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The Never-Ending Campaign: Presidential Politics

If you have been paying attention to politics since the first of the year, you should be recognizing the signs of the coming 2016 Presidential election.  As of this month, we are just two short years away from the 2016 primary season.

Presidential politics are in full-swing at the insider level.  President Obama will finish his tenure in office and we will definitely have a new President.  If you are going to run a billion dollar business in a short time frame, you have to start early.  In 2012, the two Presidential candidates raised and spent more than $1 billion each.

Thus, it is safe to say that the elections are underway.

This has been most clearly evidenced in the persona of Chris Christie.  Christie has been leading all other candidates in early polling for presidential candidates.  He was beginning to capture the label “front-runner” for his party’s primary.   Thus, the scrutiny of his tenure in office as Governor of New Jersey has intensified.  He is now facing at least two investigations.

Dominating the news has been the issue with traffic management and retribution.  Is Chris Christie a bully?  Does this necessarily harm his chances?  Many politicos and academics have varying opinions on the potential harm of this investigation to his image.  Personally, I think this is one he can emerge from and still become a viable candidate.  However, the second investigation begins to create a pattern.

The second investigation has been less discussed but is still very significant.  It seems that some of the federal Hurricane Sandy relief money may have been tapped to allow Christie to show his family and appear on TV even more frequently.

The combined investigations serve to put him under ever more scrutiny.  It is questionable if will hold up well under the spotlight.

Meanwhile, more and more investigative reports are being released on Benghazi and the bombings of the U.S. Embassy that resulted in loss of lives.  As you may recall, Hilary Clinton was Secretary of State at the time of this event.  The lingering questions revolve around whether or not Clinton made bad decisions or knew more information that might have provided better protection.  Of course, Hilary Clinton, though unannounced, is considered a front-runner for the Democratic nomination for President.

Alas, our own Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, has been making frequent trips to primary states.  He is giving speeches to Republicans and capitalizing on his popularity from his filibuster as well as conservative positions.

Many others are doing the same.  If you want to start paying attention to presidential politics, watch who is speaking in Iowa and New Hampshire!

Let the races ……. advance, as they have already begun.

georgepbush

The GOP and George P….

The Republican Party has been evaluating their message and overall approach since they lost the general election for President in 2012.  Republicans went into that election with high expectations that they could defeat the incumbent and secure the White House.  Most pundits agreed.  At that time, President Obama’s ratings were higher in negatives than positives.

At the end of the year, President Obama resoundingly won re-election and the Republicans lost swing states that were expected to swing their way.  Was it Mitt Romney?  Not really.   It was more the message of the GOP and loose-cannon candidates that made outrageous comments that sounded early last century along the campaign trail.

In their post-election analysis, they have learned a few things and announced recently that they plan to spend $10,000,000 on outreach to minority communities.  Though in America, using the term “minority” is becoming more of a reference than a fact.  They plan to put people in these “communities” and have them become a part of the “community”.  Hey Latinos, Asians and African-Americans – the GOP is hiring!

Meanwhile, they are desperately seeking candidates that will reflect their new messaging and outreach.  What better person than a Latino named Bush?  It really doesn’t get any better than that.  At one time referred to as “the little Brown ones” by their Grandfather George H.W. Bush when speaking of Jeb Bush’s children, they are grown up now.

George P. Bush is the grandson and nephew of two Presidents and the son of a former Governor married to a Latina.  He has announced his intention to seek the office of Texas Land Commissioner.  George P. is an attorney and has been actively recruiting Latinos to the GOP.   Texas Republicans are thrilled, of course, as it will put a Bush back on the ballot in 2014.

How will all of this help the GOP in 2016?  We’ll wait, watch and analyze.

 

sequester

“The Sky is Falling”….. or, the Sequester is Starting

Today is the day and Congress has not reached an agreement.  After setting themselves up for a high-powered game of chicken – seeing who would blink first – they failed to move and the car crash has happened.

When Congress put the Sequester legislation together, they never actually thought it would come to this.   Sadly, this is how broken the system has become.  The Democrats and the Republicans are failing to do their jobs and solve the nation’s challenges.

