Weekly Musing 5-24-15
Sorry for the delay. My Weekly Musing got caught up in the email server for some reason…had to rebuild the message.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend.
Ronald Reagan on Memorial Day
26 May, 1983 I don’t have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch, or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world.
Arlington National Cemetery, May 31, 1982 The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we — in a less final, less heroic way — be willing to give of ourselves.
May 25, 1981 Today, the United States stands as a beacon of liberty and democratic strength before the community of nations. We are resolved to stand firm against those who would destroy the freedoms we cherish. We are determined to achieve an enduring peace — a peace with liberty and with honor. This determination, this resolve, is the highest tribute we can pay to the many who have fallen in the service of our Nation.
Arlington National Cemetery, May 31, 1982 Our goal is peace. We can gain that peace by strengthening our alliances, by speaking candidly about the dangers before us, by assuring potential adversaries of our seriousness, by actively pursuing every chance of honest and fruitful negotiation.
26 May 1983 We owe this freedom of choice and action to those men and women in uniform who have served this nation and its interests in time of need. In particular, we are forever indebted to those who have given their lives that we might be free.
Arlington National Cemetery, May 31, 1982 I can’t claim to know the words of all the national anthems in the world, but I don’t know of any other that ends with a question and a challenge as ours does: Does that flag still wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? That is what we must all ask.
October 27, 1964 You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.
Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, March 30, 1961 Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We did not pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
Cruz for President announce Wendy Day as Michigan State Director!
HOUSTON, Texas – Continuing to build a robust national and Michigan organization, Cruz for President today named Wendy Day, the current Vice Chair of the Michigan Republican Party and Liberty movement leader, as the Michigan State Director for the Cruz for President Campaign.
“Wendy is a great fit because she is no stranger to grassroots politics at every level,” said Ted Cruz. “Her influence in the Great Lake State and commitment to freedom makes her a valued member of our team.”
Wendy is one of the most respected, hardworking grassroots leaders Michigan has seen, said Cruz State Chairman Saul Anuzis. “No one will out work her, no one knows both the Republican Party and Tea Party movement better than Wendy”.
Wendy Day gained influence and notoriety in Michigan when she founded Common Sense in Government, a group that highlighted elected officials’ misdeeds and educated voters on how to hold those officials accountable. Currently she serves as the Michigan Republican Party Grassroots Outreach Vice-Chair.
“Ted Cruz articulates a consistent message of optimism that has fired up people from the U.P. to Detroit,” said Day. “It’s clear that his courage, intelligence, wit, and love of country will unite voters from across the spectrum who rightfully demand that America’s future be built on Freedom. Michiganders are telling me that this is the first time they’ve seen someone who reminds them of Ronald Reagan.”
Day is responsible for organizing the 2010 “snowman protest”, where her volunteers built over 60 snowmen in front of the Michigan Capitol to protest taxes. The result was a humorous and eye-catching display that attracted news media from all around the world.
Wendy Day is a military wife and mother. She has been married to Kevin Day for 19 years and they have four children, including David, 18, Craig, 17, Allison 11, and Brady, 7.
The Michigan Presidential primary is slated for March 8, 2016. In the general election, Michigan holds 16 electoral college votes.
Senate 2016: Sorting Out the Democrats’ Best Targets
First of all, let’s re-set the scene. Map 1 shows Senate Class 3, which will be contested in November 2016. The 34 seats up next year are lopsidedly controlled by Republicans: They are defending 24 seats, while the Democrats are only defending 10.
This is what happens in Senate elections: The successes of one cycle that occur under favorable conditions — 2010 for Republicans — lead to challenges in a future cycle where the national environment is not as ideal. The GOP is overextended on next year’s Senate map, period.
However, Republicans are not as overextended as Democrats were on last year’s Senate map. Democrats held seven seats going into that election won by Mitt Romney — Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia — and all but one (North Carolina) were blowouts for the GOP in 2012. Even including the Tar Heel State, Romney got an average of 57% of the vote in these seven states, or about 10 points better than he performed nationally. Republicans swept all seven states, and added swing states won twice by President Obama, Colorado and Iowa, to their Senate haul, netting nine seats and a 54-46 edge in the current Congress. Additionally, four of those nine flipped seats were open, so retirements hurt Democrats as well.
In 2016, Republicans are the ones defending turf won by the other party in the last presidential election, but it’s a collection of states whose presidential election results were far closer to the national average in 2012. Obama-state Republicans are defending seven seats: Florida, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Of these, the Land of Lincoln is really the only one that we feel supremely confident the Democratic presidential nominee will carry; at the same time, only Florida and Ohio were less Democratic than the nation as a whole in Obama’s two elections.
