The Team GOP Conundrum: “Trumping” the Immigration Issue

It’s time to Break It Down!

A funny thing happened as the GOP race for the Presidency got out of the gate. A candidate whom many were not convinced would even run, and whom others figured would bow out quickly, if he did run, and whom others still, presumed would be minimized, if not nullified, by the time the campaign began in earnest, is in fact, leading the race. The Donald, who boldly and frequently proclaims the American Dream is dead, and only he can bring back sexy…I mean the American Dream, has all but made a mockery out of the race to determine the Republican nominee for the White House, in the early going.

He leads his nearest opponent by a nearly 2:1 margin in most polls, more in some. Mr. Trump appears to be single-handedly redefining the playbook for GOPolithink. It was not that long ago, the collective wisdom of the Grand Old Party was, “that Barack Obama guy took us to the woodshed twice by dominating the Hispanic vote. In 2008, Senator Obama garnered 62% of the Hispanic vote. In 2012, the President’s number rose to 71%.

After the November 2012 Presidential Election, the GOP Mantra was, we are going to plan and execute a brand new policy initiative expressly for 2016. We’ll show ‘em.”

Wow, did they ever! On the evening of June 16, 2015, Mr. Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States in the 2016 election at the Trump Tower in New York City with the slogan “Make America Great Again.

Part of his formula for making America Great Again included plans to complete the Mexican border fence, or wall, as he calls it, and make Mexico pay for it. But he did not stop there. He went on to say:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with [them]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

In the immediate aftermath of the Trump announcement, a number of entities severed ties with the mogul candidate. Several businesses and organizations – including NBC, Macy’s, Univision, and NASCAR (along with sponsor Camping World) – cut ties with Trump over his comments. The response among his fellow GOP candidates was mixed. Two of them, Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, and former Texas Governor, Rick Perry, quickly squared off against Trump and his stinging remarks. Interestingly, for all practical purposes, they both dropped off the political radar.  A number of other candidates opted to invoke a “see no evil, hear no evil posture.”

Trump, alternately, zoomed to the top of the polls, and has held a commanding lead for the first two months of the campaign. Of course, we are talking about Donald Trump; so naturally, he was not through with the issue. In fact, he has since doubled and tripled, perhaps even quadrupled down on the idea. He has promised to build the biggest most sophisticated and effective wall imaginable. He has referenced the Great Wall of China as just one example of what’s possible. What a novel and potentially historic idea.  I kid!

Most of us know there are 17 candidates that the media and GOP Polling sites consider serious. However, there are more than twice that many declared candidates for the GOP Ticket. Since you have almost surely not seen the list, and will likely never see it again, I thought it would be instructional to share it here. So, for your edification only, here it is. First there is the list, in polling order, based on the first debate. This is the list with which most of us are familiar. The first 10 made it to the Prime Time Main Stage:

  • Donald Trump, 23.2 percent
  • Jeb Bush, 12.8
  • Scott Walker, 10.6
  • Ben Carson, 6.6
  • Mike Huckabee, 6.6
  • Ted Cruz, 6.2
  • Marco Rubio, 5.2
  • Rand Paul, 4.8
  • Chris Christie, 3.4
  • John Kasich,8

The second group includes the 7 candidates who appeared in the Matinee edition of the GOP Debate:

  • Rick Perry, 2.0
  • Rick Santorum, 1.4
  • Bobby Jindal, 1.2
  • Carly Fiorina, 1.0
  • Lindsey Graham, 0.4
  • George Pataki, N/A
  • Jim Gilmore, N/A

And then you have the list of declared candidates in its entirety, in Alpha Order:

 •  Skip Andrews  ◄ DECLARED
 •  George Bailey  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Michael Bickelmeyer  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Kerry Bowers  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Jeb Bush (2)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Dr. Ben Carson (4)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Eric Cavanagh  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Dale Christensen  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Chris Christie (9)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Ted Cruz (6)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Brooks Cullison  ◄ DECLARED
 •  John Dummett, Jr.  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Bob Ehrlich
 •  Mark Everson  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Jack Fellure  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Carly Fiorina (14)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Jim Gilmore (17)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Lindsey Graham (15)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Jim Hayden  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Chris Hill  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Mike Huckabee (5)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Bobby Jindal (13)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  John Kasich (10)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Bartholomew James Lower  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Andy Martin  ◄ DECLARED
 •  James C. Mitchell, Jr.  ◄ DECLARED
 •  K. Ross Newland  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Esteban Oliverez  ◄ DECLARED
 •  George Pataki (16)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Rand Paul (8)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Rick Perry (11)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Michael Petyo  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Marco Rubio (7)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Brian Russell  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Rick Santorum (12)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Jefferson Sherman  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Shawna Sterling  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Donald Trump (1)*  ◄ DECLARED
 •  Scott Walker (3)*  ◄ DECLARED

As a frontrunner, one thing about Trump no one can say is, that he has been forced to tone it down, or play it timidly. In fact, some of his best stuff has almost surely not even been uttered yet. However, one of the most recent “get the eff outta here ideas he has released so far, came up just few days ago when he suggested that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is actually “illegal.” Newsflash; the Constitution is illegal! This comes from the frontrunner of the Party that feigns irreducible fealty to the Constitution. For a point of reference, just think Second Amendment and gun rights. Say what?

In addressing the matter with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, Mr. Trump said that the 14th Amendment – which guarantees citizenship to all people “born or naturalized in the United States,” including children whose parents came to the country illegally is unconstitutional.

“It’s not going to hold up in court.”

The key language, found in the first section of the 14th Amendment is as follows:

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

A central element of this section is the Citizenship Clause, which overruled the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision that black people were not citizens and could not become citizens, nor enjoy the benefits of citizenship. Some members of Congress voted for the Fourteenth Amendment in order to eliminate doubts about the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, or to ensure that no subsequent Congress could later repeal or alter the main provisions of that Act. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 had granted citizenship to all persons born in the United States if they were not subject to a foreign power, and this clause of the Fourteenth Amendment constitutionalized this rule.

So, suddenly, Donald John Trump, turned Constitutional scholar, has declared an Amendment, adopted July 9, 1868, invalid. One more element of this facet of the conversation is the use of the term Anchor Baby. The term is a pejorative description for a child born to an illegal immigrant mother to the United States.

There is a popular misconception that the child’s U.S. citizenship status (acquired by jus soli) legally helps the child’s parents and siblings to quickly reclassify their visa status (or lack thereof) and to place them on a fast pathway to acquire lawful permanent residence and eventually United States citizenship. Current U.S. federal law prevents anyone under the age of 21 from being able to petition for their non-citizen parent to be lawfully admitted into the United States for permanent residence. At best, the child’s family would need to wait for 21 years before being able to use their child’s US citizenship to modify their immigration status

The term is generally used as a derogatory reference to the supposed role of the child, who automatically qualifies as an American citizen and can later act as a sponsor for other family members. The term is also often used in the context of the debate over illegal immigration to the United States to refer to children of illegal immigrants, but may be used for the child of any immigrant.

The pyrotechnics over the use of the term has spilled over into the jousting between Jeb Bush and Trump. According to Mr. Trump, Mr. Bush has issued a memo dictating that the term should not be used.  However, when he (Trump) used it, and surged even more in the polls, Mr. Bush quickly pivoted, and employed the term.  Moreover, he has been adamant about refusing to relinquish it.

That’s cute and all, but the real elephant (GOP symbol) in the room is that several of the current GOP Presidential candidates have direct ties to immigrants.  In fact, Mr. Trump’s mother, the former Mary Anne MacLeod, was a Scottish immigrant, born on the Isle of Lewis, off the west coast of Scotland.  Two of his three wives, the former Ivana Zelníčková, a native of the Czech Republic, and Melania Knauss, a native of Slovenia, were also immigrants.

