2-Party System Mutating

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield
From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

For the past several years there has been outcry about the captivity that our 2-party system has on our elected government from the local and state level all the way to the nation’s capitol.

This year as the country is once more embroiled in another presidential election season, it appears, from where I sit in the Desert this last Saturday in September, the system is mutating right before our eyes.

This is even more certain following the announcement on Friday by US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner that he is not only moving down from his position as the man in charge of the august body and second in line for the presidency, but he is giving up his seat representing the people in and around Cincinnati, Ohio.

Boehner noted that his decision was sealed following a meeting with Pope Francis during his visit to a joint session of Congress. The Pope pulled Boehner aside and asked him to pray for him.

Going on, Boehner pointed out that he did not want to put the members of the Republican caucus, which he leads, through another vote to try and oust him from his position. A move, which Boehner believes would be detrimental to the institution of the House and the Speaker’s chair.

This speaks volumes when also considering the tumultuous race for the presidency, especially among the GOP candidates. Not that there is much to hope and be proud about on the Democratic side either.

Looking across the country and through the corn stalks being harvested back in the Cornfield, it is evident to me that what we are seeing play out on the national stage is a mutation which will split the governance of the nation into two factions.

The one faction will control and govern from Washington DC on matters of national import. The other faction will control and govern in local areas and in the states and territories.

While currently both chambers of Congress have a majority of Republican lawmakers and may for some time yet, that may transform within the next six years or so to a predominance of Democrats in both chambers.

As to the White House, there is a good chance we will see history made when the Democrats capture the White House for a third consecutive term.

The only other time in our national history this has happened was when George H.W. Bush followed Ronald Reagan’s two terms in the White House. This was short-lived as Bush was upended for a second term.

I say the likelihood of a Democratic rout of the presidential race is from observing how Republican candidates and the very vocal, though small-in-number primary voters are reacting to the outlandishness of the current crop of wannabes.

As to the governorships and state legislatures, those are poised to remain firmly in control of the GOP while Democratic losses may continue.

Around 2/3 of the states are governed by Republicans. Not quite 1/3 have a Democrat in the state mansion. The legislative bodies follow the same general percentages.

The nation’s electorate are splitting into these two factions where Republicans will be the party of the locals and states while Democrats will be the national party legislating and administering from Washington.

As hardcore conservatives and hardcore liberals become more obstinate and more averse to finding common ground, the ability to govern becomes increasingly difficult.

Now that compromise is considered a capitulation rather than the trait of a statesman, this mutation is moving more rapidly to the harm of the nation.

Most recent research and surveys reveal that around 23% of Americans consider themselves diehard liberals. Of stalwart conservatives the numbers has dropped to around 27%.

It is these two ideologies in the extreme which are determining who will be elected and what will be for the majority of the nation. Being polar opposites, the result is seldom in consideration of what is for the “general good and welfare”.

What is being considered is the selfish positions of the two opposite camps.

From the conservative side we are hearing a cry to “shut it down” as the Congress contends with a budget crisis with the new fiscal year starting October 1.

Does this promote in any way the “general good and welfare” of the nation?

From liberals we are hearing a cry of “shut it down” to show the American people how evil Republicans are.

Again, does this promote the “general good and welfare” of the nation?

If the current trend continues, the evolution will be more a mutant strain that will be even more devastating to the country as a whole rather than a transformation into a system set out and envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

From the Desert with my feet planted firmly in the Cornfield, we asked for a change.

But is this the change we want?

A change where the nation is more polarized than ever before?

A change where one party controls Washington and the other party controls the Heartland?

Yawn! Field Not Inspiring

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield
From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

OK, so it is still five months before voters get a chance to voice their opinion on whom they hope will be at the top of the Democratic and Republican presidential tickets come November, 2016. Yes, in politics that is like 50,000 years away.

Time is running out, however, for any other candidates to get in the race. Deadlines are fast approaching.

