newly attained majority are reveling in the potentially crowded field of Democrats for the open seat in Maryland. Setting aside the state’s strong Democratic lean, Republicans need not look back far to know that a crowded and competitive open-seat race is a poor predictor of future failure.

.. The natural argument against primaries is that clearing a field is a way to guarantee a primary outcome (and thus a certain nominee). But what ultimately matters is who wins that primary and how unified the party is after the internal fight. In some instances, a competitive primary can sharpen a candidate for the general, including on the country’s biggest stage.

… Primaries can of course be a detriment to a party’s general election chances. But it’s important to remember that competitive, divisive and expensive primaries can also ultimately lead to victory.


2016 PRESIDENT UPDATE: CLINTON ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE…YET On the Republican side, Christie’s moving in the wrong direction

Hillary Clinton went before cameras and reporters at the United Nations last week to address the ongoing controversy over her use of a private email system during her time as secretary of state. She was terse, combative, and essentially told the American people to “trust her” when she says that she didn’t do anything wrong and isn’t hiding anything. Clinton’s visceral dislike of the media was obvious and can be summed up by three words (“Go to Hell”), which was how Politico‘s John Harris put it after Clinton’s presser.

But Clinton’s position as the undisputed frontrunner in the Democratic field has hardly wavered. In fact, Democrats are perhaps more worried about Clinton’s ability to address controversies like the email affair and the foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation than the “scandals” themselves. Many Democratic donors and insiders around the country are urging her to quit delaying and officially announce her candidacy. Having a campaign apparatus, they say, would help her more effectively respond to the probing media and other attacks on her candidacy. Given the paucity of strong foes, the media appear to be a bigger opponent than anyone in the Democratic field.

The email episode, the questions about foreign money, and other challenges to Clinton may eventually prove damaging or even fatal to her candidacy — but certainly not yet. Not even close. The media and Clinton’s conservative critics, the two entities most riled up by the recent revelations, don’t vote in the Democratic primaries, and unless these controversies become real scandals with smoking guns, they won’t topple Clinton as the Democratic frontrunner.


Twin Towers

What ISIS Really Wants – PLEASE read – very insightful

What is the Islamic State?

Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.

The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.

Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.

The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.



Israel Chose Bibi Over Barack

The experts who said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was vulnerable before yesterday’s national election insisted that the vote was a referendum on him. His overwhelming victory shows that it was equally a referendum on U.S. President Barack Obama.

Netanyahu gave voters a choice between whom to trust more with their nation’s security. The result was clear.

To understand how the political dynamics played out, consider Netanyahu’s comments on the eve of the vote. Asked in an interview with the right-leaning website NRG if there was any chance for a Palestinian state under another Netanyahu government, he declared there was none.

Lots of journalists and analysts saw it as a reversal of the prime minister’s speech in 2009 at Bar Ilan University, in which he laid out his vision for a demilitarized Palestinian nation. But the context here is important. Netanyahu prefaced his answer by stating something very obvious: “I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands is giving attack grounds to the radical Islam against the state of Israel.”

This was not fear-mongering. It was something Israelis have been grappling with for a decade. Following then-prime minister Ariel Sharon’s decision to unilaterally uproot Jewish settlements and remove troops from Gaza in 2005, Hamas took over the territory. It didn’t happen all at once. But after Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006 and the Fatah faction of the Palestinian Authority refused to seat its ministers, Hamas fighters expelled the Fatah loyalists from Gaza’s security agencies and took control of the territory.



More Obama Hypocrisy – So Much for Transparency – US sets new record for denying, censoring government files

For the second consecutive year, the Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn’t find documents, and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.

It also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law — but only when it was challenged.

Its backlog of unanswered requests at year’s end grew remarkably by 55 percent to more than 200,000.

The government’s new figures, published Tuesday, covered all requests to 100 federal agencies during fiscal 2014 under the Freedom of Information law, which is heralded globally as a model for transparent government. They showed that despite disappointments and failed promises by the White House to make meaningful improvements in the way it releases records, the law was more popular than ever. Citizens, journalists, businesses and others made a record 714,231 requests for information. The U.S. spent a record $434 million trying to keep up.

The government responded to 647,142 requests, a 4 percent decrease over the previous year. The government more than ever censored materials it turned over or fully denied access to them, in 250,581 cases or 39 percent of all requests. Sometimes, the government censored only a few words or an employee’s phone number, but other times it completely marked out nearly every paragraph on pages.

On 215,584 other occasions, the government said it couldn’t find records, a person refused to pay for copies or the government determined the request to be unreasonable or improper.


Putin Fist

Can Putin Survive?

There is a general view that Vladimir Putin governs the Russian Federation as a dictator, that he has defeated and intimidated his opponents and that he has marshaled a powerful threat to surrounding countries. This is a reasonable view, but perhaps it should be re-evaluated in the context of recent events.

