Saturday, March 12, 2022

Trump's star is fading. Trump’s endorsement may not be enough for Ortagus and other candidates across America.

Donald Trump’s Outside Tennessee Pick May Meet Resistance

By Anderson Cox, Review the Day, March 11, 2022 - Donald Trump endorsed Morgan Ortagus for the Tennessee House seat in February. However, running under Trump’s endorsement may not be enough as Ortagus doesn’t meet the qualifications. According to legislation, anyone running for such a position should live in the state for a minimum of three years. Ortagus has lived in Tennessee for one year. ... 

Furthermore, some Tennessee Republicans are annoyed that an endorsement by Trump should guarantee anyone the right to represent their party. ... State Sen. Frank Niceley said in an interview, “I voted for Trump. I supported him.”

“I’ll vote for Trump as long as he lives. But I don’t want him coming out here to tell me who to vote for,” he added. ... Local Republican activist Rick Williams said, “I think he was told by people this was a candidate he should endorse, and he did. I’m not sure he’s too aware of the pushback he’s getting here now.”  Williams co-chaired Trump’s presidential campaign before but now supports Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles. (link

 2022 elections: Trump-endorsed candidates struggle with fundraising

By Paul Steinhauser | Fox News, - ... ... But Trump’s fundraising prowess is not magically transferring to many of the candidates he’s endorsed in the 2022 election cycle. ... Former Sen. David Perdue announced on Monday night that he brought in $1.146 million in first 56 days of his gubernatorial campaign as he primary challenges conservative Gov. Brian Kemp. Perdue was dramatically outraised by Kemp, who, as Fox News first reported last month, raked in over $7 million during the second half of 2021. ... In Arizona, Trump-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake touted her "historic grassroots" fundraising. But Lake’s 2021 haul of $1.5 million trailed four other GOP candidates also vying for their party’s nomination. ... Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of seven GOP senators who voted to convict the former president in his 2021 impeachment trial, more than doubled the fundraising last quarter of Trump-backed GOP challenger Kelly Tshibaka. (For more examples of Trump-backed GOP primary candidates failing to raise money, follow this link.)

Tennessee Republicans revolt against Trump's outsider pick for House seat

By Allan Smith, NBC News, March 10, 2022, - When Morgan Ortagus announced her bid for a House seat in Tennessee last month, she did so with former President Donald Trump’s “complete and total endorsement” — a surefire way for a GOP candidate to quickly become competitive in a crowded field.

But it's what she doesn’t have that may prevent her from even qualifying for the primary ballot: a track record in the state. ... coupled with a feeling among some in the GOP that Trump’s endorsement essentially served as an anointment, has irked some state and local Republicans enough to mount a significant challenge to her candidacy (link)

Trump’s support hasn’t saved this Senate candidate from weak poll numbers and poor fundraising: report .... In North Carolina’s 2022 Republican U.S. Senate primary, Rep. Ted Budd has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. But that endorsement, according to Politico reporter Natalie Allison, hasn’t saved Budd from weak poll numbers and poor fundraising. (link)

Donald Trump’s Crown Is Starting to Slip by Alex Shephard, The New Republic, March 11, 2022 - Shortly after Texas’s Republican primary polls closed last Tuesday, Donald Trump declared victory—for himself. “All 33 Trump-Endorsed candidates won last night in Texas, or are substantially leading,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “Big night! How will the Fake News make it look bad?”

Trump was, true to form, overstating his success—most of the candidates he had endorsed were running unopposed. But he was repeating a familiar boast. (link)


 Trump's star is fading

by Rod Williams, March 12, 2022 -  It appears to me that Trump's star is fading. While Trump is still popular with the Republican base, they are not loyalists who will blindly follow Trump anywhere.  In the case of the Ortagus candidacy in Tennessee, either Trump miscalculated or was poorly advised or he has such an oversized ego that he thinks he is more loved than he really is.  

Another indication that Trump supporters are not mindless Trump enthusiasts who will jump if he says "jump," is that his much-touted Twitter and Facebook alternative called Truth Social has generated little public enthusiasm and has had a lackluster rollout. I must have had an annoying fifteen phone text messages trying to persuade me to join.  I have not and will only do so if most of the people I now see on Facebook have made the switch. 