After staring each other down for months now, the day has arrived and neither side has given an inch.  This sometimes feels like it is all fun and games for their childish behavior in D.C.

But for us real folk at home, the people they supposedly represent, what does it all really mean?  To hear the media tell it – our schools will collapse, airports will close, criminals will run free, hospitals will turn patients away and our way of life will basically fall apart.

Well, maybe not so much, at least not today.  It will take a period of time for the cuts to become effective.   The government departments and agencies have been putting forth their most dramatic scenarios in order to pressure Congress to act and to encourage  citizens to engage more and influence them to keep the money in place.

Frankly, each agency will address their needs and determine the best path for the cuts.  Does it mean some things will change?  Yes, it does.  Does it mean America may collapse because of it?  Not likely.   We’ll keep moving forward.

Meanwhile, the bigger issue is one the American people have to answer.  How long are we going to allow our elected leaders to behave like bad children?  We have to decide what we want.  When they ask us in polling, we rate Congress among the lowest of all.  We loathe their very existence.  But when they ask about our own Member of Congress, we cheer on their position.

Well, they are just representing us.  We have allowed our country to be led by posturing and positioning.  Members of Congress make significantly more money than the average American and many of them were comfortable financially before they were elected.  They often live their lives far removed from the rest of us.  Their healthcare plan is best and they exempt themselves from many of the laws governing the rest of Americans and American business.

Yet, we pat them on the back individually and tell them they are doing a good job.  Really?

It is time for the members of the House and the Senate and the White House to get their act together and govern this country.  Stop talking to the airwaves and try talking to each other.

And if you can’t do that, be sure that the Sequester includes significant cuts to your own budgets …… or we will cut your budgets ourselves  - by sending you home!

 

 

state of the union

State of the disUnion

Last night, the President addressed Congress in his annual State of the Union speech.  A great American tradition, this Congressional address allows the sitting President to present his agenda to Congress without outside influence.  The pomp and circumstance of the event is significant in its history and that most of Washington’s influential politicalaratti are present.

This year, President Obama, apparently feeling empowered by his comfortable re-election, laid out his own agenda in strong and aggressive terms.  He was forthright in his expectation that a rising tide lifts all boats and that austerity measures hurt those who can least afford it.

Much of the President’s speech repeated campaign themes.  The challenge with it was that it offered little to no olive branch to the Republican-controlled house.  Some may say he doesn’t have to do that since they were put in their place in the election.  I disagree.  If anything at all is hoped to be accomplished – all the ideas the President presented – there must be bi-partisan support.  It was clear that the Republicans did not like much of what they heard.

As to that, Marco Rubio’s response was rather mild.  He didn’t aggressively attack the President but simply contrasted their philosophical responses.  He was gracious and classy, even if he did need a drink of water.

The emotional ending of the speech about gun regulation was probably the most interesting of the night.  The President seems to be personally emotional about this issue.  The Newtown shooting were one of the first times this President let his emotions show publicly and that came through again during this section of his speech.

As well, his comments on voting reform and pointing out the 102 year old lady who waited 6 hours to vote.  While it was a contrived dramatic moment in his speech, I was most disappointed that the Speaker, John Boehner, didn’t stand out of simple respect.  I guess no one ever taught him to respect his elders.  The look of disgust on his face summed up the Republican point of view on the President’s presentation.

So, there you have it – expect more discord and disUnion from your elected leaders in Washington!

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Ponderings Potpourri

All hail Friday!  What a week it has been.  We started with the celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday and the Inauguration of our President.

The President’s speech was a shout out to all those who helped re-elect him as he touched on emotional topics.  Interestingly, he didn’t speak much about guns but that is the issue that is swirling all around the nation.  The President and various bills introduced by U.S. Senators, called for by Mayors and filed in State Legislatures are single-handedly driving up the sales of guns and ammunition.  I find the whole thing humorous as people work themselves into a frenzy on both sides while the gun manufacturers ride the wave and make ever more money.