Ukraine and the Bid to Reverse Russia’s Decline

Ukraine is, of course, the place to start. The country is vital to Russia as a buffer against the West and as a route for delivering energy to Europe, which is the foundation of the Russian economy. On Jan. 1, Ukraine’s president was Viktor Yanukovich, generally regarded as favorably inclined to Russia. Given the complexity of Ukrainian society and politics, it would be unreasonable to say Ukraine under him was merely a Russian puppet. But it is fair to say that under Yanukovich and his supporters, fundamental Russian interests in Ukraine were secure.

This was extremely important to Putin. Part of the reason Putin had replaced Boris Yeltsin in 2000 was Yeltsin’s performance during the Kosovo war. Russia was allied with the Serbs and had not wanted NATO to launch a war against Serbia. Russian wishes were disregarded. The Russian views simply didn’t matter to the West. Still, when the air war failed to force Belgrade’s capitulation, the Russians negotiated a settlement that allowed U.S. and other NATO troops to enter and administer Kosovo. As part of that settlement, Russian troops were promised a significant part in peacekeeping in Kosovo. But the Russians were never allowed to take up that role, and Yeltsin proved unable to respond to the insult.

… Putin is far from finished. But he has governed for 14 years counting the time Dmitri Medvedev was officially in charge, and that is a long time. He may well regain his footing, but as things stand at the moment, I would expect quiet thoughts to be stirring in his colleagues’ minds. Putin himself must be re-examining his options daily.

Retreating in the face of the West and accepting the status quo in Ukraine would be difficult, given that the Kosovo issue that helped propel him to power and given what he has said about Ukraine over the years. But the current situation cannot sustain itself. The wild card in this situation is that if Putin finds himself in serious political trouble, he might become more rather than less aggressive. Whether Putin is in real trouble is not something I can be certain of, but too many things have gone wrong for him lately for me not to consider the possibility. And as in any political crisis, more and more extreme options are contemplated if the situation deteriorates.

Those who think that Putin is both the most repressive and aggressive Russian leader imaginable should bear in mind that this is far from the case. Lenin, for example, was fearsome. But Stalin was much worse. There may similarly come a time when the world looks at the Putin era as a time of liberality. For if the struggle by Putin to survive, and by his challengers to displace him, becomes more intense, the willingness of all to become more brutal might well increase.


The myth of ‘settled science’ – When the left shuts down debate, it’s time for skepticism

National Geographic’s latest cover story has generated lots of attention because it sneers at those close-minded Americans — mostly conservatives, of course — who do not accept scientific “facts.” Only 40 percent of Americans (according to Pew Research Center) “accept that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming,” and the magazine finds it “dispiriting” that so many “reasonable people doubt science.”

National Geographic compares global warming doubters to those disbelieve NASA’s moon landing and those who think water fluoridation is an evil plot. How could so many dismiss “established science?”

Well, here’s one reason: The public has come to distrust government warnings and the scientific experts; they are often wrong.

Ironically, National Geographic’s sermon on settled science could have hardly come at a more inopportune time. In recent months, leading scientists have reversed themselves and have admitted their expert findings and advice were wrong on eating fat. After decades of telling us not to do so, we now learn that fat can be good for your diet and for weight loss. What we all thought to be true based on the expert testimonies, turned out to be precisely the opposite of the truth. Oops.


How do Americans stand out from the rest of the world?

The differences between America and other nations have long been a subject of fascination and study for social scientists, dating back to Alexis de Tocqueville, the early 19th century French political thinker who described the United States as “exceptional.”

Nearly 200 years later, Americans’ emphasis on individualism and work ethic stands out in surveys of people around the world. When Pew Research Center surveyed people in 44 countries last spring, 57% of Americans disagreed with the statement “Success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside our control,” a higher percentage than most other nations and far above the global median of 38%.

True to the stereotype, surveys showed that Americans are more likely to believe that hard work pays off. When asked, on a scale of 0 to 10, about how important working hard is to getting ahead in life, 73% of Americans said it is was a “10” or “very important,” compared with a global median of 50% among the 44 nations.

Americans also stand out for their religiosity and optimism, especially when compared with other relatively wealthy countries.


10 Things America Wants in Its President in 2016

Another week in politics, and another view into the dysfunction and lack of real leadership that has become all too common in our country today. Makes a boy who grew up in the Midwest (granted it was Detroit) saying the pledge of allegiance each day at school wonder what has happened to the leaders we so desperately search for.

As I watched the unfolding of the Hillary Clinton email controversy where I felt like I was in a time machine back to the 1990s (no bridge to the 21st century, but rather a bunker to the 20th century), and GOP senators sending a wacky and unprecedented letter to Iran undermining the president’s negotiating position, it got me thinking of the list of attributes or qualities we are looking for in our leaders and in our next president. And right now I have seen no candidate or potential candidate out there who has captured even half of them.

