Obama’s Russian Delegation in the Middle East

Obama’s Russian Delegation in the Middle East

For more than forty years, the one constant in U.S. foreign policy had been the absolute resolve to prevent Soviet/Russian hegemony in the Middle East- a resolve that transcended both party and ideology. From the mid-1970s on, U. S. presidents were united in the construct that Soviet/Russian influence in that troubled region be minimized, if not proscribed, by an activist U.S. sphere of influence in that troubled region…

…and then, Obama happened….

Whether or not one agrees with the wisdom of U.S. intervention in Iraq during the administration of George W. Bush, it is a matter of fact that a), weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)- some 5,000 of them, according to a New York times article in April of 2013, were indeed present in Iraq under the regime of Saddam Hussein at the time the United States sent ground forces into Iraq; and b), following the 2007 surge of forces under General David Petraeus, on orders from President Bush, the war in Iraq was most definitely won and Iraq was, at long last, stabilized…

…and then, Obama happened…

Running for president in 2008, Barack Obama’s opposition to the war in Iraq was patently clear during his campaign for the presidency and, immediately following his election that November, he a), promised to “fundamentally transform the United States of America”; and b), went on a world tour to apologize for America’s transgressions, including our Iraqi intervention, and tell the world that the United States was no better than any other nation- for which he was dubiously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. When he was inaugurated in January 2009, he reiterated his “apology tour” speeches, announced his intentions to withdraw from Iraq as quickly as possible, and close the U.S. detention facility located at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the “worst of the worst” terrorists were being held as de-facto prisoners of war- a war on terror that began on September 12, 2001, following the attacks which took place, the day before…

…and then, Obama happened…

Against strong advice to the contrary, from a wide array of expertise in both political parties, Obama began the systematic dismantling of U.S. presence in the Middle East, with a premature withdrawal of troops from Iraq- troops that would have provided the much-needed stability in Iraq, following the war, at a precious moment in time where such a presence- much like the post war presence in Germany and Japan following World War II, and South Korea, following the Korean War- would have provided the security and conduit necessary to establish a stabilized government and U.S. ally in the Middle East, just as we had done in Europe and Asia.

In doing so, it was Barack Obama who created a vacuum of power in Iraq, which summarily led to the rise of ISIS/ISIL , enabled the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to wage genocide on his own people by Obama’s drawing a facetious “line-in-the-sand” about the use of chemical weapons against them, and summarily allowed the continued atrocities being levied against Christians and non-compliant Muslims, by not even being willing to identify the culprit as “radical Islam”. His thorough disengagement from all presence in the region, not even providing requested weaponry and assistance to the one ally fighting against ISIS/ISIL- Jordan and, along with the unequivocal farce of his ”deal with Iran”, reveals his absolute intent to allow radical Islam, which words he dares not say, take over an entire region.

Perhaps even worse, Barack Obama has allowed and abided the entry of Russian military forces into Syria by creating a void which Russian President Vladimir Putin was oh-so-happy and willing to fill. Today, it has been announced that Putin has ordered, ORDERED the United States to cease and desist from the very limited and targeted air strikes which have occasionally been taking place, in lieu of meaningful military action which could, if utilized without hand-wringing by the Obama administration, otherwise destroy both ISIS and the Assad regime.

In other words, while Barack Obama has absolutely no intention to oppose Russian aggression in the Ukraine, he is willing to allow Russian hegemony, and thereby delegated to Vladimir Putin the authority to lord over an entire region in the Middle East, where all of his predecessors had committed themselves to preventing such a thing from happening, in the first place.

When the day arrives in which an emboldened and resurgent Russia has the wherewithal to order the United States to “cease and desist” from doing anything at all, that day marks the beginning of the end for the United States as a world superpower, and the void which is then filled by a not-so-benevolent and oh-so-calculating Russian federation will no doubt usher in a scenario ending in the next world war…

…yes, Obama happened…

-Drew Nickell, 30 September 2015

©2015 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved

Speaker Boehner Resigns- The Tragedy of Strategy

Speaker Boehner Resigns- The Tragedy of Strategy

Amidst all of the many news items flashing across headlines at the end of last week, including the “Pope’s Visit”, “Obama Meets with Chinese Leader”, “Obama to Meet with Putin”, “Official e-mails Recovered on Hillary’s ‘Wiped’ Server”, one sent a shock-wave throughout Washington, like none other- “Boehner Steps Down from Speakership, to Leave Congress October 30th”.

