Biden Campaign Slams Trump’s Last-Place Ranking in Presidential Greatness Survey

President Biden’s reelection campaign strongly criticized former President Trump on Monday for his bottom-ranking performance in a recent survey evaluating presidential greatness.

Trump, widely expected to be Biden’s adversary in the upcoming November election, found himself occupying the lowest position on the list, while Biden was recognized as the 14th-best president in the 2024 Presidential Greatness Project Expert Survey. The survey, conducted by a panel of experts specializing in the American presidency from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31, placed Trump at the very bottom.

In a statement titled “Happy Presidents’ Day! … Unless You’re Donald Trump,” the Biden campaign expressed no qualms in emphasizing Trump’s last-place standing.

“It takes a lot to be known as the absolute worst in your profession in the history of your country. But Donald Trump managed to do it, and it’s pretty clear why. Donald Trump spent his four years in office working for one thing only: himself,” remarked Kevin Munoz, spokesperson for the Biden campaign.

Highlighting Trump’s position relative to historical figures, the campaign pointed out that he fared worse than President James Buchanan, responsible for leading the U.S. into the Civil War, and President Herbert Hoover, who was in office during the Great Depression.

Munoz emphasized the contrasting approaches of Biden and Trump, portraying Biden as a president dedicated to the well-being of the American populace.

“President Biden wakes up every day fighting for the American people, helping to create more jobs in three years than any president has created in four, and investing in America at record levels,” Munoz stated. “The choice in this election is clear: a president who has consistently delivered for the American people or Donald Trump who experts agree might be the worst to ever do it.”

The survey, conducted by experts in the field, crowned Abraham Lincoln as America’s greatest president. Biden’s ranking placed him ahead of Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and Ulysses S. Grant.

Interestingly, former President Obama experienced a notable rise in the rankings, securing the seventh position, eight places higher than in the previous year’s survey.

Nikki Haley Vows to Persist in Presidential Race Despite Trump’s Lead: Refuses to Yield in Republican Primary

Nikki Haley asserted her commitment to persist in the Republican presidential primary race against former President Trump, affirming her determination during an address in Greenville, South Carolina. “I’m not going anywhere,” she declared, emphasizing her readiness to vocalize uncomfortable truths and her refusal to yield to intimidation. She asserted, “I feel no need to kiss the ring… My own political future is of zero concern.” Haley drew parallels between her contest against Trump and the biblical tale of David and Goliath, dismissing speculation that she seeks the vice presidency or is positioning herself for a future presidential bid.

Despite trailing Trump significantly in South Carolina according to The Hill’s Decision Desk HQ polling average, Haley remained resolute. Trump’s campaign had issued a memo suggesting her impending defeat, characterizing her as a “wailing loser” clinging to a false reality. Haley brushed off such assertions, reaffirming her intention to persevere beyond the primary, declaring, “South Carolina will vote on Saturday, but on Sunday I will still be running for president.”

She did not shy away from criticizing both Trump and President Biden, targeting their age and mental acuity, alleging they are “at risk for dementia” and act as “dividers.” Haley highlighted public concerns over their age, stressing, “Nearly 60 percent of Americans say Trump and Biden are both too old to be president.” She accused Biden of self-inflicted harm and criticized Democrats for what she perceives as anointing him rather than engaging in robust competition.

In an emotional moment, Haley choked up as she discussed her husband Michael Haley, currently deployed abroad with the South Carolina Army National Guard. Her remarks followed a jab from Trump questioning why Michael wasn’t accompanying her on the campaign trail.

Despite her trailing position against Trump in South Carolina and nationally, polling data suggests Haley outperforms Biden in a head-to-head matchup, holding a slim lead over the president according to The Hill’s Decision Desk HQ polling average.

India’s Feet of Clay: How Modi’s Supremacy Will Hinder His Country’s Rise

This spring, India is scheduled to hold its 18th general election. Surveys suggest that the incumbent, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is very likely to win a third term in office. That triumph will further underline Modi’s singular stature. He bestrides the country like a colossus, and he promises Indians that they, too, are rising in the world. And yet the very nature of Modi’s authority, the aggressive control sought by the prime minister and his party over a staggeringly diverse and complicated country, threatens to scupper India’s great-power ambitions.

A leader of enormous charisma from a modest

background, Modi dominates the Indian political landscape as only two of his 15 predecessors have done: Jawaharlal Nehru, prime minister from Indian independence in 1947 until 1964, and Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, prime minister from 1966 to 1977 and then again from 1980 to 1984. In their pomp, both enjoyed wide popularity throughout India, cutting across barriers of class, gender, religion, and region, although—as so often with leaders who stay on too long—their last years in office were marked by political misjudgments that eroded their standing.

Nehru and Indira Gandhi both belonged to the Indian National Congress, the party that led the country’s struggle for freedom from British colonial rule and stayed in power for three decades following independence. Modi, on the other hand, is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which spent many years in opposition before becoming what it now appears to be, the natural party of governance. A major ideological difference between the Congress and the BJP is in their attitudes toward the relationship between faith and state. Particularly under Nehru, the Congress was committed to religious pluralism, in keeping with the Indian constitutional obligation to assure citizens “liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.” The BJP, on the other hand, wishes to make India a majoritarian state in which politics, public policy, and even everyday life are cast in a Hindu idiom.

Modi is not the first BJP prime minister of India—that distinction belongs to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was in office in 1996 and from 1998 to 2004. But Modi can exercise a kind of power that was never available to Vajpayee, whose coalition government of more than a dozen parties forced him to accommodate diverse views and interests. By contrast, the BJP has enjoyed a parliamentary majority on its own for the last decade, and Modi is far more assertive than the understated Vajpayee ever was. Vajpayee delegated power to his cabinet ministers, consulted opposition leaders, and welcomed debate in Parliament. Modi, on the other hand, has centralized power in his office to an astonishing degree, undermined the independence of public institutions such as the judiciary and the media, built a cult of personality around himself, and pursued his party’s ideological goals with ruthless efficiency.

Despite his dismantling of democratic institutions, Modi remains extremely popular. He is both incredibly hardworking and politically astute, able to read the pulse of the electorate and adapt his rhetoric and tactics accordingly. Left-wing intellectuals dismiss him as a mere demagogue. They are grievously mistaken. In terms of commitment and intelligence, he is far superior to his populist counterparts such as former U.S. President Donald Trump, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, or former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Although his economic record is mixed, he has still won the trust of many poor people by supplying food and cooking gas at highly subsidized rates via schemes branded as Modi’s personal gifts to them. He has taken quickly to digital technologies, which have enabled the direct provision of welfare and the reduction of intermediary corruption. He has also presided over substantial progress in infrastructure development, with spanking new highways and airports seen as evidence of a rising India on the march under Modi’s leadership.

Modi’s many supporters view his tenure as prime minister as nothing short of epochal. They claim that he has led India’s national resurgence. Under Modi, they note, India has surpassed its former ruler, the United Kingdom, to become the world’s fifth-largest economy; it will soon eclipse Japan and Germany, as well. It became the fourth country to land a spaceship on the moon. But Modi’s impact runs deeper than material achievements. His supporters proudly boast that India has rediscovered and reaffirmed its Hindu civilizational roots, leading to a successful decolonizing of the mind—a truer independence than even the freedom movement led by Mahatma Gandhi achieved. The prime minister’s speeches are peppered with claims that India is on the cusp of leading the world. In pursuit of its global ambitions, his government hosted the G-20 meeting in New Delhi last year, the event carefully choreographed to show Modi in the best possible light, standing splendidly alone at center stage as one by one, he welcomed world leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, and showed them to their seats. (The party was spoiled, only slightly, by the deliberate absence of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who may not have wanted to indulge Modi in his pageant of prestige.)

Nonetheless, the future of the Indian republic looks considerably less rosy than the vision promised by Modi and his acolytes. His government has not assuaged—indeed, it has actively worked to intensify—conflicts along lines of both religion and region, which will further fray the country’s social fabric. The inability or unwillingness to check environmental abuse and degradation threatens public health and economic growth. The hollowing out of democratic institutions pushes India closer and closer to becoming a democracy only in name and an electoral autocracy in practice. Far from becoming the Vishwa Guru, or “teacher to the world”—as Modi’s boosters claim—India is altogether more likely to remain what it is today: a middling power with a vibrant entrepreneurial culture and mostly fair elections alongside malfunctioning public institutions and persisting cleavages of religion, gender, caste, and region. The façade of triumph and power that Modi has erected obscures a more fundamental truth: that a principal source of India’s survival as a democratic country, and of its recent economic success, has been its political and cultural pluralism, precisely those qualities that the prime minister and his party now seek to extinguish.

PORTRAIT IN POWER

Between 2004 and 2014, India was run by Congress-led coalition governments. The prime minister was the scholarly economist Manmohan Singh. By the end of his second term, Singh was 80 and unwell, so the task of running Congress’s campaign ahead of the 2014 general elections fell to the much younger Rahul Gandhi. Gandhi is the son of Sonia Gandhi, a former president of the Congress Party, and Rajiv Gandhi, who, like his mother, Indira Gandhi, and grandfather Nehru, had served as prime minister. In a brilliant political move, Modi, who had previously been chief minister of the important state of Gujarat for a decade, presented himself as an experienced, hard-working, and entirely self-made administrator, in stark contrast to Rahul Gandhi, a dynastic scion who had never held political office and whom Modi portrayed as entitled and effete.

Sixty years of electoral democracy and three decades of market-led economic growth had made Indians increasingly distrustful of claims made on the basis of family lineage or privilege. It also helped that Modi was a more compelling orator than Rahul Gandhi and that the BJP made better use of the new media and digital technologies to reach remote corners of India. In the 2014 elections, the BJP won 282 seats, up from 116 five years earlier, while the Congress’s tally went down from 206 to a mere 44. The next general election, in 2019, again pitted Modi against Gandhi; the BJP won 303 seats to the Congress’s 52. With these emphatic victories, the BJP not only crushed and humiliated the Congress but also secured the legislative dominance of the party. In prior decades, Indian governments had typically been motley coalitions held together by compromise. The BJP’s healthy majority under Modi has given the prime minister broad latitude to act—and free rein to pursue his ambitions.

Modi presents himself as the very embodiment of the party, the government, and the nation, as almost single-handedly fulfilling the hopes and ambitions of Indians. In the past decade, his elevation has taken many forms, including the construction of the world’s largest cricket stadium, named for Modi; the portrait of Modi on the COVID-19 vaccination certificates issued by the government of India (a practice followed by no other democracy in the world); the photo of Modi on all government schemes and welfare packages; a serving judge of the Supreme Court gushing that Modi is a “visionary” and a “genius”; and Modi’s own proclamation that he had been sent by god to emancipate India’s women.

In keeping with this gargantuan cult of personality, Modi has attempted, largely successfully, to make governance and administration an instrument of his personal will rather than a collaborative effort in which many institutions and individuals work together. In the Indian system, based on the British model, the prime minister is supposed to be merely first among equals. Cabinet ministers are meant to have relative autonomy in their own spheres of authority. Under Modi, however, most ministers and ministries take instructions directly from the prime minister’s office and from officials known to be personally loyal to him. Likewise, Parliament is no longer an active theater of debate, in which the views of the opposition are taken into account in forging legislation. Many bills are passed in minutes, by voice vote, with the speakers in both houses acting in an extremely partisan manner. Opposition members of Parliament have been suspended in the dozens—and in one recent case, in the hundreds—for demanding that the prime minister and home minister make statements about such important matters as bloody ethnic conflicts in India’s borderlands and security breaches in Parliament itself.

Sadly, the Indian Supreme Court has done little to stem attacks on democratic freedoms. In past decades, the court had at least occasionally stood up for personal freedoms, and for the rights of the provinces, acting as a modest brake on the arbitrary exercise of state power. Since Modi took office, however, the Supreme Court has often given its tacit approval to the government’s misconduct, by, for example, failing to strike down punitive laws that clearly violate the Indian constitution. One such law is the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, under which it is almost impossible to get bail and which has been invoked to arrest and designate as “terrorists” hundreds of students and human rights activists for protesting peacefully on the streets against the majoritarian policies of the regime.

The civil services and the diplomatic corps are also prone to obey the prime minister and his party, even when the demands clash with constitutional norms. So does the Election Commission, which organizes elections and frames election rules to facilitate the preferences of Modi and the BJP. Thus, elections in Jammu and Kashmir and to the municipal council of Mumbai, India’s richest city, have been delayed for years largely because the ruling party remains unsure of winning them.

The Modi government has also worked systematically to narrow the spaces open for democratic dissent. Tax officials disproportionately target opposition politicians. Large sections of the press act as the mouthpiece of the ruling party for fear of losing government advertisements or facing vindictive tax raids. India currently ranks 161 out of 180 countries surveyed in the World Press Index, an analysis of levels of journalistic freedom. Free debate in India’s once vibrant public universities is discouraged; instead, the University Grants Commission has instructed vice chancellors to install “selfie points” on campuses to encourage students to take their photograph with an image of Modi.

This story of the systematic weakening of India’s democratic foundations is increasingly well known outside the country, with watchdog groups bemoaning the backsliding of the world’s largest democracy. But another fundamental challenge to India has garnered less attention: the erosion of the country’s federal structure. India is a union of states whose constituent units have their own governments elected on the basis of universal adult franchise. As laid down in India’s constitution, some subjects, including defense, foreign affairs, and monetary policy, are the responsibility of the government in New Delhi. Others, including agriculture, health, and law and order, are the responsibility of the states. Still others, such as forests and education, are the joint responsibility of the central government and the states. This distribution of powers allows state governments considerable latitude in designing and implementing policies for their citizens. It explains the wide variation in policy outcomes across the country—why, for example, the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu have a far better record with regard to health, education, and gender equity compared with northern states such as Uttar Pradesh.

As a large, sprawling federation of states, India resembles the United States. But India’s states are more varied in terms of culture, religion, and particularly language. In that sense, India is more akin to the European Union in the continental scale of its diversity. The Bengalis, the Kannadigas, the Keralites, the Odias, the Punjabis, and the Tamils, to name just a few peoples, all have extraordinarily rich literary and cultural histories, each distinct from one another and especially from that of the heartland states of northern India where the BJP is dominant. Coalition governments respected and nourished this heterogeneity, but under Modi, the BJP has sought to compel uniformity in three ways: through imposing the main language of the north, Hindi, in states where it is scarcely spoken and where it is seen as an unwelcome competitor to the local language; through promoting the cult of Modi as the only leader of any consequence in India; and through the legal and financial powers that being in office in New Delhi bestows on it.

Since coming to power, the Modi government has assiduously undermined the autonomy of state governments run by parties other than the BJP. It has achieved this in part through the ostensibly nonpartisan office of the governor, who, in states not run by the BJP, has often acted as an agent of the ruling party in New Delhi. Laws in domains such as agriculture, nominally the realm of state governments, have been passed by the national Parliament without the consultation of the states. Since several important and populous states—including Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and West Bengal—are run by popularly elected parties other than the BJP, the Modi government’s undisguised hostility toward their autonomous functioning has created a great deal of bad blood.

In this manner, in his decade in office, Modi has worked diligently to centralize and personalize political power. As chief minister of Gujarat, he gave his cabinet colleagues little to do, running the administration through bureaucrats loyal to him. He also worked persistently to tame civil society and the press in Gujarat. Since Modi became prime minister in 2014, this authoritarian approach to governance has been carried over to New Delhi. His authoritarianism has a precedent, however: the middle period of Indira Gandhi’s prime ministership, from 1971 to 1977, when she constructed a cult of personality and turned the party and government into an instrument of her will. But Modi’s subordination of institutions has gone even further. In his style of administration, he is Indira Gandhi on steroids.

A HINDU KINGDOM

For all their similarities in political style, Indira Gandhi and Modi differ markedly in terms of political ideology. Forged in the crucible of the Indian freedom struggle, inspired by the pluralistic ethos of its leader Mahatma Gandhi (who was not related to her) and of her father, Nehru, Indira Gandhi was deeply committed to the idea that India belonged equally to citizens of all faiths. For her, as for Nehru, India was not to be a Hindu version of Pakistan—a country designed to be a homeland for South Asia’s Muslims. India would not define statecraft or governance in accordance with the views of the majority religious community. India’s many minority religious groups—including Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Muslims, Parsis, and Sikhs—would all have the same status and material rights as Hindus. Modi has taken a different view. Raised as he was in the hardline milieu of the Hindu nationalist movement, he sees the cultural and civilizational character of India as defined by the demographic dominance—and long-suppressed destiny—of Hindus.

The attempt to impose Hindu hegemony on India’s present and future has two complementary elements. The first is electoral, the creation of a consolidated Hindu vote bank. Hinduism does not have the singular structure of Abrahamic religions such as Christianity or Islam. It does not elevate one religious text (such as the Bible or the Koran) or one holy city (such as Rome or Mecca) to a particularly privileged status. In Hinduism, there are many gods, many holy places, and many styles of worship. But while the ritual universe of Hinduism is pluralistic, its social system is historically highly unequal, marked by hierarchically organized status groups known as castes, whose members rarely intermarry or even break bread with one another.

The BJP under Modi has tried to overcome the pluralism of Hinduism by seeking to override caste and doctrinal differences between different groups of Hindus. It promises to construct a “Hindu Raj,” a state in which Hindus will reign supreme. Modi claims that before his ascendance, Hindus had suffered 1,200 years of slavery at the hands of Muslim rulers, such as the Mughal dynasty, and Christian rulers, such as the British—and that he will now restore Hindu pride and Hindu control over the land that is rightfully theirs. To aid this consolidation, Hindu nationalists have systematically demonized India’s large Muslim minority, painting Muslims as insufficiently apologetic for the crimes of the Muslim rulers of the past and as insufficiently loyal to the India of the present.

Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism, is a belief system characterized by what I call “paranoid triumphalism.” It aims to make Hindus fearful so as to compel them to act together and ultimately dominate those Indians who are not Hindus. At election time, the BJP hopes to make Hindus vote as Hindus. Since Hindus constitute roughly 80 percent of the population, if 60 percent of them vote principally on the basis of their religious affiliation in India’s multiparty, first-past-the-post system, that amounts to 48 percent of the popular vote for the BJP—enough to get Modi and his party elected by a comfortable margin. Indeed, in the 2019 elections, the BJP won 56 percent of seats with 37 percent of the popular vote. So complete is the ruling party’s disregard for the political rights of India’s 200 million or so Muslims that, except when compelled to do so in the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir, it rarely picks Muslim candidates to compete in elections. And yet it can still comfortably win national contests. The BJP has 397 members in the two houses of the Indian parliament. Not one is a Muslim.

Electoral victory has enabled the second element of Hindutva—the provision of an explicitly Hindu veneer to the character of the Indian state. Modi himself chose to contest the parliamentary elections from Varanasi, an ancient city with countless temples that is generally recognized as the most important center of Hindu identity. He has presented himself as a custodian of Hindu traditions, claiming that in his youth, he wandered and meditated in the forests of the Himalaya in the manner of the sages of the past. He has, for the first time, made Hindu rituals central to important secular occasions, such as the inauguration of a new Parliament building, which was conducted by him alone, flanked by a phalanx of chanting priests, but with the members of Parliament, the representatives of the people, conspicuously absent. He also presided, in similar fashion, over religious rituals in Varanasi, with the priests chanting, “Glory to the king.” In January, Modi was once again the star of the show as he opened a large temple in the city of Ayodhya on a site claimed to be the birthplace of the god Rama. Whenever television channels obediently broadcast such proceedings live across India, their cameras focus on the elegantly attired figure of Modi. The self-proclaimed Hindu monk of the past has thus become, in symbol if not in substance, the Hindu emperor of the present.

THE BURDENS OF THE FUTURE

The emperor benefits from having few plausible rivals. Modi’s enduring political success is in part enabled by a fractured and nepotistic opposition. In a belated bid to stall the BJP from winning a third term, as many as 28 parties have come together to fight the forthcoming general elections under a common umbrella. They have adopted the name the Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance, an unwieldy moniker that can be condensed to the crisp acronym INDIA.

Some parties in this alliance are very strong in their own states. Others have a base among particular castes. But the only party in the alliance with pretensions to being a national party is the Congress. Despite his dismal political record, Rahul Gandhi remains the principal leader of the Congress. In public appearances, he is often flanked by his sister, who is the party’s general-secretary, or his mother, reinforcing his sense of entitlement. The major regional parties, with influence in states such as Bihar, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu, are also family firms, with leadership often passing from father to son. Although their local roots make them competitive in state elections, when it comes to a general election, the dynastic baggage they carry puts them at a distinct disadvantage against a party led by a self-made man such as Modi, who can present himself as devoted entirely and utterly to the welfare of his fellow citizens rather than as the bearer of family privilege. INDIA will struggle to unseat Modi and the BJP and may hope, at best, to dent their commanding majority in Parliament.

The prime minister also faces little external pressure. In other contexts, one might expect a certain amount of critical scrutiny of Modi’s authoritarian ways from the leaders of Western democracies. But this has not happened, partly because of the ascendance of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Xi has mounted an aggressive challenge to Western hegemony and positioned China as a superpower deserving equal respect and an equal say in world affairs as the United States—moves that have worked entirely to Modi’s advantage. The Indian prime minister has played the U.S. establishment brilliantly, using the large and wealthy Indian diaspora to make his (and India’s) importance visible to the White House.

In April 2023, India officially overtook China as the most populous country in the world. It has the fifth-largest economy. It has a large and reasonably well-equipped military. All these factors make it ever more appealing to the United States as a counterweight to China. Both the Trump and the Biden administrations have shown an extraordinary indulgence toward Modi, continuing to hail him as the leader of the “world’s largest democracy” even as that appellation becomes less credible under his rule. The attacks on minorities, the suppression of the press, and the arrest of civil rights activists have attracted scarcely a murmur of disapproval from the State Department or the White House. The recent allegations that the Indian government tried to assassinate a U.S. citizen of Sikh descent are likely to fade without any action or strong public criticism. Meanwhile, the leaders of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, seeking a greater share of the Indian market (not least in sales of sophisticated weaponry), have all been unctuous in their flattery of Modi.

The rampant environmental degradation across the country further threatens the sustainability of economic growth. Even in the absence of climate change, India would be an environmental disaster zone. Its cities have the highest rates of air pollution in the world. Many of its rivers are ecologically dead, killed by untreated industrial effluents and domestic sewage. Its underground aquifers are depleting rapidly. Much of its soil is contaminated with chemicals. Its forests are despoiled and in the process of becoming much less biodiverse, thanks to invasive nonnative weeds.

This degradation has been enabled by an antiquated economic ideology that adheres to the mistaken belief that only rich countries need to behave responsibly toward nature. India, it is said, is too poor to be green. In fact, countries such as India, with their higher population densities and more fragile tropical ecologies, need to care as much, or more, about how to use natural resources wisely. But regimes led by both the Congress and the BJP have granted a free license to coal and petroleum extraction and other polluting industries. No government has so actively promoted destructive practices as Modi’s. It has eased environmental clearances for polluting industries and watered down various regulations. The environmental scholar Rohan D’ Souza has written that by 2018, “the slash and burn attitude of gutting and weakening existing environmental institutions, laws, and norms was extended to forests, coasts, wildlife, air, and even waste management.” When Modi came to power in 2014, India ranked 155 out of 178 countries assessed by the Environmental Performance Index, which estimates the sustainability of a country’s development in terms of the state of its air, water, soils, natural habitats, and so on. By 2022, India ranked last, 180 out of 180.

The effects of these varied forms of environmental deterioration exact a horrific economic and social cost on hundreds of millions of people. Degradation of pastures and forests imperils the livelihoods of farmers. Unregulated mining for coal and bauxite displaces entire rural communities, making their people ecological refugees. Air pollution in cities endangers the health of children, who miss school, and of workers, whose productivity declines. Unchecked, these forms of environmental abuse will impose ever-greater burdens on Indians yet unborn.

These future generations of Indians will also have to bear the costs of the dismantling of democratic institutions overseen by Modi and his party. A free press, independent regulatory institutions, and an impartial and fearless judiciary are vital for political freedoms, for acting as a check on the abuse of state power, and for nurturing an atmosphere of trust among citizens. To create, or perhaps more accurately, re-create, them after Modi and the BJP finally relinquish power will be an arduous task.

The strains placed on Indian federalism may boil over in 2026, when parliamentary seats are scheduled to be reallocated according to the next census, to be conducted in that year. Then, what is now merely a divergence between north and south might become an actual divide. In 2001, when a reallocation of seats based on population was proposed, the southern states argued that it would discriminate against them for following progressive health and education policies in prior decades that had reduced birth rates and enhanced women’s freedom. The BJP-led coalition government then in power recognized the merits of the south’s case and, with the consent of the opposition, proposed that the reallocation be delayed for a further 25 years.

In 2026, the matter will be reopened. One proposed solution is to emulate the U.S. model, in which congressional districts reflect population size while each state has two seats in the Senate, irrespective of population. Perhaps having the Rajya Sabha, or upper house, of the Indian Parliament restructured on similar principles may help restore faith in federalism. But if Modi and the BJP are in power, they will almost certainly mandate the process of reallocation based on population in both the Lok Sabha, the lower house, and the Rajya Sabha, which will then substantially favor the more populous if economically lagging states of the north. The southern states are bound to protest. Indian federalism and unity will struggle to cope with the fallout.

If the BJP achieves a third successive electoral victory in May, the creeping majoritarianism under Modi could turn into galloping majoritarianism, a trend that poses a fundamental challenge to Indian nationhood. Democratic- and pluralistic-minded Indians warn of the dangers of India becoming a country like Pakistan, defined by religious identity. A more salient cautionary tale might be Sri Lanka’s. With its educated population, good health care, relatively high position of women (compared with India and all other countries in South Asia), its capable and numerous professional class, and its attractiveness as a tourist destination, Sri Lanka was poised in the 1970s to join Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan as one of the so-called Asian Tigers. But then, a deadly mix of religious and linguistic majoritarianism reared its head. The Sinhala-speaking Buddhist majority chose to consolidate itself against the Tamil-speaking minority, who were themselves largely Hindus. Through the imposition of Sinhalese as the official language and Buddhism as the official religion, a deep division was created, provoking protests by the Tamils, peaceful at first but increasingly violent when crushed by the state. Three decades of bloody civil war ensued. The conflict formally ended in 2009, but the country has not remotely recovered, in social, economic, political, or psychological terms.
India will probably not go the way of Sri Lanka. A full-fledged civil war between Hindus and Muslims, or between north and south, is unlikely. But the Modi government is jeopardizing a key source of Indian strength: its varied forms of pluralism. One might usefully contrast Modi’s time in office with the years between 1989 and 2014, when neither the Congress nor the BJP had a majority in Parliament. In that period, prime ministers had to bring other parties into government, allocating important ministries to its leaders. This fostered a more inclusive and collaborative style of governance, more suitable to the size and diversity of the country itself. States run by parties other than the BJP or the Congress found representation at the center, their voices heard and their concerns taken into account. Federalism flourished, and so did the press and the courts, which had more room to follow an independent path. It may be no coincidence that it was in this period of coalition government that India experienced three decades of steady economic growth.

When India became free from British rule in 1947, many skeptics thought it was too large and too diverse to survive as a single nation and its population too poor and illiterate to be trusted with a democratic system of governance. Many predicted that the country would Balkanize, become a military dictatorship, or experience mass famine. That those dire scenarios did not come to pass was largely because of the sagacity of India’s founding figures, who nurtured a pluralist ethos that respected the rights of religious and linguistic minorities and who sought to balance the rights of the individual and the state, as well as those of the central government and the provinces. This delicate calculus enabled the country to stay united and democratic and allowed its people to steadily overcome the historic burdens of poverty and discrimination.

The last decade has witnessed the systematic erosion of those varied forms of pluralism. One party, the BJP, and within it, one man, the prime minister, are judged to represent India to itself and to the world. Modi’s charisma and popular appeal have consolidated this dominance, electorally speaking. Yet the costs are mounting. Hindus impose themselves on Muslims, the central government imposes itself on the provinces, the state further curtails the rights and freedoms of citizens. Meanwhile, the unthinking imitation of Western models of energy-intensive and capital-intensive industrialization is causing profound and, in many cases, irreversible environmental damage.

Modi and the BJP seem poised to win their third general election in a row. This victory would further magnify the prime minister’s aura, enhancing his image as India’s redeemer. His supporters will boast that their man is assuredly taking his country toward becoming the Vishwa Guru, the teacher to the world. Yet such triumphalism cannot mask the deep fault lines underneath, which—unless recognized and addressed—will only widen in the years to come.

Shift in Economic Sentiment: Voters’ Views on Inflation Impact Biden’s Prospects Ahead of November Election

Nancy Pontius is prepared to voice an unpopular opinion: she doesn’t perceive inflation as a significant concern and asserts that economic worries won’t sway her voting decision in the upcoming November election.

Despite experiencing financial strain akin to tens of millions of Americans in recent years, the 36-year-old Democrat from Pennsylvania remains resolute. “I definitely felt the gas price increase,” she acknowledges, “but I also recognized that it was likely to be temporary.” Having cast her ballot for Joe Biden four years ago, she intends to do so again, driven by issues like abortion. “I’m not concerned about the broader economic landscape,” she affirms.

This sentiment comes as a relief for President Biden, whose first term grappled with an unprecedented 18% surge in prices, sparking economic discontent and diminishing political backing. While America’s robust post-pandemic economic resurgence drew admiration globally, domestic sentiments remained starkly pessimistic.

However, there are indications of a shift as gasoline prices regress towards $3 per gallon nationally and wages edge closer to keeping pace with inflation. Economic sentiment, often described as the “vibe” people perceive about the economy, has seen improvement in business surveys recently.

According to the University of Michigan, Democrats like Nancy now express optimism about the economy akin to 2021 levels, surpassing any point during the Trump administration. Even Republican sentiments have slightly brightened, as per their research.

The White House is hopeful that this change in mood will endure, bolstering support for the president as the November election looms, especially in pivotal swing states like Pennsylvania. Yet, such optimism is far from guaranteed.

The president’s approval ratings linger near the lowest of his term, weighed down by concerns over immigration, his age, and conflicts like the one in Gaza. Despite positive indicators, overall economic sentiment is yet to rebound from the pandemic’s blow, notwithstanding robust growth and record low unemployment.

Within the Democratic camp, dissatisfaction with Biden’s economic policies, particularly among those under 30, presents a challenge. Kim Schwartz, a 28-year-old health technician from Pennsylvania, who voted for Biden in 2020, feels let down by the administration’s economic agenda.

“I don’t see any progress in getting more money into the hands of middle class and working class Americans to keep up with [inflation],” she laments. Kim’s financial situation has improved since 2020, yet she still diligently hunts for bargains at multiple grocery stores each week.

Her concerns resonate with others like John Cooke, a 34-year-old restaurant manager in Pennsylvania. While his eatery’s business remains strong, inflation has eaten into profits, and he hasn’t received a pay increase despite rising expenses.

Republicans, traditionally favored on economic matters, have seized on inflation to criticize Biden, attributing it to his spending policies. Economists attribute inflation to a combination of factors, including pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions and the Ukraine conflict’s impact on oil prices.

Democrats have maintained their electoral ground by attributing inflation to broader forces and focusing on other issues like social justice and climate change. However, swing voters, often prioritizing economic concerns, hold significant sway in presidential elections.

Strategists acknowledge Biden’s previous reliance on national economic metrics as a defense strategy as emotionally disconnected. Consequently, Biden has adopted a more populist rhetoric, criticizing price gouging and advocating against “shrinkflation” while denouncing “extreme MAGA Republican” economic policies.

Don Cunningham, a veteran Democratic figure in Pennsylvania, anticipates a reconciliation between economic sentiment and reality in the coming months. As head of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, he notes challenges for Biden unrelated to economic issues, such as generational divides and personal connections with voters.

Yet, signs indicate many Americans are disheartened by the probable 2020 rematch between Biden and Trump. Even Nancy, who ardently displayed her support for Biden in 2020, plans a more subdued approach this time, wary of discord with her neighbors.

“We might still put the Biden-Harris sign out,” she muses, “But I was willing to be a little louder in 2020… than I am now.”

New York Judge Orders Former President Trump to Pay $355 Million in Civil Fraud Case

A New York judge has handed down a significant ruling in a civil fraud case against former President Donald Trump, compelling him to pay nearly $355 million in penalties. This decision by Judge Arthur Engoron, outlined in a comprehensive 92-page document, follows weeks of closing arguments that concluded a lengthy trial, marked by frequent criticism from Trump towards both the judge and the prosecuting attorney.

In 2022, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Trump, alleging that he manipulated his net worth on crucial financial statements to obtain favorable tax and insurance benefits. The documents, providing details on the Trump Organization’s assets, were submitted to banks and insurers to secure loans and deals, presenting a case for fraud according to the state.

The potential financial burden on Trump and his business, including interest, may surpass $450 million, as indicated by the New York attorney general’s office. Engoron held Trump, the Trump Organization, and key executives, including his adult sons, liable for fraud before the trial began, as there was no jury present.

The imposed fine is slightly less than the $370 million sought by the attorney general’s office, and it also entails a three-year ban preventing Trump from engaging in New York business activities. Furthermore, Trump’s adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, were individually ordered to pay over $4 million each, accompanied by a two-year prohibition from serving as officers or directors of any New York corporation or legal entity.

Former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg faced a $1 million penalty, along with a three-year ban from New York business. Both Weisselberg and former controller Jeffrey McConney were also prohibited for life from serving in the financial control function of any New York corporation or business entity. Additionally, the judge extended the term of the independent monitor overseeing Trump’s business for three years and appointed an “Independent Director of Compliance.”

However, the judge overturned a pre-trial decision that ordered the cancellation of the defendants’ business certificates, stating that the order could potentially be renewed.

In response to the ruling, Attorney General Letitia James hailed it as a “tremendous victory” for the state and the nation, emphasizing the importance of holding powerful individuals accountable for dishonest practices that impact hardworking citizens.

“When powerful people cheat to get better loans, it comes at the expense of honest and hardworking people. Now, Donald Trump is finally facing accountability for his lying, cheating, and staggering fraud,” James remarked, emphasizing that no one is above the law.

Despite the substantial penalties, Trump’s legal team decried the ruling. Alina Habba, Trump’s lawyer, labeled it a “manifest injustice” and the outcome of a “multi-year, politically fueled witch hunt.” Chris Kise, Trump’s lead lawyer, characterized the case as an “unjust political crusade” against a leading presidential candidate and criticized the process as unfair and tyrannical. Kise confirmed that Trump would appeal the decision.

The trial spanned over two months, featuring testimony from 40 witnesses, including Michael Cohen, a former fixer for Trump, top Trump Organization executives, Trump’s adult children, and the former president himself. Trump’s defense rested on the argument that there was no fraud, with Deutsche Bank executives testifying that they conducted their own due diligence and found no evidence of fraud when working with the Trump Organization.

The strained relationship between Trump and Judge Engoron was evident early on when the judge ruled on Trump’s fraud liability. During Trump’s testimony in November, he launched attacks on the judge and Attorney General James, referring to them as “frauds,” “political hacks,” and “Trump haters.” Engoron had to admonish a Trump lawyer at one point, reminding him that the trial was not a political rally.

The financial ramifications of the $354.8 million judgment, coupled with another $83.3 million judgment against Trump for defamation, are expected to impact his estimated net worth significantly. Forbes estimates Trump’s wealth at $2.6 billion, while the Bloomberg Billionaires Index values him at $3.1 billion. These judgments could potentially result in a loss of 13 percent or more of his estimated net worth if these figures hold true.

Legal fees are also mounting for Trump, with approximately $50 million spent on legal consulting in 2023 by his fundraising committees. Notably, more than $18 million of this amount was allocated to lawyers Chris Kise, Alina Habba, and Clifford Robert, who represented Trump in the fraud case and other legal matters.

As Trump faces increasing legal challenges, including criminal cases and impending appeals in civil cases, the financial and legal implications of these recent judgments add another layer of complexity to his post-presidential life.

Debate Ignites Over Biden’s Fitness for Office Amid Handling of Classified Documents and Age Concerns

Last Thursday, President Joe Biden faced a challenging day, starting with the release of a report by special counsel Robert Hur regarding Biden’s handling of classified documents after leaving the vice presidency. While the report did not recommend criminal charges, it highlighted Biden’s retention of classified materials in his garage and unlocked drawers. Additionally, the report emphasized concerns about Biden’s advanced age, noting instances where he appeared forgetful in interviews.

Biden responded to the report at a press conference, vehemently denying any memory issues and defending his fitness for office. However, he also made errors during the press conference, including misidentifying Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the president of Mexico. These events sparked debate about Biden’s suitability for a second term as president and raised questions about his handling of classified documents.

Political analysts weighed in on the potential impact of the report on Biden’s political future. Some suggested that while Biden’s mishandling of documents could be damaging, it might not outweigh other concerns voters have. Others argued that Biden’s age and memory lapses could be significant factors in the 2024 campaign, especially considering existing public perceptions of his capabilities.

Discussions also revolved around comparisons between Biden’s case and former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents. While Trump faced similar accusations, his approach to the issue differed, leading to speculation about how each case might influence public opinion.

The report’s characterization of Biden as an elderly man with memory issues resonated with existing concerns about his age and fitness for office. Surveys indicated that a majority of Americans had significant doubts about Biden’s ability to serve a second term as president, with many citing concerns about his age and competence.

Analysts debated the potential consequences of Biden dropping out of the presidential race, with some suggesting Vice President Kamala Harris as a potential replacement. However, others expressed skepticism about the party’s ability to navigate such a significant change, given existing divisions and concerns within the Democratic Party.

Biden’s handling of classified documents and concerns about his age and memory have ignited debates about his fitness for office and his prospects in the 2024 presidential race. While the report’s findings have raised questions about Biden’s leadership, the ultimate impact on his political future remains uncertain, with analysts offering differing perspectives on the potential outcomes.

Trump Appeals to Supreme Court for Immunity from Prosecution, Potentially Delaying Landmark Trial

Former President Donald Trump has petitioned the Supreme Court to halt a lower court’s decision denying him immunity from prosecution while in office. Trump’s claim of immunity was challenged in a case involving election interference during his presidency. Despite his assertion that he couldn’t be prosecuted for actions taken while president, three lower court judges disagreed, asserting that he should be subject to prosecution like any other citizen.

In a bid to delay potential legal proceedings, Trump’s legal team argued that holding a trial during an election campaign would severely disrupt his ability to campaign against his political opponent. They stated in their filing, “Conducting a months-long criminal trial of President Trump at the height of election season will radically disrupt President Trump’s ability to campaign against President Biden.”

The Supreme Court is now tasked with determining whether to suspend the ruling to permit Trump to pursue an appeal. Granting Trump’s request could significantly postpone the landmark criminal case, which accuses him of unlawfully attempting to overturn the 2020 election, possibly until after the November election. Conversely, if the Supreme Court rejects the stay, the federal trial overseen by Judge Tanya Chutkan will likely proceed, potentially in the spring.

As Trump continues his political ambitions, he faces three additional criminal trials. Charges in Georgia allege an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, while a seven-count indictment in Florida concerns his handling of classified documents post-presidency. The third trial, in New York, relates to the alleged concealment of a payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Trump’s legal team has persistently sought to postpone his criminal trials until after the 2024 election. In the election interference trial, Trump faces four charges, including conspiracy to defraud the US and obstruction of an official proceeding. Despite his denials of wrongdoing, his lawyers argue that presidents are immune from prosecution for crimes committed while in office, even after leaving the White House.

Recently, a three-judge panel from the DC Circuit court rejected this immunity argument, stating that “any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as president no longer protects him against this prosecution.” Now, Trump’s lawyers are urging the Supreme Court to intervene by suspending the lower court’s ruling to allow time for a full review by all active judges on the DC Circuit court.

They cautioned that denying immunity to former presidents would establish a precedent leading to more frequent prosecutions, potentially altering the nature of the presidency. Trump’s legal team emphasized, “Without immunity from criminal prosecution, the Presidency as we know it will cease to exist.”

Depending on the Supreme Court’s response, several outcomes are possible. The court could reject Trump’s request for a stay, leading to the resumption of the federal trial. Alternatively, they could deny his appeal for a review, effectively dismissing his immunity argument. Another option is for the Supreme Court to expedite Trump’s appeal, akin to a separate case regarding his eligibility for the 2024 election ballot.

The timing of the Supreme Court’s decision remains uncertain. Last year, the court declined a request by Special Counsel Jack Smith for an expedited ruling on Trump’s immunity claim. As such, the timeline for the court’s ruling on Trump’s current request is unclear.

Trump Threatens to Abandon NATO Allies Over Defense Spending, Sparks Concerns Over Alliance’s Future

Former President Donald Trump has asserted that the United States would not come to the defense of NATO allies in the event of a Russian attack if those allies failed to meet his criteria for defense spending. This declaration, made during a campaign rally in Conway, S.C., raises significant concerns about the future of the alliance should Trump be reelected in 2024.

Trump’s stance on NATO spending has been a longstanding point of contention, with him consistently criticizing other member countries for not meeting defense spending targets and inaccurately claiming that there are outstanding balances owed by allies. However, his recent remarks take this criticism a step further, suggesting that Russia should be encouraged to attack countries that are “delinquent” in their contributions.

During the rally, Trump recounted a hypothetical scenario where a country asked if the U.S. would protect them in the event of a Russian attack due to unpaid contributions. Trump’s response was blunt: “No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.”

Trump also claimed that his threats led to a significant increase in NATO spending, stating that “hundreds of billions” flowed into the alliance as a result. However, data shows that NATO spending was already on the rise before Trump took office in 2016.

The issue of NATO spending has been a focal point since Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. In response, NATO countries pledged to increase defense spending to 2% of their gross domestic product by 2024. Yet, according to data from July 2023, only 11 out of the 31 member countries have met this target. Notably, the United States contributes 3.49% of its GDP to defense, while several other countries, including France, Germany, and Canada, have fallen short.

The White House swiftly condemned Trump’s remarks, describing them as “unhinged” and emphasizing President Joe Biden’s commitment to strengthening NATO. White House spokesman Andrew Bates emphasized that Biden’s approach prioritizes American leadership and national security interests.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg echoed these sentiments, stating that any suggestion of allies not defending each other undermines collective security and increases risks for American and European soldiers.

Trump’s comments on NATO come amid a campaign rally in South Carolina, just weeks before the state’s Republican presidential primary. At the rally, he reiterated his hardline stance on immigration, promising to reverse Biden administration policies and implement aggressive deportation measures.

Trump also addressed the legal challenges he faces, including numerous criminal indictments, attributing them to bolstering his poll numbers rather than seeking revenge against Biden.

These remarks on foreign policy coincide with congressional struggles to advance aid packages for Israel and Ukraine, issues Trump claims would not have arisen under his administration’s leadership.

Democrats Strategize Amidst Political Turmoil: Biden’s Allies React to Special Counsel’s Report Fallout

Democrats have enjoyed significant victories in various election contests by positioning themselves as champions of reproductive rights, while on another front, Tasini proposed the idea of framing the GOP as obstructive, particularly in light of the collapsed deal linking border security with aid to Ukraine and Israel, amidst strong opposition from Trump.

Carville suggested that Biden should highlight his accomplishments in areas such as lowering drug prices and implementing certain measures for student loan relief. Additionally, he recommended promising investigations into price gouging that occurred in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, Biden’s supporters appear focused on damage control following the release of the special counsel’s report.

At an event on Friday, Harris argued against the characterization of the president’s demeanor in the report, asserting that it was factually incorrect and clearly driven by political motives.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dismissed the report’s commentary on Biden’s age during a media briefing on Friday, stating that it was detached from reality.

However, regardless of the factual accuracy of Biden’s cognitive abilities, the issue remains persistent.

Independent analysts believe that the president’s recent press conference was a misstep that could have long-lasting repercussions.

Boston University Professor Emeritus Tobe Berkovitz, an expert in political communications, described the press conference as a significant mistake. He suggested that the combination of the press conference and the preceding special counsel report could severely impact the small group of undecided voters.

“If you were on the fence, that pushed you off the fence,” Berkovitz predicted.

Supreme Court Accelerates Decision Timeline in Trump Ballot Eligibility Case

The Supreme Court typically takes approximately three months to render a decision following arguments. Major rulings often come at the end of June, regardless of when in the term the cases were initially argued.

However, the case presented on Thursday differs, indicating an imminent ruling.

The justices expedited the case when they agreed to hear it, and both parties have requested a swift decision, emphasizing the urgency of determining whether former President Donald Trump qualifies to be on the ballot. Trump’s legal team stressed to the justices, “urgently require this court’s prompt resolution.”

The attorneys representing six Colorado voters who contested Trump’s eligibility urged the court to decide by Sunday, just before the state sends out primary ballots. They stated, “Having a decision on the merits by Feb. 11 would ensure that every in-state Colorado voter knows of this court’s decision before receiving their ballot and casting their primary vote.”

While this deadline may appear overly ambitious, the court may act before Super Tuesday on March 5, when Colorado and 14 other states hold their presidential primaries.