Taken together, Obama’s average 2012 performance in these seven states was 52.4%, or roughly just a point and a half better than he did nationally. Additionally, one of these states has an entrenched, popular incumbent — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) — who is virtually guaranteed reelection so long as he’s on the ballot (and he plans to be). Of the other six, only one, Florida, is an open seat.
The point is this: Democrats have tantalizing opportunities in ’16, but the terrain is not as clearly favorable to them as the 2014 map was to the Republicans.
Early attention has focused on the three most reliably Democratic states of the seven mentioned above: Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. It is right to assume that there’s not much of a credible path to a Democratic Senate restoration if the party doesn’t sweep these states, and reasonable minds differ as to which state provides the best opportunity for Democrats. We started all three states as Toss-ups in our initial ratings, but we now see the races as distinctly different.
Democrats’ Vanishing Future – Hillary Clinton is not the only Democratic comeback candidate on the 2016 ticket. Senate Democrats are betting on the past to rebuild their party for the future.
One of the most underappreciated stories in recent years is the deterioration of the Democratic bench under President Obama’s tenure in office. The party has become much more ideologically homogenous, losing most of its moderate wing as a result of the last two disastrous midterm elections. By one new catch-all measure, a party-strength index introduced by RealClearPolitics analysts Sean Trende and David Byler, Democrats are in their worst position since 1928. That dynamic has manifested itself in the Democratic presidential contest, where the bench is so barren that a flawed Hillary Clinton is barreling to an uncontested nomination.
But less attention has been paid to how the shrinking number of Democratic officeholders in the House and in statewide offices is affecting the party’s Senate races. It’s awfully unusual to see how dependent Democrats are in relying on former losing candidates as their standard-bearers in 2016. Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold, Pennsylvania’s Joe Sestak, Indiana’s Baron Hill, and Ohio’s Ted Strickland all ran underwhelming campaigns in losing office in 2010—and are looking to return to politics six years later. Party officials are courting former Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina to make a comeback bid, despite mediocre favorability ratings and the fact that she lost a race just months ago that most had expected her to win. All told, more than half of the Democrats’ Senate challengers in 2016 are comeback candidates.
On one hand, most of these candidates are the best choices Democrats have. Feingold and Strickland are running ahead of GOP Sens. Ron Johnson and Rob Portman in recent polls. Hill and Hagan boast proven crossover appeal in GOP-leaning states that would be challenging pickups. Their presence in the race gives the party a fighting chance to retake the Senate.
But look more closely, and the reliance on former failures is a direct result of the party having no one else to turn to. If the brand-name challengers didn’t run, the roster of up-and-coming prospects in the respective states is short. They’re also facing an ominous historical reality that only two defeated senators have successfully returned to the upper chamber in the last six decades. As political analyst Stu Rothenberg put it, they’re asking “voters to rehire them for a job from which they were fired.” Senate Democrats are relying on these repeat candidates for the exact same reason that Democrats are comfortable with anointing Hillary Clinton for their presidential nomination: There aren’t any better alternatives.
For a portrait of the Democrats’ slim pickings, just look at the political breakdown in three of the most consequential battleground states. Republicans hold 12 of Ohio’s 16 House seats, and all six of their statewide offices. In Wisconsin, Republicans hold a majority of the state’s eight House seats and four of five statewide partisan offices. In Pennsylvania, 13 of the 18 representatives are Republicans, though Democrats hold all the statewide offices. (One major caveat: Kathleen Kane, the Democrats’ once-hyped attorney general in the state, is under criminal investigation and has become a political punchline.) These are all Democratic-friendly states that Obama carried twice.
In just five weeks, Hillary has had a lifetime quota of scandals
In the five weeks since Clinton announced her candidacy, she has had a normal politician’s lifetime quota of scandals. During a brief recent media availability, questions covered foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation, ties to a former aide under investigation, the pace of disclosure of her already purged State Department e-mails and speaking fees that put her (as conservative columnist Byron York tweeted) in the 1 percent on a single harvest day in Silicon Valley. “I want those e-mails out,” she told reporters, having made it technically difficult. “I’m proud of the work [the Clinton Foundation] has done,” which is relevant only in an argument that ends justify means. Bland and bold. I’ve done what I’ve done. Get used to it.
Democrats are presented with a political question: Does Clinton really have the political skills to pull this off? Her husband was a master of projecting likability, remorse and good intent. She is plausible as a president but mediocre as a candidate. Her silence is often an improvement on her availability. As new controversies come — and that is close to a political certainty — will her polling hold? I have heard significant Democratic donors wonder about this aloud.
