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  • Logjam - USA Elections

    The Republicans - Time to fire Trump
    The front-runner is unfit to lead a great political party, let alone America
    Feb 27th 2016 THE ECONOMIST

    IN A week’s time, the race for the Republican nomination could be all but over. Donald Trump has already won three of the first four contests. On March 1st, Super Tuesday, 12 more states will vote. Mr Trump has a polling lead in all but three of them. Were these polls to translate into results, as they have so far, Mr Trump would not quite be unbeatable. It would still be possible for another candidate to win enough delegates to overtake him. But that would require the front-runner to have a late, spectacular electoral collapse of a kind that has not been seen before. Right now the Republican nomination is his to lose.

    Worse, it might not stop there. Polls show that 46% of Americans of voting age have a “very unfavourable” opinion of Mr Trump, which suggests his chances of winning a general election are slight. But Mr Trump’s political persona is more flexible than that of any professional politician, which means he can take it in any direction he wants to. And whoever wins the nomination for either party will have a decent chance of becoming America’s next president: the past few elections have been decided by slim margins in a handful of states. When pollsters ask voters to choose in a face-off between Mr Trump and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner wins by less than three percentage points. Mr Trump would have plenty of time to try to close that gap. An economy that falls back into recession or an indictment for Mrs Clinton might do it for him.

    That is an appalling prospect. The things Mr Trump has said in this campaign make him unworthy of leading one of the world’s great political parties, let alone America. One way to judge politicians is by whether they appeal to our better natures: Mr Trump has prospered by inciting hatred and violence. He is so unpredictable that the thought of him anywhere near high office is terrifying. He must be stopped.

    The world according to Trump

    Because each additional Trumpism seems a bit less shocking than the one before, there is a danger of becoming desensitised to his outbursts. To recap, he has referred to Mexicans crossing the border as rapists; called enthusiastically for the use of torture; hinted that Antonin Scalia, a Supreme Court justice, was murdered; proposed banning all Muslims from visiting America; advocated killing the families of terrorists; and repeated, approvingly, a damaging fiction that a century ago American soldiers in the Philippines dipped their ammunition in pigs’ blood before executing Muslim rebels. At a recent rally he said he would like to punch a protester in the face. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

    Almost the only policy Mr Trump clearly subscribes to is a fantasy: the construction of a wall along the southern border, paid for by Mexico. What would he do if faced with a crisis in the South China Sea, a terrorist attack in America or another financial meltdown? Nobody has any idea. Mr Trump may be well suited to campaigning in primaries, where voters bear little resemblance to the country as a whole, but it is difficult to imagine any candidate less suited to the consequence of winning a general election, namely governing.

    With each victory, the voices trying to make peace with Mr Trump’s hostile takeover of the Republican Party grow louder. He has already been endorsed by some Republican congressmen. Some on the left point out that he is less conservative on social and economic questions than some of his rivals (while privately hoping the Republicans nominate him so that Mrs Clinton can give him a shellacking). Some on the right argue that Mr Trump is merely playing a role, blowing chilli powder up the nostrils of the politically correct, and that in essence he is a pragmatic New York property developer who likes to cut deals. Were he to win the nomination, their argument runs, he would be privately intimidated and would appoint sensible advisers to whom he would defer.

    This is wishful thinking by those who want their side to win at any cost. There is nothing in Mr Trump’s career—during which he has maintained close control of the family business he runs, and often acted on instinct—to suggest that he would suddenly metamorphose into a wise chairman, eager to take counsel from seasoned experts. For those who have yet to notice, Mr Trump is not burdened by a lack of confidence in his own opinions.

    Republican in name only

    For too long, the first instinct of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, the leading alternatives to Mr Trump, has been to avoid criticising the front-runner in the hope of winning over his voters later. The primaries may at times resemble a circus, but they also provide a place to test candidates for leadership and courage. So far both men have flunked that test. Republicans need to take Mr Trump on, not stand transfixed by what is happening to their party. More than 60m people voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. A big majority are decent, compassionate, tolerant people who abhor political violence, bigotry and lying. Thoughtful conservatives will be heart-broken if asked to choose in November between a snarling nativist and a Democrat.