While most Republican politicians will still not dare to appear to disagree with Trump and many cowardly will not counter the Trump lie that the 2020 election was stolen, and as of today, if Trump was to run again in 2024, he would win the nomination, that could change. 

My view is that one reason Trump is as popular as he is is that by comparison to Biden he looks pretty good.  Everything Biden touches he breaks. Biden has brought us the largest inflation in forty years, has renewed the crisis at the southern border, brought about new massive debt, and advocated for the much more massive debt that so far has been blocked, reversed American energy independence, left Afghanistan in a humiliating rout that turned the country back over to the Taliban, saw China grow stronger,  and failed to deter Russia from invading Ukraine. People compare now to the recent past and the recent past was Donald Trump and many conclude that things were better. That will only carry Trump so far, however.  The choice is not Trump or Biden, but Biden or someone who is not Biden. 

I am hoping Trump's star does fade. I am disgusted with Trump's support for the January 6th attempted coup and Trump's continuing claim that the 2020 election was stolen. I could not again vote for Donald Trump. As much as I detest Democrats and do not see a circumstance in which I could support a Democrat, I can not vote for Donald Trump. At least in Tennessee, thanks to the electoral college, not voting for Trump is not tantamount to a vote for Joe Biden or, if not Joe Biden, whoever the Democrat nominee may be. Tennessee is not likely to be in play.  My vote won't matter.

Despite Trump's popularity now, I would not bet on Trump being near as popular a year from now. More information will likely come out about January 6th that will paint Trump in a bad light. Also, if Trump's endorsed candidates fail to win elections, Trump's strong man image of invincibility with be tarnished. Once that happens, potential challengers of Donald Trump will stop trembling in fear of Trump's retribution if they publicly criticize the former president. Sanity will return to the Republican Party.  We are already seeing former vice-president Mike Pence split with the former president and be bolder in his criticism of Trump. Also, people formerly close to the president, such as former Attorney General Bill Barr are criticizing Trump.  Most recently Barr said Trump is not 'my idea of a president' because of his 'pettiness' and 'obnoxious behavior.' Once Republican public figures start criticizing Trump, the next public figure wanting to do so will be emboldened. 

Also, the war in Ukraine could hurt Trump's image. While I do not think Trump is an apologist for Putin, Trump does not set the right tone. His praise of Putin's intelligence may, in the minds of many, put Trump in the same camp as people like Moscow Carlson. Many of Trump's most enthusiastic supporters are Putin Republicans and many will perceive Trump to be a Putin Republican unless he changes his tone and separates his view from the views of people like Tucker Carlson.  Despite Carlson's popularity among Fox News viewers, Putin Republicans are a slim minority of all Republicans; most Republicans are patriots and love freedom.

Nothing drastic has to happen to cause the Republican Party to return to sanity.  There does not have to be purges and angry fights.  Trump does not have to die or be imprisoned. Trump supporters do not have to say they were wrong for supporting Trump and never-Trumpers do not have to apologize. New issues and new personalities will become important as yesterday becomes less important. Yesterday's adversaries can be tomorrow's allies. The Party is big enough for Trumpinistas and never-Trumpers. All that needs to happen is for Trump's star to fade. Let Trump's endorsed candidates lose elections, let his venture into social media flop, let him fail to fill venues at Trump rallies, and Little by little it will happen. 

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Thursday, March 10, 2022

Tennessee bill would ban most abortions, allow private residents to sue providers

 by Melissa Brown, The Tennessean, March 8, 2022 - A Tennessee Republican lawmaker seeks to ban most abortions in the state and allow private residents to sue abortion providers under a new bill that mirrors a restrictive ban passed in Texas last year. (link)

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Court declines to expedite Tennessee redistricting lawsuit

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A three-judge panel has denied a request to expedite a legal challenge seeking to block newly drawn state House and Senate maps in Tennessee. (link)

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Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Trump's speech at CPAC. Trump is not an apologist for Putin.

by Rod Williams, March 9, 2023- Thank God Mike Pence said it: "There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin. There is only room for champions of freedom."

