Ohio’s early voting has begun and there are more choices for prez and vice prez in 2016 than you might think

Early voting for the general election of November 2016 has begun.

Dear readers, especially Ohio registered voters, it is time to vote for President and Vice President of the United States, as we do every four years.  The early voting period has begun.  There is no reason to push voting off until the last minute, if you’ve done your homework and investigated the candidates and issues appearing on the ballots.

There are more than two political parties.

Oh, maybe you’re holding off on voting until all the “October surprises” have been revealed.  If you are, then you are probably still entertaining thoughts about voting for the Trump/Pence Republican ticket or the Clinton/Kaine Democrat ticket.  I’m not.  I’m so done with both of them.  To be fair, I do think that Trump is wholly justified in remaining at the top of the Republican ticket.  He won the party nomination fair and square.  Fortunately, in our nation, we don’t have to vote for a party slate.  We can vote for individual candidates on an a la carte basis.  Our voting system is so much better than the parliamentary elections held in so many other parts of the world.  Also, the media tries to rigidly uphold the two-party system (Democrat and Republican) in the United States; but the truth is, there are more candidates to choose from than just Trump or Clinton.  I’m glad of that.  If I could only vote between the two of them, I would pull the lever for Trump, but I’m so happy that I don’t have to (and I won’t).

Your ballot will list more candidates for president than just Trump and Clinton.

Ohio’s ballot also lists Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka as Green Party POTUS and VPOTUS candidates, Richard Duncan and Ricky Johnson as independent POTUS and VPOTUS candidates, and Gary Johnson and William Weld as Libertarian POTUS and VPOTUS candidates.  Maybe you’re thinking, “those other candidates are nobodies who couldn’t possibly be experienced/skillful/prepared/savvy/qualified enough to be President,” but, if so, you may be mistaken.  For example, the Libertarian ticket–Johnson and Weld–features POTUS and VPOTUS candidates who have both been state governors.  So I would urge voters to take more than a cursory glance at independent and minor party candidates this election cycle.  You may find candidates among them that are superior to the ones that the two major parties have nominated.

Also, there are POTUS and VPOTUS candidates that you are able to vote for who are not listed on the ballot. 

I’m talking about write-in candidates.  You can only vote for one pair of POTUS/VPOTUS candidates, so if you intend to vote for a write in, you have to make sure you didn’t inadvertently cast votes for one of the pairs already listed on the ballot.  A word of advice: Don’t just write “none of the above” as a protest write-in vote.  It won’t get counted.  In order for a write-in vote to be counted, you must write in the name of a candidate who actually met the qualifications to be a write-in candidate as determined by the office of the Ohio Secretary of State.  Please be aware that the workers at the polls are partisan (equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans at each voting location, ideally), so they have no interest in volunteering information about write-in candidates.  If you directly ask them for a list of the names of qualified write-in candidates, then I think they would be obliged to respond, but you would be better off if you did this homework in advance and examined the write-in candidate list ahead of your visit to your polling place.  This year, the POTUS and VPOTUS ticket I am voting for is among the qualified write-ins.  Here is Ohio’s list of qualified POTUS/VPOTUS write-in candidates for the November 2016 general election (POTUS candidate’s name of each write-in ticket appears to the left of each “/” with VPOTUS candidate’s name of each ticket appears after each “/”):

James Jerome Bell/Scheem Milton Hempstead

Michael Bickelmeyer/Robert Young

Darrell L. Castle/Scott N. Bradley

Cherunda Fox/Roger Kushner

Ben Hartnell/Dave Marshall

Tom Hoefling/Steve Schulin

Bruce E. Jaynes/Roger W. Stewart

Chris Keniston/Deacon Taylor

Barry Kirschner/Rick Menefield

Laurence Kotlikoff/Edward Leamer

Joseph Maldonado/Douglas Terranova

Michael Andrew Maturen/Juan Antonio Munoz

Evan McMullin/Nathan Johnson

Monica Moorehead/Lamont Lilly

Joe Schriner/Joe Moreaux

Mike Smith/Daniel White

Josiah R. Stroh/Paul Callahan

Douglas W. Thomson/Thomas A. Ducro, Jr.

Notice that the list of write-in candidates does not include any mention of party affiliations.  This does not mean that all of these tickets have no affiliations to political parties.  The Darrell L. Castle/Scott N. Bradley ticket, for example, is actually affiliated with the Constitution Party . . . a political party that some Tea Party voters might take an interest in due to shared notions of limited government and close adherence to the U.S. Constitution, yet more tolerant of the rule of law than, say, a number of Libertarians that might feel a little too restricted by laws in general.  On the other hand, the Evan McMullin/Nathan Johnson ticket is an independent ticket, for McMullin has cast aside his former affiliation with the Republicans from the time he served as a Congressional aide.  As far as McMullin, a former CIA operative, is concerned, if Trump personifies what the Republican Party currently stands for, then McMullin wants to make a clean break with that.  So feel free to google and research the candidates listed here.  If you find your favorite POTUS/VPOTUS ticket among the qualified write-ins, then I recommend you jot down your selection in a little note to yourself to take with you to your polling location to make it easier to cast your write-in vote.