    If The Economist had cast a vote in the Republican primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada we would have supported John Kasich. The governor of Ohio has a good mixture of experience, in Congress and in his home state as well as in the private sector. He has also shown bravery, expanding Medicaid in Ohio though he knew it would count against him later with primary voters, as indeed it has. But this is not Mr Kasich’s party any more. Despite his success in New Hampshire, where he came second, Mr Kasich is the preferred choice of less than 10% of Republican voters.

    If the field remains split as it is now, it is possible for Mr Trump to win with just a plurality of votes. To prevent that, others must drop out. Although we are yet to be convinced by Mr Rubio, he stands a better chance of beating Mr Trump than anyone else. All the other candidates—including Mr Cruz, who wrongly sees himself as the likeliest challenger—should get out of his way. If they decline to do so, it could soon be too late to prevent the party of Abraham Lincoln from being led into a presidential election by Donald Trump.
    Time to fire Trump | The Economist
    ====================
    Emotion trumps reason everywhere one looks in today's world.
    Last edited by Hannia; 28th February 2016, 18:03.

    æ, !

    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

  • #2

    The Great Debate - Why Russia and China may cheer for a President Donald Trump
    REUTERS John Lloyd February 26, 2016

    Global threats mount, and on top of the heap a jester gesticulates, roars and guffaws. The United States – no, the world – is in thrall to the Donald Trump reality show, on many days commanding more TV time and newsprint than the rest of the candidates for the presidency combined. The would-be leader of the free world has not spent a day, not an hour, on public service The Celebrity Apprentice statesman has not served a political apprenticeship of any kind.

    They love him for it. Cleansed by wealth and fame, he has not been besmirched by active politics.

    It’s still unlikely, but no longer inconceivable, that he will be president. Nate Silver of Fivethirtyeight, the man who generally calls it right on how elections go, is still skeptical that he will win the nomination, but much less so. He writes that “things are lining up better for Trump than I would have imagined… it’s not his continued presence in the race that surprises me so much as the lack of a concerted effort to stop him.” The trouble is, the people who would stop him are the Republican establishment. Politicianssss… hiss!

    What, then – taking this a stage further than Silver is yet prepared to do – would President Trump find when he reaches the Oval Office, and the files thud on to the desk (he might, of course, sweep them to the floor and shout to his aides – “Expel the Mexicans! Build that wall! Keep out the Muslims! Tell the Chinese to get lost! Get that nice guy Putin over here!).

    But suppose he decided to govern.

    Trump’s predecessor, whom he abused daily, tried hard, in his first term, to “reset” relationships – with President Vladimir Putin of Russia (for which the phrase was coined); with the leaders of the Middle East, deeply resentful over George W Bush’s war on terror; and when he arrived on the scene as president in 2012, Xi Jinping of China.

    He was very nice to the Europeans too — I attended a speech he gave in London’s echoing, mediaeval Westminster Hall in May 2011, when he declared that “there are few nations that stand firmer, speak louder, and fight harder to defend democratic values around the world than the United States and the United Kingdom.” And he clearly highly esteems Chancellor Angela Merkel, even if his spooks likely hacked her cellphone. (More leaks this week from Edward Snowden’s trove of NSA documents claim to show they tapped Silvio Berlusconi’s phone when he was prime minister too – especially when he was making calls to Putin).

    Yet for his pains, he has given Russian and Chinese nationalism – powerful and scary engines, both – a shared doll in which to stick needles. Putin, the world’s most determined anti-westerner, gave a speech of incendiary force in March 2014 – saying that the Western states “prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies but by the rule of the gun… they act as they please…decid(ing) the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right.” Pressing a spring (Russia) to its limits was dangerous, he warned, for “it will spring back hard.” Since then, it has only got worse.