If the justices adhere to their customary procedures, they will convene in the coming days for a private conference to cast preliminary votes. The senior justice in the majority will assign the majority opinion, possibly retaining it themselves. Draft opinions, likely including concurrences and dissents, will be drafted and exchanged.

Despite the complexity of the legal issues and the high stakes involved, these proceedings are likely to occur at an accelerated pace. However, there is precedent for swift action in significant election cases, as seen in the court’s decision in Bush v. Gore, which was issued the day after arguments.

Fiscal Forecast: CBO Projects Temporary Dip in Deficit, Long-Term Challenges Loom

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report on Wednesday, projecting a decrease in the federal budget deficit by $188 billion for this fiscal year, down to $1.5 trillion. However, this dip is expected to be temporary, with forecasts indicating a likely increase in the deficit over the next nine years. The decline in this year’s deficit is attributed to two specific factors, both of which are one-off events, highlighting the ongoing challenge for policymakers to reconcile tax revenues and expenditures.

One factor contributing to the decrease is the timing of the fiscal year, which began on an October weekend, resulting in payments being recorded in fiscal 2023 without corresponding revenues. Additionally, tax revenues are projected to rise due to improved returns on financial investments and the collection of taxes postponed from the previous year due to natural disasters.

Looking ahead, the cumulative budget deficits over the next decade are expected to be 7% smaller than previously forecasted by the nonpartisan CBO. This adjustment is primarily due to an agreement reached between President Joe Biden and Congressional Republicans last summer. This agreement temporarily lifted the statutory debt ceiling in exchange for imposing restrictions on government spending. Economic growth is also anticipated to be stronger than previously predicted, with an increase in the number of people employed.

However, despite these improvements, deficits remain a concern for lawmakers in the years ahead. Challenges include the burden of servicing the total debt load, an aging population leading to increased costs for Social Security and Medicare, and rising healthcare expenses.

The report also warns that the nation’s publicly held debt is projected to escalate from 99% of the gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of 2024 to 116% of GDP by the end of 2034, marking the highest level ever recorded. This increase is fueled by persistent gaps between tax revenues and government expenditures, resulting in borrowing from investors.

Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, emphasized the need for policymakers to address the severity of the situation and commit to taking necessary actions. While acknowledging that the debt ceiling agreement was a positive step, MacGuineas stressed that more substantial efforts are required.

The CBO’s projections are subject to uncertainties, as laws can change, and economic performance may differ significantly from expectations. For example, last year’s projection of a 4.7% unemployment rate in 2023 contrasts with the current rate of 3.7%. The CBO anticipates a 4.4% unemployment rate by the end of 2024.

Persistent disagreements between Democrats and Republicans regarding the causes and solutions for the national debt have made it a recurring topic in political discourse without leading to comprehensive solutions. Republicans criticize Democrats for excessive spending during President Biden’s administration, while Democrats attribute costs to tax cuts implemented during Donald Trump’s presidency.

Bill Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center, highlighted the uncertainty injected into the economic outlook by political brinkmanship. Hoagland stressed the necessity of bipartisan efforts to address entitlement reform, revenue generation, and the budget process.

The CBO’s 10-year deficit projections may be overly optimistic, assuming the expiration of many tax cuts signed into law by Trump by the end of 2025. Republicans advocate for retaining and potentially expanding these tax cuts, which could reduce expected revenues while simultaneously increasing spending.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell underscored the unsustainable nature of the growing debt relative to the economy during a recent interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes. Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, echoed the urgency of the situation, calling for a bipartisan fiscal commission to propose solutions for placing the country on a more sustainable fiscal trajectory.

President Biden Defends Memory Amid Mishandling Allegations: Calls Out Investigation’s Intrusions

US President Joe Biden has strongly reacted to an inquiry accusing him of mishandling classified files and struggling to recall important life events. Speaking at a surprise news briefing, he vehemently defended his memory, stating, “My memory is fine.” He emotionally responded to a claim about his recollection of his son’s death, expressing outrage with, “How the hell dare he raise that?”

The investigation, led by Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Hur, concluded that Biden had “wilfully retained and disclosed” classified documents but opted not to press charges against him. Hur found that Biden had improperly retained classified files related to military and foreign policy concerning Afghanistan after his tenure as vice president.

The report, spanning 345 pages and released earlier in the day, criticized the president’s memory, citing “significant limitations.” Despite Biden’s attempts to address questions regarding his age and mental sharpness, he inadvertently referred to Egyptian leader Abdul Fattah al-Sisi as the “president of Mexico” during the briefing.

During his interview with Hur, Biden reportedly struggled to recall key events, including the timeframe of his vice presidency and the death of his son, Beau Biden, in 2015. At the subsequent news conference, Biden emotionally responded to doubts raised about his memory, stating, “Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself, was none of their damn business,” emphasizing that he didn’t need reminders about his son’s passing.

Biden defended himself by highlighting his busy schedule during the interview period, coinciding with the Israel-Gaza conflict. He denied sharing sensitive material from handwritten notebooks with a ghostwriter for his memoir, a finding presented in the report.

The special counsel suggested that convicting Biden of mishandling files would be challenging, as he could present himself as a sympathetic elderly man with memory issues. Despite concerns about his age among voters, Biden asserted his qualifications for the presidency, stating, “I am well-meaning… And am elderly. I know what the hell I’m doing. I put this country back on its feet.”

When questioned about his responsibility for classified documents found in his home, Biden blamed his staff, claiming ignorance about the placement of sensitive memos in his garage, near a dog bed. The atmosphere during the news conference was described as tense by a BBC reporter present, particularly when journalists raised concerns about Biden’s age.

Biden vehemently maintained the integrity of his memory, insisting it had not deteriorated during his presidency. His legal team criticized the special counsel’s characterization of his memory lapses as prejudicial, emphasizing that such lapses are common among witnesses recalling events from years prior.

The top-secret files were discovered at Biden’s residence in Wilmington, Delaware, and his former private office from 2022 to 2023. This discovery followed a separate investigation that charged former President Donald Trump with mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House. Trump faces trial in May in that case.

The Hur report draws a distinction between Biden’s case and Trump’s, noting that Biden surrendered the documents to government archivists, while Trump allegedly refused to return them for months and obstructed justice by attempting to destroy evidence and lie about it.

In response to the report, Trump called for the cancellation of his classified files trial, urging the justice department prosecutor to drop all litigation against him. He made this plea on his platform, Truth Social, stating it would help unify the country.

Federal Appeals Panel Rules Trump Can Face Trial for 2020 Election Plot: Rejects Immunity Claim

A federal appeals court panel declared on Tuesday that there is no legal shield preventing former President Donald Trump from standing trial over allegations that he conspired to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. This ruling forcefully rebuffed Trump’s claims of immunity from prosecution and reignited a pivotal legal battle that had been stalled for weeks pending the appeal’s resolution.

The court’s decision carries significant weight not only because it dismantles Trump’s unconventional immunity argument but also because it revives a high-profile prosecution that had been effectively halted during the appeal process. However, the one-month gap between the oral arguments and the issuance of the ruling has introduced uncertainty regarding the trial’s scheduling in an already crowded election year calendar. The initial trial date set for March 4th was canceled last week by the overseeing judge due to this uncertainty.

Trump’s legal team has vowed to continue the fight, signaling their intent to appeal the ruling, a move that could potentially prolong the legal proceedings by weeks or even months, especially if the case reaches the Supreme Court. The appeals panel, comprising two judges appointed by President Joe Biden and one by a Republican president, granted Trump a week to petition the Supreme Court for intervention.

The timing of the trial holds significant political implications, with special counsel Jack Smith aiming to proceed with prosecution this year, while Trump, as a leading contender for the Republican nomination, seeks to postpone the trial until after the November elections. If Trump were to win, he might exploit his executive powers to influence the case’s outcome, either by directing a new attorney general to dismiss the charges or by seeking a self-pardon.

This unanimous ruling marks the second instance since December in which judges have affirmed Trump’s liability for actions taken during his presidency and in the lead-up to the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot. The court’s opinion unequivocally rejects Trump’s assertion of absolute immunity for official actions, stating, “For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant.”

The judges emphasized the importance of holding individuals accountable for criminal conduct, dismissing the notion that a president possesses unchecked authority to flout election outcomes or infringe upon citizens’ voting rights. They firmly stated, “We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter.”

In response to the ruling, a spokesperson for Trump affirmed his intention to appeal, citing the necessity of preserving the integrity of the presidency and the Constitution. Trump himself reiterated his stance on Truth Social, asserting that presidential immunity is essential for effective governance.

The legal battle over Trump’s immunity came to the forefront in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after the Supreme Court declined to intervene in December. The absence of a definitive timeline for the Supreme Court’s action leaves the trial proceedings in limbo. If the Supreme Court rejects Trump’s appeal, the trial could resume under the jurisdiction of U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

However, if the Supreme Court grants Trump’s appeal, the length of the trial’s delay would hinge on the court’s established timetable. Trump’s legal team has argued for extending the immunity from civil to criminal liability for official acts, maintaining that Trump’s contested actions were within the bounds of his presidential duties.

Conversely, Smith’s team contends that such immunity does not exist constitutionally and that Trump’s actions were outside the scope of his official responsibilities. Judge Chutkan had previously dismissed Trump’s claims of immunity, stating that the presidency does not grant lifelong immunity from legal accountability.

During the appellate court proceedings, the judges displayed skepticism towards Trump’s arguments, posing hypothetical scenarios to challenge the validity of his immunity claims. Trump’s lawyer asserted that a president could be prosecuted only after impeachment and conviction by Congress, aligning with their argument that impeachment acquittals shield ex-presidents from prosecution.

Beyond the Washington case, Trump faces legal challenges in Florida, Georgia, and New York, including federal charges related to classified documents and state-level accusations concerning election interference and hush money payments. Despite his denials of wrongdoing, these legal battles loom large as Trump continues his political ambitions.

Federal Appeals Court Rules Former Presidents, Including Trump, Can Face Prosecution for Office Crimes

In a groundbreaking ruling, a federal appeals court panel declared that former President Donald Trump, along with any other former president, could potentially face prosecution for alleged crimes committed while in office. The unanimous decision, encompassing 57 pages, was handed down by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. This ruling stands as a significant victory for special counsel Jack Smith, who aims to bring Trump to trial this year on federal felony charges related to his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

The court’s ruling emphasizes the transition of former President Trump into “citizen Trump,” stripping away any executive immunity he may have enjoyed while in office. The judges underscored that for the purposes of this criminal case, Trump is on equal footing with any other criminal defendant. They explicitly stated, “But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution.”

The decision affirms the groundbreaking conclusion reached by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, asserting that former presidents can indeed be prosecuted for crimes committed during their time in office, even if those alleged crimes are related to their official duties. Trump had argued against this, contending that former presidents should not be subject to prosecution without first undergoing impeachment and conviction by Congress.

The speed of the appeals court’s action, taking only 28 days after oral arguments, is notable. While this slowed Smith’s case and necessitated a delay in Trump’s scheduled trial, it also keeps the possibility open for a trial to proceed in Washington sometime in the spring.

Despite Trump’s intention to appeal, possibly reaching the Supreme Court as early as Monday, the appellate judges have put their decision on hold until then. If Trump pursues this route, the decision won’t come into effect until the Supreme Court acts on his request. Alternatively, Trump could request a rehearing from the D.C. Circuit, although this would not necessarily delay the case’s return to Judge Chutkan unless the full bench of the D.C. Circuit agrees to a rehearing.

The unanimous nature of Tuesday’s ruling, supported by both liberal and conservative judges, carries significant weight. Rather than a divided decision, the ruling lays down a comprehensive legal and political framework for prosecuting a former president.

The panel, comprising judges appointed by Presidents Joe Biden and George H.W. Bush, concluded that the traditional doctrines of presidential immunity from civil lawsuits related to official duties do not extend to alleged criminal acts, particularly for a former president. They argued that the gravity of the charges against Trump outweighed concerns about potential chilling effects on future presidents.

The judges emphasized that their decision did not factor in policy considerations related to prosecuting a sitting president or a state prosecution of a president, either current or former. They firmly rejected Trump’s claim of “categorical” immunity from prosecution, citing the precedent set by President Richard Nixon’s acceptance of a presidential pardon to forestall potential criminal charges stemming from the Watergate scandal.

Additionally, the panel dismissed Trump’s assertion that former presidents can only be prosecuted after impeachment and conviction by Congress. They pointed out that 30 Republican senators’ refusal to convict Trump during his impeachment trial regarding the Capitol attack signaled a lack of consensus on Congress’s authority to try former presidents.

In response to the court’s ruling, Trump’s spokesperson reiterated Trump’s argument that his indictment would set a dangerous precedent, suggesting that future presidents could face vindictive prosecutions from political adversaries after leaving office.

The federal appeals court’s decision represents a significant development in legal and political discourse surrounding the accountability of former presidents for their actions while in office. It establishes a precedent that former presidents, including Trump, are not immune to prosecution for alleged criminal acts committed during their tenure.

President Biden Triumphs in South Carolina Democratic Primary, Solidifies Support Among Black Voters

President Joe Biden secured a solid victory in South Carolina’s Democratic primary, reaffirming his strong support among the state’s voters. This win holds significant symbolism as it mirrors his previous triumph in the state during the 2020 primaries, which revitalized his then-struggling campaign. Biden’s success in South Carolina underscores the importance of the state as a crucial battleground for mobilizing Black voters, a key demographic pivotal to his electoral strategy.

“In 2020, it was the voters of South Carolina who proved the pundits wrong, breathed new life into our campaign, and set us on the path to winning the presidency,” Biden emphasized in a statement, expressing gratitude for the continued support. He further asserted his confidence in reclaiming the presidency, framing the upcoming election as another opportunity to defeat former President Donald Trump.

The Associated Press officially declared Biden’s victory, highlighting his decisive lead across key locations in the state. This win not only secures South Carolina’s 55 Democratic delegates but also serves as a testament to the effectiveness of Biden’s reelection campaign’s efforts to engage and mobilize voters.

Biden’s strategic focus on South Carolina is evident in his advocacy for a revamped primary calendar, aimed at prioritizing states with greater racial diversity. This move reflects a broader push within the Democratic National Committee to address concerns about the lack of diversity in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

The significance of South Carolina’s primary is underscored by its substantial Black population, comprising 26% of the state’s residents. Black voters played a crucial role in Biden’s 2020 victory, with overwhelming support contributing to his nomination and eventual election as president.

Biden’s longstanding relationships within South Carolina, coupled with the endorsement of influential figures like Rep. Jim Clyburn, have solidified his position within the state’s political landscape. Clyburn’s continued support underscores Biden’s resonance with Black voters and his commitment to advancing their interests.

Throughout his presidency, Biden has consistently expressed gratitude to South Carolina’s Democratic voters for their unwavering support. His acknowledgment of their pivotal role in his political journey reinforces the significance of the state within the broader Democratic Party.

Campaigning in South Carolina, Biden emphasized the state’s critical role in shaping the outcome of the 2020 election, framing it as instrumental in defeating Trump. This narrative reflects the president’s confidence in his ability to secure victory once again, positioning himself as the strongest contender against the GOP’s current frontrunner.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison, a South Carolina native, hailed Biden’s decision to prioritize the state’s primary, recognizing its historical significance. Harrison emphasized the importance of representation and inclusivity in the electoral process, applauding Biden for acknowledging and addressing these concerns.

Black voters in South Carolina cited various reasons for their continued support for Biden, ranging from his administration’s defense of abortion rights to his commitment to diversity in judicial appointments. Concerns about the age of both Biden and Trump were also acknowledged, yet many voters expressed a preference for Biden based on his policies and leadership qualities.

Despite concerns about age and readiness, Biden’s track record and policy positions resonated strongly with voters, positioning him as the preferred choice over his opponent. This sentiment reflects a broader confidence in Biden’s ability to lead and navigate the challenges facing the nation.

Biden’s victory in South Carolina’s Democratic primary reaffirms his strong support among Black voters and underscores the state’s pivotal role in shaping the outcome of the upcoming election. His strategic focus on engaging diverse communities highlights a commitment to inclusivity and representation within the Democratic Party.

The Coming-of-Age of Indian Americans

“Despite constituting less than 1% of the U.S. population, Indian Americans are 3% of the nation’s engineers, 7% of its IT workers and 8% of its physicians and surgeons,” wrote the popular Forbes magazine in 2008. “The overrepresentation of Indians in these fields is striking–in practical terms, your doctor is nine times more likely to be an Indian American than is a random passerby on the street.”

Sixteen years later, in 2024, the Indian American community has grown even stronger; their successes encompassing almost all areas of American life – living  the American Dream.  The less than four million Indian Americans appear to be gaining prominence and have come to be recognized as a model community, and a force to reckon with in this land of opportunities that they have come to call as their adopted homeland.

In 1960, there were only 12,000 Indian immigrants living in the United States, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Today, the number of Indian Americans or Indian immigrants has climbed to more than 4 million, census data shows. Historically, Indians in the US worked in medicine, science & technology, engineering and mathematics-related jobs. Some, like the Patel community from Gujarat, took to the hotel industry and grew to dominate it. Others were entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley after the digital revolution of the 1980s.

In 1997, Ramani Ayer became the CEO of the Fortune 500 financial firm The Hartford, becoming the first in the list of Indian leaders heading American businesses. At present, 2% of the Fortune 500 companies of American origin — including Microsoft, Alphabet, Adobe, IBM, and Micron Technologies — are led by Indian American CEOs. One in every seven doctors in America is of Indian descent.

Among all these fields, if there is one area, where the influential Indian Americans have come to be recognized more than any other is the political arena, where they are seeking to win elections at the national, state and local levels, vying to occupy top jobs across the nation.

The Coming of Age of Indian Americans 3Ever since Gov. Bobby Jindal the first ever major Indian American presidential candidate who had sought to occupy the White House, there have been many others who have followed in his footsteps. Indian Americans have expressed keen interest in carving out their political space at the national table for decades, and now, the fruits of their labor are paying off, with more successes now than ever before.

Four years ago, it was then-California Sen. Kamala Harris, who made headlines and then elected as the vice president, becoming the highest-ranking person of Indian descent in the US government. The rise of Kamala Harris, daughter of an Indian mother, as the Vice President represented a coming-of-age of the Indian American community in the United States. Harris was born to civil rights activist parents a year before the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was passed; this Act relaxed the quota regime that restricted foreigners. At that time, there was one Indian American lawmaker in the US House of Representatives — the Punjab-born Dalip Singh Saund, also from California.

It’s still a relatively small number, compared with the country’s total population of more than 333 million. But Devesh Kapur, co-author of “The Other One Percent: Indians in America,” said he was not surprised to see three Indian Americans in the political spotlight in the 2024 race. “Indian Americans have been selected to be the outliers — they have been selected for success,” Kapur wrote in his book with Sanjoy Chakravorty and Nirvikar Singh.

The 2024 election season in the United States (US) kicked off and now with less than 10 months to go until Election Day and a week before the next Republican primary, one group that has emerged on the national political stage in a way they never have before in U.S. history: Indian Americans.

The current election cycle is shaping up to be historic for the Indian American community at every level, from local to the presidential. After months of campaigning, only a handful of GOP hopefuls were qualified for the last Republican Party Presdetial Debate; two of them were former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur and commentator whose White House bid has skyrocketed his profile.

While insurgent candidate Vivek Ramaswamy bowed out after finishing fourth in the Iowa Caucus, former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, emerged with a strong showing and is now poised to give former President Donald Trump a run for his money in South Carolina primary on Tuesday, February 13.

“You have to sit and wonder, we have these two folks who are showing these all-star abilities — will we end up with an Indian American on this ticket?” said Sara Sadhwani, an assistant professor of politics at Pomona College and co-author of the Indian American Election Survey.

Harris, Haley, and Ramaswamy have many notable political differences. In a way, each is competing against the other in the 2024 election. But together, they represent a remarkable moment in American politics, experts say: Indian Americans account for about 1.3% of the country’s population, according to census data — and three Indian American politicians have risen close to the top of both major parties. “Mathematically, you would not have expected this,” said University of California, Riverside, public policy professor Karthick Ramakrishnan.

Haley had made history as the first female governor of South Carolina and the first Indian American to be appointed to a cabinet-level position, serving as the US ambassador to the United Nations in 2016. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants who reminded my brothers, my sister and me every single day how blessed we were to live in this country,” said Haley, as she announced her presidential campaign last February.

In addition to the leading Presidential aspirants, there are five Indian American members in the current US Congress —Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Ami Bera (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Shri Thanedar (D-MI) who are seeking re-elections this year. Each of them is expected to be reelected in 2024 due to the advantages of incumbency and their substantial campaign funding.

According to Indian American Impact, an organization dedicated to strengthening the political influence of the community, there are already more than 200 Indian Americans who are elected to positions ranging from school boards and city councils to state assemblies and senates across the country.

However, what is promising as the nation goes into another round of elections is the prospect of several candidates from a wide range of congressional districts across the country from New York to California, and from Illinois to Alabama, are aiming to join the ranks of the “Samosa Caucus.”

Kevin Thomas, a New York state senator vying to win the fourth congressional district, is a prominent Democratic contender to become the sixth Indian American member of the 119th Congress. The district, currently represented by first-term GOP Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, has historically leaned towards the Democratic party, consistently supporting their presidential nominees in the past eight elections. This favorable trend significantly boosts Thomas’ prospects of winning the primary and securing a seat in Congress.

Ohio state senator Niraj Antani is seeking the GOP nomination from the state’s second congressional district. The 32-year-old, who has been in the state legislature since 2014, is expected to get elected to Congress if he wins the Republican primary, as the district is heavily Republican. “In Congress, I will have a steel-spine in standing for life, our 2nd Amendment rights, and for pro-growth economic policies. As a fiercely pro-Trump Republican, I will work hard every day for our community in Congress to ensure every Ohioan has an opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”

Arizona State Rep. Amish Shah, the first Indian American elected to the Arizona legislature, is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for Arizona’s first congressional district. Shah, an emergency physician, has raised more than $1 million for his campaign and will have a fair shot in November if he wins the primary in this seat, currently represented by Republican David Schweikert and leans slightly Republican.

Ashwani Jain, a former Gubernatorial candidate of Maryland, is running for Congress from Maryland’s 6th District. He says, “I am running for Congress in the district I live in and call home – not just to be Maryland’s first Millennial, first Asian-American and first Indian-American ever elected – but because I have specific policy solutions that will open the doors of opportunity for our community.” Jain, a cancer survivor, is focused on issues including immigrant rights, climate change, labor rights and raising teachers’ pay, reproductive justice, and gun violence.

Hoboken Mayor in the state of New Jersey, Ravi Bhalla is running for Congress from the 8th District. At Congress, Bhalla says, he “will be an advocate for New Jersey’s working families as he fights to make healthcare a right for everyone, tackle climate change, protect a woman’s right to choose, and build an economy that works for all New Jerseyans.”

Suhas Subramanyam and Krystle Kaul: Two Indian Americans are vying for the Democratic Party nomination in Virginia’s 10th congressional district. Krystle Kaul Kaul, much like Subramanyam, is focusing on issues such as national security, women’s rights, economy & jobs, healthcare, education, and energy & the environment. Subramanyam, a Virginia state senator has been serving in the state legislature for the past four years. Kaul, a veteran of the defence and intelligence community, is running on her national security experience. If either of them wins the primary, they would be formidable candidates to represent this Democratic-leaning district.

Susheela Jayapal, a candidate for Oregon’s third congressional district, and Rishi Kumar, who is running for California’s 16th congressional district are other Indian Americans, who are “strong candidates who have run for office before and have name recognition.” Jayapal had served as the commissioner of Oregon’s most populous county, Multnomah County. In 2020, Kumar secured nearly 37% of the votes against the incumbent and fellow Democrat Anna Eshoo, who is now retiring, boosting his chances of victory in 2024.

Vimal Patel from Alabama’s 2nd district abd Nikhil Bhatia from Illinois’ 7th District are others who are in the fray to enter the Congress this Fall. Another Republican seeking to win on a Republican ticket is Dr. Prashanth Reddy from Kansas’ 3rd district is a physician, who is focused on defending the nation and standing up for parents and students in addition to securing the border, supporting law enforcement, standing up to China, and protecting taxpayers.

In addition, dozens of highly qualified and experienced Indian American candidates are also vying for statewide offices in this election cycle. Among those who have announced their candidacies for statewide offices, include: Minita Sanghvi, a Democrat currently serving as the Saratoga Springs finance commissioner, vying for the 44th state senate district in New York; Tara Sreekrishnan, a member of the Santa Clara County Board of Education, running for the California state assembly from district 26; Ashwin Ramaswami seeking election to the Georgia state senate from senate district 48; and Seema Singh, a member of the Knoxville City Council, running for district 90 of the Tennessee house of representatives.

Irrespective of political differences, the Indian American community is happy about the sharp increase in their political participation, especially over the last three election cycles, and is proud of the rise of another of their own. As Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah and United States Ambassador to China, had said: “In the last half-century, Americans of Indian descent epitomize how new waves of immigrants have been renewing our communities and our economy. ”

Shekar Narasimhan, founder and chairman of the AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) Victory Fund, sums it all, saying that while he is happy to see more Asian-Americans gain prominence in politics,  “A beautiful thing is happening: Indian-Americans are coming to the forefront. If our children see Americans with a name like Ramaswamy run, and a Khanna or Krishnamoorthi can win, that’s a good thing.”

Polls Signal Peril for Trump: Conviction Could Cost Him 2024 Election, Survey Shows

Former President Trump has managed to sidestep numerous controversies that might have been detrimental to other political candidates. However, recent developments suggest that he may not be entirely impervious to the consequences of his actions, especially in the eyes of voters.

A new survey, released by Bloomberg and Morning Consult, indicates that the outcome of the four criminal trials Trump is currently embroiled in could dramatically influence his political future. According to the poll, a significant majority of voters in crucial swing states would be disinclined to support Trump if he were to be convicted of a criminal offense or sentenced to prison.

The poll, conducted in seven pivotal states including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, revealed that a conviction could sway the decisions of a substantial portion of voters, potentially impacting the outcome of the election. GOP strategist Doug Heye emphasized the significance of this, noting that a conviction could serve as a decisive factor in an election where either Trump or President Biden could emerge victorious.

The survey also highlighted a noteworthy shift among Trump’s own voter base. Approximately 20 percent of voters in the surveyed states who had previously supported Trump expressed reluctance to vote for him again if he were to face conviction. GOP strategist Dan Judy commented on this trend, suggesting that while Trump might still retain a significant portion of Republican support, any erosion of this base could significantly impact the election outcome.

However, it remains uncertain whether the polling figures accurately reflect potential outcomes in a general election. At present, in the absence of any criminal convictions, Trump maintains a lead of six points among registered voters in battleground states, as indicated by the Bloomberg poll.

Historically, dissatisfied voters have sometimes compromised their reservations and supported candidates who align most closely with their beliefs, regardless of misgivings. For instance, in 2016, despite controversies such as the release of the Access Hollywood tape, Trump managed to secure victory with the backing of his party faithful.

Despite facing four indictments comprising a total of 91 criminal charges last year, Trump’s grip on the Republican nomination appeared to strengthen, with his supporters rallying around him amidst allegations of unfair targeting.

While Trump has emerged victorious in the initial contests of this year’s primary process, a significant disparity exists between the sentiments of the GOP electorate and the broader public. A recent Economist/YouGov poll revealed that while Trump enjoys favorable ratings from 79 percent of Republicans, only 40 percent of the general public view him favorably.

Moreover, Trump faces relentless attacks from the Biden campaign and its supporters, who argue that his reelection would jeopardize democracy itself. Trump maintains his innocence regarding all charges against him, while his legal team continues to seek delays in proceedings.

Currently, Trump faces impending trials in New York, Georgia, and federal courts, with charges ranging from hush money payments to alleged conspiracies to overturn the 2020 election. The timing of these trials presents a challenge, particularly as Trump seeks to secure the GOP nomination and mount a reelection campaign.

Should Trump emerge victorious in the GOP primary cycle, he would be officially nominated at the Republican National Convention in mid-July. However, the possibility of a federal trial relating to events surrounding the 2020 election looms, pending court decisions regarding presidential immunity from prosecution.

Aside from the question of guilt or acquittal, Trump faces the practical dilemma of allocating his time between campaign efforts and legal defense. GOP strategist Dan Judy noted the inherent challenge in balancing these priorities, emphasizing the importance of time as a candidate’s most valuable resource.

Nonetheless, predicting Trump’s future remains uncertain, as his political trajectory has defied conventional wisdom time and again. Despite skepticism, observers acknowledge the absence of historical precedent to guide assessments of Trump’s prospects.

“In many ways, predicting Trump’s fate has been a futile endeavor,” Judy conceded. “There’s no precedent to rely on here, no past events to draw parallels from. It’s impossible to say for certain what lies ahead.”

Emergence of Assertive Hindu American Politics: Candidates Proudly Represent Faith in U.S. Political Arena

Vivek Ramaswamy expressed his pride in his Hindu identity while campaigning in New Hampshire, stating, “I’m Hindu, and I’m proud of that.” He emphasized his commitment to defending religious liberty without apology. Although his presidential bid faltered in Iowa, his presence underscored a significant emergence: the visibility of assertive Hinduism in American politics.

The burgeoning influence of Hindu American politics was vividly demonstrated in 2019 during the “Howdy, Modi!” event in Houston’s NRG Stadium, where around 50,000 people gathered to witness then-President Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi share the stage.Emergence of Assertive Hindu American Politics Candidates Proudly Represent Faith in U S Political Arena

In late 2019, a dispute over an anti-caste discrimination bill in California showcased the increasing political acumen of Hindus in pursuing their interests. With representatives from across the country on opposing sides, proponents and opponents of the bill showcased their ability to mobilize support and shape public opinion. Governor Gavin Newsom’s subsequent veto of the bill marked a victory for those who argued it would unfairly stereotype Hindus.

Rishi Bhutada, treasurer of the 12-year-old Hindu American PAC, noted that Hindus, traditionally leaning towards the Democratic Party, are now more focused on supporting candidates who understand their specific concerns, from addressing Hinduphobia to advocating for immigration policies aligned with their interests.

Reflecting on this evolution, Bhutada remarked, “The community is getting way more discerning about candidates now.” Over the past decade, Hindu Americans have seen an increasing array of candidates from their community vying for positions at various levels of government, including the U.S. Congress.

Tulsi Gabbard’s historic election as the first Hindu congressperson in 2013 marked a turning point, signaling to the community that electoral success was achievable. Subsequently, Democrats like Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois and Ro Khanna from California were elected to Congress, further validating the potential for Hindu candidates to succeed nationwide.

Looking ahead, three more Hindu Americans, all Democrats, are currently running for Congress, each with unique backgrounds and platforms:

Emergence of Assertive Hindu American Politics Candidates Proudly Represent Faith in U S Political Arena

Rishi Kumar, a Silicon Valley tech executive and former mechanical engineer, emphasizes his “fiscally moderate” Democratic stance. His successful tenure on Saratoga’s city council, where he received the highest number of votes in history, propelled him into the political arena. Kumar has been vocal in opposing misrepresentations of Hinduism and advocating against anti-Hindu prejudice.

Emergence of Assertive Hindu American Politics Candidates Proudly Represent Faith in U S Political Arena

Bhavini Patel, raised by a single mother in Pennsylvania, draws upon her upbringing working on an Indian food truck to connect with working-class families. She attributes her values of kindness and authenticity to her Hindu upbringing, aiming to represent her faith proudly while addressing issues such as education, small business support, and public safety.

Suhas Subramanyam, currently serving as a delegate in the Virginia Legislature, made history as the first Hindu and Indian American elected in Virginia. Inspired by his Hindu faith, Subramanyam seeks to address issues such as gun violence, clean energy, and immigration reform while ensuring that his community’s concerns are heard and acted upon.

The rise of Hindu American politicians reflects a growing engagement and sophistication within the community, as they navigate political landscapes while staying true to their religious and cultural identities.

https://religionnews.com/2024/01/26/meet-three-hindu-democrats-running-for-congress-this-season/

Unveiling Trump’s Triumph: The Reign of Extrinsic Values in American Society

Numerous analyses attempt to comprehend the ongoing ascent of Donald Trump and the unwavering support he commands, despite the accumulating controversies and legal allegations. While many of these explanations hold weight, there’s one factor, largely overlooked, which could arguably be paramount: Trump reigns supreme in the realm of extrinsics.

Psychologists posit that our values tend to gravitate towards distinct poles termed “intrinsic” and “extrinsic.” Those inclined towards intrinsic values prioritize empathy, intimacy, and self-acceptance, alongside a receptiveness to change and challenge, a commitment to universal rights, equality, and a protective stance towards others and the environment.

On the other hand, individuals leaning towards extrinsic values exhibit a keen attraction to prestige, status, image, fame, power, and wealth. Their motivations revolve around individual rewards and accolades, often manifesting in objectification and exploitation of others, alongside a propensity for rudeness, aggression, and disregard for societal and environmental welfare.

Donald Trump epitomizes extrinsic values in myriad ways, from the ostentatious towers bearing his name to exaggerated claims of wealth, incessant rhetoric about winners and losers, and reported instances of cheating at golf. His objectification of women, including his daughter, his fixation on physical attributes like hand size, and his disdain for public service, human rights, and environmental concerns further underscore his allegiance to extrinsic values.

Unveiling Trump's Triumph The Reign of Extrinsic Values in American Society

Our values aren’t innate; they’re shaped by societal cues and norms, and the political landscape we inhabit plays a crucial role. Under oppressive political systems, individuals tend to internalize extrinsic values, perpetuating a cycle of insecurity and unmet needs, fostering a breeding ground for further exploitation.

Since Ronald Reagan’s tenure, marked by societal divisions and a lack of public support mechanisms, U.S. politics has increasingly embraced extrinsic values. Even Democratic administrations, influenced by neoliberal principles, have struggled to reverse this trend, inadvertently bolstering support for right-wing ideologies.

Beyond politics, the U.S. has long championed extrinsic values, epitomized by the American dream of wealth acquisition and conspicuous consumption. Cultural narratives promoting success at any cost, alongside rampant consumerism and media fixation on fame, further entrench extrinsic values in society.

Blaming individuals for their misfortunes has become a hallmark of this shift, exemplified by punitive measures against rough sleepers, who are criminalized for their destitution, often exacerbated by government policies.

Beneath societal polarization and the mental health crisis lies a fundamental shift in values, wherein the pursuit of status, wealth, and dominance engenders widespread frustration and resentment. In a culture glorifying winners, the blame for societal discontent often falls on those advocating for a more equitable world.

Trump’s potential reelection hinges not only on factors like racial resentment or culture wars but also on deeply entrenched values that shape individuals’ perceptions and choices.

Trump’s appeal lies in his embodiment of extrinsic values, perpetuated by societal norms and political dynamics, which fuel resentment and division. Understanding this phenomenon is crucial in navigating and addressing the underlying causes of societal dysfunction.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2024/jan/29/donald-trump-americans-us-culture-republican

U.S. Troop Deaths in Jordan Drone Strike Escalate Tensions with Iran, Prompting Delicate Response from Biden Administration

The recent drone strike in Jordan, resulting in the deaths of three U.S. soldiers and allegedly carried out by Iranian-backed militant factions, has intensified tensions in the already volatile Middle East region. This incident has placed additional pressure on President Biden to address the situation and send a clear message to leaders in Tehran.

The White House now faces the delicate task of formulating a response to Iran that deters future attacks while avoiding a broader conflict, a stance the Biden administration has been steadfast about since the outset of the Israel-Hamas conflict. This attack represents the first instance of U.S. military personnel fatalities in the Middle East since the onset of the Gaza conflict in October, further complicating matters for the White House.

In response to the attack, National Security Spokesperson John Kirby stated, “We do not seek another war. We do not seek to escalate. But we will absolutely do what is required to protect ourselves… and to respond appropriately to these attacks.” President Biden has committed to addressing these recent attacks at a time and in a manner of the administration’s choosing.

Following the incident, President Biden convened with his national security team, including National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who returned to his duties at the Pentagon following surgery for prostate cancer. While Kirby emphasized that the U.S. does not seek war with Iran, he refrained from confirming whether a strike within Iran was under consideration, stating, “I will not get ahead of the president’s decision-making.”

Since late October, American troops have faced more than 160 attacks from Iranian-backed groups. The White House has responded with precision strikes on militia targets and retaliatory actions against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen following attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea. However, the deaths of U.S. troops elevate the stakes for Biden, especially among Republican defense hawks in Congress who are advocating for retaliatory measures, potentially including strikes within Iran.

Ali Vaez, director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group, suggested that if the U.S. aims to hold Iran accountable, it may target sites or facilities in Iraq or Syria utilized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s military wing. However, he believes the U.S. is unlikely to target Iranian territory directly, presenting a complex challenge for the Biden administration.

The deaths of U.S. soldiers have sparked outrage in Washington, with some GOP figures criticizing the administration’s response to Iran. Former President Trump accused Biden of “weakness” and warned of the risk of escalating to “World War 3.” Republican lawmakers echoed these sentiments, urging decisive action against Iran.

Iran has denied involvement in the Jordan attack, asserting it does not issue direct orders to militia groups. However, the U.S. holds Iran broadly responsible for attacks carried out by its proxies. Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh indicated that the attack bore the hallmarks of an Iranian-backed group in Iraq, Kata’ib Hezbollah, though a definitive attribution has not been made.

Any U.S. retaliation against Iran is likely to provoke further responses from Iranian-backed groups, perpetuating a cycle of violence until the Gaza conflict subsides. These groups claim to be acting in solidarity with Palestinians against American forces.

Barbara Slavin, a Middle East expert at the Stimson Center, described the Jordan attacks as a “dangerous escalation” and anticipated a robust U.S. response. However, she noted that previous U.S. actions have not deterred further attacks, suggesting that a cease-fire in Gaza may be the only effective means of reducing such incidents.

Despite concerns about the effectiveness of deterrence, the Pentagon remains committed to its current strategy against Iranian-backed militants, with Singh affirming that the U.S. will respond at an appropriate time and location.

With expectations of Iranian retaliation to any U.S. strikes, the risk to American troops could escalate, particularly considering past incidents where troops narrowly avoided fatalities. Slavin emphasized that the frequency of attacks by Iranian-backed groups made such casualties inevitable in the long run.

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/4436080-biden-iran-us-troops-killed-jordan/

Jury Awards E. Jean Carroll $83.3 Million in Defamation Suit Against Donald Trump

A jury rendered a substantial verdict of $83.3 million to E. Jean Carroll on Friday, serving as a resounding rebuke to former President Donald Trump for his persistent attacks against the veteran advice columnist on social media, stemming from her allegations of sexual assault against him in a Manhattan store.

This latest award, combined with a prior $5 million verdict for sexual assault and defamation last year from a separate jury in Carroll’s case, brings the total amount Trump owes her to $88.3 million. Trump, vehemently protesting the decision, declared his intention to appeal.

The 80-year-old Carroll, visibly moved, held her lawyers’ hands tightly and smiled upon hearing the verdict delivered by the anonymous jury comprised of seven men and two women. Following the decision, she shared an emotional embrace with her legal team.

While Carroll declined to comment upon leaving the Manhattan federal courthouse, she later released a statement through her publicist, celebrating the victory as not just her own but as a triumph for all women who refuse to be silenced in the face of adversity: “This is a great victory for every woman who stands up when she’s been knocked down, and a huge defeat for every bully who has tried to keep a woman down.”

Trump had attended the trial earlier in the day but stormed out during the closing arguments made by Carroll’s attorney. He returned for his attorney’s closing argument and part of the deliberations but departed the courthouse half an hour before the verdict was announced. Expressing his outrage shortly after the decision, he criticized the legal system, branding it as “out of control” and manipulated for political ends.

His lawyer, Alina Habba, attributed the verdict to strategic forum-shopping by Trump’s adversaries, stating, “It will not deter us. We will keep fighting. And, I assure you, we didn’t win today, but we will win.”

The trial’s conclusion coincides with Trump’s continued pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination for the third consecutive time. Throughout, he has sought to portray his legal battles and vulnerabilities as evidence of a biased political system, resonating with his steadfast supporters.

Despite Trump’s efforts to deflect attention from the verdict, his former rival in the Republican primaries, Nikki Haley, highlighted the financial implications of the decision, diverting focus from pressing national issues.

With the civil case brought by Carroll concluded, Trump still faces 91 criminal charges across four indictments, including allegations of attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election, mishandling classified documents, and orchestrating hush payments to a porn star.

This marks the second time in less than a year that a civil jury has ruled on Carroll’s allegations stemming from a 1996 encounter with Trump at a Manhattan department store. In May, a jury awarded Carroll $5 million, finding Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation, albeit not for rape. Trump is appealing that decision as well.

Trump’s legal challenges extend beyond the Carroll case; he awaits a verdict in a New York civil fraud trial, where state prosecutors seek the return of $370 million in alleged ill-gotten gains.

Regarding Trump’s financial capacity to meet the mounting legal obligations, he has claimed assets of approximately $294 million in cash or equivalents, as reported in his most recent financial statement.

Trump’s absence from the initial Carroll trial was followed by his insistence on testifying in the second trial, although the judge limited his testimony, citing missed opportunities to contest Carroll’s allegations. During his brief appearance on the witness stand, Trump denied assaulting Carroll, subsequently lamenting the proceedings, asserting, “this is not America.”

In this recent trial, the jury was tasked solely with determining the damages owed by Trump for two statements he made as president regarding Carroll’s allegations. They were not asked to reevaluate the veracity of the assault claim itself.

In her closing argument, Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, sought substantial compensatory and punitive damages, urging the jury to penalize Trump sufficiently to deter future defamation. The jury awarded $18.3 million in compensatory damages and an additional $65 million in punitive damages, aimed at curbing Trump’s disparaging behavior.

Kaplan highlighted Trump’s vast wealth and the need to hold him accountable for his actions, emphasizing the significance of punitive damages in restoring Carroll’s reputation and protecting her from ongoing harassment.

Trump, visibly agitated during Kaplan’s address, abruptly left the courtroom, prompting a rebuke from the judge. Throughout the trial, Trump tested the judge’s patience, leading to warnings of expulsion for disruptive behavior.

Carroll testified to the detrimental impact of Trump’s statements on her life, citing death threats and the need for increased security measures. She emphasized her quest to restore her reputation tarnished by Trump’s allegations.

In contrast, Trump’s lawyer argued that Carroll had profited from her accusations and achieved the fame she desired, suggesting no damages were warranted.

Ultimately, the jury’s verdict stands as a significant legal blow to Trump, underscoring the consequences of his actions and the importance of accountability in matters of defamation and assault.

“She’s resilient”: Indian Americans react to Nikki Haley’s campaign after Iowa and New Hampshire

“She resilient,” says veteran Indian American Republican Dr. Sampat Shivangi, describing former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and her presidential campaign. Haley, who lost to former President Donald Trump in both Iowa and New Hampshire this month, has refused to quit, while her other rivals — Indian American entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — have both ended their campaigns and have endorsed Trump.

Dr Shivangi, founder of the Republican Indian National Council, told indica, “It is only right that she did not quit.”

On her part, Haley, while congratulating Trump on his second consecutive victory, said on Tuesday night, “New Hampshire is first in the nation, it is not last in the nation,” referring to her decision to continue with her campaign. “The race is far from over.

As of 4 am ET on Wednesday, Trump (77) had won 54.6% of the vote, while Haley (52) was trailing at 43.2%, with 91% of the votes counted. Trump has a comfortable lead of over 35,000 votes. He is projected to win New Hampshire, and take 11 delegates with him.

In the Iowa caucuses, Haley stood third with 19.1% votes, whereas Trump won 51%, and won by a landslide. DeSantis received 21.2% and Vivek Ramaswamy came fourth with less than 8 percent of the votes.

Trump and Biden Face Uphill Battles Beyond Primary Victories

Donald J. Trump has been cruising through the primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, dominating his Republican rivals and basking in the adoration of his supporters who are convinced of his inevitable victory in the presidential race. However, as Trump edges closer to securing the Republican nomination, he faces daunting challenges beyond the party faithful.

Outside the insular world of Republican primaries, Trump’s campaign is grappling with persistent weaknesses that could pose significant risks for his party. These vulnerabilities came to the fore in New Hampshire, where a significant portion of independents, college-educated voters, and Republicans hesitant to overlook his legal troubles threw their support behind his rival, Nikki Haley.

While Trump emerged victorious in New Hampshire, the sizable turnout against him signaled trouble ahead as the presidential race transitions from the realm of die-hard Trump supporters to a broader electorate, many of whom rejected him in the past. Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida acknowledged the issue, stating that Trump must find a way to address the concerns of lifelong conservatives who are reluctant to support him again.

On the other side, President Biden also faces challenges in a potential rematch of the 2020 contest. Despite his victory then, Biden, now 81, grapples with widespread disapproval and skepticism regarding his age and leadership. He seeks to rally his base, independents, and even moderate Republicans around issues such as abortion rights and democracy, although his stance on immigration, inflation, and the conflict in Gaza has alienated some within his party.

