Monday, November 7, 2016

The 2016 Election's Big Winner Is...

Some unforeseen disaster (think Florida, circa 2000) some time in the next 36 hours we should know who the next President of the United States is going to be. But whoever surpasses the 270 electoral votes needed to be elected, whether it be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, won't necessarily be the big winner of this election season. In my opinion, the person who has benefited the most from this election and its ensuing aftermath is Vladamir Putin.

You read that right; Russian President Vladamir Putin is the biggest winner in this year's election. Why? Because regardless of who wins, the United States will never be the same again.

If Donald Trump manages to pull out a win (unlikely and absolutely terrifying to consider), Putin will most likely have himself his own little puppet in the Oval Office. Trump not only lauds Putin as a "great leader" because of how strong he is in his country (ignoring the fact that he rules with an iron fist), he frequently seems to take up Russia's positions. He has voiced doubt as to whether or not Russia has gone into Crimea (they have), denied that they are responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee or had any part in the WikiLeaks hacked e-mails, and said that our NATO allies must pay their "fair share" in order to earn our military assistance.

Those positions seem to tout the Kremlin's propaganda, not to mention the numerous ties that have been suspected to exist between Trump, his associates and the Russians that imply a relationship between the two that has been kept secret. Little has been proven, mostly due to the fact that the FBI seems to be filled with pro-Trump supporters, so what their credibility must be questioned at this point.

Regardless of any ties that do or do not exist between Trump and Russia, one thing seems for certain, Trump seems to be in lock-step with Russia and its President at the expense of the United States and its allies. So if Trump wins, Putin could possibly have free reign to do whatever he wishes without worry of the United States.

If Hillary Clinton wins, Putin won't have the sway or freedom he would like with Trump, but he will win in another big way. For over 200 years, the United States has been a shining light of democracy for the world. One of our country's biggest areas of pride is that every four to eight years who have a peaceful transition of power from one President to the next, regardless of political party. It has recently been touted by President Bill Clinton that President George H.W. Bush left him a note when he was inaugurated letting him know that, despite their different political party affiliations, he was routing for his successor because his success would be the country's success. For the elder Bush, the country succeeding was much more important than Clinton being defeated by Republicans. This is an incredible example of how wonderful our democracy is.

Until Donald Trump entered the picture and is threatening to tear everything down. From calling Hillary Clinton a criminal who should be locked up, to calling the system rigged and that the election will be stolen from him, Donald Trump threatens the very fabric of our democracy. Though a concession from one candidate isn't required for our constitutional process to work, it's a sign of respect that the likes of Al Gore, John Kerry, John McCain and Mitt Romney have all exercised even though the outcome was not in their favor. Trump not only has not shown any interest in making a graceful concession, but it is also not inconceivable for him to try to legally challenge the outcome of the election if it's close, thus calling the eventual outcome into question.

Even if Trump does gracefully concede, he has instilled so much anger, hatred and doubts in his supporters that many have already said they will not accept the results if Hillary Clinton wins. Some have called for a revolution, others have said they will march on D.C. and prevent her from entering the White House, and others have implied acts of violence. This would completely throw the fabric of our democracy into chaos, damaging and causing widespread doubt into the outcome for election cycles to come.

The United States will be weakened, plunged into internal turmoil not seen since the Civil War and a President with little to no political capital. No longer will the United States be a shining example of how democracy can work and will risk teetering on the edge of becoming no different than third world countries who constantly protest election outcomes that the electorate views as rigged.

The big winner? Vladamir Putin.

So no matter who becomes our next President, the biggest winner this election season is Vladamir Putin.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Ted Cruz's Latest Calculation

Ted Cruz is one of the most talented politicians I've ever seen.

I don't mean that in a good way. He's calculating and manipulative, every action and every word thought out carefully. If you want a couple examples, look at his handling of immigration reform and the way he used a government shutdown to boost his own profile amongst the Republican electorate, even at the expense of his own party.

His handling of the 2016 Primary Season is superb. He went from a being a long shot candidate to the Republican Party's last hope to keep Donald Trump from the nomination. All this was thanks to a strategy that he stuck to from the beginning of his campaign in April 2015. Had it not been for the Trump juggernaut that steamrolled over the entire field, we likely would be calling Cruz the presumptive nominee.

In fact, we may still.

That may be surprising to say since he suspended his campaign last week. But follow my thinking for a moment.