As for the current slate of candidates, one, Ted Cruz, was not born in the United States, though he gets his citizenship from his mother, who was an American citizen. His father is Cuban born; his American mother gave birth to Rafael EdwardTedCruz in Calgary, Alberta (Canada).

A second candidate, Marco Antonio Rubio, would, by Jeb Bush and Donald Trump’s definition, be considered an Anchor Baby. Marco was born in Miami in 1971. His parents applied for Citizenship, and were Naturalized in 1975.

Yet another candidate, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, also fits the profile. His parents moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, from Malerkotla, Punjab, India, in January 1971, a few months prior to Bobby’s birth on June 10th. Jindal’s case is particularly curious in that he has voiced support for the effort to end the practice, born in the 14th Amendment. Upon reflection, I must wonder, if the practice is in fact ended, is there a way to make it retroactive. That would help thin out the GOP field of candidates. At least it would eliminate a couple of candidates polling in single digits anyway.

For the sake of full disclosure, it’s important to note Trump and Jindal are not the only GOP candidates to board the Anchor Baby bandwagon. Governor Scott Walker, whom I wrote about last week, Governor Chris Christie, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Rand Paul, and former Senator Rick Santorum have all embraced the questionable and controversial position. I will reiterate my most fervent plea. Do your research, and by all means, vote. Your very way of life may depend upon it.

As for that GOP Mantra referenced earlier, and the commitment to devise and execute a new initiative to turn the tide, we will see. At this point in the race, it’s difficult to be anything other than dubious about its prospects.

A common phrase related to the race is, “it’s early;” and it really is. There is still a lot of time for the “Change We Believe In” to occur. At this point in 2007, Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney led the polling for their respective Parties. Of course, neither of them went on to win. So, perhaps that bodes well for those who hope not to have to contend with the likes of President Trump. Although, for whatever it’s worth, that fact shouldn’t instill much confidence for Clinton backers either. But that’s a discussion for another day. Right now, just sit back and contemplate The Team GOP Conundrum: “Trumping” the Immigration Issue!”

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The Donald: Introducing TV Inspired Military Doctrine

It’s time to Break It Down!

Anniversary Edition | Celebrating 8 Years of Continuous Publishing 

Approximately seven years ago, Senator John McCain made a fateful decision that Democrats would come to view as “the gift that kept on giving.” On Friday, August 29, 2008, the GOP Nominee for President announced that he had selected 44 year-old Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. McCain, a long serving member of the United States Senate, had reportedly considered several candidates on his short list, not including Mrs. Palin. It’s fair to say, her selection was more than a little surprising.

In introducing her, Senator McCain said, “She’s not from these parts, and she’s not from Washington, but when you get to know her, you’re going to be as impressed as I am.”

In retrospect that was high-octane wishful thinking. The Senator’s prediction would never come to pass. Of course, to her credit, she tried to deliver for him.

Within moments of McCain’s announcement, Ms. Palin made an explicit appeal to the disappointed supporters of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton by praising not only Mrs. Clinton but also another woman who has been on a major presidential ticket, Geraldine A. Ferraro, Walter F. Mondale’s Democratic running mate in 1984. Governor Palin said, “Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America, but it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”

The bold proclamations of this political odd couple were among the high points of the campaign. When it came to political seasoning, Katie Couric revealed, just one month later, on September 29, 2008, that this empress wore no clothes.

Ms. Couric conducted interviews with both Vice Presidential candidates that were scheduled to air leading up to the election. Her interview with Governor Palin altered the trajectory of the remainder of the Campaign. It is a near certainty that for many Americans, the exchange provided a gasp-worthy insight into the depth, or lack thereof, of Mrs. Palin. It was a moment no less sobering than the one in which Toto pulled back the curtain to reveal that the supposed great and powerful Wizard was but a mere mortal, desperately trying to create the illusion of legerdemain.

The crux of the question, the shot heard around the world, as it were, was a basic one. What newspapers have you read to stay in touch with world events? It unfolded, as follows:

CBS Evening News, host Katie Couric asked Sarah Palin which sources she relied on for the news consumption that shaped her worldview. On three separate occasions, Couric tried to elicit a response from Palin about which specific newspapers she read. Seemingly caught off guard, Palin could not name a single news source:

COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?

