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”?

Fox News being selfish in only allowing 3 hours for first GOP debates scheduled for Aug. 6, 2015

Sound bites from the people that matter (the candidates for the GOP nomination for the 2016 presidential election) and hours of hashing and rehashing the sound bites from the people that don’t matter (media pundits): That is what we have to look forward to in the wake of the first GOP presidential candidate debates. This imbalance is the essence of my complaint.

The first GOP debates of the 2016 presidential campaign season will be held on Fox News on August 6,2015.  Seventeen candidates are eligible to participate in one of two debates that evening.  Originally, just one debate during two hours of primetime was scheduled to start at 9 PM Eastern Time.  That primetime debate would only have allowed for the top 10 candidates in the polls to be on stage.  Because of backlash, Fox News has announced an additional hour of debate for the remaining 7 candidates that starts at 5 pm Eastern Time, so all the major GOP candidates get some time on-camera.

But let’s put things into perspective.  Are these debates going to use all 180 minutes of those time slots on these debates?  Or will their be commercial breaks?  Or, at the least, station breaks?  Even if they air the debates nonstop without interruption, three hours does not seem to be much time considering that Fox News is on the air 24/7.  A candidate would be really lucky to total more than 10 minutes of speaking time during these debates.  How much can you really learn about a candidate’s platform in 10 minutes, especially if the moderator is steering conversation away from the message a candidate wants to emphasize?  With such a short timeframe to work with, a moderator has to be very selective about what issues to raise and responses to elicit.  Viewers will not get a chance to learn the depth and breadth of each candidacy.  Therefore, there will be too little information revealed to make apples to apples comparisons between candidates’ competing visions.

24-hour news networks can be boring to follow over the course of a day because so much information is repeated ad nauseum.  The debates will provide a welcome break from that.  Why not pre-empt all of the regularly scheduled programming that evening to give us a solid block of time to hear all the candidates more in-depth in a round robin that puts them all on stage at once?  After all, this is the debut.

A debut means that it is a special occasion that comes around only once every four years, so why the stinginess on time?  At any other time of the campaign season, people will have already dropped out–people who might have been worthy of further consideration, had they only been given a chance to have their say. One of the reasons that the freedom of the press is encoded into our U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights is so that we can access information about these very important political matters.  TV news outlets should exist for stuff such as this.

I say, start the cameras rolling at 4 pm and keep them rolling until midnight.  Yes, that’s a full eight-hour work shift during which the candidates need to remain engaged, but the work of the President of the United States is far more grueling than that, thus it should be no big deal.  Yeah, people need to eat and people need to use the bathroom during eight hours, so seat the candidates at long tables that will allow them to be served some dinner.  Since only one person can talk at a time anyway, there should be plenty of time for the other sixteen candidates to swallow a few bites and take a few swigs of their drinks as they listen in.  The candidates, of course, would need to be cued when they are on-deck so that they are free to speak without food in their mouths when it becomes their turn.  The candidates can grab restroom breaks during commercials.  While food is being served, the debate format can be Q & A between moderator and candidate, with each taking a turn.  After the food has been cleared away, the debate between candidates can begin in earnest, wherein candidates can challenge each other’s positions with much less input from the moderator.  At that point, the moderator would merely play traffic cop by identifying which speaker has the floor at any given point so that candidates do not talk over each other.

Who is going is going to watch an eight-hour debate in its entirety besides die-hard political junkies, you ask?  Never fear, for, in the weeks following, the pundits will all pile on to rehash what was said.  Therefore, if you only caught pieces of the debate, you are sure to see regurgitations of it.  The difference is, instead of the pundits playing upon the same sound bites over and over again, there will actually be enough substance from the candidates’ mouths that the pundits might actually say something insightful rather than knee-jerk.  There will be more context within which to analyze candidates’ statements.

When hours of punditry have to pick over mere seconds of sound bites, the political commentary tends to resemble tabloid TV reality shows.  We have enough of that on the tube already.  If the news networks made the changes I recommend, there would be more meat for the pundits to digest, and the commentary might actually become educational, and that would be refreshing.