Setting aside the irony that the 30th of October happens to coincide with our fifty-seventh birthday, it was indeed a surprise that House Speaker, John Boehner (R-OH) proffered his resignation, the day after the Ohio congressman was seen repeatedly dabbing his tear-filled eyes during and following Pope Francis’s address to Congress, the day before. Whether or not one of these had to do with the other is something that will never be known, so we’ll set aside any hypothesis that the two are related, as doing so would be nothing more than gross speculation.

More relevant to the Speaker’s resignation was the Henrico County, Virginia electorate’s ouster of his former Majority Leader, Eric Cantor (R-VA) in June of 2014, when a relatively unknown conservative Republican, and Tea Party favorite named Dave Brat, mounted an old-fashioned, door-to-door campaign and wrested his party’s nomination from a man who, at the time, was the second most powerful Republican in Congress. Eric Cantor- the epitome of the go-along-with, get-along-with oh-so-moderate Republicans in the Congress and Senate, was so confident in his incumbency that he forgot to campaign for, and thereby defend, his seat.

By pursuing a strategy of “let’s not risk our power in Congress by confronting the Democrats and Obama” the loss of his seat was the warning shot across the bow of mainstream, establishment Republicans that they should start listening to their broad base of support- conservative Republicans who elected them into office. Yet, by and large they didn’t listen.

Fast-forward to the mid-term elections later that year. Then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with House Speaker John Boehner (who had, himself, become Speaker in the mid-term Election of 2010 when the GOP won a House majority overthrowing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the Democrats), went out and told the country “Give us a majority in the Senate, increase our power in the House, and we’ll defund ObamaCare, and put the brakes on his executive overreach”. The electorate responded, in kind, drastically increasing the GOP caucus in the House, overturning nine seats in the Senate, ousting its erstwhile Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and delivered to the GOP leadership exactly what they asked for- a mid-term election of historic proportions, with the largest shift of power on Capitol Hill since the mid-1920s.

For all of their efforts, the Republican voters were awarded with… (drum roll please) … absolutely nothing. The Republican leadership did an about-face and returned to their “go-along-with, get-along-with mainstream, establishment oh-so-moderate strategy” of “let’s not risk our majority’s standing by doing nothing, instead”, as if to say, “Screw our Republican base- they’ll vote for us anyway…let’s not make any waves and, by doing so, we’ll consolidate our power”.

So afraid was the GOP leadership in the House and the Senate, that they wouldn’t even risk the political fallout of a threatened government shutdown, on defunding/replacing the wildly unpopular Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) when they had an absolutely magnificent opportunity to do so, and now are doing the same with regards to the disaster that is the Iran Deal, and continued funding of Planned Parenthood in the wake of the baby-part-for-sale videos, both of which find vast opposition across the electorate by wide margins.

Often saying, “We don’t have enough votes to override the president’s veto…”, they instead surrender power to the president and the minority Democrats in both houses, without waging any discernible opposition in the first place- essentially giving up the fight before the bout.

Wonder why the leading Republican Candidates seeking the nomination are non-politicians, and why thy leading politicians under them in the race for the GOP nod are the most conservative? Recent polls have shown that almost two-thirds of Republican voters (62%) “feel betrayed” by the GOP leadership in Washington.

Simply stated, the “go-along-with, get-along-with mainstream, establishment Republican Party” has gone the way of the dinosaur, which is why the Jeb Bushes, the Lindsay Grahams, and the John Kasichs of the world, will not get the nomination of Republicans who have grown weary of being taken for granted by these Democrat “wannabes” and demand instead, a truly conservative Republican Party as a true alternative to the increasingly-socialist Democrat Party. Having been burned five times by moderate Republicans, who went down to defeat in prior elections (Ford ’76, Bush-the-elder ’92, Dole ’96, McCain ’08, Romney ’12), and barely squeaking by with a moderate/semi-conservative George W Bush twice (‘00 & ‘04), they have since awakened and are thus demanding that a true conservative, along the lines of a Ronald Reagan, be nominated, instead. If that doesn’t work, they will settle on any Republican who is willing to call out Obama for what he is, Hillary for what she is, and the Democrats for what they are, because they are absolutely fed up with the oh-so-deferring and gentlemanly-chivalrous Republicans, who have about as much fight in them as a wet dishrag.