Republican pollster Neil Newhouse highlighted the upcoming election as a choice between two unpopular leaders, characterizing it as a “lesser-of-two-evils” scenario.

Trump’s difficulties extend back to his 2016 takeover of the Republican Party, which alienated suburban moderates and independents. His struggles with independent voters were evident in the Iowa caucuses as well, where a majority supported his opponents.

While Trump is expected to regain many of these voters in the general election, a significant portion of Haley supporters in New Hampshire expressed willingness to vote for Biden, indicating a potential fracture within the Republican base.

However, caution is advised in interpreting the New Hampshire results, given the state’s left-leaning tendencies. Nonetheless, the GOP must ensure the election does not become solely a referendum on Trump.

Ruth Axtell, a New Hampshire independent who voted for Haley, expressed her desire to see Trump defeated, even if it meant a victory for a female candidate. Yet, she remains undecided for the general election, reflecting the uncertainty among voters.

New Hampshire’s results underscored Trump’s struggles with college-educated and affluent voters, demographics that once formed the core of his support base.

Even in Iowa, Trump faced challenges in affluent suburbs, indicating potential vulnerabilities in traditionally Republican strongholds.

Despite concerns about winning back Republicans who have turned away from him, Trump remains confident in his ability to secure their support. However, his victory speech in New Hampshire, marked by attacks on Haley rather than calls for party unity, raises questions about his approach.

Both Trump’s aides and super PAC officials view Biden as a formidable opponent, with the latter expressing concerns about Biden’s substantial spending on advertising.

While DeSantis and Haley refrained from directly confronting Trump, Biden’s campaign is expected to vigorously challenge him, countering his attacks with clips of his verbal missteps.

As Trump faces intensifying scrutiny over his role in the Capitol riot and legal troubles, his fixation on the 2020 election and divisive rhetoric could further erode his support among independents and swing voters.

Even in conservative Iowa, a significant portion of Trump’s supporters expressed reservations about voting for him if he were convicted of a crime, underscoring the potential repercussions of his legal battles on his electoral prospects.

Nikki Haley Questions Trump’s Mental Fitness Amidst Confusion Over Capitol Riot Remarks, Campaign Rhetoric Heats Up in New Hampshire

Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley raised concerns about Donald Trump’s mental acuity on Saturday, following an incident where he seemingly confused her with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi while discussing the January 6, 2021, assault on the US Capitol.

Haley addressed the issue, stating, “Last night, Trump is at a rally and he’s going on and on mentioning me several times as to why I didn’t take security during the Capitol riots. Why I didn’t handle January 6 better. I wasn’t even in DC on January 6. I wasn’t in office then.”

There were claims that Trump had been mistaken and was referring to Pelosi instead of Haley. However, Haley dismissed these assertions, saying, “They’re saying he got confused. That he was talking about something else. That he was talking about Nancy Pelosi. He mentioned me multiples times in that scenario.”

Expressing her concerns about Trump’s fitness for the presidency, she told voters in Keene, New Hampshire, “The concern I have is – I’m not saying anything derogatory, but when you’re dealing with the pressures of a presidency, we can’t have someone else that we question whether they’re mentally fit to do it.”

This comes in the wake of Trump’s remarks at a campaign rally in New Hampshire, where he stated, “By the way, they never report the crowd on January 6. You know, Nikki Haley, Nikki Haley, Nikki Haley … did you know they destroyed all of the information, all of the evidence, everything, deleted and destroyed all of it? All of it, because of lots of things, like Nikki Haley is in charge of security, we offered her 10,000 people, soldiers, national guards, whatever they want. They turned it down.”

Later on the same day, Trump asserted his cognitive abilities, stating, “A few months ago I took a cognitive test my doctor gave me … and I aced it.” He added, “I’ll let you know when I go bad; I really think I’ll be able to tell you. Because someday we go bad. I feel my mind is stronger now than it was 25 years ago.”

A senior Trump campaign adviser, Chris LaCivita, downplayed the confusion, posting on X, “Nancy ….Nikki ….its a distinction without a difference.”

Despite the mix-up between Haley and Pelosi, Trump’s claim that the speaker of the House is responsible for US Capitol security is inaccurate, as previously fact-checked by CNN.

Haley further emphasized the need for top-tier individuals in leadership roles, stating in a Fox News interview, “We need people at the top of their game. I’m not saying that this is a Joe Biden situation, but I’m saying, are we really going to go and have two eighty-year-olds running for president?”

In the lead-up to the New Hampshire primary, Haley, aged 52, has been highlighting the age gap between herself and Trump, who is 77, as well as President Joe Biden, who is 81. She has also been advocating for term limits and mental competency tests for politicians over the age of 75.

Since the beginning of 2023, Haley and her supporters have invested nearly $28.6 million in advertising in New Hampshire, surpassing Trump and his allies who have spent about $14.4 million. However, in recent weeks, the margin between their advertising expenditures has narrowed. Since the start of the new year, Haley and her allies have spent around $9 million in New Hampshire, while Trump and his allies have spent approximately $8.5 million.

Trump’s campaign has treated Haley as a formidable contender in New Hampshire, evident in a series of attacks on social media and during a rally in the state.

Trump’s 2024 VP Pick: Behind the Scenes of the Shortlist Amidst Speculation and Strategy

In the unfolding narrative of Donald Trump’s potential bid for the 2024 presidential race, the former president claims to have a clear understanding of who his running mate will be. However, sources within his campaign reveal a more deliberative approach, as senior officials consider various candidates and compile a “short list” for potential vice-presidential contenders, according to insights obtained by Fox Business.

Following a significant triumph in the Iowa caucuses, Trump is positioned to secure victory in the upcoming New Hampshire primary, unless there is an unexpected surge by his primary rivals—former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

A victory for Trump in New Hampshire could prompt one or both of his competitors to exit the race, potentially paving the way for an uncontested GOP nomination and setting the stage for a faceoff against Joe Biden in the November elections.

Despite Trump’s success in Iowa and the anticipated win in New Hampshire, insiders close to the Trump campaign assert that neither Haley nor DeSantis currently feature on Trump’s shortlist for a running mate. Instead, the list prominently includes Ohio GOP Senator JD Vance and Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, both regarded as rising stars within the GOP and affiliated with the party’s Trump-centric MAGA wing.

New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who recently gained attention for her assertive questioning of Ivy League college chiefs during a hearing on campus antisemitism, is also listed as a potential candidate, albeit with the caveat that she is considered a “long shot,” according to a source familiar with the campaign’s discussions.

Trump is more personally acquainted with Huckabee Sanders, his former White House spokesperson, who valiantly defended him against the press. Similarly, Vance, a former venture capitalist and author, secured his Senate seat in 2022 by adopting the MAGA platform, which deviates from traditional Republican stances on trade and foreign engagement, according to GOP advisers.

Despite the speculation surrounding Trump’s potential running mate, one GOP political strategist cautions against expecting immediate announcements, noting, “I doubt we hear anything anytime soon.” The internal discussions within the Trump campaign continue as they consider various options.

Notably absent from the shortlist is Vivek Ramaswamy, a former Wall Street executive turned author and Trump-styled populist. Ramaswamy, who endorsed Trump for the GOP nomination after his loss in Iowa, faced criticism for his flamboyant campaigning style and once drew the ire of Trump himself for suggesting that the former president might struggle to navigate legal challenges, including five criminal indictments that could potentially result in a prison sentence while in office.

Despite attempts to seek clarification on the matter, a Trump campaign official has not responded to requests for comments on the ongoing considerations for the vice-presidential candidate.

The level of interest from Huckabee Sanders and Vance in the vice-presidential position remains uncertain, as both have not returned calls for comments. On the other hand, Stefanik has expressed her willingness, stating, “I would be honored to serve in the Trump administration in any capacity,” as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Trump, in turn, has praised Stefanik, who has actively championed the MAGA agenda while representing her upstate New York congressional district since 2015.

GOP strategists emphasize that the VP shortlist is dynamic and subject to change, underscoring the fluid nature of the decision-making process within the Trump campaign. Additionally, they caution against taking Trump’s assertion of already knowing his VP choice too seriously, attributing it to his strategic knack for garnering attention and generating substantial free publicity, especially during a Fox News Town Hall. Furthermore, they suggest that Trump may be aiming to solidify his nomination as an inevitable outcome while simultaneously seeking to reduce voter turnout for competitors Haley and DeSantis in New Hampshire.

Experts Call for Congressional Hearing on State Department’s Exclusion of Nigeria and India from Religious Freedom Violations List

A coalition of international religious freedom experts is urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to testify before a congressional hearing regarding the exclusion of Nigeria and India from a list of nations with severe violations of religious freedom. The group, comprising more than 40 religious freedom experts and organizations, sent a letter on Wednesday, expressing concern over the omission of these countries despite alarming instances of religious violence and persecution.

The letter, initially obtained by The Daily Signal, emphasizes the urgent need for accountability and transparency in the decision-making process. The experts cited significant data, stating that since 2009, over 50,000 Christians have been killed in Nigeria, with 18,000 churches and 2,500 Christian schools attacked. In the case of India, they reported that between May of the previous year and the present, 200 to 400 churches and 3,500 Christian homes have been targeted.

In the letter, the religious freedom advocates declared their support for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and its call for a congressional hearing into the State Department’s exclusion of Nigeria and India from the Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list.

“Nigeria and India have been rocked by alarming instances of religious violence and persecution,” the letter states. “Pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act, both countries meet the statutory definition of ‘engaging in or tolerating particularly severe violations of religious freedom’ to be designated as CPC. They should be designated as such.”

The designation of a “Country of Particular Concern” is made by the secretary of state if a nation is found to be involved in severe violations of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. Under the administration of former President Donald Trump, Nigeria was designated as a CPC, but the Biden administration subsequently removed that designation, and the reasons for this decision remain unclear.

The experts stress the importance of the United States taking an active role in addressing these issues and ensuring that the principles of religious freedom are upheld globally. They call for hearings by both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to thoroughly examine the rationale behind excluding Nigeria and India from the CPC list.

“Accountability and transparency are essential to understanding the State Department’s rationale for declining to designate Nigeria and India as CPCs,” the letter continues. “We urge the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to convene hearings to thoroughly examine the reasons behind the exclusion of Nigeria and India from the CPC list. Secretary of State Antony Blinken must answer to Congress and the American people.”

Prominent signatories of the letter include McKenna Wendt from the International Christian Concern, former Representatives Frank Wolf of Virginia and Dan Burton of Indiana, Nadine Maenza, President of the International Religious Freedom Secretariat, Lela Gilbert from the Family Research Council, and William Murray, Chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, among others.

Despite the request for comment, the State Department has not responded to inquiries from The Daily Signal at this time. The urgency and gravity of the situation, as highlighted by the religious freedom experts, underscore the need for a thorough examination of the decision-making process and a clear understanding of why Nigeria and India were excluded from the CPC list.

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy Exits 2024 Presidential Race, Throws Support Behind Trump After Disappointing Iowa Results

Business magnate Vivek Ramaswamy withdrew from the 2024 presidential race on Monday evening, following a lackluster performance in the Iowa caucuses. Ramaswamy, who secured the fourth position in Iowa, offered his endorsement to former President Donald Trump. According to NBC News projections, Ramaswamy trailed behind Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, holding only 8% of the GOP caucus vote with over 90% of precincts reporting late on Monday.

In a gracious move, Ramaswamy personally congratulated Trump on his triumph and announced his intention to join the former president at a rally in New Hampshire on the following day. Expressing his support for Trump, Ramaswamy emphasized the need for an “America First” candidate in the presidential race, affirming, “Going forward, he will have my full endorsement for the presidency.”

The 38-year-old entrepreneur, relatively unknown when he entered the political arena in February 2023, rapidly gained traction among Republican voters. His campaign strategy closely aligned with Trump’s in both tone and policy substance, presenting himself as a successor to the MAGA (Make America Great Again) movement.

Despite his efforts to differentiate himself, Ramaswamy struggled to siphon support away from Trump, who maintained a strong grip on Republican voters. The anticipated wave of first-time caucusgoers that Ramaswamy had hoped would boost his campaign in Iowa failed to materialize.

As the Iowa caucuses approached, Ramaswamy’s rhetoric took a more conspiratorial turn, urging supporters to “wake up” and alluding to plots and forces influencing the election. His pitch to Trump enthusiasts became convoluted, discouraging them from voting for Trump due to alleged external interference preventing him from reaching the White House. Ramaswamy cited criminal cases against Trump and legal battles challenging his candidacy on 14th Amendment grounds in Colorado and Maine as reasons to reconsider their support.

Three days prior to the Iowa caucuses, Trump directly addressed Ramaswamy’s characterization of him as “wounded.” On Truth Social, Trump criticized Ramaswamy, stating, “Vivek started his campaign as a great supporter, ‘the best President in generations,’ etc. Unfortunately now all he does is disguise his support in the form of deceitful campaign tricks.”

Ramaswamy’s presidential campaign centered on the promise to extend Trump’s policies if elected. He advocated for the shutdown of several government agencies, including the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Department of Education.

Additionally, he proposed a substantial reduction in the number of federal workers and pledged to deploy the U.S. military to secure both the southern and northern borders.

Another controversial proposal by Ramaswamy involved ending birthright citizenship for American-born children of undocumented immigrants. He argued that the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to those born or naturalized in the United States, was not intended to apply to this demographic.

Throughout the Republican presidential debates, Ramaswamy positioned himself as an adversary to other candidates, particularly former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Nikki Haley. He engaged in repeated clashes with Haley, even going so far as to label her a “puppet” for the “deep state” in the latter stages of his campaign.

While maintaining some rivalry with other candidates, Ramaswamy closely aligned himself with Trump, prompting suggestions from supporters to vie for the vice presidential slot on Trump’s ticket. However, Ramaswamy consistently asserted that he was not a “Plan B” person.

Funding his campaign with millions of dollars from his personal wealth, Ramaswamy held the highest number of public events among his GOP rivals. His extensive campaign efforts included over 300 events in Iowa, covering all 99 counties in the state twice. In a last-ditch effort to bolster his primary chances, Ramaswamy relocated his campaign staff to the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire in November.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2024-election/vivek-ramaswamy-dropping-2024-presidential-race-rcna133875

Trump Secures Dominant Victory in Iowa Caucuses, Sets Stage for New Hampshire Showdown in 2024 Republican Primary

Former President Trump was anticipated to secure a decisive victory in the Iowa caucuses, marking the initial significant trial of the 2024 Republican primary race, as reported by Decision Desk HQ.

In the lead-up to the Hawkeye State’s caucuses, Trump maintained a substantial lead in polling averages over his closest rival, with signs suggesting that he was garnering increased support and drawing backing from evangelical Iowans. Expressing confidence in his success, Trump declared at a rally in the weeks leading to the caucuses, “We’re going to win the Iowa caucuses and then we’re going to crush crooked Joe Biden next November.”

Fox News featured this statement in the introduction to a recent town hall broadcast with Trump, coinciding with a debate between rivals Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis on CNN. Decision Desk HQ officially declared Trump the winner just before 9 p.m. Eastern, leaving the second-place position in suspense, with Haley and DeSantis in a tight race.

Despite DeSantis’ significant investment in Iowa and securing the endorsement of Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), his projected loss to Trump poses a substantial obstacle for his campaign going forward.

“The people of Iowa sent a clear message tonight: Donald Trump will be the next Republican nominee for President. It’s now time to make him the next President of the United States,” asserted Alex Pfeiffer, communications director for the pro-Trump super PAC Make America Great Again Inc., following the Iowa race announcement.

With the focus now shifting to New Hampshire, which is set to host its first-in-the-nation Republican primary on Jan. 23, attention is drawn to the competition between Trump and Haley. Despite her Iowa setback, Haley has been narrowing the gap in New Hampshire, although Trump maintains a considerable lead in the state.

Political strategists posit that a dual triumph for Trump in both Iowa and New Hampshire could be a game-changer for the rest of the election cycle, making it exceedingly challenging for another GOP candidate to catch up before the general election.

In Trump’s 2016 presidential bid, he faced a setback in Iowa, losing to then-candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), but subsequently rebounded by winning in New Hampshire and securing the nomination. In the current race, Trump positions himself as a de facto incumbent, striving to return to the White House. However, he confronts significant hurdles, including multiple criminal indictments and ongoing legal battles nationwide.

Trump’s eligibility to run is further complicated by efforts in some states to remove him from the ballot. Last month, Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled that Trump is disqualified from the race under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause, citing his actions around Jan. 6, 2021. Similarly, Maine’s Secretary of State also disqualified Trump under the 14th Amendment.

Despite these legal challenges, Trump portrays them as politically motivated attacks, characterizing himself as the victim of a “witch hunt” as he seeks another term. Meanwhile, fellow Republican candidates find themselves in a delicate position as they strive to campaign against Trump without alienating his supporters, crucial for gaining ground in the race.

During a CNN debate in Iowa, both Haley and DeSantis voiced reservations about another Trump term but predominantly directed their criticism at each other. The unexpected withdrawal of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie from the race last week added an element of surprise. Although Christie used the opportunity to caution against another Trump presidency, he was inadvertently captured on a hot mic disparaging both Haley and DeSantis.

Trump, unfazed by speculation that Haley could benefit from Christie’s exit, dismissed concerns during his Fox News town hall, stating, “I have polls that show me leading by a tremendous amount in New Hampshire and a lot in Iowa. And nationwide, we’re leading by almost 60 points. So, I’m not exactly worried about it. I think we’re going to do very well in New Hampshire.”

As the primary spotlight shifts to New Hampshire, the unfolding dynamics will reveal whether Trump can maintain his lead and solidify his position as the frontrunner in the Republican primary race.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy Withdraws from Republican Presidential Race, Throws Support Behind Trump

Vivek Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old entrepreneur and political novice, who had initially gained attention for his bold policy proposals and self-assured demeanor, has exited the competition for the Republican White House nomination following a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

Expressing his disappointment in Des Moines on Monday night, Ramaswamy acknowledged, “We did not achieve the surprise that we wanted to deliver tonight.”

Despite initially being an unlikely contender, Ramaswamy, who financed much of his campaign through his personal fortune amassed in biotechnology and finance, aligned himself closely with former President Donald J. Trump. He pledged unwavering support for Trump, even in the face of potential felony convictions, promising a pardon if elected to the White House. Additionally, he vowed to remove his name voluntarily from states that succeeded in disqualifying Trump from the ballot as an “insurrectionist” under the Constitution.

However, just two days before the Iowa caucuses, the tables turned as Trump’s campaign labeled Ramaswamy a fraud. The former president, who had previously shown warmth toward his would-be rival, urged voters to reject Ramaswamy and vote for him.

At that point, Ramaswamy, a Harvard-educated individual, had embraced increasingly apocalyptic conspiracy theories. He spoke of a “system” plotting against Trump’s return to office, insinuating the installation of a “puppet,” Nikki Haley. He also labeled the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack as an “inside job” orchestrated by federal law enforcement, and began propagating the unfounded and racist theory of “replacement,” falsely claiming that Democrats were importing immigrants of color to replace white people.

During a Republican primary debate, Ramaswamy defended this theory, stating, “is not some grand right-wing conspiracy theory but a basic statement of the Democratic Party’s platform.”

Initially positioning himself as someone with superior knowledge of the Constitution and civil service laws, Ramaswamy promised to take Trump’s America First agenda further. This included immediate executive orders to eliminate the Department of Education, F.B.I., and Internal Revenue Service, cut the federal workforce by 75 percent through mass layoffs without congressional approval, and withdraw from foreign military commitments, beginning with Ukraine and extending to Israel and Taiwan.

While his isolationist foreign policy drew criticism, his bleak portrayal of millennial and Generation Z voters resonated surprisingly well with older voters. Despite clashes with Republican rivals, where he mocked Governor Ron DeSantis and labeled Nikki Haley a China stooge, Ramaswamy gained traction initially, securing third place in national polling, just behind DeSantis, after the first Republican debate.

However, as his attempts to gain attention continued and a penchant for stretching the truth became apparent, Ramaswamy slipped back in the polls. The September debate featured a sharp exchange with Haley, who expressed feeling “a little bit dumber” every time she heard him. By the November debate, Haley went further, calling him “just scum” after he accused her of hypocrisy regarding China due to her daughter’s use of TikTok.

Despite initially holding second place in New Hampshire during late summer, Ramaswamy’s momentum dwindled, and his extensive campaigning in Iowa failed to restore his standing. Privately, he had shared a strategy with backers to align with Trump in the hope that Trump’s legal battles would force him out, making Ramaswamy the logical choice for Trump’s ardent supporters. However, with Trump firmly staying in the race, Ramaswamy’s strategy and self-funding of nearly $17 million proved unsustainable by the end of September.

Trump Secures Resounding Victory in Iowa Caucuses, Tightening Grip on 2024 GOP Nomination

Former President Donald Trump has clinched a historic win in the Iowa caucuses, affirming his dominance in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Despite facing extreme weather conditions and the lowest turnout in 25 years, Trump secured a staggering 30-point lead, surpassing the previous record set by Bob Dole in 1988.

In the bitterly cold and hazardous conditions, participants gathered across schools, churches, and community centers statewide to cast their votes. The victory margin exceeded expectations, leaving Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a distant second place, closely followed by former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Trump’s commanding win has reinforced his hold on the GOP nomination, raising questions about the viability of his competitors. While DeSantis and Haley show no immediate signs of exiting the race, the enormity of Trump’s victory has put them on the defensive, struggling to position themselves as the strongest challengers.Trump Secures Resounding Victory in Iowa Caucuses Tightening Grip on 2024 GOP Nomination

Despite Trump’s recent vows of vengeance against political opponents, his victory speech struck a tone of unity. “We want to come together, whether it’s Republican or Democrat or liberal or conservative,” he declared. “We’re going to come together. It’s going to happen soon.”

The GOP contest now shifts to New Hampshire for the first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 23. Conservative entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy suspended his campaign after a disappointing fourth-place finish in Iowa, endorsing Trump. This move further narrows the field, setting the stage for a showdown between Trump, DeSantis, and Haley.

Trump Secures Resounding Victory in Iowa Caucuses Tightening Grip on 2024 GOP Nomination

DeSantis, acknowledging the support from his backers, expressed gratitude, saying, “Because of your support, in spite of all they threw at us, we got our ticket punched out of Iowa.” He is set to focus on South Carolina, a conservative stronghold, before heading to New Hampshire later in the day.

Haley, undeterred by the Iowa setback, plans to vigorously compete in New Hampshire, targeting the state’s independent voters. She asserted, “When you look at how well we’re doing in New Hampshire and in South Carolina and beyond, I can safely say tonight Iowa made this Republican primary a two-person race.”

In a remarkable balancing act, Trump faces legal challenges as he campaigns. On Tuesday, he is expected in a New York court to address potential additional damages in a defamation case against him. Trump has strategically used court appearances to portray himself as a victim of a politicized legal system, a tactic resonating with Republican voters.

Trump Secures Resounding Victory in Iowa Caucuses Tightening Grip on 2024 GOP Nomination

The Associated Press declared Trump the winner at 7:31 p.m. CST, based on early returns and the results of AP VoteCast from over 1,500 voters planning to participate in the caucuses. Trump’s significant lead was evident in initial results from eight counties, covering urban, small-town, and rural communities. While he showed strength among evangelicals and non-college-educated voters, suburban support remained a relative weakness.

The results highlight Iowa’s historical inconsistency in predicting the eventual Republican nominee, with George W. Bush in 2000 being the last candidate to win Iowa and secure the nomination. Trump’s success underscores the party’s reluctance to move on from a controversial figure, despite his tumultuous term in office and the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021.

Trump faces an array of legal challenges, including 91 felony charges across four criminal cases. The U.S. Supreme Court is deliberating whether states can block him from the ballot due to his role in the Capitol insurrection. Despite these legal hurdles, Trump’s base remains steadfast, viewing the charges as politically motivated attempts to undermine him.

About three-quarters of Iowans, responding to AP VoteCast, dismissed the charges against Trump as politically driven. David Lage, a 64-year-old Trump supporter, expressed this sentiment at Trump’s victory party, stating, “God called us to do that to support Trump.”

https://apnews.com/article/trump-iowa-caucus-haley-desantis-cold-voting-begins-0af10f1ba21d488af54776b2c8d4028c

In Iowa and beyond, evangelical Christian voters follow their party more than their faith

(RNS) — The drive between Eastern Illinois University, where Ryan Burge teaches political science, and Mt. Vernon, Illinois, where he is pastor of a small Baptist church, takes a little more than an hour and a half. Given his two professions, Burge spends a lot of time while commuting across downstate Illinois’ flat, green expanse thinking about religion and elections.

Among the things Burge says he has learned: Faith for most people matters in the pews and, for some, in day-to-day life. But in the voting booth, politics is king.

“Partisanship is the strongest predictor of vote choice,” said Burge. “It was that way in the 1950s, and it’s that way today. Religion does not matter nearly as much as people think it does.”

As an example, Burge pointed out that when the 2024 presidential campaign season begins in earnest with the Iowa caucuses on Monday (Jan. 15), evangelical Christians are likely to be as faithful to the Republican Party as they have for the past few decades. But with evangelical leaders wielding less influence than they have in the past, their choices are going to be driven primarily by their identification as Republicans, not their faith connections.

Evangelical support in Iowa has played a key role in boosting past candidates, notably George W. Bush in 2000. But Bush was the last Republican launched by Iowa Republicans all the way to the White House. Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Southern Baptist preacher, won in 2008. Rick Santorum, a conservative Catholic favored by evangelicals, won in 2012, as did Ted Cruz, son of an evangelical pastor. But Ron DeSantis, the candidate backed this year by the leader of a prominent evangelical group, is trailing badly in the polls.

Michael Wear, a former official in the Obama faith-based office and author of the forthcoming “The Spirit of Our Politics,” while past Republican presidential candidates would come to events seeking the approval of evangelical leaders, evangelicals are now seeking the approval of conservatives.

Wear pointed to a 2023 candidate forum hosted by The Family Leader, a prominent Christian group in the state. Rather than have an evangelical leader or pastor interview candidates at its Family Leadership Summit, organizers invited former Fox News host Tucker Carlson to play that role. “It shows evangelicals playing for conservative acceptance, as opposed to Republicans playing for evangelical acceptance,” Wear said.

Bob Vander Plaats, president of The Family Leader, long described as Iowa’s evangelical kingmaker for his role in backing Huckabee, Santorum and Cruz, is backing Ron DeSantis this year. The Florida governor trails Trump by more than 35 percentage points, according to FiveThirtyEight.

In a recent op-ed for the Des Moines Register, Vander Plaats argued that while Trump is a friend, his candidacy is doomed. “While Trump could very well win the primary, the system and the sheer number of Trump haters will never allow him to win the presidency,” he wrote. Iowans, evangelical or not, don’t seem to be convinced.

Evangelicals in Iowa and beyond may simply be seeing the downside of their alliance with the Republican Party. In the late 1990s, legendary religious right leaders Paul Weyrich, a co-founder of the Council for National Policy, Gary Bauer, then president of the Family Research Council, and Southern Baptist ethicist and activist Richard Land pushed Republican leaders to deliver on promises made to evangelicals when they came on board as the moral majority in the late 1970s.

These ’90s leaders were angry that their support for Republicans hadn’t led to many results on issues like abortion. “The go-along, get-along strategy is dead,” Land, then president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, told The New York Times in 1998. “No more engagement. We want a wedding ring, we want a ceremony, we want a consummation of the marriage.”

Those promises would eventually be cinched by Trump, who as president delivered the Supreme Court conservative majority that spelled the end of Roe v. Wade, long an evangelical goal. Some evangelicals thought the cost was too high. Trump, a twice-divorced reality TV star, shared few of their beliefs, and they bridled at his caustic rhetoric.

Bob Vander Plaats speaks at the 2015 Presidential Family Forum, hosted by the Family Leader, at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr/Creative Commons)

Bob Vander Plaats speaks at the 2015 Presidential Family Forum, hosted by The Family Leader, at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr/Creative Commons)

But by 2023, faith-based politicos like Vander Plaats are finding the wished-for marriage didn’t put them in charge. Christian leaders who oppose Trump on ethical grounds now often find themselves exiled from fellow believers who more than ever want to vote for their man, not their spirituality.

Burge speculated that many evangelical leaders treat Trump as some mainstream Republicans in Congress do: back him in public, afraid of the consequences of opposing him, while griping about him behind the scenes.

“A lot of pastors are publicly saying nothing or giving tacit approval of Trump, and then going home to their wives and saying, ‘This is stupid. I don’t want this,’” said Burge. “They are in a terrible spot.”

Ryan Burge. (Courtesy photo)

Ryan Burge. (Courtesy photo)

Evangelicals, however, may determine the race for second place. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, “needs to get DeSantis out of this race,” said Wear. “If she comes second in Iowa, I think that will do it, and if she’s going to do that, she needs to at least hold her own among evangelicals.”

Complicating the picture further is the statistical difficulty in separating voters’ religion from their political allegiance. Some white evangelicals, especially those who aren’t churchgoers, appear to be less motivated by faith than fear about their declining influence in America, driven by demographics and cultural change, said Burge.

“In some ways what you’re seeing is the death throes of a majority religion in its final days,” he said. “And it’s not pretty.”

Brent Leatherwood, president of the ERLC, the public policy entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, suspects that Trump will win the Iowa caucuses and go on to win the Republican nomination, setting up “a replay” of the 2020 election.

“What’s ironic,” he said, “is that it seems no one really wants that.”

Leatherwood, a former executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party, said that when he became ERLC president, he pledged not to try to tell people who to vote for. Instead, he’s focused on the ethical principles that should guide Christians in politics.

He believes that voters are tired of the political, social and economic chaos and polarization of recent years and would like to see some stability in the nation’s leadership.

“They want some peace and quiet on the political arena,” he said. “Think about all the political, social, and cultural upheavals that we’ve seen over the last 15 years. The Great Recession. Obergefell. The drama of the 2016 election. COVID. Jan. 6. The end of Roe. Historic levels of inflation. That’s not even accounting for what we are seeing on the international stage.”

Brent Leatherwood speaks during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Anaheim, California, on Wednesday, June 15, 2022. RNS photo by Justin L. Stewart
Brent Leatherwood speaks during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Anaheim, California, on Wednesday, June 15, 2022. RNS photo by Justin L. Stewart

It’s unlikely, he added, that any candidate will be able to deliver that, no matter their party. “I’m not sure that it is reasonable to expect calm, and no candidate has a magic wand or a set of principles or a group of advisers that he or she can call upon, to set the world at ease.”

Leatherwood said Christians ought to be wary of being closely tied to political parties or the temptation to ignore principles in favor of political gains. Instead, he said, candidates should be evaluated on their ethics and their policies.

If no candidate is fit for office, he added, evangelicals and other Christians should consider withholding their vote. “A principled abstention by a sizable enough group of voters,” he said, “would send an important message.”

Navigating the Swings of American Favorability: A Historical Perspective

If we examine the trajectory of American favorability on the global stage since World War II, two significant troughs emerge: the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the election of Donald Trump thirteen years later.

These moments, though seemingly disparate, share a common thread, portraying an America characterized by testosterone-driven decisions, bluster, xenophobia, and nativism—a nation that adheres to a “my way or the highway” ethos. In essence, theyrepresent 21st-century incarnations of the Ugly American stereotype from the 1950s.

During the Trump Administration from 2017 to 2020, U.S. favorability witnessed a decline across major global regions, especially among key security and trade partners. The country’s favorability ratings plummeted from the 70s to the 20s and 30s. Under Joe Biden’s leadership, there was a significant effort to rebuild international credibility, bringing the median favorability rating to 62%. However, recent events, particularly America’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict, have reignited anti-American sentiments worldwide.

President Biden acknowledged concerns about diminishing global support for the U.S. and Israel during a campaign event in December. Subsequently, a UN General Assembly vote in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza, with only 10 states, including the U.S., opposing, signaled a potential resurgence of global anti-Americanism.

The apprehension about America’s image globally is deeply ingrained in the nation’s history. Dating back to 1630, John Winthrop envisioned America as a “city on a hill,” emphasizing the scrutiny of the world’s eyes. The Founders, cognizant of the opinions of mankind, meticulously crafted a narrative that projected America as both a revolutionary force and a model for the existing world order.

Over the centuries, America’s global reputation has fluctuated, from a revolutionary upstart to a global superpower. The Cold War era cast a shadow on America’s image, characterized by perceived brutishness and heavy-handedness, diverging from the ideals it purportedly stood for. The post-Soviet era marked the U.S. as the lone superpower, promoting the “Washington Consensus” of democratic free-market capitalism for global prosperity and security.

However, the goodwill garnered from this era waned after the invasion of Iraq post-9/11. The present echoes of global disapproval surrounding America’s unwavering support for Israel parallel the aftermath of the Iraq invasion.

Public Diplomacy, as defined by Harvard professor Joe Nye, embodies “soft power”—influence through culture, music, movies, and ideas. The author, having served as President Obama’s Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, emphasizes the impact of cultural influence on international perceptions. Yet, during times of controversial policy decisions, such as the Iraq invasion or the Trump administration’s “Muslim ban,” American soft power loses ground.

The author cites an example of declining Coca-Cola sales after the Iraq invasion, highlighting a Pew survey noting global dislike for the spread of U.S. ideas and customs. Presently, social media depicts Arab boycotts of American companies, symbolized by images of empty McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Domino’s outlets across the Middle East.

Navigating the Swings of American Favorability A Historical Perspective

 

The Obama administration brought a shift in Brand America, aligning it with innovation and technological prowess. However, the election of Donald Trump reversed this trend, contributing to a decline in global favorability. The U.S. experienced a notable hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, revealing a lack of manufacturing capabilities despite being the birthplace of technological innovations like the iPhone.

Biden’s presidency saw a gradual recovery in global favorability, yet challenges persist. The author underscores the indelible global image of the Capitol attack on January 6th, characterizing it as a negative-Statue of Liberty. While U.S. favorability has improved to a median of 62% across 12 nations, it no longer resonates as a model for democracy. Only 17% consider the U.S. a good example, a significant drop from the previous 57%.

The Israel-Hamas conflict has further complicated America’s image, with Israel perceived as an oppressor and the U.S. as its enabler. The strategy of normalizing relations with Sunni nations while marginalizing Palestinians has backfired, and America is losing ground in the messaging battlespace, particularly in Arab nations.

The global landscape is witnessing an existential struggle between the Western rules-based order and the Chinese/Russian might-makes-right approach. China and Russia advocate for a sphere-of-influence diplomacy, challenging the democratic ideals upheld by the U.S. This shift is part of a broader global decline in democracy, as evidenced by the decrease in the number of democratic countries over the last fifteen years.

The author highlights the contrast between the Enlightenment principles of democratic self-government and individual rights and the 21st-century authoritarianism of China and Russia. As the world grapples with this ideological struggle, the U.S. faces internal challenges, with a significant minority supporting an authoritarian leader and a growing appetite for an American “strongman.”

The article concludes by acknowledging America’s unique foundation based on uncommon ideas rather than common blood or religion. The nation’s commitment to universal human rights, even in the face of difficult choices, remains a defining aspect. However, the global narrative surrounding American exceptionalism is evolving, and the U.S. must confront the current reality where hard power choices overshadow its historical advantage in soft power.

This adaptation is derived from a speech given to the Virginia Civil Rights Law Institute.

https://time.com/6553202/resurgence-global-anti-americanism-essay/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=sfmc&utm_campaign=newsletter+brief+default+ac&utm_content=+++20240113+++body&et_rid=207017761&lctg=207017761

Taiwan’s 2024 Election: A Crucial Crossroads in Global Politics

In a scenario eerily reminiscent of pivotal presidential elections with far-reaching consequences for the world, Taiwan, a dynamic Asian democracy neighboring a powerful authoritarian state, is set to hold presidential and parliamentary elections this Saturday. The implications of this electoral contest extend well beyond Taiwan’s borders, drawing close scrutiny from China’s Communist leadership, which has persistently asserted its claim over Taiwan despite never having governed it.

The majority of Taiwanese citizens adamantly reject Chinese rule, particularly as President Xi Jinping consolidates power domestically and China adopts a more assertive stance towards its neighbors. China frames the election as a pivotal choice between “war and peace, prosperity and decline,” a sentiment underscored by Xi’s New Year’s Eve warning, asserting the inevitability of reunification with Taiwan.

The United States, Taiwan’s primary international supporter and arms supplier, has had tumultuous relations with China over the Taiwan issue. The upcoming election in Taiwan is poised to test the delicate balance between these global superpowers, with the potential to either ease tensions or escalate towards confrontation and conflict.

The Candidates and Their Platforms

Three contenders vie to succeed President Tsai Ing-wen, who, after eight years in office, cannot seek re-election due to term limits. The frontrunner, Lai Ching-te from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), advocates for Taiwan’s de-facto sovereignty and distinct identity from China. While initially branded as a “practical worker for Taiwan independence,” Lai has moderated his stance, pledging to maintain the status quo and engage in dialogue with Beijing on equal terms.

Hou Yu-ih, a former police officer and mayor of New Taipei City from the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), emphasizes peaceful relations with China through open dialogue and increased economic and social ties. Hou criticizes the DPP for provoking China and advocates for a stronger Taiwanese defense.

Ko Wen-je, representing the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), founded in 2019, positions himself as a political outsider. Focusing on everyday issues, Ko proposes a “middle path” in relations with China, criticizing both the DPP for hostility and the KMT for excessive deference.

The potential re-election of the DPP for a third term, unprecedented in Taiwan’s democratic history, would signify the failure of China’s aggressive approach towards Taiwan.

China’s Response and Current Dynamics

Under Xi’s leadership, China has predominantly utilized a coercive approach, diminishing communications with Taiwan, isolating it diplomatically, and escalating military pressure. Cross-strait relations have reached historic lows, with fewer than 3% of Taiwanese identifying as Chinese and less than 10% supporting unification.

China urges Taiwanese voters to make the “correct choice,” implying favoring candidates other than the DPP. Taiwan accuses China of interference, citing disinformation campaigns and economic coercion. Military provocations, including fighter jets, drones, and warships near Taiwan, reflect China’s efforts to influence public morale.

While an outright invasion seems unlikely, China has various means to display displeasure, from military exercises to trade sanctions or a blockade. The international community closely monitors these actions, particularly given existing global tensions.

The U.S.-Taiwan Relationship

Since formally severing ties with Taiwan in 1979, the U.S. has maintained unofficial relations and is obligated by law to support Taiwan’s defense. However, the U.S. has remained ambiguous on whether it would defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack. Under Presidents Biden and Trump, the U.S. increased support and arms sales to Taiwan, raising questions about its longstanding “strategic ambiguity.”

China perceives Taiwan as a red line in its relations with the U.S., warning against interference. Despite U.S. assurances of neutrality in Taiwan’s election, tensions persist. As the U.S. endeavors to stabilize relations with China, Taiwan’s election adds complexity to an already challenging geopolitical landscape.

As the world anxiously watches the unfolding dynamics between Taiwan, China, and the U.S., the outcome of Taiwan’s election and its aftermath will undoubtedly reverberate across the globe. Against the backdrop of escalating conflicts in Europe and the Middle East, the choices made by Taiwanese voters may set the course for international relations in the years to come. Concurrently, the U.S. presidential election later in the year will be closely monitored by Taiwan’s new leadership and its population, further influencing the intricate web of global politics.

Chris Christie Exits Presidential Race with Sharp Critique of Trump, Predicts Challenges for GOP Frontrunners

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has exited the presidential race, concluding his bid with a pointed remark aimed at frontrunner Donald Trump.

“I am going to make sure that in no way do I enable Donald Trump to ever be president of the United States again,” stated the once Trump ally, now turned critic.

Christie, a Republican, had been under pressure to step aside, allowing the party to coalesce around a viable contender against Mr. Trump. However, he refrained from endorsing any candidate upon bowing out.

On a hot microphone just before officially announcing the end of his campaign, Christie expressed skepticism about the potential of Nikki Haley, a candidate gaining ground on Trump in some polls. He asserted that she was “going to get smoked, and you and I both know it.” Christie also remarked that another rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, seemed “petrified.”

At 61 years old, Christie, polling nationally in the low single figures, announced the suspension of his campaign during a town hall event in New Hampshire on Wednesday afternoon.

His departure, five days prior to the Iowa caucuses, the initial state-by-state contests in which Republican voters choose their preferred presidential candidate, raised eyebrows. The ultimate victor will be named the Republican nominee in July, subsequently challenging the Democratic nominee, likely Joe Biden, in the November general election.

Christie, encouraged to withdraw before the upcoming New Hampshire contest, where polls suggested Haley might be narrowing the gap with Trump, stressed the urgency for Republican voters to reject the former president. Accusing Trump of “putting himself before the people of this country,” Christie implored voters to reconsider their support.

The northeastern state of New Hampshire, known for its large faction of unaffiliated voters and unpredictable outcomes, poses a potential shift in dynamics. With Christie polling at 12%, a significant portion of his supporters may now pivot towards Haley.

In response to Christie’s departure, Haley issued a statement acknowledging him as “a friend for many years” and commending his “hard-fought campaign.” However, opponents, notably DeSantis, echoed Christie’s sentiment that Haley was destined to be defeated.

Trump, in his response, suggested he might start liking Christie again after the former governor’s “very truthful statement” about Haley. The ex-president’s political action committee claimed victory, asserting that he had already defeated eight challengers before a single vote had been cast.

This marked Christie’s second unsuccessful attempt to secure the Republican nomination, having lost to Trump in 2016. His strategy in this campaign aimed to act as an attack dog for Trump’s rivals, delivering memorable moments during primary debates. However, without Trump on stage, Christie failed to land any direct blows.

Matthew Bartlett, a Republican strategist based in New Hampshire, commented on Christie facing political reality. “Republican voters do not want to hear the same attacks that they’ve heard from Democrats or even the media for the better part of eight years,” Bartlett observed.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Secures Fourth Consecutive Term Amid Controversy in Bangladesh Election

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has clinched a resounding victory in Bangladesh’s parliamentary election, securing a fourth consecutive term for her and the ruling Awami League despite a turbulent campaign marked by violence and a boycott from the main opposition party. While the Election Commission delayed the official results, various TV stations, relying on their extensive networks of journalists, reported that the Awami League had won 216 seats out of the 299 contested. Independent candidates secured 52 seats, and the third-largest party in the country, the Jatiya Party, secured 11 seats. The final results for the remaining constituencies were still pending late into Sunday night.

The parliamentary election covered 299 out of 300 seats, with one seat facing a postponed election due to the death of an independent candidate, as required by law. The Election Commission is expected to make a final official declaration on Monday.

Despite at least 18 arson attacks leading up to the election, the actual polling day unfolded in relative calm. Turnout was reported to be around 40%, according to Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal. However, the main opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by former premier Khaleda Zia, rejected the election outcome, claiming that Bangladeshi voters had spurned what they deemed a one-sided election orchestrated by the government.

The pre-election period witnessed security incidents, including a deadly arson attack on a passenger train that resulted in four deaths. These incidents heightened tensions and underscored the polarized political landscape. The BNP, along with its allied groups, accused Hasina of transforming Bangladesh into a one-party state and suppressing dissent and civil society. Authorities, in turn, attributed much of the violence to the BNP, accusing it of attempting to undermine the election. On the eve of the election, seven individuals associated with the BNP were arrested for their alleged involvement in the train attack, a claim the party vehemently denied.

In another incident on election day, a supporter of an Awami League candidate was fatally stabbed in Munshiganj district near Dhaka, though the police did not immediately comment on the matter.

The victory for the 76-year-old Hasina, the longest-serving leader in the country, is accompanied by a contentious political landscape. The bitter rivalry between Hasina’s Awami League and the BNP, led by the ailing Khaleda Zia under house arrest on corruption charges, has been a defining feature of Bangladesh’s politics. This year’s election raised concerns about its credibility, given the absence of major challengers to the incumbent.

Public sentiment mirrored skepticism about the fairness of the election. Many citizens expressed dissatisfaction with the limited choices and perceived the atmosphere as not conducive to a “fair election.” Critics and rights groups pointed to a recurring pattern of allegations of vote-rigging in the past two elections under Hasina, accusations that the government vehemently denied. The BNP had been demanding a neutral caretaker government to oversee the election, a request rejected by the government.

Despite the government’s defense of the election, citing the participation of 27 parties and 404 independent candidates, analysts predicted an inevitable win for Hasina. Many candidates from the Awami League ran as independents, and smaller opposition parties were mostly marginalized, contributing to the perceived predictability of Hasina’s victory.

Michael Kugelman, Director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center, highlighted the lack of substantial challengers, stating, “The outcome is all but guaranteed, and that is that the Awami League will return (to power) again.” Concerns were raised about the precarious state of Bangladesh’s democracy once the election concluded.

Accusations of a sweeping crackdown against the BNP further marred the credibility of the election. The BNP claimed that around 20,000 of its members were unjustly jailed on trumped-up charges ahead of the vote, a figure disputed by the government, which asserted that arrests were politically neutral and numbered between 2,000 and 3,000. The country’s law minister, in an interview with the BBC, suggested that around 10,000 individuals were likely arrested.