Aren’t there way too many pundits?  Don’t they take up way too much broadcasting time?  More time should have been alloted to this debut event–specifically to the candidates.  The pundits are like the poor: They will always be with us.

By the way, here’s a recap of the 17 candidates, in no particular order, with links to their official websites (except for one, the latest entrant, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who doesn’t seem to have launched his website yet).

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore

Former New York Governor George Pataki

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

Former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum

U.S. Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio

U.S. Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul

U.S. Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina

Pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson

Real estate tycoon Donald Trump

Ohio Governor John Kasich

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

How does Scott Walker win Ohio? He won’t.

I hear that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gives really good stump speeches in his quest to win the U.S. Presidency in 2016.  In a very crowded GOP field where a candidate only has to have more than 10% support to be considered one of the serious contenders (really? when 2016 is still 5 months away?), Walker appears to be well positioned for the first GOP caucus contest early next year in Iowa.  So, what if he wins Iowa?  What if he wins nominating contests in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada?  A lot of competitors will have quit after striking out in the first four contests, true.  But will those potential wins provide the bump he needs to win the White House?  I don’t think so.  Though Ohio’s electoral votes seem to decrease with every census, I still do not see how a Republican candidate wins the White House without winning Ohio.  I don’t see how Scott Walker can win Ohio in a general election unless the Democrat nominee makes a mammoth (and I mean huge, huge, huge) blunder.

It is conceivable, however unlikely, that Walker could win a GOP primary in Ohio, especially if the GOP field is still crowded.  But the field won’t be crowded.  With so many candidates at this stage of the race, the double-digit support Walker currently has makes him seem like a Goliath (OK, maybe not compared to Donald Trump or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, but I think you know what I mean).  In my memory, I can never recall a GOP primary ballot in Ohio that listed more than five presidential candidates.  Going from double-digit numbers of candidates down to 5 candidates would mean that Scott Walker would have to climb to at least 20% of the vote to win, and 20% would only win if the other candidates were also deadlocked with 20% of the vote yet each tallying one less vote than Scott Walker’s.  If there were just 2 candidates Ohio’s GOP primary ballot and one of them were Scott Walker, I seriously doubt he could cross the 50% threshold to win.  His best chance to win Ohio’s delegates is for all the other candidates to drop out (and sometimes that happens by the time Ohio votes).

Walker was making national news as governor of Wisconsin at the same time that John Kasich was making national news as governor of Ohio.  True, Kasich made national news as a key member of the Congress that balanced the federal budget in the 1990’s, but, for many voters, that is not recent memory.  Governors Walker and Kasich were in the national spotlight for the same thing: passing legislation to drastically alter the collective bargaining rights of the public-sector labor unions.

To me, showing real leadership in executive office means toughly negotiating a fair contract.  Leadership is needed not only at the state level to get labor contracts that strike the right balance, but also at the local levels of government, too.  Voters don’t always elect good leaders, and that’s on them if they didn’t do their homework prior to voting.  So, if labor contracts exist that are not in the public’s best interest, then the public needs to recruit good leaders and vote them into office.  After the victors take office, they need to remember that taxpayers expect that our government executives negotiate contracts that the public can support.

What Walker and Kasich tried to do was compensate for an overall lack of leadership, at state and local levels, regarding labor contract negotiations.  They tried to use the legislation to overturn negotiated contracts.  This step, in and of itself, is not only wrong (because it breaks promises), but it weakens the executive branch’s negotiating clout down the road.  Negotiating in good faith strengthens one’s clout.  Wiping out contracts with legislation shows that one did not negotiate in good faith.  Now, what does one do to engender trust when negotiating with the unions if the unions think that you’re just going to turn around and lobby the legislature to undercut what you just agreed to?  Walker is insulated from his mistake, for now, because voters in Wisconsin sided with him. Now, he needs to find votes in other states, and, speaking of states, Ohio is not an insignificant one.