One would think that the departure of Boehner and the demands for replacing the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would serve as a much-needed wake-up call to the rest of the GOP caucus to either “put up or shut up” , by actually opposing through action, legislation that would finally put Obama and the Democrats on the defensive, for once. Yet, leave it to a “blue-lipped wonder” like Mitch McConnell, to stand by his principles and ignore the increasingly-obvious handwriting on the wall that states, quite plainly, “The analysis of paralysis is nothing more than a strategy of tragedy, and by sticking to it, you will give ALL of the power back to the party you pretend to oppose, while the country will suffer, as a result of you own impotence…”

It’s the obvious that is most often difficult to grasp, when one cannot envision a forest for the sake of all of the trees, instead.

-Drew Nickell, 28 September 2015

©2015 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved

The Perils of Playing Papal Politics

The Perils of Playing Papal Politics

This week is absolutely abuzz with the visit of Pope Francis to the United States. Pope Francis, the first Catholic prelate from the Western Hemisphere and, for that matter, the first non-European to ever ascend to the throne of Saint Peter, is enjoying a tour-de-force in his first visit to the United States, with stops in Washington, Philadelphia and New York, and making his presence well known in the halls of power. His stops will have included visits to the White House, meetings with the President, addressing a joint session of Congress, addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations- all in addition to his many pastoral activities, including celebrating Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where he has canonized Father Junpero Serra into the sainthood of the Catholic Church- the first time any saint has been canonized by a pope while in the Western Hemisphere…history thus made on a profound scale.

His visit to the United States followed his visit to Cuba and its former dictator, Fidel Castro. Reportedly, the pope had a hand in brokering a deal between his ruling brother, Raul Castro, and Barack Obama where full diplomatic relations have been restored, following fifty-six years of what had become stalemated estrangement between the two countries.

The Catholic Church teaches that, on matters of faith and morals, the Pope is infallible- essentially granting his office absolute and unequivocal authority in matters of Catholic doctrine, based upon his predecessor, Saint Peter, being given this authority by Jesus Christ, himself.

This authority, however, does not extend to temporal matters- not in the least. On matters pertaining outside the Church, the Holy See is nothing more than a head of state (the Vatican), and as such, one world leader amongst several. It is in this realm, that his visit to the United States transcends the ecclesiastical and thereby enters into the tempestuous world of politics, where his authority does not present itself- not in any way shape or form.

When the world politic begins to mingle with the world religious and vice-versa, trouble can, and often does rear its ugly head. In the case of the pope’s visit here, both he and political leaders have regrettably wandered into the perils of playing papal politics, where anything said by the pope becomes co-opted by politicians with far more earthly and clandestine agendas. How ironic it is that many politicians on the left, including the president, will attempt use his statements about an array of issues ranging from climate change and open borders to wealth re-distribution and capital punishment, all to advance their own political narratives, while fully-well ignoring his stances on abortion and same-sex marriage. That’s called selective endorsement of papal positioning or, if you will, opportunistic grandstanding, for which they should be ashamed of themselves.

With all due respect to His Holiness, he himself treads these same treacherous waters, when he inserts himself into domestic political discourse and into US foreign policy, as he has evidently done so on several occasions. It is one thing for the Vicar of Christ to spread the good news of the Gospels to all corners of the watching world, but it is quite another to use his offices to declare what is politically moral, and what is not politically moral, as when he said “people who manufacture or invest in weapons cannot call themselves Christians” and, in so doing, essentially seeks to ex-communicate those who happen to make or own guns. Such proselytizing is not consistent with his offices, and it is for this reason that what should otherwise be a celebration of his visit to our country is now sullied in the licentious world of political debate. The same can be said of his apparent displeasure with capitalism, despite the undeniable reality that free-market capitalism has done more- far more, than any other system, to alleviate poverty and lift up millions from want.

Having said this, Pope Francis, himself fully admits that he has not read nor watched the news in more than thirty years, except for a brief daily scan of a Roman newspaper, which means essentially that His Holiness is out of touch with contemporary and worldly politics. With deep and abiding respect for his office, he would do quite well to remain outside this arena when it comes to saying what is and is not correct, for it is neither his purview nor his profession to do otherwise.

That aside, may God bless His Holiness, Pope Francis, and keep him safe in his travels, always.

-Drew Nickell, 24 September 2015

©2015 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved

 

 

The “Gotcha” Game- How the Media Controls Elections

The “Gotcha” Game- How the Media Controls Elections

Question- How do you know when a Republican Candidate has a reasonable chance of winning an election?

