2016 Presidential Election

Unless there’s a huge surprise at the Democratic convention, or some other major event happening, our choices for President this fall, at least in the major parties, will be either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

For a variety of reasons, there’s no way I’ll even vote for Hillary.  And to those on the left, none of them have anything to do with her gender.  I’d be willing to support, or at least consider, a woman like Susanna Martinez or Nikki Haley.

Her actions when First Lady in replacing the White House Travel Office are troubling.  ‘Cattlegate‘, Hillary’s extraordinary success in trading cattle futures, something she had no experience in, is another area of concern.  The Clinton Foundation was placed on Charity Navigator’s ‘Watch List’ last year.  While Charity Navigator didn’t directly rate them, they did warn about potential problems with the Foundation.  Charity Navigator removed them from this list at the end of the year.  The Foundation’s track record in donations has been somewhat spotty.  In 2013, only about 10% of their money went to charities.  Other ties between the Foundation and businesses & foreign governments raise questions.  And of course there are the problems with her use of a private server to conduct government business.  According to CNN, a State Department Inspector General report says she didn’t follow rules regarding e-mail.  More on her use of email here and here.

While I’m not 100% pro-life, I also believe there need to be restrictions on abortion.  Limit the practice to 18-20 weeks, then only if the life of the mother or child is at risk after that.  I’d certainly make an exception for cases of rape.  While the child is no less innocent, the victim of a rape shouldn’t have to continue to be reminded of what happened to her through the 9 months of a pregnancy.  While Hillary’s certainly ‘better’ on the issue than Sanders is, she’s too much in favor of the practice.

She’s also a strong advocate for gun control.  Like many on the left, Hillary would, at least in part, use the ‘No Fly’ list as a basis for who can purchase a gun.  Unfortunately, there’s no due process for this list, and it’s apparently very difficult to get off the list once placed on there, even if done in error.  Surprisingly I agree, to a degree, with this column from Slate  on the issue.

While not as bad as Sanders on government spending, Hillary’s proposing nearly $1 trillion in new spending, to be paid for by higher taxes on the wealthy. (also here).  Typically, these calls for higher taxes on the rich ignore the fact that the rich already pay the lion’s share of federal taxes.

Hillary, like Obama, doesn’t appear to believe that businesses create jobs.

And I don’t trust her on foreign policy.  From a ridiculous ‘reset’ button given to Putin while Secretary of State to agreeing with Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran to millions of contributions to the Clinton Foundation from Middle Eastern countries, (and here) some of whom got weapons deals from the US State Department, she’s far too much in the pocket of those who aren’t our allies.

I reviewed Donald Trump last fall.  He wasn’t my first choice for the office, and some of his actions since then haven’t given me much reason to be a huge Trump backer.  He is, however, the Republican nominee and despite his many flaws, he’s a better choice than Hillary is, in my opinion.

While I’m concerned over his comments today that he’d consider banning people on the ‘No Fly’ or ‘Terrorist Watch’ lists from buying guns, I wonder if he’s fully aware that there is no due process for being placed on these lists.  What’s to stop an administration, any administration, from putting its opponents on such a list out of spite?  And what’s to stop an administration from taking other rights away from its opponents?  Furthermore, why aren’t those on the lists either banned from coming in, deported or, in the case of citizens, jailed if they are indeed a threat to the security of the country?  Will Trump change his mind after meeting with the NRA?  Time will tell.

I agree we need to improve the process for vetting those coming to America, regardless of where they’re coming from.  Trump’s limiting his moratorium to Muslims, but that doesn’t go far enough.  We need to take a closer look at all immigrants to at least make an effort to ensure they haven’t been radicalized.   Obama’s current goal of allowing 10,000 Syrian refugees in this year (about 40/day based on 5 days a week), doesn’t seem to give much time to interview them, especially since this is only the Syrian refugees, and doesn’t include the 75,000 other immigrants Obama wants to allow in.  That brings the daily number to just under 326 people who need to be checked out.    The administration claims there’s a rigorous screening process, but given the problems that have developed in Europe over the massive influx of immigrants, I have my doubts over its effectiveness.  Even liberal enclave Michigan is pushing back against this.  Of course, there are people who’ve been in this process for some time, and the increase won’t happen over night, any more than someone who requests asylum tomorrow will be here next week.

