Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Who won the debate on September 27?

This debate was fascinating. Two candidates entered with two very different styles. Over 80 million people were watching the debate, so it is clear that it will be decisive. I was able to attend a debate watch party hosted by the College Republicans of UW-Madison. It was terrific event where I was able to meet many people who shared a common interest in politics. We were all glued to the televisions. Who do I think won? In the end, I think Hillary Clinton came out ahead, but Trump did better than in his primary debates.

Initially, Donald Trump approached this debate attempting to appear forceful and tough. This is a message that I believe many voters want to hear at a time when our national security is in danger. He also managed to point out some of Clinton's flaws early on, especially with trade issues like the TPP. Despite this, I think he had issues with effectively articulating his message and being rude. He interrupted Clinton multiple times. During these interruptions, he would give insane responses like saying that hoping for a housing recession was "business." I might seem small, but many Americans may vote based on the conduct of a presidential candidate. For example, many voters disliked George H.W. Bush's decision to repeatedly looked at his watch during a 1992 debate. I think his interrupting will be interpreted in a similar way.

Clinton's biggest flaw was her blandness. She does say what she wants to do and she can clearly explain some issues in the United States. I think her problem is that she lacks compassion and fails to personify herself. There are times where Clinton seemed strong during the debate, but it was usually through baiting Trump later in the night. I think she also scored some points with keeping minority voters on her side. African-Americans are favorable to Democrats and I don't think that will change in this election (particularly with the birther topic brought up). Hispanic voters, specifically females, will be happy when Clinton brought up a model who she claims was called racial slurs by the Republican nominee. The Clinton campaign knew that this topic would eat up some news during the next few days.

Overall, I thought that NBC anchor Lester Holt was biased towards Clinton. He had follow up questions on Trump at least six times during the debate, but never followed up with the former secretary of state even once. Holt never asked a single question regarding the Clinton Foundation and the potential conflict of interest at the State Department (foreign dignitaries gave the Clinton Foundation large donations while she was secretary of state), but he did go after Trump on the birther topic.

As for the reaction, it is obvious that most Trump supporters are going to say he won while most Clinton supporters are going to say she won. You can observe this through all the website and newspaper opinions being published today and later this week. A CNN poll showed that Clinton clobbered Trump in the debate. The poll was scientific, but there were slightly more Democrats polled than Republicans. Republicans will usually say that Trump succeeded in the debate by pointing to online polls. The problem is that supporters of any candidate are going to spam the online polls. I wouldn't trust any website polls. We will only know the true winner later this week when scientific national polls are released. I will be watching RCP closely.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Big Moment has Arrived

In less than 24 hours, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be debating. It's the political Super Bowl of 2016. Debates are imperative for both presidential candidates. For Clinton, it's a moment where she can improve on her image and personify herself. For Trump, it is a moment to show specifics and policy proposals and compassion towards minority voters. The debate will be moderated by CNN's Lester Holt in Hofstra, New York. There are two articles that I found very interesting before the debate tomorrow.