Ted Cruz is not someone who acts on a whim. He isn't reckless. He's calculating and measured. Every act, every position is thought out and purposeful. Following his surprise victory in Wisconsin, he had hoped to regain moment to overtake Trump and deny him the nomination. But he suffered in the northeastern states, failing to crack second place in five of the six states. In the lead up to Indiana, it was believed that if something didn't change, Cruz was fighting a lost cause.

Thus, came Cruz's one act of desperation; the unusual naming of a vice-presidential nominee. From the get go it was viewed as illogical and desperate. Ultimately, it only sank him in Indiana. So, as he lost in a landslide, he announced he was suspending his campaign.

Since then, little has been heard from Ted Cruz. Until today, when in an interview with Glenn Beck he said he would consider returning to the campaign trail if he won an "unlikely" victory in Nebraska, a state where not only he is not only still on the ballot but was also projected to win before he dropped out.

So why the sudden change of heart?

Perhaps because Donald Trump has failed to unite his party behind him. Perhaps because General Election Trump isn't too different from Primary Trump, who isn't very popular with the general electorate. The nominee the Republicans got hasn't done much to ease their fears or anxieties. In fact, he seems to have increased them with statements that show a lack of understanding about the way the country's debt works, or that he's not too concerned about party unity.

The Republican Party has had a week to see what Nominee Trump looks like and they're not too thrilled.

And thus, perhaps this was Ted Cruz's greatest calculation of all; showing the party what they got and scaring them so that he could reemerge as the party's savior. It was only after Cruz withdrew where he got what he finally wanted; John Kasich stopped his campaign. If Cruz reenters the race, it will just be him and Trump, which he had wanted for months. A victory in Nebraska  (though already expected) will help change the media's narrative that Trump has the nomination and give Cruz reason to get back into the race.

He could point to Trump's statements as reason why he should not be their nominee. This could result in remaining voters flocking to him, keeping Trump from getting the nomination and throw the convention into contention.

Of course, it could backfire and only reinforce Trump's branding of him as Lyin' Ted, that he's untrustworthy and calculating, willing to say or do whatever is necessary to become President. It's a very accurate picture.

But it's also what could give Cruz the nomination out from under Donald Trump's feet.

I guess we'll see over the next few days.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Letter to the GOP

Dear Republican Party,

As some of your presidential candidates have noted, this is a time for choosing. A new era of American politics is upon us. After eight years of hyper-partisanship and divisiveness, our country is now at a crossroads where their people must choose where we go next. But no longer is this a choice between ideological extremes, the liberal left versus the conservative right; it has now become a battle for the soul of the United States of America.

During a great time of political divisiveness, the moderates of both political parties could no longer hold of powerful challenges from the extreme left and right fringes of the political spectrum. As his country struggled to recover from dark economic times, one man touted a message that targeted those most affected by the economic downturn and who were afraid of losing their cultural identity. This man sought to oppress any who disagreed with him, encouraging discrimination and violence against members of a minority religion. As his power and influence grew, he demanded that his supporters pledge an oath of allegiance not to his party or his country, but to him.

The man of whom I speak I'd Adolf Hitler.

However, the similarities to one Donald J. Trump are quite striking. Though they aren't exactly the same, there are enough parallels between the rise of power of these two men to be alarming. We all know what happened with Hitler and how the course of history changed. The question is, have we learned from that history?

I am an Independent. Since I first voted for President in 2004, I have approached every election with an open mind, willing to give every candidate serious consideration regardless of their party. That's what being an Independent is about. There are issues on which I agree with Republicans and issues on which I agree with Democrats. I am a free-thinking man who will make up his own mind and not be told by others what my positions should be. That's what it means to live in America.

I am increasingly alarmed by what I have seen over the course of this 2016 election season. I'm extremely anxious about what the future for my family and myself holds. A lot of that anxiety comes from what I see going on in the Republican Presidential Primaries. A party that prides itself on continuing the legacy of Ronald Reagan has seen it's rhetoric devolve into talk of paranioa, name calling, insults about physical appearance and even jokes about the size of candidates' genitals. The result? Violence erupting st campaign rallies where the front-runner for the Republican nomination encourages those who protest against him be beaten. A front-runner who praises the President of Russia for how he runs his country, despite rumors that he has political opponents killed.

Is this the sort of man who should be in the White House with control of our nuclear arsenal? If Vladimir Putin is the kind of President who Trump admires, does that mean he will rule with a similar approach if elected? These are questions we must seriously ask. If Donald Trump makes up his own rules on the campaign trail, will he do so in the White House? Will this mean the end of our Democracy?