PALIN: I’ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.

COURIC: But what ones specifically? I’m curious.

PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

COURIC: Can you name any of them?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news.

View the video:

Fast forward to present day, and there is an inviting temptation to conflate Sarah Palin, the Quixotic 2008 Vice Presidential candidate, and Donald Trump, the megalomaniacal 2016 GOP Presidential Poll Leader. Mr. Trump, as I briefly mentioned last week, continues to flout convention and flummox his rivals. Moreover, he has captivated a plurality of those voters who identify themselves as Republican.

It’s still reasonably early, but in the really early going, many if not most, of the so-called experts predicted that The Donald would be a flash in the pan player that would ultimately not even be considered “a thing.” Clearly, we are past that point. From the outset he has made waves. Some theorized he would never submit to completing and releasing Campaign Finance statements necessary to officially join the campaign. It appears he relishes the moment…at least for the moment. He has made himself a proverbial media magnet by making/engaging in what seems like a continuing series of unusual, if not outrageous statements and actions, including:

  • Making an initial Xenophobic statement about Mexicans
  • Revealing Senator Graham’s cell phone number
  • Asserting Senator McCain is not a war hero
  • Making controversial remarks about Fox News analyst Megyn Kelly
  • Suggesting he would erect a wall along the entire U.S. – Mexican border
  • Proposing to bomb Iraqi oil fields
  • Providing constant reminders that he is the richest guy ever to run for President
  • Turning his cell message into a Campaign Ad after the Blog Site Gawker revealed his number

He has run an unorthodox campaign. Up to this point, he has proceeded in the best Sinatra-like tradition; he has “done it his way.” If you have spent more than a minute or two listening to, and being informed (I use the term loosely) by the Trump Worldview, you have no doubt heard some, if not all of the tropes listed above.

All of this Trump magic has propelled him to a significant lead in most major polls. His average lead is roughly 24% to 12% to the second highest polling candidate, which varies from poll to poll, with Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, or Ben Carson coming in second place. In other words, he is doubling his nearest opponent.

His lead is firmly entrenched when subject matter is considered, for example, the economy, Isis, and immigration. He also rules the gender roost, at the moment, polling 57% favorable with men, and 60% favorable with women (both among likely Republican voters).

So this past Sunday, I had, for all practical purposes, a déjà vu moment. Mr. Trump was a guest on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” When host Chuck Todd questioned Mr. Trump on his military positions, Trump said he watches television shows for military advice.

Todd asked, “Let’s go foreign affairs. You want to knock the hell out of ISIS, how?”

Trump said, “I want to take away their wealth. And as you know, for years, I’ve been saying, don’t go into Iraq. They went into Iraq, they destabilized the Middle East. It was a big mistake. Okay, now we’re there, and you have ISIS. And I said this was going to happen. I said Iran will take over Iraq, which is happening, as sure as you’re sitting there, and ISIS is taking over a lot of oil in certain areas of Iraq. And I said, you take away their wealth. You go and knock the hell out of the oil, take back the oil. We take over the oil, which we should have done in the first place.”

Todd continued, “What you’re talking about is ground troops, maybe 25,000.”

Trump answered, “That’s okay. We’re going to circle it. We’re going to circle it. We’re going to have so much money. And what I would do with the money that we make, which would be tremendous. I would take care of the soldiers that were killed, the families of the soldiers that were killed, the soldiers, the wounded warriors that are — I see — I love them. And they’re walking all over the streets of New York, all over the streets of every city, without arms, without legs, and worse than that. And I would take care of them.” (I presume they have an abundance of pretty good prosthetics…doing all that walking “with no legs). I digress.

Todd pressed, “So, America should take over these oil fields. [They] shouldn’t be given to the Iraqis?”

