Monday, March 23, 2015

Ted Cruz Announces Run for Presidency

Sen. Rafael "Ted" Cruz (R-TX) announced his Presidential
candidacy Monday at Liberty University in Lynchburg,
Virginia.
The day many political observers have been expecting has come: Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) announcement that he will seek the GOP nomination for the Presidency in 2016, becoming the first major candidate for a major party for 2016.

Cruz, who has been a rising political star for years (see a profile of him from 2009 when he was considering running for attorney general of Texas and another from around the same time, mentioning him as a possible 2020 Presidential contender), has made a name for himself since his upset win against then-Lieutenant Governor of Texas David Dewhurst in the Senate primary. Since his victory in 2012, Cruz has become known as a conservative firebrand in the Senate.

When he first arrived, Cruz enjoyed a some popularity as a newly minted member, however, public perception began to turn against his favor, both inside and outside his own Republican Party, after he strongly supported a complete defunding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which led to the federal government shutdown in 2013.

Some of his fellow Republicans began to publicly reprimand the senator, his main adversary being Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who also has 2016 Presidential aspirations. King said Monday on CNN that if Cruz gets the GOP nod, "I will jump off that bridge when we come to it.”

Cruz has also appealed strongly to the libertarian wing of the party, placing him in competition with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), son of libertarian firebrand Ron Paul, a former Republican representative, GOP Presidential contender, and 1988 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee.

Cruz delivered a strongly conservative speech Monday at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, which is becoming a center for conservative political activities, much like Bob Jones University was in the mid to late 20th century. With a captive audience (literally, as all Liberty University students must attend tri-weekly meetings, called convocations, of face penalties), Cruz delivered a speech full of conservative ideals, such as repealing the health care law, abolishing the IRS, supporting marriage between a man and a woman, rescinding President Obama's executive immigration orders, and a stronger relationship between the US and Israel.

MORE: Read Cruz's transcript from his Monday speech at Liberty University.

Cruz, a Princeton University alumnus and Harvard Law School graduate, is a former national debater, which could work in his favor in the GOP primary debates and the general election debates against the Democratic nominee, should he receive the nomination.

Cruz, 44, is also much like Obama during his run in 2008. Both were (or rather are, in Cruz's case) first term senators only two years into their terms. Obama lacked much of a legislative record, as does Cruz. Both had become well-known in political circles before announcing their candidacies. For Obama, then an Illinois state senator, his notoriety came after his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Cruz gained national notoriety after his aforementioned victory against Dewhurst in the Senate primary in 2012.

Cruz faces low polling numbers, standing at only 4% according to a CNN/ORC poll. His main rivals are Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. None except Cruz have yet announced their candidacies, but most, if not all, are expected to do so.

If he wins the nomination, he will likely face off against former first lady, former Senator, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. If she declines or loses the Democratic nomination, possible candidates include Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Singapore's Economic Father Dies at 91

Lee (center) helped usher in an era of economic prosperity
for the modern city-state.
Credit: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images
Lee Kuan Yew, the first elected prime minister of Singapore who helped move the former colonial outpost to a thriving Asian economic powerhouse, has died at 91. Leading the nation's government from 1959 to 1990, Lee worked to settle diplomatic disputes with neighbors Indonesia and Malaysia, forge close economic ties with the United States, and foster economic growth at home.

Lee had been in the hospital since February after contracting pneumonia.

Lee continued in politics until 2011, long after his term as prime minister ended. Lee's success has been attributed to his success in controlling corruption and the small size of Singapore, which currently has just under 5.5 million people.

Lee's economic reforms seem to have paid off for the small nation even to today. Singapore's GDP currently measures around $297 billion USD, with GDP per capital around $55,182, just higher than that of the United States.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Netanyahu, Likud Win Enough Seats to Remain in Power

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu waves
to supporters following Tuesday's apparent electoral victory
Credit: Amir Cohen/Reuters
After weeks of reports of troubles for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's conservative Likud Party, it seems that the party, against the odds, has triumphed over its center-left rival, the Zionist Union, likely allowing Netanyahu to remain as Prime Minister.

Exit polls suggested a neck-and-neck race between Likud and Zionist Union, with both taking about 27 seats. Vote tallies, however, began to show that Likud had won 29 or 30 seats to the Zionist Union's 24, with about 99% of the vote counted.

The leader of the Zionist Union, Isaac Herzog, conceded to Netanyahu following the election results.

In Israel, the responsibility for forming a government (which requires a coalition of 61 seats, which is a majority of the 120 seats in the Knesset, Israel's legislature), falls not to the leader of the party which received the most votes, but to the party leader who has the best chance of forming a government. A Netanyahu-led government will likely have the support of certain religious and right-wing parties, giving him the advantage of the Zionist Union's Herzog, who has fewer allied parties and cannot count on the support of Arab parties, who had a surprisingly strong showing Tuesday.