Here are my 10:


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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Weekly Musing 3-15-15

Weekly Musing 3-15-15

Saul Anuzis


The President Must Respect the Rule of Law American immigration law is composed of thousands of pages, written by dozens of Congresses and federal agencies over a span of decades, and signed into law by numerous U.S. presidents.

But President Barack Obama has decided that all that doesn’t matter, and that he can now rule by decree. Regardless of whether you support or oppose the president’s amnesty plan, the simple fact remains that, in the United States, no individual may or should have that much unchecked power. It flies in the face of the rule of law, which in any government is all that stands between freedom and tyranny.

The rule of law is at the very heart of the case that Texas filed against President Obama in December, an action that has been joined by 25 other states, forming a bipartisan coalition. These plaintiffs are concerned about the president’s unilateral use of executive power to accomplish through edict what he could not achieve legislatively. And that’s why the full injunction that we won from U.S. district judge Andrew Hanen is so important: It has stopped the president from single-handedly enacting what is effectively a whole new system of laws, in the process granting amnesty to millions of people who came to this country illegally.


Ted Cruz

Run Ted Run…here’s why

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.

…As the campaign unfolds, I believe we need a bold leader, a man of character, passion and principle that is willing to fight the fight. Like Reagan, he has a clarity of vision, a unique ability to communicate and connect with the average American voter and the focus and drive to get it done. In an endeavor like this, never underestimate a candidate’s character, will and drive. Ted Cruz has the “fire in the belly” to go the distance.


A Contrived Controversy

Finally, a debate about Iran. Last week, 47 Republican senators released a public letter addressed to the leaders of the Iranian regime. The letter made what might have seemed a self-evident point: If the Obama administration reaches a deal with Iran, Congress will not be bound by parts of the deal to which it has not assented.

Then, hysteria.

“The letter to Iranian leaders from 47 Republican senators could well destroy critical bipartisanship in U.S. foreign policy for years to come and treacherously undermine the bargaining power of the person constitutionally authorized to conduct American affairs abroad—the President of the United States,” wrote Les Gelb, president emeritus and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “On top of what House speaker John Boehner did by unilaterally inviting Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, this letter seriously points to one terrible conclusion: a formidable number of congressional Republicans hate President Obama more than they love America.”

The New York Daily News labeled “traitors” the letter’s signatories and its author, Senator Tom Cotton (combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bronze Star). Max Fisher at Vox.com called the letter “unprecedented” and claimed Republicans were bringing their legislative obstructionism to “the previously sacrosanct realm of foreign policy.” John Kerry bellowed that the “letter ignores more than two centuries of precedent in the conduct of American foreign policy.” Hillary Clinton claimed that if the senators’ objective wasn’t to undermine the president, it was to help the mullahs in Iran. President Obama accused senators of forming a “coalition” with Iran’s hardliners. NBC News called the letter “stunning” and declared that it signaled an end to the days when politics stopped at the water’s edge.

to attach labels to those making these claims or offer judgments on their love of country. Instead, some perspective:



A war of Obama’s making

The White House and some Democrats are livid over congressional Republican attempts to circumvent President Obama’s authority to make a nuclear arms deal with Iran. They have a right to be angry — but not to be surprised.

There’s a war going on between the executive and legislative branches in which Obama has shown contempt for Congress’ constitutional powers, and now, in response, Congress is showing contempt for the president’s constitutional powers. It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s what Obama has wrought.

The latest development is an open letter to Iranian leaders written by GOP Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and signed by 46 other Senate Republicans. Released Monday morning, the letter reminds Iran that Obama is negotiating with them on his own, without the formal approval or support of Congress. Obama is not pursuing a treaty, which would have to be agreed to by the Senate, or a joint executive-congressional agreement, which would also require Congress’ approval.

“We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei,” the Republican senators write. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

Just in case there’s any confusion, the Republicans remind Iran that the next U.S. president will be inaugurated in January 2017, about 22 months from now, while at least some of the GOP senators who signed the letter will remain in office for many years to come.

The Cotton letter comes on the heels of House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress in what amounted to an extended attack on Obama’s Iran negotiations.

It should go without saying that the reason Republicans are doing these things is because they are deeply concerned about a possible Iran deal. But another reason they’re acting is because they can. On Iran and before that on immigration, healthcare, and other matters, Obama has pushed his executive authority beyond its proper limits, on the flimsy pretense that he is entitled to act unilaterally if Congress does not pass bills he wants. Could anyone fail to anticipate that in response Congress would stretch its own authority, too?