    It’s a little better with China, but not much. Xi’s trip to talk to Obama in Washington in September wasn’t a shouting match but little was agreed – little, that is, when set against the scale of the issues the two most powerful states in the world have before them. Earlier this month, Xi ordered the news media – including foreign media working in China – to obey the Party dictates: he’s closing up ranks as growth slows, and he fears disaffection in the country and in a Party he is seeking to cleanse. The West is a handy punch ball to which to divert aggression.

    Many of the leaders in the Middle East whom Obama sought to reassure are gone, swept away by the “Arab Spring,” which he lauded in the London speech. Then the Spring itself was swept away, and new autocrats appeared, or chaos reigns. The Europeans love him (except when a row over phone hacking erupts) – but the European Union nearly lost its currency, it is losing its no-internal-borders policy and it is unable to be a full partner to the United States.

    What has been lost in this? Perhaps the world itself. The challenges facing world leaders now are greater than anything in the post-Cold War period. In a book out next month, the Russian expert Robert Legvold lists some of them: they include trying to master the rapidly approaching second nuclear age, in which states with aggressive intent toward their neighbors (Pakistan and India; in the future, perhaps, Iran and Israel; North Korea and much of the rest of the world) are seeking to build nuclear arsenals.

    The list includes, too, grasping the nettle of climate change, realizing that it is already too late to stop the rise of the oceans and the damage it will inflict on mainly poor, low-lying countries – and devising strategies to relieve mass distress as well as to prevent the warming becoming still worse.

    It contains developing fruitful negotiations on the future of the Arctic, which at present, it seems, Russia will unilaterally militarize.

    Political leaders have never operated as globally as they do now; the globe had never been so threatened by massive destruction as it is now; it has never needed joint action, agreements with substance, an end to feuds, as it does now. But we find ourselves, not in a new and hopeful era, but in a return to a cold war that could make the world cold and dead.

    While a man with a growing chance of being the leader of the free world grins and waves and bellows – “We’re winning, winning, winning the country, and soon the country is going to start winning, winning, winning.” Why Russia and China may cheer for a President Donald Trump

    æ, !

    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

    Comment


    • #3
      Marco Rubio: Poor Little Rich Boy Runs Into Real Estate Trouble
      The Senator's three houses, various lady friends, assorted con artist pals and piles of unexplained income
      OBSERVER NEWS & POLITICS Ken Silverstein • 01/18/16 3:30pm

      When it comes to sheer brazen corruption, chicanery and dishonesty there is one candidate who stands head and shoulders above everyone else and that is the right-wing Cuban-American and Tea Party darling Senator Marco Rubio of—naturally—the great State of Florida.

      Mr. Rubio’s entire public image—the child of poor Cuban immigrants fleeing the repression of Castro’s Cuba who pulled himself up by his bootstraps and even now is a simple José Sixpack and family man—is less tethered to reality than The Wizard of Oz. For example, in his autobiography, An American Son: A Memoir, Mr. Rubio describes how he allegedly grew up poor and mowed the grass and walked dogs to make a bit of spare change. Technically this may be correct, but most poor kids don’t get paid by relatives heavily involved in narcotics trafficking and whose pets double as guard dogs for a drug cartel, as was the case with young Marco, a federal indictment shows.

      But it was only after getting into politics that Mr. Rubio really started making big money—and he made it very quickly, with the help of a few intimate companions—especially after taking over as Florida House majority leader and whip in early 2003. In fact, his income nearly tripled during the two years—from $122,000 to $330,000, based on financial disclosure forms—and spiked again in 2008, which may be tied to the fact that he became Florida House speaker in November 2006.