Trump’s complaint over Hispanic judge Gonzalo Curiel may or may not have merit.  The judge is a member of a group called “La Raza Lawyers Association“.  While the group claims to have no affiliation with the group, ‘National Council of La Raza’, the fact that they share a part of their name raises some potentially troubling questions.   A black or Hispanic would be just as justifiably concerned about a white judge belonging to a group called ‘Lawyers of the White Brotherhood’ or ‘Aryan Lawyers’ being unbiased towards them.  One of La Raza Lawyer’s founders, Mario Obledo, said that California would become a Hispanic state, and that whites should go back to Europe.

I don’t like his ties with the Clinton family either.  Still, Trump is our candidate, and like it or not, I’ll be voting for him, or at least voting against Hillary, come November.

Yes, there are 3rd party candidates like Gary Johnson.  But Johnson’s far too weak on immigration for me.  And immigration is too important an issue for me to compromise on.

 

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Republican Presidential Candidate: Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie joined the Republican race for President on June 30, 2015.  He’s been Governor since 2009, a rare Republican in overwhelmingly ‘blue’ New Jersey.

Christie won election, and a second term, by being the kind of politician the people of New Jersey want- someone who’s at the liberal end of the spectrum.

Christie’s had some success on Budget issues.  Christie’s said that small cuts to the federal budget aren’t a concern, and cut over a billion from the state budget upon taking office, declaring a fiscal state of emergency.  Unfortunately, the state’s bond rating has dropped to the 2nd lowest in the nation, he’s borrowed money from the Turnpike toll account to cover other spending, possibly resulting in a gas tax hike, and he spent over $80,000 in taxpayer funds to entertain guests at sporting events.

Education is probably Christie’s strong point.  He backs school choice, supports merit pay for teachers along with vouchers for private schools, and has expanded the number of charter schools.  Unfortunately, he’s also backed Common Core standards (possibly changing his mind here).

Gov. Christie backs NSA surveillance, supported the nomination of Sonya Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court, and nominated numerous liberals for the state Supreme Court.

He campaigned on reducing the power of the state Department of Environmental Protection, arguing it was ‘killing business’, supports nuclear energy in the US, and would work to lift the ban on crude oil exports.  Unfortunately, he also would ban new coal fired power plants, backs tax credits for wind energy, and supports the Obama administration’s climate rules.

While he has no Foreign Policy experience, largely due to his position as governor, I can back him in some of what he’s said.  He’s come out strongly in support of Israel, & strongly opposes the Iran nuclear deal.

When it comes to Free Markets, Christie’s very weak.  While he did propose a regulatory moratorium and a program of eliminating one regulation for each new one during the most recent GOP debate, his history isn’t as good.  He provided over $4 billion in corporate tax breaks, gave millions in incentives to a casino which ultimately failed, provided over $100 million in tax breaks to Subaru to move to Camden, and blocked Tesla Motors ‘direct sales’ model in the state.

Typically, Immigration is another weak area for the Governor.  On the plus side, he’s said we may need to re-examine the 14th Amendment & the ‘birthright citizenship‘ issue.  He’s also suggested we monitor & track immigrants much like FedEx tracks packages.   On the other hand, he’s called for ‘fairness’ in treatment of illegals, signed & supported a state ‘Dream’ Act, and appointed a US Senator who’s pro amnesty.

Christie’s track record on the 2nd Amendment is poor, too.  While he did veto measures proposed by the state legislature, he’s also claimed the state has a ‘handgun problem‘, and has backed gun control for many years.