2016 Presidential

Visualizing the GOP’s 2016 Bracket

The Republicans running for president in 2016 will all compete in the same primary, but they won’t all be chasing the same voters, especially at the start. Instead, the candidates start out fighting to emerge as the front-runner among a smaller subgroup—in some ways like college basketball teams fighting their way through one side of a tournament bracket before the finals.

There are tons of constituencies within the Republican Party, but most broadly, the GOP breaks into two sides: A more “establishment”-oriented one and a more “grassroots”-oriented side. Now, new polling data from Iowa reveal just how much certain candidates find themselves going head-to-head for the same groups of voters.

On one side, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker—currently Iowa Republicans’ top choice for the 2016 caucuses—is trying to wrest away voters who also take a liking to candidates such as Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, former Gov. Rick Perry, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. On the other side, a largely different group of voters has gravitated toward Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.

Below, the data shows just how much some candidates’ support overlaps—and why Walker’s early lead is so tenuous. The governor currently holds a broad piece of turf in the all-important opening caucus state, but he’s going to have to defend it from a horde of hungry competitors.


Behind the GOP’s Backbench Revolt

‘Our goal is to get to a ‘yes’ vote, not to divide the party. It’s to fight for all those voters who are getting left out of Washington. And to do it in as smart and as aggressive a way as we can that brings our team together.”

That’s Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan talking, though Speaker John Boehner might wonder. Ten weeks into their huge new majority, Republicans are struggling to cobble together 218 votes for anything that matters. The Boehner leadership team puts the blame squarely on some 30 to 50 conservative members, who are variously described as crazy, or divorced from political reality, or unwilling to compromise. Or all of the above.

In the wake of last week’s immigration spectacle—in which Mr. Boehner was forced to fund Homeland Security with largely Democratic votes—I thought I’d ask Mr. Jordan to explain the thinking from the backbench. A favorite of conservative groups for his limited-government stands, he also has some credibility among the wider conference for his willingness at key times to be a team player. His position as chairman of the newly founded Freedom Caucus—what he calls an “agile, active group” of about 40 members devoted to conservative principles—has made him the de facto leader of the dissenters.

Mr. Jordan does seem to want to get to yes, though the defining feature of his group is frustration with a lack of Republican strategy and message. That comes out in Mr. Jordan’s view of the recent immigration debacle, a mess he traces to December. That was when Republicans chose to fund all of government except Homeland Security—in protest of President Obama’s lawless immigration order. “We told the voters this was going to be the defining moment, we said we were going to stop money for the president’s action,” says Mr. Jordan. “And you just can’t build up that moment, and then on February 27 say we aren’t going to do it.”

Having set the strategy, Republicans owed it “to run a two, two-and-half-month campaign to make the case.” That didn’t happen, I note, so why fight on? Mr. Jordan believes the party had a “chance,” even at the end, to get to House-Senate conference, fall back to a more narrow funding restriction, and earn Democratic votes.


Why Republicans Hold an Early Edge for 2016

With all the attention focused on the details of Hillary Clinton’s personal email over the past week, it’s easy to overlook the political big picture for the 2016 presidential campaign. If anything, Team Clinton’s cautious, tone-deaf response to the potential scandal is a reminder of all the challenges that her candidacy will entail. Far from being the juggernaut that her campaign has been portrayed as, it’s becoming clear that she will be facing strong headwinds in vying to succeed a divisive president, overcoming her past personal baggage, and convincing voters desperate for change that she’s the candidate of the future.

The whole episode has raised glaring red flags about the emerging Clinton operation. It’s only March, and the nascent campaign is still grasping for a message while being surprisingly unprepared to respond to criticisms about her email practices, which were known to her inner circle. A week that was designed to underscore her work for women across the globe descended into damage control over why she concealed emails as secretary of State on a private server. Her campaign operation resembles a clunky bureaucracy, filled with both allies from the last Clinton administration (Lanny Davis, David Brock) and younger strategists from President Obama’s campaigns tasked to shake things up. She’s got a well-defined brand, but one that’s losing its luster amid controversy and organizational dysfunction. Sound familiar?

Ambitious younger Democrats may be kicking themselves for passing up a primary opportunity against Clinton, but Republicans have shown no such hesitation in challenging her. And there are early signs that the political environment, which has been difficult for them over the last two presidential elections, is looking more favorable at this early stage. Here’s why:


2016 Senate Races

ROVE: Democrats Are Bullish On Retaking The Senate

The theory is that states Obama won in 2012 are ripe for the plucking.