I do not believe that anyone in Texas is in danger of losing their right to bear arms.  Furthermore, we have bills introduced in Austin to allow you to carry your weapon openly, without concealment.  I think I prefer that actually.  At least I will know who to pick an argument with versus who not to.  Meanwhile, our Lt. Governor has called for providing teachers with arms training and arming them in the classrooms as well as beefing up school security.

And what about Hilary Clinton?  Her long awaited appearance to testify before Congress on Benghazi created a dramatic event worthy of Oscar-wining performances for her and several  Members of Congress.  I was only able to follow on Twitter initially and then headed to a TV set because of all I was seeing from reporters Tweeting.  Alas, when I hit the office’s panel of TVs, more of them were devoted to Beyonce and her possible lip-syncing at the Inauguration than were showing the hearings.  The bits I did see looked like pure entertainment, though.  Who needs reality shows when you can stuff like this?

Meanwhile, back home, the Senate District 6 election is this Saturday.  If you vote in that District, be sure and cast your ballot.  Carol Alvarado and Sylvia Garcia lead a field of 8 candidates.  Most observers anticipate a run-off between these two but who leads into the run-off and by how much may be a good indicator of an anticipated eventual outcome.

Hope you like the new look of Ponderings!  Let us know and we’re back in action now.

 

 

Hello Status Quo!

Good morning. After months of debate, discussion and pontificating, we awake to the status quo.

The President of the United States has been handily re-elected, winning more significantly than most expected. The U.S. Senate remained in the hands of the Democrats and the U.S. House remained in the hands of the Republicans.

While the voters continually claim that they do not like “Washington Gridlock”, they did little to change the status quo that has created that very gridlock.

Congress will now have to decide if they will work together or shut down the government. Perhaps the President has heard from voters that we do not like the way things are going in D.C. and he will reach across the aisle more.

An interesting sidebar of the night was the number of women elected to the U.S. Senate. The largest number ever and they include the first Asian American woman, the first disabled veteran and the first openly gay Senator. Will the increase of women in the Senate bolster improved communications? Probably not but it will change the dynamics of the “ole boys club”.

Harris County:

Just a preliminary note on Harris County returns. I applaud Harris County voters for truly studying candidates and voting diversely across the ballot. This assured the election of Mike Anderson (R) as District Attorney and the re-election of Adrian Garcia (D) as Sheriff.

Give yourselves a pat on the back!

More to come on local results tomorrow.

Anticipation for the Nation

It is the day before one of the most powerful nations in the world chooses its leader. A nation is engaged in the deepest level of the great experiment of democracy and the world is watching.

Voter turnout is expected to be high, by American standards. It looks like as much as 50+ percent of the eligible population will cast a ballot. Some in the world are asking, why so few? But for Americans, 50% will be a good turnout.

Once every four years, we come together to choose the one person who will lead our country. This particular election is the one event in democracy that unifies us as a nation. Other than this election, all other leaders in our democracy are chosen by populations within the states.

And, let’s don’t forget that the states are busy choosing leaders for the democracy. U.S. Senate and Congressional races are happening across the country. Many states are picking Governors and other state leaders while local elections are choosing regional leadership.

In Texas, we believe in electing most offices so we have a long ballot. Be sure that you vote all the way through to the end.

Take a deep breath and hope that within the next 48 hours, it will be all over except for the post-analysis.

Speaking of analysis, this blogger will be joining anchors at News 92.1 FM radio tomorrow tonight to provide election updates and analyze the behavior of voters. We plan to focus on races throughout the ballot – from the Presidential results to the school bond election. Please tune in to listen!

Coming Together

Hurricane Sandy has tossed politics into a whirlwind. Now that the skies are clearing and the damage assessment is beginning, everyone will look to the federal government and the generosity of American citizens for assistance.

There has not been a total damage assessment announced to date but local hurricane veterans know it will be in the billions of dollars. Insurance companies will embark on their traditional approach of partial payment through a variety of avenues and many homeowners and businesses will find themselves unable to fund repairs.