Former minister and BNP leader Abdul Moyeen Khan revealed that the arrests forced him and numerous party members into hiding for weeks. He emphasized, “We are not boycotting an election — what we are boycotting is a fake and one-sided election that this government is carrying out.”

Sheikh Hasina, credited with transforming Bangladesh’s economy and global standing, faced criticism from opponents who contended that her leadership risked turning the country into a one-party state, with growing concerns about democracy being undermined.

While Hasina’s supporters lauded her economic achievements and efforts against military coups and Islamic militancy, critics argued that her administration stifled dissent, curtailed press freedoms, and restricted civil society. The global economic slowdown also exposed vulnerabilities in Bangladesh’s economy, leading to labor unrest and discontent.

Responding to concerns over the legitimacy of the vote after casting her ballot, Hasina asserted, “I’m trying my best to ensure that democracy should continue in this country.” She emphasized that being accountable to the people and their acceptance of the election results were paramount.

The fourth consecutive term secured by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh’s parliamentary election comes against a backdrop of controversy, with allegations of a one-sided and contentious electoral process. The widespread skepticism about the fairness of the election and the opposition’s rejection of the results raise questions about the future of democracy in Bangladesh.

Nikki Haley Seeks to Surpass Expectations in Iowa Caucuses, Emerging as Top Contender Against Trump in Republican Primary

Nikki Haley aims to exceed expectations in the upcoming Iowa caucuses, positioning herself as a formidable challenger to former President Trump in the Republican presidential primary. Recent weeks have witnessed a surge in Haley’s poll numbers and fundraising efforts, prompting increased attention and scrutiny from Trump, indicative of concerns about her growing influence.

As of now, Trump maintains a substantial lead in Iowa, raising uncertainties about Haley’s ability to generate enough momentum to carry into the subsequent New Hampshire primary. According to The Hill/Decision Desk HQ polling average, Trump commands 51.6 percent support in Iowa, with DeSantis trailing at 18 percent and Haley closely behind at 17.1 percent.

Matthew Bartlett, a New Hampshire-based Republican strategist, emphasizes the significance of outperforming expectations in Iowa, stating, “It would always be great for someone to outperform expectations in Iowa, and right now Trump’s expectations are a resounding win.”

However, strategists anticipate that New Hampshire and Haley’s home state of South Carolina will play crucial roles in her campaign’s trajectory. In New Hampshire, Trump leads with 41.6 percent, followed by Haley at 29.7 percent, Chris Christie at 10.9 percent, and DeSantis at 7.4 percent. Bartlett suggests that if Trump fails to secure over 50 percent in New Hampshire, a strong showing by Haley could reshape the narrative of the race.

Addressing the dynamics between the two states, Haley hinted at the correction of Iowa’s results during a recent visit to New Hampshire, a statement that drew criticism. Doug Heye, a national Republican strategist, notes that Iowa often serves to “winnow the field,” emphasizing the greater importance of New Hampshire and South Carolina.

While Haley currently leads DeSantis in South Carolina polling, Trump holds a commanding lead with 53.6 percent support, leaving uncertainty about Haley’s ability to surpass him in her home state. Some South Carolina Republicans believe that the outcome in their state could be influenced by events in New Hampshire.

Alex Stroman, a South Carolina Republican strategist, suggests, “If she’s able to win in New Hampshire, I think it really sets up a true battle royal in South Carolina.”

Despite challenges, Haley’s allies maintain optimism about her multiple paths forward. Preya Samsundar, spokesperson for the pro-Haley Stand for America PAC, asserts, “I think they’re all states that we want to win. Nikki is not playing for second. She’s said that over and over again. At the end of the day Nikki has so many pathways to moving forward.”

Trump has signaled his perception of Haley as a threat, evident in recent campaign ads targeting her in New Hampshire. The ads focus on immigration issues, portraying Haley’s perceived weakness against Trump’s claimed strength. Additionally, a pro-Trump super PAC has released an ad featuring past remarks from Haley, highlighting her stance on describing immigrants crossing the border as “criminals.”

Haley is beginning to reveal her strategy for a one-on-one matchup against Trump, taking a more aggressive stance during a CNN town hall in Iowa. She emphasized the need for stability, asserting, “We can’t have a country in disarray and a world on fire and go through four more years of chaos. We won’t survive it.”

In contrast to Trump’s approach, Haley concentrates on counterpunching rather than direct attacks. Haley’s focus is on running her own race and providing truthful responses when necessary. Matthew Bartlett notes, “That is a position of strength. That is somebody that is saying, ‘I’m not going to start it, but I’m certainly not going to take it.’”

However, Republicans caution Haley against falling into Trump’s provocations, drawing parallels with past candidates like Marco Rubio, whose campaigns faltered after direct confrontations with Trump. Bartlett advises, “Remember, when you roll around in the mud with a pig, you both get dirty, but the pig likes it. Donald Trump wants that.”

Haley faces competition not only from Trump but also from DeSantis, who is actively challenging her in the race. The two will engage in a one-on-one debate in Iowa, providing insight into their dynamic. DeSantis has criticized Haley for ties to big-dollar donors and labeled her as “phony,” while Haley has countered by scrutinizing DeSantis’ positions on China.

The upcoming debate will be a pivotal moment for both candidates. Despite potential challenges, Haley has proven her debating prowess in previous encounters, gaining appreciation from voters. Bartlett observes, “It seems as if voters appreciate that.”

Colorado Secretary of State Certifies 2024 Presidential Primary Ballots Amidst Supreme Court Controversy

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold revealed on Friday that she had officially certified the Republican and Democrat ballots for the 2024 presidential primary election. In a statement, Griswold announced, “Colorado’s 2024 Presidential primary ballot is certified. The United States Supreme Court has accepted the case, and Donald Trump will appear on the ballot as a result.”

The certification process ensures that voters affiliated with a major party, either Republican or Democrat, by Feb. 12 will receive a ballot from the party with which they are associated. Unaffiliated voters, on the other hand, will receive ballots from both parties but are allowed to cast their vote on only one, which will be counted.

This development comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to review a contentious ruling from Colorado’s highest court. The state court had declared Trump ineligible for the presidency, intending to exclude him from the primary ballot. This legal clash holds significant implications for the 2024 presidential election, prompting the Supreme Court to set a swift schedule for filings and schedule arguments for Feb. 8, with a potential decision shortly thereafter.

At the heart of the dispute lies the Constitution’s insurrection clause, a provision dating back to the Civil War era. This clause prohibits individuals who have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution and subsequently engaged in insurrection from holding public office.

The Colorado Supreme Court, in a divided 4-3 decision on Dec. 19, concluded that Trump’s involvement in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol disqualified him from serving as president. Consequently, they barred him from being listed on the state’s primary ballot. However, the state court temporarily halted its decision, allowing Trump and the Colorado GOP time to appeal.

Regarding the certification, Griswold stated, “The United States Supreme Court has accepted the case, and Donald Trump will appear on the ballot as a result.” This underscores the critical role the Supreme Court’s review will play in shaping the lineup of candidates for the 2024 Colorado presidential primary.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office provided additional information about the candidates who have submitted a statement of intent and filing fee to appear on the Colorado Presidential Primary Ballot. The Democratic Party candidates, in ballot order, include Jason Michael Palmer, Gabriel Cornejo, Frankie Lozada, Dean Phillips, Stephen P Lyons, Marianne Williamson, Joseph R Biden Jr, and Armando “Mando” Perez-Serrato, along with a “Noncommitted Delegate.”

The Republican Party candidates, listed in ballot order, are Vivek Ramaswamy, Asa Hutchinson, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, Ryan L Binkley, and Donald J. Trump. Additionally, there are Republican write-in candidates Rachel Hannah “Mohawk” Swift and Walter Iwachiw.

The Colorado Democratic Party has also submitted a request for a “Noncommitted Delegate” to appear on the 2024 Presidential Primary Ballot under the provisions of Colorado Revised Statutes 1-4-1204(3). This allows electors with no presidential candidate preference to register a vote for a noncommitted delegate to the political party’s national convention.

As the legal battle unfolds, important dates for the 2024 Presidential Primary Election in Colorado include the deadline to send ballots to registered military and overseas voters on January 20. February 12 marks the first day ballots can be mailed to registered Colorado voters (excluding military and overseas voters) and the last day for voters to change or withdraw their party affiliation to participate in a different party’s Presidential Primary.

February 16 is the deadline for mail ballots to be sent to registered eligible voters, and by February 26, the minimum number of required Voter Service and Polling Centers (VSPCs) must be open. The same day also serves as the deadline to submit an application to register to vote through various channels, including online, to receive a mail ballot. February 26 is also the last suggested day to return ballots by mail.

On February 27, the minimum number of required drop boxes must be open to accept mail ballots statewide, and it is suggested that voters submit their ballots at Voting Centers or drop boxes rather than by mail. Finally, March 5 is Election Day, and eligible voters must have submitted their ballot or be in line to vote by 7 p.m. for their ballot to be counted.

These dates and procedures are crucial for ensuring a smooth and fair electoral process, with the Supreme Court’s decision looming large over the entire 2024 presidential primary landscape in Colorado. The outcome of this legal battle could significantly impact the list of candidates that voters will find on their ballots come March 5.

New York Attorney General Seeks $370 Million Fine and Lifetime Ban for Trump Amidst Fraud Allegations

New York Attorney General Letitia James is urging for a $370 million penalty against former President Donald Trump and his enterprises, coupled with a permanent prohibition on Trump, as well as two of his former company executives, from involvement in the real estate sector within the state.

In post-trial motions filed on Friday concerning the Trump fraud case, lawyers from James’ office pressed for the prescribed penalties. They itemized the amounts, asserting that Trump is accountable for $168 million in interest purportedly saved through fraudulent means. This comprises $152 million from the sale of the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., housing one of Trump’s hotels, $60 million related to the Ferry Point Golf Course contract transfer, and an additional $2.5 million from severance agreements with Allen Howard Weisselberg, the former Trump Organization chief financial officer, and Jeff McConney, the ex-Trump Organization controller.

Letitia James is additionally advocating for a lifelong prohibition on Trump, Weisselberg, and McConney from participating in the real estate industry, as well as from assuming roles as officers or directors in New York corporations or entities. The attorney general is also proposing five-year bans for Trump’s eldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, under similar conditions.

The case’s summary judgment established the former president, his company, and top executives as culpable for systematic and persistent fraud in the preparation and certification of Trump’s financial statements. These statements were falsely inflated, claiming amounts between $812 million and $2.2 billion.

A separate motion filed on Friday by the defense team contends that the evidence does not substantiate an intention to defraud on Trump’s part, as well as on the part of Weisselberg and McConney. The defense lawyers argue that the attorney general’s office has not adequately proven insurance fraud and has failed to illustrate any real-world consequences. They further assert that banks conducted their own due diligence on the financial statements.

Despite the legal developments, Trump continues to vehemently deny any wrongdoing, characterizing the lawsuit as a politically motivated “witch hunt.” He has vowed to contest the judge’s ruling and emphasized his innocence in a post on Truth Social, a platform he endorsed. In the post, Trump asserted, in capital letters, “I did nothing wrong, my financial statements are great, & very conservative, the exact opposite of what the highly political & totally corrupt New York state attorney general says.”

Reflections on the Third Anniversary of the Capitol Storming: A Deep Dive into the State of American Democracy

As the nation marks the third anniversary of the Capitol storming on January 6, experts are expressing increasing concern about the current state of American democracy, especially as the country heads into an election year with deep divisions over the significance of that fateful day.

The violent events of January 6, 2021, resulted in multiple fatalities, the desecration of the Capitol building, the subsequent prosecution of former President Trump, and a wave of shock as the public witnessed the disturbing scenes unfolding from the heart of American democracy.

However, the collective reflection on that dark day proved short-lived. Former President Trump has consistently sought to deflect responsibility for the attack, downplaying it as mere expressions of concerns about the election. He continues to propagate unfounded claims of election fraud while endorsing conspiracy theories surrounding the assault. Notably, Republicans who initially condemned Trump shortly after the attack realigned themselves with the former president just weeks later.

On the first anniversary of January 6, only one GOP lawmaker, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), joined Democrats in commemorating the day. Rachel Kleinfeld, a democracy expert and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace, expressed her concern about the direction of the Republican Party, stating, “I think among the signs of concern regarding our democracy, the biggest concern is that we have one of our two main political parties being taken over by a faction that is probably only about a third of its voters but is very willing to eschew democratic rules.”

“We now seem to think that if we don’t have another major riot that disrupts the transfer of presidential power, things aren’t so bad…And we just need to take a big step back and say, is this where we want our society to go?” she added.

The anniversary arrives amidst troubling indicators regarding the strength of America’s democracy. A recent USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll revealed that just over half of Trump supporters lack confidence in the accuracy of the 2024 election results, aligning with the former president’s claims of a “rigged” last presidential election. In contrast, 81 percent of President Biden’s supporters expressed strong confidence in the upcoming election’s accuracy.

A Washington Post-UMD poll found that a quarter of Americans believe in the conspiracy theory that the FBI orchestrated and encouraged the Capitol attack. Furthermore, several polls indicate a growing openness among Americans to resorting to violence for political ends. A Public Religion Research Institute-Brookings Institution poll in October discovered that 23 percent of Americans agreed that “American patriots may have to resort to violence to save our country,” marking an increase from 15 percent in 2021.

These studies coincide with the steady decline in America’s Freedom House ranking over the past decade, attributed to factors such as rising political polarization, extremism, and partisan pressure on the electoral process, according to Freedom House President Michael Abramowitz.

Abramowitz highlighted the role of social media in exacerbating these issues, stating, “The rise of social media has really made it harder for the country to unite around a shared narrative or shared set of facts…There’s not a shared agreement on the facts. There’s not a shared agreement on what actually happened,” referring specifically to the events of January 6.

Matt Hall, a professor at Notre Dame University involved in the January 6th, 2025, Project, emphasized how social media has contributed to the contradictory viewpoints held by many Trump supporters regarding the Capitol attack. He explained, “Somehow January 6th was no big deal, just a minor protest overhyped by the media, and it did happen but it was a false-flag operation perpetrated by Democrats, and it was actually a deep-state conspiracy to keep Trump out of power, and it was a completely justified effort to defend our democracy.”

Despite widespread divisions in news sources and perspectives, Kleinfeld argued that the current polarization in U.S. politics is more nuanced than perceived. While Americans may hold mixed views on various topics, a failure to bridge emotional polarization persists. Efforts to address political divides face challenges within a system where politicians are rewarded for playing to their polarized bases.

Hall contended that Trump is exploiting these divisions and distrust to foster a “revival of fascist politics.” He explained, “MAGA politicians like Donald Trump are using divisive rhetoric to divide us into an ‘us’ versus ‘them’…Fascist leaders are then able to exploit these social divisions to break down basic social norms and shared understandings about our politics.”

Kleinfeld stressed the importance of political leaders calling out actions that erode democracy, acknowledging the difficulty in doing so within the current environment. She stated, “A lot of times the media reports on our democratic breakdown as left versus right or right versus left. But in fact, what’s happening is that a small faction of the Republican Party is trying to take over, and fellow Republicans who want to uphold the rule of law and liberal ideals — those are the ones being ejected from the party, threatened with violence, called all sorts of names and [had] their children threatened.”

Recent statistics released by the Justice Department highlighted that out of over 1,265 people charged in connection with January 6, 2021, 718 have pleaded guilty, and 139 have been convicted at trial. Trump has pledged to pardon them.

Abramowitz concluded, “The January 6 attack tested the strength of American democracy, and American democracy did hold…But we can’t take that for granted in the future. And so I think we really do have our work cut out for us when it comes to reinforcing American institutions and democratic safeguards.”

2024 Republican Contenders DeSantis and Haley Challenge Trump’s Nomination, Showcase Policy Positions in CNN Town Halls

In the lead-up to the Iowa caucuses, two prominent 2024 Republican presidential contenders, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, sought to sway voters by challenging the assumption that former President Donald Trump is a shoo-in for the party’s nomination. Both emphasized the potential risks of nominating Trump again, suggesting it could jeopardize the GOP’s chances in the November election. The candidates also aimed to showcase their own electability and distinct policy positions.

During a CNN town hall, DeSantis aimed to present a more relatable persona, starting the event by handing a jersey to CNN moderator Kaitlan Collins in a lighthearted gesture. He then delved into policy, expressing support for a “flat tax” and advocating for the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service. In contrast, Haley emphasized her readiness to tackle challenging issues, highlighting fiscal responsibility, advocating robust support for Israel in its conflict with Hamas, and recounting her efforts to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds during her governorship.

Both candidates raised concerns about the potential impact of Trump’s legal battles on the party’s ability to defeat President Joe Biden in the general election. They did not directly criticize Trump over the legal challenges he faces but framed him as a candidate whose personal controversies could harm the GOP’s chances. Haley asserted that the country couldn’t afford “four more years of chaos,” emphasizing the need for stability.

Here are six key takeaways from their CNN town halls:

Setting Expectations

Despite polls indicating Trump’s lead in Iowa, both DeSantis and Haley insisted they were committed to competing until the last moment. DeSantis encouraged voters not to let media or pundits influence their decision, emphasizing the importance of choosing the best president. Haley acknowledged the significance of the New Hampshire primary for her campaign but underscored her determination to fight until the end in Iowa and every state.

Taking on Trump

Both candidates argued that nominating Trump for a third consecutive time posed a risk for the Republican Party. While avoiding direct criticism of Trump’s legal challenges, they portrayed him as a candidate whose personal drama could hinder the GOP. Haley stressed the need for stability, stating, “We have a country to save, and that means no more drama.” DeSantis acknowledged the boost Trump received from his legal troubles in the primary but warned Iowa voters of potential damage in the general election.

DeSantis’ Evolution

DeSantis displayed a different demeanor in the town hall compared to earlier appearances in the 2024 Republican primary. He adopted a more relatable tone, using folksy language and refraining from immediately addressing social issues like transgender healthcare bans or abortion. DeSantis positioned himself as a candidate running for the average voter, signaling a departure from his previous image as overly stiff and unrelatable.

Addressing Gun Violence

The town hall occurred hours after a school shooting in Perry, Iowa. DeSantis addressed the issue of gun violence, referencing reforms passed in Florida after the Parkland shooting. He emphasized the importance of mental health and instant background checks, expressing opposition to mandatory waiting periods. Haley focused on mental health and security measures for schools, opposing restrictions on gun rights and advocating a holistic approach.

Haley’s Civil War Answer

Haley revisited a controversial moment from the previous week when she failed to mention slavery when discussing the Civil War. Acknowledging her mistake, she explained that she was thinking beyond slavery and focused on the lessons learned. She also shared personal experiences dealing with racism, emphasizing the need to show commonality rather than differences.

DeSantis on Abortion

DeSantis faced persistent questions about his stance on abortion, adopting a softer tone while reaffirming his anti-abortion record. He was evasive about the onus on women to access exceptions in Florida’s six-week prohibition. DeSantis also criticized Trump from the right on abortion, suggesting a misalignment between Trump’s current positions and his earlier beliefs, particularly for pro-life voters in Iowa.

DeSantis and Haley strategically positioned themselves as viable alternatives to Trump, emphasizing the potential risks of his candidacy and presenting their own policy positions and electability. The town halls provided insight into their evolving campaign strategies and their efforts to appeal to a broader audience, addressing issues ranging from taxes and gun violence to historical controversies.

Biden’s Critical Speech at Valley Forge: Defending Democracy Against the Threat of Trump’s Return

In his inaugural major campaign event of 2024, President Joe Biden is set to deliver a significant speech near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, on the eve of the third anniversary of the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The president, deeply involved in crafting the speech, aims to convey that democracy and essential freedoms face a perilous threat if former President Donald Trump were to return to the White House. This assertion follows a series of consultations with historians and scholars at the White House, echoing themes from the 2020 campaign, which Biden characterized as “a battle for the soul of the nation.”

Biden’s speech, scheduled at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, will feature attendees motivated by the Jan. 6 attack, including young individuals inspired to engage in politics, “voter protection volunteers” from the 2020 election, and elected officials directly affected by the events of Jan. 6, 2021. The campaign strategically positions the location in the election battleground state as a “stone’s throw” from where Gen. George Washington transformed colonial militias into a unified force during the Revolutionary War nearly 250 years ago.

Campaign manager Julie-Chavez Rodriguez emphasized the historical significance, stating, “This Saturday will mark the three-year anniversary of when, with encouragement from Donald Trump, a violent mob breached our nation’s Capitol.” She added, “It was the first time in our nation’s history that a president tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.”

As the Iowa Republican primary approaches and Biden faces persistent polling challenges, there is an anticipation that he will adopt a more assertive stance against Trump. However, some Democratic strategists question the effectiveness of the “threat to democracy” message, considering the passage of three years since Jan. 6 and Trump’s tenure in the White House.

Democratic strategist James Carville emphasized the impact of daily life on public perception, stating, “People live in the economy and experience it many times a day. They don’t live on January 6th.” Meanwhile, Tim Hogan, who worked on presidential campaigns for Democratic figures, urged the Biden campaign to highlight the contrast with Trump, emphasizing the various threats posed by the former president.

Hogan referred to a recent poll indicating that 55% of Americans view Jan. 6, 2021, as an “attack on democracy that should never be forgotten,” with a majority believing Trump is likely guilty of a criminal conspiracy to overturn the election. However, he noted the growing partisan divide in views about the attack, with misinformation influencing opinions.

The poll highlighted that 25% of Americans falsely believe the FBI was responsible for the Jan. 6 attack, and partisan differences emerge regarding the nature of the pro-Trump mob’s actions. Despite these challenges, Hogan emphasized the importance of addressing the multifaceted threats posed by Trump during the campaign.

A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll from this week revealed that while Americans agree on the risk to democracy in 2024, they differ in their reasons. Democrats and independents express concern about a second Trump term, while Republicans believe democracy would weaken under another Biden term.

The speech, initially scheduled for Saturday, was rescheduled to Friday due to anticipated bad weather in Valley Forge. The campaign strategically leverages the symbolic setting to underscore Biden’s commitment to voluntarily leaving office, contrasting with Trump’s tenure. Deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks emphasized George Washington’s relinquishing of power as a crucial precedent for American democracy.

In closed-door campaign fundraisers, Biden has often referred to Trump as his “predecessor,” but Friday’s speech could see more public and robust condemnations. Biden may specifically address Trump’s anti-immigrant comments, which he characterizes as “Nazi rhetoric,” and criticize Trump’s vision of leadership involving “revenge and retribution.”

Trump, a consistent frontrunner for the Republican nomination, faces 91 criminal charges in four felony cases, one of which relates to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election loss to Biden. Despite the legal challenges, Trump continues to deny any wrongdoing.

The campaign’s choice of locations, including the speech near Valley Forge and a recent visit to Charleston, South Carolina, emphasizes the stakes of the upcoming election. The campaign aims to highlight the ideals of freedom and democracy on which the nation was founded 250 years ago, showcasing a commitment to stand against political violence and extremism.

The Biden campaign, in its first television ad of 2024, frames the preservation of democracy as the central issue of his presidency. Although not mentioning Trump by name, the ad warns against an “extremist movement” that contradicts the basic beliefs in democracy, showcasing images of the Capitol attack and the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

To prepare for the speech, the White House disclosed that Biden had lunch with historians and scholars to discuss “ongoing threats to democracy and democratic institutions both here in America and around the world.” Concurrently, Vice President Kamala Harris is embarking on a series of visits to South Carolina, where she will launch a “reproductive freedoms tour” on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

As Trump conducts “commit to caucus” rallies in Iowa, the Biden campaign positions itself to address the overarching theme of preserving democracy, emphasizing the critical choice faced by Americans in the upcoming election.

Trump Challenges Colorado Court’s Historic Ruling, Appeals to Supreme Court in Unprecedented Primary Ballot Battle

In a move that could trigger an unprecedented legal showdown, former President Trump has called on the Supreme Court to overturn a pivotal decision by a Colorado court that disqualified him from the state’s 2024 Republican primary ballot under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection ban.

Trump’s legal team argues that the Colorado Supreme Court overstepped its authority by denying him access to the ballot and contends that the court misinterpreted and misapplied Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. In their petition to the Supreme Court, they assert, “The Colorado Supreme Court has no authority to deny President Trump access to the ballot. By doing so, the Colorado Supreme Court has usurped Congressional authority and misinterpreted and misapplied the text of section 3.”

The crux of the matter lies in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, a clause implemented in the aftermath of the Civil War. This provision prohibits individuals who have sworn an oath to “support” the U.S. Constitution but have “engaged in insurrection” against it from holding federal office. The Supreme Court has never before ruled on this specific section, setting the stage for an extraordinary legal battle.

The Colorado Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision in December, determined that Trump’s actions, including inflaming his supporters with unfounded claims of election fraud and directing them to the Capitol on January 6, 2021, amounted to insurrection. Consequently, the court barred him from appearing on the state’s primary ballot as he pursues a second term in the White House.

The state court’s ruling also overturned a trial judge’s finding that the 14th Amendment didn’t apply to the presidency, emphasizing that the language of the presidential oath “does not make it anything other than an oath to support the Constitution.” The majority opinion stated, “We do not reach these conclusions lightly. We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us.”

Trump’s legal team, in their petition to the Supreme Court, emphasized the historical significance of the case: “If allowed to stand, the ruling will mark the first time in the history of the United States that the judiciary has prevented voters from casting ballots for the leading major-party presidential candidate.”

Despite the Colorado court putting its ruling on hold until a specified date to allow Trump to seek Supreme Court review, the looming deadline for finalizing Colorado’s presidential primary ballots poses a challenge. With the deadline approaching and the legal process likely extending beyond it, Trump’s name is expected to appear on the primary ballots regardless.

While the immediate impact may be limited to Colorado’s primary, any decision by the Supreme Court could reverberate through the upcoming general election in November, affecting Trump’s candidacy not only in Colorado but potentially in states nationwide.

In response to the legal developments, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung accused adversaries, including the Colorado Supreme Court and the left-wing activist group CREW, of attempting to disenfranchise voters. Cheung stated, “Crooked Joe Biden’s comrades, including the Colorado Supreme Court and CREW, a radical, left-wing activist group, are doing all they can to disenfranchise all American voters by attempting to remove President Trump, the leading candidate in the 2024 Presidential Election, from the primary ballot.”

Adding another layer to the legal saga, the Colorado Republican Party separately appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, asserting that allowing the state court’s decision to stand would distort the 2024 race and result in “nebulous accusations of insurrection.” While the plaintiffs and the Colorado secretary of state agree that the high court should consider the case, they propose focusing on a narrower set of issues.

Similar legal battles have unfolded in other states, including Michigan and Minnesota, where attempts to remove Trump’s name from state ballots have mostly been unsuccessful. However, the landscape shifted at the turn of the year when Maine became the second state to disqualify Trump from its Republican primary ballots. Trump promptly appealed the decision to state court, setting the stage for a potential Supreme Court involvement in the weeks ahead.

In Maine, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, cited the weight of evidence in her decision, asserting that Trump was aware of the consequences of his prolonged effort to undermine the democratic election and chose to ignite the turmoil: “The weight of the evidence makes clear that Mr. Trump was aware of the tinder laid by his multi-month effort to delegitimize a democratic election, and then chose to light a match.”

As the legal battles unfold across multiple states, the Supreme Court’s decision in the Colorado case could shape the trajectory of Trump’s political future, influencing both his immediate presence on primary ballots and his viability as a major-party candidate in the 2024 Presidential Election.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Declares Presidential Candidacy in Utah, Gaining First Ballot Access

In a significant move towards the 2024 presidential race, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has officially filed to run as an independent candidate in Utah after successfully meeting the 1,000-signature requirement essential for ballot inclusion. This marks the inaugural state where the prominent anti-vaccine activist and independent candidate has qualified for the upcoming election.

At a campaign event in Salt Lake City, Kennedy, surrounded by volunteers, disclosed the submission of his candidacy in Utah earlier that day. Campaign spokesperson Stefanie Spear affirmed that Utah is the first state where Kennedy’s campaign has submitted signatures and achieved ballot access, with expectations that Arizona might follow suit.

Kennedy seized the opportunity to critique the formidable barriers faced by candidates without major party backing, emphasizing that stringent requirements in certain states create almost insurmountable challenges to challenge the political “chokehold” exerted by Republicans and Democrats in U.S. politics. He asserted, “This process is forcing us to build our army now, and we’re going to have a better army on the street and in the trenches in November 2024.”

The scion of the renowned Democratic Kennedy family, an environmental lawyer by profession, diverged from the party last fall to embark on an independent White House bid. As the son of former senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and a nephew of Democratic President John F. Kennedy, Kennedy brings a unique political lineage to the race.

Kennedy gained prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic for his endorsement of public health conspiracy theories, amassing a dedicated following of individuals who question the scientific consensus on vaccine safety and effectiveness.

Successfully gaining ballot access in Utah, Kennedy’s candidacy rekindles discussions about the potential spoiler role that an independent candidate could play for the eventual Democratic and Republican nominees. While it remains unlikely for an independent or third-party candidate to secure the presidency, they have the potential to divert support from major candidates, influencing the outcome.

Concerns about Kennedy acting as a spoiler have arisen among allies of both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, who are the probable nominees for their respective parties. Both Biden and Trump face challenges in popularity, increasing the prospect that third-party support could sway the results in the 2024 elections.

In an era of escalating political polarization, Kennedy positions himself in the middle, aligning with influential figures on the far right while highlighting his environmentalist background.

The extent of Kennedy’s ballot access across states remains uncertain, as each state establishes its own unique requirements. The process of collecting signatures and navigating legal obstacles can be financially burdensome for candidates lacking support from major parties.

American Values 2024, a super PAC backing Kennedy, has committed to investing up to $15 million to assist him in securing ballot access in crucial states. Kennedy’s success in Utah was facilitated by a legal triumph in a lawsuit filed last month, challenging the state’s candidate filing deadline.

Complicating matters, Kennedy’s anti-vaccine organization is currently entangled in a lawsuit against several news organizations, including The Associated Press, alleging violations of antitrust laws for taking action to identify misinformation about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines. Although Kennedy distanced himself from the group upon announcing his presidential bid, he is still listed as one of its attorneys in the ongoing lawsuit. The AP and other news entities have sought the dismissal of the lawsuit.

Nikki Haley Faces Backlash and Swift Damage Control Over Civil War Remarks

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) moved to clarify her controversial remarks on the cause of the Civil War, acknowledging in a New Hampshire radio interview, “Of course the Civil War was about slavery. We know that. That’s the easy part of it. What I was saying was what does it mean to us today? What it means to us today is about freedom. That’s what that was all about.”

Haley faced scrutiny after a video of her exchange with a voter in New Hampshire surfaced on social media. When pressed by a Granite State voter on the cause of the Civil War during a town hall in Berlin, N.H., she responded, “Well, don’t come with an easy question, right? I mean, I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run, the freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do.”

The voter expressed astonishment that slavery wasn’t mentioned, to which Haley defended her stance, emphasizing the role of government and the importance of capitalism and economic freedom. The exchange quickly drew attention, with critics questioning her interpretation of historical events.

In response to the backlash, Haley accused the voter of being a “Democrat plant,” as reported by the New Hampshire Journal. This swift attempt to deflect criticism highlighted the potential threat to her campaign. Recent polls in New Hampshire showed a narrowing gap between Haley and former President Trump, with Trump holding a 17-percentage-point lead, down from 27 points on Dec. 6.

Republican and Democratic figures alike criticized Haley’s initial comments, with Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) bluntly stating on social media that the cause of the Civil War was “slavery, period.” Despite the criticism, Donalds believed that Haley’s remarks wouldn’t impact the outcome, confident that Trump would secure the GOP presidential nomination.

Even Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s campaign weighed in, sharing the video with a simple caption, “Yikes.” President Biden also reposted the video, reiterating, “It was about slavery.” Democratic Representative Ro Khanna characterized Haley’s remarks as a “sad betrayal of her own story,” pointing to the shared immigrant experience of their fathers in the context of the civil rights movement.

Attempting to address the controversy, Haley’s campaign emphasized the lesson that “freedom matters and individual rights and liberties matter for all people.” She acknowledged slavery as a stain on America’s history but underscored the need to avoid reliving such dark periods and protect freedoms.

In the broader national context, Haley and DeSantis found themselves in a tight race for second place behind Trump in the polls. As of the latest data, Trump led with 63.1 percent support, followed closely by Haley at 10.8 percent and DeSantis at 10.6 percent, according to Decision Desk HQ and The Hill’s polling index. The evolving dynamics of these poll numbers reflected the shifting landscape and the potential impact of controversial statements on candidates’ standings in the presidential race.

Vivek Ramaswamy’s Presidential Campaign Takes Bold Approach, Shuns TV Ads for Innovative Voter Outreach Strategy

Vivek Ramaswamy’s bid for the presidency has taken an unconventional turn as his campaign shifts its focus away from television advertisements, as reported by NBC News. Confirming this change in strategy, the campaign’s press secretary, Tricia McLaughlin, emphasized their commitment to mobilizing identified voters. In a statement to NBC News, McLaughlin outlined their approach, stating, “We are focused on bringing out the voters we’ve identified — best way to reach them is using addressable advertising, mail, text, live calls and doors to communicate with our voters on Vivek’s vision for America, making their plan to caucus and turning them out.”

This shift in strategy is part of what McLaughlin described as an “intentionally structured strategy” that allows the campaign to be “nimble and hypertargeted” in their advertising efforts. Ramaswamy himself echoed this sentiment in a post on X, expressing his disdain for traditional TV ad spending, deeming it “idiotic” and “low-ROI.” He characterized it as a ploy used by political consultants to deceive candidates with lower intelligence. Ramaswamy emphasized their departure from this norm, stating, “We’re doing it differently. Spending $$ in a way that follows data…apparently a crazy idea in US politics. Big surprise coming on Jan 15.”

McLaughlin responded to Ramaswamy’s post, highlighting their commitment to “playing smarter and working harder.” This strategic pivot comes just a month after the campaign initially announced plans to allocate over US $10 million across various advertising platforms, including broadcast, cable, radio, digital, and direct mail promotions in Iowa and New Hampshire. AdImpact confirmed that they had already spent US $2.2 million on TV, digital, and radio ads.

In contrast to Ramaswamy’s unconventional approach, his GOP rivals, including Chris Christie, Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, and Ron DeSantis, continue to invest heavily in traditional advertising methods. While Ramaswamy’s campaign spent a modest US $6,000 on TV ads in a given week, Trump’s campaign allocated a substantial US $1.1 million, Haley’s team spent US $1 million, DeSantis’ team invested $270,000, and Christie’s campaign expended US $88,000 in the same period. The divergence in spending strategies raises questions about the effectiveness of traditional advertising in the current political landscape. The outcome of this experiment will unfold on January 15, promising a potential surprise that challenges the conventional norms of US politics.

Trump’s Pattern of Denying Historical Knowledge: From Hitler’s Rhetoric to White Supremacy, a Recurring Theme Emerges

In an unexpected journey from reality television fame to a brief presidency and a potential return, Donald Trump has consistently portrayed himself as a shrewder alternative to Washington’s often inept political class, even dubbing himself a “very stable genius.” However, when confronted with accusations of echoing Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric in relation to immigrants entering the U.S. unlawfully, Trump claimed ignorance of the Nazi dictator’s similar use of language.

“I never knew that Hitler said it,” Trump asserted in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, emphasizing that he had never read Hitler’s biographical manifesto, “Mein Kampf.” This denial of knowledge about one of the most notorious figures of the 20th century is remarkable for someone seeking the presidency, a role deeply rooted in historical understanding. Yet, this pattern of claiming ignorance, especially regarding individuals espousing racist or antisemitic views, has become a recurring tactic for Trump.

During his 2016 campaign, when endorsed by former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, Trump insisted he had no awareness of Duke’s background as a white supremacist. Despite Duke’s notoriety as, according to the Anti-Defamation League, “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite,” Trump stated, “I don’t know anything about David Duke.” This strategy of disavowing knowledge was similarly employed when confronted about QAnon, a conspiracy theory alleging Democratic involvement in a satanic pedophilia ring, and the Proud Boys militia group, organizers of the Capitol assault in 2021.

Even in matters of American history, Trump has professed unawareness. At a rally in Nevada, he claimed to have sought the definition of Reconstruction from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, illustrating a lack of familiarity with a pivotal period post-Civil War. Princeton University professor Julian Zelizer emphasized the importance of a president having a basic understanding of history, citing Reconstruction as a crucial moment for civil rights and race relations.

Trump’s statements regarding Hitler, particularly given his New York upbringing with a substantial Jewish population, are notable. Despite participating in Holocaust memorial events and condemning Holocaust deniers, he insisted on having no knowledge of Hitler’s words. Notably, in 1990, journalist Marie Brenner reported that Trump’s ex-wife claimed he had a copy of Hitler’s speeches, “My New Order,” though Trump later denied reading it.

Amid criticism, Trump maintained that his message about immigrants “poisoning” the country’s blood was vastly different from Hitler’s, asserting zero racist intent. Despite the repeated use of “poisoning” references, Trump contended that his focus was on those entering the country illegally and posing threats, rather than echoing Hitler’s dehumanizing rhetoric. This raises questions about the importance of historical awareness in a leader and the motivations behind disavowing knowledge of contentious figures and ideologies.

Escalating Tensions in the Middle East: Israeli Strike and Ongoing Conflict in Gaza Raise Concerns

In a recent Israeli strike on Monday that claimed the life of an Iranian officer in Syria, renewed fears of a wider conflict in the Middle East have emerged. The incident took place against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Gaza, where the death toll is rapidly rising. The strike, which resulted in the death of a senior Iranian officer, has provoked vows of retaliation from Iran, escalating tensions in the region.

“Iran has vowed to retaliate against Israel for the strike, which killed a senior Iranian officer and marked Tehran’s most personal loss yet in the Israel-Hamas war,” reported X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

The situation is further complicated by the increasing civilian casualties in Gaza, raising concerns that the conflict might spill over and jeopardize the efforts by the U.S. to contain the war within the borders of Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The U.S. itself is becoming more deeply entangled in the conflict, facing relentless attacks from Iranian-backed groups in Iraq and Syria.

An unprecedented Christmas Day drone strike by militias in Iraq left an American soldier critically wounded and two others injured, underscoring the expanding scope of the conflict. While analysts do not foresee an immediate outbreak of a broader war, the events signal that the situation is far from stabilizing as the New Year approaches.

Barbara Slavin, a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center, commented, “Everybody is playing a chess game. You have so many different players now.” However, she emphasized that the major casualties of the war are concentrated in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, viewing other attacks as symbolic rather than indicative of a broader conflict at this time.

“The major casualties of this war have taken place in Israel and in Gaza, and the West Bank. These other attacks, while they’re kind of scary, are really very much symbolic, more symbolic than part of a broader conflict at this time,” Slavin added.

The Israeli strike targeted Brig. Gen. Sayyed Razi Mousavi, a senior adviser to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for coordinating between Syria and Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed military and political group in Lebanon. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant declared that his forces are engaged in a “multi-arena” war following previous attacks by Hamas, which resulted in over 1,200 deaths in southern Israel.

“Mousavi had been close to Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was slain by the U.S. in 2020 during the Trump administration, and his death this week prompted an outpouring of grief from Iran and its allies, just as Soleimani’s death did nearly four years ago,” reported the original article.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi announced that Tehran would retaliate for the strike, characterizing Mousavi’s death as “another sign of frustration and weakness of the occupying Zionist regime in the region.”

Trita Parsi, the executive vice president at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, suggested that Israel likely conducted the strike to send a message to Iran, asserting that senior Iranian officials can be targeted for their involvement with proxy groups. However, Parsi argued that Iran would not respond directly to Israel, instead opting for a longer-term strategy against the U.S. and Israel.

“Iran will not respond to Israel directly or with an escalatory attack, arguing ‘they’re playing the longer game’ against the U.S. and Israel. ‘They’re building up the capability of the Houthis, Hezbollah, and others,'” explained Parsi.

While Israel has previously targeted high-ranking Iranian officials, Tehran has typically refrained from direct strikes on Israel, often relying on proxies to carry out attacks. The Middle East remains tense, with Iranian-backed militia groups launching around 100 attacks on U.S. troops since mid-October.

The U.S. has, so far, experienced only minor injuries in these attacks in Iraq and Syria. The Christmas Day strike, however, saw an explosive drone hitting an air base in northern Iraq, leaving one U.S. soldier in critical condition. The U.S. responded with retaliatory strikes that killed one militant and injured 18 others.

When questioned about potential escalations during the holidays, the Pentagon referred to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s statement, emphasizing that the U.S. does not seek escalation but is “committed and fully prepared to take further necessary measures to protect our people and our facilities.”

The Houthis, an Iranian-backed rebel group in Yemen, pose an additional threat in the Red Sea, targeting ships and merchant vessels. While the U.S. has established a maritime task force to deter the Houthis, the group remains committed to continuing its attacks in the Red Sea.

Analysts assert that the only way to alleviate tensions across the Middle East is through a cease-fire or a significant slowdown in the war in Gaza. The high death toll in Gaza, exceeding 20,000 according to Hamas health officials, has sparked global outrage, particularly among Arab nations, Iran, and its allies.

“The U.S. is pushing Israel to move the war into a lower-intensity phase, a diplomatic campaign that bore some fruit earlier this month when Israeli officials signaled they would do so when the time was right,” noted the original article.

Despite these efforts, it remains unclear when such a phase transition might occur. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized that fighting is intensifying in southern Gaza, where nearly two million Palestinian civilians have sought refuge.

“We are not stopping and we will not stop until we are victorious, because we have no country but this one, and we have no other way,” declared Netanyahu before the Knesset.

Trita Parsi from the Quincy Institute warned, “every day we’re getting closer and closer to all-out war” in the Middle East, emphasizing that the conflict is likely to escalate until Israel eases its assault on Gaza.

“It’s an extremely dangerous, escalatory cycle that we’re in, and the most obvious and most effective way of stopping and preventing a regional war is the one step that the administration is least inclined to pursue. And that is to actually have a cease-fire in Gaza,” Parsi concluded.

A Bold Call to Action in the Heart of New York City

On December 19, 2023, the bustling streets of New York City witnessed an extraordinary event that turned heads and sparked critical conversations. On Fifth Avenue, a giant puppet resembling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi rode in a convertible, brandishing a banner with a provocative message: “I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it, OK?” This audacious display, echoing a controversial statement made by former presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016, was more than a theatrical stunt; it was a stark symbol of protest and a desperate cry for global attention.

The Collaborative Effort of Diaspora Groups

This remarkable demonstration was the brainchild of leading Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim diaspora organizations. These groups came together in a show of unity and strength to highlight a disturbing and pressing issue: the alleged strategy of the Indian government in assassinating and intimidating US citizens of Indian descent, as well as other activists living abroad. The audacity of this act in a foreign nation and its implications for international relations and human rights have raised significant alarms.

Alarming Incidents and International Concerns

A Bold Call to Action in the Heart of New York City 2The backdrop to this protest is a series of troubling events that have unfolded both in the United States and Canada. In June, reports emerged of an alleged attempt by Indian authorities to assassinate a US citizen in New York. This harrowing incident occurred simultaneously with the killing of a prominent Canadian Sikh activist. The situation escalated to such an extent that the FBI felt compelled to warn several activists in California about similar threats. These incidents are not random or isolated; they represent a clear and disturbing pattern of behavior that has caught the attention of US prosecutors and the international community.

Voices of Protest and the Demand for Action

Sunita Viswanath of Hindus for Human Rights put forth a powerful message: “The point we make is deadly serious. American lives are not chips in trade deals. It’s high time President Biden acknowledges this reality and communicates unequivocally to both American citizens and Prime Minister Modi that our lives matter and are to be protected.”

Echoing these sentiments, Safa Ahmed of the Indian American Muslim Council highlighted the urgency of the situation: “We find ourselves asking who is next and what will it take for our government to intervene? America needs to stand up not just for its citizens but also for the principles of democracy and human rights across the globe.”

The Significance of the Stunt and the Path Forward

Today’s event in NYC was not just a visual spectacle; it was a powerful and symbolic act of protest and a call for urgent action. It reminds us of the critical role of democratic nations in safeguarding the rights and lives of individuals, regardless of their nationality or location. The Biden administration, along with the global community, faces a crucial test in responding to these allegations and taking concrete steps to ensure the safety and rights of diaspora communities.

In the wake of this demonstration, we are left with pressing questions: How will the global community respond to these alleged acts of cross-border violence? What measures will be taken to protect the vulnerable and hold perpetrators accountable? The answers to these questions will shape the future of international relations, human rights, and the very essence of democratic values.

As we reflect on the events of today, let us remember that the struggle for human rights and justice knows no borders. It is a universal pursuit that demands our collective attention and action.