No, you’re not throwing your vote away if you vote for a ticket other than a major party ticket.

As long as you are casting your vote for an eligible candidate of your liking, your vote will be counted and it will have an impact.  How large of an impact?  I don’t know.  We’ll have to see how the future unfolds.  In my opinion, in this election year, we may begin to see some movement to break the stranglehold that the two major political parties have on our government, since the Dem and Rep nominees for prez this time around are not so popular.  Or, perhaps the Republicans and Democrats may remain dominant, but undertake reforms if they perceive that they are each becoming too unpalatable to the U.S. electorate.  If they reform, or if there is any other shake-up on the horizon, votes for candidates from outside the two major parties may very well influence those political shifts.  Especially if you are unhappy with the direction that the nation is headed in, don’t stay home.  Vote.

 

 

Obama, Clinton, Kerry inaction in Syria caused by Russian blackmail

Syria is a place where the Islamic State thrives but where the USA has been unwilling to go. There are even rumblings, purportedly from Foreign Service officers, that the USA ought to change strategies in Syria, including ousting Assad as ruler of Syria along with taking the fight to the Islamic State. VP Biden has said that we don’t dare do that because no one has a crystal ball to show how such a story would end. It could end quite badly, with a failed state (chaos) in a strategic location.  Nonetheless, with the Islamic State taking credit for violence in Bangladesh overnight, and an airport bombing in Istanbul just a couple of days ago, and a mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub, on top of still-seared-in-our-memory attacks in Brussels, San Bernadino, and Paris, the USA’s actions against the Islamic State confined to just Iraqi territory, do not appear to be bringing an end to the terror.  Russia has taken some actions against terrorists on Syrian soil, but Russia is also interested in protecting Assad, a useful pawn, just as Iran has, for many decades, been a useful proxy for Russia.

I ran across a video clip from MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, July 1, 2016 wherein the pundits just acted bewildered over the Obama administration’s ineptitude in countering the Islamic State.  The plan appears to be to leave all Syrian-territory campaigns against the Islamic State in the hands of the Assad government (which is allied with and militarily aided by Russia and Iran).  The pundits on Morning Joe, in their bewilderment, surmise that the Obama administration is too risk-averse to do what needs to be done in Syria: Extinguish the Islamic Stand and depose Assad.

Click the following to open up the Morning Joe segment referenced above:

http://player.theplatform.com/p/7wvmTC/MSNBCEmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_mj_burns_160701

I’m not at all bewildered.  Russia has all the leverage.  They are blackmailing the Obama administration.  How do I deduce that?  I think if I just connect a couple of dots for you, I think you’ll be able to connect them with other dots so that you can see a bigger picture emerging.

When Syria crossed the red line of using chemical weapons, instead of punishing Assad, Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated with the Assad regime so that chemical weapons would be dismantled.  This is a clear signal that the USA did not envision anyone leading an independent Syria other than Assad.  So, despite the various factions jockeying for power in Syria, and despite the fact that we may feel sympathetic to one or more of the factions fighting to topple Assad, Kerry’s agreement reached with Assad underlines that the Obama administration will not seek regime change in Syria.  I am not surprised by this.  As for the reason why I am not surprised at this stance, it flows from a postmodern ideology (which I don’t agree with).  I don’t plan on delving into the ideology in this blog post.  It is sufficient to merely connect the dots to show Obama had no intention of toppling Assad or mobilizing our military in Syria.

But I will go further to say that not only does Obama have no intention of intervening in Syria, the Russians will make sure that Obama does not change his mind.

Remember that Clinton email server controversy?  Oh, yeah!  It’s all over the news!  The FBI has been investigating it!  Right?  But oftentimes, when key witnesses have been deposed, not only do the witnesses lawyer up as they head into these depositions, but the State Department and Justice Department have also, from time to time, sent their own lawyers.  Why?  To limit the scope of what questions the FBI asks.  So, connect this dot.  What does it mean when the State Department and the Justice Department (of which the FBI is a part!!!) see to it that the FBI inquiries are very narrow?  It’s one thing when questions go unanswered (and some witnesses have pled the 5th Amendment).  We, the public, are only permitted transcripts, so even our window into whatever little answers there are is a very narrow window.  It’s entirely another thing when question after question that the FBI would like to ask is considered out-of-bounds.  I say that the dots connected here are that the integrity of both the State Department and the Justice Department could be compromised if all questions could be asked and were answered.  If all facts came to light, it would devastate more than just Hillary Clinton.  State and Justice have skin in the game.

Hillary Clinton, for her part, wanted to be sure that any personal communications were to be safeguarded on the private server.  Never mind the classified top secret government information, for concern over leakage of that would be secondary to leakage over Clinton’s personal communications.