I ask this because it's time for the Republican Party to choose. It's increasingly clear that Trump will be the nominee. So the GOP must ask themselves what's more important; winning or preserving the Republic? Because a Trump presidency could possibly lead to the destruction of not just the Republican Party and everything for which they stand, but for our country as well.

For the last eight years, the Republican Party has done everything they can to obstruct President Obama's agenda, including opposing ideas that originally belonged to Republicans. Their goal in 2009 was to ensure that Barack Obama was a one term President. They have shown that they are more interested in winning than working with Democrats to make things better for our country. But in 2012, they failed to unseat a vulnerable President because they weren't able to present a vision for the future. They argued why Obama should be defeated instead of why they should be elected.

In 2016, our government is consumed by gridlock. Very little is accomplished by Congress and neither side is willing to work with the other. As a result, people are angry and justly so. However, that anger is being exploited. Instead of being encouraged to channel that anger, they're being encouraged to lash out and some times violently. If left unchecked, there's no telling how far this anger and paranoia will go.

And there's no telling if it will even subside if President Trump assumes power. It's a scary thought to have a President who openly tells his supports to beat up protesters who seek to use their First Ammendment right to voice their own feelings. And there's no telling what else President Trump would do. Republicans think that they can keep Trump in control. But I don't think so. If there's one thing Donald Trump has proven, it's that he answers to no one. And in our system of government, that doesn't work. Our President is constrained by the rule of law and is not above it. Will Trump understand this?

The reason the GOP won't distance themselves from Trump or take a stand against him is because they're afraid of losing. They're afraid he'll ditch the party for a third-party run and cost them.the White House. This shows that they are more concerned with winning then what's best for the country. Trump touts a message of hate and divisiveness, prejudice and discrimination, and aggression and violence.

Which is why the Republican Party may have to give up on winning in 2016. That may be a difficult thing for a party who has been out of power for eight years to accept. But if Trump wins, will they really be in power?

The way I see it, the Republican Party has three options.

1. Do what it can to prevent Trump from winning the party's nomination, sending it to a brokered convention that nominates someone else. This will likely lead to alot of ugliness that will throw the party into further disarray and weaken it in the general election. An infuriated Trump is likely to launch a third party bid, with many of his most passionate supporters following him and abandoning the Republican nominee who will be seen as having stolen the nomination.

Though the party will support their candidate, the election is likely a lost cause as the Republican vote will be divided. The best strategy is for as much mone as possible to be thrown into supporting Congressional candidates and defending their majorities in Congress.

In a three-way general election, a best case scenario sees none of the three major candidates attaining 270 electoral votes, sending the outcome to the House of Representatives. If Republicans hold their majority, they will win the White House, though in controversial fashion. The party will be splintered, but will gradually regroup around a Republican President.

Worst case scenario, Hillary Clinton wins and the GOP is fractured, but can rebuild towards 2020 and hope to win the White House then.

2. If Trump becomes the nominee, allow him to continue to self-finance his campaign. Don't officially oppose his candidacy, but throw all support towards defending their Congressional majorities. The hope is that Trump will be defeated in November. The GOP can distance themselves from his policies and positions and hope to rebuild towards winning the White House in 2020. If he wins, the outcome will be similar to Point 3.

3. Throw all support behind Trump with the clear goal of winning. If he wins, however, they will forever be tied to whatever legacy Trump builds as President, whether it be good or bad. If it's good, everyone will be pleasantly surprised. If it's bad however, the Republican Party will collapse and likely be ousted from party for many years to come. In addition, they will have to deal with whatever other consequences come from a Donald J. Trump presidency.

It's a time of choosing for the Republican Party. For almost eight years, they've had the clear goal of simply winning back the White House, no matter what the costs. Now, achieving that goal may come at too high a price. This is the time where Republicans will show that they place winning over the well-being of their country, or place their country over winning.

Only time will tell what choice they will make. Unfortunately, I have serious doubts about whether they will make the right one.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Star Trek and Batman Meet on Their 50th Anniversary

While it's probably widely known that 2016 marks the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, I think it's less likely known that it is also the 50th Anniversary of the 1960s Batman TV series starring Adam West! While cheesy and often far-fetched and over-the-top, it is nevertheless entertaining and funny.

To celebrate these two shows, I thought I would share a video that I recently found on a Star Trek site. Live Long and Prosper and then make a discrete exit out the window!