Thursday, October 1, 2015

Shooting at Oregon Community College Kills 13, Wounds At Least 20

Shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, OR
leaves 13 dead
Credit: Mike Sullivan/Roseburg News via Associated Press
UPDATE 11:39 PM EDT 10/1/15:

Death toll has been updated to 10, wounded 7. The gunman was Chris Harper Mercer. Reports indicate that he shot those who identified as Christian in the head; those who did not were shot in the leg.

Mercer is also reported to have worn full body armor. More details on Mercer's life and disturbances can be found here.

A gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College (UCC) in Roseburg, Oregon, Thursday, killing 13 and wounding at least 20 others. The gunman, who has not yet been identified, was killed in a shootout with police at the scene; he was been described as a twenty-year-old male.

The shooting began around 10:30 PDT, with police hearing reports of the shooting around ten minutes later. One student claimed the gunman told the students to get on the ground and then stand and state their religion before he started shooting.

UCC serves 13,000 students, with 3,000 of them full-time.

President Obama spoke on the situation, in addition to calling for gun control laws, saying,"Somehow, this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. We become numb to this....It cannot be this easy for someone who wants to inflict harm on other people to get a gun. ... The notion that gun laws don't work is not borne out by the evidence."

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D), in contrast, told MSNBC's Brian Williams, "It would not have been legal for a concealed carry to occur on a community college campus...It's a complicated area. But that's my understanding – not that it's particularly relevant right at the moment."

This is a developing story and more details will be added as they become known.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Republican Field Thinning May Begin Soon

With the departures of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from the Republican field (over low fundraising and poll numbers, and in Walker's case, mismanagement), who will be the next GOP contender to call it quits?

None of the bottom five of the major candidates, George Pataki, Bobby Jindal, Jim Gilmore, Rick Santorum, and Lindsey Graham, have seen any major movement in the poll numbers, and the increased attention on Fiorina, Carson, and Rubio has prevented the media from spending any additional time on them, so any of them is a likely candidate for the next drop out.

Rand Paul and Chris Christie have not seen the support as of yet to clinch the nomination, and Mike Huckabee is facing declining poll rankings. Any of them may also leave soon.

Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson have managed to hold their own, so they are unlikely to drop out in the near future.

Jeb Bush still has a massive campaign infrastructure and war chest to match, so he is almost assured to stay in it for the long haul.

As for Donald Trump, his continued status as number one (though that may be threatened soon) is unlikely to deter him from continuing his campaign.

Trump Down, Carson and Fiorina Up

Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has lost ground in polls as retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina have gained among the fifteen remaining in the GOP field. Trump’s lead in recent polls has been limited to single digits, with one recent NBC/WSJ poll having Trump and Carson effectively tied (21%-20% respectively). Fiorina hovers around 11.6% according to the Real Clear Politics polling average.

In a reversal, Trump has lost some media coverage as Carson and Fiorina experience more scrutiny from the media. Fiorina’s tenure at HP is the subject of much analysis and discussion, especially over the stock price plunge of HP after the dot com bubble and the legacy of HP’s merger with Compaq. Fiorina defends herself by saying that HP’s troubles were inevitable, while her critics say Fiorina worsened the situation.

Carson has attracted controversy over his statements that a Muslim should not become President of the United States. His critics say that his comments are in contrast to the legacy of “no religious tests” in the US, though Carson has not argued for any legal prohibition on Muslim candidates.

John Boehner to Resign as Speaker

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) announced his
resignation on Friday; Boehner will vacate the office at the end
of October
Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) announced Friday, September 25 that he will resign his position by the end of October, setting up a reelection battle as Republicans battle with internal fissures in their caucus.

Boehner, 65, became speaker in 2011 after the wave election that netted the GOP 63 seats in a massive blowback against President Obama and the Democrats, especially following the passage of Obamacare.

Nearly immediately Boehner began to battle many of the new members, who ran campaigns explicitly calling for the repealing Obamacare and cutting the deficit. While Boehner’s leadership avoided a shutdown in 2011 and managed to pass a debt ceiling increase, his struggles with his own caucus culminated in 2013 after a shutdown in the first half of October over funding for Obamacare.
Though he survived his reelection for speaker in 2015 by a relatively narrow margin, Boehner has continued to receive criticism from many in his own caucus, with Rep. Mike Meadows (R-NC) motioning to vacate the speakership. While Meadows’s attempt likely would have failed, it weakened Boehner’s standing as leader of House Republicans.

Boehner criticized many in his own party on Sunday morning talk shows, calling them “false prophets” for promising hard-to-achieve goals such as massive debt reduction, defunding of Planned Parenthood, and repealing Obamacare.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House majority leader, is likely to succeed Boehner as speaker, as he has a closer relationship with many of Boehner’s conservative critics. However, conservatives may run their own candidate, with Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) announcing his speakership candidacy.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Analysis of CNN's Second GOP Debate: How Did They Do?

Eleven Republican Presidential candidates debated for three hours at the
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California on Wednesday
Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
The second Republican primary debate on Wednesday hosted by CNN at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley was a critical moment for some of the eleven candidates on the main debate stage (even more so for the four in the earlier debate). Here's a brief rundown of the debate and how the candidates fared:

This debate was more substantive in that the candidates spent more time debating differences in positions and details of their policies. One such issue was taxes, in which Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee laid out their tax plans more specifically than in the earlier Fox News debate in August. Carson is advocating a flat tax based upon the biblical principle of tithing, while Huckabee calls his a "Fair Tax" in which consumption is taxed rather than income.

Foreign policy also divided the candidates, especially John Kasich and Ted Cruz. Kasich, while saying he opposed the nuclear deal with Iran, said that he would consider the agreement before ending the United States's participation in it; while Cruz said he would end the agreement as soon as enters office.

Donald Trump and Jeb Bush exhibited their tense relationship during the debate, in which Trump attacked Bush on immigration and education, calling him "soft on immigration" and bringing up Bush's support of federal Common Core education standards. Things got tense when Trump's comments concerning Bush's Mexican-born wife Columba were brought up, with Bush calling on Trump to apologize for his comments in which he said Bush was influenced on his immigration policies because of his wife. Trump refused, saying he said "nothing wrong."

Now for the individual candidates. Chris Christie, seemed to have had a better showing than he did at the first debate, bringing more pointed remarks and energy without engaging in verbal dustups like he had with Rand Paul in the Fox News debate. He also accused Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton of "supporting the systematic murder of children in the womb to preserve their body parts."

Marco Rubio had a decent performance as well, refusing to directly criticize the frontrunner Trump while instead inserting his own personal stories into his remarks, which seemed to have been well-received by the crowd.

Before we get to the other candidates, the big winner of Wednesday's debate (according to most accounts) was Carly Fiorina. Her lines consistently elicited large applause from the crowd, from her statement in response to Trump's comments about her physical appearance (saying, "I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.") to her answers on the Planned Parenthood controversy and the organization's funding from the federal government. Fiorina's handling of foreign policy questions, especially those related to Iran and Israel, were well-received by the audience and were delivered clearly. With Fiorina's victories in both the Fox News and CNN debates, Fiorina may be on track to become a secondary poll leader, along with Carson, against Trump in several key early voting states.

Rand Paul and Scott Walker, while delivering their answers clearly, failed to create any memorable moments from the debate, though Walker did get one line in about Trump, saying, "We don't need an apprentice in the White House. We have one there right now."

Ben Carson, though performing better than expected in the first debate, seemed not to have as good a night on Wednesday, though his performance is not likely to lower his poll numbers unless Fiorina or Cruz (who seemed to have a decent performance as well, but not anything extraordinary) or any other candidate who is able to take support at his expense.

In conclusion:

Winners: Fiorina, Christie, Rubio

In-the-Middle: Trump, Bush, Kasich, Cruz, Carson

Losers: Paul, Walker, Huckabee

As for the early debaters (George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, and Lindsey Graham), while Jindal had clear answers and Graham managed to use strong and colorful language on foreign policy, no candidate successfully distinguished himself to become a top tier candidate.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment to add your voice to your discussion.