Vivek Ramaswamy Pledges To Exit GOP Presidential Primary Over Trump’s Disqualification

Ramaswamy has pledged to bow out of the Colorado state primary elections after the state’s Supreme Court ordered Trump’s name to be struck out from the ballot

Indian American Republican presidential primary candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has threatened withdraw from the ballot following Donald Trump’s disqualification from contesting the presidential elections in Colorado.

“I pledge to withdraw from the Colorado GOP primary ballot until Trump is also allowed to be on the ballot,” Ramaswamy said in a post on X. calling upon the other Republican candidates in the race to follow his lead.

“I demand that Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, and Nikki Haley do the same immediately – or else they are tacitly endorsing this illegal maneuver which will have disastrous consequences for our country,” his post on X read.

The Colorado Supreme court ruled on December 19 that Trump was disqualified from holding the presidency under the constitution’s insurrection clause, and ordered the Secretary of State to strike his name out from the state’s GOP presidential primary ballot.

According to Ramaswamy, blocking Trump from contesting the elections was “unconstitutional.” He argued that the Deep State does not select the leadership of the U.S., and the right is reserved only for U.S. citizens. He asked DeSantis, Christie, and Haley to pledge the same vow as him, failure to do so would prove they are “complicit in this unconstitutional attack on the way we conduct our constitutional Republic.”

The Indian American has backed Trump several times this year, including when the latter was named in four criminal indictments. Ramaswmay said he would pardon Trump after being elected as President and also urged his GOP opponents to commit to doing the same.

“Each of our paths to electoral success would be easier if President Trump were eliminated from competition, but that is the wrong result for our country,” said a letter circulated by Ramaswamy campaign to every Democratic and Republican White House contender in June 2023, in the wake of the unsealing of a federal indictment against Trump.

“I condemn these charges by the U.S. Department of Justice. Below, I have signed a commitment to pardon President Trump promptly on January 20, 2025, for the federal charges … I respectfully request that you join me in this commitment or else publicly explain why you will not,” Ramaswamy said in the letter.

Americans Not Happy About The Primary Election Process And Major Political Parties

(AP) — With the GOP primary process just about to start, many Republicans aren’t certain that votes will be counted correctly in their presidential primary contest, amid widespread pessimism about the future of both the Democratic and Republican parties, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

About one-third of Republicans say they have a “great deal” or “quite a bit” of confidence that votes in the upcoming Republican primary elections and caucuses will be counted correctly. About three in 10 Republicans report a “moderate” amount of confidence, and 32% say they have “only a little” or “none at all.” In contrast, 72% of Democrats have high confidence their party will count votes accurately in its primary contests. Democrats are also slightly more likely than Republicans to have a high level of confidence in the Republican Party’s vote count being accurate.

Americans Not Happy About The Primary Election Process And Major Political Parties (Nymag com)Republicans continue to be broadly doubtful about votes being counted accurately — in the early contests or beyond them. About one-quarter of Republicans say they have at least “quite a bit” of confidence that the votes in the 2024 presidential election will be counted accurately, significantly lower than Democrats. Slightly fewer than half of U.S. adults overall (46%) believe the same, which is in line with an AP-NORC poll conducted in June.

The skepticism among Republicans comes after years of former President Donald Trump falsely blaming his 2020 loss on election fraud. Federal and state election officials and Trump’s own attorney general have said there is no credible evidence the election was tainted. The former president’s allegations of fraud were also roundly rejected by courts, including by judges Trump appointed.

“Nothing will be fair because the last election was rigged,” said Julie Duggan, 32, of Chicago, a Trump voter, referring to 2020. “I don’t trust any of them at this point.”

The AP-NORC poll found a widespread lack of trust in both major political parties among U.S. adults overall.

About one-quarter of U.S. adults say they have “only a little” confidence or “none at all” that both the Democratic Party and Republican Party have a fair process for selecting a presidential nominee. About half of Independents have that low level of confidence in both party’s processes, compared with one-quarter of Republicans and 19% of Democrats.

Trump Appeals for Presidential Immunity in Federal Election Subversion Case

Former President Donald Trump is urging a federal appeals court to dismiss the federal election subversion criminal case against him in Washington, DC. In a filing late Saturday, Trump’s legal team reiterated the claim that he is protected under presidential immunity. The appeal, currently under consideration by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, seeks to overturn a lower-court ruling that rejected Trump’s immunity assertions in the election subversion case brought by special counsel Jack Smith. The Supreme Court, however, refused to expedite the case as requested by Smith.

In the filing, Trump’s lawyers maintained that the former president, in his official capacity, was working to “ensure election integrity” during the alleged undermining of the 2020 election results. They argue that this official duty grants him immunity and that his indictment is unconstitutional, asserting that presidents cannot face criminal prosecution for “official acts” unless impeached and convicted by the Senate. Trump’s attorneys emphasized the structural checks established by the Constitution to prevent the abuse of criminal prosecution as a tool to disable the president and target political enemies.

“The Constitution establishes a powerful structural check to prevent political factions from abusing the formidable threat of criminal prosecution to disable the President and attack their political enemies,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in the filing. “Before any single prosecutor can ask a court to sit in judgment of the President’s conduct, Congress must have approved of it by impeaching and convicting the President. That did not happen here, and so President Trump has absolute immunity.”

The former president has sought to delay his March 4 trial, with the fight over the immunity claim being a focal point of these efforts. The appeals court has expedited its consideration of Trump’s appeal and is scheduled to hear oral arguments on January 9. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, overseeing the criminal case, has temporarily halted all procedural deadlines pending the outcome of the appeal.

The Supreme Court declined Smith’s request for an immediate hearing, allowing the DC Circuit to assess the case first. Both parties will retain the option to appeal the eventual ruling from the appeals court to the Supreme Court.

Trump’s legal team had previously requested the appeals court to review the immunity ruling issued by Judge Chutkan. Chutkan had rejected Trump’s immunity claims, asserting in an opinion that his service as Commander in Chief did not grant him immunity from criminal accountability. The judge dismissed arguments that Trump’s actions were part of his official capacity as president, emphasizing that such actions do not exempt him from criminal charges. Trump’s lawyers reiterated these arguments in the recent filing, contending that Chutkan overlooked the Founders’ recognition that the punishment of the president is inherently political and belongs primarily to the politically accountable branch, Congress, and ultimately, the Senate.

In their filing, Trump’s legal team expressed concern about the potential repercussions of the indictment, warning that it “threatens to launch cycles of recrimination and politically motivated prosecution that will plague our Nation for many decades to come.” The assertion implies that Trump’s case could set a precedent affecting future presidents and the political landscape of the country. The legal battle continues, with the upcoming oral arguments serving as a critical juncture in determining the trajectory of the federal election subversion case against Donald Trump.

Americans for Prosperity Action Amplifies Nikki Haley’s Iowa Campaign in a Last-Minute Push for Republican Nomination

Tyler Raygor knocked on the door of a gray, single-story house in a neighborhood in northern Ames, Iowa. He patiently waited until a man in a hoodie and jeans emerged before launching into his pitch.

In this encounter, the man, Mike Morton, expressed his inclination to vote for either Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida or former President Donald J. Trump in the upcoming caucuses. However, Mr. Morton hadn’t considered Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina. Mr. Raygor, the state director for Americans for Prosperity Action, a super PAC supporting Ms. Haley, seized the opportunity. He referred to a recent poll showing Ms. Haley with a significant lead over President Biden in a general election matchup and emphasized her tenure as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. After handing Mr. Morton a Haley campaign flier, Mr. Morton acknowledged that he would now take a closer look at Haley, noting, “If you didn’t come to my house, I probably would overlook her a little bit more.”

With less than a month remaining before January’s caucuses, Ms. Haley’s campaign, along with Americans for Prosperity Action, is actively working to build on the momentum gained in recent months. The goal is to reach persuadable voters and firmly position her as the primary alternative to Mr. Trump for the Republican nomination.

Ms. Haley received a last-minute boost with the endorsement of Americans for Prosperity Action, a well-funded organization founded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. This endorsement provided access to donors and injected much-needed funds into her campaign for television spots and mail advertisements. While her campaign initially faced challenges in Iowa against better-funded rivals, the A.F.P. Action apparatus has come to life, deploying a network of volunteers and staff members across the state to engage voters.

The super PAC has mobilized approximately 150 volunteers and part-time staff members to canvass Iowa, with a goal of knocking on 100,000 doors before the caucuses, according to Drew Klein, a senior adviser with A.F.P. Action. Since endorsing Ms. Haley, the super PAC has spent over $5.7 million on pro-Haley advertisements and canvassing efforts nationwide. Financial filings with the Federal Election Commission indicate that the organization had more than $74 million on hand as of July.

Both Ms. Haley and Mr. DeSantis are vying for a pool of undecided voters, although Mr. Trump continues to maintain a significant lead. Recent polls indicate that Mr. Trump is the top choice for 51 percent of Republicans likely to caucus, up from 43 percent in October. Mr. DeSantis’s support increased slightly to 19 percent, while Ms. Haley’s remained at 16 percent. However, the super PAC’s efforts might be insufficient to overtake Mr. DeSantis, who has invested considerable time and money in Iowa.

Despite recent challenges, including the departure of top strategist Jeff Roe from Never Back Down, an affiliated super PAC supporting Mr. DeSantis, the Florida governor has established a strong presence in Iowa. He has visited all 99 counties, and his well-funded ground operation, managed by Never Back Down, has been active for months, boasting over 801,000 doors knocked.

The A.F.P. Action’s endorsement is considered by some, like Republican strategist Jimmy Centers in Iowa, as the potential “missing link” for Ms. Haley. However, the group faces a time constraint. Mr. Centers poses the open question of whether Ms. Haley peaked too soon in Iowa and if A.F.P. has sufficient time to catch up. A spokesman for Mr. DeSantis, Andrew Romeo, dismisses A.F.P. Action’s efforts as a “rent-a-campaign gambit” by Ambassador Haley, asserting that grassroots success cannot be bought.

A critical component of A.F.P. Action’s strategy is the ground game, aiming to reach voters just as attention to the Republican nomination race intensifies. Mr. Raygor, addressing criticism from the Trump campaign about door-knocking on Christmas, stated, “Maybe not on Christmas, but we’ll be knocking on the 23rd. We’ll be knocking on the 26th. My team’s knocked in negative-30-degree wind chills before. Winter does not scare us.”

However, a recent visit to Ames revealed the challenges of a last-minute push. Among the six Republican voters Mr. Raygor spoke with, one was already a Haley supporter, two were persuadable, and three were firmly supporting either Mr. Trump or Vivek Ramaswamy. One voter, Barbara Novak, emphatically declared, “You’re not going to get me off of Trump, ever.”

In another neighborhood in Cedar Rapids, the efforts of A.F.P. Action staff members Cheryl Jontz and Kyla Higgins to promote Ms. Haley proved less successful. Few residents were interested in answering their doors in freezing morning temperatures, and those who did mostly expressed their support for Mr. Trump. One voter, Lisa Andersen, was somewhat open-minded, indicating a willingness to consider Ms. Haley if former President Trump faced legal troubles.

A spokesperson for the Haley campaign maintains that A.F.P. Action’s support hasn’t altered the campaign’s strategic approach and ground game in Iowa. The campaign has intensified its efforts in the final weeks before the caucuses, including a five-day swing through the state. Additional staff members, such as Pat Garrett, a former adviser to the Iowa governor, have been brought on board to lead the Iowa press team.

David Oman, a Republican strategist and Haley supporter, believes that Ms. Haley is focusing on the metro areas where the majority of Iowa’s voters reside, running a nimble campaign with a small core staff and dedicated volunteers. As Ms. Haley’s team makes a final push in Iowa, the outcome of the caucuses remains uncertain, and the effectiveness of A.F.P. Action’s endorsement and ground game will be closely watched.

Trump’s Legal Odyssey: Unprecedented Charges, Supreme Court Battles, and the Unfolding Drama of a Former President’s Legal Landscape

Former presidents often choose between a private life and staying in the public eye. Take George Washington’s retreat to privacy versus the continued spotlight for figures like Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Enter Donald Trump, who maintained his position as the lead contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2023 amid a cascade of legal challenges, prompting pundits to exhaust the term “unprecedented.” Prior to Trump’s 91 charges spanning four indictments, no former U.S. President had faced even a single indictment.

The legal saga began in March in New York, linking Trump to attempts to conceal an affair with an adult-film actress. Subsequent federal charges in June revolved around classified documents, while charges in August, both federal and in Georgia, related to his endeavors to overturn the 2020 election loss. These cases, unprecedented in scope, will shape the 2024 campaigns and strain the justice and political systems. Meanwhile, they test the system’s ability to hold a former President accountable while fitting into Trump’s narrative of perpetual victimhood due to political retaliation.

The Manhattan district attorney’s initial charges, while grabbing headlines, face challenges in proving their merit. Hinging on an untested legal theory, the case revolves around Trump potentially being charged in New York for falsifying business records to cover up state election-law violations and exceeding federal tax contribution limits. In contrast, Special Counsel Jack Smith’s cases carry weight. He filed the first federal charges against Trump over classified documents taken to his Mar-a-Lago residence after his presidency ended. Subsequent charges allege Trump conspired to subvert American democracy, linking him to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. This second case triggered an extraordinary request to the Supreme Court to determine if Trump had immunity from prosecution for actions during his presidency, aiming to expedite proceedings for a potential trial early next year.

However, the most persistent threat to Trump’s legal standing emerges in Georgia, where Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis contends Trump was central to a broad conspiracy to reverse election results. This case operates independently of federal proceedings, ensuring its continuation even if Trump secures the presidency and attempts to halt federal charges. Evidence in Georgia, including Trump’s recorded request to find votes, seems compelling, with individuals directly in contact with Trump cooperating with prosecutors.

Trump’s legal battles crowd his 2024 calendar, competing with crucial moments in his potential presidential campaign. In January, concurrent with the Iowa caucuses, a civil trial over defaming writer E. Jean Carroll awaits, alongside a class-action lawsuit accusing Trump and his company of a pyramid scheme. March brings the federal trial over Jan. 6, potentially overlapping with Super Tuesday primaries. Later that month, the New York State hush-money case commences, followed by court dates in May for the classified-documents case. Georgia prosecutors might initiate Trump’s trial in early August.

Adding to the mix is the recent move by the Colorado Supreme Court, removing Trump from the Republican primary ballot and asserting his ineligibility for the White House under the U.S. Constitution’s insurrection clause. This case is poised for the U.S. Supreme Court, marking one of several instances where the nine justices may weigh in on Trump’s fate in the coming months.

Trump, previewing his likely belligerent stance in criminal trials, testified in November in a civil fraud trial that threatens his Manhattan real estate empire. Under oath, he admitted adjusting property valuations and reviewing annual reports but faced scolding from the judge for evasive behavior, exaggerated claims, and insults hurled at adversaries. Despite Trump’s resilience in the Republican Party, the outcomes of these cases could significantly impact the November election. While polls indicate Trump leading Joe Biden in a general-election matchup, a notable number of Trump-leaning voters express openness to supporting Biden if Trump is convicted.

This situation poses a substantial test for American democracy, pushing the justice and political systems beyond their designed capacities. Trump’s statements about using the Justice Department to punish political enemies if he returns to the White House only add to the complexity, as he suggests the genie has been released by the act of charging him in court.

Supreme Court Defers Immediate Decision on Trump Prosecution, Shifting Focus to Appeals Court

The Supreme Court has declined to immediately address special counsel Jack Smith’s plea to rule on whether former President Donald Trump can face prosecution for his alleged actions to overturn the 2020 election results. This decision is considered a scheduling victory for Trump and his legal team, as they have consistently sought to postpone the criminal cases against him while he actively campaigns for the 2024 presidential election. The court’s refusal avoids a prompt ruling on Trump’s claims of immunity, casting further uncertainty on the scheduled March 4 landmark trial.

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision, the responsibility to adjudicate this matter now falls on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. This court has signaled its intent to expedite the decision-making process. Special counsel Jack Smith had warned that even if the appellate court acts swiftly, the case might not reach the Supreme Court in time for review and a final decision before the traditional summer break.

Smith had urged the Supreme Court to intervene, emphasizing the significant public interest in a swift resolution to the case. His unusual request to bypass the appeals court, which he acknowledged as “extraordinary,” highlighted prosecutors’ concerns that prolonged legal battles could postpone Trump’s trial beyond the upcoming presidential election in the following year.

The Supreme Court rejected Smith’s plea in a concise order issued on Friday, adhering to its customary practice of providing no explanation for the decision. With the justices refraining from involvement in the dispute at this juncture, it is anticipated that further appeals may ensue, potentially causing additional delays in the case. Should the appeals court, scheduled to hear arguments on Jan. 9, dismiss Trump’s immunity claims, he retains the option to petition the Supreme Court for intervention, providing the justices with another opportunity to determine their stance on the matter.

Supreme Court Dominates 2024 Election Narrative: Decisive Rulings Await on Trump’s Eligibility, Immunity, and Key Policy Issues

The 2024 presidential election has taken a decisive turn, with the Supreme Court emerging as the pivotal player, navigating various disputes surrounding the GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump. The court, no stranger to election controversies, faces a critical juncture in determining Trump’s eligibility for the ballot and assessing his immunity to prosecution linked to his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, culminating in the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021.

According to Justin Levitt, an election law specialist at Loyola Law School, these cases, usually avoidable by the Supreme Court, have become unavoidable national controversies thrust upon the court. The stakes are high, given the impact on both the primary and general elections. The Colorado Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, ruled Trump constitutionally ineligible for the 2024 run based on the 14th Amendment’s prohibition on insurrectionists holding public office. This decision, anticipating an appeal, awaits resolution at the national level.

Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor, emphasized the significance of this decision, asserting that its implications extend beyond Colorado to impact all 50 states. The 14th Amendment’s insurrectionist clause, a focal point of the case, awaits the scrutiny of the U.S. Supreme Court, underscoring the national gravity of the issue.

Trump’s legal challenges also encompass claims of immunity from January 6 prosecutors. His strategy relies heavily on asserting presidential immunity to dismiss charges related to his alleged subversion of the 2020 election. Special counsel Jack Smith seeks a prompt resolution, urging the Supreme Court to address the immunity question and double jeopardy concerns. The court’s decision on these matters could significantly influence the trajectory of Trump’s trial, scheduled for March 4.

In a parallel case in Atlanta, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an attempt by former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to move his criminal case to federal court. This decision, critical in determining the nature of post-election conduct, supports Smith’s argument that Trump’s actions were not within his official capacity as president.

Another key issue the Supreme Court will scrutinize revolves around a federal obstruction law and its applicability to individuals involved in the Capitol attack. The outcome may impact Trump’s case and numerous other DOJ prosecutions related to January 6. The ripple effect is already evident, with defendants seeking modifications in ongoing cases, highlighting the broader implications of the court’s decision.

Trump’s legal battles extend to a dispute over a gag order issued against him in the federal election subversion case. While the DC Circuit upheld most of the gag order, it narrowed restrictions on comments about Smith and altered the prohibition on speaking about witnesses. Trump’s legal team, viewing the order as an unconstitutional restriction on political speech, intends to escalate the fight to the Supreme Court if necessary.

Amidst these legal challenges, the Supreme Court’s docket for the term includes impactful policy issues that will resonate with voters. The court will address the availability of the abortion drug mifepristone, a significant case following its reversal of Roe v. Wade last year. Additionally, a major Second Amendment case and two cases challenging decades-old precedent on federal agency power further contribute to the court’s role in shaping the political landscape.

As the Supreme Court takes center stage in these critical matters, public opinion remains at historic lows, and ethical concerns persist. Chief Justice John Roberts’ recent attempt to address ethics criticism was met with skepticism, highlighting the challenges faced by the court in maintaining public trust.

The Supreme Court’s decisions on Trump’s eligibility, immunity, and other pivotal issues will profoundly impact the 2024 presidential election, marking a defining moment for the court and the nation.

Biden’s Approval Hits Record Low at 34% Amidst Growing Concerns and Trailing Trump in Polls

President Joe Biden is grappling with a historic low in job approval, as revealed by the latest Monmouth University survey spanning 22 months of his presidency. The data, collected from 803 respondents between November 30 and December 4, indicates a notable decline from 38% in September to a new low of 34% this month, with a margin of error of five points.

One key driver of this downturn is dissatisfaction across five pivotal policy areas: immigration, inflation, climate change, jobs and unemployment, and transportation and energy infrastructure. The concerning figures come at a time when hypothetical general election matchups show Biden trailing former President Donald Trump by 4 points, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. Trump’s consistent lead or tie with Biden in nine of the last ten national polls further adds to the challenges faced by the current administration.

President Biden, however, dismisses these polls, stating, “You’re [reading] the wrong polls.” This isn’t the first time he’s rejected such findings, as in November, he insisted that he was either leading or tied with Trump in eight of the ten recent polls, though the specific surveys he referred to remain unclear.

A significant metric reflecting the public’s discontent is the 61% of respondents who now disapprove of Biden—an increase of six points since September and his worst rating since taking office, according to Monmouth University.

Biden’s approval rating has been on a steady decline since the summer, when it reached a 14-month high at 44% in July. The downturn coincided with economic concerns, particularly regarding inflation, which hit a record high last June. The president also faces disapproval in his handling of the Israel-Hamas war, along with persistent concerns about his age, which is now 81.

Despite Biden’s attempts to emphasize key achievements such as the Inflation Reduction Act, efforts to lower healthcare costs, and his student loan forgiveness program, these messages seem to be falling short in resonating with voters. The decline in approval indicates that the public is not fully convinced by these campaign strategies.

Recent reports suggest that Biden is increasingly frustrated with his poll results, expressing dissatisfaction in private. The Washington Post, citing sources familiar with his thinking, reported that Biden has urged his team to address the negative numbers. He has also acknowledged that his messaging strategy on the economy is not effectively connecting with voters.

President Biden is facing a challenging period marked by a historic low in job approval, trailing in hypothetical matchups against Trump, and growing dissatisfaction among respondents across key policy areas. The president’s attempts to address these concerns through various campaign strategies have not yielded the desired results, leaving him frustrated and seeking ways to reverse the negative trends in public opinion.

Biden’s Plummeting Polls Propel Trump’s Political Resurgence in GOP: The Unintended Favor that Strengthens Trump’s 2024 Prospects

Joe Biden’s precipitous decline in the polls is proving to be a significant boon for Donald Trump as the 2024 GOP presidential race gains momentum. Biden’s abysmal polling has not only bolstered Trump but also weakened potential Republican rivals, sending a clear signal that “TRUMP CAN WIN.”

In the run-up to the first contests of the 2024 GOP presidential race, Biden’s dismal performance in polls has become a powerful factor in shaping the political landscape. As a neon sign reading “TRUMP CAN WIN” is illuminated, it underscores the impact of Biden’s fading popularity on the broader political narrative.

Trump’s already strong position in the fight for the Republican nomination has been further solidified by two key external events. Firstly, indictments from the Justice Department and Democratic prosecutors triggered a rally-around-Trump effect, propelling him to a higher trajectory in the race. Secondly, Biden’s consistently poor polling has eliminated any grounds for making an electability argument against Trump.

While selecting opponents through strategic advertisements is a common political tactic, Biden’s own weaknesses have unintentionally made Trump more appealing to his supporters. The primary concern among undecided Republicans has never been Trump’s policy priorities or governance effectiveness but rather his perceived ability to win elections.

Following the 2022 elections, where Republicans underperformed, Trump’s standing within the party was momentarily shaken. The electoral success of Ron DeSantis in Florida created an opportunity for an argument centered around electability—stick with Trump and risk losing, or opt for a fresh face and win. However, this electability argument lost its potency due to Biden’s declining poll numbers.

The electability debate sidesteps many issues about Trump that Republicans may prefer to avoid. Asserting that Trump can’t win is presented as a practical claim rather than a moral critique, providing a tone of sorrow rather than anger. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of this argument depends heavily on polling data, which has not cooperated due to Biden’s downward spiral.

In 2016, Trump often relied on less reputable polls to demonstrate his public support. Now, he can reference highly credible polls that depict Biden’s comprehensive collapse. Biden is losing in hypothetical matchups against Trump, with an approval rating scraping the bottom and trailing on major issues.

The latest Wall Street Journal poll indicates Trump leading Biden by 4 points in a two-way race and 6 points in a multi-candidate field. Only 37 percent approve of Biden’s job performance, while 61 percent disapprove. Trump leads significantly on economic issues, inflation, crime, foreign affairs, and public perception of physical and mental fitness for the job.

Despite the possibility of early, showy, and potentially unsustainable Trump support, it’s crucial to note that Trump never led in 2020 polling. Recent polls, including one by CNN, show Trump leading in crucial states like Georgia and Michigan, further fueling the belief among Republican voters that 2024 is a lock.

Trump’s perceived electoral prowess has grown, with polls indicating increasing confidence among Republicans that he would be the strongest general election candidate. Even in the face of criminal charges, belief in Trump’s electability is rising among Republicans, particularly in states like Iowa.

For potential rivals like Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, navigating the political landscape becomes challenging. DeSantis, despite claiming victory, faces a significant gap in national polling against Trump. Nikki Haley, while appearing strong against Biden, must contend with the overarching question for Republicans—can Trump win?

The Democrats’ ideal scenario involves Biden’s weakness being illusory, leading Republicans to nominate Trump based on current polling only to discover his weaker standing against Biden. However, the prevailing possibility is that Biden’s political standing is indeed dire, potentially paving the way for Trump’s resurgence to the White House.

In the realm of political axioms among Republicans, the idea that Trump benefits from having formidable enemies finds its best proof in Biden’s political unraveling.

Pope Francis Takes Strong Measures Against Dissent Within the Church

In one corner stands Pope Francis, championing a merciful and inclusive Catholic Church, often likened to a “field hospital” tending to the wounds of a suffering humanity. In the opposing corner, a vocal minority, led by US Cardinal Raymond Burke, challenges the Pope’s reforms, setting the stage for a significant showdown.

Pope Francis, committed to upholding the doctrine and principles of the church, aims to propel it forward by shedding certain customs he deems hindering to its mission. The clash arises from differing stances on issues such as communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, pastoral acceptance of LGBTQ individuals, and the Pope’s emphasis on migrants and the climate crisis. Critics desire a Pope who delivers doctrine in unequivocal terms, while Francis advocates for a humbler, service-oriented church focused on bringing the Christian message to the world.

Despite enduring criticisms, Pope Francis has demonstrated resilience, often turning the other cheek and appointing leaders with opposing views to Vatican departments. However, as he enters the 11th year of his papacy and faces health challenges, he has decided to take more assertive measures to address opposition, particularly concentrated in the US and certain Roman circles.

In a significant move, Pope Francis has curtailed privileges for Cardinal Burke, a longstanding opponent. This includes withdrawing a subsidy for Burke’s sizable apartment and monthly stipend. This decision follows the Pope’s recent removal of Texan Bishop Joseph Strickland, who accused Francis of undermining key church teachings. The move has sparked debates, with supporters of Burke and Strickland characterizing Francis as a “dictator” pope, suppressing dissent, while others argue that the Pope is merely addressing critics.

Austen Ivereigh, a papal biographer, shed light on the Pope’s rationale, stating, “Francis told me that he was taking away the apartment and salary of Cardinal Burke because he was using these privileges ‘against the church.’” Ivereigh highlighted the significance of Burke’s prolonged questioning of Francis’ authority and teaching, emphasizing the unusual nature of such dissent within the Catholic Church.

The roots of opposition to Pope Francis extend beyond theological disagreements and delve into the realm of secular politics. Cardinal Burke, aligned with conservative views, expressed satisfaction with President Donald Trump’s election and, along with other bishops, called for denying communion to President Joe Biden due to his support for abortion laws. The intersection of church and politics, particularly amid the polarizing landscape of US politics, is a key element in the resistance to Francis.

Dawn Eden Goldstein, a theologian and canon lawyer, noted that there are forces wishing to see Burke’s vision dominate the church for political purposes. Burke’s alignment with a group critical of Catholic teachings on issues such as care for the poor and the environment further underscores the ideological divide within the church.

The Pope’s decision to strip Burke of privileges may carry unintended consequences, potentially turning him into a “martyr” for the cause, as suggested by church historian Massimo Faggioli. Burke’s support base in the US and the reported financial backing could enable him to maintain a prominent role, akin to the “crown cardinals” of the early modern era.

Critics warn that the Pope’s actions could influence future papal elections by alienating cardinal electors who may seek a candidate governing differently from Francis. However, Pope Francis, seemingly aware of the risks, remains committed to his mission of pivoting the church towards what he deems essential to the Christian faith.

As the Pope navigates this turbulent terrain, it is evident that the clash between traditionalist views and Francis’ vision for a more inclusive and service-oriented church will continue to shape the narrative within the Catholic Church. The tension underscores the broader societal and political challenges that intersect with the ecclesiastical landscape, reflecting the complexities of leading a global religious institution in the modern era.

US President Biden’s Absence Alters Plans for India’s Republic Day and Quad Summit; Investigation into Alleged Assassination Plot Adds Complexity

US President Joe Biden will not attend India’s Republic Day parade in January 2024, and the Quad summit, initially scheduled around the same time, is being postponed to the latter part of 2024, according to sources on Tuesday.

“We are looking for revised dates (for Quad) as the dates currently under consideration do not work with all the Quad partners,” the source said.

India had invited President Biden for the Republic Day celebrations, intending to host the Quad leaders’ summit in January next year. The Indian Express reported on September 7 New Delhi’s plans to invite the US President for Republic Day along with other Quad leaders and hold the Quad summit in January.

US Ambassador Eric Garcetti confirmed on September 20 that President Joe Biden had been invited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Republic Day celebrations. The invitation was extended during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi.

A final decision would be made after confirming the availability of leaders—President Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Albanese’s commitment to Australian national day on January 26 and the Japanese parliament, the Diet, being in session posed scheduling challenges.

Biden’s schedule awaited by the other three sides, the Quad summit could have taken place on January 27, a day after Republic Day celebrations on January 26. An invitation to be the Republic Day Chief Guest is highly symbolic and is usually extended only after informal confirmation of leaders’ availability.

Biden’s unavailability coincides with the US investigating an alleged assassination plot of a Khalistan separatist on US soil. Given an Indian official’s alleged involvement, the Indian government is also investigating information shared by US agencies. Federal prosecutors filed an indictment in November detailing the alleged plot against the separatist with dual US-Canadian nationality.

This marks the second time a US President couldn’t attend Republic Day celebrations. Former President Donald Trump, invited in 2018 for January 2019 celebrations, also couldn’t make it. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was invited as a replacement. The only instance of a US President attending Republic Day was in January 2015 when President Barack Obama visited during the first year of the Modi government.

While officials emphasize that Biden’s unavailability should not cast a shadow on bilateral ties amid the Pannun assassination plot, they stress the deep stakes and vital interests the two sides share. The Quad grouping is expected to convene towards the end of the year, after elections and before the US election cycle takes over.

Despite ongoing US-China engagement, with Biden meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in California, officials affirm the commitment to the Quad grouping. A summit, even at a later date, will send a strong signal to China, whose aggressive behavior in the Indo-Pacific region has brought the four countries together.

Krystle Kaul Announces Congress Bid From Virginia

Foreign policy and national security expert, Krystle Kaul, has announced her run for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s 10th Congressional District. The Democrat will focus on issues like public safety, women’s rights, healthcare, education, economy and jobs; and energy and the environment, according to her campaign website.

“I’m Krystle Kaul, I’m running for Congress to represent the people of Virginia District 10. I will fight to ensure everyone has the chance to make a good living, raise a family and create an American dream of their own,” her statement reads, alongside, “Kystle is the Klear Choice,” the campaign slogan.

Kaul has served as a director (GS-15) of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency at the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), as director of strategic communications of the U.S. Air Force and NATO for General Dynamics Information Technology, and as an intelligence political-military expert at U.S. Central Command. She resigned from her position at the DOD within a year after former President Donald Trump took office.

Following that, she established a small business that assists firms owned by economically and socially disadvantaged individuals), disabled veteran and women-owned businesses, as well as medium to large companies to apply their solutions to safeguard the U.S.

Kaul is also the head facilitator for Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s executive education programs via 2U, a company that contracts with non-profit colleges and universities to build, deliver, and support online and non-degree programs.

If elected in 2024, Kashmiri-origin Kaul will be the second Indian-origin woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, after Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Kaul is one of the many Indian-origin candidates who have announced their run for Congress, including Vimal Patel, an entrepreneur who declared candidacy for the 2nd Congressional District seat in Alabama, and Ohio Senator Niraj Antani who announced his candidacy for the 2nd Congressional District seat of Ohio. Suhas Subramanyam is another Indian-origin candidate running for Congress from Virginia’s 10th Congressional District.

Fiery Fourth Republican Debate: Personal Clashes, Trump’s Absence, and Culture War Unfold in Intense Showdown

The high-stakes fourth Republican presidential debate on Wednesday night highlighted why former President Donald Trump has been avoiding the 2024 primary debate circuit. The event featured four contenders: former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. However, the debate was marked by intense infighting among the candidates, diverting attention from the primary focus on the frontrunner.

Despite the smallest debate field to date and the Iowa caucuses approaching in less than six weeks, the candidates utilized the two-hour debate to showcase their policy beliefs and emphasize major differences. However, the evening was dominated by personal attacks, with Ramaswamy referring to Haley as “lipstick on a Dick Cheney,” Christie mocking Ramaswamy’s “smartass mouth,” and DeSantis claiming Haley “caves every time the left comes after her.”

The candidates seemed united in their belief that establishing themselves as the GOP’s sole alternative to Trump was essential before making a concentrated case against him. However, this strategy also underscored why Trump’s absence from the debates hasn’t affected his standing in the polls. Although there were occasional attacks on the former president, such as Christie’s anti-Trump campaign message and Haley’s criticism of his China approach, the majority of the debate was dominated by clashes between the present candidates.

DeSantis and Ramaswamy Target Haley

The debate’s first hour highlighted Haley’s increasing prominence in the race, as both DeSantis and Ramaswamy focused on criticizing her. DeSantis wasted no time taking aim at Haley, drawing her into a dispute over transgender bathroom usage. Ramaswamy continued his critique from the third debate, targeting Haley for her association with Boeing while serving on its board.

DeSantis and Ramaswamy collaborated at various points, criticizing Haley’s recent support from donors like Reid Hoffman and Larry Fink. Ramaswamy even held up a notepad with the message “Nikki = Corrupt.” Haley defended herself, stating she welcomed support but wouldn’t let it dictate her policies, adding that her competitors would accept similar support if offered.

Christie, however, broke the pattern by defending Haley against Ramaswamy’s foreign policy insults, emphasizing her intelligence and accomplishments. Haley expressed gratitude for Christie’s support.

Christie’s Resurgence and Criticisms

Chris Christie, who has struggled to recreate the success of the 2016 presidential primary debates, regained some momentum in Tuscaloosa. He portrayed his opponents as immature and unprepared for the job, making it challenging for DeSantis and Ramaswamy.

Christie criticized DeSantis for avoiding basic questions and challenged him on sending US troops to rescue American hostages in Gaza. Later, when asked about Trump’s fitness for office, Christie insisted on a straightforward answer, accusing DeSantis of being afraid or not listening. He also targeted Ramaswamy’s tendency to backtrack on comments, labeling him the “most obnoxious blowhard in America.”

In a departure from his previous allegiance to Trump, Christie reserved his most severe criticism for all three opponents, accusing them of being afraid to offend the former president and emphasizing the importance of speaking the truth.

Avoidance of Trump Criticism

While the candidates engaged in intense personal clashes, Chris Christie attempted to refocus the debate by highlighting Trump’s significant lead in the polls. He compared his rivals to characters avoiding saying the name of the villain in the Harry Potter series, suggesting they were hesitant to directly confront Trump.

Christie implied that candidates refrained from criticizing Trump directly to safeguard their chances of becoming his vice presidential nominee or securing future presidential prospects. He emphasized the necessity of telling the truth, even if it meant offending, to avoid denial and secure the party’s success.

DeSantis’ Culture War and Criticism of Haley

DeSantis, known for his “war on woke,” shifted the focus to domestic culture war issues like environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing and transgender rights. He used these issues to paint Haley as a moderate, criticizing her stance on gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

DeSantis accused Haley of opposing a bill in Florida to prevent gender mutilation of minors, linking her support from wealthy donors to the ESG investing movement. He argued that these donors sought to impose a left-wing agenda on the country through economic power.

Haley clarified her position, stating that while she believed the law should stay out of it, parents should take the lead in such matters. She emphasized that she did not endorse youth gender transition.

Ramaswamy’s Conspiracy Theories

Vivek Ramaswamy, potentially in his last appearance on a GOP debate stage, embraced extreme conspiracy theories. He asserted that the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack was an “inside job,” claimed the 2020 election was “stolen by Big Tech,” and accused the government of lying about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

Ramaswamy also endorsed the “great replacement” theory, a racist conspiracy suggesting non-White people are being brought in to replace White voters. He labeled it a basic statement of the Democratic Party platform. In his closing statement, he declared the “climate change agenda” a hoax.

The fourth Republican primary debate showcased intense personal clashes, candidates avoiding direct criticism of Trump, and a divergence into culture war issues. Each contender sought to position themselves as the GOP’s primary alternative, but the evening was marked by memorable confrontations and minimal attention on Trump’s absence from the debate stage.

Final GOP Presidential Debate Unveils Intense Battle Between Haley and DeSantis for Trump Alternative, as Christie Defies Calls to Bow Out

The final GOP presidential debate of the year unfolded on Wednesday, featuring prominent figures such as Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, and Vivek Ramaswamy. Hosted by NewsNation, a sister news organization of The Hill, the two-hour event in Tuscaloosa, Ala., became a stage where Haley and DeSantis vied to solidify their positions behind former President Trump, who opted to skip the debate once again. Moderators Elizabeth Vargas, Megyn Kelly, and Eliana Johnson pressed the candidates on Trump, casting his shadow over the proceedings. CNN has also announced plans to host two Republican primary debates in January.

Haley, the former United Nations ambassador, found herself under the spotlight as the potential second-tier candidate to beat. Threatening to overshadow DeSantis as the leading Trump alternative, Haley faced challenges from DeSantis and Ramaswamy during the debate. However, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came to her defense, rebuffing Ramaswamy’s insults with a firm stance, declaring, “stop insulting her.” Despite the scrutiny, Haley maintained her composure, expressing gratitude for the attention and asserting her neck-and-neck position with DeSantis in recent Iowa caucus polls.

DeSantis, the Governor of Florida, emerged as a winner in the debate, delivering a strong performance that injected new momentum into his campaign. Responding to questions about his low poll numbers, DeSantis dismissed the polls, highlighting his landslide reelection in Florida last year and criticizing Haley for allegedly succumbing to pressure. Once considered a shoo-in alternative to Trump, DeSantis now faces a challenge from Haley’s rising popularity, leaving the primary outcome uncertain.

Chris Christie, despite facing calls to exit the race, demonstrated resilience within the GOP field. Taking a bold stance against Trump, Christie labeled him a “dictator” and a “bully,” urging fellow candidates to denounce the former president. In Alabama, Christie unequivocally stated, “His conduct is unacceptable. He’s unfit, and be careful of what you’re gonna get.” Christie’s refusal to back down showcased his determination to maintain relevance in the crowded GOP race.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, whose favorability among voters continues to decline, utilized the prime-time platform to launch personal attacks and promote conspiracy theories. His performance, including a scribbled note targeting Haley, drew strong reactions from the audience. Christie, in a memorable moment, called out Ramaswamy, saying, “This is the fourth debate that you would be voted in the first 20 minutes as the most obnoxious blowhard in America, so shut up for a while.”

Even in his absence, former President Trump loomed large as a dominant force. Trump’s decision to skip all debates has not diminished his lead in the primary field. The day before the crucial debate, he made headlines with comments during a Fox News town hall, where he asserted that he would not act as a dictator except on day one. While Haley and DeSantis compete for second place in recent polls, with Haley at 10 percent and DeSantis at 11 percent, Trump maintains a commanding 60-point lead over the field.

Homelessness In The Most Advanced Nation: USA

Meticulously, it is no small matter that the term “homeless” or “homelessness” is dimming the brightness of the major cities of America, but exudes an aura of nasty politics or indirect support to the-drug-mafia!

When American President Trump passed through some of the beautiful roads of India, Trump did not ask why green tarpaulin was beautifully stretched for kilometers on one side.

Homelessness In The Most Advanced Nation USA 2But when the dark streets of most American cities, especially Los Angeles and San Francisco, in the state of California, are turning into the ‘mecca of homeless’,  it is just hypocritical to laugh at the broad-mindedness of this great country and not hide it by applying “Modi tech ” here.

America is the so-called paradise on earth for developing countries, but its streets are rapidly being invaded by the homeless. In many places, morning scenes of their excrement, piles of stale food, and hardboard carton waste are becoming so common and obscure

.Unsheltered homeless means sleeping somewhere at night, not primarily designed for human habitation, such as a car, park, abandoned building, or train station. Over the past seven years, 40 percent of the nation’s homeless are now unsheltered homeless.

What are the causes of homelessness? The causes vary widely,  but are often linked to homelessness and poverty. Poor people generally do not have enough money to cover basic needs like housing, food, child care, health care, and education; with the nominal social security benefits they get every month.

Individuals may have terminal illnesses, an accident, or a lack of permanent employment. But the reasons we hear from those living on the streets are many.

Irresponsible gambling, misappropriation of money through money laundering, drug addiction, etc.

Factors that drive young and old to the streets more strongly than other causes are not particularly evident. Unsheltered homeless means sleeping somewhere at night not primarily designed for human habitation, such as a car, park, abandoned building, or train station. Over the past seven years, 40 percent of the nation’s homeless are now unsheltered homeless.

Lack of affordable housing, unemployment, poverty, low wages, mental illness, substance abuse, and lack of needed services are creating more homeless people.

I recently happened to visit Los Angeles and San Francisco, the major cities in the state of California, and the miserable situation of the homeless in these cities prompted me to write a few lines on the subject. All facts and figures are supported by the internet and only my opinions are non-political. By evening, many of San Francisco’s streets were filled with homeless wretches. Homeless people crowded the alley leading to Eddy Street, where there were several hotels. It is not a group of old beggars, but a permanent group of people of all ages who have become homeless due to bad decisions, unemployment, and victims of drug abuse.

In the middle of the night, singing and shouting were heard, like a moment of pure jubilation and celebration. From the window of the fifth floor of the hotel where we were staying, I was astonished to see a young woman dancing naked but wearing only a hat: she could also be seen collecting dollar bills and shoving them into the hat. She also seems to be the one who distributes the drugs. In between, her show seems to have been a bonus for her intoxicated audience.

As light rain began to fall, many people began to move elsewhere. Seeing the old and unable to walk, huddled in the same shelter with the old hardboard sheets they had to sit and lie on, was saddened by the plight of the homeless. But when it came to know that most of them were “drug addicts”, the irresponsibility of the drug policy of this great country began to be realized. Freedom without restraint will never produce good results.

Los Angeles has a very high rate of homelessness. But most of the tents were finished and seemed a little more cramped. According to the city’s own statistics, about 30% of the homeless have already moved there after losing their housing. Another 17% were said to have lived in the city for less than a year before becoming homeless.

As Mayor London Breed admits, one of the reasons people come is because drugs are readily available here. The San Francisco Standard attempted a one-week cleanup two months ago, taking over the homeless encampment at Van Ness Avenue and Eddy Street. A completely different look was seen that day, the planting boxes of plants and trees were lined up at many places on the pavement.

APEC 2023 is the year-long hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in the United States in 2023 in San Francisco. Although some things were put together for that purpose,

The situation is worse than before.

Minna Street, lined with tents between Seventh and Julia Streets, about a mile from APEC, disappeared two months ago. But neither the political parties nor the rulers are interested in finding a permanent solution.

All of this leads us to several questions: We found many of San Francisco’s homeless population on Willow Street. The busy transit corridor has become the latest scene of controversy over the city’s drug, mental health, and homelessness crises, as residents and visitors alike decry increasingly unsanitary street conditions. They say the situation has had a devastating effect on surrounding businesses. It is becoming difficult to park our car there or eat in a restaurant in peace.

 

In recent years, court rulings have made it more difficult for cities, especially on the West Coast, to remove homeless encampments. In 2018, the US Ninth Circuit Court found that homeless people cannot be punished for sleeping outside in public places unless adequate alternatives are available.

There is another side to this. In September 2022, the Coalition on Homelessness sued San Francisco for violating its own laws to remove homeless shelters. A federal judge has barred the removal of homeless shelters in San Francisco unless people can find alternative shelter.

Los Angeles will have the largest homeless population in the country in 2022. According to 2022 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) data, approximately 582,000 Americans were homeless on the streets. The city of San Francisco was officially named “Little Saigon” for a portion of the western stretch of Tenderloin, Larkin, and Hyde Streets between Turk and O’Farrell. The area has one of the highest levels of homelessness and crime in the city.