The GOP took the Senate in 2014 by winning seven seats held by Democrats in states Mitt Romneycarried in 2012—Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia—along with seats in two states Mr. Obama carried, Colorado and Iowa. So Democrats argue that if GOP Senate candidates can carry states that go Republican for the White House, then Democratic Senate candidates are likely to carry states Democrats have won in presidential elections. Although it is true that the Senate landscape in 2016 will be better for Democrats than last year, there are flaws in their narrative. First, the states Republicans won in 2014 tilted far more Republican than the states with GOP incumbents up next year tilt Democrat. For example, Republicans defeated incumbent Democrats in states Mitt Romney carried by 23.7% (Arkansas), 17.2% (Louisiana), 14% (Alaska), 5.4% (Colorado) and 2% (North Carolina). By comparison, Republican incumbents are up next year in states Mr. Obama generally carried by smaller margins, namely 0.9% (Florida), 3% (Ohio), 5.4% (Pennsylvania), 5.6% (New Hampshire), 5.8% (Iowa) and 6.9% (Wisconsin). Only one GOP incumbent senator is in a state Mr. Obama carried by double digits: Illinois, which he carried by 16.9%. Second, it is hard to beat an incumbent. In the last eight presidential elections, Democrats have defeated four or more Republican incumbent senators twice, picking off five in 2000 and in 2008. It took extraordinary circumstances to pull this off. In 2000 President Clinton was unusually popular for a two-term incumbent—and 2008 was a flat-out bad year for Republicans.  No one believes Mr. Obama’s Gallup job-approval ratings will be close to the 57% Mr. Clinton enjoyed on Oct. 28, 2000, right before that year’s presidential election. Mr. Obama last reached that level in December 2012, right after his re-election. Given the world’s trajectory, his approval ratings next year are more likely to be lower than the 45% he received in this week’s Gallup poll. Moreover, seven of eight Republican senators in states Mr. Obama carried at least once are running for re-election. If the eighth—Florida’s Marco Rubio—is in the hunt for the presidential nomination at the May 2016 filing deadline, the GOP has two statewide elected officials, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, in the wings.  Third, Democrats are struggling to recruit Senate candidates. The only declared Democrat in Pennsylvania, former congressman Joe Sestak, announced without notifying national Democrats and is viewed skeptically by party leaders. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid tried to clear the field in Ohio by endorsing defeated former Gov. Ted Strickland, age 73, but failed.  The favored prospects in North Carolina and Wisconsin, former Sens. Kay Hagan and Russ Feingold, are spending this year teaching in Massachusetts and California, respectively. New Hampshire Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan is mum about running for the Senate, but the legislature is shredding her budget and her idea to hire a chief operating officer for the state is being widely ridiculed. Several Democratic congressmen are considering running in Florida and Illinois, raising the likelihood of expensive, debilitating primaries.  Conversely, not a single Republican seat in a red state looks at risk today. The only chance Democrats have to win these is if Republican incumbents draw serious primary challengers that divide the GOP. The fourth problem for Democrats is they will be playing defense in at least two purple states: Nevada, where Sen. Harry Reid had a 41% unfavorability rating in a Pew Research Center/USA Today poll late last year; and Colorado, where a recent Quinnipiac poll found only 32% say Sen. Michael Bennet should be re-elected. Finally, each incumbent Republican senator is busy raising money, building serious organizations and compiling a governing record that appeals to independents and Democrats so they run ahead of the GOP presidential candidate in their states.


NYT Crop

Surprise!?!  The New York Times CROPS OUT George W. Bush from their SELMA front page picture The totally objective and completely unbiased New York Times made sure that their readers didn’t see George W. Bush and Laura attend the Selma 50th Anniversary by awkwardly cutting them out of their front page picture.


Obamanomics – The Solution to Inequality: Exile the Rich

Potential presidential candidates looking to make a splash should consider the following bold proposal to solve our inequality problem once and for all: exile the top 0.1% of income earners. Round up all 136,080 taxpayers who make more than $2.16 million a year and ship ’em off to whatever country will accept them. Presto. Problem solved.

We’d still, of course, have inequality in America. But we’d at least have brought it back to the healthy 1960s’ levels that Paul Krugman and Elizabeth Warren nostalgically pine for. The 0.1 percenters, whose growing incomes have been fueling the rise in inequality over the past several decades, will have vanished overnight.

This proposal will surely strike many as extreme. But drastic times call for drastic measures. President Obama, after all, has called growing inequality “the defining challenge of our time.” Krugman agrees and notes that “the increase in U.S. inequality has no counterpart anywhere else in the advanced world.”

Never mind that, according to surveys, most Americans couldn’t care less about an abstract statistical trend stretching over decades. In a Politico poll in the lead-up to the last election, only 1 percent of voters thought inequality was the most important issue. But, as Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber might say, we should not let “the stupidity of the American voter” get in the way of advancing progressive policies.

While exiling the wealthy will do wonders for inequality in America, it will put a serious dent in the government’s finances. Almost one in every five tax dollars that the government collects comes from the 0.1 percent. To make up for the shortfall, we should probably also confiscate all their assets before exiling them.