As I look across the field of candidates – Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Reformists, Independents – I become lethargic and near to apathy. My brain becomes devoid of oxygen and a gigantic yawn escapes.

I am not impressed.

None of the current crop is saying or doing anything to draw me in and want to learn more. None of the current crop come close to inspiring me to participate and do my civic duty.

That does not mean there are not some candidates I think are qualified and would do an admirable job as president. But those candidates have set sail and left me standing on the dock back at the marina.

Poll numbers indicate that I am not alone. The enthusiasm level, even among those who have staked claim to this candidate or that one, is nowhere near where it should be – even this far out in the season.

If I could still sing, I would break out in song. I would make sure the whole world could hear me belting, “Holding out for a hero!”

Alas! There are no heroes on the horizon.

As I said, there are some candidates that could grab my eye, if the candidates would only do it.

Jim Webb on the Democratic side is one such candidate. He has more than enough experience. Webb is more than qualified, serving the country in Congress and in the Defense Department.

But where is Webb?

Webb is nowhere to be seen. Webb announced he is running, but he is still sitting on the sidelines as if waiting for a team mate to hand off the baton in a relay race.

Does he not realize this is a sprint, not a relay?

John Kasich is another. Sure he is out on the field trying to gain traction. But he was not that impressive in the last debate. He seemed to be the hare that suddenly stopped to catch a few Z’s.

Perhaps Kasich did not get the moral of the story – how the turtle won by steady, but slow plodding, not stopping.

There are those candidates to whom some are flocking. Those candidates know how to turn a phrase or capture the pulse of the people. Those candidates know how to write in such a way to draw you into the story.

And yet, substance appears to be lacking. Watching them on the trail or during the debates, there is nothing to warm the heart or stimulate the mind.

There is an empty feeling.

It is like going out and pigging out on certain foods, leaving the table and being hungry 30 minutes later.

Is there a candidate in the field or one waiting in the wings who can fill that void or breathe in fresh, invigorating air in what is becoming a stagnant atmosphere?

From the Desert with my feet firmly planted in the Cornfield, I am suffering from political malnutrition. Vitamins and supplements are not enough. I need a shot of political enlightenment from a candidate who can rock the boat.

Political Sea Ebbs & Flows

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield
From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

The poll that political junkies have been waiting for has been released. That poll, from CNN/ORC, is the first since Wednesday night’s dual Republican presidential candidates’ debates.

The acknowledged winner of the main event, Carly Fiorina, is definitely flowing and has pulled into the #2 spot nationally among American GOP voters.

Both front runner Donald Trump and former #2, Dr. Ben Carson, are ebbing with Carson down to #3.

Many of the other candidates have become stagnant while some are crashing on the rocks.

The most notable crashing is the Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker. Walker was hailed early on as the 2016 Great Hope to take the White House back from Democrats by the Tea Party and other conservatives. Walker now is at the bottom, scraping the seabed.

Can he swim back to the surface or will the rip tide pull him under and out?

Marco Rubio has pulled ahead of his mentor, Jeb Bush, into fourth place. Bush, the initial front runner, is now down to fifth place.

Though Lindsey Graham was considered by many as winning the junior debate, he is polling less than 1/2 of 1% in the polls. His focus seems to be too narrow and more like an audition for Secretary of Defense instead of President.

The former Governor of New York, George Pataki, whom I think won the juniors, remains at less than 1/2 of 1%.

No one from the bottom tier broke out and into the majors following the debates.

Ted Cruz gained slightly, but still having trouble riding that surfboard into the sand line. But he is managing to keep standing as the wave begins to crest.

Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee have stagnated.

For Rick Santorum, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Jim Gilmore stagnation leaves them as sediment in the sea bottom.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has not been able to build on his two appearances and has begun to sink as if fitted with cement shoes.

Chris Christie caught a minor, short-lived wave, but not enough to make it out of the sea or anywhere close to the shoreline.