And on the economy, I’d give Christie a mixed record.  He’s said that unions are a problem in the state, conditionally vetoed an increase in the state minimum wage, vetoed legislation which would ultimately have raised construction costs after Hurricane Sandy and supported some tax reforms.  On the other hand, he’s now considering supporting an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10/hour,  backs ‘prevailing wage’ laws, and leads a state with high property & income taxes and a struggling economy.

Sorry Gov. Christie.  You don’t have my backing for 2016.

As always, I got my information from the Conservative Review website, and their associated links.

Next profile:  Marco Rubio

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Republican Presidential Candidate: Jeb Bush

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of George W Bush & son of George H.W. Bush entered the race on June 15.  Source for this material is ConservativeReview.com.

While in the Governor’s Mansion from 1999 to 2007, Bush had a fairly conservative track record.  He pushed for conservative education reform, expanded 2nd Amendment rights, and shrank the number of earmarks.  He kept Florida’s credit rating strong, and backed a Balanced Budget Amendment to the US Constitution.

At the same time, though, the budget grew over 30% under his watch, debt increased over 60% (pg 9), general spending rose over 55%, and used tax money to subsidize private businesses.

On education, Bush backed a plan which provided more public/private school choice options, helped kids with learning disabilities get scholarships to the school of their parent’s choice, and is a backer of charter schools.

But he’s a backer of Common Core, and a ‘free 2 year community college‘ plan similar to President Obama’s.

Bush is weak on the environment too.  While Governor of Florida, Bush acquired over 1 million acres of land for preservation, converted about a million acres of farm & natural land to housing areas, & spent nearly $2 billion to clean up the Everglades.  He also at least appears to be a supporter of ‘Cap & Trade’, opposed drilling off Florida’s coast, and received praise from Tom Steyer, a radical environmentalist, for his work on ‘Climate Change’.

On the plus side, he not only supports fracking, he believes states, not the federal government, should regulate the practice.

Governors, of course, have limited power over foreign affairs.  Bush’s stance on these issues is mixed.  While he opposes the Obama administration move to normalize relations with Cuba, and supports strong sanctions against Iran, and backs Israel, I have concerns over other comments he’s made.

He won’t tear up the Iran deal immediately , and wants to bring American ideals to other countries which don’t have a history of freedom.  While nice in theory, it’s this type of idea which has resulted in leadership & laws hostile towards liberty.

His record on free markets is mixed as well.   He did eliminate penalties for reselling tickets, and signed a bill which prohibited using Eminent Domain to increase the tax base.  He also recently came out against re-authorizing the Export-Import Bank, and opposes a federal minimum wage.

On the other hand, Bush spent $100 million tax dollars to subsidize ‘green’ energy, backed ‘TARP’, supports extending wind tax credits, and spent over $600 million in subsidies to private businesses.

Jeb’s record on immigration is terrible.  He backs a ‘path to citizenship’ for those who came here illegally, supports granting ‘in state’ tuition to illegal immigrants, and opposes any changes to the birthright citizenship  misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment.

Typically, there’s a mixed record on the 2nd Amendment as well.  On the plus side, he signed ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation and strengthened Concealed Carry laws for Florida residents.  He does, though, support background checks even for private firearm sales.

Bush’s record on the economy may be his strongest selling point.  He wants a flatter tax system with fewer loopholes, backs ‘right to work’ laws, opposes federal wage controls (also), saw an increase in employment of nearly 20% during his term in office, and reduced taxes by nearly $20 billion.

While Bush may not be the worst candidate Republicans could field based on economic issues, his family ties to George W Bush, his atrocious record on immigration and questionable statements on nearly every other issue we’re facing in America means I can’t back Jeb.

Next up:  NJ Governor Chris Christie

 

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Republican Presidential candidate: Donald Trump

Real estate developer Donald Trump entered the Presidential race on June 16.