      Mr. Rubio was able to cash in in spectacular fashion because Florida’s preposterously flaccid political rules allow politicians to simultaneously hold public office and work as “consultants” to major law and lobbying firms—much like the arrangement that recently landed Sheldon Silver in prison in New York. That means that they technically can’t “lobby” but do it anyway and call it “consulting.” So, for example, when Mr. Rubio became House majority leader in 2003 he went to work for the powerhouse lobbying firm of Broad and Cassell, which is precisely the point where disclosure forms reveal a giant spike in his income.

      Then, when Mr. Rubio stepped down from the House in 2008 (two years before he ran and won a U.S. Senate seat) he became partner in another law/lobbying firm—Florida Strategic Consultants—with the wife of a notoriously corrupt Florida politician and lobbyist named Esteban Bovo, sometimes known as “El Bobo.” (El Bobo’s wife, Vivian Bovo, had been Mr. Rubio’s top aide in the House.) While working at the firm, Mr. Rubio scored fat contracts from Miami Children’s Hospital and Jackson Memorial Hospital. Meanwhile, El Bobo was in position to appropriate money for the hospitals as chairman of a subcommittee of the Florida House Budget Committee. It was a win-win for Mr. Rubio and the Bovo clan.

      Meanwhile, Mr. Rubio was making more money on two highly suspicious real estate deals. In the first, Mr. Rubio had a little help from Mark Cereceda, a chiropractor with a lengthy rap sheet. I should note here that after Dr. Cereceda lent a financial hand, Mr. Rubio flipped his position on a key issue of great import to the chiropractor.

      Here are the key details: In 2003, Mr. Rubio bought his first house (at 6247 14th Street SW in West Miami) for $175,000, putting zero money down. He put it up for sale in 2005 but had difficulty selling it because of a weak local real estate market. But gracias a Dios, Dr. Cereceda’s mama, Nora Cereceda (now deceased), bought Mr. Rubio’s house in 2007 for $380,000 cash, netting Mr. Rubio a profit of about $205,000. Que suerte!

      Shortly after Mr. Rubio sold the house, he did a 180-degree rotation on a key insurance bill for which Dr. Cereceda had been lobbying. Whereas he had previously been an outspoken opponent of the measure—indeed, he was described in one local press item at the time as “the main holdout”—he ended up voting for the legislation, which required Florida drivers to purchase $10,000 worth of personal injury Insurance.

      Many of Dr. Cereceda’s clients were injured drivers who paid him with insurance money. And by the way, reported cases of personal injury fraud immediately soared in Florida after the measure passed.

      Dr. Cereceda has a lengthy arrest record both prior to and after his mama bought Mr. Rubio’s house. In 2003, he was arrested on charges of Aggravated Assault With A Deadly Weapon. Two years later, he was arrested for Felony Battery and also for Disorderly Conduct, and then in 2013 he was busted for running an illegal political contribution scheme by which he ordered his employees to contribute to political campaigns in their names and then he and his relatives reimbursed them. The doctor got off light. He was sentenced to house arrest and given probation.

      Dr. Cereceda has been a big donor to Ana Maria Pando, a disgraced former Hialeah branch county court judge, who wrote a letter to state authorities—on official letterhead—asking that Dr. Cereceda’s company be reinstated after it got into some legal trouble. Pando was later convicted for taking a bribe from Dr. Cereceda, who ratted her out.

      Now let’s turn to Mr. Rubio’s second surprisingly profitable real estate deal. It involves his current Miami-area residence, which he bought in December 2005 for $550,000. He put only 10 percent down on the house, and took out a $495,000 mortgage. Then, just 37 days later, he took out a $135,000 home equity loan (which he initially failed to disclose on his financial disclosure form) on the property.

      Mr. Rubio bought the house from a shell company called Sanval Boats LLC and no one knows who controlled that entity and hence who he in fact bought it from. But we do know that Mr. Rubio got very generous terms to finance the house from Miami’s U.S. Century Bank, whose CEO was a former head of the Florida Republican Party named Jim Greer, who later went to jail for money laundering.