Between now and October when the next debate is scheduled, anything can happen. As with God, one day is as a thousand years in politics.

From the Desert with my feet firmly planted in the Cornfield, Fiorina is becoming a powerhouse with a real chance at the nomination. No longer is she seen as a vice presidential possibility, but the top of the ticket.

Will Trump recover?

Can Carson’s laid back demeanor regain momentum?

Is this the beginning of the end for Bush?

Is Rubio on the ascendancy?

Who or how many will be dropping from the race before the next debate?

2nd Real Debate!

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield
From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

For the second time this Wednesday, I am stunned.

The Adult Table apparently paid attention to the Kids Table debate earlier this evening.

All 11 of the candidates came to the stage of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to debate the issues!

For the second time in one day, voters were able to dine on real substance and not fluff.

At times, however, it did seem as if moderator Jake Tapper lost a bit of control in keeping the presidential wannabes in line.

You could see the frustration in co-moderator Dana Bash’s face more than once while waiting for the debaters to finish and allow her to pose the next question.

But – the candidates were actually talking real issues and providing real meat for us to devour!

While Donald Trump was a focus more than once, even then actual concerns were raised of which voters need to be aware. Trump remained strong and did not commit any gaffes, but he was not the star of the show.

Several of the GOP hopefuls had their moments tonight. The glory was spread around at different points and moments.

To me, however, the toughest person on the stage so full of testosterone was Carly Fiorina. She came across the strongest on national security and foreign policy. She also met The Donald head on with a twinkle in her eye.

Jeb Bush showed that he was willing to be more wired as he raised his energy level, joking about Trump’s assertion about “low energy”. Bush admitted to marijuana use, had a command of figures and defended his brother.

John Kasich gave a strong performance, touting his record. Kasich was more aggressive than the last debate.

The Chris Christie many remember showed up for the debate, but not with the same brashness that has got him in trouble before.

Dr. Ben Carson acquitted himself so-so. He readily clarified his previous remarks raised in questions and was not afraid to take a stand.

Marco Rubio had a decent night with more speaking time than in Cleveland in August. Rubio made some good points, but was it enough to move the meter?

Rand Paul, with frustration showing in his face and eyes, kept fighting back time after time. Unfortunately, the heir of the Liberty Movement seemed to be reacting more than charging forward.

Ted Cruz played it straight for most of the three hours on stage. Cruz managed to get backing from Fiorina in his position to take a stand over Planned Parenthood funding even if it leads to government shutdown.

The once darling of the Tea Party and the man conservatives thought would be the Great Hope for 2016, Scott Walker, clawed back, but not enough. While Walker made good use of his time, in comparison to the others, he did not break out.

Mike Huckabee sounded intelligent and factual enough, but still had me wondering why he was at the Adult Table.

From the Desert with my feet planted firmly in the Cornfield, all 15 of the Republican wannabes fared much better than they did in Cleveland. But as I said earlier today, it is time to prune the field.

Oh and my winner tonight?

Carly Fiorina

And what did you think?

Real Debate – Real Issues

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield
From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

Unbelievable!

The bottom four wannabes for the Republican presidential nomination came on stage ready to rumble and breakdown issues that mater.

George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal and Lindsey Graham are setting the tone for the main event in a few hours.

Unlike what will probably happen where the “top” tier go after Donald Trump, the bottom four gave voters something to chew down on as the supper hour nears.

While I personally have not agreed with all that these four are saying, these four are doing a great service to the American voter by staying with the issues and contrasting their views on those issues.

Graham’s focus is almost entirely on defeating the Islamic State and terrorism in Iraq and Syria beyond all other issues. But he did join in the cussing about the minimum wage, religious freedom, the tax code and simplification.

Santorum, the social warrior, also came out swinging and talking about the Supreme Court, taxes, terrorism and the Affordable care act. Santorum is not coming across as so one-dimensional as he was in the 2012 race.