The President moved immediately to provide support from FEMA and to lessen the burden of providing federal support. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey responded gratefully to the President and thanked him and his team for their prompt attention and support. As we know, the President is a Democrat and the Governor of New Jersey is a Republican.

The media immediately jumped on Governor Christie’s words and made it into a huge story. As a veteran of storm recovery efforts, I simply heard a weary Governor who hadn’t slept in the last 48 hours thanking the people in D.C. for their support of his battered state. He is primarily concerned with making sure the people in his state get the support they need.

In fact, Governor Christie was one of the toughest leaders I’ve ever heard during a storm of this type. He directly told people that if they chose to remain in evacuation zones, he would not put first responders at risk to rescue them. But he still remained compassionate throughout the crisis.

Again, as a storm weary veteran, I and many others along the Gulf Coast know that the true work begins now. They literally have to get the trains running again, the hospitals back along and deal with the large number of people rendered homeless by the storm and storm-related events. They will need assistance from all over the country to achieve these goals.

Governor Romney has mostly remained classy during this crisis as well. He has been using his campaign rallies to raise funds and collect food for the Red Cross. But alas, a national crisis has shifted focus off of the campaign.

Isn’t a relief to put politics aside for a couple of days and watch our national and state leadership work together to address this unprecedented weather event?

Will it affect the election? Most likely. Who does it benefit? Hard to say. The President is pulled off the campaign trail and most of the states hit hard by the storm were blue states already. Romney continues to campaign and the ads keep running in those critical swing states. What do you say America?

There are six days left before the election and three days left to vote early in Texas. Early vote locations are open until 7:00 p.m. tonight so go exercise your right to vote before you trick or treat!

Happy Halloween!

Frankenstorm

Beware. Brace yourselves. The East Coast is facing a confluence of weather patterns that will wreak havoc on America’s business and media centers and possibly, the Presidential election.

The East Coast is home base for the U.S. Stock Markets and hosts many of the network media outlets. For this reason, we will hear more about this storm than we did when Hurricane Ike swept across Southeast Texas, wiping away Bolivar Peninsula and caused billions of dollars in damages.

This storm is hitting the East Coast and will dominate America’s news for the next few days. The biggest question for the election falls on the potential loss of power. If two or three states lose power and people are unable to participate in early voting, will it change election results?

Meanwhile, President Obama has to be very Presidential as he deals with potential disaster news and Romney needs to be cautious in attacking a President during a crisis situation.

This year’s “October Surprise” just may be the weather. Pay close attention to the Presidential candidates. Both have already cancelled appearances scheduled in one of the tightest swing states – Virginia. They are rerouting their efforts to focus even more on Ohio and other midwestern states.

Presidential campaigns are usually fairly adaptable but this storm may create new hurdles for both candidates.

Debates Are Done!

The American public had their last chance to view the Presidential candidates in one-on-one issue discussions last night. It was a healthy debate between Romney and Obama.

Foreign policy is especially difficult to debate as the candidates know the whole world is watching every word uttered. Social media was abuzz that Romney was mostly agreeing with the President and not as full of fight as in the past. It may be somewhat true but when it comes to the defense of our nation, neither candidate wants to put our safety at risk.

Obama did seem to have an advantage as the “Commander in Chief” and didn’t hesitate to use that term when he could. He had some good one-liners and zinged Romney a few times.

Romney took advantage of a couple of questions to shift the debate back to domestic issues – his strength – and they both lapsed back into their regular rhetoric.

Personally, I was stunned by the lack of discussion on broader foreign policy issues such as the expansion of the Panama Canal and what it might mean for American business and there was very little focus on Latin America in general.

For the most part, the debate was uneventful. The Obama forces are all fist-bumping today and feel strongly that they won the debate. The Romney forces believe that he held his own and are accusing the President of “being snarky.”

Take your pick. In my humble opinion, there was little difference between them on critical issues of foreign policy.

Final debate score from this moderators point of view:
First debate – Advantage Romney
Second debate – Toss-up
Third debate – Advantage Obama

Now, it is time to vote. Take your pick and go cast your ballots!