The mainstream media, for the most part, have been downplaying the Clinton’s private email server as a mistake.  The server could have been successfully hacked, but we don’t know that, so says the MSM.  So as long as we don’t know if the server was hacked, this mistake is forgivable and no harm has been done?

What if, on the other hand, the server was successfully hacked and Russia possesses ALL of the information that was on it, not just the top secret classified stuff, which might include troubling info about State and Justice, but Hillary’s personal stuff, too.  Since the Reagan administration, the Bush family, the Clinton family, and the Obama family have safeguarded each other’s White House secrets.  Though Republican voters had very little interest in a Jeb Bush POTUS candidacy, I think the Obamas and the Clintons were very much depending on a Bush nomination.  If Bush had been the presumptive nominee, his interest would have probably been confined to winning, not exposing Clinton or Obama, for they could expose two former Bush presidents.  If Russia possessed ALL of that information, Bush would probably suppress as much of the information as he could.  The mood of the electorate, though, has been for outsiders to oust the insiders.  If we, the voters, could trade places with an “outsider” candidate, like Trump, and we, as the outsider candidate, became dimly aware that the Russians possessed ALL of that information, would we want it?  Somewhere in that information that Russia would have is something that is “Kryptonite” to not only Hillary, but to the Justice Department, and to the State Department, for that’s what we can infer by all the lawyering up and the narrow limits placed upon the FBI inquiries.  So, if we as the outsider candidate, were aware that records exist of scandal and corruption, would we, unlike a Jeb Bush, have an appetite to expose it?  Such a scenario, then, would strengthen the hand of the Russians, for Clinton and Obama are in a more precarious situation than if they were running against Jeb.

The only way to wipe out the Islamic State is to get Russia and Iran to do it, for the Assad regime is not powerful enough to repel the Islamic State, nor will Russia allow anyone to interfere with Assad or Iran.  They have blackmailed the Obama administration with all that they know about our government’s corruption and scandals at the highest levels.  Obama cannot change course on Syria even if he wanted to (but he doesn’t).

How bad could the corruption, the scandals, possibly be?  For now, I leave those dots for you, the readers, to connect.  You’ve been hearing bits and pieces of things, haven’t you?

By the way, Saudi Arabia:  For all the influence that you think you bought by donating to the Clinton Global Initiative, you are not as protected from Iran as you think you are.  Russia poses an existential threat to Clintonian power, so that means Iran has more leverage than you.

 

Trump University fraud . . . is this news? Trump’s a casino owner, which means he’s been in the fraud business a long time . . .

If you’ve been reading Buckeye RINO since its inception, then you probably know how I feel about the gambling industry.  I’m totally against it.  I’m even against state lotteries.  I don’t even play bingo or buy raffle tickets . . . even for charity.  If I feel like contributing money to a charity, I’ll do it as a straight up donation rather than as an entry into a game of chance.  I’ve written many times about how the gambling industry is a fraud industry.  All the marketing for gambling tells you that you have chances to win.  The truth is, the house always wins.  This means, in the aggregate, gamblers lose.  Right now the media is fixated on the fraud that was Trump University.  It would be helpful if the media would also fixate on the even bigger fraud that the gambling industry perpetrates.  Hey media! . . . want to go after Trump University?  Fine.  How about going after Trump casinos, too?  How about going after all the casinos no matter who they’re owned by?  After all, the more money consumers spend on gambling, the less money they have for anything worthwhile.  Gambling redistributes wealth in the wrong direction.  Gambling feeds economic contraction.  Gambling compromises law enforcement, especially casinos, for casinos are used for money laundering.  The sad tales of those few consumers who complained about the value of their education at Trump University pale in comparison to the sad tales of those who have lost so much more at casinos.  Leave it to the media to strain at gnats and swallow camels.

Why should we be surprised that Trump cannot admit that Trump University is a fraud?  Why should we be astonished that Trump lashed out at a judge, any judge, for releasing information about suits being pursued against Trump University?  Casino owners would never admit that they perpetrate fraud and that an important part of their business is laundering money.  Deflect, deflect, deflect.  Trump has called into question the bias of the judge because of the judge’s Mexican heritage.  Guess what?  If the judge had been a white Presbyterian New York Republican male, like Trump, the strategy would still have been to deflect, deflect, deflect.  The demographic background of the judge wouldn’t have saved any judge from Trump’s attacks so long as the judge did something that met with Trump’s disapproval.  Remember that casino owners are special people with special rights.  Casino owners are entitled to more than the average citizen.  When it comes to public servants such as judges and legislators, casino owners view them with contempt because either they are contemptible because they can be bought or they are contemptible because they can’t be bought.  Gambling buys politicians.  Remember why Trump has donated to Hillary Clinton in the past?  Because Trump buys all the politicians that he can.  He finds that contemptible.  Trump self-funded his primary campaign to show that he could not be bought like Hillary.  But then there are other public servants, like the judge in this Trump University case, who can’t be bought or persuaded, who, since they stand in Trump’s way, they are also to be treated with contempt.