Answer- It’s simple…when the media starts asking the Republican Candidate “gotcha’” questions…

Regrettably, no media outlet- print or broadcast, is above playing the “Gotcha” Game, not even the supposedly-conservative Fox News Network. Going back to the early days of television, and the even earlier days of print journalism, the fourth estate swims in its own sweet sauce of bringing down candidates with whom they politically and philosophically disagree. It has gotten worse, much worse, since the election of Ronald Reagan- and with every election since, the inherent bias in the media has become more and more egregious.

It works like this… Candidate X declares his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the presidency. Based upon the candidate’s timing of the announcement, the candidate has a twenty-four hour window of intense media attention, which the candidate admittedly craves and seeks to milk to the fullest extent that he/she can. Then, one of two things happens:

If the candidate is relatively unknown, or does not engender much of a bounce in the polls, the candidate is largely ignored or, at best marginalized to the extent that he/she gets no attention unless he/she says something outrageous.

(or)

If the candidate is relatively well known, or engenders a substantial bounce in the polls, the media swarms around the candidate, pounces on him/her and starts laying interrogative land mines which, if stepped on, begin to destroy the efficacy of his/her campaign.

The process of candidate destruction is very effective and can make or break a candidate, long before balloting even begins.

Take for instance the very first question during the main event of the Fox News debate in Cleveland. Brett Baier’s question was so obviously pointed at Donald Trump, it was obvious that Fox News was participating in the “Gotcha” Game. Megyn Kelly confirmed this over-the-top bias, when she asked Trump about disparaging comments he had previously made about Rosie O’Donnell- which has about as much to do with prescient issues as the color of the tie he was wearing at the time. Fox News, often accused of being conservative, showed its true colors by deciding before-hand which candidates are acceptable to them, and which are not. Obviously, Fox News does not like the idea of a Trump nomination.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the second debate, hosted by CNN at the Reagan Library, was even more egregious…egregious against Trump, as fully eighteen minutes was devoted to shooting him with all types of interrogative poisoned darts by the CNN moderator, and egregious against the entire GOP field, spending much of the balance of time indirectly attacking him, or pitting one candidate against another, in an effort to make the entire group of candidates look like an eleven-member troupe performing a verbal version of a pie-throwing, slapstick farce. Admittedly, it’s no surprise that CNN would show its all-too-obvious bias against the Republican Party, as they would NEVER do such a thing in a Democrat debate.

Notice also, in both of these televised events, the grossly inordinate amount of time spent on some candidates as opposed to the other, comparatively-marginalized contestants, who barely registered themselves due to the lack of opportunity to speak at all- cases in point Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and, to a lesser extent, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Chris Christie. All of these candidates were afforded only a fraction of time that was allotted to Trump, Jeb Bush and, in the second debate on CNN, Carly Fiorina.

This media manipulation is not limited to the televised debates- not by a long-shot. Take for instance the question posed by Chris Todd to Ben Carson, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on September 20th. He asked Dr. Carson about whether or not he would support the presidential candidacy of a Muslim. This question, completely irrelevant to this campaign for its complete lack of a Muslim candidate, was an obvious attempt by Todd and his network, to create a controversy that does not exist, and take down the candidacy of an increasingly-popular candidate with whom they object, as if to say “How dare an African American run for office as a Republican?” Does anyone imagine that Hillary Clinton would ever be asked such a question? Now that Carly Fiorina’s popularity is surging, following her stellar performance in the CNN debate, they will no doubt do the same to her, all for having the temerity of being a woman seeking the Republican nomination- a Republican Party who supposedly hates women.

The message is quite clear: substantially rise in popularity, and show some promise as to the possibility of becoming the next president, and the media will absolutely destroy any chance of one’s survival. The reason that they don’t attack Jeb Bush is because he is the candidate who the media has ordained as acceptable, largely because of the perception, warranted or otherwise, that the country will not elect a third Bush to the Oval office.