I agree emphatically! Unfortunately, there are apologists for Putin in the Republican Party. Just as in another era we had Tokyo Rose and Hanoi Jane, we now have our own Moscow Carlson.  Tucker Carlson is the most-watched news program in America and Tucker Carlson is an apologist for Putin. His attack on America's response to Russian aggression is so favorable to Russia, that state-controlled Russian TV replays his monologues with Russian subtitles.  Unfortunately, it is Republicans who watch and cheer Carlson's pro-Russian propaganda. You can watch this pro-Russian monologue by Moscow Carlson at this link

The Washington Post recently reported that new polling shows Republicans view Putin more favorably than they do Joe Biden. What? I can not fathom that. I think Joe Biden is a terrible leader. I think he is incompetent, I question his mental acuity and I think he has all the wrong policy prescriptions.  However, I can not fathom that he is viewed less favorably than the former Russian KGB chief who wants to restore the Sovie empire.  I have little in common with Republicans who hold that view. 

While preferring a Communist KGB dictator to an American president may be new, there has always been an isolationist wing of the Republican Party. Prior to World War II, the America First crowd opposing Lend Lease and American entanglement in Europe was primarily a Republican movement. During the cold war, for the most part, it was Republicans who were for standing up to Communist aggression and Democrats who were Communist appeasers.  However, the isolationist wing of the Republican party never entirely went away. After the cold war ended, isolationism returned as a strong faction in the Republican Party In the late 1990s Patrick Buchanan led the isolationist faction in a bid for president and then ran as a Reform Party candidate in 2000 as an isolationist, sounding much like Donald Trump sounds today. 

I don't know if Mike Pence was aiming his remarks at Donald Trump or not. If so, he did not call him out by name. It is assumed by many that it was aimed at Trump. Until I actually watched Trump's speech at CPAC, I was ready to put Trump in the camp of apologists for Putin. This was based on mainstream news reports and an excerpt from the speech that had been broadcast. Not expecting a true account of what Trump might have actually said however, from the mainstream media, I withheld final judgment until I watched the speech for myself. 

In his address to the Conservative Political Action Conference recently, even after Putin had invaded Ukraine, Trump reiterated his praise for Putin as a smart man and he disparaged U.S. leadership. You need to watch the speech in context before concluding that this was a pro-Putin speech, however. Let me say right off that I am not a fan of the former president. While I do not particularly like the emphasis of Trump's speech or his style, this speech is not a pro-Russian speech. I wish he would have been harsher in his speech toward Putin but it certainly was not pro-Putin. 

You can watch the former president's speech above starting at timestamp 26.  Trump starts off the speech with appropriate remarks denouncing "the communists who are attacking our civilization," but he does not mention directly in his opening remarks support for Ukraine. He then immediately goes into Donald Trump rally mode talking of retaking the White House in 2024, alledging the 2020 election was rigged, building the wall, attacking "fake news," and the other usual Trump talking points. In the mid part of the speech he says, "we are praying for the proud people of Ukraine. God Bless them." A little later, Trump goes into an analysis of the Russian war in Ukraine. 

The line in the speech that got a lot of negative attention was this:  "The problem is not that Putin is smart, which of course he's smart, but the real problem is that our leaders are dumb." Taken out of context this sounds bad. I wish Trump would have said it differently but this is not praise for Putin. One can acknowledge a bad person is smart or daring or brave or has other admirable skills or talents; that does not mean you support that person or his policies. While I wish Trump would have stated that differently, I think it is an accurate and fair analysis. 

I agree with Trump that Joe Biden mishandled the crisis.  If Biden had imposed the toughest sanctions before the invasion, maybe the invasion would not have occurred.  If Biden had not betrayed the Afghan people and exited Afghanistan in a humiliating rout, maybe Russia would have taken America's threats of serious sanctions more seriously.  I also worry that China is watching our response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and that is entering into their calculation of the future of Taiwan.

Trump says, and some Trump admirers say, that if he would have been president, the Russians would not have invaded Ukraine. There is no way to know if that is true.  I tend to think it may be. Trump is perceived as such a loose cannon, shoot-from-the-hip kind of gay that the Russian may have been fearful of provoking him.  He is just crazy enough, Russia may have not wanted to test him.  

Also, under Trump, the US was energy independent and a net exporter of oil with more potential for oil production.  Biden turned off the oil spigot, making the US more dependent on Russian oil and less able to help our allies. I think Biden made America weaker and mishandled the crisis.

While there is much in the above Trump speech I do not like, Trump does not side with Russia or excuse Putin's aggression. 