Likud was not predicted to perform as well as it did. Opinion polls for the past few days had the party trailing the Zionist Union by as many as five seats. Netanyahu has become a controversial figure both at home an abroad, especially for military campaigns against the Hamas-controlled government in the Gaza Strip. Some organizations and governments accuse Netanyahu and the Israeli government of war crimes for the civilian casualties from the air raids targeting Hamas rockets. The Israeli government counters that Hamas is responsible for placing such sites near schools and hospitals.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

OPINION: American Energy Policy – Déjà Vu All over Again

By Bruce L. Brager

Credit: Guy Vanderelst, Getty Images
The decline in oil prices is an interesting sensation. However, we are seeing the same mistakes in the current energy policy debate as in the debates three decades ago – the same mistakes, and the same shorted-sighted, politically motivated, arguments being thrown about. Damn the complex reality, full speed ahead.  Déjà vu all over again.

The best known examples of the energy debate today are the Keystone Pipeline and fracking. I love hearing all the conservatives, normally appalled at government “make work” programs, stressing the job creating aspects of the pipeline. They conveniently forget any potential environmental problems.  Opponents stress only the environmental issues, and the fact that some of the Canadian oil may be sent overseas – though this has always been uncertain – limiting the payoff for the risk. They conveniently forget the continuing national security need for energy sources as close to home as possible. They also forget the complexity of the oil trade; that Keystone oil may stay home as well as be sent abroad.

Fracking engenders continuing debate, but the opponents focus on its environmental problems.  Both sides calls for “yes or no,” spending far too little time on seeing what the problems are and how they might be fixed.  How can fracking be made safer?  Can any environmental danger from the Keystone pipeline be decreased?  This was done with the then – the controversial Alaska pipeline.  We stopped shouting and looked for a way to solve a problem.

Debating whether something should be done is the American way.  Looking for how something can best be done is also the American way.  Neglecting the how, in the search for simple answers, is part of the déjà vu I am feeling.

Thirty years ago, during the Arab oil boycotts, “experts” said it would take several decades for alternative fuels to meet a substantial part of American energy needs.  So I guess we don’t have to worry about fracking starting earth quakes and the Canadians can ship their own dirty oil through their own country?  Use of alternative is growing, however, though far slower than it should be growing.  Nuclear energy is staging a mild comeback – both mild and comeback are good in this case.

One problem in American energy policy has been in assuming that the private sector is always best at determining energy needs, rather than just usually best at meeting these needs.  This is the most familiar part of déjà vu all over again.  Oil prices have been cut in half recently. And we are already relaxing our energy development efforts.  We should be using some of the energy cost savings to speed up research into alternatives, into making fracking safer, into seeing if we can answer the arguments against the Keystone Pipeline.

Energy companies with an eye to the future, and to future long term profits, should be in the forefront of these efforts – not doing their best to sabotage the growing use of solar panels. And if they do not want to, perhaps because they don’t want it to affect their stock price tomorrow – legitimate, if short-sighted business decisions – let the government do it.  More efforts should be made to use the probably brief breathing spell to prepare for the inevitable, and probably short term, future. Basically, oil prices are going back up. The question is when.

Back in the day, American energy policy reminded me of a classic horror film.  It still does. The monster had ravaged the village but it was chased off.  Things were peaceful again.  But the monster had not been destroyed.  The monster was coming again.  The villagers had to listen to the voices saying to get ready.  We need President Obama, who tends to act well when he acts, to use his rhetorical skills to make the case that the energy monster still lives.  We need Congressional Republicans to lay off their social agenda, to lay off trying to make the President look bad, and at least consider long term energy development actions.

The energy monster is not dead.  It is just sleeping, and it is coming back.

All opinion pieces reflect solely the views of the writer(s) and do not reflect the opinions or views of CAB News Online.

Ferguson Police Chief Resigns

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson resigns
amid allegations of police misconduct.
After months of controversy over racial profiling and police tactics on protesters, embattled police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, Tom Jackson has tenured his resignation, will take effect next Thursday.

Jackson's resignation comes soon after a federal investigation into the Ferguson Police Department, which blasted the department for racist emails and other controversies.

His resignation is just one part of the city government shakeup. City Manager John Shaw resigned amid allegations of racial bias in the city's courts.

Ferguson received international attention after the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was killed by police officer Darren Wilson. Many accused race of being a factor in the shooting, as Brown was a black man shot by a white police officer. Ferguson is majority black with a majority white police force.

Protests broke out soon after the August 2014 shooting, with riots breaking out when a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson in late 2014. A Department of Justice investigation released this month found no wrongdoing by Wilson.