I think that the labor unions in Wisconsin mistakenly thought that marketplace principles don’t apply to them, for they must have assumed that they could do a crappy job and get away with it. When I think about how things turned out, I think Walker’s victories must have had more to do with taxpayer discontent with public employee performance than with anything else. The moral to the story for Wisconsin’s public employees is this:  Serve the public well.  Had that been the case, Wisconsin’s public employees might have succeeded like the public-sector labor unions in Ohio did.  Ohio turned out to support its public employees at the ballot box.

In 2011, Ohio voters supported the referendum that killed Senate Bill 5, carrying 83 of Ohio’s 88 counties. In Kasich’s bid for re-election in 2014, he had to assure Ohioans that he had learned his lesson and would not go back down that same path to do an end run around labor contracts via legislation.  Lucky for Kasich, he was opposed by Ed Fitzgerald, an ineffective and disgraceful politician from Cuyahoga County, in the 2014 gubernatorial race.  Media observers outside Ohio should not read too much into Kasich’s 2014 win because they need to take into account just how pitifully weak a candidate Fitzgerald was.  Therefore, Kasich’s ability to win Ohio as a presidential candidate is not a foregone conclusion.

Let’s make something clear:  In turning back SB 5 in all but 5 counties (Delaware, Warren, Holmes, Shelby, and Mercer), it would appear that a number of Ohio Republicans thought that the bad-faith legislative end-run around promises made to public employees was a bad move.  Democrats, alone, didn’t kill that bill.  In a contested GOP primary, assuming Walker is still in the mix, he can only pick up the votes of those who favored the bill, which, as I pointed out, may not provide a winning margin if the number of candidates is dwindling.  I don’t know what Walker’s fundraising acumen is, but I suppose he could find well-heeled donors in Delaware and Warren counties to give the illusion that he has some kind of political support in Ohio, but money doesn’t necessarily add up to votes.  Though there are other planks in Walker’s platform besides union-busting, many of those same planks exist in the platforms of his competitors.  In other words, he is different from the other candidates in that he engaged in union-busting and got away with it.  Except, he really won’t get away with it, because the path to the White House leads through Ohio.  Kasich, for his part, is apologetic (but he still might not carry Ohio).  Walker remains unapologetic.  And this brings us to the general election of 2016 (okay, I said the 2016 general election might not even happen if all hell breaks loose).

Do we need to remind everyone that Ohio is a swing state?  The Democrats GOTV efforts in Ohio during presidential election years have been full-throttle, to say the least.  The Democrats know that no matter how large the magnitude of resources is that’s poured into Ohio, it pays off if they deny the GOP of Ohio’s electors.  So though Ohio looks red in between presidential election years, the Democrats painted Ohio blue in 2008 and 2012.  History shows us that Republicans do not win the White House without Ohio’s electors.  If Scott Walker were the GOP nominee, how does he carry Ohio?  The death of SB 5 would suggest that Walker will definitely not max out the Republican vote.  What does he offer for Democrats that may cause them to think about crossing over?  Nothing.

Walker slashed the unions claiming that it would save the taxpayers some money.  Maybe it just re-allocated where money is spent, for Walker plans to help the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team get a new arena with the help of taxpayer money–from new taxes.  That’s called corporate welfare.  That doesn’t even sell well with the Tea Party.  Meanwhile, as a saving grace, Kasich works wonders with budgets without more taxation.  Conclusion: Walker’s union-busting is a bust in Ohio.  White House access denied.

Kasich, for his part, has a chance, but the Democrat nominee will not be Ed Fitzgerald in November 2016.  I think he knows that.

Blast from the past: A 2009 Michael Spencer article featured in a 2010 Buckeye RINO post due for revisitation in the wake of SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage

At Buckeye RINO in 2010, I ruminated on an op-ed article titled “The Coming Evangelical Collapse” that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor that was penned by Michael Spencer.  In his article, he predicted that in the next ten years, the following conditions would materialize that would threaten evangelical Christianity:

The promotion of social causes in the political realm by evangelicals not well versed in the Gospel would boomerang.