Trump added, “Well, we can give them something, but we should definitely take back money for our soldiers. We’ve had soldiers that were decimated, so badly hurt, the wounded warriors, and killed, of course. But we’ve had soldiers that were so badly hurt and killed. I want their families to get something. Because we got nothing out of that war. We spent $2 trillion, Chuck. We had thousands of people killed, wounded warriors all over the place. They got nothing, and they can’t even say we had a victory.”

Todd asked, “Who do you talk to for military advice right now?”

Trump answered, “Well, I watch the shows. I mean, I really see a lot of great — you know, when you watch your show, and all of the other shows, and you have the generals, and you have certain people –.”

Okay, it was right about there I though, this guy is channeling Sarah Palin…circa 2008.

Todd continued, “But is there somebody, is there a go-to for you? Every presidential candidate has a go-to.”

He was really trying to help him regroup, as Ms. Couric did for Mrs. Palin, over, and over again. This is borderline scary.

Trump answered, “Probably there are two or three. I like Bolton. I think he’s a tough cookie, knows what he’s talking about. Jacobs is a good guy –.”

Todd asked, “You mean Ambassador Bolton? You mean Colonel Jack Jacobs?”

Trump confirmed saying, “Colonel Jack Jacobs is a good guy, and I see him on occasion.”

Really? Last week, I wrote about the contemporary Republican bent toward anti-intellectualism; even anti-higher education. That was aimed at several of Mr. Trump’s GOP cohorts, but most notably, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who left Marquette University without obtaining a degree. Let’s be clear, Scott Walker is no Donald Trump. Mr. Trump holds a B.S. Degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a prestigious Ivy League school.

However, his admitted penchant for extracting military advice from TV is more than mildly disconcerting. While he did not list stations by name, the network of choice for most self-respecting Conservatives is Fox News. I hate to think of where extrapolating might lead, using that factoid. So I won’t. I suspect most of those experts I referenced earlier still expect Mr. Trump’s Campaign to fade as we get into more debates and the Primary Season.  We’ll see.

When I think of the prospect that Governor Palin made it to the Candidate’s Final Four in 2008, so to speak, and that Mr. Trump is leading his Party at the moment, I realize what a tenuous hold we have on the land of the free and home of the brave. Now is certainly the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country…and vote (Make sure you have your valid ID at the ready). After all, we have already witnessed The Donald: Introducing TV Inspired Military Doctrine!” Who could predict what might be next?

I’m done; holla back!

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No Degree, No Problem: It’s a Straight Up G-Thang!

Time to “Break It Down!”

And just to be clear, right off the bat, that’s not “G,” as in Gangster, but G as in GOP. OK, perhaps the distinction is fuzzier than most would consider ideal.

I ran across a couple of memes in the past several months that jumped out at me as fodder for a blog post. One re-surfaced today, and not being in the mood to write about another unarmed African American catching a bullet from an overzealous law enforcement officer (Arlington, Texas), or about the fact that Donald Trump continues to simultaneously flout the rules and flummox his GOP opponents, or about Hillary Clinton reversing field, and releasing her e-mail server, or about Bernie Sanders’ next bout with the Black Lives Matter Movement, or about the on-going chess match between President Obama and Congress on the issue of the Iran Deal, I decided I’d take a stab at what I consider at least tangential circumstantial evidence that Republicans are not just anti-intellectual, but also anti-higher education.

Let me begin with Exhibit A. Consider these bona fides of Arizona’s most recent former Governor:

22nd Governor of Arizona

18th Secretary of State – Arizona

Member of Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (Where Phoenix is located)

Arizona State Senate

Arizona House of Representatives

Allow me to add Exhibit B. Also consider the bona fides of Utah’s current Governor:

17th Governor of Utah

Chairman of the National Governors Association

Lieutenant Governor of Utah

Finally, permit me to include Exhibit C. To the items above, consider the bona fides of the Governor of Wisconsin:

45th Governor of Wisconsin

5th Milwaukee County Executive

Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly

So let’s keep this real. On the face of it, any one of those three sets of credentials is impressive. Any man or woman who manages to rise to position of Chief Executive Officer of a State’s Government (Governor) has demonstrated substantial political chops. Nothing I write after this point will change that fact.