What is novel about this election cycle is that casino owners in the past were donors to political campaigns.  They weren’t politicians, themselves.  Donald Trump is now a politician.  He’s on the ballot.  A casino owner’s business is a sleazy one, which makes running for office quite a dicey proposition, as it’s hard to dismiss the sleaze factor when the political opposition puts a target on one’s back.  I think the fact that Hillary Clinton was anointed as the inevitable Democrat nominee emboldened Trump to run.  I think if the undisputed Democrat frontrunner were trustworthy, ethical, and incorruptible, Trump would have stayed away from the presidential race.

My disparagement of Trump should not be mistaken for support for Clinton.  I believe Ambassador Stevens is dead because someone in the administration wanted him dead.  The terrorists who took him out in Benghazi acted on information.  Clinton didn’t safeguard information.  I find it telling that at a Cheryl Mills deposition (Mills being a chief operative of Hillary Clinton’s), not only did Mills have three attorneys there to help her navigate the interrogation, there were also two attorneys for the State department and two attorneys for the Justice department, meaning that a lot hinged upon what was permitted to be asked and how minimal the responses needed to be.  In other words, if Cheryl Mills had been inclined to freely answer truthfully about every last detail, the integrity of the State department and the integrity of the Justice department would have been impugned just as much as the integrity of Hillary Clinton.  Mills had to walk a tightrope.  She wanted to keep all of the information to herself, but she had to make at least a minimal effort to appear that she was cooperating.  We’ve only been given transcripts of the deposition, for the judge agreed that video would have been too politically damaging to the Clinton campaign.  The State department is putting on a charade that they are cooperating.  They allowed the inspector general report to come out (but if State were really on top of things, they would have had an inspector general in office throughout Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, but, instead, there was never an inspector general at State for the whole of Clinton’s tenure there).  The Justice department is putting on a charade by conducting an investigation (but if the FBI, a branch of Justice, is doing the questioning, why were two lawyers from Justice present to make certain that the FBI’s inquiries were limited and make certain that Mill’s responses were also limited?).  Just now, the media is starting to learn that archived footage and transcripts of official press conferences at the White House and at State have been doctored so that future historians would only able to cobble together a revised history.  I think Ambassador Stevens was the type of person who personally understood shady things were going on and also personally disliked that he had to put up with them.  I think someone in the Obama administration figured that they’d rather have a dead Ambassador Stevens than a whistleblower Ambassador Stevens.  I think Edward Snowden is convinced that the Obama administration would have preferred a dead Edward Snowden than a whistleblower Edward Snowden, because Snowden didn’t blow the whistle until he was safely away.  I think if Hillary Clinton is elected to office, the corruption of the federal government will only worsen.  We’ve seen the IRS politicized, the FBI politicized, the State department politicized; and the list will go on.

I will not vote for Hillary Clinton; I guarantee that.  I’m hoping that Bernie Sanders will succeed in his quest to wrest the Democrat nomination away from Hillary.  I also don’t plan to vote for Trump, though I see a silver lining if he were to be elected (a shake-up of the establishment).  Especially if there’s no Bernie in the equation (but maybe even if there is), I will probably vote for a minor party candidate, which is not unprecedented for me.  I vote my conscience.

James Williamson guest blog post: The disruptor of the disruptors

Editor’s note: James Williamson is a native and former resident of Ohio who currently lives in Nevada.  He is also one of the brothers of yours truly, Daniel Jack Williamson, the owner of this blog.  He has written many other guest blog articles for Buckeye RINO, and for that, I am grateful. –DJW

The Disruptor of the Disruptors

Following announcements by Ted Cruz and John Kasich that they have suspended their campaigns [and with the unofficial delegate count for Trump exceeding the 50% mark before reaching the end of May], it appears that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. Much to the chagrin of the Republican old guard they are going to get a candidate that broke all the rules (never ran for office before, didn’t spend large sums of cash in the primary, ignored political correctness… … … … list goes on) as the de facto leader of their party. You might call it a coup. You might call it a collapse. Many are heralding the end of the Republican party. I don’t think it’s any of those.

I’ve read numerous op-eds by pundits that Trump became the presumptive nominee because no one took him seriously. What precisely do they mean by “taking him seriously?” Are they suggesting that they weren’t trying hard enough to get the public’s attention early on in the race? All the Republican candidates were trying to get media attention and Trump sucked all the oxygen out of the room. I think they all knew that even if they thought his ideas were a joke they could not ignore his persona. Trump has spent the last 40 years in front of a camera and he knows how to get attention. I don’t think they underestimated him there. I think the operative word here is frustration.

Maybe they are suggesting the other candidates should have spent more money? Some of the candidates spent much more money than Trump (most notably Jeb Bush before he bowed out) to no avail. Apparently money can’t buy what Trump has to offer. Or perhaps, Trump recognized that people really don’t want to see political ads for 18 months straight? Maybe Trump will start a new trend in politics: Save your money early in the campaign. Even though Trump spent very little money I don’t think that was a factor in the other candidates taking him seriously.