Right now, Trump is leading the Republican field.  He’s playing the role of an outsider, and he’s certainly not your typical Presidential candidate.  So what do we know about ‘The Donald’?

On the plus side, he’d work to eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, the Department of Education.  He’s a supporter of school choice, charter schools, and vouchers.  He potentially sees a federal role in coordination of education, a strike in my opinion.

He’s got a mixed view on immigration issues.  He wants to build a wall, paid for by Mexico, to cut illegal immigration (good luck on that!).  While he’s recently said he wants to end birthright citizenship, a 2013 NBCLatino story reports that he was ‘convinced’ by meeting with illegal immigrants who want immigration reform (often a code word for ‘amnesty’).  He’d also accept some Syrian refugees on a ‘humanitarian’ basis, regardless of potential security risks.

Trump opposes the Iran nuclear deal, believes President Obama is bad for Israel, and believes arming the Syrian rebels was a bad idea.  At the same time, though, he’s said he wouldn’t necessarily trash the Iran deal right away, and would renegotiate it.

Trump calls Global Warming ‘BS‘, supports developing nuclear power, opposes cap & trade & tax credits for wind energy.  He’s also come out in favor of a renewable fuel (ethanol) mandate.

He’s also come out in favor of cuts to federal programs (and here), and backs lower taxes on capital gains, but has also backed a tax increase on the rich.

His record on the 2nd Amendment is mixed.  While he thinks banning guns would be a bad idea, he also thinks Republicans need to be more flexible.

On the free market, Trump is pretty weak.  He’s a backer of the infamous Kelo decision (near bottom of linked article), which allowed government to seize private property not for things like roads or police stations, but for private development which would increase tax revenue to the government.  Recently he said that Eminent Domain allows people to get more for their property than it’s worth, but fails to accept that people have their roots there.  It’s their home, their property being taken for private, not public use.  Trump also supported Obama’s 2009 stimulus (about half way down page), and backed the 2008 auto bailouts.

He opposes Obamacare, but still wants some kind of universal health care (about half way down).  In 2000, he said “I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on health. It is an unacceptable but accurate fact that the number of uninsured Americans has risen to 42 million. Working out detailed plans will take time. But the goal should be clear: Our people are our greatest asset. We must take care of our own. We must have universal healthcare.

Our objective [should be] to make reforms for the moment and, longer term, to find an equivalent of the single-payer plan that is affordable, well-administered, and provides freedom of choice. Possible? The good news is, yes. There is already a system in place-the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program-that can act as a guide for all healthcare reform. It operates through a centralized agency that offers considerable range of choice. While this is a government program, it is also very much market-based. It allows 620 private insurance companies to compete for this market. Once a year participants can choose from plans which vary in benefits and costs.  Source: The America We Deserve, by Donald Trump, p.206-208 & 218 , Jul 2, 2000

On the other hand, he’s willing to reform our Social Security system, saying “Allow every American to dedicate some portion of their payroll taxes to a personal Social Security account that they could own and invest in stocks and bonds… Directing Social Security funds into personal accounts invested in real assets would swell national savings, pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into jobs and the economy. These investments would boost national investment, productivity, wages, and future economic growth.” (The America We Deserve)

So what’s my take on Donald Trump?  In many ways, he certainly talks a good game.  He’s creating a huge amount of buzz, and is getting plenty of attention, both positive & negative.  While I think he’s often right on some issues such as education, immigration, the environment and spending, I strongly disagree with his stance on Kelo, universal health care (although his plan may not be as bad as what we’d get with a Bernie Sanders or a Hillary Clinton) and taxes.  And while I like his honesty, he often comes across as bombastic.  Some of what he says can be portrayed as anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic, despite the fact that he’s against illegal immigration.

Would I vote for him?  He certainly isn’t my first choice.  Or even my 2nd.  But I’d be at least a bit more willing to vote for him in the general election than some of his opponents.