What about the jobs the 0.1 percenters create and the value they add to the economy? After all, we’d be losing all but twelve of the CEOs from the 300 largest companies in the country. The show business industry would collapse overnight with all the star talent in exile. Gone too would be the best investment bankers, financial consultants, surgeons and lawyers. One third of the NFL’s roster and well over half of the NBA’s roster would also be culled.


Maps: How Ukraine became Ukraine

For the past year, Ukraine has been plunged into chaos. Mass protests against pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych led to his ouster in February 2014. That sparked a spiraling crisis: a fledgling interim government in Kiev looked on as Russia first seized and then annexed the territory of Crimea, a strategic Black Sea peninsula. A pro-Russian separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine, believed to have direct backing from Moscow, has led to the deaths of thousands since.

To some, Ukraine has become the geopolitical faultline between the liberal democratic West and authoritarian, neo-imperial Russia under President Vladimir Putin. Foreign policy luminaries in Washington openly discuss the current state of affairs as a new Cold War.

Beneath the political divisions of the present lies a country’s deep, complex past. The land that’s now Ukraine has long been dear to Russian nationalists. But it has also been home to a host of other peoples and empires. Its shifting borders and overlapping histories all have echoes in the current heated moment.

What follows is a sketch of how Ukraine became Ukraine over 1,300 years of history, mapped by The Washington Post’s cartographer Gene Thorp. Ukraine’s modern borders are outlined in green throughout.


LT Bloomberg

The Successes and Scars of a 25-Year Journey Out of Soviet Clutches

As communism crumbled a quarter-century ago, the first nation to emerge from the Soviet ruins was a long way off resembling a functioning democracy.

Today, Lithuania is a member of the European Union, the euro currency bloc and NATO. In celebrating independence this week, the nation of 3 million can look back at a rocky road to the greater prosperity it now enjoys. While it overcame hyperinflation to boost living standards and build investor trust, the Baltic country has struggled with emigration, health issues related to the upheaval of the transition and a fear of its former master.

“It’s been a huge economic progress from a very chaotic start,” said Vilija Tauraite, an economist with SEB in Vilnius. “Euro adoption this year placed Lithuania within the very West, which seemed inconceivable 25 years ago. Economically it’s been fast to re-orientate, yet challenges remain with demographics.”

The most eye-catching number in Lithuania’s transformation is income per capita, which outshines all former Soviet republics. The average Lithuanian’s salary jumped 7.2 times between 1994 and 2014. Car ownership surged more than fourfold as Volkswagens, Audis and Fords replaced Soviet-made VAZ vehicles. The advance comes despite a 2009 slump that wiped 14.5 percent off economic output and ushered in one of the EU’s harshest austerity programs.


Awesome!!!  Researchers have achieved wireless speeds of 1 Tb per second

Researchers at the University of Surrey in England have achieved 5G speeds of 1 Terabit per second (Tbps) over 100 metres in the lab – by far the fastest wireless connection to date.

The 5G, or fifth generation, mobile network will eventually replace our current 4G technology, with its comparatively poxy speeds of around 15 Mbps, and it’s hoped that it will revolutionise how we use mobile devices.

It’s previously been estimated that speeds of 50 Gbps could be achieved on the 5G network, but now the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) has gone and smashed those expectations.

“We have developed 10 more breakthrough technologies and one of them means we can exceed 1Tbps wirelessly,” Professor Rahim Tafazolli, the director of 5GIC, cryptically told Dan Worth for UK technology news site V3. “This is the same capacity as fibre optics but we are doing it wirelessly.”

To put that into perspective, a US Internet provider last year rolled out the fastest home Internet ever in the Minnesotan city of Minneapolis, which reaches speeds of 10 Gbps. So this would be 100 times faster – which means you could download around 100 feature films in less than a second and stream multiple TV shows at once – all from your phone.


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 | Leave a comment

Weekly Musing 3-8-15

Weekly Musing 3-8-15

Saul Anuzis


Unifying Theory Of Media Scandal Coverage: It’s Always The Republicans’ Fault

Hillary Clinton used a personal email address housed on her own server to conduct her business while Secretary of State, a practice that may have been illegal, was definitely shady, and probably an enormous national security risk. We don’t know if the State Department signed off or if the White House was ever aware of what she was up to.

One imagines these things would concern those who claim to care about transparent government. But, though intrepid reporters in the mainstream media deserve much of the credit for bringing the story to our attention, many other journalists seem to have far more urgent questions on their mind.

Will the GOP Go Too Far?

If there is a scandal involving a Democrat brewing, we must immediately contemplate how the GOP will fare. Will those zealots overplay their hand once again? Will they make a mountain out of a BENGHAZI? Because, really, what’s more important (or easy) than finding some accommodating Republican to say something idiotic? We’re now on “overreach” watch. Remember the, “Will Democrats overplay their hand as the GOP is plunged into scandal?” story? I don’t either.

