Wednesday, August 3, 2016

What the Democrats Should Do Now

By Bruce L. Brager

The Democrats, particularly the Hillary Clinton camp, have to remember a few things. In 1988, Doug Williams, quarterback for the Washington Redskins, was asked what it feels like to be the first Black quarterback to start a Superbowl. He said he was more concerned with not being the first Black quarterback to lose a Superbowl. His team won the Superbowl, by concentrating on the basics of scoring more points rather than worrying about glass ceilings. There is a lesson here, of focusing on the substantive job one has to do – first win the election, then govern well. Making history with the vice presidential pick, or even the Presidential pick, is really not a major part of the equation.

 For Democrats, the Republican presidential campaign has been fun to watch. But there is one thing we have to remember before Democrats take too much pleasure. “Never interfere with your enemy when he is making a mistake” is a quote famously attributed to Napoleon. Logic holds that when the enemy can do himself damage – let the enemy do your work for you. An outside menace can focus the enemy’s attention, and unite feuding, if not actually fighting, factions. So let your enemy do the job for you.

Also . . . A victory over your opponent based on his errors is a victory, but it may not last as long as a victory based on your skill. Another often misunderstood reality, also from military history, is that when your enemy stays together they can surrender en masse, not break up into small groups that need to be hunted down at great cost. Democratic best case results this November do not include being able to govern without Republicans at all. They need reasonable Republican leadership, and individual Republicans open to the core element of politics and government, compromise.

And remember, also from football, “on any given Sunday” any given team can beat any other team on the same level. Beating Trump is by no means a certainty.

The Democrats cannot just wait for Donald Trump to do his thing—I think the term I heard is get all Trumpy—and hand the election to Hillary. The Democrats need to come up with good ideas, not just ways to spend more money. They need to be less lobbyists for every interest group, no matter how justified the interest, and more lobbyists for the national interest. For example, they need to find better use for local tax dollars than moving Confederate statues. Perhaps the money for a little much needed history education, to give people some needed historical perspective, on the Civil War, slavery, the dumb disloyalty of secession, and on the period when most of the statues were built – decades later, as it happens.

The Democrats need to remember the brilliance of the Founding Fathers in writing the First Amendment. Maybe James Madison needs his own musical. Expression and distribution of ideas can lead to discussion and debate. A few good radical ideas, such as ending slavery—the antebellum South tried to suppress even discussion of ending slavery—and giving women the vote, can come to pass to the great benefit of the country. Particularly dumb ideas say a lot about the expresser. Trying to curb the public statement of these ideas, so as to not hurt people’s feelings, is all too likely to make idiots martyrs to the First Amendment.

The Democrats need to figure out why so many people seem to like Trump. What is lacking in current political leadership that they look to such an unlikely outsider. They need to do this soon, in the next few weeks, before the party will have to update its “what went wrong” election postmortem.

Fundamentally, after the immediate problem of The Donald, the Democrats need to find ways to convince the country to move away from the current Tea Party, that social Darwinian font of bad at best, dangerous at worst, ideas, totally out of keeping with the American spirit, to the spirit of the first Tea Party, to “mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”


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

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Convention Catchup: Brief Summary of RNC, DNC

                  The Republicans and the Democrats both held their conventions this month, with both lasting four days and both nominating their presumptive nominees, business man Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton respectively.

REPUBLICANS

                  The Republican National Convention was held in Cleveland, Ohio, and lasted from July 18 through July 21. Speakers included Vice Presidential nominee Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (Ret.), Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, actor Scott Baio, Melania Trump, and the trump children: Ivanka (who introduced her father before he gave his acceptance speech), Eric, Tiffany, and Donald, Jr.

Trump’s acceptance speech was noted for the pessimistic tone of America’s future should the current political climate remain, calling American trade policies detrimental and emphasizing the threats of terrorism on American security. He mentioned Hillary Clinton numerous times, criticizing her record as Secretary of State before offering the line that “Hillary Clinton's legacy does not have to be America's legacy,” offering himself as the sole candidate in the race who could fix America’s ills.

Also notable during the convention was Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s remarks. Cruz and Trump were locked in a bitter primary campaign  match earlier this year that saw attacks on both the candidates’ wives and insinuations that Cruz’s father was somehow involved in the Kennedy assassination. Cruz accused Trump of sparking those allegations, which Trump denies, saying he only pointed to them. Cruz refused to endorse Trump in his speech, saying that voters should “vote their conscience” up and down the ballot, a remark that got Cruz booed for the rest of his speech and heated criticism from his fellow Republicans.

DEMOCRATS

The DNC was held in Philadelphia, July 25-28. The Democratic speakers included vice presidential nominee Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, former President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, actress Elizabeth Banks, and Chelsea Clinton, who introduced her mother before her acceptance speech.

The Democratic convention aimed to strike a more optimistic tone than the Republican one, emphasizing American strength domestic and abroad, while also emphasizing social justice issues. The convention was shadowed by leaked DNC emails which showed Democratic staffers, including DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (who has since resigned), favoring Clinton over Sanders in the primary. This led to some protests on the convention floor and larger protests outside the arena.