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Republican Presidential candidate: John Kasich

Ohio Gov. John Kasich entered the race on July 21.  He’s served in that capacity since 2011, and served in the US House as well, where his focus was on balancing the federal budget.  He also ran for the White House in 2000.  My source is ConservativeReview.com.

Kasich’s track record on budget issues are mixed.  While in the House, he fought to reduce spending.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t carried over to his time in the Governor’s mansion.  While he reduced spending at first, his more recent proposals have included a 40% increase in the general budget.  He’s ranked at the bottom of Republican governors for fiscal responsibility by the Cato Institute, and even scored lower than eight Democratic governors.

He’s supported banning federal funds from going to schools which discriminate against religious meetings, backed federal term limits, supported ending federal funds for presidential campaigns, and backed a 1998 proposal for a religious freedom amendment to the Constitution.

He’s reasonably good on educational issues.  While he backed an amendment in 1992 which directed a portion of federal grants be used for school choice programs, and backed a 1998 bill which started a school choice program in the District of Columbia, he’s also a backer of Common Core.

He backed elevating the EPA to a Cabinet level office in 1990 & believes that AGW is a real concern, he’s also supported rolling back renewable energy requirements & told radio talk show host Sean Hannity that Obama’s cap & trade policies would be harmful.

Kasich was a backer of the 2000 Medicare ‘Part D’ plan (the prescription drug plan), and backed an expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, saying that such care is, in essence, required of Christians.  Sorry John- the poor are far better served through charity, not bloated, wasteful government programs.  And are better served by helping as many as possible of them to find jobs which allow them to provide for themselves.

He’s also a backer of amnesty or a ‘path to citizenship‘ for illegal immigrants.  He also has a fundamental misunderstanding of the 14th Amendment, as many do, saying “Let these people who are born here be citizens, and that’s the end of it.”

Kasich’s support for the 2nd Amendment is weak as well.  While he voted against the Brady Bill and the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1991, he also voted against removing provisions of a bill which would have required a waiting period for handguns.

John Kasich sees himself as a ‘compassionate conservative’, in the mold of George H W Bush.

I have too many questions about Kasich to be able to back him.  He’s too moderate on too many issues.  I think he’d be another middle of the road type.  Someone the ‘Establishment’ likes.  Sorry, John.  You don’t have my vote.

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Reblog: Wilderness of Mirrors Conservatives vs the Republican Party

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Republican Presidential candidate: Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett Packard CEO, was in the first debate- the ‘minor leaguer’ debate.  Because of her performance, she’s seen a steady increase in her support.  My source is ConservativeReview.com.

A plus for her is that she’s not a career politician.  She ran for the US Senate from California in 2010 and lost.

But she doesn’t seem to have outlined specifics of what she’d do, or how she’d fix the problems we’re facing as a nation.

So where does Ms. Fiorina stand on the important issues?

While she has criticized Common Core standards, she still wants to see the federal government take more of a role in educating America’s youth.

She backed the TARP bailout & Obama’s stimulus package, although she says she now opposes TARP.  She hasn’t specifically backed cap & trade, but at least appears to support it.

Ms. Fiorina also supports ‘birthright citizenship’, supposedly granted under the 14th Amendment.  (see my post on Immigration)  She also backed the ‘Dream Act’, and the ‘Gang of Eight’ push for amnesty for illegal immigrants.

She at least appears to be a supporter of the 2nd Amendment.

On the environment, she opposes the renewable fuel standards & the wind energy tax credit, and blames the left for water shortages in California.  On the other hand, she blames human activity for ‘Climate Change’, and appears to back cap & trade.

According to ‘The Examiner‘, Carly Fiornia is another moderate to liberal, running as a conservative.

Because of her stance on issues, and her poor performance while at HP, I’d have a very hard time backing Ms. Fiorina for the White House.  I’d much rather see a woman like Nikki Haley or Susanna Martinez run.  Or, in a few years, Mia Love.

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