What is going “too far”? Asking too many questions? Asking Hillary personally — what some reporters might call stalking?

As Politico reported, there’s an “awkward” silence among GOP politicians regarding Hillary’s troubles, which probably means GOP politicians are guilty of unseemly business themselves. So if Republicans attack Hillary, they risk going too far and engaging in partisan rancor. If they don’t say enough, it’s because they must be hiding misconduct. Evidentially, the only thing Republicans can do is pack it in and quit—a move that would only solve half of America’s problems.

Among the Hillary email-gate stories out there, and there are many, we are going to find many headlines informing us that the “GOP is giddy” about the scandal or, that “Hillary Clinton’s stumbles fuel Democratic critics” as CNN recently explained. Who among us doesn’t stumble occasionally in life, right? Soon enough, coverage will begin to nurture the perception that it’s all just another partisan skirmish and half the public will forget that we’re talking about a high-ranking government official who created a shadow communication department within the State Department immune from any transparency. A story that had nothing, at its heart, to do with Republicans—other than the fact that Trey Gowdy’s ferreting it out.

Oh, Look, Squirrel!



Obamanomics: 62.8%: Labor Force Participation Has Hovered Near 37-Year-Low for 11 Months

The labor force participation rate hovered between 62.9 percent and 62.7 percent in the eleven months from April 2014 through February, and has been 62.9 percent or lower in 13 of the 17 months since October 2013. Prior to that, the last time the rate was below 63 percent was 37 years ago, in March 1978 when it was 62.8 percent, the same rate it was in February.

“The civilian labor force participation rate, at 62.8 percent, changed little in February and has remained within the narrow range of 62.7 to 62.9 percent since April 2014,” the BLS said in its release on the February employment data.

92,898,000 Americans were not in the labor force in February, according to data released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Friday.

…In February, 92,898,000 people did not participate in the labor force. These Americans did not have a job and were not actively trying to find one. When President Obama took office in January 2009, there were 80,529,000 Americans who were not participating in the office, which means that since then, 12,369,000 Americans have left the workforce. Of the 157,002,000 who did participate in the labor force, 148,297,000 had a job, and 8,705,000 did not have a job but were actively seeking one -– making them the nation’s unemployed. The 8,705,000 job seekers were 5.5 percent of the 157,002,000 Americans actively participating in the labor force during the month of February. Thus, the unemployment rate for that money was 5.5 percent.


Progressives, It’s Time to Start Panicking about Hillary There is no Plan B for 2016. I’ll say it, happily: Democrats should be worried about Hillary Clinton, and moderately panicked about the immediate future of both their party and their cause. This is not, of course, because Hillary’s latest scandale du jour is in any practical way going to “disqualify” her; and nor is it because leftward-leaning voters are likely to recall anything more from this rather awkward period in time than that the Clintons are as perennially sleazy as they ever were. Rather, it is because the last few days have underscored just how tenuous the Left’s grip on power and influence truly is in the waning days of the once-buoyant Obama era. At present, Republicans control the House of Representatives, they lead the Senate, and they enjoy pole position within a vast majority of the states. The Democratic party, by contrast, has been all but wiped out, its great historical hope having relegated himself by his obstinacy to the role of MVP on a team of just a few. For the next couple of years, Obama will dig in where he can, blocking here, usurping there, and seeking to provide for the Left a source of energy and of authority. But then . . . what?


Stuck in Scandal Land – As long as she is in public life, Hillary will protect and serve herself.

Doesn’t the latest Hillary Clinton scandal make you want to throw up your hands and say: Do we really have to do this again? Do we have to go back there? People assume she is our next president. We are defining political deviancy down.

The scandal this week is that we have belatedly found out, more than two years after she left the office of secretary of state, that throughout Mrs. Clinton’s four-year tenure she did not conduct official business through the State Department email system. She had her own private email addresses and her own private Internet domain, on her own private server at one of her own private homes, in Chappaqua, N.Y. Which means she had, and has, complete control of the emails. If a journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking to see emails of the secretary of state, the State Department had nothing to show. If Congress asked to see them, State could say there was nothing to see. (Two months ago, on the request of State, Mrs. Clinton turned over a reported 55,000 pages of her emails. She and her private aides apparently got to pick which ones.)

Is it too much to imagine that Mrs. Clinton wanted to conceal the record of her communications as America’s top diplomat because she might have been doing a great deal of interesting work in those emails, not only with respect to immediate and unfolding international events but with respect to those who would like to make a positive impression on the American secretary of state by making contributions to the Clinton Foundation, which not only funds many noble causes but is the seat of operations of Clinton Inc. and its numerous offices, operatives, hangers-on and campaign-in-waiting?