The media has largely ignored Scott Walker. Couple this with his lackluster performance in both events, and the resultant drop in funding, led to his decision this week to suspend his campaign. Walker effectively took on the unions in Wisconsin, survived two recall elections, and was an early-on and odds-on favorite to be a front-runner. At both debates, and on the campaign trail, it was obvious that Walker was given about as much attention as an unoccupied bellboy at a five-star hotel. One down, others to go…

Essentially, the mainstream media WANTS either Donald Trump or Jeb Bush to be the eventual nominee, and there is precious little that any other candidate can do to change this paradigm. They want Trump, because of the delicious possibility that he will commit an over-the-top faux pas, and thus guarantee the election of a Democrat. They want Jeb Bush because of the perception that another Bush is one-too-many. For Fiorina and Carson, the media will no doubt besiege them in an obvious attempt to drive these two “outsiders” out of the mix. Promising conservatives, like Rubio and Cruz, will have to scratch tooth-and-nail to get any attention at all, because they have the chutzpah to offer substantive conservative ideas that fly in the face of Democrat dogma. This dogma, which purportedly advances the idea of a supposed correlation of intelligence and the degree of liberalism so espoused, explains why Ronald Reagan was and is portrayed as “an amiable dunce”, despite the fact that it was Reagan who stood down the Soviet Union, and why Barack Obama was and is portrayed as a political version of “the second coming”, while it is Obama who caved in to Iran- the worst deal ever struck by a US president.

In summary, when journalism, either in print or over-the-air, sheds the vaunted veneer of objectivity, and takes on the trappings of over-the-top advocacy, representative government is then perverted to the point of polemic pointlessness, and the potential then arises that such a form of government shall sadly be sacrificed to the effete egos of sanctimonious media malcontents.

-Drew Nickell, 22 September 2015

© 2015 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved

Trump Card- The Free-For-All at the Second GOP Debate

Trump Card- The Free-For-All at the Second GOP Debate

In our youth, we played a version of football that we called “Smear the Queer” which, in other areas of the country, was called “Get the Goat”, “Maul the Man”, or other such monikers. The football was thrown high in the air and whoever caught it became the target of everyone else, who would jump on the ball carrier until he coughed it up, and then the next kid with the ball became the target, etc., etc., etc. Essentially, it was a kid’s game which melded football with a juvenile version of a “Free for All”…

Last night, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, CNN hosted the political equivalent of our childhood game with a twist- the “ball” didn’t change hands, for the most part, and everyone- including the moderators piled on Donald Trump. This was by design. Almost half of the questions, in both the preliminary and main events, were aimed at “the Donald”, whether directly or indirectly. When the moderators were not targeting Trump, per se, they were setting the candidates against one another and even then, many of these match-ups eventually became focused on the GOP front-runner. To the shame of CNN, not a single question asked any of the candidates what they would do differently than Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, nor any of the Democrats- none.

As for “the Donald” himself, he did a plausible job in fending off the attacks, such as they were. As was suspected, he appeared to have come into the debate unprepared to delve into the specifics of how he intends to tackle the larger issues confronting the country, and instead put forth broad generalities and thematic grandiosities, along the familiar and off-stated lines of his campaign…essentially sizzle without much substance. It is uncertain as to whether or not his performance will matter much- especially to his loyal following. Our guess is, however, that last night’s debate performance will do little to add to this following.

As was the case in the first GOP debate last month, it was Carly Fiorina who prevailed with the best overall performance during the evening’s two-heat debate. She only made one tiny mistake (and this is a stretch) the entire night when she failed to say her name during the initial introductions- the only candidate to do so. After that, when she spoke, she was absolutely on fire. Whether it was responding to Trump’s comments in a previous interview concerning her looks, assessing her own record of accomplishments in the private sector, outlining specifics on how best to handle threats from overseas and specifics as to how she intends to build up military and naval forces, and how she views the Iran deal and organ harvesting at Planned Parenthood, she was direct, pointed and thoroughly substantive in her responses. In a word, she seemed more than anyone else, “ready” to assume the presidency right then and there and handle the job with much aplomb and self-confidence. As a result, look for Carly to substantially rise in the polling prior to next month’s third GOP debate.

Marco Rubio, for his own part, turned in a fine performance revealing the depth of his understanding- particularly in the areas of foreign policy and national security- of the issues at hand. He came across as a serious, focused and vigorous candidate, and his smooth delivery reminded us of the man whose plane they all stood in front of at the Reagan Library. His numbers, too, may rise as a result.

Jeb Bush, who came into the debate a half dozen yawns from being obliterated by Trump, turned in a solid performance- tactfully taking on “the Donald” and showing that he does, indeed, have some degree of fire in his belly to assert himself and show a not-so-programmed persona as he had previously shown in the first debate. While he nobly took up for his wife concerning the comments Trump had previously made as to how being married to a Latino affected his view of immigration policy, Bush’s call for a face-to-face apology came across as shrill and school-boyish. He did, however,  a fine job defending Trump’s attacks against his brother, reminding everyone that George Bush managed to keep us safe in the seven years that followed the attacks on 9-11.