Jindal is showing how combative he can be with his pronouncement that Trump is no Republican and thus not subject to Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment to speak no ill of a fellow Republican. Jindal, whose family were immigrants 45 years ago, came out strong on securing the border and then deal with the rest of the issue as well as speaking strongly on taxes and other issues.

Pataki, who was governor of New York when Al Qaeda struck on 9/11, has come alive as a moderate alternative. Pataki is showing how as a Republican he won the governor’s mansion three times in one of the most liberal and Democratic states in the country.

These four gave us a lesson in how a debate for the top job in the nation should be.

Earlier today I noted that it was time for these four to get out of the race since they were not getting any traction. I may have to revise my thinking – not because I think they have a chance – but based on the substance of their appeal and performance in this the Kids Table debate.

Now, if only the “top” tier candidates will actually give us a debate of substance this evening.

We don’t need another dose of “reality show” rhetoric. Time to retire the hit series, To Catch a Candidate.

From the Desert with my feet planted firmly planted in the Cornfield, my hat is off to these four for giving us some meat, some protein, some vitamins, something to digest and cogitate upon.

Oh, who do I think won?

Surprise, surprise – George Pataki with a close second from Graham.

Fall Beckons, Time to Prune

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield
From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

This evening at 6 and 8 (Eastern Time) Republican wannabes will face-off in two separate debates to cuss and discuss the issues.

OK, so issues will be a low priority. Trying to see who can one-up the other will be the real focus with Donald Trump the bulls eye. 

Autumn is around the corner. It is time to start pruning and cutting away the dead wood.

Some may disagree, but from what I see looking through the corn stalks and trying not to get pricked by the cacti, at least half or more of the 15 vying for the GOP presidential nomination need to pack it in.

Those candidates with no forward momentum need to be adult enough to realize a continued push is futile.

Here are the ones, who in my opinion, should “suspend” their campaigns, in no particular order:

Jim Gilmore

George Pataki

Lindsey Graham

Rick Santorum

Bobby Jindal

Rand Paul

Scott Walker

Mike Huckabee

Chris Christie

This would leave to continue the battle:

Donald Trump

Dr. Ben Carson

Jeb Bush

Marco Rubio

Carly Fiorina

Ted Cruz

Whether some of these candidates, which I believe should drop out, have the qualifications, the stamina, the wherewithal to be president is not the question. They may have some great ideas.

But when the voters are ignoring you, why climb on a cross and try to be a martyr?

From the Desert with my feet planted firmly in the Cornfield, for the good of the Republican Party, the process and the voters, prune the bush and allow new life to grow.

And what do you think?

Lest We Forget – 9/11/2001

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield
From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

It seemed to be a quiet, sunny day in the dwindling hours of summer. People going about their business. Children rushed off to school. Flights of pleasure, business and fancy were seemingly soaring the skies peacefully.

Tranquility and a sense of safety were shattered in an instant as a commercial jetliner plowed into the World Trade Center (WTC). What first seemed to be nothing more than a tragic accident was quickly revealed to be more diabolic in nature. The world watched horror-struck as a second jetliner in live airtime was shown deliberately crashing into the second tower of the WTC.

The unthinkable, that which seemed to only be comprehensible in a movie script, lifted from the page of fiction into the horrifying fact of reality. Life changed forever.

9-11-2

I rolled over. Opened my eyes. With blurred vision, I looked at the clock. 10:48 a.m. I sprang out of bed, shaking my head, wondering why I had slept so late.

I grabbed my robe, moving between my loveseats to turn on the television. I made my way back around what I called, “my loveseat”, to make my morning coffee.

Strangely I heard the voices of Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. In disbelief, disconcerted and shocked, I listened and learned about the attack on America.

Nearly spilling the water, I finished making my coffee. I stumbled back to my loveseat to watch and listen to the unfolding events.

I yelled at the troubled young man sleeping on my other loveseat, “Wake up! We’ve been attacked!”