Experts say the biggest reason California’s per capita homelessness rate is five times that of Texas is because housing in California is so expensive;

The average one-bedroom unit in California rents for $2,300 per month, compared to $1,200 in Texas. Although both cities suffer from crime, Los Angeles is actually safer. LA’s crime rate was 2870 per 100,000 residents, 22% higher than the national average. The violent crime rate is 722 per 100,000 residents, 86% higher than the national average. Many advocates claim that providing a welcoming environment for camping and drugs does not attract the homeless and that only more subsidized housing can solve homelessness. San Francisco shows the folly of those arguments.

As Mayor London Breed admits, one of the reasons people come is the easy availability of drugs. Claims that adequate subsidized housing will solve the homelessness problem are belied by San Francisco’s efforts. In the last 15 years, the city has created more than 7,000 permanent housing units, reports said.

It is shameful to say that 7000 units have been built in a place with 70000 homeless people.

Homelessness and how to deal with it has become one of the most pressing political issues in recent elections in liberal cities like Portland, San Diego, Seattle, and Austin. Republicans have portrayed Democrats as incompetent and fearless when it comes to addressing the crisis. The public across the political spectrum wants elected officials to take action.

The local administration has to devise a mission to rehabilitate all the unimaginative-size of homeless people on a wartime basis. This requires the first establishment of bonded facilities, such as correctional centres. There should be strict controls to prevent intoxicants and drug dealers from entering these centers.

Because homeless people who have lived on the streets are accustomed to living with abusing their freedom, these centers may have difficulty keeping them. A good percentage of them are able to work. If nothing else, large farms created with these centers would be able to produce the fruits and grains needed by this country at a low cost.

Or small industrial units manufacturing other goods can be established within these centers.Rehabilitation would be more feasible if the funds for the running of these centers were raised and wages commensurate with the work.

Nothing will be solved if political parties continue to blame each other. True, the current administration may not be giving much importance to it. While the number of poor people in this country is increasing and the homeless people on the streets are dimming the brightness of this country, it is our rulers who turn a blind eye to it and dim the country’s prosperity and the tourists inflow to these cities.

Instead of guaranteeing the basic amenities of those at home, the “hidden agenda” of keeping the walls and gates open for anyone to come into this country and provide luxury living facilities and citizenship to those who come in the name of unaccountable refugees, while common people know, is nothing short of a double standard, USA is prosperous, only if no citizen is found wandering the streets of America as typical homeless. Otherwise the world will proclaim that we run on a shameful double standard policy.

House Republicans Rally for Impeachment Inquiry into President Biden, Asserting Sufficient Votes Amidst White House Opposition

House Speaker Mike Johnson expressed confidence on Saturday that Republicans possess adequate votes to initiate a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. In an interview with Fox News, Johnson stated, “I believe we will. I suspect no Democrats will assist in this effort, but they should.”

He emphasized the GOP’s obligation to proceed with the inquiry, asserting, “we cannot stop the process.” Johnson, joined by House GOP conference chair Elise Stefanik, contended that the inquiry wouldn’t be wielded as a partisan political tool, drawing a distinction from past instances.

“Elise and I both served on the impeachment defense team of Donald Trump twice, when the Democrats used it for brazen partisan political purposes. We decried that use of it. This is very different,” Johnson remarked.

He pointed out impediments faced by the Republicans, asserting, “Now we’re being stalled by the White House because they’re preventing at least two to three DOJ witnesses from coming forward” and withholding evidence from the National Archives. Johnson proposed that a formal impeachment inquiry vote would propel the process forward, deeming it a necessary step.

In response, a spokesman for the White House counsel’s office, Ian Sams, criticized the move, stating, “This is a baseless, politically-motivated attempt to smear President Biden with lies, and it reflects how this chaotic House GOP is focused on the wrong priorities, when they should be working on real issues Americans actually care about like the President is.”

As of now, House Republicans have been striving to formalize their impeachment inquiry into Biden but have encountered challenges in securing sufficient votes. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had urged his committees in September to launch a formal impeachment inquiry into Biden, facing mounting pressure from the right flank. However, the conference remains divided over the existence of evidence warranting the president’s impeachment.

Addressing the issue of Hunter Biden’s lawyers seeking an open hearing instead of a deposition, Stefanik deemed the request “unacceptable” and emphasized, “the only correct response to a subpoena is a deposition.” She reasoned that an open hearing might devolve into a mere public spectacle, advocating for a legal and factual approach through a deposition.

“It’s the precedent,” Johnson added. “Every investigation of Congress in the modern era, the deposition has come first, and the public testimony follows. Why would we break that precedent now?”

This paraphrased rendition maintains the key elements and quotes from the original article while presenting the information in a slightly rephrased manner. The focus remains on the statements of House Speaker Mike Johnson, the White House’s response, and the broader context of the Republicans’ push for a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

DeSantis vs. Newsom: Fiery Clash in Fox News Debate Underscores Contrasts in Leadership and Ideology

In a Fox News debate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) engaged in a heated exchange over their records and policies. The 90-minute debate, titled “The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate” and moderated by Sean Hannity, delved into key issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, crime, and abortion. Personal attacks, with both governors labeling each other as bullies, added intensity to the discussion. DeSantis, initially a threat to Donald Trump in the presidential race, now lags behind, while Newsom, despite denying interest in challenging President Biden, gains attention as a potential contender.

Five Takeaways from the Debate:

1.Newsom’s Resilience: Despite a challenging media environment, Newsom maintained composure, deflecting DeSantis’s attacks and launching counterarguments. Notably, he defended California’s COVID-19 response, citing differences in approach and challenging DeSantis’s claims about Florida’s measures.

Newsom responded to DeSantis: “Let’s talk about your record on COVID… Donald Trump laid you out on this.”

2.DeSantis’s Performance:As a GOP presidential primary candidate, DeSantis held his ground, showcasing research and using visual aids, including a map of San Francisco’s issues. Despite impactful moments, the debate felt somewhat biased, with Hannity’s questions often portraying California negatively.

DeSantis labeled Newsom a “liberal bully” and mocked his “shadow campaign” for the 2024 Democratic nomination.

3.Raucous Atmosphere: Hannity’s intent to let the debate flow led to a lively exchange, with frequent interruptions and bickering between DeSantis and Newsom. The lack of an in-person audience allowed for a more direct confrontation without the need for applause pauses.

Hannity remarked on the chaos: “I’m not a potted plant,” expressing frustration during the governors’ back-and-forth.

4.Biden as a Focal Point: DeSantis positioned President Biden as a central theme, connecting Newsom to the Biden-Harris administration. Newsom defended the Democratic agenda, emphasizing the contrast between parties.                                                                                                                                                                                                    DeSantis portrayed California as the epitome of the “Biden-Harris agenda on steroids,” predicting disaster for the nation.

5. Limited Impact on Both: Despite the fiery exchanges, the debate is unlikely to significantly alter the political landscape for either governor. DeSantis continues to struggle against Trump in the GOP primary, while Newsom’s boosted national profile may not sway conservative opinions in the hyper-partisan environment.

The debate, though intense, is unlikely to alter the trajectory for either candidate significantly.

The Fox News debate between DeSantis and Newsom provided a platform for a fierce exchange, showcasing their contrasting approaches and political ideologies. While both governors received praise from their respective sides, the event’s broader impact on their political trajectories remains limited.

Global Electoral Landscape 2024: From Biden-Trump Rematch to Putin’s Prolonged Reign and Modi’s Bid for a Third Term, Key Elections Define a Pivotal Year

In anticipation of the 2024 elections, the global political landscape is poised for significant shifts. As we approach November 5, millions of Americans will cast their votes, potentially deciding whether incumbent Joe Biden will secure another term at the age of 86. Despite concerns about Biden’s age, a majority of voters view him as the favored candidate, setting the stage for a potential rematch with former President Donald Trump. However, echoes of disinformation from the previous contentious election, marked by the storming of the US Capitol, are likely to linger.

“Disinformation looks set to be a feature of the campaign,” reflecting the challenges of the past, where misinformation played a role in the polarized political climate. Trump, despite facing multiple criminal trials, stands as the standout favorite for the Republican party nomination.

Across the globe, another enduring political figure, Vladimir Putin, has been at Russia’s helm for 23 years, making him one of the longest-serving leaders. The constitutional amendment in 2020 allows him to extend his rule until 2036, potentially surpassing even Joseph Stalin’s reign. With the war in Ukraine quelling dissent and imprisoning opponents, Putin’s path to another six years seems unhindered, particularly with key challengers like Alexei Navalny and Igor Girkin detained.

Moving to India, where nearly a billion voters are gearing up for the April-May elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his nationalist BJP party aim for a third term. Modi’s political strategy, criticized for stoking tensions with the Muslim minority, has garnered substantial support from the majority Hindu population. Despite concerns about civil liberties, Modi is the clear favorite, credited with elevating India’s global standing, notably achieving milestones in space exploration.

In June, the European Union will witness its largest transnational election, involving over 400 million eligible voters across 27 countries. This election will be a pivotal moment for right-wing populists, testing the momentum gained from recent successes in Dutch and Italian elections. The outcome will influence decisions on issues ranging from mobile phone roaming charges to online data privacy, reflecting the broad impact of the EU Parliament’s decisions.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, the June elections hold the promise of historic change. Two women, former Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and businesswoman Xochitl Galvez, are vying to become the first female president in a country with a history of machismo. Sheinbaum, representing the Morena party, leads early polls, while Galvez, part of an opposition coalition, brings a diverse perspective to the race. Samuel Garcia, a young governor, adds another dimension to the electoral landscape.

As the world watches these elections unfold, the political dynamics are undoubtedly complex, with implications reaching far beyond national borders. The challenges of disinformation, power consolidation, and the push for historic milestones underscore the significance of these electoral events on the global stage.

Americans for Prosperity Action Endorses Nikki Haley as Republican Alternative to Trump in 2024, Shifting Dynamics in GOP Primary Race

Americans for Prosperity Action, a prominent advocacy organization supported by billionaire Charles Koch and his coalition of wealthy conservatives, has officially thrown its weight behind Nikki Haley as the preferred Republican alternative to Donald Trump in the upcoming 2024 primary, set to kick off in less than 50 days with the Iowa caucus.

According to a memo circulated by Emily Seidel, the CEO of Americans for Prosperity, Haley, a former U.N. ambassador and ex-governor of South Carolina, is seen as offering “America the opportunity to turn the page on the current political era.” Seidel emphasized Haley’s capability to lead a policy agenda that addresses the nation’s major challenges, expressing confidence that the organization’s grassroots and data capabilities uniquely position them to support Haley effectively.

Michael Palmer, a senior adviser to AFP Action, noted that Haley’s policies closely align with the group’s free market ideology, acknowledging that while disagreements on specific issues exist, Haley represents the best chance to enhance the lives of all Americans.

In response to the endorsement, Haley expressed her gratitude, stating, “AFP Action’s members know that there is too much at stake in this election to sit on the sidelines,” underscoring the importance of saving the country and expressing appreciation for AFP Action’s support.

Notably, the Koch-backed group refrained from involvement in the 2016 and 2020 presidential cycles but is now poised to channel significant resources into boosting Haley’s campaign. Although the exact amount of spending remains undisclosed, AFP Action, having raised over $70 million, including substantial contributions from Charles Koch and his nonprofit groups, aims to make a substantial impact.

The organization initially signaled opposition to Trump in February, citing concerns about his ability to defeat President Joe Biden. However, despite these reservations, Trump has strengthened his position within the Republican base, leading his closest primary rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by nearly 50 points in national polls. In contrast, Haley trails DeSantis in the national average.

The dynamics shift in early-voting states, where Trump faces a relatively weaker position. DeSantis, Haley, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are banking on potential upsets in Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina to position themselves as viable alternatives, although their campaigns have yet to significantly erode Trump’s standing.

AFP Action, optimistic about its potential impact, revealed internal memos suggesting that a substantial portion of GOP voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are undecided or believe the primary campaign has just begun. Furthermore, the organization believes that a significant majority of Republicans are open to a Trump alternative if they perceive a better chance of victory.

Following the Tuesday endorsement, AFP Action plans to transition from identifying wavering Trump voters to persuading against him. Their strategy involves concentrated efforts on behalf of their chosen candidate, accompanied by a new ad spot released alongside the endorsement. Large-scale events and efforts to drive turnout are also in the works.

In response to the endorsement, DeSantis’ campaign sought to downplay its significance, labeling Haley as a “moderate” without a viable path to defeating the former president. The Trump campaign, in its statement, characterized AFP Action as part of an “America Last movement” but remained resolute that Washington’s “swamp creatures” would not impede Trump’s bid for the Republican nomination.

The endorsement of Haley introduces a potentially pivotal development in the 2024 race. While no candidate with leads as substantial as Trump’s in the primary has failed to secure their party’s nomination, Trump’s campaign faces unprecedented legal challenges, adding a layer of complexity with court appearances and trial dates.

Seidel, CEO of Americans for Prosperity, highlighted that early in the election cycle, 70% of Americans expressed a preference for neither Trump nor Biden to run. The organization’s endorsement aims to prevent squandering this opportunity for a different political trajectory.

Republicans Form Congressional Hindu Caucus

House Republican Conference Chair, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik officially launched the Congressional Hindu Caucus (CHC), in the presence of fellow Republican lawmakers and 600 Hindu American Leaders from around the country, on November 15, 2023, at The Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill.

The event hosted by the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC) and its Chairman and CHC’s Policy Advisor, Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar, also celebrated Diwali along with CHC’s Co-Chairs Elise Stefanik and Pete Sessions, along with lawmakers and community members.

“And for each of you here from the Republican Hindu Caucus, your core values of free enterprise, fiscal discipline, family values, and a firm foreign policy not only guide the Hindu American community, but our central tenets shared and fought by House Republicans and Republicans across America,” noted Stefanik while adding “That is why, today, I am so excited to announce the official launch of the Congressional Hindu Caucus in the United States Congress with my good friend and Co-Chair Pete Sessions.”

Stefanik said, “As we conclude Diwali festivities, we have the joyous reminder of the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. This guidance must remain at the core of our mission each and every day as we tackle the very great challenges in front of us,” and reminded everyone of the ongoing battle between Israel and Hamas.

Commending the role of Hindu Americans for their support to Israeli and Jewish friends, she said both India and the United States form a “unified force to counter terrorism.” “Countering communist China’s malign influence, collaborating on technological development and security cooperation, and supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific must remain top priorities,” added Stefanik while talking about US-India jointly tackling China. “To do so, we will continue to pursue policies that encourage and enhance trade between the United States and India, decrease India’s reliance on Russian and Chinese made defense equipment and increase collaboration and joint quad and bilateral military exercises.”

Republicans Form Congressional Hindu Caucus

She urged that the “United States and India can continue to pursue a strong foreign policy [stance] to combat aggression, discourage authoritarian regimes and contain territorial expansions,” adding House Republicans and CHC should join forces with millions of Hindu Americans nationwide and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. It is also vital to fortify connections and further amplify the considerable achievements established by Shalli, RHC, President Trump, and Prime Minister Modi, she added.

Stefanik also recalled that President Trump was the first Presidential candidate to acknowledge the noteworthy achievements of Hindu Americans during a 2016 rally in New Jersey. She noted that during the rally Trump said in Hindi “Ab Ki Baar Trump Sarkar” which went viral with 1.2 billion views around the world. She went on to say “Ab Ki Baar Republican Sarkar,” on behalf of the House Republicans.

Commending second-generation Hindu Americans for their “significant impact on American society, business, culture, and American history,” she continued “From all over the world your unique experiences have shaped and influenced our country, continuing the time-honored tradition of American exceptionalism and the American dream.”

CHC’s Co-chair, Congressman Pete Sessions, said, “The things that the Republican Party teaches today are the same things that Ronald Reagan taught also… that we will stand with our allies. And America will stand with its allies like we’re doing not just with India, but also with Israel.

Praising the work of Hindu Americans, Sessions said “Shalli Kumar, Elise Stefanik, and I will be taking our message around the United States. And we intend to take not only our candidates, but we intend to take our members, some 150, who represent people [from] all over this country and include Hindu Americans in that political relationship to reshape our world and our country,” while asking the help of Hindu Americans to share and spread the message.

Kumar emphasized, “This will be one of the largest caucuses in the US Congress that would be actively engaged in enacting legislation and passing resolutions important to the Hindu American community,” while highlighting the “impressive educational and professional achievements of the Hindu American community,” said a press statement from RHC.

Notably, Congressman Shri Thanedar also launched a Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain American Congressional Caucus on September 29, 2023. “We should really fight against hatred in the world. We should fight against bigotry, and we need to unite and lift people. We need to foster understanding, promote inclusion, and take affirmative policy actions” Thanedar said after launching the Caucus.

A congressional caucus is a group of members of the United States Congress that meet to pursue common legislative objectives. Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar, an Indian-American is the founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition. Shalabh Kumar said more than 150 members of the US House of Representatives have committed to becoming members of the Congressional Hindu Caucus.

This would make it one of the largest caucuses in the US Congress that would be actively engaged in enacting legislation and passing resolutions important to the Hindu American community, Kumar added.

NBC Poll Signals Historic Shift: Trump Surpasses Biden in 2024 General Election Preference, Likability Gap Narrows

In a recent NBC national poll gauging sentiments for the 2024 general election, former President Donald Trump has emerged ahead of President Joe Biden for the “first time” in the history of the network’s polling, as revealed by NBC host Kristen Welker. During a segment on the network’s “Meet the Press,” Welker, accompanied by national correspondent Steve Kornacki, delved into the latest polling data, indicating that Trump currently maintains a 2-point lead over Biden, holding at 46 percent.

“This is the first time in the history of our poll that former President Trump beats President Biden – still within the margin of error, but still significant,” acknowledged Welker in response to the noteworthy development. The survey, conducted between November 10 and November 14 among 1,000 registered voters, carries a margin of error ranging from 5.5 to 5.6 percentage points.

Highlighting the shift in dynamics, Kornacki pointed out, “In 2019, 2020 when Trump was president, he [Biden] trailed all of them. This year he’s trailed all of them in our poll. First time in more than a dozen polls we’ve seen a result like this.”

Biden, traditionally buoyed by his perceived likability compared to Trump, is now facing a leveled playing field, according to the poll. NBC News initially reported Biden’s likability at 39 percent and Trump’s at 32 percent in January. However, the current figures show both candidates at 36 percent, accompanied by a notable increase in Biden’s disapproval rating, climbing from 46 percent in January to 53 percent.

The younger demographic, aged 18 to 35, is demonstrating a noteworthy tilt towards the former president. The poll indicates Trump garnering 46 percent support among this age group, with Biden trailing at 42 percent.

Recognizing the electorate’s expressed dissatisfaction with the current candidates, the network conducted a hypothetical test pitting Biden against a “generic Republican candidate.” Surprisingly, the results showed that in this scenario, a “generic” Republican would outperform Biden by nearly 11 points, whereas Trump, in a similar matchup against a “generic” Democrat candidate, would lag behind by approximately 6 points.

Amidst these shifting dynamics, Democrats and liberal figures have begun voicing concerns regarding Biden’s viability as the party’s nominee for the 2024 presidential elections. Democratic Minnesota Representative Dean Phillips, for instance, recently challenged Biden for the nomination, emphasizing that it’s time for the president to “pass the torch.”

The evolving landscape of public opinion, as reflected in the NBC poll, suggests a departure from the conventional narrative that favored Biden’s likability over Trump. As the political landscape continues to evolve, the dynamics of the 2024 presidential race are becoming increasingly uncertain, with the emergence of new contenders and shifting voter preferences challenging the established political order.

Nikki Haley ‘Most Favored’ Probable, After Trump For US Presidency In 2024

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has been rising in the polls in early voting states, especially after her strong performances in the three GOP sponsored presidential debates – Milwaukee, San Francisco and Florida. Though she still lags far behind Donald Trump, she argues she’s strongest nominee to take on President Joe Biden, US media reports said.

Her latest debate performance prompted more than $1 million in donations — and drew in Ray Hunt, a billionaire backer. She’s still banking on a breakthrough to catch up to the front-runner. Over the course of the two-hour face-off, Ms. Haley displayed her foreign policy credentials, parried attacks on her record and even transformed her shoes into a campaign weapon.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) says she’s what the US “needs to take on Trump and Biden in the 2024 presidential race”. “I don’t think you need to be 80 years old to go be a leader in D.C.,” she told Fox News in January. “It’s time for a new generation of leadership,” she said in the campaign video she released recently.

According to Policitco, “the pioneering former governor of South Carolina and Trump’s first United Nations ambassador, the 51-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants, was a Trump critic who became a Trump appointee who now officially is a Trump rival. Throughout her compelling, nearly two-decade-long political ascent, she has been nimble, or as her critics would say, uncommonly calculating. People who know her call her ambitious because she is.”

Haley was born to Indian Sikh parents who immigrated to the US from Canada. Her father is a biologist and her mother a lawyer turned boutique shop owner, that’s now a million dollar franchise. They came with $8 dollars in their pockets.

At 13, Haley began overseeing the store’s financial books, and after graduating from Clemson in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, she became the company’s Chief Financial Officer. Haley met her husband William Michael Haley in the college, and got married in 1996. They have two children.Nikki Haley ‘Most Favored’ Probable After Trump For US Presidency In 2024

Haley’s career in politics began in 2004 when she defeated a longstanding incumbent to win a seat in the South Carolina House. Haley then ran for Governor in 2009, making her the first person to be elected the Governor of South Carolina who wasn’t a white. It has been a gradula rise to her prominence to national stage for this talented Indian American presidential candidate.

However, months of campaigning, a series of strong debate performances, healthy campaign accounts and rising numbers in surveys of early voting states haven’t been enough to put Ms. Haley within striking distance of Mr. Trump, who remains the dominant front-runner. While Ms. Haley’s support has increased, particularly in Iowa, voters have yet to flock to her candidacy in overwhelming numbers. One recent poll of Iowa had Ms. Haley tied at 16 percent support with Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida — with Mr. Trump 27 points ahead.

There are some signs major donors are turning their attention to her. Harlan Crow, a wealthy real estate developer, hosted a fund-raiser for her in October with well-connected real estate and oil and gas donors in attendance. Former Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois, a top giver to Mr. DeSantis, transferred his allegiance to Ms. Haley after the first debate. Last week, one of former Vice President Mike Pence’s top donors — the Arkansas poultry magnate Ron Cameron — said he would back her, after Mr. Pence dropped out of the race.

Haley, who served in Trump’s Cabinet as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has said frequently on the campaign trail that Trump is unlikely to beat President Joe Biden in a general election, citing his four criminal indictments and mounting legal troubles.

If Trump becomes the nominee, she said, Republicans could see more losses on down-ballot races. Haley argued she could lead the party to “win up and down the ticket, governor’s races, congressional seats, all of those seats.”

“It’s not just the presidential. We’re trying to win across the board. I can do that,” she added

US Averts Government Shutdown With Stopgap-Funding Bill

The U.S. Congress passed a stopgap funding bill late on Saturday with overwhelming Democratic support after Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy backed down from an earlier demand by his party’s hardliners for a partisan bill.

The Democratic-majority Senate voted 88-9 to pass the measure to avoid the federal government’s fourth partial shutdown in a decade, sending the bill to President Joe Biden, who signed it into law before the 12:01 a.m. ET (0401 GMT) deadline.

McCarthy abandoned party hardliners’ insistence that any bill pass the House with only Republican votes, a change that could cause one of his far-right members to try to oust him from his leadership role.

The House voted 335-91 to fund the government through Nov. 17, with more Democrats than Republicans supporting it.

US Averts Government Shutdown With Stopgap Funding Bill (BBC)
Picture: BBC

That move marked a profound shift from earlier in the week, when a shutdown looked all but inevitable. A shutdown would mean that most of the government’s 4 million employees would not get paid – whether they were working or not – and also would shutter a range of federal services, from National Parks to financial regulators.

Federal agencies had already drawn up detailed plans that spell out what services would continue, such as airport screening and border patrols, and what must shut down, including scientific research and nutrition aid to 7 million poor mothers.

“The American people can breathe a sigh of relief: there will be no government shutdown tonight,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote. “Democrats have said from the start that the only solution for avoiding a shutdown is bipartisanship, and we are glad Speaker McCarthy has finally heeded our message.”

DEMOCRATS CALL IT A WIN

Some 209 Democrats supported the bill, far more than the 126 Republicans who did so, and Democrats described the result as a win.

“Extreme MAGA Republicans have lost, the American people have won,” top House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries told reporters ahead of the vote, referring to the “Make America Great Again” slogan used by former President Donald Trump and many hardline Republicans.

Democratic Representative Don Beyer said: “I am relieved that Speaker McCarthy folded and finally allowed a bipartisan vote at the 11th hour on legislation to stop Republicans’ rush to a disastrous shutdown.”

McCarthy’s shift won the support of top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, who had backed a similar measure that was moving through the Senate with broad bipartisan support, even though the House version dropped aid for Ukraine.

Democratic Senator Michael Bennet held the bill up for several hours trying to negotiate a deal for further Ukraine aid.

“While I would have preferred to pass a bill now with additional assistance for Ukraine, which has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, it is easier to help Ukraine with the government open than if it were closed,” Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen said in a statement.

McCarthy dismissed concerns that hardline Republicans could try to oust him as leader.

“I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try,” McCarthy told reporters. “And you know what? If I have to risk my job for standing up for the American public, I will do that.”

He said that House Republicans would push ahead with plans to pass more funding bills that would cut spending and include other conservative priorities, such as tighter border controls.

CREDIT CONCERNS

The standoff comes just months after Congress brought the federal government to the brink of defaulting on its $31.4 trillion debt. The drama has raised worries on Wall Street, where the Moody’s ratings agency has warned it could damage U.S. creditworthiness.

Congress typically passes stopgap spending bills to buy more time to negotiate the detailed legislation that sets funding for federal programs.

This year, a group of Republicans has blocked action in the House as they have pressed to tighten immigration and cut spending below levels agreed to in the debt-ceiling standoff in the spring.

The McCarthy-Biden deal that avoided default set a limit of $1.59 trillion in discretionary spending in fiscal 2024. House Republicans are demanding a further $120 billion in cuts.

The funding fight focuses on a relatively small slice of the $6.4 trillion U.S. budget for this fiscal year. Lawmakers are not considering cuts to popular benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

“We should never have been in this position in the first place. Just a few months ago, Speaker McCarthy and I reached a budget agreement to avoid precisely this type of manufactured crisis,” Biden said in a statement after the vote. “House Republicans tried to walk away from that deal by demanding drastic cuts that would have been devastating for millions of Americans. They failed.”

Reporting by David Morgan, Makini Brice and Moira Warburton, additional reporting by Kanishka Singh, writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Scott Malone, Andrea Ricci and William Mallard

Nikki Haley Dismisses Donald Trump’s Lead In Presidential Polls: Says, GOP Has To “Pay The Price” For The Former President’s Presence In The Party

Indian American presidential primary candidate Nikki Haley attached little importance to her opponent Donald Trump’s lead among voters in the upcoming elections. In an interview with Fox News on November 12, Haley admitted that Trump has “strong support” but he is followed by “drama and negativity” and that Republicans will fail to win if he wins the GOP nomination.

Former President Trump has emerged as the GOP frontrunner, and polls have found him to be ahead of reigning President Joe Biden, but Haley believes the party will not benefit from his victory in the primary. “I think certainly Trump has some strong support. I’ve always said he was the right president at the right time and I agree with a lot of his policies,” she told Fox News. “The problem is, drama and chaos follow him, whether fairly or not, it is constantly following him and Americans feel it,” she added.

Haley further blamed Trump for the losses faced by GOP candidates recently and the party’s negatively impacted performance. Haley said the GOP has to “pay the price” for the former president’s presence in the party, as per a report. Haley said the Republican party should brace itself for more losses on the ballot races if Trump becomes the nominee for the Presidential elections, and endorsed herself as the better candidate.

“We need to make sure we have a new conservative leader. Republicans have lost the last seven out of eight popular votes for president. The way you do that is you send someone in there that doesn’t just beat Biden by two or three points like Trump does, you get somebody that beats Biden between nine and 13 points,” she said. Haley’s campaign had received a significant boost after the initial debates and polls suggested she could defeat President Biden by a wider margin than her primary rivals.

Haley also said she could be the candidate to lead the GOP to “win up and down the ticket, governor’s races, congressional seats, all of those seats.” She added, “It’s not just the presidential. We’re trying to win across the board. I can do that.”

Lack of Support Among South Asian Americans

Despite being prominently known as Indian American candidates in the race to the Oval Office in 2024, Republicans Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley are not as popular among or known to Asian Americans, a new poll conducted by AAPI Data and the Associated Press-National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago revealed.

According to the results, while more AAPI adults have unfavorable views than favorable views of Haley and Ramaswamy, a large proportion of them said they did not know enough about the two candidates to form an opinion.

The study found that only 18 percent and 23 percent of Asian American and Pacific Islander adults had favorable views of Ramaswamy and Haley, respectively, and 36 percent viewed both candidates as unfavorable. 40 percent of the respondents said they were not familiar with Haley, while Ramaswamy is unfamiliar to 46 percent of them.

“This is the first nationally representative survey that includes the views of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders about the major presidential candidates,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder and director of AAPI Data. “Rather than speculate about where AAPIs stand on candidates like Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy, we have timely and reliable data that we will continue to follow through the rest of the presidential primary season.

The survey also dug into the political inclination of AAPI communities, with about half identifying as Democrats, over a quarter identifying as Republican, and about one in five identifying as independent or having no attachment to any party.

The current President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are viewed more favorably among the AAPI communities, while former President and current contender for the Republican nomination for the upcoming presidential elections, Donald Trump, is viewed unfavorably, as is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Michigan Judge Dismisses Challenge to Remove Trump from 2024 Ballot

In a significant development on Tuesday, a Michigan judge dismissed a lawsuit attempting to utilize the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban” to prevent Donald Trump from appearing on the state’s 2024 ballot. The judge also affirmed that Michigan’s secretary of state lacks the authority under state law to determine the former president’s eligibility based on the 14th Amendment, which prohibits individuals who engaged in insurrection from holding office.

The rulings represent a substantial victory for Trump, who currently leads the 2024 Republican presidential primary race, despite facing legal challenges in various states alleging his involvement in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

Last week, the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected a similar constitutional challenge against Trump, and a comparable case is pending in Colorado, with a ruling expected later this week. Experts anticipate that, regardless of the initial rulings, these cases are likely to reach the US Supreme Court, potentially settling the issue nationwide.

The liberal advocacy group involved in the Michigan case has announced an “immediate appeal” and intends to request the state Supreme Court’s intervention. The 14th Amendment, enacted after the Civil War, bars individuals who took an oath to uphold the Constitution from future office if they engaged in insurrection. However, the Constitution does not specify how to enforce this ban, and it has been applied only twice since 1919, making these challenges widely viewed as a long shot.

While these rulings maintain Trump’s position on key GOP primary ballots, they leave the door open to future challenges regarding his eligibility in the November 2024 general election.

Michigan Court of Claims Judge James Redford emphasized that questions about Trump’s role in the January 6 insurrection should be addressed by elected representatives in Congress, characterizing the matter as a “political question” outside the jurisdiction of the judicial branch. Redford stated, “A court disqualifying Trump would’ve taken that decision away from a body made up of elected representatives of the people of every state in the nation.”

He further argued that he lacked the authority under state law to compel election officials to scrutinize Trump’s eligibility based on the 14th Amendment. Redford’s decision was made in response to two cases seeking to block Trump from the Michigan ballot and a countersuit filed by Trump to preserve his position.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, had already announced the list of names for the 2024 presidential primaries in the state, including Trump. Rejecting arguments from anti-Trump challengers, the judge deemed it premature to disqualify Trump, considering he has not secured the GOP nomination and the 2024 general election has not taken place.

Redford acknowledged that even if Trump were to win the presidency and subsequently face new lawsuits questioning his eligibility, the 20th Amendment provides a process for addressing a president-elect no longer “qualified” to serve, wherein the vice president-elect would ascend to the presidency.

The Trump campaign welcomed the decision, highlighting victories in similar cases in Minnesota and New Hampshire. Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung criticized these legal challenges as “un-Constitutional left-wing fantasies orchestrated by monied allies of the Biden campaign.”

Conversely, Free Speech For People, the advocacy group behind the Michigan and Minnesota cases, condemned the judge’s decision, asserting that he adopted a “discredited theory” about Congress’ role in enforcing the 14th Amendment. The group plans to appeal the decision and continue legal actions in other states to enforce Section 3 of the 14th Amendment against Donald Trump, as stated by Ron Fein, the group’s legal director.

Independent Surge: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Challenges Electoral Norms, Surpassing 20% in Polls and Reshaping 2024 Landscape

In the realm of U.S. presidential elections, the dominance of Democrats and Republicans is a steadfast norm. However, current polls are indicating a noteworthy exception: Independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is garnering higher support than any third-party or independent candidate in recent memory, potentially influencing the outcome of the 2024 election.

A Quinnipiac University poll reveals Kennedy’s significant standing, reaching 22% among registered voters. This statistic is remarkable, prompting a comparison with historical data. The last independent candidate to surpass the 20% mark within a year of the election was Ross Perot in 1992, ultimately securing 19% of the popular vote. Typically, independent or third-party candidates witness a decline in popularity as elections draw near. For instance, John Anderson’s 1980 campaign, initially polling above 20%, resulted in a mere 7% of the votes in November. George Wallace, a third-party candidate in 1968, peaked at 21% in pre-election polls but received 14% in the actual vote.

The uniqueness of Kennedy’s position lies in joining this exclusive group of non-major-party candidates who achieved over 20% within a year of the election. While the final outcome for Kennedy remains uncertain, his numbers in swing states are noteworthy. New York Times/Siena College surveys indicate Kennedy’s support ranging from the high teens to over 25% in the six closely contested states that Biden won in 2020 over Trump: Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Michigan.

These polls have added complexity to the electoral landscape. Notably, Trump outpaced Biden in five of these states among registered voters and in four among likely voters, leading to potential victory for Trump if the results mirrored these polls. However, when Kennedy entered the equation among likely voters, Trump only led in Georgia and Nevada. The previously clear Trump advantage became a muddled scenario with no distinct frontrunner in the Electoral College due to Kennedy’s influence.

Kennedy’s impact is evident in reshaping the electoral dynamics. Both Biden and Trump had unfavorable ratings in the high 50s in the Times/Siena poll, reflecting their status as historically disliked front-runners. The emergence of other independent and third-party candidates, such as Cornel West and Jill Stein, further emphasizes the dissatisfaction with major parties. West secured 6% and 4% in recent Quinnipiac and CNN/SSRS surveys, respectively. Jill Stein, announcing her 2024 Green Party nomination bid, gained 1% nationally in 2016 but made notable strides in key states.

Moreover, the decision by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin not to seek reelection and his earlier contemplation of running as a third-party candidate indicates a growing trend of non-major-party candidates entering the fray. Manchin polled at 10% as a No Labels candidate in a summer PRRI poll.

While these non-major-party candidates may not be frontrunners for victory, their significance lies in their potential to capture a substantial share of the vote from disenchanted Americans. With both major-party candidates facing high unfavorability ratings, the ultimate winner in 2024 might secure victory with less than a majority. Political analysts need to consider the substantial support for candidates like Kennedy, surpassing 20% in polls, as a potential indicator of the direction the 2024 election might take.

Haley And Ramaswamy Get Nastier At 3rd Republican Presidential Debate

The fight between Indian-American Republican candidates got nastier with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley calling tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy “just a scumm” for bringing up her daughter as a reference at the party’s third presidential primary debate on Wednesday, November 8th, 2023.

At the debate held in Miami, the two leading Republican candidates sparred over the US policy on TikTok and whether it should be banned in the country because of its Chinese ownership.

The 38-year-old entrepreneur referred to Haley and said: “In the last debate, she made fun of me for actually joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time, so you might want to take care of your family first.”

Haley And Ramaswamy Get Nastier At 3rd Republican Presidential Debate (The Guardian)
Picture: The Guardian

Haley then shot back saying, “Leave my daughter out of your voice”, and as Ramaswamy continued to speak, she told him, “You are just a scum.”

The former South Carolina Governor also took to her X handle on Wednesday to further slam the biotech entrepreneur, which was dismissed by a handful of netizens as “cringe.”

“Vivek, I wear heels. They’re not for a fashion statement — they’re for ammunition,” Haley said, inviting a comment from a user, which said: “All of the comebacks in the world, and you chose cringe.”

The two also locked horns in the previous presidential debate with Haley slamming him for his inexperience on foreign policy issues.

Hitting out at Haley, Ramaswamy’s campaign in a statement said that in a desperate attempt to raise funds for her languishing establishment campaign, the former US ambassador to the UN was intentionally lying about the tech entrepreneur.

Haley blasted Ramaswamy for not backing US allies, and said that “Vivek has no foreign policy experience and it shows.” Ramaswamy also used the ‘Namrata Randhawa’ instead of Nikki Haley on his website, which she said was a “childish name game.”

“I’m not going to get involved in these childish name games. It’s pretty pathetic. First of all, I was born with Nikki on my birth certificate. I was raised as Nikki. I married a Haley. And so that is what my name is,” Haley told Fox News in response.

Haley again called for reforming Social Security and other entitlement programs, drawing a contrast with Trump — and bringing up what Democrats say is a significant vulnerability for her candidacy.

“Any candidate that tells you that they’re not going to take on entitlements is not being serious,” she said. “Right now you have Ron and Trump joining Biden and Pelosi saying they’re not going to change, or do any entitlement reform.”

Haley has long called for making significant changes to the program, including raising the retirement age and removing cost of living increases in favor of increases based on the inflation rate.

She also called for limiting the program for the wealthy — namechecking Bernie Marcus, the former CEO of Home Depot and a major Republican donor, saying that he “hates getting that check.”

In a survey released on Monday by the Des Moines Register, Haley climbed 10 points to 16 per cent, putting her even with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as he struggles to break through against former President Donald Trump.

In addition to Haley and Ramaswamy, three other candidates were on stage for the third debate — former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.

The two-hour debate, hosted by NBC News, took off at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.

Trump, who has so far retained huge leads in polls, again skipped the debate, instead holding a rally not far from the Miami debate site in Hialeah, Florida.

The GOP candidates had one basic message for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Do what you have to do to destroy the Hamas militant group.

“Finish the job,” DeSantis said. “Finish them,” Haley said. “Not only do you have the responsibility and the right to wipe Hamas off of the map, we will support you,” Scott said.

Ramaswamy ended the debate by calling not on his Republican rivals, but on Biden, to drop out. The president should “step aside and end his candidacy now so we can see whether it’s [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom or Michelle Obama or whoever else,” Ramaswamy said at the end of his closing pitch.

2024 Election: Dissatisfied Voters in Battleground States Consider Alternative Candidates

The prospect of a 2024 election rematch between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump has left voters in six battleground states dissatisfied and searching for alternatives, as revealed by recent polls conducted by The New York Times and Siena College.

In these key states, both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump are viewed unfavorably by the majority of voters. A significant portion of voters dislike both candidates, and overall enthusiasm for the upcoming election has waned compared to the 2020 contest.

This frustration and disillusionment have led voters to consider other options. When asked about the likely 2024 matchup between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump, only 2 percent of respondents expressed support for another candidate. However, when Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s name was presented as an alternative, nearly a quarter of respondents indicated they would choose him.

It’s important to note that the support for Mr. Kennedy may be somewhat inflated, as two-thirds of those expressing support for him had previously mentioned a preference for one of the two major-party candidates.

The polling encompassed registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and the results suggest that Mr. Kennedy is less a firmly established political figure in the minds of voters and more a symbol of their discontent with the choice between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump.

Voters who hold unfavorable views of both major-party candidates, often referred to as “double haters,” played a significant role in the outcomes of recent presidential elections. The number of such voters has more than doubled since four years ago. Mr. Trump now enjoys more support from these voters in five of the six battleground states, with Arizona being the exception. Overall, 42 percent of “double haters” planned to vote for Mr. Trump, while 34 percent favored Mr. Biden, and 24 percent remained undecided.

The disapproval of both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump is likely to fuel interest in outsider candidates like Mr. Kennedy, who recently transitioned from the Democratic primary to run as an independent. Cornel West, the liberal professor who switched from the Green Party to mount an independent campaign, is another candidate in the spotlight.

The accessibility of the ballot will present a significant challenge for independent candidates. Qualifying for the general election as a political independent is a costly endeavor, and legal obstacles from major parties may further complicate the process.

The appeal of outsider candidates stems from the widespread unpopularity of both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump among voters in the battleground states. A majority of respondents held unfavorable views of both candidates, except for Black voters who had a favorable view of Mr. Biden.

Voters who dislike both major-party candidates but are open to alternative options are central to the potential impact of outsider candidates like Mr. Kennedy. The outcome in tightly contested states could be influenced by the presence of a candidate like Mr. Kennedy. In some states, he appears to benefit Mr. Trump, while in others, he aids Mr. Biden.

In a political landscape marked by polarization and increasing partisanship, third-party and independent candidates often reflect voter dissatisfaction with the choices offered by the major parties rather than genuine interest in outsider candidates. The impact of Mr. Kennedy as an independent candidate remains uncertain, as his support has fluctuated during his campaign. His potential to influence the 2024 election outcome may become clearer as the election season progresses.

Trump’s 2024 Blueprint: Agenda47 Unveils Vision for a Potential Return to Power

Donald Trump, during his current presidential campaign, has spent a significant amount of time revisiting his 2020 election loss. However, behind the scenes, he and his team are actively crafting a plan for a potential return to power, with the intention of avoiding the pitfalls of his 2016 campaign.

For those wondering about Trump’s intentions if he were to be reelected in 2024, he’s leaving no room for ambiguity. This comprehensive plan is available in digestible portions on his campaign website, resonates through his rally speeches, and is documented by individuals entrusted with preparations for his second term, known as “Agenda47” in reference to his potential status as the 47th president of the United States.

In contrast to his 2016 bid, where he relied on a modest budget and a diverse team of political novices, Trump’s current preparations reflect a more organized and strategic approach. They are determined to avoid past mistakes and have formulated a playbook to navigate the complexities of governing, including potential resistance from a liberal bureaucracy.

Picture: CNN

This playbook has emerged throughout the year and covers a wide range of policy proposals. Some are visionary, such as investing in flying cars and creating “freedom cities” on federal land, while others are controversial, like relocating the homeless to tent camps outside cities. Trump delves into culture wars, advocating for patriotic values in state schools, and he emphasizes protectionist policies, calling for universal baseline tariffs on imports.

On immigration, he seeks to reinstate the policy of keeping undocumented migrants in Mexico during asylum applications and ending automatic citizenship for children of undocumented migrants born in the U.S. He pledges to cut international aid and potentially reduce U.S. involvement with NATO.

Energy is a top priority for Trump in 2024, with the goal of increasing supply to lower household bills, which he believes are contributing to inflation.

These policies are emblematic of Trump’s efforts to reshape the Republican Party, moving it away from the conservatism of previous Republican nominees and towards a blend of conservatism and populism.

To implement this agenda, Trump has established a network of organizations staffed by former senior Trump officials. These groups, with names like the Center for Renewing America and the America First Policy Institute, are generating position papers and documents to serve as a blueprint for policy implementation. They have recruited and trained conservatives who could be part of a future Republican presidential administration.

While Trump’s critics are concerned about the potential impact of such an administration, his supporters believe a more cohesive team could lead to a more effective presidency. The hope is that Trump will articulate a detailed agenda upon taking office, which would enable him to address critical issues, including energy, border security, and inflation.

However, a detailed agenda could also be used by Democrats as a basis for criticism. They may attempt to portray Trump and his advisers as out of touch with the majority of Americans, potentially criminalizing what many consider to be reasonable freedoms.

The ever-changing nature of Trump’s policies and the possibility of him discarding these proposals cannot be dismissed entirely. Nonetheless, those who know Trump well, including his former administration officials, are confident in their ability to influence his decisions.

In response to Democratic efforts to attack Trump’s agenda, his supporters are dismissive, believing that Trump’s unorthodox approach can ultimately engage the electorate, even when his proposals are controversial. They argue that Trump excels at breaking the mold of conventional political expectations.

FBI Director Warns of Increased Threats and Attacks on Americans, Jews, and Muslims Amid Israel-Hamas Conflict

The FBI director issued a warning on Tuesday, highlighting how the Israel-Hamas conflict has elevated the threat level for potential attacks against Americans and intensified dangers for Jewish and Muslim communities in the United States.

Christopher A. Wray, Director of the FBI, expressed concerns about foreign terrorist organizations inciting violence against Jews in response to the October 7 terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas in Gaza. The conflict led Israel to impose a siege and bombardment of Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.

Wray stated, “We assess that the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration the likes of which we haven’t seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate several years ago.”

He emphasized that the ongoing Middle East conflict has raised the threat of attacks against Americans within the United States, especially from violent extremists or lone actors influenced by messages promoting hatred and violence.

Before the Israel-Hamas conflict, the United States had already witnessed a surge in antisemitic incidents, partly attributed to white supremacist propaganda and nationalist groups. However, since the October 7 attack by Hamas, the frequency of antisemitic threats and acts has considerably increased. Director Wray described it as “a threat that is reaching in some way sort of historic levels.”

