Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cruz, Clinton Take Iowa; Trump, Sanders lead in New Hampshire

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won a convincing win in the GOP Iowa caucus on Monday, taking 27.6% of the vote, leading second-place winner Donald Trump, who took 24.3%, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who had a surprisingly strong finish at 23.1%. Rubio had never polled more than 20% among GOP voters in the Hawkeye state.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton edged out Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, taking 701 county delegates to his 697 (the Iowa Democratic Party does not report voter percentages, only the delegates from each county).

The results from the caucus led to the departures of former Maryland Gov. MartinO’Malley (D), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R), and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R), who all polled in the single digits on election night.

The Republican results give Cruz a strong headwind going into the next few primaries, though Trump still holds a large nationwide lead among Republican voters and is the strong favorite to win the next state, New Hampshire, which votes on Tuesday, February 8. However, Cruz’s victory could breathe more life into his campaign as the election trudges forward.

Rubio’s convincing third-place win could also establish him as the establishment alternative to Trump or Cruz. Other establishment candidates still in the race include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Rubio would need to consolidate the support that still exists between those candidates to have a strong chance of winning the GOP nod for November,

While Clinton eked out a win in Iowa, she still trails in New Hampshire, though she fares better in states afterwards, such as Nevada and South Carolina. Sanders meanwhile has shown that he does have a base of support, and may have even won a plurality of voters in the state (though it is impossible to know for certain) given that his support was primarily clumped in college towns. However, Iowa and New Hampshire are likely the friendliest states to Sanders, given that 43% of Iowa Democrats call themselves "socialist" and the proximity to his home state respectively.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Trump, Clinton Lead Polls Heading into Iowa

Donald Trump has recaptured his lead in the Hawkeye State,
according to a recent Des Moines Register/Bloomber Politics
Credit: CAB News Online/Christopher A. Rodriguez
Businessman Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both hold small leads heading into the Iowa caucuses on Monday, according to a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll, which will be the last major poll released before the caucuses on Monday.

Trump leads Texas Sen. Ted Cruz 28-23 percent, and Clinton leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by a narrower margin, 45-42 percent.

Trump’s failure to show at Thursday’s Fox News-Google GOP debate, nominally because of a dispute between him and moderator Megyn Kelly, with whom he has a running feud, may or may not affect his performance on Monday. However, Trump continues to hold leads in the next two primary states, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Clinton’s situation in Iowa and New Hampshire is less secure, with her statistically tied in Iowa and trailing in New Hampshire to the self-described “democratic socialist” Sanders. While she has a large base of support in other states through minority voters, who tend to support Clinton, Sanders has shown himself a viable contender in the early races and may do so again in the later ones as well.

Thursday’s GOP debate was the first to feature the GOP candidates sans Trump. Cruz became the favorite target of the night given his relative high ranking in the polls. In addition, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul seemed to have stronger performances than in the past, but it is unknown if their new-found energy could translate into increased support at the polls.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Winter Weather Expected to Pummel Eastern US

Blizzard conditions are expected for parts of the eastern United States this weekend, with a blizzard warning "issued for the Washington and Baltimore metro areas from 1 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Sunday," according to CNN. The coming weather will also bring winds in excess of 60 mph for parts of the eastern seaboard, along with heavy snow.

This storm comes after a season of unusually mild winter weather for much of this part of the nation, coming after a winter last year which brought record cold temperatures and heavy snow for much of the same area.

I Won the Lottery

By Bruce L. Brager

I won the lottery, the really big lottery, the really, really big lottery. I had to split my winnings with my sister, who co-bought the ticket. But call me one of the winners. I took my winnings in cash. I have to admit, though, that I blew my winnings on Thursday, starting right after collecting the cash. I should have consulted a tax attorney and an investment advisor. I should have calculated my tax obligations to the Feds, New York State and New York City. Instead, I went on a spree.

My winnings paid for two cans of soda that day, since the ticket was for a grand total of $4. I had considered taking a penny and a half or so for the next 29 years, but decide to go for broke. At least, though, since I bought the sodas at different places, I obeyed the traditional warning of “don’t spend it all in one place.”

Living in New York, if able and rich, I could spend a whole lot more than $2 in one day. I can walk to Sotheby’s auction house for a Van Gogh or two, then over to Billionaires’ Row on 57th Street for a nice penthouse in which to put the paintings. With a little skill, and not too much planning, by the end of the day I could have blown several hundred million. Van Goghs are nice wall hangings, though. They also let people know you have a whole lot of money. I suppose I could have invested the winnings. Not in the stock market this month – that is another story about how to make a small fortune by starting with a large fortune – but in a new ticket for the next drawing. However, the $40 million prize seemed like chump change.

This was actually my eighth lottery win. A few were noteworthy. I won $100 once from Washington PBS, for my twenty dollar fee. When my next paycheck arrived I had $50 left in the bank. Another time I entered for a giveaway at Sebago, after buying a pair of their classic loafers. I won another pair. Once I might have picked the wrong time to show fiscal restraint. I bought a one dollar scratch off ticket one Friday at lunch. I won $2. I bought another, and won $3. Then I made my mistake. I stopped playing and bought a diet soda. That diet soda might have cost me $50,000. Of course, if my mother had not thrown out my baseball cards, I would not have needed the money.