Frightened, not knowing what to do, how to react, what to say, the young man took off on his bike. Running, trying to find comfort, peace and some sense of what was happening.

I stayed glued to the TV.

Not only had two commercial planes been used as guided missiles exploding into the WTC, but another had been fatally directed at the Pentagon. But, this was not the end.

The news revealed a fourth jetliner, its objective still unknown, was deflected from further mass destruction by the heroics of passengers. Passengers, who followed the highest law of Love.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (KJV)

The unthinkable had become a deliberate, thought-out scheme of murder, destruction, mayhem, pain and suffering. What had happened to America’s tranquility and safety? Gone in moments.

What were and are we to do? What could and can our leaders do? What was and is America to do?

Life changed forever.

From the Desert with my feet planted firmly in the Cornfield, we pause, as we do each year, and remember the lives lost, the heroes, the resolve of a nation to not back down, to rise from the ashes and press on for a better day filled with peace, liberty and justice for all.

We will never forget.

We will never crumble.

We will stand tall.

We will cross any valley, climb any mountain, ford any stream and remain forever that shining city on a hill to which the world looks to find light in the darkness of ignorance, fear, intolerance and injustice.

Cruisin’ with Cruz

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield
From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

While Donald Trump is known to be bombastic and throwing jabs at anyone and everyone, the real bruiser in the race to be the Republican presidential nomination is the junior Senator from Texas, Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz.

Cruz has had a reputation as a fighter ever since he was elected to the US Senate. He is credited with the single handled shut down of the government since his tenure began.

Whether Democrat or Republican, Cruz has no problem going for the jugular. He even called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar from the floor of the most prestigious club in the world.

The only area where Cruz seems to be hesitant about calling out or taking a punch is with Trump. This has led to speculation that Cruz is perhaps waiting in the wings to be a running mate to the New York Mouth. Some talking-heads point out that Cruz may be hoping to pickup Trump’s more right-leaning supporters if the front runner stumbles or drops out.

While Cruz is of Cuban-American descent, his position on immigration is in stark contrast to the other Cuban-American in the race, Marco Rubio of Florida. Taking a hard line, Cruz is adamant about the deportation of illegal immigrants and has sided with Trump on the issue.

The Texas firebrand is a stalwart of the Tea Party. He is a staunch fiscal and social conservative. He espouses a belief that compromise is a betrayal of one’s principals – thus he is often seen as obstructionist in moving legislation through the Senate – even when sponsored by Republicans.

There has been controversy surrounding the eligibility of Cruz to run for president since he was born in Canada. As a result he renounced his dual citizenship. Most, however, believe that Cruz is eligible since he was born to an American mother and a naturalized father while in Canada.

Currently Cruz is running in 4th place in the national composite with 7%. That is nearly 20 points behind front runner Trump. In the key state of Iowa, Cruz stands at 3rd place with 7%  still far beyond The Donald.

On Cruz’s website (tedcruz.org), you won’t find a link called, “issues” or “policies” or “goals”. What he does share is his “proven record”. 

What we know is what positions he has taken since his election to Washington and speeches he has given. This produces the following:

We know that Cruz is against all tax hikes and wants taxes cut.

We know Cruz is for complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

We know Cruz is against ever raising the national debt limit.

We know Cruz is not accepting of the Supreme Court ruling on equality for all long-term couples.

We know Cruz is a tank in defense of the Second Amendment.

We know Cruz wants a wall, a fence, troops on the border, anything to stop illegals from crossing.

We know Cruz is against allowing the 11 million in the country illegally to stay.

We know Cruz is pro-life and anti-abortion for any and all reasons.

We know Cruz accepts only one position on any issue – his own.

What we do not know is exactly what Cruz will do on anything should he become president other than undoing everything he opposes.

From the Desert with my feet firmly planted in the Cornfield, while Cruz cruises along waiting for the misstep that will push Trump out of contention, we are left with little of substance to judge whether he should be the pick of GOP voters.