Perhaps what these pundits mean is that they should have attacked Trump more? If negative attacks would be effective on Trump he would probably get more of them. Unfortunately that is the name of Trump’s game. Even Hillary Clinton learned the hard way that Trump has an amazing ability to take a negative statement and turn it on you. (Remember what happened when she said he was sexist?) I’m not sure what taking Trump seriously would have done to change the other candidate’s campaigns. Can someone help me here?

I’m also not sure how Hillary and company taking him seriously is going to make a difference.I read that Reid (who is obviously supporting Clinton) is already starting the criticism and gearing up for a fight. So what does he bring on in the first round of the fight? Trump is a sue happy tax cheat and a hater… You’re going to have to come up with a better one than that Harry. Maybe you need to revisit what happened when Hillary called him sexist. If you did you’d be putting your armor on because if you get his attention you just might end up in the line of fire. Oh, and make sure you protect your whole body because Trump apparently doesn’t have any issues with hitting below the belt….

I have a news flash for the Democrats: Negative attacks won’t work, spending more money won’t work, ideological arguments won’t work, even charm won’t work (if Hillary had any…).

Unfortunately for politicians you can change your views and you can change your rhetoric but you can’t change who you are and that’s what they would have to do to defeat Trump. People are voting for Trump because of who he is, but more importantly because of who he is not. He is not a career politician. He is not an apologist. He is not a sell-out (well so far…). He’s not hiding who he is or what he believes (just changes his mind a lot). He’s not a pushover and probably most important he’s never been a resident of Washington DC.

I saw this coming late last year.The event that convinced me that he was going to be the nominee is when he suggested blocking all Muslim immigration and his numbers went up… his numbers went up!!!! Labeling him as a xenophobe has not worked at all. That’s because I don’t think he is a xenophobe. I think what is happening here is that Trump is the only one who is listening to the key swing voter constituents that are going to decide the elections. Yes, you heard that right: Trump is the only one listening. Cruz appealed to his base, not swing voters. Sanders is doing the same. Hillary is making an appeal but with the media in her back pocket she is still thinking she can shape public opinion rather than listen to it.

Let’s analyze this for a minute. What has the public liked about Trump? Well, they actually like the idea that he wants to slow down immigration and more thoroughly vet immigrants. I don’t think he ever intended to keep them all out and of course he won’t but the bluster and outrageous promises are his style. I think that for him it’s not important to be precise in what you say but to show passion when you say it. It really seems to be resonating with rust belt voters in particular. Contrast this with the open door policy of the Democrats and even some of the Republican field. The candidates think they are being reasonable but what the public hears is: “We don’t care what you think!”

The public also likes it when Trump talks economics. Why? Because he, and only he, is articulating many of their frustrations. Decrying rising cost of health care, part time work, stagnant wages, dwindling manufacturing resonates with voters in key states like Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Obama is crowing about how wonderful things are and Hillary has to follow in that wake because she is, after all, the heir apparent. Voters don’t like to be told that everything is rosy when they think it’s not. Message to voters: “We don’t have a clue what is really going on.”

The last area that Trump is strong on is his America first slogan. Even I’m on the bandwagon there. Bad trade agreements, half-committed involvement in foreign conflicts, offering protection to everyone without getting reimbursement, apologizing for our history, and squandering our hegemony on goals that don’t further America’s best interests have been the fruits of several administrations now and Americans don’t like it. In particular I think that Trump’s message on national security resonates with voters. It’s closely related to the issue of immigration. While I certainly don’t advocate starting wars going around publicly announcing you aren’t willing to get involved in one is precisely the sort of thing that invites it. I think the average American knows this and they get nervous when they hear the doves saying we need to show more love and compassion toward antagonistic nations. Message to voters: “We’ll still be spouting rhetoric while the country burns, just like France in WWII.”

While I certainly believe that war should be avoided, what good does a military do if it’s never an option? How is a nuclear weapon a deterrent if the enemy knows you will never use it? I think Reagan proved that being willing is often all that it takes. Jimmy Carter couldn’t get Iran to release hostages because they were certain he wouldn’t send troops in after them. They weren’t sure that Ronald Reagan wouldn’t. History is rife with similar situations. Unfortunately for us, while our “leaders” have forgotten history the Russians have been learning from it. They are running amok because they know the current administration won’t do anything serious. That may change if Donald Trump becomes president. He said in his America First speech that we need to be more “unpredictable.” Yes, I believe Trump is a poker player. He knows that showing all your cards up front doesn’t help you win. After all that’s what America really wants right now: a winner. Right or wrong I think that there are enough people in the country now that believe that Trump is the winner they are looking for. Can you say, “President Trump”?

Is a “natural born” citizen the same thing as a citizen “naturalized at birth?” If not, Ted Cruz is in trouble.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was born in Canada to an American-born mother and a Cuban-born father.  That Senator Cruz is an American citizen from his birth is not a question posed here.  He was a citizen at birth . . . period.