There have been many articles written about strategies for Donald Trump before the debate, but I think the best has been posted by Kimberley A. Strassel of The Wall Street Journal. She writes:
Word is that Mr. Trump isn’t doing a whole lot of debate prep. But his team ought to have at least readied him for what should be the easy response to all the nasty attacks. Mrs. Clinton’s own past is so malodorous, so rife with crooked deals and lies, that Mr. Trump shouldn’t have to do much more than calmly question her credibility and then move on to better subjects. 
Mr. Trump’s impulse no doubt will be to take it to her, to hit back, to dwell on Mrs. Clinton’s malfeasance. No doubt a few tough reminders to the audience of her ethical failings are necessary. But everyone already knows Mr. Trump is a scrapper. What he needs to show now is that he has his own optimistic and considered plans for change in America. This is one of his openings. In that same New York Times/CBS poll, 48% of voters felt Mr. Trump could bring about “real change.” Only 36% said that of Mrs. Clinton. 
By being positive, Mr. Trump would draw a stark contrast. Mrs. Clinton these days looks perpetually angry and seems to have only one volume setting: yell. The press keeps noting that she is a seasoned debater, but then again she has mostly debated fellow Democrats and been questioned by sympathetic press. Her style is fairly predictable.
Aaron Kall, director of debate at the University of Michigan, published this in USA Today:
Trump also would constantly tussle with debate moderators in order to curry favor from the audience. This started in Cleveland when Fox News’ Megyn Kelly confronted him with insulting remarks he had made about women, extended to the CNBC debate in Boulder, and culminated in Houston with his dressing-down of Salem Radio’s Hugh Hewitt, who had pressed him on his failure to release tax returns. Finally, Trump was a debate chameleon who receded from the spotlight at crucial moments for extended periods of time. He never participated in a debate with fewer than four candidates, and he never spoke longer than 30 minutes.
These tactics that worked so well for him in the primaries will be difficult to replicate in his trio of upcoming debates against Clinton. The race is neck-and-neck, so Trump won’t be able to brag about his major polling advantage. Nor is Trump self-funding. Although he has given more than $60 million to his campaign, he established a joint fundraising pact with the Republican National Committee in May. They collected a combined $90 million in August, and the campaign has about $100 million remaining in the bank. And despite his longstanding disdain for super PACs, Trump officially endorsed one in July. 
Trump will also find it difficult to repeat his attacks on moderators. The Commission on Presidential Debates chose NBC’s Lester Holt, ABC’s Martha Raddatz, CNN's Anderson Cooper and Fox News’ Chris Wallace, bypassing media personalities with a perceived bias against Trump or a history of tangling with him. Given the intense criticism of NBC's Matt Lauer after the Commander-in-Chief Forum, the moderators will likely over-correct and be even tougher on the candidates. The gravitas of the moderators combined with Trump’s implicit endorsement of their selection will make it difficult for Trump to attack them during the debates. He can’t credibly make fun of the NBC Nightly News ratings if Holt asks him about his tax returns.
Kall is very confident that Clinton will win the debate and Trump will continue the ways he debated during the primary. I think many expect Clinton to have the edge over Trump. This is obvious since Clinton is a career politician who has experience debating. Many wonder what Trump will do. He can surprise millions of people at home by being calm and cool, but is that in his nature? In the end, debate prep means nothing if a candidate isn't willing to follow the script. We will just have to see what kind of Donald Trump appears on the stage tomorrow.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Blatant Hypocrisy of Black Lives Matter

What do you think hurts a black community more? Is it the death of a man who was threatening a cop a gun or a riot within the community that leads to overwhelming damage and injuries? I am referring to the shooting of Keith Scott, who was wielding a gun when an officer confronted him. This has led to an explosion of anarchy in Charlotte, North Carolina. Supporters of Black Lives Matter couldn't help themselves and started a riot.

If you're a good citizen, then you know the rule of law and the process of the courts. Those who find it beneficial to throw a photographer into a fire do not. Neither does it help to vandalize the luxurious Ritz Carlton and the cars parked outside. I'm not sure many of the tourists who staying there will want to return again after the last few nights. Assaulting a CNN reporter achieves nothing. Throwing rocks off bridges to cause car accidents does little to help your case as well.

Sadly, rioting is increasingly becoming the norm after shootings that haven't been thoroughly examined to prove if the police officer is in the right or wrong. Even when an officer's shooting is justified (like in Ferguson, Missouri), riots have still occurred. Cities like Baltimore, Milwaukee, and now Charlotte aren't going to be attractive for businesses and tourists when people are tearing down their own communities.

Rioting isn't endorsed, but it has been unfortunately encouraged by several politicians, celebrities, and hyped up by the media based on the false premise of Black Lives Matter. Blacks killed by whites only accounts for a very small portion of deaths. Furthermore, a study from Roland Fryer of Harvard University is one of many being published that debunks the argument of police singling out and killing African-Americans.