Wray underlined that the Jewish community is a target for various types of terrorists, including homegrown violent extremists, foreign terrorist organizations, and domestic violent extremists.

Foreign terrorist groups, in response to the Hamas attacks, have issued calls to attack Americans, particularly Jews. Notably, the Islamic State (ISIS) has called for attacks on Jewish communities in the United States and Europe, while Al Qaeda issued a specific call to attack the United States, making it the most explicit call to attack the U.S. in the past five years.

Wray emphasized the significance of this unprecedented level of calls for attacks by foreign terrorist organizations, raising the potential terror threats to the United States.

The Israel-Hamas conflict has also sparked division within the United States. Protests against Israel’s response to the attack and its treatment of Palestinians have led to the removal of posters depicting victims kidnapped by Hamas on several college campuses. Private companies, universities, and organizations such as the Writers Guild of America have faced criticism for their statements or lack thereof regarding the violence in the Middle East.

Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the Secretary of Homeland Security, mentioned that federal officials have witnessed an increase in threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab American communities and institutions in the United States since October 7.

While Jews make up less than 3% of the U.S. population, they were already the target of approximately 60% of religious-based hate crimes before the Israel-Hamas conflict, according to Wray, citing 2022 statistics.

Between October 7 and October 23, there were 312 antisemitic incidents in the United States, with 190 directly linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict, according to the Anti-Defamation League. These incidents include a case on October 15 at Grand Central Terminal in New York, where a Jewish woman was reportedly punched in the face due to her Jewish identity.

Wray also mentioned a recent arrest in Houston on October 19 of a Palestinian asylum seeker, Sohaib Abuayyash, who had been in the United States since June 2019 on an expired travel visa. Abuayyash was found to have been studying how to build bombs and had expressed support for violence against Jewish people. He was also illegally in possession of a firearm and had engaged with individuals who shared a radical mindset, according to the criminal complaint.

The Biden administration has maintained regular contact with Jewish communities across the country, with the FBI creating an intelligence fusion cell dedicated to addressing hate crimes and domestic terrorism. This proactive approach aims to comprehensively understand and respond to the evolving threat landscape.

In response to the rising number of antisemitic attacks and hate crimes against Palestinians after the Israel-Hamas conflict, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced grants of up to $75 million for local police departments and houses of worship.

The conflict has not only fueled antisemitic incidents but has also led to an increase in hate-fueled attacks against Muslims and Arabs in the United States since October 7. The Council on American Islamic Relations reported over 700 complaints of bias incidents and threats against American Muslims between October 7 and October 25, reaching levels not seen since December 2015 when then-presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed a ban on Muslim travel to the United States.

One prominent incident involved the murder of a 6-year-old Palestinian American in Illinois, with the landlord arrested for stabbing the boy and his mother in what is being treated as a hate crime.

In New York, two men were arrested and charged with hate crimes for their involvement in an October 11 attack on three men, during which they shouted anti-Muslim slurs. The 2022 FBI report indicated that nearly 8% of religious-based hate crimes targeted Muslims, a level similar to 2021.

Poll Reveals Vivek Ramaswamy’s Popularity Declines as Voters Get to Know Him

A recent survey conducted by NBC News and the Des Moines Register, renowned for its reliability in Iowa, reveals that Vivek Ramaswamy’s popularity is on a downward slope as voters become more familiar with him.

The poll, which places former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at 16% each, positions them as secondary Republican candidates, with Donald Trump leading at 43%. Vivek Ramaswamy is trailing behind, standing at 4%, even falling behind Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) at 7% and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at 5%.

The concerning aspect for Ramaswamy is the significant increase in his unfavorable ratings. Back in late summer, 38% of respondents viewed him favorably, while only 20% held an unfavorable opinion. Now, the unfavorable rating has nearly doubled, reaching 37%, while his favorability has increased by just 5% to 43%.

These changes in perception seem closely linked to Iowans’ growing familiarity with Ramaswamy. In August, 41% of respondents didn’t know enough about him to form an opinion. That figure has now dropped to 20%. This shift is supported by anecdotes reported by Meryl Kornfield of The Washington Post.

The unfavorable trends continue for Ramaswamy as he fails to capture the second-choice preference of most Trump supporters. DeSantis is the preferred choice of 41% of Trump voters, followed by Haley at 16%. Even though Haley’s platform differs significantly from Trump’s, she is favored as the second choice by 15% of Trump voters, outperforming Ramaswamy.

Of note is Haley’s growing popularity, which coincides with Ramaswamy’s campaign’s stagnation, despite Ramaswamy’s attempts to position her as his foil. In a recent conversation with Tucker Carlson, Ramaswamy even insinuated that Haley’s call for the destruction of Hamas after a terror attack in Israel was motivated by a profit incentive.

“I don’t think she’s a child; I think that she is somebody, like many politicians, in a position to profit from war,” Ramaswamy told Carlson earlier this month.

This comment prompted a challenging interview from Fox News’ Sean Hannity, focusing on this accusation and Ramaswamy’s broader foreign policy views, ultimately leading to a challenging interview for Ramaswamy.

Republicans Struggle to Find Alternative to Trump as Iowa Caucuses Loom

As the Iowa caucuses draw nearer, the Republican Party finds itself in a race against time to rally behind a single candidate as an alternative to former President Trump. The recent exit of former Vice President Mike Pence from the race has increased pressure on low-polling candidates to follow suit, particularly as figures like former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley gain ground and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis faces a decline in popularity.

A new Iowa poll further underscores the challenge Republicans face in challenging Trump’s dominance. The NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll revealed that Trump maintains a substantial 27-point lead over his nearest competitor in Iowa, an increase from his 23-point lead in August. Haley and DeSantis are tied for second place at 16 percent, with Haley gaining 10 points since August, while DeSantis has slipped by 3 points.

Non-Trump candidates continue to vie for the position of the primary alternative, but Trump’s substantial lead in key states and nationally poses a considerable hurdle. Republican consultant Nicole Schlinger of Iowa highlights the importance of undercard candidates confronting Trump head-on to improve their prospects.

While some minor candidates have dropped out during October, Pence’s withdrawal marks a significant exit from the race. Pence, a former Vice President and close ally of Trump, emphasized his conservative and religious values and the continuation of Trump’s policies but struggled to gain traction in polls and fundraising, particularly in a race dominated by Trump. His inability to meet fundraising requirements, despite having met polling criteria for the third GOP debate, demonstrates the challenges he faced.

Even in Iowa, where a strong evangelical base might have offered a significant opportunity for Pence, he garnered only 2 percent support in the poll.

Political economist Michael Strain suggests that candidates, except for Haley, should follow Pence’s lead. DeSantis has consistently held the second position in national and key state polls, though recent polls indicate that Haley is closing the gap. Republican strategist Saul Anuzis believes that the current polling data reflects movements in the race rather than determining the ultimate strength of fundraising or political infrastructure. He emphasizes that it is too early to make definitive judgments.

Anuzis does not expect Pence’s withdrawal to result in a major shift in the polls. However, the collective decision of some candidates to withdraw does increase the pressure on remaining contenders to make decisions about their future in the race.

The most likely opportunity to challenge Trump could be at the Republican convention, where delegates are unbound and allowed to vote for any candidate. The convention’s rules, set at the outset, will determine the viability of an alternative.

Rina Shah, a Republican strategist, believes that a larger field is not necessarily problematic at the beginning of the voting process. Voters have multiple options other than Trump. She suggests that it’s uncertain when a clear single alternative should emerge. Shah argues that Nikki Haley has a compelling case to be the primary alternative, given her strong performances in the first two GOP debates. She anticipates that Haley could benefit if former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina drop out and support her.

Shah points out that in 2020, many Republican voters felt compelled to support Trump even if they had reservations. Now, they have more choices. In 2020, Trump faced minimal opposition for the nomination, whereas the current larger primary field adds an element of unpredictability to the race.

Trump and Children Ordered to Testify in New York Business Fraud Case

Donald Trump and three of his children are set to provide testimony in a business fraud case in New York. A recent ruling by a judge has mandated that Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter, must testify in the case, despite her previous dismissal as a defendant. Her brothers, Eric and Donald Jr., remain involved in the case. The New York Attorney General’s Office has scheduled testimony from all four family members, starting with Donald Trump Jr., with the former president himself expected to testify on November 6th.

The trial, presided over by Judge Arthur Engoron, centers on allegations that Mr. Trump artificially inflated property values to secure favorable loans. Additionally, it encompasses six other claims, including falsification of business records, insurance fraud, and conspiracy. Trump and his co-defendants have consistently denied these allegations.

Donald Trump has expressed his willingness to testify from the outset. Ivanka, on the other hand, had previously sought to avoid providing testimony, citing her move to Florida and her disassociation from the Trump Organization in 2017. However, Judge Engoron determined that she still maintains connections to Trump-related enterprises and real estate in New York. Prosecutors argue that Ivanka Trump possesses crucial information relevant to the case.

In his decision to compel Ivanka’s testimony, Judge Engoron supported the prosecutors, asserting that “Ms. Trump has clearly availed herself of the privilege of doing business in New York.” He cited documentation illustrating her continued ownership or management involvement in some New York-based businesses and her ownership of Manhattan apartments.

This civil fraud case, initiated by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, seeks penalties of $250 million and severe constraints on Mr. Trump’s businesses. The former president, currently the leading contender for the Republican nomination in the 2024 election, has consistently dismissed the case as politically motivated and a “sham.”

New Speaker Mike Johnson Faces Challenges of Unity and Negotiation in Divided House

The longest House leadership conflict in modern times has finally concluded, but not without leaving scars on both sides. Congressman Mike Johnson assumed the role of the 56th Speaker of the House of Representatives amid cheers and standing ovations from his Republican colleagues. This outcome was unexpected, as tensions within the party had divided them for three weeks.

What made Johnson stand out was not just who he was but, perhaps more importantly, who he wasn’t. Unlike the previous three Speaker-designees, he did not belong to the existing Republican House leadership, which had faced resistance from hardline conservatives. He was also not an ideological firebrand like Jim Jordan, who had the support of Donald Trump and the party’s populist wing but faced resistance from centrists and institutionalists.

Johnson, a former chair of the House’s conservative Republican Study Committee, had the trust of the party’s right-wing without the baggage that created enemies elsewhere. While he had taken controversial stances on issues such as a nationwide abortion ban, supporting Trump’s election result challenges, and opposing gay marriage, he had done so quietly and, for the most part, away from television cameras.

His lack of ambition, evident by entering the Speaker race relatively late, made him a suitable choice for Republicans eager to move past weeks of political turmoil without specific concessions or commitments.

Congressman Ken Buck, who had previously objected to others for not acknowledging Joe Biden’s presidential victory, voted for Johnson without objection. Even those who may not agree with him on every issue praised his honesty and truthfulness.

However, Johnson faces significant challenges ahead. The Biden administration and Senate allies are advocating for a multi-billion dollar military aid bill for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. Additionally, a temporary funding measure is set to expire on November 17, which could lead to a government shutdown unless Congress acts.

In a letter to his Republican colleagues, Johnson acknowledged the potential need for another temporary funding bill to buy more time for annual appropriations. He also stressed the importance of negotiating “from a position of strength” with Democrats in the Senate and the Biden White House.

During these negotiations, Johnson’s leadership will be put to the test. His predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, lost support when he was perceived to have conceded too much to Democrats on issues like raising the national debt cap and avoiding a government shutdown without obtaining significant concessions.

Johnson may have more flexibility with his party’s right-wing due to his established ties to them, but he will inevitably face strategic and ideological divisions within the party. He will need to determine when to compromise with the Democrats, who share control in Washington, and whether he can sell any agreement to the rest of his party.

Furthermore, there’s the question of whether Republicans will consider changing the rules that allowed a small group of them to join with Democrats to derail McCarthy’s leadership. Restoring the norms of House Republicans supporting the party in procedural votes and rallying behind the leadership chosen by a majority of their ranks will be another challenge.

Mike Johnson’s tenure as Speaker will be marked by the need to navigate complex legislative issues, negotiate with Democrats, and reconcile ideological divisions within the Republican Party. The success of his speakership will depend on his ability to unite his party and effectively lead in a highly polarized political environment.

Trump’s Legal Defense Morphs into Political Campaign Amid Legal Battles

A judge presiding over Donald Trump’s New York fraud trial confronted a dilemma that the political world has struggled to address: how to rein in the former president’s anger, tantrums, and disregard for rules. This extraordinary day in court saw Trump ordered to testify about his conduct, offering a glimpse of what lies ahead as he faces four criminal trials in the coming year, adding complexity to the upcoming election season.

In a surprising reversal of power dynamics, the judge in New York firmly rebuked the former president, declaring him “not credible” and underscoring that no one is above the law. As a defendant, Trump is now constrained from acting and speaking without restraint, a dynamic that will extend beyond the current trial, setting a pattern for his legal battles as he positions himself as the front-runner for the 2024 GOP nomination.

Despite two impeachments and an electoral defeat, Trump’s ability to incite public outrage, manipulate facts, and distort reality has been largely unchecked. However, the courtroom’s commitment to factual accuracy may pose a challenge.

Trump has exhibited simmering frustration during the ongoing fraud trial, which could result in his eponymous company being prohibited from conducting business in New York. The presiding Judge Arthur Engoron had ruled before the trial began that Trump, his organization, and adult sons had engaged in fraudulent activities by inflating the value of his assets, a ruling the former president has appealed.

Trump’s apparent frustration erupted in unusual incidents on Wednesday. He seemingly violated a gag order by making a new attack on the judge’s clerk, labeling Engoron as partisan. In response, the judge called a hearing and fined Trump $10,000 for breaching the gag order, which specifically prohibited him from targeting court personnel. Trump, however, denied the accusation and claimed he was referring to his former associate, Michael Cohen, who had testified against him. Trump was previously fined $5,000 for an earlier violation of the same gag order, involving a social media post targeting the judge’s clerk.

These fines may be relatively insignificant for Trump, considering his wealth, but they serve as a reminder of the legal consequences he may face in multiple trials. These trials cover a range of topics, from his business dealings to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, mishandling classified documents, and a hush money payment to an adult film star. Trump denies any wrongdoing in all these pending cases.

In another dramatic moment, Trump left the courtroom in a huff after the judge refused to dismiss the case due to what appeared to be inconsistent testimony from Cohen regarding Trump’s request to inflate financial statements. The judge firmly rejected the motion, contradicting the Trump team’s argument that Cohen was a crucial witness.

Trump’s tendency to provide ongoing commentary to reporters, despite the trial not being televised, indicates that he might be a challenging client for his legal team. This behavior could persist in his future trials, potentially causing more problems. However, the courtroom customs and legal constraints do not bend to emotional or political arguments, rendering Trump’s outbursts ineffective.

Trump’s behavior aligns with his strategy of leveraging his fame and public profile to shape perceptions. While lawyers argue the case in the courtroom, Trump conducts his own public trial in the corridors. Trump expressed his belief that he’s being treated unfairly, stating, “We are being railroaded here.” Nevertheless, unlike his past as a business tycoon and president, his emotional outbursts won’t secure his desired outcomes, as the court’s rules and the law remain steadfast.

 

CNN’s senior legal analyst, Elie Honig, noted that aggressive cross-examination by Trump’s legal team is permissible, but inconsistencies in testimony do not automatically end a case. “It doesn’t mean game over, let’s go home,” Honig explained.

Trump’s legal defense strategy has evolved into a political campaign that portrays him as a victim of a legal system manipulated by President Joe Biden to undermine his 2024 White House bid. This strategy has been successful in the GOP primary, helping him amass campaign funds to cover legal expenses and maintain a strong media presence, diverting attention from his campaign rivals.

Several judges are grappling with how to handle Trump’s unconventional behavior. Judge Tanya Chutkan, overseeing the federal election subversion trial in Washington, temporarily suspended a gag order to consider Trump’s request to pause the order during his appeal. She previously warned Trump that as a criminal defendant, he has limitations on what he can say about a case, which Trump’s legal team challenged, claiming it’s an attempt to silence him and hinder his presidential campaign.

The American Civil Liberties Union and its Washington, DC, chapter surprisingly supported Trump in this case, arguing that the broad gag order violated his First Amendment rights. However, prosecutors requested Chutkan to reinstate the order, citing Trump’s recent social media posts about potential witnesses.

Trump’s history of acting with impunity, both in business and politics, is now shaping his defense in legal cases. In the federal election subversion case, his team argues that his efforts to overturn the election were part of his official duties and thus immune from prosecution. Special counsel Jack Smith countered this, asserting that such a stance would allow a sitting president to act unlawfully without fear of prosecution.

During his tenure, Trump often claimed unchecked authority, stating that “the authority is total” when one is the president and falsely asserting that he had the right to do anything as president due to Article II. Trump’s constitutional arguments suggest that a potential second term would be even more lawless, as he has hinted at using the legal system for retribution against his adversaries.

Former Rep. Liz Cheney warned that if Trump regains the presidency, there would be “no guardrails” in his administration. While Trump faces legal constraints for now, his future actions as a potential president remain uncertain.

The Journey to the 56 International Championship

In the realm of card games, where countless classics like Poker, Bridge, and Blackjack have captured the hearts of players worldwide, a hidden gem stands out among the rest. Meet “56,” a captivating and strategic card game combining luck, skill, and deception. While less widely known than its famous counterparts, 56 has garnered a devoted following due to its engaging gameplay, tactical depth, and historical roots in the Malayali community.

Madhu Kutty and I are roommates from NSS College of Engineering in Palakkad. We met our teammate Rajeev George in November 2019 when our mutual friend Frank from New Haven organized 56 games at his residence. We made a team for the Kerala Boat Club game in December 2019. You can guess what happened. We lost most of the round-robin games. In January 2020, we played a local tournament in Boston;  there, too, we lost most of the round-robin games. Then came the regional New Jersey tournament, and the same losing saga continued. The worst part was not the loss. It was the part that we did not understand why we lost.

Then came COVID and shutdowns in March 2020. Now, we started to play a lot online. I knew Tommy personally and since we knew they were two-time champions at 56 International, we decided to learn from them. They graciously taught us techniques and the ability to read the unsaid “calls”.

56 International is the world championship of 56 held among the Malayali community for 25 years. It started as a small tournament 24 years ago organized by Appachen and Mathew Cheruvil in Detroit. We mainly played against Tommy and his teammates online for some time. Regular online play at Cheettukaliclub.com helped us study and analyze the game of 56. There is nothing to replace practice. Only practice can get you closer to perfection. You realize standard hands and patterns that can then be played from muscle memory rather than trying to analyze at that point.

And then came the 56 International in Chicago in 2021. We qualified for the round-robin stage and lost in the round of 16. 56International Chicago was a great experience: the food, the drinks, the singing and all the fun.

We were annoyed we made a crucial mistake and lost the game. I am sure there were more, but we did not even realize those due to inexperience.

The best part of International is that we made new friends with like-minded people across America.Then, we kept learning more and looking forward to the Tampa tournament.

Meanwhile, we started playing live at Simon’s office with Tommy and Shaji once a week.

The hurricane spoiled our plans to test all our learning as the rain date was when Madhu already booked his tickets for India. Our stopgap team could not win more than three matches required to make it to the knockout round. One more disappointing year as we could not implement everything we practiced for a year.

Individually, there are only certain things you can achieve in life or there are limits. A team can achieve much greater things, whether in your career or personal life or when you are planning to change the world. But you need to build trust among members, know how each other thinks, and you need to coordinate. You need to analyze past games and reassess strategies. Teams can create beautiful things that individuals cannot. Take the Beatles as an example; I think they never made a great song individually but made many as a team.

Every week, we practically had Malayali food at fancy restaurant steak prices (Every loss was $ 20 each, and we were losing 4-5 games a night). In Rajeev’s words, we were paying steak prices for Malayali beef “uLarthirachi”.

Long story short, we won the 24th 56 International tournament in New Jersey in October 2023. The triumphant smiles on our faces are a testament to the hard-fought battles we endured at the recent tournament. Our journey from the grueling hours of practice to the exhilarating moments on the field has been filled with relentless efforts. This essay aims to celebrate our victory, reflect on the excitement of the games, express our gratitude to the organizers, and highlight the incredible camaraderie among players that made our triumph possible.

Winning a tournament is no small feat; it culminates countless hours of dedication, determination, and sacrifice. Our journey was marked by late-night strategy sessions. These very struggles strengthened our resolve and made the victory all the sweeter. We each understood the value of hand analysis, patience during tough matches and perseverance.

The tournament was a rollercoaster of emotions as we battled formidable opponents. The excitement of each game was palpable, with the stakes growing higher as we advanced through the rounds. The tension in the air, and the thrill of competition pushed us to perform at our best. Every call, every cut, and every well-executed play sent waves of jubilation through our team. The games were a testament to our skill, teamwork, and determination and will be etched in our memories forever.

Our Pre-Quarter was a tough one with Sreekumar, Thankachan and Santhosh. They had beaten us during round-robin. But this game went into a tie. Then the two tie-breakers games also tied and we barely and luckily survived the sudden death.

Our semi-finals with Alex, Sajan and Kochumon was a fantastic game. We were down considerably but we waited for that one mistake and we caught on it and that also went to a tie. The first game in tie we called a 40 and won. They called a 48 for the next one and in that one “Pidi” we had we could eke out 9 points.

The finals with Benny George and team from Chicago was a hard-fought one. They were outstanding players. They never made a mistake and we lost the first game. Then we won the second game towards the last two shuffles. Then the third game went to a tie again. During the tiebreaker hands, the second hand we got the almost perfect hand to win but involved risks when we called 56 Diamonds because if the trump was concentrated in one hand we would have lost. But fortune favors the brave sometimes.

Behind every successful tournament are dedicated organizers who work tirelessly to ensure its smooth execution. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the organizers for their unwavering commitment to the sport and their meticulous planning.

While the thrill of victory is undoubtedly sweet and loss disappointing, the camaraderie among players truly enriches the sporting experience. Throughout the tournament, we witnessed not only the fierce competition but also the mutual respect and friendship that transcended the boundaries of teams. Shared moments of celebration and commiseration with opponents underscored the sportsmanship that defines our community. We are grateful for the friendships forged on and off the field, as they remind us that sport is not just about winning but also about the bonds we create.

Our triumph is a testament to the power of resilience, teamwork, and dedication.As we bask in the glory of our triumph, we are reminded that the journey is as important as the destination, and the memories we have created will stay with us forever.

We look forward to future tournaments, knowing that they will be filled with challenges, excitement, and the enduring bonds of friendship. We among ourselves formed a family friendship, including our spouses.

The beauty of a card game is you can play it all your life. It will help you maintain a sharp mind. Unlike cricket or basketball, where the body’s physical limits apply, the mind has infinite possibilities. I believe passionately that after a certain age, like maybe thirty five, you should only play cards 🙂 You cannot physically hurt yourself playing cards.

Plus, playing cards is the main thing you learn in a college hostel in Kerala among Malayalees or in a field or regular long train journeys. This game recreates our nostalgic moments, whether in our homes with our relatives or our paddy fields with our local populace. Many of us would have night outs to play 28 or 56 but never to study for an exam; thats how card crazy we are as a community.

We credit our spouses for their support who let us go through all this, which does not bring them any joy, money, or fame but they agreed just for our passion for the game.

As we drove back to Connecticut, we played one of rock’s greatest anthems, written and sung by Freddie Mercury

I’ve paid my dues

Time after time

I’ve done my sentence

But committed no crime

And bad mistakes

I’ve made a few

I’ve had my share of sand

Kicked in my face

But I’ve come through

And we mean to go on and on and on and on

We are the champions, my friends

And we’ll keep on fighting till the end

We are the champions

We are the champions

No time for losers

‘Cause we are the champions of the World!

President Biden’s Reelection Prospects: A Year Out from 2024

As we approach the one-year mark before the 2024 presidential election, new polling data sheds light on President Biden’s vulnerability. His consistently low approval ratings, concerns about his age, and neck-and-neck competition with former President Trump in head-to-head polls have raised alarms, particularly in battleground states.

Within the Democratic Party, there’s a division of opinion about the implications of these findings. Some criticize Biden’s team for perceived complacency, while others argue that he needs to energize his base. On a more optimistic note, some Democrats believe that Trump is a risky bet for a general election due in part to the aftermath of the January 6, 2021 events.

A Democratic strategist, speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed concerns: “What the White House has not come to terms with is, next year’s election is going to be a referendum on the president — and right now he is losing that vote.”

The strategist further highlighted the astonishing aspect of Biden being tied with a former president facing numerous charges. Trump would be a slight favorite in a 2024 rematch if the election were held today, based on national polling and the electoral college dynamics.

National polling averages, such as RealClearPolitics (RCP), have shown Trump leading for the past month, although he trailed Biden during most of the summer. An Emerson College poll even gave Trump a 2-point lead nationally.

Moreover, recent Bloomberg/Morning Consult polls in key states, including Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, revealed Biden trailing, though by relatively narrow margins. It’s worth noting that Biden won all four of these states in the 2020 election.

While not all polls indicate a grim outlook for Biden, the closeness of the numbers underscores ongoing concerns within Democratic circles. Biden’s age, as the oldest president ever, has raised red flags. Several surveys have shown that over 70 percent of the public has doubts about his ability to serve a second term.

His overall approval rating, as per data from FiveThirtyEight, was a mere 41 percent with 54 percent disapproving.

Vice President Harris shares a similar approval rating, which becomes electorally relevant due to concerns about Biden’s age. Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley has consistently argued that a vote for Biden in 2024 would effectively usher in a Harris presidency.

For some on the left, given the tight election polls, it is imperative for Biden to energize the Democratic base, including Black and Latino voters, as well as younger voters.

As President Biden faces the lead-up to the 2024 election, energizing key demographics may prove to be a complex task. There have been limited advancements on issues significant to the Black community, such as voting rights. Immigration remains a contentious topic and one where the President’s approval ratings are notably lower. Additionally, young progressives often hold more progressive policy stances than the President, making it crucial to galvanize this base.

Michele Weindling, the political director of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-oriented progressive group, emphasized that simply portraying Biden as the “lesser of two evils” may not suffice. She noted that Biden’s age isn’t inherently a hindrance to rallying younger voters, pointing to the enthusiasm among youthful progressives for Senator Bernie Sanders, who is over 82 years old.

However, Weindling highlighted significant policy disparities between her group and the President, including issues like climate change and the Israel-Palestine conflict. She stressed the urgency of addressing ongoing conflicts, such as the Israel-Gaza situation.

Some Democrats are more optimistic about Biden’s chances in the 2024 election. They draw parallels with past Democratic presidents like Obama and Clinton, who overcame challenging polling periods in their first terms to secure reelection. Proponents also cite Biden’s robust job creation record, declining inflation, and the expectation that the benefits of his legislative achievements will become more apparent over time.

Biden’s experience and measured demeanor are seen as assets that could appeal to many voters. His recent visit to Israel and his efforts to address international crises, including the war in Ukraine, have been highlighted as indications of his leadership.

Nonetheless, the most significant factor buoying Democratic optimism is the current state of the Republican Party. Former President Trump, the presumed GOP nominee, is entangled in various legal matters, including a civil trial and allegations related to January 6, election interference in Georgia, business conduct in New York, and the handling of sensitive documents at Mar-a-Lago. Additionally, the Republican House has been without a Speaker for over two weeks, reflecting internal divisions and challenges in governing.

The general perception is that these factors may hinder the Republican Party’s ability to effectively govern, contributing to guarded Democratic optimism about the 2024 election. Despite the closeness of the polls, many Democrats would prefer to be in President Biden’s position than that of former President Trump.

As the 2024 election approaches, the political landscape appears finely balanced, keeping many Democrats on edge.

Supreme Court will decide Biden-GOP clash over social media and COVID disinformation

The Supreme Court has granted a second major case on social media, focusing on whether the Biden administration violated the 1st Amendment by urging platforms to combat “misinformation and disinformation” related to COVID-19.

Three conservative justices dissented, advocating to maintain a judge’s order that prohibited administration officials from contacting social media sites, emphasizing the importance of protecting private speech. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch, criticized the court’s decision to take on the issue, considering it “highly disturbing.”

The Supreme Court now faces two opposing perspectives on how the 1st Amendment’s free speech right applies to social media. These perspectives were supported by conservative judges from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The first perspective argues that a state (in this case, Texas) doesn’t violate the 1st Amendment by imposing heavy fines on privately operated social media platforms for alleged discrimination against conservative viewpoints.

The second perspective suggests that federal officials violated the 1st Amendment by “significantly encouraging” social media sites to remove disinformation.
In both cases, Republican officials from Texas, Louisiana, and Missouri, along with 5th Circuit judges, assert that conservative viewpoints are unfairly suppressed on social media.

In the previous month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a free-speech challenge to a Texas law granting the state the authority to regulate prominent social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The law was criticized by NetChoice, a coalition of tech groups, for violating the free-speech rights of social media sites, but the 5th Circuit upheld it on the basis of combating “censorship.” The Supreme Court temporarily blocked the law with a 5-4 vote.

The new case emerged from a lawsuit initiated by Republican state attorneys general from Missouri and Louisiana, who alleged that federal officials, including the surgeon general and the FBI, had conspired to “censor disfavored speech” by “significantly encouraging social media platforms” to remove certain content.

They brought their complaint to U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee in Monroe, Louisiana, who issued a broad order on the Fourth of July that prohibited numerous federal officials and agencies from “urging or encouraging” the removal of “protected speech” from social media. He described the administration’s actions as “arguably … the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history.”

The Biden administration appealed to the 5th Circuit, and in early September, a different panel of three judges upheld most of the judge’s ruling. They argued that administration officials had engaged in a campaign to pressure social media companies into suppressing content disapproved by the government.

The injunction prohibits the White House and its employees from taking actions that coerce or significantly encourage social media companies to remove protected free speech content. U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar, representing the government, filed an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court, asking it to block the judge’s order and rule on the constitutional dispute.

She contended that the case involves an unprecedented injunction that empowers the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to oversee the Executive Branch’s communications with and about social media platforms. She argued that the states lacked standing to sue, and White House officials had the right to speak out against the spread of falsehoods about COVID vaccines or the 2020 election.

The complaints from the Republican state attorneys general extended beyond COVID-19, as they claimed that “the FBI orchestrated a deceptive campaign to induce platforms to censor the New York Post’s October 14, 2020 story about Hunter Biden’s laptop, just before the 2020 election.” They also alleged that federal censorship activities intensified when President Biden took office in early 2021.

Jeff Landry, the Louisiana attorney general who initiated the lawsuit, was elected as the state’s governor last week.

Rep. Jim Jordan Falls Short Of Getting Speaker’s Gavel

GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio failed in his second attempt to become speaker of the House, again falling short of the 217 votes needed to be elected and casting doubt about the way forward in the still-leaderless lower chamber.

Jordan won just 199 votes in the House on Wednesday morning, with 22 Republicans withholding their support and voting for a variety of protest candidates. All 212 Democrats voted for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the party’s leader in the House.

Jordan’s total was one fewer than the 200 he secured on the first ballot on Tuesday, a sign that he has struggled to make any inroads among the GOP holdouts. Four Republicans who voted for him on Tuesday defected in the latest vote, while he picked up support from two others. One member who was absent for the first ballot also supported Jordan in this round.

Republican Lawmakers rejected Rep. Jim Jordan for House speaker on a first ballot Tuesday, October 17th, as an unexpectedly numerous 20 holdouts denied the hard-charging ally of Donald Trump the GOP majority needed to seize the gavel.

Additional voting was postponed as the House hit a standstill, stuck while Jordan works to shore up support from Republican colleagues to replace the ousted Kevin McCarthy for the job. Reluctant Republicans are refusing to give Jordan their votes, viewing the Ohio congressman as too extreme for the powerful position of House speaker, second in line to the presidency. Next votes were expected Wednesday.

“We’re going to keep working,” Jordan said at the Capitol as evening fell. It’s been two weeks of angry Republican infighting since McCarthy’s sudden removal by hard-liners, who are now within reach of a central seat of U.S. power. The vote for House speaker, once a formality in Congress, has devolved into another bitter showdown for the gavel.

Picture: The Hill

Jordan (R-Ohio) secured 200 of the necessary 217 votes, while Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) got the full backing of Democratic members, with 212 votes. Jordan had gained some major momentum, picking up endorsements from key players who had initially said they would not vote for him. But during Tuesday’s midday vote, 20 Republicans cast votes for other members.

Jordan’s loss of 20 GOP votes – one more than former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in his first of 15 votes to secure the gavel – has left the GOP even more uncertain when it can reach consensus over who should lead the party. A second planned vote was abruptly postponed from Tuesday evening to Wednesday.

Many in the party are rallying behind efforts that would give McHenry more power to act as a temporary Speaker, expanding a role otherwise appears to be largely dedicated to organizing the process of electing a new speaker.

Rep. Carlos Giménez (R-Fla.) – who has pledged to continue to vote for McCarthy for speaker – told reporters Tuesday that moves to further empower McHenry have gained momentum – “as they should.”

The political climb has been steep for Jordan, the combative Judiciary Committee chairman and a founding member of the right-flank Freedom Caucus. He is known more as a chaos agent than a skilled legislator, raising questions about how he would lead. Congress faces daunting challenges, risking a federal shutdown at home if it fails to fund the government and fielding Biden’s requests for aid to help Ukraine and Israel in the wars abroad.

With the House Republican majority narrowly held at 221-212, Jordan can afford to lose only a few votes to reach the 217 majority threshold, if there are no further absences.

Jordan conferred immediately afterward with McCarthy, who fared nearly as badly in January, having lost almost as many votes on the first of what would become a historic 15 ballots for the gavel.

The GOP Leadership Crisis and Public Opinion

In a recent CNN poll conducted by SSRS, the public’s perception of the Republican Party and its congressional leaders has deteriorated, partly due to a leadership crisis in the House of Representatives. The poll reveals that Republican-aligned Americans are divided on how the GOP should govern, and even though many Americans are dissatisfied with both parties’ handling of the nation’s issues, they still express more confidence in the Republican Party’s leadership in Congress compared to President Joe Biden.

As of the poll, 54% of respondents have more confidence in Republicans in Congress to address major national issues, while 45% have more confidence in President Biden. This balance has remained unchanged since the summer.

Picture: CNN

The removal of Kevin McCarthy as House speaker, which occurred after the poll was conducted, received mixed reactions. Half of Americans approved of McCarthy’s removal, while 49% disapproved. McCarthy himself had a 46% unfavorable view, with 21% having a favorable opinion, and 33% expressing no opinion. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who initiated the motion to remove McCarthy, had an unfavorable rating of 44%, a favorable rating of 14%, and 42% were unsure about him.

Opinions within the Republican camp were divided, with 49% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents approving of McCarthy’s removal and 50% disapproving. Furthermore, there was little consensus on whether McCarthy’s removal was a good or bad thing for the party, with 30% considering it a positive development and 34% seeing it as detrimental.

These divisions within the Republican Party are reflected in the party’s presidential nomination contest. Among Republican-aligned voters who support former President Donald Trump, 56% approved of McCarthy’s ouster, compared to only 37% of those who didn’t support Trump in the primary.

This internal division is evident across multiple aspects of the Republican Party’s performance and its future direction. For instance, when asked about Republican leaders in Congress, 51% of Trump supporters approved of their work, compared to just 35% of other Republican-aligned voters. On the question of whether Republicans in Congress should compromise or stand firm on their beliefs, 52% of Trump backers favored standing firm, while 77% of other Republicans preferred working across the aisle.

Even on topics where there is agreement between the two factions, disparities exist. For example, Trump’s supporters are more likely to feel entirely unrepresented by the government, with 57% of Trump primary supporters believing they are not well represented in Washington, compared to 47% of other GOP-aligned voters.

Additionally, they are less likely to consider continued aid to Ukraine as important, with 45% of non-Trump Republican voters deeming it very or somewhat important, compared to 27% of Trump supporters. Trump supporters are also more optimistic about the government reaching an agreement to avoid a shutdown before the November 17 deadline, with 67% of Trump supporters viewing it as likely, as opposed to 57% of other Republicans.

In terms of the 2024 presidential nomination race, Trump has extended his lead, with 58% of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters supporting him. Other candidates, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, garnered less support, each receiving 8% or less in the poll.

Despite these internal party dynamics, the overall public perception of the Republican Party is highly negative. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents disapprove of the way the GOP’s congressional leaders are handling their roles, a notable increase from 67% in January. Furthermore, 52% of respondents have a negative impression of the Republican Party as a whole, an increase from 45% in December. Approval for GOP leadership in Congress has significantly dropped among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, decreasing from 58% in January to 44% at the time of the poll.

The public’s expectations for positive changes resulting from the Republican majority in the House have also diminished. Only 18% of respondents believe there has been a positive effect on the federal budget, 23% on oversight of the Biden administration, 17% on immigration laws, and 16% on the level of cooperation within the federal government. These figures reflect a decrease in optimism since December.

However, the challenges facing the Republican Party have not improved public opinion of Democrats. Just 35% of respondents approve of the way Democratic leaders in Congress are handling their roles, down from 40% in January. Additionally, 50% of respondents have an unfavorable opinion of the Democratic Party, an increase from 44% in December.

The poll indicates widespread frustration with both political parties, with 58% expressing anger at both parties’ handling of the nation’s problems. Another 15% are only angry at Republicans, and 13% are only angry at Democrats, leaving just 14% who are not angry with either party. Moreover, only 19% feel even somewhat well represented by the federal government in Washington, the lowest percentage in CNN polling since 2015. A substantial 81% now feel they are not represented well by the federal government.

Despite broad preferences for leaders in Congress and the White House to compromise in order to achieve results, 69% of respondents believe it is unlikely that attempts at bipartisanship on upcoming major legislation in Washington will be successful.

Regarding the imminent major legislation to fund the government by November 17, most Americans (57%) believe it is at least somewhat likely that a deal will be reached, with only 10% considering it “very likely.” Additionally, 81% of Americans find it unacceptable for members of Congress to threaten a government shutdown during budget negotiations to achieve their goals, with this sentiment being shared across party lines, including among Democrats (89%), independents (81%), and Republicans (72%).

This CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS from October 4-9 and included a random national sample of 1,255 adults, which also comprised 428 Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters. Surveys were conducted either online or by telephone with a live interviewer. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is plus or minus 3.4 points, and it is 5.7 points for results among Republican and Republican-leaning voters.

The Power of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership: Insights from Satya Nadella

When Satya Nadella assumed the role of Microsoft CEO in 2014, he displayed a distinct leadership approach. Rather than boasting about IQ points or intellectual achievements, he emphasized the importance of understanding people and building meaningful connections as a leader. His key mantra for effectiveness and setting himself apart from the crowd was encapsulated in just two words: emotional intelligence.

In a widely publicized event nearly a decade ago, Nadella addressed a large audience of students on the topic of their future and possibilities. During his speech, he stressed the significance of developing emotional intelligence (EQ), saying, “In the long run, EQ trumps IQ. Without being a source of energy for others, very little can be accomplished.”

Research indicates that companies that prioritize emotional intelligence in their workforce tend to experience higher levels of productivity and employee engagement compared to those that overlook this vital aspect.

Picture: Harvard

In an era where technological advancements often take center stage, the importance of emotional intelligence can sometimes be overshadowed. However, leaders like Satya Nadella have shown that emotional intelligence is not merely a desirable trait but a crucial element for achieving lasting success in the corporate landscape.
Let’s delve into several ways in which leaders and high achievers can harness emotional intelligence to enhance their own performance and create a more productive workplace environment.

1.Empower Through Active Listening

Two decades ago, I reported to an executive who possessed a high level of emotional intelligence, and I gleaned a valuable lesson that has stayed with me to this day. I was leading a team through a challenging project, and the pressure was palpable, causing tensions to run high. Within the team, there was a quieter member struggling to find their voice amid the chaos.

Instead of steamrolling ahead with his own ideas, our executive, who was also our boss, took a step back. He approached the team member and asked a simple but powerful question: “What do you think?” The impact was astonishing. The team member’s face lit up, and they began to share their valuable insights, including a brilliant solution that hadn’t been considered before. Subsequently, the project achieved resounding success, and we all imbibed a crucial lesson: Leadership is about empowering others and valuing their perspectives.

2.Lead with Authenticity and Empathy

Emotional intelligence is not synonymous with being overly sentimental or softhearted. It is about comprehending the emotions, motivations, and aspirations of the individuals you work with. It involves creating an environment where everyone feels genuinely valued and heard.
The crux of leading with emotional intelligence is to actively listen, empathize, and lead with authenticity. It also entails recognizing and managing one’s own emotions because a high-performing leader who can’t or won’t navigate their own feelings often struggles to guide a team effectively.

3.Embrace the Power of Humility

Admitting that you don’t have all the answers can be uncomfortable, especially when people expect you to provide solutions. Garry Ridge, chairman emeritus of WD-40 Company, had an unconventional perspective during his tenure as CEO. Ridge found that the three most powerful words he ever learned were “I don’t know.” As he became comfortable with not having all the answers, he started to experience personal growth and learning.
Ridge emphasizes that, “As soon as you pretend to know everything, you close yourself off from the opportunity to learn more and gain different perspectives. So, not only have I become comfortable with ‘I don’t know,’ but even more so today, I constantly ask myself, ‘Why do I believe that?’ This is because the world is changing so rapidly.”
As you reflect on your own leadership style, remember that authentic leadership is not about having all the answers but about creating a space where collective brilliance can flourish.

Satya Nadella, in his ongoing role as the leader of Microsoft, continues to demonstrate the power of emotional intelligence. His example underscores that emotional intelligence is not just a buzzword but a potent force that can shape the future of leadership in the tech industry and beyond.

The wisdom shared by Satya Nadella and other experienced leaders emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence in today’s corporate landscape. This intangible yet powerful attribute, often overshadowed by technological advancements, plays a pivotal role in driving productivity, fostering collaboration, and shaping the future of leadership in the ever-evolving world of business.

RFK Jr.’s Independent Run For President Draws GOP Criticism And Silence From National Democrats

Republicans launched an attack on Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Monday as the prominent environmental attorney and anti-vaccine activist officially announced his independent bid for the White House. This move has stirred concerns among conservatives that Kennedy, a former Democrat, could siphon votes away from former President Donald Trump in the 2024 election.

The Republican National Committee and Trump’s campaign wasted no time in critiquing Kennedy’s liberal background. Meanwhile, national Democrats remained silent on the matter as Kennedy made it clear in a speech in Philadelphia that he was distancing himself from both political parties.
Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung issued a statement cautioning voters not to be misled by those who feign conservative values. Cheung described Kennedy’s campaign as a “vanity project for a liberal Kennedy looking to cash in on his family’s name.”

This strong reaction highlights the uncertainty surrounding Kennedy’s much-anticipated decision to run as an independent. While it is likely to impact the 2024 race, which is shaping up to be a rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden, the exact implications remain unclear.

Kennedy, a member of one of the most renowned families in Democratic politics, initially pursued an improbable primary bid and surprisingly held more favorability among Republicans than Democrats. Even Trump himself had expressed his positive opinion of Kennedy just two weeks prior, stating, “I like him a lot. I’ve known him for a long time.”

Both Biden and Trump’s allies had, at times, questioned whether Kennedy would act as a spoiler against their respective candidates. Kennedy acknowledged both sides’ concerns, stating, “The truth is, they’re both right. My intention is to spoil it for both of them.”

Speaking from Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, where America’s founding documents were adopted, Kennedy emphasized his desire to distance himself from either political party. He spoke of a “rising tide of discontent” in the nation and expressed his aim to make a “new declaration of independence” from corporations, the media, and the two major political parties.

Hundreds of supporters, holding signs with slogans like “Declare your independence,” and chanting “RFK, all the way!” were enthusiastic about his decision. His supporters comprised a diverse mix of disillusioned Democrats, Trump voters seeking change, and political outsiders whose beliefs did not align with any single party. They believed that Kennedy could bring them together.

Peter Pantazis, a 40-year-old business owner from Delaware, expressed his optimism, saying, “He’s going to win. I’ve been praying that he’s going to decentralize the campaign, get away from the party system, and actually be the candidate of the people for the people. And that’s what he announced today.”

Brent Snyder, a disabled veteran from south Philadelphia, stated, “The last couple of years I’ve been noticing the Republican Party’s been going a way I didn’t like. Not that I agree with everything that’s happening to Trump, but I think right now he has more baggage than his country needs. The division right now is just terrible. We need someone to bring both sides together to make us work.”

The atmosphere among the crowd was filled with joy, hope, and occasionally, the faint scent of marijuana. Kennedy invoked historical figures like John Adams and George Washington to make a case for unity and warned against the pitfalls of partisan politics.

However, Kennedy’s independent campaign faces significant challenges in competing with the well-funded, experienced campaigns of Trump and Biden. During his announcement, there was a brief delay when he found that his speech was loaded upside-down in the teleprompter.