1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.

The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.

The youngest generation of adults would have little understanding of the Gospel, let alone its importance.

2. We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we’ve spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures.

Evangelism will wither.

3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile. Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive.

The educational institutions sponsored by evangelical churches will not have adequately prepared their students.

4. Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself.

Churches’ intent to do good will be characterized as bad.

5. The confrontation between cultural secularism and the faith at the core of evangelical efforts to “do good” is rapidly approaching. We will soon see that the good Evangelicals want to do will be viewed as bad by so many, and much of that work will not be done. Look for ministries to take on a less and less distinctively Christian face in order to survive.

The Bible Belt will not be immune.

6. Even in areas where Evangelicals imagine themselves strong (like the Bible Belt), we will find a great inability to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith.

Churches will become financially unsustainable.

7. The money will dry up.

Though Bible Belt states have had the rug pulled out from underneath them by the Supreme Court’s rulings on same-sex marriage, the evangelical churches in the Bible Belt still exhibit signs of strength.  But, does anyone doubt that the youngest generation of adults have proven to be quite susceptible to secular reasoning?  Does that bode well for church attendance down the road?

Churches’ intent to do good has already been characterized as bad.  Though I think churches did the right thing by taking a stand on moral issues of the day, the inability to spread a well-articulated message throughout all of the American public in support of church stances has boomeranged, and now media censorship will further curtail the churches’ abilities to spread such messages.  Consider this new post, “What Actually Comes Next,” at Erick Erickson’s Red State blog.  In his post he predicts that opposition to same-sex marriage will be portrayed by the media as bigotry and that public pushback to the media position (in such forms as letters to the editor, for example) will be denied expression in the media.  The justification from the media will be that they are taking a principled stand against widespread dissemination of hate speech.   If this imposed silence materializes, the churches will find their efforts to evangelize hampered by a lower profile in American society.  If there is a renewed focus on in-depth schooling of the Gospel as the churches struggle to grow, will it have as much impact as it could have had if that focus had existed at the height of evangelism?

Though Michael Spencer had not articulated a specific source of the coming onslaught against Christianity other than amorphous secularism, in my own ruminations on this blog back in 2010, I did, in fact, predict that opposition to Christianity would very conceivably arise from the LGBT movement.  Consider this article, posted just this week, titled “Does Your Church Ban Gay Marriage? Then It Should Start Paying Taxes,” penned by Felix Salmon at Fusion.  Even moreso than the imposition of income taxes, Felix Salmon looks forward to the day when churches pay property taxes.  I would venture to say that facilities ancillary to the churches, such as church-sponsored universities, would be the first dominos to fall if this scenario were to materialize.  The churches, themselves, would survive a short time longer, I believe, before becoming subject to such a regime.  Also appearing this week, the online edition of Time magazine posted an article by Mark Oppenheimer titled “Now’s the time to End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions.”  As with Felix Salmon’s article, Mark Oppenheimer’s argument is couched in terms of the LGBT movement’s success at the Supreme Court.  Will these voices swell to a chorus of voices that call for the same?  If so, is it not easy to see that, as Michael Spencer predicted, the money would, in fact, dry up?

What I find further chilling about the Supreme Court decision is Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion that the 14th Amendment morphed the Constitution into a living document that can can be altered for the sake of compliance with contemporary public viewpoints.  Where is the rule of law?  Will we no longer be a republic?  Will governance be determined by ever-changing whim?  It is clear that such a stance can easily ignore precedents.  Furthermore, it is clear that the 14th Amendment will be used to interpret the Constitution anew even to the point that the 14th Amendment will prevail whenever Constitutional provisions collide with it.  The 10th Amendment was clearly a casualty in this case.  The 1st Amendment appears to be the next Constitutional provision that the LGBT community wants to have the courts reconsider.  If such an effort were to succeed, what else might be endangered?  I’ll leave you to chew on that thought for awhile.