      A book about Greer called The Chairman: The Rise and Betrayal of Jim Greer has some juicy anecdotes about Mr. Rubio and David Rivera, Mr. Rubio’s one-time best friend and roommate as well as a noted womanizer and former Florida State House member and federal congressman. (A number of other top officials at the U.S. Century Bank were major political supporters of Mr. Rubio’s.)

      A passage from the book reads:

      “There was an indication that Rubio had an affair,” said Greer. A woman who had worked in his legislative office when he was Speaker of the House abruptly left and got a job at Florida International University as a part-time professor. Emails she had sent him through her college account had become public record. Our opposition research specialist said the emails included things like, “I have to talk to you right now. I can’t take this anymore. Why aren’t you returning my calls?” To an oppositional researcher the Crist campaign had hired, it appeared there had been a close relationship between the two and that Rubio had broken it off.”

      In any event, Mr. Rubio’s $135,000 home equity loan was granted only because U.S. Century Bank mysteriously reappraised its worth upwards by about one-third, to $735,000, little more than a month after he purchased the property. “It looks a lot like somebody’s currying favor with an important political person,” one real estate analyst said of Mr. Rubio’s real estate dealings in a 2008 story that ran in a Miami newspaper. “People off the street don’t get this deal.”

      It’s worth pointing out here that Miami-Dade County assessors put the market value of the house at $503,000 in 2006, some 50 percent less than US Century Bank’s appraisal at the same time. The house’s assessed value topped out the following year at $540,401 and last year county assessors estimated its worth at a mere $400,492, an increase from $391,443 in 2013.

      David Rivera’s former girlfriend, Ana Alliegro, is currently under house arrest for her role in a complicated campaign finance/bribery scheme allegedly masterminded by Mr. Rivera, who helped her flee to Nicaragua before she was apprehended and turned over to U.S. authorities. Mr. Rivera is under investigation in the scheme, but the case has been stalled for months, infuriating Ms. Alliegro, who has publicly denounced Mr. Rivera and said she wants him to go to prison. I’m told by a few well-placed sources that Ms. Alliegro knows everything about Mr. Rubio, including the names of a number of his lady friends—more coming on that—but I was unable to reach her.

      Mr. Rubio and David Rivera met in 1992, when both worked for the campaign of Florida Congressman Lincoln Díaz-Balart, and have been bosom buddies ever since. According to a Politico story, Mr. Rivera advised and stumped for Mr. Rubio in his first campaign for the state House in 2000. Mr. Rubio repaid the favor and helped Mr. Rivera win a House seat two years later. In 2006, Mr. Rivera played a key role in getting Mr. Rubio selected as the first Cuban-American speaker of the Florida House.

      continue read
      Marco Rubio: Poor Little Rich Boy Runs Into Real Estate Trouble | | Observer

      æ, !

      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

      Comment


      • #4
        Staring at the Conservative Gutter
        Donald Trump gives credence to the left’s caricature of bigoted conservatives.
        THE WALL STREET JOURNAL Bret Stephens
        Feb. 29, 2016 7:22 p.m. ET

        In the late 1950s, Bill Buckley decreed that nobody whose name appeared on the masthead of the American Mercury magazine would be published in the pages of National Review. The once-illustrious Mercury of H.L. Mencken had become a gutter of far-right anti-Semites. Buckley would not allow his magazine to be tainted by them.

        The word for Buckley’s act is “lustration,” and for two generations it upheld the honor of the mainstream conservative movement. Liberals may have been fond of claiming that Republicans were all closet bigots and that tax cuts were a form of racial prejudice, but the accusation rang hollow because the evidence for it was so tendentious.

        Not anymore. The candidacy of Donald Trump is the open sewer of American conservatism. This Super Tuesday, polls show a plurality of GOP voters intend to dive right into it, like the boy in the “Slumdog Millionaire” toilet scene. And they’re not even holding their noses.