Chris Christie also turned in a strong performance and, at one point, took over managing the debate where CNN so egregiously failed, when he chided Trump and Fiorina about their mini-spat on who had accomplished more (or less) in the business world, instead of focusing on the plight of America’s middle class, reminding them that the television audience doesn’t care about their respective resumes.

Going into the debate, Ben Carson was riding a surge of popularity and while his performance last night was satisfactory, it was less than inspired and may well mark the apex of his candidacy. His charm and easy demeanor remained intact, but the less-than-substantive policy positions seemed as hollow as those of Trump.

Where they were able to get a word in edgewise, the remaining candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, Rand Paul and Scott Walker did well enough not to commit any faux pas and, of this group, it was Walker who showed the most and much-needed improvement, while Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee offered the best content amongst these five candidates. Sadly, their numbers probably won’t move much- likely due to lack of attention on the part of the media more than anything else. Interestingly, the otherwise very likable John Kasich reminded us of Ed Sullivan in his seemingly-spastic physical gyrations and tics, something his debate coaches need to work on, if fixing these are even possible.

Insofar as the initial round, featuring Lindsay Graham, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki and Rick Santorum, was concerned, two things stood out. First, none of these candidates has a snowball’s chance in the tropics of becoming the eventual nominee. Second, while fewer contestants have a greater opportunity to engage one another, as was the case last night, it does not necessarily mean that such engagement lifts the chances of those so engaged. Our guess is that these four will have effectively ended their campaigns by year’s end.

Given the usual liberal bias that is recognized to be a part of CNN, the moderators did better than expected in their questioning but, the modus operandi of trying to pit candidates against each other and against Donald Trump, in particular, makes us wonder if they would do the same were they moderating a Democratic debate, instead.

One thing did come to mind as we watched both rounds. Given the “free-for-all” nature of this debate, and the mismanagement on the part of the moderators to control its delivery, there isn’t a single one of them who would be a worse president than any of the candidates running for the Democrat nomination- and that bespeaks of the seemingly certain fact that it is the Republicans’ election to lose in 2016, rather than the Democrats’ one to win.

-Drew Nickell, 17 September 2015

© 2015 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved

The Trump Card- A Preview of the Second GOP Debate

The Trump Card- A Preview of the Second GOP Debate

On Wednesday evening, September 16th, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, CNN will be hosting the second GOP Presidential Debate. Participating in the main event will be, alphabetically, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker. The night’s opener will consist of the rest of the remaining field- Lindsay Graham, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki and Rick Santorum, as Jim Gilmore failed to qualify for the preliminary round, and Rick Perry dropped from the race, early last week.

Carly Fiorina’s stellar performance in the last debate’s opener, led to her anticipated advancement to the varsity round. Barring any surprise in Wednesday’s preliminary round, or an unexpected and utter collapse by one of the candidates in the night’s main event, those participating in the first round are not likely to follow Fiorina’s footsteps to the upper level. By the time October’s third debate rolls around, a shortfall of campaign funding will have likely winnowed the entire field by a couple more candidates, at least, and our guess is that only ten candidates will remain in the GOP field by year’s end.

Looming large in the main event will be the following:

Donald Trump- Now that “the Donald” has signed the pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee, and thereby forego an independent run should he not win the eventual GOP nod, will he show more or less bravado in his performance, or will he (excuse the analogy) “step in it”, so to speak, and reverse his rise in the polls? More to the point, will any of the aforementioned contingencies matter?

Jeb Bush- Given the degree to which his poll numbers are shrinking, the former Florida Governor is just about a half dozen yawns from being obliterated by the flashy front-runner. Will Bush risk credibility and become more feisty towards Trump, or will he come across as the policy wonk and take on further attributes of a wannabe who, in the final analysis, never was, despite being the early-odds favorite of the political class?

Carly Fiorina- Will the lone lady in a crowded field continue to impress with her steady and cerebral candor, and enable her poll numbers to rival that of Dr. Carson? Will she now go for broke and take on “the Donald” before a nationally televised audience?

Ben Carson- Will he continue to be the suave and debonair gentleman in the room, by charming viewers with his calming and measured demeanor, or will he cast off his courtly manner, and thereby provoke “the Donald” into a faux pas of consequential proportions?