Money doesn’t buy happiness, they say. But they also say it can let you pay for the shrink to discuss your unhappiness. A cousin-in-law of my mother once made $50,000,000 in the insurance business, insuring places in the inner city – that is another essay. His wife needed psychiatric help to deal with suddenly being rich. My mother told me she was willing to risk the problems of a lot of money. Of course, the cousin probably needed further help when her husband got caught lying on financial statements. My own family’s penny ante à la Bernie Madoff.

Jimmy the Greek once said that the safest way to play in a casino is to budget for entertainment, and when you have spent that, say goodnight and leave. Easy to say; hard to do. What, for example, do you do if you win? You might well win. The odds favor the house, but if no one wins no customers come.

My own reluctance in gambling in a Casino is the common emotional lure of easy money, despite the logic of preplanning and placing limits. I am not 100 percent sure I can place limits on myself. Probably yes, but not certainly. The danger with gambling is the idea that just one more big score will settle the score, so to speak, and enable to the player to at least break even.

Perhaps I should not put so little faith in myself. Maybe, probably, I can allocate, say, $20.00 for entertainment. If I lose, decide it was a learning experience and say goodbye. If I win, pay myself back, and more, than go on from there. Gambling’s attraction would seem more to more potential, rather than the immediate effects of alcohol or drugs. So, with a little care – on occasion I can show care; I did not buy a ticket with my winnings -- an hour in a casino might be fun. Just remember I am a tourist out for a little relaxation, and a writer out for a few ideas. I am not James Bond taking on Ernest Blofield. To coin a phrase, I have to know when to walk away, as well when to hold, fold, and run.

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

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Alas Poor First Amendment, I Knew it Well

By Bruce L. Brager

A few months ago I was riding the New York City Subway. I saw a man with a hat with a saying on the hat. The saying read “The Second Amendment, the original homeland security.” My guess, from the NRA logo on the hat, was that he was not referring to the National Guard (the first part of the Second Amendment, remember) and its valuable role as part of the American military establishment. What he was doing was expressing his views, a basic part of the American culture, in a place which might not be sympathetic to them. Criticize his views if you want, but don’t mock his right to express his views. Of course, in the proverbial New York City, no one else might have noticed.

Too many cases, unfortunately, exist where people do not react properly to views they oppose, even extreme views. The man with the hat may strike some people as an extremist. Many people these days seem to feel people should not say, or display, controversial things. But too much mocking, too many calls to muzzle the ideas, and some clown may get a martyrdom he or she does not deserve.

A few years ago, Don Imus, the famous “shock jock,” lost his radio show for referring to a New Jersey college women’s sports team with a racist term. Another fool made a martyr. The twist here is that the then-governor of New Jersey, John Corzine, was injured in an auto accident on the way to an emergency meeting over the incident, over what were basically hurt feelings. This would never happen with Governor Christie. He would be caught in a traffic jam his aides staged.

 A rich entrepreneur in California once came under fire for comparing the Nazi hatred of Jews to the unpopularity of the rich 1% in this country. Talk about overblown and tasteless analogies. This is how he ended a letter to the editor complaining about the unfair press the rich are getting. He made some arguable points, about the assault on free speech from the left. But he goes on to compare critics of the rich to the Nazis. His particular example, Kristallnacht, seems to say that this open act of the Holocaust was showing public hatred of the Jews. This program was actually government organized. Don’t muzzle this guy, though, let him look like a fool, and point out many flaws in his argument. (How much actual violence was directed against the rich during the Great Recession?) Don’t make yourself look foolish responding to an idiot. Let fools argue against themselves.

A recent episode in Kansas is astounding, even under today’s bizarre college behavior standards. A female Kansas college professor, a white woman, is the target of student wrath for using her First Amendment Rights, and the academic freedom she thought she had. At least one graduate level education student seems to believe that questioning whether racism really exists—when the professor seems to have actually said she has not seen it on a particular college campus—is perpetuating racism, not to mention demeaning, insensitive, etc, rather than just plain wrong. This sort of thing makes me shudder for the future of the First Amendment and freedom of expression in this country. The amendment protects all of us by allowing people to say racist, demeaning, insensitive, and downright stupid things. The n-word, which the professor used as a general example, not a directed insult, is never appropriate. However, her never having seen racism and saying so, was seen as more offensive.

Her students now want to have the professor fired for hurting their feelings. I shudder for future students of these teaching students if they want to express a thought with which their teacher disagrees.

And then there is Donald Trump.

Have we all forgotten that the First Amendment was designed to protect unpopular, unpalatable, views? This is still the best way to encourage the free debate which is part of an effective democracy. Some crazy ideas later are accepted. Voting rights for women was quite controversial at the start, almost as way out as the abolition of slavery. It is not the dumb ideas of celebrities and, alas, political leaders that are worth supporting. It is the right of people to make fools of themselves. Because when you permit public stupidity, you also permit free debate, the free exchange of ideas that may even produce better ideas. And, maybe some dumb ideas might not be so dumb.

If we ever have the misfortune to get another constitutional convention, I expect to see the part of the Second Amendment about the right to bear arms put in the preamble, and the First Amendment to read “Congress shall make no laws abridging freedom of speech, unless someone finds the speech hurtful.”

Let us hope the examples that make the news, particularly from higher education, are not typical, that we have not raised a younger generation hyper-sensitive, self-indulgent and narcissistic, with no sense of history. This detracts from them being able to solve the real problems facing the United States and the world today.

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