However, the one thing that connects the dots between and among these three impressive politicians is pretty stunning, at least to me. The single credential none of these well-connected, politically astute, successful men and one woman possesses is an earned college degree.

  • Jan Brewer, the most recent former Governor of Arizona is an alumna of Glendale Community College. She did not earn a degree.
  • The Honorable Gary Herbert is the Governor of Utah. A Mormon, he is an alumnus of Brigham Young University. He did not graduate.
  • The Honorable Scott Walker is the current Governor of Wisconsin. He is an alumnus of Marquette University. He left before graduating.

Obviously, all three of these individuals were able to find and secure gainful employment, and to forge a path to steady and continuous career advancement. They are living breathing manifestations of the American Dream (Coincidentally, the aspiration Donald Trump declared dead). I salute them.

However…Governor Walker has decided to take his talents to the next lever. To clarify, he has defined the White House as the address of his next promotion. While I do not expect him to achieve his desired goal, I am mindful that he is in the discussion. I’m not sure whether to be drawn to my natural inclination to be amused by the Super Seventeen, and by his placement within the group, or to default straight to despair, due to the potential that a major Party would actually consider elevating someone, who does not at a minimum possess a college degree, to the highest office in the land.

Before anyone deigns to school me, I understand, college attendance is not a Constitutional requirement. The baseline for qualifying to become President, aside from securing the requisite votes, is as follows:

Qualifications for the Office of President

  • Age and Citizenship requirements – US Constitution, Article II, Section 1
  • No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.
  • Term limit amendment – US Constitution, Amendment XXII, Section 1 – ratified February 27, 1951
  • No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.

As you can see, from a Constitutional perspective, this is not a matter of concern. However, in the 227 years since the U.S. Constitution was ratified, a lot has changed. For example, we now have automobiles, trains, and airplanes, not to mention rockets that make space travel possible. It’s fair to say the bar has been raised.  I for one, would like my President to have a college degree, and I don’t think that’s asking too much.

If Governor Walker were to ascend to the Presidency, he would be the first President in more than 60 years without at least a bachelor’s degree. In fact, of America’s 44 Presidents, only 25% (11) didn’t graduate from college, and that number is heavily weighted toward the pre-20th Century years.

Actually, there was only one, Harry Truman, from the 20th Century (April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953), and he essentially inherited the job, rising to the office after the death of President Roosevelt. He withdrew from Spalding’s Commercial College in Missouri.

The last non-college graduate President to be elected to the Presidency in his first term was William McKinley…in 1897 (March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901). President McKinley had previously left Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, after one year.

Presidential historian H.W. Brands, of the University of Texas, said, unless you’re someone like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs (both college dropouts), not having a college degree would be “a serious handicap” in running for President. He went on to say:

“Nowadays a college degree has become the entry credential to nearly all jobs requiring any skill at all. A candidate lacking one would have some heavy explaining to do.”

The other former Presidents without a college degree were:

  • George Washington (April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797)
  • Andrew Jackson (March 4, 1829 – March 4, 1837)
  • Martin Van Buren (March 4, 1837 – March 4, 1841)
  • William Henry Harrison (March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841)
  • Zachary Taylor (March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850)
  • Millard Fillmore (July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853)
  • Abraham Lincoln (March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865)
  • Andrew Johnson (April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869)
  • Grover Cleveland (March 4, 1885 – March 4, 1889)

The meme that drew me to this subject basically asserted that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has a better education than Governor Scott Walker. Without comparing the collegiate rankings of the University of Idaho and Marquette University, the point was that Mrs. Palin, despite her frequent shallow appearance during the 2008 Presidential campaign, actually managed to secure a college degree. Governor Walker, not so much. On some level, even the possibility that Governor Walker could be Governor Palin redux plus, should be a scary proposition.