But if Clinton succeeds, it would expand the boundaries of the permissible. It would again define deviancy down. Americans would have rewarded, or at least ignored, defiant secrecy and the destruction of documents. Future presidential candidates and campaign advisers would take note. Americans would have rewarded a skate along the ethical boundaries of money and influence. Future donors would see a green light, no matter what candidate Clinton says about campaign finance reform.
A democracy becomes the image of the virtues it rewards. Clinton is tough, disciplined and knowledgeable. Who needs honesty, trustworthiness and transparency?
The GOP Is the Strongest It’s Been in Decades
Last fall, RCP Election Analyst David Byler and I put together an index of party strength. While most journalists look at presidential performance as a measure of party strength (see the ubiquitous “Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six elections”), we take a broader view of party strength. Rather than look simply at presidential performance, we look at party dominance at the federal, congressional, and state levels. One need only look at fights over voter identification laws, redistricting, food stamp benefits, Obamacare expansion, and a multitude of other battles from the last few years alone to understand the importance of non-federal elections. We therefore believe this approach gives a more complete measure of party strength.
In this article, we do three things. First, we recap our methodology. Second, we update the methodology for 2014, and we look forward to 2016. Finally, we run some diagnostics on our index, answering various objections that have been raised.
Our index is the sum of five parts: presidential performance, House performance, Senate performance, gubernatorial performance and state legislative performance. The first is measured by the party’s performance in the previous presidential popular vote (NB: In this, and all other measurements, third parties are excluded).
Mark Levin – We Don’t Need A Governor As President – We Need A Conservative Visionary Leader
Mark Levin addresses the talk about the type of candidate that the United States needs if we are going to have any chance of extricating ourselves from the overwhelming destruction of the Obama regime. He says it doesn’t really matter to him what the current employment of the individual that would assume the office of President of the United States. What matters are that person’s values, their vision and their leadership ability.
He sees an agenda to restore the Republic, respect for the American people, stop ruling by the administrative state and regulation and the infamous pen and phone. He notes that our founding principles are largely ignored by Democrats and misunderstood by many Republicans, with millions of Americans never hearing the topic discussed.
Six dangerous issues in the 2016 GOP White House race
Republican contenders for the White House are under pressure to toe the party line on a number of issues as they battle for the nomination.
Primary voters will demand to know where the presidential hopefuls stand on a slew of hot-button issues, including immigration, taxes and climate change.
Several of the candidates have already stumbled with their answers, highlighting the intense scrutiny they will be under in the critical early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Here are some of the biggest political landmines ahead for the Republican field.
You’re Remembering Reagan Wrong
Reagan was more than a visionary; he was a brilliantly successful politician.
For 30 years Ronald Reagan has been a hero to Republicans and conservatives, his presidency regarded as the crucial moment when America began to turn back from the misguided liberalism of the New Deal to the truths of individual liberty and personal opportunity on which this country had rested from its founding. Yet as much as those on the right have revered Reagan, they have been unable to recapture his magic and repeat his success. The Reagan Revolution has had no second act.
The reason for this is that Reagan’s accomplishment has been widely misunderstood. Reagan is remembered for his compelling vision for America: a vision of self-reliance, limited government, stout defense, and world leadership toward freedom. And he is remembered for his ability to communicate this vision, better than anyone else of his generation or after. In a long political career, Reagan gave hundreds of speeches, but all were riffs on the single theme of expanding liberty. There is nothing of substance in any of Reagan’s speeches that doesn’t resonate today with nearly everyone right of center, from mainstream conservatives to Tea Party activists.
Yet Reagan was more than a speechmaker, more than a visionary. He was also a brilliantly successful politician. Reagan had no military experience—beyond performing in films for the army during World War II—but he instinctively understood the difference between strategy and tactics. His strategic goal was to shrink government at home and defeat communism abroad. (On the latter he memorably told Richard Allen, who became his national security adviser: “My theory of the Cold War is: We win and they lose.”) But Reagan recognized that progress came in stages, and that a step forward was a step in the right direction, even if it didn’t achieve the goal all at once. “If Reagan told me once he told me fifteen thousand times,” James Baker, Reagan’s chief of staff and later his Treasury secretary, recalled in an interview: “‘I’d rather get 80 percent of what I want than go over the cliff with my flags flying.'”
The GOP Is Dying Off. Literally.
It turns out that one of the Grand Old Party’s biggest—and least discussed—challenges going into 2016 is lying in plain sight, written right into the party’s own nickname. The Republican Party voter is old—and getting older, and as the adage goes, there are two certainties in life: Death and taxes. Right now, both are enemies of the GOP and they might want to worry more about the former than the latter.