Kennedy’s decision to run independently comes shortly after progressive activist Cornel West abandoned his Green Party bid in favor of an independent presidential run. Additionally, the centrist group No Labels is actively working to secure ballot access for an unnamed candidate.

Recognizing the risk that Kennedy might draw votes away from Republicans, Trump’s allies have begun circulating opposition research aimed at undermining his support among conservative voters. The Republican National Committee released a fact sheet titled “Radical DEMOCRAT RFK Jr.” that highlighted instances of Kennedy’s support for liberal politicians and ideas, as well as his endorsement of conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 and past election claims.

On the other hand, Biden’s allies have largely dismissed Kennedy’s primary campaign as unserious. When asked for comment before the announcement, a Democratic National Committee spokesman responded with an eye-roll emoji. The DNC declined to comment on Monday.

Four of Kennedy’s eight surviving siblings issued a joint statement denouncing his candidacy, expressing concern about the potential harm it could cause to the country. They emphasized that while Bobby shares their family name, his values, vision, and judgment differ significantly from theirs.
Tony Lyons, co-founder and co-chairman of American Values 2024, a super PAC supporting Kennedy, dismissed these comments as part of a strategy to discredit him. He pointed out that disagreements within families are a natural part of democracy.

While Kennedy has historically identified as a Democrat and often invoked the legacies of his late father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, on the campaign trail, he has also developed relationships with far-right figures in recent years. He appeared on a channel associated with Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and headlined an event on the ReAwaken America Tour, organized by Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Polls indicate that Kennedy is more favorably viewed by Republicans than Democrats. Some far-right conservatives have supported him for his fringe views, including his vocal distrust of COVID-19 vaccines, despite scientific evidence demonstrating their safety and effectiveness in preventing severe disease and death.

Kennedy’s anti-vaccine organization, Children’s Health Defense, is currently involved in a lawsuit against several news organizations, including The Associated Press, alleging antitrust violations related to their actions in countering misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines. Kennedy had temporarily stepped away from the group upon announcing his presidential run, but he is listed as one of its attorneys in the lawsuit.

The Journey to the 56 International Championship

In the realm of card games, where countless classics like Poker, Bridge, and Blackjack have captured the hearts of players worldwide, a hidden gem stands out among the rest. Meet “56,” a captivating and strategic card game combining luck, skill, and deception. While less widely known than its famous counterparts, 56 has garnered a devoted following due to its engaging gameplay, tactical depth, and historical roots in the Malayali community.

Madhu Kutty and I are roommates from NSS College of Engineering in Palakkad. We met our teammate Rajeev George in November 2019 when our mutual friend Frank from New Haven organized 56 games at his residence. We made a team for the Kerala Boat Club game in December 2019. You can guess what happened. We lost most of the round-robin games. In January 2020, we played a local tournament in Boston;  there, too, we lost most of the round-robin games. Then came the regional New Jersey tournament, and the same losing saga continued. The worst part was not the loss. It was the part that we did not understand why we lost.

Then came COVID and shutdowns in March 2020. Now, we started to play a lot online. I knew Tommy personally and since we knew they were two-time champions at 56 International, we decided to learn from them. They graciously taught us techniques and the ability to read the unsaid “calls”.

56 International is the world championship of 56 held among the Malayali community for 25 years. It started as a small tournament 24 years ago organized by Appachen and Mathew Cheruvil in Detroit. We mainly played against Tommy and his teammates online for some time. Regular online play at Cheettukaliclub.com helped us study and analyze the game of 56. There is nothing to replace practice. Only practice can get you closer to perfection. You realize standard hands and patterns that can then be played from muscle memory rather than trying to analyze at that point.

And then came the 56 International in Chicago in 2021. We qualified for the round-robin stage and lost in the round of 16. 56International Chicago was a great experience: the food, the drinks, the singing and all the fun.

We were annoyed we made a crucial mistake and lost the game. I am sure there were more, but we did not even realize those due to inexperience.

The best part of International is that we made new friends with like-minded people across America.Then, we kept learning more and looking forward to the Tampa tournament.

Meanwhile, we started playing live at Simon’s office with Tommy and Shaji once a week.

The hurricane spoiled our plans to test all our learning as the rain date was when Madhu already booked his tickets for India. Our stopgap team could not win more than three matches required to make it to the knockout round. One more disappointing year as we could not implement everything we practiced for a year.

Individually, there are only certain things you can achieve in life or there are limits. A team can achieve much greater things, whether in your career or personal life or when you are planning to change the world. But you need to build trust among members, know how each other thinks, and you need to coordinate. You need to analyze past games and reassess strategies. Teams can create beautiful things that individuals cannot. Take the Beatles as an example; I think they never made a great song individually but made many as a team.

Every week, we practically had Malayali food at fancy restaurant steak prices (Every loss was $ 20 each, and we were losing 4-5 games a night). In Rajeev’s words, we were paying steak prices for Malayali beef “uLarthirachi”.

Long story short, we won the 24th 56 International tournament in New Jersey in October 2023. The triumphant smiles on our faces are a testament to the hard-fought battles we endured at the recent tournament. Our journey from the grueling hours of practice to the exhilarating moments on the field has been filled with relentless efforts. This essay aims to celebrate our victory, reflect on the excitement of the games, express our gratitude to the organizers, and highlight the incredible camaraderie among players that made our triumph possible.

Winning a tournament is no small feat; it culminates countless hours of dedication, determination, and sacrifice. Our journey was marked by late-night strategy sessions. These very struggles strengthened our resolve and made the victory all the sweeter. We each understood the value of hand analysis, patience during tough matches and perseverance.

The tournament was a rollercoaster of emotions as we battled formidable opponents. The excitement of each game was palpable, with the stakes growing higher as we advanced through the rounds. The tension in the air, and the thrill of competition pushed us to perform at our best. Every call, every cut, and every well-executed play sent waves of jubilation through our team. The games were a testament to our skill, teamwork, and determination and will be etched in our memories forever.

Our Pre-Quarter was a tough one with Sreekumar, Thankachan and Santhosh. They had beaten us during round-robin. But this game went into a tie. Then the two tie-breakers games also tied and we barely and luckily survived the sudden death.

Our semi-finals with Alex, Sajan and Kochumon was a fantastic game. We were down considerably but we waited for that one mistake and we caught on it and that also went to a tie. The first game in tie we called a 40 and won. They called a 48 for the next one and in that one “Pidi” we had we could eke out 9 points.

The finals with Benny George and team from Chicago was a hard-fought one. They were outstanding players. They never made a mistake and we lost the first game. Then we won the second game towards the last two shuffles. Then the third game went to a tie again. During the tiebreaker hands, the second hand we got the almost perfect hand to win but involved risks when we called 56 Diamonds because if the trump was concentrated in one hand we would have lost. But fortune favors the brave sometimes.

Behind every successful tournament are dedicated organizers who work tirelessly to ensure its smooth execution. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the organizers for their unwavering commitment to the sport and their meticulous planning.

While the thrill of victory is undoubtedly sweet and loss disappointing, the camaraderie among players truly enriches the sporting experience. Throughout the tournament, we witnessed not only the fierce competition but also the mutual respect and friendship that transcended the boundaries of teams. Shared moments of celebration and commiseration with opponents underscored the sportsmanship that defines our community. We are grateful for the friendships forged on and off the field, as they remind us that sport is not just about winning but also about the bonds we create.

Our triumph is a testament to the power of resilience, teamwork, and dedication.As we bask in the glory of our triumph, we are reminded that the journey is as important as the destination, and the memories we have created will stay with us forever.

We look forward to future tournaments, knowing that they will be filled with challenges, excitement, and the enduring bonds of friendship. We among ourselves formed a family friendship, including our spouses.

The beauty of a card game is you can play it all your life. It will help you maintain a sharp mind. Unlike cricket or basketball, where the body’s physical limits apply, the mind has infinite possibilities. I believe passionately that after a certain age, like maybe thirty five, you should only play cards 🙂 You cannot physically hurt yourself playing cards.

Plus, playing cards is the main thing you learn in a college hostel in Kerala among Malayalees or in a field or regular long train journeys. This game recreates our nostalgic moments, whether in our homes with our relatives or our paddy fields with our local populace. Many of us would have night outs to play 28 or 56 but never to study for an exam; thats how card crazy we are as a community.

We credit our spouses for their support who let us go through all this, which does not bring them any joy, money, or fame but they agreed just for our passion for the game.

As we drove back to Connecticut, we played one of rock’s greatest anthems, written and sung by Freddie Mercury

I’ve paid my dues

Time after time

I’ve done my sentence

But committed no crime

And bad mistakes

I’ve made a few

I’ve had my share of sand

Kicked in my face

But I’ve come through

And we mean to go on and on and on and on

We are the champions, my friends

And we’ll keep on fighting till the end

We are the champions

We are the champions

No time for losers

‘Cause we are the champions of the World!

RFK Jr. Announces Independent Run For President

Republicans launched an attack on Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Monday as the prominent environmental attorney and anti-vaccine activist officially announced his independent bid for the White House. This move has stirred concerns among conservatives that Kennedy, a former Democrat, could siphon votes away from former President Donald Trump in the 2024 election.

The Republican National Committee and Trump’s campaign wasted no time in critiquing Kennedy’s liberal background. Meanwhile, national Democrats remained silent on the matter as Kennedy made it clear in a speech in Philadelphia that he was distancing himself from both political parties.

Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung issued a statement cautioning voters not to be misled by those who feign conservative values. Cheung described Kennedy’s campaign as a “vanity project for a liberal Kennedy looking to cash in on his family’s name.”

This strong reaction highlights the uncertainty surrounding Kennedy’s much-anticipated decision to run as an independent. While it is likely to impact the 2024 race, which is shaping up to be a rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden, the exact implications remain unclear.

Kennedy, a member of one of the most renowned families in Democratic politics, initially pursued an improbable primary bid and surprisingly held more favorability among Republicans than Democrats. Even Trump himself had expressed his positive opinion of Kennedy just two weeks prior, stating, “I like him a lot. I’ve known him for a long time.”

Both Biden and Trump’s allies had, at times, questioned whether Kennedy would act as a spoiler against their respective candidates. Kennedy acknowledged both sides’ concerns, stating, “The truth is, they’re both right. My intention is to spoil it for both of them.”

Picture: WPTV

Speaking from Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, where America’s founding documents were adopted, Kennedy emphasized his desire to distance himself from either political party. He spoke of a “rising tide of discontent” in the nation and expressed his aim to make a “new declaration of independence” from corporations, the media, and the two major political parties.

Hundreds of supporters, holding signs with slogans like “Declare your independence,” and chanting “RFK, all the way!” were enthusiastic about his decision. His supporters comprised a diverse mix of disillusioned Democrats, Trump voters seeking change, and political outsiders whose beliefs did not align with any single party. They believed that Kennedy could bring them together.

Peter Pantazis, a 40-year-old business owner from Delaware, expressed his optimism, saying, “He’s going to win. I’ve been praying that he’s going to decentralize the campaign, get away from the party system, and actually be the candidate of the people for the people. And that’s what he announced today.”

Brent Snyder, a disabled veteran from south Philadelphia, stated, “The last couple of years I’ve been noticing the Republican Party’s been going a way I didn’t like. Not that I agree with everything that’s happening to Trump, but I think right now he has more baggage than his country needs. The division right now is just terrible. We need someone to bring both sides together to make us work.”

The atmosphere among the crowd was filled with joy, hope, and occasionally, the faint scent of marijuana. Kennedy invoked historical figures like John Adams and George Washington to make a case for unity and warned against the pitfalls of partisan politics.

However, Kennedy’s independent campaign faces significant challenges in competing with the well-funded, experienced campaigns of Trump and Biden. During his announcement, there was a brief delay when he found that his speech was loaded upside-down in the teleprompter.

Kennedy’s decision to run independently comes shortly after progressive activist Cornel West abandoned his Green Party bid in favor of an independent presidential run. Additionally, the centrist group No Labels is actively working to secure ballot access for an unnamed candidate.

Recognizing the risk that Kennedy might draw votes away from Republicans, Trump’s allies have begun circulating opposition research aimed at undermining his support among conservative voters. The Republican National Committee released a fact sheet titled “Radical DEMOCRAT RFK Jr.” that highlighted instances of Kennedy’s support for liberal politicians and ideas, as well as his endorsement of conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 and past election claims.

On the other hand, Biden’s allies have largely dismissed Kennedy’s primary campaign as unserious. When asked for comment before the announcement, a Democratic National Committee spokesman responded with an eye-roll emoji. The DNC declined to comment on Monday.

Four of Kennedy’s eight surviving siblings issued a joint statement denouncing his candidacy, expressing concern about the potential harm it could cause to the country. They emphasized that while Bobby shares their family name, his values, vision, and judgment differ significantly from theirs.

Tony Lyons, co-founder and co-chairman of American Values 2024, a super PAC supporting Kennedy, dismissed these comments as part of a strategy to discredit him. He pointed out that disagreements within families are a natural part of democracy.

While Kennedy has historically identified as a Democrat and often invoked the legacies of his late father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, on the campaign trail, he has also developed relationships with far-right figures in recent years. He appeared on a channel associated with Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and headlined an event on the ReAwaken America Tour, organized by Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Polls indicate that Kennedy is more favorably viewed by Republicans than Democrats. Some far-right conservatives have supported him for his fringe views, including his vocal distrust of COVID-19 vaccines, despite scientific evidence demonstrating their safety and effectiveness in preventing severe disease and death.

Kennedy’s anti-vaccine organization, Children’s Health Defense, is currently involved in a lawsuit against several news organizations, including The Associated Press, alleging antitrust violations related to their actions in countering misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines. Kennedy had temporarily stepped away from the group upon announcing his presidential run, but he is listed as one of its attorneys in the lawsuit.

Trump’s WH Chief Of Staff John Kelly Confirms Disturbing Stories About Trump

John Kelly, the former White House chief of staff under Donald Trump, has delivered a scathing critique of the ex-president in an exclusive statement to CNN. Kelly chose to set the record straight by confirming, on the record, several troubling accounts of remarks made by Trump behind closed doors, targeting U.S. service members and veterans. Kelly recounted a series of objectionable comments that he personally witnessed Trump make.

When asked to weigh in on his former boss, Kelly responded, “What can I add that has not already been said?” He proceeded to highlight Trump’s derogatory attitudes towards those who serve in the military and veterans. Kelly recalled Trump referring to them as “suckers” and insinuating that there was nothing in it for them. Trump’s reluctance to be seen with military amputees was another point of concern for Kelly. Additionally, Kelly emphasized Trump’s open contempt for Gold Star families during the 2016 campaign and his derogatory comments about fallen heroes.

Picture:CoopWB

Kelly continued to outline his grievances, noting Trump’s lack of honesty on various issues, including the protection of unborn life, women’s rights, minority rights, evangelical Christians, Jews, and the working class. Kelly expressed his belief that Trump had a fundamental misunderstanding of American values and principles. He accused Trump of showing admiration for autocrats and murderous dictators while displaying contempt for democratic institutions, the Constitution, and the rule of law.

In conclusion, Kelly remarked, “There is nothing more that can be said,” before adding, “God help us.”

Kelly’s statement serves as confirmation, on the record, of several details from a 2020 article in The Atlantic by editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg. This includes an incident where Trump, standing at Arlington National Cemetery’s Section 60 on Memorial Day 2017, questioned, “What was in it for them?” regarding the soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Atlantic article also delved into Trump’s inability to comprehend the respect given to former prisoners of war and those shot down in combat. Trump’s public dismissal of Senator John McCain’s war hero status and his private labeling of McCain and former President George H. W. Bush as “losers” are among the details confirmed by Kelly.

CNN reached out to the Trump campaign for comment, revealing that a former administration official had confirmed details from The Atlantic’s 2020 story without naming Kelly. The Trump campaign responded by attacking the character and credibility of retired Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley, who was not involved in the story. A Trump campaign spokesperson later dismissed Kelly’s statement as “debunked stories.”

Kelly’s statement also sheds light on a story from the book “The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021,” by Susan Glasser and Peter Baker. In this account, Trump expressed his desire to exclude wounded veterans from a military parade planned in his honor. Trump’s reasoning was that their presence did not “look good for me.” Kelly emphasized that wounded veterans are heroes, and their exclusion contradicted societal values.

This revelation aligns with a recent article by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic, profiling retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. The article recounted Trump’s discomfort upon seeing severely wounded Army Captain Luis Avila singing “God Bless America” at an event. Trump’s reaction was, “Why do you bring people like that here? No one wants to see that, the wounded.”

Kelly’s statement also alludes to a comment made by Trump in response to the same article. This article, published in the final days of Trump’s presidency in 2020, detailed how General Milley received intelligence suggesting that the Chinese military was concerned that Trump might order a military strike against them. Acting with authorization from Trump administration officials, Milley reassured his Chinese counterparts that such an attack was not imminent.

In 2021, the revelation of this phone call was first made public in the book “Peril” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. However, Trump recently commented on his social media platform, characterizing the call as “an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH.”

When asked about the suggestion that he deserves execution, Milley declined to provide a direct response but emphasized his commitment to upholding the Constitution in an interview with Norah O’Donnell on “60 Minutes.”

Kelly’s statement to CNN follows an interview with former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who was promoting her new book, “Enough.” During the interview, Hutchinson issued a warning to the public, stating that “Donald Trump is the most grave threat we will face to our democracy in our lifetime, and potentially in American history.”

Interestingly, Hutchinson’s book, “Enough,” includes a scene in which she and then-White House communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin push back against Goldberg’s 2020 story. Griffin had issued a statement to The Atlantic after the story was published, denying its accuracy.

In response to inquiries over the weekend, Griffin remarked, “Despite publicly praising the military and claiming to be the most pro-military president, there’s a demonstrable record of Trump bashing the most decorated service members in our country, from Gen. Mattis to Kelly to Milley, to criticizing the wounded or deceased like John McCain. Donald Trump will fundamentally never understand service the way those who have actually served in uniform will, and it’s one of the countless reasons he’s unfit to be commander in chief.”

It is noteworthy that no other presidential candidate in history has faced such significant criticism from former members of his inner circle. Mark Esper, Trump’s former secretary of defense, conveyed his view to CNN in November 2022, stating, “I think he’s unfit for office. … He puts himself before country. His actions are all about him and not about the country. And then, of course, I believe he has integrity and character issues as well.”

Similarly, Trump’s former attorney general, Bill Barr, shared his perspective with CBS in June, characterizing Trump as “a consummate narcissist” who consistently engages in reckless behavior. Barr emphasized that Trump prioritizes his own interests and ego above all else, including the country’s interests, rendering him unfit for leadership.

Government Shutdown Averted With 45 Days Stopgap-Funding Bill Passage

The U.S. Congress passed a stopgap funding bill late on Saturday, September 30, 2023 with overwhelming Democratic support after Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy backed down from an earlier demand by his party’s hardliners for a partisan bill.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced the stopgap proposal Saturday morning, a move that came after weeks of infighting among House Republicans and a failed effort to pass a GOP stopgap bill in the chamber. The bill passed the House with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, and it then was sent to the Senate. The final vote was 88 to 9. The House voted 335-91 to fund the government through Nov. 17, with more Democrats than Republicans supporting it.

The bill will keep the government open through November 17 and includes natural disaster aid but not additional funding for Ukraine or border security. The Bill will help avoid the federal government’s fourth partial shutdown in a decade, sending the bill to President Joe Biden, who signed it into law before the 12:01 a.m on Octpber 1st, 2023.

McCarthy abandoned party hardliners’ insistence that any bill pass the House with only Republican votes, a change that could cause one of his far-right members to try to oust him from his leadership role.

That move marked a profound shift from earlier in the week, when a shutdown looked all but inevitable. A shutdown would mean that most of the government’s 4 million employees would not get paid – whether they were working or not – and also would shutter a range of federal services, from National Parks to financial regulators.

The decision by McCarthy to put a bill on the floor that would win support from Democrats could put his speakership at risk as hardline conservatives continue to threaten a vote to oust him from the top House leadership post.

McCarthy was defiant after the vote, daring his detractors to try to push him out as he argued he did what was needed to govern effectively.

“If somebody wants to make a motion against me, bring it,” McCarthy told CNN’s Manu Raju at a news conference. “There has to be an adult in the room. I am going to govern with what’s best for this country.”

Federal agencies had already drawn up detailed plans that spell out what services would continue, such as airport screening and border patrols, and what must shut down, including scientific research and nutrition aid to 7 million poor mothers.

“The American people can breathe a sigh of relief: there will be no government shutdown tonight,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote. “Democrats have said from the start that the only solution for avoiding a shutdown is bipartisanship, and we are glad Speaker McCarthy has finally heeded our message.”

DEMOCRATS CALL IT A WIN

Some 209 Democrats supported the bill, far more than the 126 Republicans who did so, and Democrats described the result as a win.

“Extreme MAGA Republicans have lost, the American people have won,” top House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries told reporters ahead of the vote, referring to the “Make America Great Again” slogan used by former President Donald Trump and many hardline Republicans.

Democratic Representative Don Beyer said: “I am relieved that Speaker McCarthy folded and finally allowed a bipartisan vote at the 11th hour on legislation to stop Republicans’ rush to a disastrous shutdown.”

McCarthy’s shift won the support of top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, who had backed a similar measure that was moving through the Senate with broad bipartisan support, even though the House version dropped aid for Ukraine.

Democratic Senator Michael Bennett held the bill up for several hours trying to negotiate a deal for further Ukraine aid.

“While I would have preferred to pass a bill now with additional assistance for Ukraine, which has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, it is easier to help Ukraine with the government open than if it were closed,” Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen said in a statement.

McCarthy dismissed concerns that hardline Republicans could try to oust him as leader.

“I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try,” McCarthy told reporters. “And you know what? If I have to risk my job for standing up for the American public, I will do that.”

He said that House Republicans would push ahead with plans to pass more funding bills that would cut spending and include other conservative priorities, such as tighter border controls.

CREDIT CONCERNS

The standoff comes just months after Congress brought the federal government to the brink of defaulting on its $31.4 trillion debt. The drama has raised worries on Wall Street, where the Moody’s ratings agency has warned it could damage U.S. creditworthiness.

Congress typically passes stopgap spending bills to buy more time to negotiate the detailed legislation that sets funding for federal programs.

This year, a group of Republicans has blocked action in the House as they have pressed to tighten immigration and cut spending below levels agreed to in the debt-ceiling standoff in the spring.

The McCarthy-Biden deal that avoided default set a limit of $1.59 trillion in discretionary spending in fiscal 2024. House Republicans are demanding a further $120 billion in cuts.

The funding fight focuses on a relatively small slice of the $6.4 trillion U.S. budget for this fiscal year. Lawmakers are not considering cuts to popular benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

“We should never have been in this position in the first place. Just a few months ago, Speaker McCarthy and I reached a budget agreement to avoid precisely this type of manufactured crisis,” Biden said in a statement after the vote. “House Republicans tried to walk away from that deal by demanding drastic cuts that would have been devastating for millions of Americans. They failed.” (Reuters)

Mark Milley Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Retires

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, retired on Friday with a passionate address that indirectly criticized former President Trump, asserting that the U.S. military’s allegiance isn’t pledged to a “wannabe dictator.”

In the previous week, Trump had accused Milley of “treason” for allegedly conducting back-channel reassurances with his Chinese counterpart towards the end of his tenure, even suggesting the Army general should face execution.

Milley delivered his remarks at a ceremony in Virginia, stating, “We are unique among the world’s militaries. We don’t take an oath to a country. We don’t take an oath to a tribe. We don’t take an oath to a religion. We don’t take an oath to a king, or a queen, or to a tyrant or a dictator.”

He continued, “And we don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator. We don’t take an oath to an individual. We take an oath to the Constitution, and we take an oath to the idea that is America — and we’re willing to die to protect it.”

Picture: VOA

Appointed by Trump in 2018, Milley frequently found himself at odds with the former president, notably in the incident involving St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., during the racial injustice protests ignited by George Floyd’s murder in June 2020.

Milley briefly appeared alongside Trump, wearing combat fatigues, as Trump walked to St. John’s for a photo opportunity. Later, the four-star general publicly apologized for creating the perception that the military was involved in domestic politics, expressing regret for his presence — a move that didn’t sit well with Trump.

During that same summer, Milley supported the initiative to rename Army bases bearing the names of Confederate generals, a position that clashed with Trump’s views.

In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, Milley sought to ensure a peaceful transition of power when he assured his Chinese counterpart that the American government had no intentions of initiating hostilities, as documented in the book “Peril” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

Following the election, with concerns of a potential coup by Trump, Milley instructed his subordinates not to follow orders from anyone unless he was involved, as reported in “Peril.”

While Trump was not directly mentioned during Friday’s ceremony at Joint Base-Myer Henderson Hall, the speakers lavished praise on Milley for his over four decades of service to the country in the military.

President Biden commended Milley’s invaluable partnership, describing him as “unwavering in the face of danger.” Biden recounted an incident where Milley had run across a bridge laden with mines to prevent two battle tanks from crossing with wounded troops.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin referred to Milley as both a scholar and a warrior, emphasizing his dedication to leading the joint military forces.

The ceremony also featured the swearing-in of the incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., formerly the Air Force chief of staff.

5 Takeaways From Another Trump-Free Republican Debate

In the aftermath of the second Republican debate, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida shared his candid assessment of the event while sitting in the spin room with Fox News host Sean Hannity. He remarked, “If I was at home watching that, I would have changed the channel.” The debate unfolded as a meandering and often bewildering spectacle, seemingly validating former President Donald J. Trump’s decision to skip it. Apart from sporadic exceptions, the Republican contenders appeared content to engage in petty disputes among themselves. They largely refrained from delivering significant blows to the dominant front-runner, failing to disrupt the political reality that Mr. Trump continues to overshadow his rivals in national polls.

Here are five key takeaways from the two-hour debate characterized by overlapping conversations, unanswered questions, rehearsed comebacks, and a conspicuous absence of any mention of the legal issues surrounding the favored candidate:

Governor DeSantis of Florida initiated the debate by confronting Mr. Trump on a national stage, asserting, “Donald Trump is missing in action… He should be on this stage tonight. He owes it to you to defend his record where they added $7.8 trillion to the debt. That set the stage for the inflation that we have now.” This direct challenge had been long awaited by some allies and donors. However, as the debate progressed, this statement faded into the background, with candidates mostly choosing to ignore Mr. Trump’s commanding lead.

A pro-Mike Pence super PAC had issued a blunt message to donors before the debate, emphasizing the need to shake up the race. Nevertheless, the debate failed to produce any substantial disruptions, leaving the dynamics of the race largely unaltered. The 91 criminal charges against Mr. Trump went unmentioned, both by the moderators and the candidates ostensibly running against him. While the former president faced more criticism compared to the first debate, the seven candidates onstage spent most of the night engaging in disputes with one another, seemingly vying for the second-place position.

During the debate, Tim Scott directed criticism at Nikki Haley concerning curtains and a gas tax, and Ms. Haley reciprocated by challenging Governor DeSantis on fracking. Vivek Ramaswamy faced scrutiny over his past business dealings with China and was accused by Scott of lacking knowledge about the Constitution. Chris Christie attempted to steer the conversation back towards Mr. Trump, even suggesting at one point that he should be “voted off the island.” However, the overall result was a chaotic and unclear exchange.

Governor DeSantis’s performance aligned with what his supporters had been anticipating. Despite initial criticism from the media about his lack of assertiveness in the first debate, his allies believed it was effective. In this debate, he utilized the sole abortion question of the night to criticize Mr. Trump for his stance on Florida’s restrictive abortion ban. He skillfully sidestepped a question about his previous comments regarding slavery in the state’s curriculum. At the outset, Governor DeSantis appeared confident and in control, mostly avoiding heated arguments. Although he struggled initially to find speaking opportunities, he eventually spoke more than any other candidate. Towards the end, he pushed back against the moderators when they asked candidates to indicate which candidate they would vote “off the island,” deeming the question “disrespectful.”

Despite Governor DeSantis’s assertiveness, his sporadic references to Mr. Trump did little to suggest that he could close the substantial gap between himself and the former president. Shortly after the debate concluded, a senior Trump adviser, Chris LaCivita, called for the cancellation of further debates, indicating that Mr. Trump felt no immediate pressure to enter the debate arena.

Nikki Haley solidified her position at the center stage during the debate. Following her strong performance in the first debate, which had sparked renewed interest from major donors, Ms. Haley appeared comfortable in the spotlight. She took aim at Governor DeSantis and defended herself against attacks from Tim Scott, whom she had appointed to the Senate. She even delivered one of the more memorable lines of the evening, telling Vivek Ramaswamy, “every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber.” Ms. Haley, like Governor DeSantis, took aim at Mr. Trump, suggesting that he had focused on the wrong issues in dealing with China’s growing influence and highlighting areas where he had left America vulnerable. Her rising stature was further confirmed as rivals began to scrutinize elements of her record as governor and United Nations ambassador.

Tim Scott reasserted himself in this debate after fading into the background during the first one. He had experienced a decline in the polls following the initial debate but made a strong comeback. From the beginning of the contest, he actively sought speaking time and integrated his trademark optimism with pointed criticisms directed at both Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley. Notably, he refrained from targeting Mr. Trump. His standout moment came during an exchange with Governor DeSantis on Florida’s curriculum regarding slavery, where he chose to emphasize his life story and emphasize his belief that America is not a racist country.

Vivek Ramaswamy adopted a different approach in this debate compared to the first one. In the prior debate, he gained attention by launching personal attacks on his opponents and accusing them of corruption. However, polling data following the debate did not support the narrative of his victory. Republican voters developed a more negative perception of him, and he struggled in early-state polls compared to his performance in national online polls. Consequently, Ramaswamy adopted a conciliatory tone in this debate, chastising his competitors for attacking each other and repeatedly expressing his respect for them. However, this reinvented persona failed to resonate, as the other candidates at times appeared to bond over their shared disapproval of him. Ms. Haley even elicited laughter from the audience when she remarked that she felt “dumber every time he talked,” while Tim Scott criticized his business ties to China. Overall, aside from the critiques directed at President Biden, the harshest criticisms of the night were aimed at Mr. Ramaswamy.

Republicans Launch Formal Impeachment Inquiry Into President Biden

In a surprising turn of events, Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced on Tuesday last week that he was instructing House Republicans to initiate an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. Speaking from the U.S. Capitol, McCarthy delivered a concise formal statement, stating, “Today, I am directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.” McCarthy chose not to field questions from the assembled reporters.

McCarthy’s previous stance had suggested that there would be a full House vote to initiate an impeachment inquiry, as had been the practice in previous instances. However, as of Tuesday, it appeared that McCarthy did not have the necessary support to hold such a vote. A spokesperson for McCarthy confirmed that there would not be a vote to kickstart the impeachment inquiry.

This move had been foreshadowed by McCarthy for several weeks. Part of the motivation appeared to be an effort to appease staunch GOP members and gain access to financial records and documents related to President Biden and his son, Hunter. McCarthy elucidated his rationale on Tuesday, saying, “This logical next step will give our committees the full power to gather the full facts and answers for the American public. That’s exactly what we want to know—the answers. I believe the president would want to answer these questions and allegations as well.”

The individuals selected to lead the impeachment inquiry were also disclosed by McCarthy. He designated House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith for this role.

Picture: NPR

House Republicans had been engaged in investigations for several months, attempting to establish links between President Biden and his son’s business dealings. However, no concrete evidence of wrongdoing by the president had been uncovered. McCarthy revealed that House Republicans, during the August recess, had come across what he termed as “serious and credible allegations into President Biden’s conduct.” When viewed collectively, these allegations painted a picture, in McCarthy’s words, of “a culture of corruption.”

Speaker McCarthy emphasized the gravity of his decision, stating, “I do not make this decision lightly. Regardless of your party, or who you voted for, these facts concern all Americans.”

Responding to McCarthy’s call for a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden, White House spokesperson Ian Sams commented, “House Republicans have been investigating the President for 9 months, and they’ve turned up no evidence of wrongdoing. His own GOP members have said so. He vowed to hold a vote to open impeachment, now he flip-flopped because he doesn’t have support. Extreme politics at its worst.”

Hunter Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, expressed his perspective on McCarthy’s actions, saying, “McCarthy has shown he will do anything to hold on to his gavel,” including launching an impeachment inquiry “based on repackaged, inaccurate conspiracies about Hunter Biden and his legitimate business activities.”

After leaving the House floor, McCarthy spoke to reporters once more, reiterating the importance of initiating an impeachment inquiry as a means to access more information. When asked if he believed President Biden had committed an impeachable offense, McCarthy replied, “All I’ve said is an impeachment inquiry allows us to get answers to get questions that are out there. Don’t you think the public wants answers?”

Former President Donald Trump had privately discussed an impeachment inquiry into President Biden with House Republicans, according to sources. Rep. Elise Stefanik, a member of Republican leadership, spoke with Trump and updated him on the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday afternoon, according to two sources.

Senate Republicans are scheduled to be briefed by Reps. Jordan and Comer during their lunch on Wednesday, confirming the seriousness of the matter. This briefing will be the first direct exposure to the evidence that Jordan and Comer claim to have uncovered, which could be pivotal for senators seeking more information about the House’s findings before making decisions on supporting further actions.

In a joint statement, Comer, Jordan, and Smith expressed their support for the impeachment inquiry, asserting, “The House Committees on Oversight and Accountability, Judiciary, and Ways and Means will continue to work to follow the facts to ensure President Biden is held accountable for abusing public office for his family’s financial gain. The American people demand and deserve answers, transparency, and accountability for this blatant abuse of public office.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, one of seven Senate Republicans who voted in 2021 to remove former President Donald Trump from office due to his involvement in the January 6 insurrection, endorsed the use of an impeachment inquiry to gain access to more information regarding President Biden’s business dealings. Romney explained, “The fact that the White House has been singularly silent and has coddled Hunter Biden suggests an inquiry is not inappropriate. That’s very different than an impeachment, an actual impeachment would require the evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor that has not been alleged. But inquiring is something the president and the White House could have avoided.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has been investigating Hunter Biden’s business dealings for years, emphasized the distinction between an inquiry and an impeachment, stating, “An inquiry is an inquiry, it’s not an impeachment. And it seems to me it will open up an avenue to get a lot of information that we feel we’ve been stonewalled.”

Regarding the impeachment inquiry’s timing, this development arises as McCarthy aims to prevent a potential revolt from conservative hardliners and avert a government shutdown.

The House resumed its session on Tuesday, facing an impending September 30 deadline to pass a spending measure to keep the government operational. House Republican leaders are currently considering the passage of a continuing resolution, or a short-term funding extension, to provide additional time for negotiations on a comprehensive appropriations package.

However, members of the House Freedom Caucus, the same group that previously opposed McCarthy’s bid for the speakership and his debt limit agreement with President Biden, have indicated that they would not endorse a continuing resolution unless it includes specific provisions related to border security and the “weaponization of the DOJ.” Additionally, the group opposes further aid to Ukraine, potentially setting the House at odds with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

In the midst of this tension, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz publicly threatened to initiate a motion to vacate against McCarthy. Such a motion would compel a vote to determine McCarthy’s continued tenure as speaker. McCarthy downplayed the threat when speaking to reporters on Monday evening, stating that Gaetz “should go ahead and do it… Matt’s, Matt.” Gaetz reiterated this warning during a floor speech shortly after McCarthy’s announcement regarding the impeachment inquiry, describing McCarthy’s move as a “baby step” in response to pressure from House conservatives.

Is Using The 14th Amendment To Disqualify Trump Is Anti-Democratic?

Efforts to prevent former President Donald Trump from appearing on the 2024 ballot under the 14th Amendment are gaining momentum, but they are met with resistance from election officials and legal scholars who express concerns about the anti-democratic nature of such actions.

Two conservative members of the Federalist Society recently supported the idea that Trump could be disqualified, leading to two substantial challenges to his eligibility. In Colorado, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) filed a lawsuit on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated voters in state court. Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the organization Free Speech for People initiated a legal challenge on behalf of a group of voters in the state’s Supreme Court. Both lawsuits argue that Trump would be ineligible to hold federal office again under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states that a candidate can be disqualified if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States or provided “aid or comfort to the enemies thereof,” unless granted amnesty by a two-thirds vote of Congress. Trump has vigorously opposed these efforts, labeling them as “election interference” and asserting his innocence.

Despite mounting challenges in various states like Michigan, Virginia, and Connecticut, where secretaries of state are urged to remove Trump from the ballots, New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan, a Republican, emphasized that he lacks the legal authority to do so. He stated, “There is nothing in our state statute that gives the secretary of state discretion in entertaining qualification issues.”

Several Republican officials, including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gabriel Sterling, have also spoken out against disqualifying candidates through partisan actions. Raffensperger, who faced pressure from Trump during the 2020 election, warned against using the 14th Amendment as a means to bypass the ballot box. Sterling stressed the importance of trusting the voters and the potential danger of setting a precedent by interpreting the Constitution in a way that removes candidates.

Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson echoed this sentiment, writing in an op-ed for the Washington Post that the decision on Trump’s eligibility ultimately rests with the courts. She emphasized that, unless a court rules otherwise, Trump will be on the Republican presidential primary ballot in Michigan in 2024.

The interpretation of the term ‘insurrection’ is a central issue in these debates. While Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was originally used to disqualify individuals who held roles in the Confederacy after the Civil War, some legal scholars question whether the events of January 6, when a mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol, constitute an insurrection within the constitutional definition.

Gerard Magliocca, an expert on the 14th Amendment from Indiana University, raised questions about whether the Capitol attack equates to the scale of the South’s armed rebellion. He also noted that because Trump has never been criminally charged for inciting insurrection or rebellion, some opponents argue that this weakens any case for disqualification under the 14th Amendment.

Michael McConnell, a professor at Stanford Law School, emphasized that interpreting the term “engage” in the context of insurrection might require more than mere verbal support. He pointed out that Trump was not physically present at the Capitol when the violence occurred and that his speech alone might not be sufficient evidence of direct involvement.

Gabriel Sterling, the Georgia elections official, anticipates that courts would consider the absence of a criminal conviction as a significant reason against disqualification. He explained that if someone were convicted of insurrection, that would be a different scenario, but it does not apply to Trump’s case.

On the contrary, McConnell argued that Trump’s ineligibility under the 14th Amendment does not necessarily hinge on a criminal conviction for insurrection. He stated that it is not a requirement for Section 3 to apply, citing historical examples where individuals were disqualified after the Civil War without criminal charges or convictions.

Efforts to disqualify Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot under the 14th Amendment are gaining traction in various states, but they face opposition from election officials and legal scholars who raise concerns about the interpretation of the term ‘insurrection’ and the potential precedent-setting nature of such actions. The debate over Trump’s eligibility is likely to continue in the courts, with the ultimate decision resting on legal interpretations and judgments. Efforts to prevent former President Donald Trump from appearing on the 2024 ballot under the 14th Amendment are gaining momentum, but they are met with resistance from election officials and legal scholars who express concerns about the anti-democratic nature of such actions.

Concerns Surrounding Trump’s Ballot Access

Efforts to bar Donald Trump from running in state primaries face substantial practical hurdles, including potential countersuits and unsympathetic courts. Even if these efforts were to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, success is far from guaranteed. Moreover, it’s essential to recognize that the ongoing challenges pertain to Trump’s participation in primary elections, which are distinct from the actual presidential election. Primaries determine the nominees for the Democratic and Republican parties, not the president.

Professor McConnell from Stanford University highlights the complexity of this issue, stating, “Even if a state like Colorado were to prevent Donald Trump from participating in the primary election for the presidency, there is no mechanism to prevent the Republican National Convention from nominating him as their candidate. So, even if these groups were to succeed legally, it remains unclear what tangible impact it would have.”

He also underscores the speculative nature of these actions, emphasizing that the high degree of confidence exhibited by some individuals is unwarranted. This situation presents a unique challenge, with historical precedents dating back over a century, leaving many uncertainties. In essence, we find ourselves navigating uncharted territory in the realm of election law.

\While concerns about Trump’s participation in primary elections persist, it’s crucial to remain cognizant of the practical obstacles that lie ahead. These efforts are met with legal complexities, and their ultimate impact remains uncertain in the broader context of American presidential elections.

Vivek Ramaswamy has better chance at presidency against Trump than Nikki Haley:Poll

Ramaswamy has a better chance of winning the primary against Trump as compared to Haley but the results were reversed if the Indian Americans were to contest Biden

The latest Harvard/CAPS Harris Poll, a monthly collaboration between the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard (CAPS) and the Harris Poll and HarrisX, revealed that if it came down to a one-on-one between Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy against former President Donald Trump, Ramaswamy had a better chance at winning.

Picture : ABC News

If the Republican party primary is down to two choices, Nikki Haley and Donald Trump, 38 per cent of the respondents said they would vote for the former while 62 per cent  chose Trump. For the same question but with Ramaswamy and Trump as choices, the results were 40 and 60 per cent respectively.

For the same question, Trump held the maximum amount of votes, i.e. 30 per cent, with DeSantis in position two with 7 per cent of the votes, followed by the two Indian American candidates.

The results of Haley and Ramaswamy’s favorability among voters was flipped if they were to compete against President Joe Biden. In head-to-head presidential matchups, Biden would lose the election to Haley by 4 per cent, and Ramaswamy trails behind Biden by 2 per cent, as per poll results.

How Hunter Biden Charges Will Impact Biden

In the realm of politics today, there exist two distinct Americas, each harboring its own set of grievances and suspicions. One segment is deeply distressed and appalled by the 91 federal and state criminal charges looming over the former President, Donald Trump. They perceive this as the result of a vast conspiracy masterminded by what they view as a politicized Department of Justice under President Joe Biden’s leadership.

Conversely, the other America firmly believes that this very Department of Justice has spent an unfair five years relentlessly pursuing Hunter Biden, the President’s son, for alleged misconduct related to his tax affairs and his past struggles as a self-proclaimed, repentant drug addict. In essence, both sides of the political spectrum contend that the department responsible for upholding the nation’s laws has fallen under the sway of its ideological opponents and has become irreversibly entangled in politics.

In response to the news of Hunter Biden’s indictment on three federal gun-related charges, his legal counsel fired back by accusing the prosecutor of yielding to “improper and partisan interference” from Republicans who support Donald Trump. On the other side of the aisle, Andy Biggs, a conservative member of Congress, suggested that these charges were merely a smokescreen to create the illusion of impartiality within the justice department. He stated, “Don’t fall for it. They’re trying to protect him from way more serious charges coming his way!” via X, previously known as Twitter.

While Hunter Biden’s legal issues are undoubtedly a personal setback for his father and family, their implications extend far beyond their immediate circle. Republicans have long regarded the President’s son as a potential vulnerability. Exploiting this vulnerability not only has the potential to provoke a strong reaction from Joe Biden but also serves as a means to divert attention from their own challenges regarding legal issues surrounding Donald Trump.

Moreover, it’s worth noting that a substantial portion of Democrats, when asked, do not express enthusiasm about Joe Biden’s candidacy for the 2024 presidential race. For some, Hunter Biden’s troubles provide yet another reason to push for the 80-year-old President to make way for the next generation.

Picture : TIME

All these dynamics collectively signify that the outcome of Hunter Biden’s case will be a pivotal factor in what promises to be a tumultuous election year. However, Republicans find themselves in a somewhat precarious position. While it is true that the three felony charges related to firearms are serious, and further charges might surface in connection to Hunter Biden’s tax matters and foreign dealings, none of it currently appears to approach the scale and quantity of alleged crimes associated with Donald Trump.

Hence, any attempt by Republicans to weaponize Hunter Biden’s legal issues might inadvertently invite comparisons between the two cases. Additionally, Democrats are likely to emphasize that Hunter Biden is not a candidate for any public office, let alone the presidency of the United States.

An intriguing aspect of Hunter Biden’s legal situation is that his lawyers appear to believe that the previously collapsed plea deal from July could potentially be revived. They also suggest that recent expansions of Second Amendment rights by various courts might factor into his defense. After all, there is nothing in the Constitution that bars individuals with a history of drug addiction from bearing arms. This irony isn’t lost, given the general stance of most Democrats on gun control.

The indictment against Hunter Biden was unveiled just days after Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, announced an impeachment inquiry into President Biden—a move that the White House promptly dismissed as a political maneuver. McCarthy cited “serious and credible allegations” related to the Biden family’s business dealings and the President’s conduct. Republicans are hopeful that this new inquiry will implicate the President in allegations of power abuse and corruption.

However, to date, seven months of investigations into Hunter Biden have yielded only fragments of information from former business associates, an FBI informant, and a couple of IRS agents. Nothing substantial has emerged that could be considered a smoking gun. It remains uncertain whether, as subpoenas start flying, the slim Republican majority in the House would secure an impeachment vote if the inquiry reaches that stage.

What is undeniably clear is that the once well-defined boundary between the political and legal systems has become increasingly blurred. According to Randy Zelin, an adjunct professor of law at Cornell Law School, “Somebody woke up one day and said, boy I have a new toy and that is called the federal criminal justice system, where I’m going to use the criminal system to punish people who don’t agree with my politics.” He goes on to express deep concern about how this ongoing battle is tearing the country apart.

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