Alas, the inescapable nugget to which I am attempting to draw your attention is, this anti-education theme appears to be a pervasive element of the way Republicans see the world. Republican-led State legislatures have voted to take much of the history out of American History classes. Policymakers in Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina and Colorado have agitated to scrap or doctor the AP History course, citing its “liberal bias” and supposed focus on U.S. “blemishes.” Those blemishes include things such as discussions on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and even the fact that Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. Blemishes…really?

To wit, electing Governors without college degrees, and possibly, even a President, in the 21st Century, no less, is in my view evidence of a clear and dangerous fact-phobia; anti-intellectualism at its unfettered worst. My most fervent desire is that American patriots will rise up and defeat this backward thinking madness. However, clearly, there is an element of our society who thinks differently. If that segment is left to its own devices, we will devolve to… No Degree, No Problem: It’s a Straight Up G-Thang!”

I’m done; holla back!

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And Then There Were 10: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!

It’s time to “Break It Down!”

There are numerous monikers ascribed to the unwieldy array of candidates currently seeking the Republican nomination for President. In its infinite wisdom Fox News (FN), the entity sponsoring tomorrow night’s debate has, for all practical purposes given the group a new name, “Ten.” To be fair, the Republican National Committee did that when it established the rules that would govern the Party’s debates, during the road to selecting the GOP Nominee for the 2016 Presidential Race. FN, based on calculations using five National Polls, simply identified which candidates made it into the Top 10 by 5:00 p.m. yesterday.

This decision was based on collective Party soul-searching after President Obama handed the GOP its second consecutive Presidential loss in the 2012 Race for the White House, all while handily winning a number of key demographics Republicans vowed to do better with in 2016. The Party Leaders concluded that its debates leading to the 2012 Primary Season had been poorly staged, and as such detracted from the GOP’s ability to come out of the debated fortified, unified, and strategically prepared to take on the Democrats.

There are currently 17 declared GOP Candidates. According to FN, in a release after yesterday’s deadline, the candidates qualifying for Thursday’s Prime Time event are Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and John Kasich. To the continued surprise of most Americans, at least most Americans without Tea Party, and/or ultra-Conservative leanings, Donald Trump leads, comfortably, the cavalcade of proud, mostly pious patriots seeking the GOP’s Holy Grail.

Mr. Trump, an avowed Birther, who seems to regularly admit that his principal qualification for the job is that he, in his own words, is very rich. He has, however, promised to make America “great again,” and that’s got to count for something. The Donald entered the campaign as someone whom most thoughtful Republicans and Democrats alike, figured would have been an afterthought in the dynamics of serious politics, such as claiming a place on the main Debate Stage. That he is not only among tomorrow night’s 10 Prime Time Players, but will claim Center Stage, as the person with the highest cumulative polling numbers is perplexing and frustrating for Republicans, the other candidates at least, and perplexing and amusing to Democrats; candidates and voters.

Most of the other GOP candidates have observed, suggested, or flat out complained that Mr. Trump has taken virtually all the air out of the room, and left little, if any, space, time, and most importantly, media coverage for them to articulate their “genuine/serious” policy initiatives and proposals. Instead, reporters seem consumed with the latest Trump gaffe, e.g., Mexicans are rapists, and Senator McCain is not a war hero, or favorite refrain, “I’m very rich,” or which staffer he will, or will not fire today, or issuing his favorite assertion…that this person or that person is a loser.

He does have a lot of money, and as a result, campaign finance, a key harbinger for most other candidates’ ability to stay in the race is a non-issue for him. A point he reiterates often, and with relish. He is also an unconventional campaigner. When he went to South Carolina, Senator Lindsey Graham’s home State, to campaign, he not only launched a frontal assault on the Senator on his home turf, he released the Senator’s personal cell phone number. Senator Graham subsequently destroyed the phone, and played it off by using the occasion to upgrade to a Smart Phone. When the blog site Gawker later released Mr. Trump’s cell phone number, he quickly changed the message on his answering machine to a campaign ad. This is just one example of how Trump adroitly takes the negative energy that others, including candidates, attempt to use against him, and transforms it into his advantage.