There is no justifiable reason for Charlotte to have suffered the way it did. Dozens of people have been arrested and there were nine injuries reported. Charlotte is a city of civic beauty in the south and is known to be bustling with business activity. It is the home of two of America's largest banks. It has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Like many cities, poverty is generally higher here than in the country. Rather than riot and scare away businesses, it would make more sense for Black Lives Matter to act peacefully after shootings in order to bring in some real prosperity.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Trumpmentum!

This election season has been moving very quickly. New reports on the candidates and key issues are released regularly, which immediately alter current polling. The latest batch of news is all good for Donald Trump. Finally, the Donald has some momentum as we reach the final stretch of this chaotic election. He is not in the lead yet, but he's very close to it.

The latest news came out during the anniversary of 9/11. Hillary Clinton, who we all know lacks credibility, has been diagnosed with pneumonia. She was tired and dehydrated, so she decided to leave early. Footage of her leaving the event shows her struggling to get into the van taking her to her daughter's apartment. You can see it here:


Once again, the 2016 election has been turned on its head. I will admit that I was getting a bit concerned about all her coughing fits the last week. Now we have confirmation that she does have poor health. Pneumonia can be treated and she has excellent doctors, but many voters are going to notice that she was diagnosed on Friday. The doctor's note about pneumonia was only released after the footage was revealed on Sunday. Were they planning to release the health reports at all? Why not immediately or a day after? These are questions that continue to weak her honesty as a presidential candidate.

At time, I will cite political analyst Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, but he made a massive blunder by saying that Clinton's health wasn't an issue just a week ago and now reversing course on Sunday. Many journalists and analysts in the mainstream media didn't think her health was an issue. The publication of her diagnosis has changed all of that and has vindicated conservatives.

Adding to Clinton's problems were her controversial remarks at a fundraiser with donors on September 9. During her speech, Clinton stated that Trump's supporters were "a basket of deplorables." It is a gaffe that insults millions of Americans who are concerned about their future. Many liberals will agree with Clinton's views and she was saying it at the event with many loyal supporters, but it angers Trump's supporters. The remaining independents will decide where they will go based on her statement, but I think it will only change the election marginally. I think her lies about her own health are more worrisome for her campaign.

As of the current RCP average, Hillary Clinton's lead is getting smaller and smaller. When I last posted on the election about divisions within the Republican Party, she was leading by a margin of six percent. On September 11, she was ahead by a margin of 3.1 percent. Now she's only leading a slim 0.9 percent.

One of Clinton's problems has always been her lack of credibility. Ever since the scandals of the 1990s, she and her husband have been viewed as elitists who are above the law. It is one of the reasons so many Democrats voted Bernie Sanders. It's also one of the reasons why Trump has such a large following. Remember that Trump's big message is that Washington gets nothing done except things that only benefit themselves. He argues that they don't understand the true will of the people. Clinton personifies liberal elitism. We don't have an aristocracy in the United States, but if we did she would be in it.

In order for the Clinton campaign to get back on track, she's going to have either highlight her own positives or continue to sling mud at Trump. Expanding her lead isn't impossible, but Trump is sounding more and more disciplined. His new advisers are keeping him to the script (for now). If the Donald continues to stay under a leash (he just said President Obama was born in the United States), then he is going to be increasingly formidable as we approach the day of the election.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Phyllis Schlafly and Liberal Intolerance

Phyllis Schlafly became an iconic activist for her strong socially conservative views. I think she is also an example of what ordinary people can achieve if they have an interest in politics. Schlafly was never a politician, but she did run and lose two elections. Despite these setbacks, she would go on to become a popular political organizer and orator. What made her most popular among her fellow conservatives was her antifeminism and fierce opposition to the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the 1970s. During sexual revolution forty years ago, the proposal was being forward by an army of feminists who believed that it would provided maximum equality in the United States. Like the French revolutionaries of the 1780s, this movement overreached. It was approved in the Senate, but conservatism struck back with Schlafly at the head of the charge.