There’s been much written about how millennials are becoming a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, but there’s been much less attention paid to one of the biggest get-out-the-vote challenges for the Republican Party heading into the next presidential election: Hundreds of thousands of their traditional core supporters won’t be able to turn out to vote at all.
The party’s core is dying off by the day.
Great Idea: House Bill Would Cap Expenses for Ex-Presidents
Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and other former presidents who earn lucrative speaking fees and draw other income would no longer be able to count on taxpayer dollars to pay for their post-White House office space and staff under a bill in the House.
On a voice vote, the House Oversight panel backed a measure Tuesday to limit taxpayer dollars for expenses, including travel, incurred by ex-presidents who earn more than $400,000 a year.
U.S. taxpayers paid a total of $3.5 million last year in pensions and benefits to the four living former presidents, including $1.3 million for Bush and $950,000 for Clinton, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. Most of that money was for sprawling office space in Dallas and New York, respectively.
Both Clinton and Bush, like other ex-presidents before them, have earned millions in speaking fees since leaving office.
The oversight committee acted just days after Hillary Rodham Clinton reported that she and her husband earned more than $30 million combined in speaking fees and book royalties since January 2014. The earnings put the couple in the top one-10th of 1 percent of all Americans.
The House bill would set presidential pensions at $200,000 a year, with an additional $200,000 set aside for office space and other expenses. The bill would reduce expense payments by $1 for every dollar above $400,000 earned by a former president.
Under the legislation, ex-presidents who earn more than $600,000 a year would not receive federal funds for office expenses or travel. Presidential pensions would not be affected by the amount of income earned.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight panel and a co-sponsor of the bill, said it was not aimed at anyone, but was a simple matter of fairness.
Secrets of the Tories’ election ‘war room’ – Facebook, curries and ‘koala of the day’ – how the Conservatives won
The Tories’ round-the-clock work ethic was matched by a relentless pursuit of the most comprehensive and accurate data on voters, their fears, foibles and individual concerns.
Mr Crosby’s business partner, Mark Textor, made his name as one of the world’s most formidable pollsters and this expertise was vital to the Conservative strategy.
For months, Mr Crosby had been running detailed polls in marginal seats, and focus groups of key voters, to ensure that every election message had been rigorously road-tested before it went public.
Using so-called “micro-targeting” techniques drawn from America, Stephen Gilbert, the Tories’ head of campaigning, who sat on the “power pod” with Mr Crosby, was able to send personalised letters to individual voters who were open to persuasion.
This modern take on old fashioned “direct mail” became “hugely important” to the Tories’ success, says a senior figure.
The precision campaigning was driven by another political mastermind drafted in from overseas: Jim Messina, President Obama’s former election chief, and perhaps the world’s leading analyst of social media data for the purposes of political campaigns.
Using data from Facebook, which the social media site sells to advertisers, Mr Messina and the Tories were able to identify the key concerns of small groups of undecided voters, for example women in their 40s who were concerned about schools and GP opening hours, in specific districts of key marginal seats.
New Putin Invasion Coming This Summer
Moscow says it’s sticking to a ceasefire agreement. Meanwhile, it’s piling up troops and weapons for something that doesn’t look so peaceful.
The war in Ukraine may have faded largely from international headlines, but Vladimir Putin’s drip-drip invasion continues. In the last two weeks, forensic evidence, some of which has been reported by monitor organizations and senior Western diplomats, the rest corroborated by eyewitness photography and video, only confirms what the U.S. fears most: A summer offensive is inevitable.
On May 5, the Ukrainian government released new data which says that they have lost 28 towns to Russian-backed separatists since February 18. That was the day the strategic town of Debaltsevo, which guarded a key highway to separatist-controlled regions, slipped from Ukraine’s control. The map of separatist territory is as alarming as it is illustrative, especially when it is combined with the daily reports of ceasefire violations and fighting coming out of both the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and Kiev.
On May 6, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addressed the National Security and Defense Council and warned that Russia has 50,000 troops on the border and its proxies have more than 40,000 fighters inside the country. That’s not only a combined 50% increase in possible invaders over July of last year, the month which proceeded the “Russian invasion” on the Ukrainian mainland. It’s more than enough soldiers to invade and gobble up a significant amount of Ukrainian territory.
“There is a convincing evidence that Ukraine strictly complies with the Minsk [ceasefire] agreements and militants constantly violate them,” Poroshenko noted. Separatists do not allow international observers to verify their withdrawal of heavy weaponry. “Militants regularly shoot Ukrainian positions, engage in reconnaissance and subversive activity and provoke armed confrontations in order to disrupt peaceful settlement of the conflict.”
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