        In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has endorsed the Code Pink view of the Iraq War (Bush lied; people died). He has cited and embraced an aphorism of Benito Mussolini. (“It’s a very good quote,” Mr. Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd.) He has refused to release his “very beautiful” tax returns. And he has taken his time disavowing the endorsement of onetime Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke—offering, by way of a transparently dishonest excuse, that “I know nothing about David Duke.” Mr. Trump left the Reform Party in 2000 after Mr. Duke joined it.

        None of this seems to have made the slightest dent in Mr. Trump’s popularity. If anything it has enhanced it. In the species of political pornography in which Mr. Trump trafficks, the naughtier the better. The more respectable opinion is scandalized by whatever pops out of the Donald’s mouth, the more his supporters cheer him for sticking it to the snobs and the scolds. The more Mr. Trump traduces the old established lines of decency, the more he affirms his supporters’ most shameless ideological instincts.

        Those instincts have moved beyond the usual fare of a wall with Mexico, a trade war with China, Mr. Trump’s proposed Muslim Exclusion Act, or his scurrilous insinuations about the constitutionality of Ted Cruz’s or Marco Rubio’s presidential bids.

        What too many of Mr. Trump’s supporters want is an American strongman, a president who will make the proverbial trains run on time. This is a refrain I hear over and over again from Trump supporters, who want to bring a businessman’s efficiency to the federal government. If that means breaking with a few democratic niceties, so be it.

        Mr. Trump is happy to indulge the taste. “I hear the Rickets [sic] family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $’s against me,” Mr. Trump tweeted Feb. 22 about the Ricketts family of T.D. Ameritrade fame. “They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!” What happens when Mr. Trump starts sending similar tweets as president? The question isn’t an idle one, since the candidate has also promised to “open up the libel laws” as president so he can more easily sue hostile journalists. Is trashing the First Amendment another plank in making America great again?

        No wonder Mr. Trump earns such lavish praise not only from Mr. Duke or Vladimir Putin, but also from French ur-fascist Jean Marie Le Pen, who once described Nazi Germany’s gas chambers as “a detail of history” and now says that if he were American he’d vote for Mr. Trump, “may God protect him.” With the instinct of house flies, they recognize the familiar smell, and they want more of it.

        Mr. Trump exemplifies a new political wave sweeping the globe—leaders coming to power through democratic means while avowing illiberal ends. Hungary’s Viktor Orban is another case in point, as is Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A Trump presidency—neutral between dictatorships and democracies, opposed to free trade, skeptical of traditional U.S. defense alliances, hostile to immigration—would mark the collapse of the entire architecture of the U.S.-led post-World War II global order. We’d be back to the 1930s, this time with an America Firster firmly in charge.

        That’s the future Mr. Trump offers whether his supporters realize it or not. Bill Buckley and the other great shapers of modern conservatism—Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, Robert Bartley and Irving Kristol—articulated a conservatism that married economic dynamism to a prudent respect for tradition, patriotism and openness to the wider world. Trumpism is the opposite of this creed: moral gauchery plus economic nationalism plus Know Nothingism. It is the return of the American Mercury, minus for now (but only for now) the all-but inevitable anti-Semitism.

        It would be terrible to think that the left was right about the right all these years. Nativist bigotries must not be allowed to become the animating spirit of the Republican Party. If Donald Trump becomes the candidate, he will not win the presidency, but he will help vindicate the left’s ugly indictment. It will be left to decent conservatives to pick up the pieces—and what’s left of the party.

        Staring at the Conservative Gutter - WSJ

        æ, !

        Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp

        Comment


        • #5
          So, question of the day. What does this statement by Trump really mean?

          It's clear that Kasich would be the best supporter of Ukraine. Trump definitely wont do Ukraine much good, but will he makes things worse? Anything Trump says needs to be analyzed, does he really think that way or is he just negotiating.

          https://twitter.com/ChristopherJM/st...78368433860609

          "I don't want to tell Putin what I'm thinking... Don't worry about Ukraine. Ukraine's going to be fine."



          See whats been posted in the past day.


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