We are fortunate to live in a nation that does not have such an atrocious amendment. Most Americans did not support it, which is what Schlafly proved with her traditionalist counterrevolution. During her rallies, she often jokingly said that she "thanked" her husband for being allowed to hold the event. She knew it would get under the skin of the feminists. The amendment wouldn't have made sense considering that the Constitution already included language of equality. It also would have been a legal nightmate for years, perhaps decades, to come due to a text that allowed judges to make wild decisions. In many ways, the amendment was being shoved through in order to implement what was democratically unpopular.

The country is certainly more socially liberal than it was when Schlafly was campaigning against the ERA, but is become so due to changes in popular opinion. That level of opinion did not exist in the 1970s, thus such a push wasn't as democratic. That's why many conservatives (including myself) mourn the loss of Schlafly, even if I do have some disagreements with her views. She passed away on September 5 at the age of 92 after an extraordinary life in politics.

What I do not like to see is how several liberals on social media have treated her. Most people I know on a personal basis are kind even if they have differing political views (it's called "Wisconsin nice"). It is unfortunate that many do not act in such a way. It is repulsive to see how many on the left are increasingly intolerant and rude. As local radio host Dan O'Donnell quickly discovered, there were many celebrating her death. Schafly was not some barbaric dictator who murdered hundreds of thousands of people. She did what many don't do: she stood up for her own beliefs. In the end, she won. If you want to make a difference, then follow her example.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

To the Senate!

The presidency isn't the only government position in jeopardy this year. There are elections in the Senate and the House of Representatives. This blog post will analyze the Senate to see where the most important elections currently stand. There is a real threat that Donald Trump (due to his low poll numbers) could drag down numerous senators with him since most people vote strictly for one party. The current map has many Republican senators who won in the 2010 midterm wave. This time their elections aren't as easy. This list will go through several states that have important Senate elections. This list is subject to change as elections get more or less competitive.

Arizona

Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee and a moderate, has held his seat for decades. It is obvious that the people of Arizona love him and he has been able to build strong political connections throughout the years. He has won easily against his two opponents in the Republican primary. His Democratic opponent is Ann Kirkpatrick and she is currently a U.S. representative from Arizona's first district. The district covers most of the east of the state, giving her a base of support there as well as in the city of Phoenix.

Rising Hispanic constituencies might pose a problem for McCain, but the state leans Republican and he is a moderate. The RealClearPolitics average indicates that McCain has a comfortable margin of 8 percentage points over her. I imagine this lead will stay until the debates, but McCain is clearly the favorite.

Florida

After losing the Republican nomination to Donald Trump following a terrible defeat in the Florida primary, Marco Rubio said he did not plan to run for Senate. He has now changed his mind. This is good for the GOP because polls indicate that Rubio is popular in his home state despite his defeat in the presidential primary. After winning a big victory in the Senate primary, Rubio's Democratic opponent will be U.S. Representative Patrick Murphy of the state's eighteenth district (covering territory in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties).

Florida's political landscape makes it a very divisive battleground state. The north of the state is similar to most of the traditional south. It contains many conservative voters. The south of the Sunshine State includes several cities, where there are collectives of liberal voters. The center of the state, known as the I-4 corridor, is usually the most competitive part of the state. Several of the counties in the corridor (Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Polk) are susceptible to swinging in elections. Rubio, being a Cuban-American, has the advantage of making connections with Hispanic communities. This will benefit him the election and the current RCP average shows him up by a margin of 3.8 percent.

Illinois

Originally highly Republican (it is the Land of Lincoln), Illinois became more Democratic throughout history. It easily goes for the Democrats at the presidential level, but Republicans do have the opportunity to win statewide races in midterm elections. That's what Senator Mark Kirk was able to achieve when he won his first election during the 2010 Tea Party wave. This time, however, it is a presidential election year. In order for Kirk to succeed in such a highly liberal state, he has to ensure major conservative turnout downstate while winning the suburbs that surround Chicago. His challenger, Representative Tammy Duckworth, has the advantage of turnout among minority voters in America's third-most populous city. The race hasn't had much polling, so it is not clear who is ahead.

Iowa

Like Illinois, Iowa was once a heavily Republican state. Iowan Democrats have since then managed to make connections with the state's highly rural population along with the expected support in Des Moines. Nevertheless, the state currently leans right with a Republican governor and two senators. Incumbent Chuck Grassley, a veteran politician who currently chairs two Senate committees, holds comfortable lead over former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge. The RCP average has him ahead with 49.1 percent against Judge's 41.4 percent.

Nevada

Due to heavy migration to the state, politicians usually have to reintroduce themselves to the constituents. Democrats can rely on support from Las Vegas, but that isn't the case in the rest of state where Republicans have the edge. As with Illinois, there isn't much polling, which is surprising considering that this state is a battleground. The RCP average indicates that Representative Joe Heck (the Republican) is narrowly ahead of former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (the Democrat).

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is famous for being a state with a somewhat libertarian streak. Voters in the state can be economically conservative, but also socially liberal. This reflects the way they vote in elections. Kelly Ayotte, a moderate Republican, won her first election in 2010 by a landslide. She faces a stronger opponent this time. Maggie Hassan, the current Democratic governor, ran without any opponents in the primary. This has made the Senate election extremely close. Currently, Hassan is narrowly ahead with 44.8 percent against Ayotte's 44 percent. Since this state has a large number of undecided voters, the election is up for grabs.

North Carolina

The Tar Heel State is gearing up for a tough election season again. Republicans were largely stationed in the northwest of the state, but with time conservative Democrats in other parts of the state entered the GOP fold. I've mentioned before in another post that one of the key counties of the state is Wake, where the city of Raleigh is located. Senator Richard Burr, the Republican incumbent, is in a tight race against Democrat Deborah K. Ross. Sean Haugh, a Libertarian businessman, could act as a spoiler for Burr in the election. This means Burr has to win by big margins in the smaller rural areas while also hoping to appeal to suburbanites in Wake county. Currently, he is ahead by a margin of 2.8 percent in RCP.

Ohio

In 2010, former Representative John Kasich became the governor of the Buckeye State defeating incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland. Strickland hasn't wanted to leave politics, so this year he has decided to run for the Senate hoping that he can win with naturally higher Democratic turnout in the presidential election. Instead, Strickland is losing terribly against Republican incumbent Rob Portman in the polls. The Republican, elected the same year Kasich was, is up by a margin of 7.5 percent in the RCP average. Political analyst Chris Cillizza gave the former governor the honor of having the worst week in Washington. He gave Strickland this title because the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is pulling out resources after noticing the abysmal poll numbers.

Pennsylvania

In another very tight election, Republican incumbent Pat Toomey is battling Democratic challenger Katie McGinty. Current poll numbers show her narrowly ahead with 41.5 percent against his 41 percent. There are plenty of independents who have not made a decision on how they plan to vote for. This gives both candidates the opportunity to pick-up thousands of supporters in the next few months.

Wisconsin

My home state also includes a key Senate election. Ron Johnson, the Republican businessman elected in 2010, will be taking on Russ Feingold again. As of now, Feingold holds a strong lead over Johnson with a margin of 9.7 percent. Polls from Marquette University show a narrowing race, but Monmouth University shows a Feingold landslide. Overall, there is plenty of time for the election to get more competitive.

In the end, very few people split their voting these days (voting a Republican in one election and a Democrat in another). If Hillary Clinton is elected president, then chances are her party will gain seats in the Senate and perhaps retake the majority. If Trump wins, then the Republicans will probably maintain their current numbers.

Seth Masket, a political science professor at the University of Denver, has analyzed the way Trump could effect his counterparts. Masket has shown that Trump's victory or defeat won't just change the look of the Senate, but also the House of Representatives and state legislatures. Coattails can matter, but it depends on how long they are. When President Obama won in 2008, precisely 75 democrats won in state elections and twenty-four won elections in the House of Representatives. Yet in 2012, over 100 Republicans won state elections and they gained eight seats despite Obama's victory. This can largely be attributed to a closer election.

If the president election is more decisive for one party, then chances are the results will look similar in smaller elections. Masket, however, does find that gains for Democrats in the House of Representatives will be narrow even if Clinton manages to win a big victory. It is likely that this means numerous voters who were turned off by Trump will still vote for Republican candidates in other elections. This argument does hold up in some states. Elections in Ohio, Florida, and Arizona show Trump having stiff competition even though the three GOP incumbents are all ahead.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Colin Kaepernick, Oppression, and American Greatness

By now everyone has heard of or seen the footage of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting down during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers. When asked about his protest, he cited the recent shootings of African-Americans by police officers. He said he cannot "show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." Here's my response: pick up a history book you imbecile.

The statement Kaepernick made is one of the most idiotic of this year (and with all the comments made by our two presidential candidates that's saying a lot). Kaepernick himself clearly isn't oppressed. He is a quarterback playing in one of the most popular American sports. His career has been highly lucrative. Two years ago, his contract extension gave him a bonus of $12 million (it already included $61 million). Some of his defenders will quickly say he's not talking about himself, but it is still problematic to say that the United States "oppresses" black people when he has been so successful. Kaepernick isn't an exception either. Everyone can point out President Barack Obama as an example of minority success, but there are also many other African-American politicians. You can find plenty of successful celebrities and businesspeople who are black.

One of the reasons I think the United States is a great country is because of where we are compared to everyone else. Black people in America are not oppressed. People in North Korea, who are starved, tortured, and killed by tyrannical socialist dictatorship are the ones who are oppressed. Homosexuals in the Middle East, who are slaughtered daily by ISIS, are the ones who are oppressed. Women in India, who constantly deal with sex trafficking and slavery, are the ones who are oppressed. Problems in these countries explain with so many foreigners want to move to the United States. America is not an oppressive country, but a beacon of freedom.

As for the Black Lives Matter movement that Kaepernick is obviously supporting, I have already refuted them in a previous post two months ago. I will remind all of you to read the research of Heather Mac Donald. She is a journalist who has extensively covered Black Lives Matter and law enforcement. One of her recent articles on City Journal is about the riots that occurred in my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It isn't institutional racism that has hurt African-Americans. Mac Donald has proven such a problem does not exist. The real issue is the belief that there still is such racism in the United States. The Black Lives Matter movement has made police officers their prime targets, which ignores the real problem. Mac Donald has repeatedly found that higher crime rates among blacks completely explain why there are racial disparities. If real sociological problems are ignored, then the problems in the African-American community will only get worse and lead to an increase of violence on cops.

We are a republic where the pledge of allegiance states "liberty and justice for all." Did we once have slavery? Yes we did, but so did many other countries. Those who think America isn't great and point out the errors of our past miss the point. Many people around the world were impressed when our government was formed. Voting rights were only given to white men, but at the time such a policy was unprecedented. What makes the country great is our ability to debate and change. We have expanded civil liberties and civil rights because we hold those beliefs of freedom and equality granted in our Constitution. Our Constitution allowed for the rise of movements that wanted abolitionism, women's suffrage, and desegregation. The United States military has established bases across the globe for the protection of foreign countries and in our own national interest. Our military presence, constantly berated by isolationists in both parties, allows others to enjoy freedom in other nations. This is why America is exceptional and will always remain that way in history.