Then, again, there’s this- or, alternatively speaking, the others in the mix. Will Chris Christie have another dust up with Rand Paul, as they did in the last debate, and will one knock the other off of the top tier? Will Cruz, Huckabee, Kasich, or Rubio turn in a much-needed strong debate performance to substantively change their standing in the polls, and will they be afforded the opportunity to do so, by the CNN panel of questioners? Will Scott Walker resuscitate his campaign from what seemingly seems to be his journey into the land of irrelevance?

Lastly, will there be anywhere near as large an audience watching this debate, as there was in the last debate. Here is a prediction- the larger the audience, the more consequential the effect on the respective candidacies, for better or for worse… Regardless, another deck of cards is about to be dealt, and we’ll see if a whole new…ahem…TRUMP card will be played…

-Drew Nickell, 14 September 2015

© 2015 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved

9-11, Fourteen Years Later

9-11, Fourteen Years Later

Once upon a time, when the world was young (and so were we), we naively believed that, by and large, we were safe from the ills that plague the Middle East. We told ourselves, “Yeah, it’s pretty screwed up over there, but we are here, thank God, and all of that bad stuff is all over there…so why worry?”…

…Then a jet airliner flew right into one of the twin towers at New York’s World Trade Center…

Our immediate reaction was, “That must be one screwed up pilot…How could he possibly have not seen that building on such a clear day?”…

…Then, a second jet airliner flew right into the other tower at New York’s World Trade Center…

…and then, we knew that these collisions were no accident…

…Then, a third jet airliner flew into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a fourth plane, bound for the United States Capitol dome, crashed into the fields of rural Pennsylvania…

…and then, we knew that we were at war…

For an all-too-brief while, our country- the United States of America, which had a long-standing tradition of uniting during times of war, pulled together and resolved to do whatever it took, in order to stop the sinister ideology that prompted such dastardly deeds. For a brief moment, we forgot our ideologies, we forgot our partisan affiliations, we forgot our creeds, and our races, and all of our identity groups, and everything else that seeks to separate us, and we united behind the effort to get the sons of bitches who did this to us…

But then, partisan politics and advocacy journalism, on the part of the mainstream media, began creeping in and thus dividing us into partisan blocs, pitting liberals against conservatives, pitting Democrats against Republicans, pitting the poor and middle classes against the rich, pitting blacks against whites, non-believers against believers, gays against straights, etc., etc., ad nauseam…until we were united no more…

Seven autumns later, these divisions- with complicit help from a mainstream media, bound and determined to do whatever it took to make history by ensuring the election of the nation’s first black president- saw the election of a very different kind of president- a president who did not believe in American exceptionalism, a president who seemed to be above such childish notions of patriotism and “the American Way”, a president who derided Americans who “cling to their guns and religion”, a president who, in reality, had nothing but contempt for Americans and all that America has done, over the many decades, to preserve equality and freedom throughout the world. This new kind of president traveled the world, apologizing for all of his country’s transgressions and telling all of the world that we are no better than they, and for this they awarded him a Nobel Prize for Peace- for having done nothing more than being elected and disrespecting his own country…

This new kind of president- one whose psychological makeup and ideology is vastly different from all of his forty-three predecessors, did everything he possibly could to tear down this country, to further divide this country, to set Americans against Americans, thus fulfilling his 2008 election night promise to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” by changing us from a country leading the world towards a better tomorrow, to a country “leading from behind” in a concerted, determined effort to enable all of the world’s many problems to visit our shores and infect our national psyche. Due to this one man, and his nefarious agenda, race relations are worse today than they have been in sixty years. Due to this one man, we are far less safe today than we were, even on the sunny morning of September 11, 2001. Due to this one man, and an imbecilic Secretary of State, he  has struck a deal (a deal whose details have not been fully disclosed) with the most evil regime on earth, Iran- one that will assure their acquisition of nuclear weapons and inter-continental ballistic missiles with which to deliver these weapons on the shores of a nation they call “the Great Satan”, the United States of America. This one man, who would have us believe that unsubstantiated claims of man-made climate change pose a greater threat to our national security, than radical Islam, illegal immigration, and a nuclear Iran, combined

What have we, as a nation, learned since that sunny Tuesday morning, fourteen years ago?…

Apparently? …not a damned thing…

-Drew Nickell, 11 September 2015

©2015 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved.