Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Rightful Celebration

Cuban-Americans celebrate the death of Fidel Castro - The Associated Press
As a Cuban-American, I was very happy to hear about the death of communist dictator Fidel Castro on November 25, a man who turned his country into a miserable prison. It was quite an amazing moment to see Cuban-Americans in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida take to the streets and throw a large party. Many of them fled during Castro's time leading the island or are descendants of those who escaped. Castro's legacy is one of destruction.

First off, the administration before him was no better. Fulgencio Batista was brutal in his own way after he led a successful coup that ended democracy in Cuba. Batista, however, did keep many private industries like casinos and tourism open in places like the capital of Havana because he was smart enough to know their benefit. His problem was that he failed to believe in popular sovereignty. That cost him his power. Castro and his rebels defeated Batista in 1959.

It is at this moment that Castro could have given power back to the people and continued to embrace the prosperity of western investments, but that wasn't to be. He loved to say that Cuba was a puppet of the United States, but he made his country a puppet of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Cuba became increasingly dependent on foreign aid from the big brother of the communist nations.

Castro also put the world on the brink of nuclear destruction by allowing the Soviets to ship missiles that could strike as far as Washington D.C. in order to threaten the American government. President John F. Kennedy wasn't going to stand for this, so he successfully blockaded the island and forced the Soviets to take the missiles out in exchange for removal of American missiles in Turkey.

Castro enacted all the typical policies that communists believed would work, but they failed in Cuba like they failed anywhere else. Collectivization of farms left many poor people starving in the country and food rationing had be to implemented while imports from the Soviet Union were needed to survive.

The healthcare system in the country was very deceptive. It was famously showcased by Michael Moore in his documentary Sicko, which was supposed to criticize the American healthcare system. It showed Americans getting wonderful and efficient treatment under Cuba's universal healthcare. The problem with the documentary was that it only showed a small portion of healthcare in the country. Castro, his fellow elites, and international tourists are given priority in order to advertise the system. Interviews with Cubans have proved that the rest of the population receives horrible service. There have been many shortages of medical items like bandages, soap, lightbulbs, and sheets.

More pictures of celebration in Miami - The Associated Press
The fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War broke the back of the stagnating Cuban economy. The USSR collapsed in 1991 and by 1993 the economy in Cuba had shrunk by 40 percent. Using data from the incomparable Maddison Project, I have found that in 1959 Cuban GDP per capita was $2,067 compared to $1,907 in Ecuador and $2,541 in Jamaica. By 1999, Cuban GDP per capita had grown slowly to $2,307. Ecuador's had risen $3,809 and Jamaica's to $3,670. Other Latin American counties saw similar improvements, but Castro's Cuba always lagged behind.

During this period of economic strife, Castro made sure that all his rivals were either forced into exile or jailed. It didn't matter if some of these were political allies who served with him. Like Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, Castro had his own purges. He waged war on religion by banning the Catholic education system and replacing it with communist propaganda. The LGBT movement saw no growth under Castro as he forced many homosexuals into labor and conversion camps. The gay rights movement is now enjoying more growth, but they have been struggling against the political establishment there. Thankfully, they have a powerful advocate in Mariela Castro Espin, the niece of the late dictator.

Unfortunately, improvements now doesn't change the suffering of millions. Thousands of innocent Cubans were murdered by Castro's troops. Some executions were even televised. Other lost their lives fleeing on small boats and rafts to Florida, either from storms or the Cuban navy. An evacuation effort in the 1960s known as Operation Peter Pan saved 14,000 children, but many of them never saw their parents ever again.

Yes, the death of Fidel Castro is worth celebrating, but at same time there is some pain. This pain doesn't just come from the Cubans who never made it to freedom, but also from the very politicians running free countries. Several left-wing leaders have decided to give praise to Castro rather than slander him for the devil he is. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada called him a "remarkable leader" and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn of the United Kingdom mourned him as a "champion of social justice." In the United States, President Barack Obama posted that "history will record and judge the enormous impact" of Castro. It infuriates me to see that he doesn't recognize all of Castro's impact was devastating. Castro's leaves a bloody history in his country and it won't be healed anytime soon.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Happily Wrong

Donald Trump gives his victory speech - Associated Press
When I watched the beginning of the election results at College Republicans event on Tuesday, I was not expecting Donald Trump to win the presidency. He was down in the polls and had less campaign infrastructure. My mind started to change as I saw the returns for Florida. I thought Florida would go for Hillary Clinton because of the large portion of Hispanics. I didn't think anything of Trump's early lead in the Sunshine State early in the results.

The rural and suburban counties are usually counted faster than the more dense cities, but as the southeastern urban centers of Miami-Dade, Broward, and West Palm Beach came in Trump's lead continued. That's when I realized this election would be closer than expected.

I knew other swing states would go for Trump, but I wasn't expecting such a large margin in Ohio. Virginia, the state where Tim Kaine is a senator, only went for Clinton at the very end when the Washington D.C. suburbs in Fairfax and Prince William counties were counted. North Carolina soon went for Trump, then Iowa was also reported for him. That's when the media outlets turned to Wisconsin.

I knew Trump had won my state (the first time a Republican won it my lifetime) about 20 to 30 minutes before Fox News called it at 10:30 PM. In previous posts on this blog, I mentioned five imperative battleground counties within Wisconsin that any presidential or statewide candidate needs to win the state: Brown, Outagamie, Winnebago, Racine, and Kenosha. All five of them backed Trump. In addition, the southwest of the state that had so loyally backed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 got behind the Republican nominee as well. It was going to be close, but I knew Milwaukee and Dane counties simply didn't have enough votes to eclipse Trump's lead.

Pennsylvania was called in the early hours of the morning for Trump, giving him the presidency. Last time I checked Michigan and New Hampshire are still too close to call. They're probably doing recounts at the moment, but Michigan will likely go for Trump and New Hampshire for Clinton.

I was wrong in my prediction with two factors. The first was that minority turnout, as with President Obama's two victories, would continue to be the same. This simply wasn't true, according to an exit poll from CNN, African-Americans voted 88 percent for Clinton, but that's down from 93 percent for Obama. With Latinos, support decreased from 71 percent to 65 percent. With young people, support decreased from 60 percent to 54 percent. Trump managed to hold the line with these groups or slightly improved. This came as a shock to many who thought he alienated so many minorities who would never vote for a Republican again.

The other party where I was wrong was with Trump's support among blue-collar white workers. Despite a slightly less white electorate, he excelled in counties and communities where working class voters are located. The election map is very revealing. In Michigan, for example, Macomb county was won by Obama with a margin of four percent in 2012. Trump won it by twelve percent this time. These are the voters who have suffered the most under Obama's presidency. They believed they had a voice with Trump, so that's who they voted for. These voters lived in the Rust Belt states, many of which had been part of the Democratic Party's "blue wall" that wasn't impenetrable until now.

I never thought campaign rallies matter, but I think they may have this time in the same way they worked in the 1948 presidential election. During that election, incumbent Harry Truman campaigned ferociously while his opponent Thomas Dewey did far less thinking he was going to be win the election easily. Indeed, polling data did show Dewey ahead. Truman went to bed thinking he lost. Obviously, we need never had a President Dewey.

I think this election will be one of the few that will be highly remembered in history. Most elections aren't ever recalled with some sort of detail by most people, except for historians. However, there are those elections that had major significance. The election of 1960 is one of those for having the first televised presidential debates. I think 2016 will join

Monday, November 7, 2016

My Prediction for the Presidential Election of 2016

Trump vs. Clinton at the third debate - CBS News
Had it not been for the FBI's reinvestigation, this election would've been easy to predict. Hillary Clinton would have been the clear winner and the election would have been uneventful. Director James Comey's decision to investigate again crushed Clinton's lead nationally and in numerous states. He has now confirmed that there's nothing in the emails to criminally charge her, but the damage has been done.

As of this writing, the RCP average gives Clinton a lead of 2.9 percent. She had a larger margin beforehand. States that were guaranteed tor her a couple weeks ago are now very competitive. Donald Trump's supporters are excited and his barnstorming the nation. That being said, I still think Clinton will win. Here's what I predict:


The reason I give Clinton the win all comes down to ground game. In most battleground states, Clinton blows Trump out of the water. By having more campaign offices, her campaign has more volunteers that can make phone calls, knock on doors, and get out her message to undecided voters. Trump never seemed to understand the important of campaign infrastructure. He has largely relied on local party offices to get out the vote, but they cannot concentrate their efforts on the presidential race with so many other elections going on.

Trump's failure to appeal to Hispanics and African-Americans will hurt him. Creating a "new deal" for black communities should have been proposed months ago in order to build on more support. Controversial statements on women and Muslims only worsened his position. All this can be combined into his lack of political maturity, whereas Clinton is more conventional.

The problem for Trump is this: his campaign heavily relies on turnout among white voters who lack college educations. These voters are worried about the political establishment in America and economic stagnation. Many of them have worked in industries that are economically struggling or declining in the country, like manufacturing. They usually reside in Midwest states.

It isn't impossible for Trump to win. Earlier in this election, I've noted research by analyst Sean Trende, who has pointed out that there was a decrease in the number of white voters back in 2012. Trump's only hope is that these voters come out in droves in key states to surprise everyone. Trump has surprised us before, so it is certainly possible that he could win. The biggest problem with this scenario is that few of these disenfranchised voters have registered. Meanwhile, Hispanics voters are surging.

As for the Senate, it is still very close, but I do think the GOP will perform better in these races than the national election. It is more likely that the Republicans keep the Senate than win the presidency. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who has voted for Trump, has been working very hard to maintain the majority in the House of Representatives. I think the Republicans will keep it, but lose some seats.

As for Wisconsin, I'd recommend viewers watch five swing counties: Brown (Green Bay), Outagamie (Appleton), Winnebago (Oshkosh), Racine, and Kenosha. Whoever wins a majority of these will probably win the state. Trump needs to do very well in the WOW counties that I've mentioned before while Clinton needs good liberal turnout in Dane and Milwaukee counties. Additionally, she needs to hope the liberal leaning counties of Eau Claire and La Crosse go strongly for her. Trump needs to cancel those out with a good showing in Marathon county.

Earlier in this election, I mentioned a book I read by conservative columnist Ed Morrissey called Going Red. He pinpointed seven counties a Republican candidate needs to win to take the White House: Hillsborough (Florida), Hamilton (Ohio), Wake (North Carolina), Prince William (Virginia), Brown (Wisconsin, as I mentioned before), Jefferson (Colorado), and Hillsborough (New Hampshire). No matter who wins tomorrow, chances are they will win states by winning these counties.

Finally, due to the unpopularity of both candidates, I think the winner will receive less than a majority. Third parties will perform historically better because of the atrocious favorability numbers of the two parties. That's it for me until election day. I hope all of you vote in turn on your televisions to your favorite news channels when the polls close.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

To the Senate!

While Hillary Clinton is expected to defeat Donald Trump, the Senate races aren't all that clear. The Republicans are defending more seats than the Democrats. Many of these GOP incumbents are new and seeking second terms after the 2010 Tea Party year. Several candidates are only leading by slim margins and the polls remain volatile. Polls seem to change so suddenly. This post gives my take on the many narrow Senate elections this year.

Above all, I want readers to know that predicting these elections are very difficult considering the circumstances. Many Republicans are polling better than their presidential nominee, which indicates that voters would've preferred a different Republican running for the highest office. Nevertheless, these races largely remain in doubt because there is a chance that voters who back Clinton will back a Democrat in the Senate in order to help pass her policies. In for Democrats to control the Senate, they need four victories. This could prove difficult as there are some states they now control that are also in jeopardy.

Florida

I covered Florida before when Marco Rubio started to change his mind about not running for a second term. During the presidential election, he promised that he had no intention of running again because his campaign would take so much time away from the Senate. After many statewide Republicans urged him to enter, Rubio decided that he could jump into the race.

It was wise for Republicans to want Rubio back. His Democratic opponent, Representative Patrick Murphy, has never led against Rubio in the Senate polling average. The incumbent is simply too popular in the state, so Democrats are starting to pull out funds for commercials. This has frustrated others, like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (we will get to him later), for not going after a leading Republican. Rubio's defeat would be a crowning achievement for Democrats because he's a household name across the nation who could pose a threat in the 2020 presidential election if Clinton wins. Rubio currently has a comfortable lead in the polls, so I think he will retain his seat.

Indiana

Senator Dan Coats, a Republican, decided not to run for another term. This made the race more competitive. On the GOP side, Representative Todd Young won the primary against Representative Martin Stutzman. The Democratic candidate is Evan Bayh, a former senator who wants his job back. There hasn't been much fanfare for Bayh's return among independent, though he does have a lead at the moment. Part of this is due to the onslaught of attack ads coming from conservative groups.

Indiana, unlike Florida, will go to Trump thanks to Mike Pence. This means that Bayh could lose if voters who back Trump would also want a Republican in the Senate. However, his lead is as comfortable as Rubio's, so I think Bayh currently has an edge.

Missouri

Yet another state that the Republicans will need to hold. Part of the problem with incumbent Roy Blunt (also elected in 2010) is that he's part of the establishment and he's running in an anti-establishment year. His Democratic opponent has an impressive past with a military career and the position of Missouri secretary of state at a the age of thirty-five.

Missouri leans Republican, which could help Blunt because he has a narrow lead in the race. I think that Blunt has a good chance of remaining in office, but he should be very worried.

New Hampshire

Republican Kelly Ayotte, the incumbent, was the state attorney general and won her Senate election in 2010 with over 60 percent of the vote. She is now pitched against Governor Maggie Hassan, making this race very close. At the start of the polling average in July, Ayotte was leading, but then Hassan led in August. The race swung back to Ayotte in late September, but Hassan gained ground again in October. Now Ayotte is ahead, but only by 1.8 percent at the moment.

One of Ayotte's problems has been a gaffe declaring that Donald Trump is a good role model just before The Washington Post released the 2005 hot mic audio. She, along with other vulnerable colleagues, now has the chance to pounce with the FBI's new investigation into Clinton. Ayotte is far from being Trump and this will help her with independents that Trump can't get. I think she is ahead, but if Clinton wins it will be an uphill battle.

Nevada

This election is unique because the Democrats are at risk of losing this seat. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has decided to retire after a long career in politics. Reid has never been popular nationally and partly responsible for the bitter divisiveness and rhetoric in the Senate. Republicans have a good chance of winning the seat with Representative Joe Heck, a doctor and brigadier general in the Army Reserve. He is taking on the state's former attorney general, Catherine Cortez Masto, who was handpicked by Reid as his successor.

Reid's electoral success in Nevada can be attributed to a powerful Democratic political machine in Las Vegas (hotel and casino unions) and rising Latino immigration. Outside of Las Vegas in the south and Reno in the west, most of the state is rural and deeply conservative, leaving key suburbs like Washoe County as bellwethers. The election in the state is extremely tight, with Heck holding a lead of only 1.2 percent.

As of now, I think Masto is the favorite in the race because of the presidential election and Reid's political machine, but Trump has the opportunity to help Heck because Nevada has a higher amount of voters that lack college educations. This state is a must-win for him.

North Carolina

The Tar Heel State is known for being a critical battleground state that is needed for Republicans. The same is true for the Senate, where Republican incumbent Richard Burr, who is ahead by only 1 percent against Democratic challenger Deborah K. Ross, a former state representative.

The election in North Carolina hasn't been as closely watched as other races. The candidates have attacked each other personally, with Burr's personal wealth and Ross' views of a sex offender registry being important topics. Burr's hopes, along with those of other Republicans, may lie with conservative voters who won't back Trump but will back him in the Senate.

Pennsylvania

Once again, another Republican first elected in 2010 is vulnerable. Pat Toomey is that Republican senator and he's taking on Katie McGinty, a former chief of staff of Governor Tom Wolf. The race has been relatively close, but now McGinty is rising in the polls with a comfortable lead. I'm also 100 percent certain that Clinton will win the state, which I think will hand McGinty the win against Toomey, but both sides are currently under 50 percent.

Wisconsin

Republican Ron Johnson, also elected in 2010, is campaigning against Democrat Russ Feingold, who lost to Johnson six years ago. Feingold, a career politician, want his old job back. I support Johnson, but I also know this is a tough election for him. As of today, I think Clinton would win Wisconsin, which means Johnson is fighting an uphill battle. The RCP average does show Feingold comfortably ahead and he's the favorite to win according to political analysts. The one hope Johnson does have is that Republicans who are voting against Trump will rally in the Senate election. The best poll in Wisconsin, the one from Marquette University, indicates a tight race.

Johnson is also receiving additional funding from conservative activist groups after being heavily attacked by untrue attack ads from Feingold and his allies. New money could help Johnson win, but it isn't going to be easy. I think the election in Wisconsin will be closer than many political analysts argue.