Conventional wisdom holds that the Trump phenomenon is a mirage, and will eventually dissipate, just as any number of poll leaders did in 2012. It could still happen, but frankly I sense an increasing level of concern among his GOP colleagues. At least one has to feel that he displaced them as a member of tomorrow’s Top 10.

That same erstwhile wisdom held from the outset that Jeb Bush would likely prevail as the eventual GOP nominee. Mr. Bush doesn’t have Trump’s money, but his PAC’s have raised nearly $100 million. Now all he has to do is improve his poll numbers.

In several polls, Mr. Trump leads him significantly, more than doubling his projected numbers in a couple of them. Behind Mr. Trump, and (former) Governor Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is 3rd, polling at just a shade over 10%. No one else, not even the seven additional candidates appearing at the Prime Time dais tomorrow night, reached double digits. Among the Top 10 finishers, the average poll numbers break out this way, according to REAL CLEAR POLITICS:

  • Donald Trump, 23.2 percent
  • Jeb Bush, 12.8
  • Scott Walker, 10.6
  • Ben Carson, 6.6
  • Mike Huckabee, 6.6
  • Ted Cruz, 6.2
  • Marco Rubio, 5.2
  • Rand Paul, 4.8
  • Chris Christie, 3.4
  • John Kasich, 2.8

That leaves Perry and the six other major declared candidates — Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore — to appear together during a debate earlier tomorrow evening.

As for the jayvee, excuse me, I mean the pre-Prime Time players; these seven luminaries include one candidate who polled 2%. Three of them polled 1%, but less than 1.5%. One polled 0.4%, and two did not register on a numerical scale. They fell this way:

  • Rick Perry, 2.0
  • Rick Santorum, 1.4
  • Bobby Jindal, 1.2
  • Carly Fiorina, 1.0
  • Lindsey Graham, 0.4
  • George Pataki, N/A
  • Jim Gilmore N/A

In the initial plan, there was going to be one debate. Those who did not make the Top 10 were effectively going to be SOL. However, it became clear that the also-rans would literally be a Who’s Who Among Elected and former Elected Officials, and Business Moguls. Included were former Governor Rick Perry, former Senator Rick Santorum, Governor Bobby Jindal, Senator Lindsey Graham, former Governor George Pataki, and former Governor Jim Gilmore…as well as the field’s only woman, Carly Fiorina, former Chief Executive Officer at Hewlett-Packard, and the first woman to lead one of the Top 20 U.S. companies. At that point, FN blinked, deciding that it could not totally divest the process of that much potential talent (on paper).

I have heard several people say they normally do not watch Republican debates, but admitted they were looking forward to the “Trump Show.” I haven’t decided yet whether I will tune in. I must confess, at this point, I am not leaning in that direction. While my best guess is Mr. Trump will surprise with the degree to which he adheres to a script, I just do not anticipate anything new emanating aside from the standard anti-Obama rant. I get enough of that daily.

So how did FN work it’s magic formula to produce the results above? According to Fox News spokeswoman Irena Briganti, they used five polls, including:

  • Bloomberg
  • CBS News
  • Fox News
  • Monmouth University
  • Quinnipiac University

According to Fox, these were the most recent national polls from non-partisan, recognized organizations. As a passing observation, I find it interesting that they included Fox, but not CNN’s poll as a non-partisan tool. IJS!

They used standard methodology, live interviews, random digit-dial sampling techniques, and included both landlines and cellphones. Their GOP primary vote question mirrored the ballot by reading all candidates names in random order and without honorifics, according to FN.

As the debate cut-off period neared, several candidates pursued attention-grabbing strategies with the hope of rising into the Top 10. Almost all the candidates used national media appearances, even though most had criticized national polls as having little to do with how they might perform in New Hampshire and Iowa. Well, so much for initial strategies. As Mike Tyson was fond of saying, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

We now know that Donald Trump packs quite a punch. If you intend to watch tomorrow, the prelims start early. However, if you are interested in the Big Boy’s Match, remember… “And Then There Were 10: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!”

I’m done; holla back!

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