Senator Cruz is now seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States in this 2016 election cycle.  Another Republican candidate, Donald Trump, has called into question whether Senator Cruz, under the US Constitution, is eligible to be President.  Trump warned that if Cruz is not eligible, the Republican Party would find itself in an awkward situation if Cruz were the nominee.

The US Constitution, approximately midway through Section 1, of Article II, spells out the eligibility of presidential candidates:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

The US Constitution, just by itself, in isolation from acts of Congress, confers citizenship to those born on U.S. soil.  For those who may be citizens at birth not born on U.S. soil, one must look to the acts of Congress.  Citizenship by parentage was not an issue tackled until the Naturalization Act of 1790, three years after the ratification of the US Constitution.  See where this is headed?  At the time of the writing of the US Constitution, citizenship by location of birth was fairly well defined.  Birth citizenship through a parent or parents off of U.S. soil was an open question not yet taken up.  Congress, not the Constitution, bestowed Ted Cruz with citizenship at birth.  The 14th Amendment to the Constitution expanded upon who was to be enumerated as a citizen, but that amendment has little to no bearing upon the case of Ted Cruz.

The following passage is excerpted from the Naturalization Act of 1790:

“And the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States [ . . . ]”

Clearly, Senator Cruz is a citizen of the United States based upon this statute.  His Cuban-born father did reside in the United States for a few years in advance of Ted Cruz’s birth in Canada.  The phrase within the statute that reads “shall be considered as natural born citizens” seems to settle the matter of Ted Cruz’s eligibility to become POTUS, does it not?

Or does it?

The use of the helping verb “shall” is binding upon the government, so that bodes well for Cruz, along with the phrase “natural born.”

But why say “shall be considered as” rather than “are?”  If the statute were to read, “And the children of citizens of the United States . . . are natural born citizens,” then no question would remain about Cruz’s eligibility.  But “shall be considered as” might signify that a person in such circumstances is naturalized at birth, not needing to follow the same processes of naturalization that others born off of U.S. soil must go through, but it still falls under the auspices of naturalization law.  Does this statute create a “naturalized at birth” citizen separate from a “natural born” citizen, with the one being “considered as” the other?  Is there a distinction there?  Or does “shall be considered as” equal to “are,” relegating the concept of “naturalized at birth,” in an instance such as this, to mythology?

Clearly, Ted Cruz is convinced that there is no “naturalized at birth” in play concerning his own citizenship.  Donald Trump isn’t convinced otherwise, it’s just that, as he pointed out, questions might be raised.  Any other time this question might have been put to the test in our presidential races, it never was.  Those who might have come under questioning were never the eventual nominees of the major parties, anyway.  Ted Cruz, however, stands a chance to be the Republican nominee.  Though no caucuses have been conducted and no primary election votes counted, the two frontrunners of the GOP appear to be Trump and Cruz. The other GOP candidates appear to be trailing badly.

Trump’s question, in a backhanded way, could be taken as a compliment, for Trump is implicitly acknowledging that Cruz could become the party’s nominee.  Aside from posing the question, Trump has always asserted that he, himself would be the nominee.  But if Cruz does become the nominee, I think Donald Trump is absolutely right that the question over natural born citizenship will loom much larger than the so-called “birther” issue that tried to nip at Obama’s heels.

You may have heard Democrats that have openly expressed a desire for either Trump or Cruz to be the GOP nominee.  Why?  Because they think the election of the Democrat nominee to the presidency is a slam dunk if one of those two happens to be the GOP nominee.  What if the Democrats get what they wished for in a GOP nominee, but the general election picture appears to be much less of a slam dunk?  What if the Democrat nominee is not faring well and the prospect of a President Trump or a President Cruz is becoming a very real one?  Will the Democrats pull out all the stops?  Will they seize at any straw they can?  Of course, they will.  If Ted Cruz is the nominee, and the matter of his eligibility has not been settled definitively, the GOP may have a real mess on its hands because if the Democrats are not faring well, they will seize at that straw.  That’s all Donald Trump is pointing out.

I believe that, if Cruz is nominated and stands a real chance of winning the general election, the Democrats will seize upon this, and it won’t be resolved until after Election Day.  If the Democrat nominee wins, then the question goes by the wayside.  If Cruz wins, I think his inauguration in January will be hijacked by the Democrats and hauled into the courts.  I think they will seek a court injunction barring Cruz from taking office until after the question is settled in court.  If the Democrats’ injunction is granted and, under that scenario, if Cruz wins in court, then how many months will it take to do so?  When would Cruz be allowed to take office?  Who would be acting as POTUS until that point in time?

What if Cruz loses such a suit months after winning an election?  Do we reconvene the electoral college with another GOP nominee?  Does the VP candidate, who won just as many electoral votes as Cruz, the winning presidential nominee, get to take office as POTUS?  Would the electoral votes have to be vacated, leaving no nominee with a majority of electoral votes, and then get decided in the U.S. House of Representatives?  Or, scarier still, does the electoral college reconvene without a GOP nominee?  I think it’s the scarier scenario that would prevail.  Alternate Republican hopefuls will be bombarding electors with sales pitches while Cruz’s case drags through court.  But unless GOP electors uniformly embrace the VP nominee, I think the electoral college vote would be a mishmash, perhaps landing the decision in the US House, or perhaps by flipping the majority of electors over to the Democrat nominee.

If you are a staunch Cruz supporter, steel yourself, because emerging victorious will likely be a rougher ride than you’d ever imagined.

2016 POTUS race is like cable or satellite TV: so many options, but nothing that’s interesting

Yeah, the ratings for the Republican presidential campaign debates are through the roof.  Yeah, there are lots of choices this time around–and that’s a good thing.  That being said, I’m getting frustrated that I can’t identify a candidate I’m excited about.  I had a favorable opinion of Bobby Jindal based on how much less corrupt Louisiana state government is than it was before he took office.  A record of reform is appealing to me.  Jindal, however, is one of four GOP candidates who have dropped out of the race.  Lindsey Graham dropped out very recently.  Further back, Rick Perry dropped out.  Scott Walker was the first to drop out (which made total sense to me).  On the Democrat side (not that anybody across the aisle interests me), Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee have dropped out.  That still leaves 13 Republicans and 3 Democrats in the running:

To get an idea of the lay of the land, I’ve listed the candidates top to bottom in each party to approximate recent polling data (not an exact science to be sure).  I’ve linked each name in that list to the corresponding official campaign webpage.  Go ahead and click on the links.  See if anybody excites you.

Let me list some of the grievances that cause me to cross candidates off my list of preferences:

  • Crony capitalism?  Support for bailouts?  Ties to the gambling industry?  Ties to businesses “too big to fail?”  Pay-to-play politics?  Manipulate markets through artificial means to predetermine winners and losers of your own choosing?  More beholden to campaign donors than to voters?  Sorry, not for me.  Oops!  I just shoveled a bunch of people off my list already!
  • Isolationism?  Reluctant to propel our nation to lead the world?  Fearful of increasing legal immigration?  Hey, wake up!  People are watching us all around the world.  I am mindful of that.  We cannot have leaders that bury their heads in the sand.
  • Dishonesty?  Trying to be enigmatic about policy positions?  Talking out of both sides of your mouth?  Unwilling to be held accountable?  Holding double-standards?  Dodging culpability through legal technicalities and obfuscation?  Lacking integrity?  (I’m looking at you, Hillary Clinton.  This is why you’d be the last person I’d vote for of either party.)
  • Lack of leadership?  No executive experience?  Unable to rally people to your cause?  Unable to form coalitions?  Unwilling to negotiate with those on the other side of the political aisle?  A lone voice in the wilderness that no one cares to listen to?  Ineffective administrator?  Constantly making excuses for poor performance?  The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing?  Take credit for the good but pass blame for the bad?  The buck doesn’t stop at your desk?  There are places in society for such people.  They can be bloggers, just like me.  And, just like me, they shouldn’t be POTUS.
  • In trouble with the law?  Domestic violence?  Sexual harassment?  Driving while intoxicated?  Use of recreational drugs?  Evaded taxes?  Commingled personal funds with business funds, campaign funds, NGO funds, or government funds?  Hired a domestic that was not eligible to work in the United States?  Steered contracts for bribes and kickbacks?  Hid information from FOIA requests that the public has a right to know about?  Does a life of privilege protect you from reaping legal consequences that would ordinarily befall someone in less-priveleged circumstances?  No one should be exempt from the law.
  • Utopianism?  Should free markets go the way of the dinosaur?  In the interests of economic egalitarianism in pursuit of a classless society through destratification, should our society and economy be centrally planned by a benevolent federal government comprised of the best thinkers within the ivory tower?  Do we need to be saved from ourselves?  Are we citizens irrationally prone to vote against our own best interests?  Should the interests of the betterment of society trump the ambitions of individuals?  Wouldn’t equality guarantee happiness for everyone?  Well, I don’t call myself Buckeye RINO because I am okay with being herded like cattle.
  • Constitution allergy?  Is the U.S. Constitution inconvenient?  Should speech, religion, the press, and peaceable assembly be regulated?  Should firearm ownership be confined to on-duty law enforcement and military personnel?  Is the whole population comprised of suspects, thus seeking warrants just bothersome red tape?  Do the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution intrude on the branches of government to the point that each branch needs work-arounds to circumvent the checks and balances?  Are the people too subversive to be sovereign?  Is it too hard to declare war before engaging in acts of war?  Is due process too much to expect when the government has an interest in seizing private property?  Shouldn’t the Senate have the same right of introducing an appropriations bill as does the House?  Should special interest groups be delegated the responsibility of writing the legislation that gets introduced in Congress?  If any act of Congress, on its face, is unenforceable, should the executive branch be given carte blanche to add whatever administrative code to it deemed necessary to make it enforceable?  Should the new loophole of regarding the U.S. Constitution as a “living document” render the Constitution malleable to the point at which it means whatever it is expedient to say it means at any given point in time?  Should any U.S. District Court judge be permitted to strike down the laws of any state, or institute new state laws, based upon the federal government’s interests and the federal government’s notions of political correctness?  Is holding on to power, whether for incumbents, the federal government as a whole, the two major political parties, businesses “too big to fail,” or government bureaucracies (like the IRS, the Federal Reserve Board, the Bureau of Land Management, the DEA, the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, ICE, the FEC, the EPA, etc.) so imperative that the sovereign people, the 50 states, and the U.S. Constitution must ultimately be subjugated?  I cannot abide politicians who act in this manner, and maybe that’s why GOP voters have been driven toward non-politicians early on in this election cycle.

I already eliminated all the presidential candidates based on these 7 bulletpoints.  Now what?  Choose the least of the evils?  In that case, I find myself being pushed toward Rand Paul, for the 7th bulletpoint trumps them all.  I don’t think of Rand Paul as a leader.  I have no data from which I can extrapolate what kind of administrator he would be.  Libertarians often outsource the work of government because the government is deemed too inefficient.  I am not libertarian.  I think many functions of government should be kept in-house.  Ideally, there’d be a chain of command within government that would hold bureaucracies accountable to the chief executive and responsive to the people, thus a political leader should reform government agencies and lead them to greater efficiency.  I don’t agree with many tenets of libertarianism, legalization of recreational drugs being just one example of what I oppose.  I worry that a libertarian running the government would be like steering a rudderless ship, for I think that libertarianism aspires to such an extreme of individualism that it interferes with a sense of community.  I think having a sense of community is the essence of good government that rules by the consent of the governed.  I think Rand Paul is isolationist.  In foreign policy, I fear a President Rand Paul would project weakness.  I fear that the U.S. would step aside as world leader, and that, in turn, would leave a vacuum that Russia or China or many other nations would like to fill.  I must admit that I believe in American exceptionalism.  I think we have the best nation on the planet, and I wish that other nations would emulate ours at least to the extent that their respective constitutions grant liberties to their respective populations that are equal to our own Bill of Rights.

What scares me about so many other candidates is that they want to sound so tough on the homeland security front that they are willing to part with key provisions of the Bill of Rights, whether it’s gun control, the tendency to attempt to muzzle the media in the face of criticism (or script, in advance, the messages delivered by the media), and a barely concealed animosity toward religion on the left; or treating all citizens as suspects on the right.  Have you heard the GOP candidates’ stances on encryption?  They are chilling.  I believe the freedom of speech includes choosing who is and who is not the audience of any given communication.  This blog is unencrypted because I hope for a wide audience for the views I state here.  But if I’m talking about a sensitive personal matter, I want to communicate in complete privacy only to a specific audience of my choosing.  Unfortunately, the national security hawks want every civilian communication to be a public one with plenty of ways to eavesdrop at their disposal.  I never liked the so-called Patriot Act for its infringement of 4th Amendment provisions regarding warrants, or should I say the granting of policing power with either no warrants or issuance of secret warrants, thus circumventing the constitutional checks and balances upon policing power.  The result is an arrangement that makes the government opaque to the people and the people transparent to the government.  I think the people of this nation need to put terrorist acts in perspective.  What is the ratio of terrorist-on-American crime with respect to American-on-American crime?  Remember the chorus on the right side of the aisle that responded to prominent white-on-black criminal cases with the knee-jerk reaction of “What about black-on-black crime?”  The casualties from terrorist-on-American crime are much fewer than non-terrorist-on-American crime.  I suggest we not throw away our constitutional rights over this.  Chris Christie said he puts national security first because, for hours after the attacks on the World Trade Center, he didn’t know what had become of his wife.  Along that same line of reasoning, if someone close to Chris Christie, heaven forbid, should be threatened by a firearm, would that make it okay, in his mind, to rescind the 2nd Amendment?  I think the 2nd Amendment is one way to ensure that terrorists will never take control of our nation.  Do you remember a time when military coups were ubiquitous across the Third World?  In those nations, the people lacked the arms that governments and military insurgents had.  What purpose do assault weapons serve in the hands of a free people?  Some of the answers to that question are that we maintain a civilian-controlled military, that we deter foreign invasion, and that we prevent the formation of a totalitarian state (or that we have the power to overthrow a totalitarian state, heaven forbid).  I offered Chris Christie’s position as an example of the candidates’ rhetoric on national security, but he really shouldn’t be singled out, for candidates at the bottom of the polls, like Jim Gilmore and Martin O’Malley, all the way to the top of the polls, like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, envision a security state that must take precedence over constitutional liberties.

For the time being, I suppose I am cornered into the Rand Paul camp, and I don’t like it.  I’m not a happy camper.  I’m hoping candidates whose leadership skills I admire will come to their senses and take the side of the US Constitution.  Barring that, watching this race unfold is like channel surfing and finding nothing intriguing on TV.