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Monday, March 07, 2022

House sets up showdown with Senate over Tennessee congressional candidate residency requirements. Bills aid to disqualify Robby Starbuck and Morgan Ortagus.

By Jon Styf | The Center Square Mar 2, 2022 - A Tennessee effort to place residency restrictions on candidates for congress moved quickly through a House subcommittee Wednesday, but the House bill was amended to include several differences from the version passed Monday in the Senate. 

The bill passed by the Senate potentially would prevent former President Donald Trump-backed candidate Morgan Ortagus, the former spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, and Robby Starbuck from receiving the Republican nomination for the newly drawn 5th Congressional District. The seat is currently held by U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, who has said he will not run for reelection. 

House Bill 2764 from Rep. Dave Wright, R-Corryton, would enact the requirement after this year’s election, with an effective date of Nov. 9, the day after the election. If the companion bills pass with different language, the House and Senate would create a conference committee to agree on language. The House bill would put a three-year residency requirement before a candidate can qualify for a seat in either the U.S. Senate or House. 

While discussing the amendment Wednesday in the House Elections and Campaign Finance Subcommittee, Wright said that “the major change of the amendment is to make the three-year residency.” However, the bill also changes the effective date and which candidates are affected. Senate Bill 2616, sponsored by Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, was specific about only placing the three-year requirement on candidates in the primaries for either the Democratic or Republican nominations. Niceley’s bill would allow either Ortagus or Starbuck to run for the seat as independents or third-party candidates. 

The House version would prevent a similar candidate from winning a congressional seat in future elections. Niceley said candidates have picked up petitions but have not reached the filing deadline for the race, which is noon April 7. If the Senate version of the bill also passed the Tennessee House and was signed by Gov. Bill Lee before that deadline, it could prevent Ortagus and Starbuck from receiving the Republican nomination. 

The constitutionality of the bill was discussed last month in the Senate State and Local Government Committee, and Legislative Attorney Josh Houston said then laws such as the House version that attempted to have states limit the qualifications for federal elected positions repeatedly had been found unconstitutional. Niceley and others on the Senate committee pointed said because the Senate version pertained to primaries for the Democrat and Republican parties and was not an all-out ban on candidates running, it was different than any restriction that previously had gone before the courts. 

“The Supreme Court today would rule in our favor,” Niceley said during committee. “That’s why we put it in the primary. We aren’t stopping anyone from running. “The word primary is not mentioned in the constitution.”

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Sunday, March 06, 2022

Morgan Ortagus: Biden administration is not serious about 'countering' Russia.

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President Biden did not get a job approval bump from the State of the Union address.


by Rod Williams, March 6, 2022 - President Biden gave his State of the Union address on Tuesday, March 1st and according to Rasmussen polling, the speech did not cause a bump in his job approval ratings. His approval ratings showed only normal daily fluctuations.  

I am a little surprised.  The first few minutes of the speech was a war-time speech where partisan differences were put aside and both Republicans and Democrats cheered Biden's expression of support for Ukraine and tough talk on sanction.  Also, I thought Biden's delivery was pretty good; better than I expected.  Sometimes he seems to be in a fog and one wonders if he knows what day it is.  His press conferences are embarrassing.  The people who ask questions are preselected for the president and they ask softball questions.  When he gives confusing or clumsy answers there is no tough follow-up.  In the State of the Union, Biden showed he can still read a teleprompter.

One reason I thought Biden may get a bump was that he did not sound like a Democrat on several issues. Regarding the crime wave we are experiencing, Biden said, “The answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police.”

On the continuing crisis of illegal immigration, Biden said, "We need to secure the border and fix the immigration system.' That sounds a lot like Trump.

Another reason I thought Biden may get a boost in his approval ratings following the State of the Union address is that the audience for a State of Union address is a larger audience than just the citizens who pay attention every day.  I thought casual observers of civic affairs would be more easily swayed to think the President is doing an OK job than are more engaged citizens. I am pleased that I was wrong.

An OK speech cannot counter the pain people feel at the gas pump and the rising prices they experience every time they go to the grocery store. One does not have to daily consume a lot of news to know that things are not going well in this country. The debacle of a humiliating exit from Afghanistan is still in people's consciousness. And while few people may read the analysis that fact-checks the President's speech, they know things are not as rosy as the president paints them. While the American people may not be as informed as I wish they were, they are not stupid. 

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