Sunday, July 24, 2016

If you are a foreign policy conservative ...

I live in Texas.  At work, around home, I have many friends who are life long republicans.  Except for a few, I find their support for Trump to be, tepid at best.  Even that lukewarm support for Trump appears to stems mostly from understandable reluctance to sever the lifelong identification with republican party.  Their discomfort with Trump's crude politics is real.

A three legged stool with legs of security or foreign policy conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and social conservatives, is often used as an analogue for the republican party.   If you are a foreign policy conservative, here are some things to consider in this cycle.

Republican candidates sound tough on ISIS, but have no credible plan:

After George W Bush's disastrous misadventure in Iraq, informed foreign policy conservatives are justifiably squeamish about vague but tough sounding calls for military action in Syria from current crop of republican presidential candidates, e.g., 'carpet bombing until the sand glows', or for putting ground troops in Syria.  If there is one thing that US has learned from the disastrous misadventure in Iraq, it is not to put US ground troops in that region.  Trump's plan to deal with ISIS is 'to bomb the s**t out of ISIS'.  That's it.  US is already doing that.  For example, US dropped over 3000 bombs in June and have been averaging more than 2500 bombs a month for the past 12 months.

Trump and his fascination with Russian strong man Putin:

Recent reports suggest a troubling and questionable financial connections between Trump, his campaign chief Paul Manafort, his various businesses and Russian oligarchs close to Russian strongman Putin.  Trump's comments that US commitment to NATO is contingent upon financial contribution by member states has angered NATO, and even some republicans have called it dangerous. 

Trump's Nuclear Policy is Dangerous:

Trump has no idea what a nuclear triad is, and he has said that more countries should have nuclear weapons, and has repeatedly refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons.

As a foreign policy conservative, why would you vote for Trump?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Paul Ryan's Kabuki Dance

May 12 2016:  Paul Ryan after meeting with presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, declined to endorse Trump, and said this:
“I don’t want us to have a fake unification process here. I want to make sure that we really, truly understand each other and that we are committed to the conservative principles that make the Republican Party, that built this country.”

May 25 - Jun 02, 2016:  Donald Trump criticised New Mexico Republican Governor Susana Martinez in Albuquerque, offered to debate Bernie Sanders if the price is right and then backed out of debate with Bernie Sanders, verbally atacked Federal Judgetold California farmers that there is no drought in California, and went on a lengthy rant against Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel again accusing him of being ‘Mexican’.

Jun 02, 2016: Such impressive demonstration of leadership by Trump during Ryan's deliberation  was enough for conservative intellectual heavyweight, Paul Ryan to rush to endose Donald Trump.

Oh wait. 

Jun 03, 2016: Paul Ryan denounces Trump's comments about the Federal Judge.  What is this all about?

Donald Trump's nasty comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel were made on May 27th, and May 29th, before Ryan endorsed Trump. So, Ryan endorsed Trump fully aware of Trump's comments, but just wants to 'pretend' that he is shocked.  Why would the media fall for this pretense?

Trump is a brash, unrefined con-man, Ryan couches his con with fancy words.  Ryan routinely peddles peddles deep spending cuts to social programs in the guise of reducing deficit, while growing deficit with tax-cuts to the top 1%.  

In Trump, Ryan may have met his equal. Ryan's Kabuki dance with Trump, while entertaining, is also scary.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

It all depends on Ben Carson!

Image result for Cruz Trump Carson

It all depends on Ben Carson!

It is mid December.  Trump, defying all predictions is still towering over all his republican rivals, capturing as much as a third of the primary voters.   In a crowded field, while establishment republicans – who remain a minority of republican primary voters - have resigned themselves to rallying around Rubio

Ted Cruz appears to be emerging as Trump’s primary challenger.  Ted Cruz’s fate will be decided by how well Ben Carson performs in the early primaries, particularly in Iowa (Feb 1) and in South Carolina (Feb 20).

If Carson performs poorly in Iowa and South Carolina, then Cruz will have enough of the evangelical voter base supporting him to perform well on Super Tuesday.  On the other hand, if Carson does well (comes among the top 3 either in Iowa, or in South Carolina), there would be little incentive for Carson to drop out, thereby cutting into the evangelical vote that could otherwise go to Ted Cruz.   

If the evangelical vote base continues to stay divided, Trump would handily beat the establishment candidate (Rubio), and Cruz. Wthout the undivided support of the evangelical vote, Cruz does not appear to have the voter base to defeat Trump.

The longer the republican primary remains a four way race, the easier it is for Trump to gain momentum, and the key to keeping it longer as a four way race depends on how the voters of Iowa and South Carolina feel about Carson.

Enough uncertainty to vex the republican establishment.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Benghazi Hearing - Not a Bust!

Benghazi House select committee chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), having an ample budget in excess of 3 million of dollars - a budget more than what is spent on the committee of veteran affairs or house ethics affairs,  promising to shed new light that the previous six (or is it seven?) Benghazi investigations (many led by Republicans) did not shed, repeatedly assuring that the investigation is not about Hillary Clinton but about the events at Benghazi – despite the statements by the House majority leader Kevin McCarthy and a couple of other republicans that this investigation is all about damaging Hillary Clinton, when asked if he learned something new at the 11 hour long marathon HRC hearing, responded

Chairman of the House select committee on Benghazi after Hillary Clinton's testimony responding to questions from reporters.
"I think some of Jimmy Jordan's questioning -- well, when you say new today, we knew some of that already. We knew about the emails," he said. "In terms of her testimony? I don't know that she testified that much differently today than she has the previous time she testified."

Protestations aside, given the secretive nature of the committee investigation, many conservatives expected new information that showed some cover-up of the Benghazi incident as conservatives suspect.  If comments from conservatives such as radio talk show host Erick Erickson, Washington Examiner’s Byron York, John Podhoretz, and others, is an indication, many conservatives admit that the whole Benghazi committee investigation has been a bust.

No.  It has not been a bust.  

Hillary Clinton testified in the committee with poise, and command over details.  At times, during the 11 hour testimony, she appeared bored, and handled the republican barbs with ease.
By calmly answering hostile questions from Republicans for 11 hours, on live TV, Hillary Clinton proved that there is no reason to fear that she will be too old to run the country, if elected as president.  Many close to Hillary Clinton might have known about her endurance and command of facts, but not the general public.  She should thank the republicans for providing an opportunity to demonstrate her competence in front of a national audience.  

It was clear that beyond insinuations, wild accusations, and general flailing, the house republicans did not have much to ask the former of Secretary of State about policy, or substance.   They missed their opportunity to ask about the US policy and strategy in Libya, policies about hiring private contractors for providing security to US consulates, the implementation of the recommendations by the Accountability Review Board, etc.  Only Tammy Duckworth, a democrat, asked serious, substantive questions.  It is one thing for Hillary Clinton to accuse the committee of partisanship in a democratic debate, it is wholly another for the republicans in the committee to validate that accusation on live TV.