What a low and embarrassing question. It is prompted by last week’s scandal—that the Clinton Foundation accepted foreign contributions during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. It is uncomfortable to ask such questions, but that’s the thing with the Clintons, they always make you go there.

The mainstream press is all over the story now that it has blown. It’s odd that it took so long. Everyone at State, the White House, and the rest of the government who received an email from the secretary of state would have seen where it was coming from—a nongovernmental address. You’d think someone would have noticed.

With the exception of the moment Wednesday when a hardy reporter from TMZ actually went to an airport and shouted a query at Mrs. Clinton—it was just like the old days of journalism, with a stakeout and shouted queries—Mrs. Clinton hasn’t been subjected to any questions from the press. She’s slide, she’ll glide, she’ll skate. (With TMZ she just walked on, smiling.)

Why would she ignore regulations to opt out of the State email system? We probably see the answer in a video clip posted this week on Buzzfeed. Mrs. Clinton, chatting with a supporter at a fundraiser for her 2000 Senate campaign, said: “As much as I’ve been investigated and all of that, you know, why would I . . . ever want to do email?”


Rebels with a cause – A new group of far-right House Republicans tries to show they’re not just a band of demagogues.

Salmon and other members of the Freedom Caucus made clear that their purpose isn’t simply endless debate. For years, the nucleus of conservative thought in the House has been the Republican Study Committee, which holds meetings that are large and ideologically diverse. The group has been risk-averse, hardly ever unifying behind a legislative strategy.

The Freedom Caucus was a response to that, and in the midst of their first legislative battle over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, they showed just how different they’d be. Since Republicans took the majority in 2011, the far right wing of the House Republican Conference has been a disparate bunch, unable to clearly articulate a unified set of demands to the leadership.

That all seems to have changed this week.

Although they clearly lost the fight over DHS funding, the Freedom Caucus is beginning to show that it is a force that requires leadership’s attention. They are showing legislative sophistication, defying the perception of a ragtag collection of demagogues many in the Capitol had them pegged as.

Members of the group, including Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), were able to slow consideration of the Senate’s DHS bill using rarely employed floor tactics — a strategy born of consultations with parliamentary advisers that lasted more than a week, sources said. They successfully worked to whip up opposition to Republican leadership’s plans, dealing Boehner and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) an embarrassing defeat on the House floor.

With the backing of popular conservatives, they have changed the definition of what legislation meets conservative muster. Those new standards have grown the group’s reach beyond its approximately two dozen members. In the DHS fight, Republican leadership saw reliable allies siding with a different Ohioan than Boehner: Rep. Jim Jordan, who runs the Freedom Caucus.


Putin Fist

The Fascist in the Kremlin

Vladimir Putin is fighting a war on two fronts. At home, opposition activists no longer risk jail, but death. The assassination of Boris Nemtsov at the Kremlin walls–one of the most policed places on the planet–turned a new page in the regime’s offensive against its opponents. Abroad, Putin’s tanks continue to roll into Ukraine and Moscow’s other neighbors feel threatened.

But just as he’s apparently managed to winnow out his political enemies at home, the Russian dictator is still making friends on the Western front. Only last month, Putin demonstrated that it is possible–despite Western sanctions and ongoing aggression in Ukraine–to build a partnership with a European Union state. In his first visit to a European Union country in nine months, Putin visited Hungary and cuddled up to his emerging new ally, Prime Minister Viktor Orban. From Budapest, he sent a clear message: We are ready to support any European country that has grievances with Brussels or Washington.

A year after the annexation of Crimea, Putin’s Russia is looking ever more like an expansionist fascist state. “Putin has brought Nazism into politics,” Nemtsov told a reporter hours before he was shot. As the regime aims to destroy critical thinking, years of round-the-clock propaganda–hugely intensified by the Ukraine campaign–has taken its toll on Russian society. Many Russians are ready for war: this can be seen in the numbers of men who left their homes to fight in Ukraine as volunteers (alongside regular Russian troops).

Life has become dangerous for those Russians who–despite daily brainwashing and state control–preserve a clear mind. In Moscow, 50,000 of them took to the streets in an anti-Putin march in memory of Nemtsov. Labeled the country’s “fifth column,” these Russians are so vilified on federal television that they could become victims of hate crimes committed by the people–or by the state. Many of them are openly asked to leave: Riga is fast becoming a hub for an escaping Russian middle class.

Asked by a BBC presenter if Nemtsov will join the long list of unexplained murders in Russia, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov chillingly replied: “The list is not that long.”. On his weekly TV show Vesti Nedeli, Russia’s most famous propagandist Dmitry Kisilev told viewers that, for the West, Nemtsov was “more useful dead than alive.” The pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia reported that investigators are focusing on the Ukrainian intelligence agencies and Chechen militants as the main suspects in the murder.


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 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!

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

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.




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