Clinton’s acceptance speech discussed some of her plans for her Presidency, including gun control efforts, economic stimulus, and higher minimum wage laws. Clinton’s speech, like must of the DNC, aimed to counter what they perceived as Trump’s pessimistic message with one they see as more optimistic of America’s current state and its future.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Nice, France Attacker Reportedly Underwent Rapid Radicalization

Purported image of Bouhlel, who killed
84 people in Nice, France, Thursday
Credit: L'ALSACE/MAXPPP VIA ZUMA PRESS 
The attacker in the Nice, France, truck attack, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, was apparently radicalized at such a fast pace that he had had not yet shown any signs of radicalization, according to French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. Bouhlel killed 84 people on Thursday by driving a truck onto a crowded boulevard during Bastille Day celebrations. Three hundred and three others were injured, 26 critically.

Bouhlel, born in Tunisia, had reportedly been relatively non-religious leading up to the attack, though the Islamic State (IS) has claimed Bouhlel as a "soldier" of the terrorist group. The word "soldier" used in IS media elicits doubt that the attack was directed by IS, leading some to believe that Bouhlel acted as a lone wolf, radicalized but not directed by IS. The Islamic State used the same language to describe Omar Mateen, who killed 49 in an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Thousands Arrested, Hundreds Dead after Failed Turkish Coup

Demonstrators in Istanbul denounced the attempted military coup
against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Friday.
Credit: Reuters/Murad Sezer
Thousands have been arrested, thousands more politically purged, and 285 more reportedly dead following a dramatic attempted coup against incumbent Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Friday. The coup was led by a portion of the Turkish military which is opposed to the civilian government, led by Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (abbreviation AKP in Turkish).

Erdogan, who has presided over a more politically Islamist turn in Turkish politics, is opposed by more secular forces in the political establishment, which likely was one of the major drivers of the coup attempt.

Erdogan was vacationing in the southern part of Turkey when the coup began. Once alerted of the attempt, Erdogan beseeched his supporters to take to the streets to oppose the military forces supporting the coup. And they listened.

Thousands of supporters of the AKP and the government took to the streets, with security forces clashing with protesters in Ankara, Turkey's capital, and Istanbul, Turkey (and Europe's) largest city. The large mass of demonstrators succeeded in stopping the advances of the military, though Erodgan's presidential palace and the Turkish parliament were both bombed.

With the coup failing, Erdogan has begun a post-coup purge of disloyal forces and judges. In addition, he has demanded from the United States the extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania. Erdogan has accused Gulen of orchestrating the coup, a charge which Gulen denies. US Secretary of State John Kerry has said he will consider the request, but will only honor it if Turkey proves direct involvement by Gulen.
Erdogan (center, behind banner) appears in Istanbul following
attempted coup against his AKP-led government
Credit: Reuters

Turkey, a member of NATO, is partner in the global coalition against the Islamic State (IS), and a major political shakeup in the nation, as the coup would have accomplished if successful, would have major implications as to the future trajectory of the war on IS and Turkey's role in NATO.

Trump, Pence Appear for First Time Together as Running Mates

Pence (L) shakes hands with Trump (R) at an Indiana rally
a few days prior to Trump announcing Pence as his running mate
Credit: Getty
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and his newly picked running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence appeared for the first time together since Trump announced on Twitter that he had chosen pence as his vice presidential candidate. Trump said Saturday, "I am here to introduce the man who will be my partner in the campaign and in the White House to fix the rigged system. I found a leader who will help us deliver a safe society and a prosperous society.”

Pence, thanking Trump, said, “I thank Donald Trump for having the confidence in us. I accept your invitation to run and serve as vice president of the United States."

Pence was one of three reported finalists for Trump's running mate, along with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Pence, who holds mostly mainstream conservative Republican positions, was seen as a relatively safe choice for Trump, known for his populist style and his many non-mainstream Republican positions.

Pence, who served in the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013, was a high-ranking member of the Hosue Republicans for the latter part of his tenure, serving as House Republican Conference Chair and was often seen as third in command under John Boehner and Eric Cantor. Pence announced that he would not run for reelection in 2012 for Indiana's 6th Congressional District so that he could run for governor of Indiana to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels. Pence defeated his Democratic opponent (and current Democratic gubernatorial candidate) John R. Gregg by 3 points.
Pence (R), Cantor (Middle), and Boehner (L) during Pence's tenure
in the House of Representatives
Credit: Charles Dharapak/Associated Press

Pence attracted national attention for signing into law a bill aimed to allow owners of businesses who had moral objections to service same-sex marriages and similar events to refuse services, which led opponents of the law describing the law as discriminatory and morally objectionable. The law, while amended, remains in force in Indiana.

As Trump's running mate, Pence is not allowed to run for Indiana governor under Indiana law. Indiana Republicans will choose a candidate to replace Pence on the ballot.