By Chuck Conconi
There is an unavoidable level of cynicism that comes from watching politicians who have traded insults with Donald Trump during a campaign rush to the White House seeking the president’s blessing and, just maybe, an impressive appointment.
How else could anyone explain Sen. Ted Cruz with his wife and children dining at the White House with President Trump? During the Republican primary campaign, Trump’s attacked Cruz by sending out an unflattering photograph of the Texas senator’s wife Heidi, next to a glamour photograph of Trump’s former model wife, Melania. He also at one point threatened, “Lyin’ Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. (magazine) shoot in his ad. Be careful Lyin’ Ted or I will spill the beans on your wife.”
An angry Cruz responded that the photo didn’t come from his campaign and countered: “Donald, real men don’t attack women. Your wife is lovely and Heidi is the love of my life.” He later called Trump “a sniveling coward,” and told him to “leave Heidi the hell alone.” He also called Trump a “small and petty man who is intimidated by strong women.”
After such a virulent exchange that went beyond the usual, “it’s just politics,” it is legitimate to ask how could Cruz and the president have a cozy family dinner at the White House? And, why would Heidi attend after being so publically insulted? Although Trump is now the most powerful man in the world, why would a man like Cruz go to the White House with his family to dine after all the venom between the two men?
Some speculation is that Cruz, who has had presidential ambitions, is aware that that office is probably not in his future—but there is always the possibility of a Supreme Court nomination.
Cruz does have useful credentials—he was a law clerk to J. Michael Luttig of the Fourth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, and in 1996 became the first Hispanic to clerk for then Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He has the requisite right wing conservatism and he could help Trump with Hispanic voters in 2020.
Cruz, however, is not alone in seeking presidential appointments, even after intense public clashes with Trump. Look at what Trump has said about former governors Rick Perry, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., and Mitt Romney—who was also the Republican candidate for president in 2012.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said of Trump: “He offers a barking carnival act that can best be described as Trumpism: a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean spirited nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued.” Perry is now part of the Trump cabinet. He is Energy Secretary.
Romney traveled to Trump Tower in New York amid speculation that he would be rewarded by being named Secretary of State. It was a futile trip. Trump termed the former Massachusetts governor “a lightweight,” and said that Romney had begged Trump for his endorsement when he ran for president in 2012. “I could have said, ‘Mitt drop to your knees,’ “and he would have dropped to his knees.”
This was Trump’s revenge for Romney saying, “He’s a phony and a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.”
Why did Romney want a cabinet position so badly that he embarrassed himself by going before Trump as a supplicant?
But what also seemed mystifying is that former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a practicing Mormon who was offended by the news of Trump boasting about groping women, decided he would want to be part of the Trump Administration.
Huntsman said at the time: “In a campaign cycle that has been nothing but a race to the bottom—at such a critical moment for our nation—and with so many who have tried to be respectful of a record primary vote, the time has come for Governor Pence to lead the ticket.”
It seems, however, that Republican Huntsman, who also once tried to run for president and served the previous administration as its ambassador to China, still covets another title. He met with Trump and apparently, all has been forgiven—Huntsman is to be nominated as ambassador to Russia.
If a couple of fourth graders talked to each other in that manner on the playground, someone would probably get a bloody nose. 10-year-olds understand that words have meaning and can be hurtful. Politicians no longer seem to understand that. But maybe I’m just being cynical.
It certainly isn’t important in the present scheme of things that President Trump has made a petulant decision not to attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. His decision upset some of the dinner planners, but he may have inadvertently accomplished a good thing for Washington journalism.
Over the years, presidents have found time, often reluctantly, to attend the glittery, black-tie dinner, inelegantly known as the Nerd Prom. The dinner boasts the good deed cover of raising money for scholarships. It also is an opportunity for reporters to have a convivial evening with people they cover and to have a good time.
In recent years, however, the Correspondents’ Dinner became a showbiz celebrity event with respected media organizations vigorously competing to bring in as many Hollywood and entertainment world celebrities as could be fitted at a table. The dinner probably reached its nadir when reality television stars, like the Duck Dynasty hillbillies were sought after celebrity guests.
And to continue the Los Vegas glitter, a big-name comic emcee was necessary who often wasn’t as humorous as the President who has his speech writers and outside New York/Los Angles talents working overtime coming up with funny lines. And partly because he is the President, he often received the biggest laughs, his jokes dutifully picked up by television the following day.
Having been both a guest and also having covered the red carpet arrivals for television, it was often disheartening to see respected Washington newsmen acting like 13-year-olds catching sight of Justin Bieber.
The more affluent media organizations like NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, Bloomberg, Vanity Fair host impressive cocktail parties, as do several other media organizations with more shallow purses. The dinner is also a big money raiser for the Washington Hilton where most of the parties are held and where the largest ballroom in town is jammed with as many tables and people that the fire marshal will allow.
It is often argued by journalists that this hot ticket dinner, and the more prestigious Gridiron Dinner (President Trump also declined an invitation to attend), exists mainly to get newsmen and political leaders to get to know each other better and to have a better understanding of the roles of each.
There is some rationality to that reasoning, but conscientious journalists are expected to maintain some distance between themselves and the people they cover. Politicians, by their innate nature can be likable, and it is sometime difficult for a journalist to be tough when necessary on someone you cover and enjoy meeting with over dinner and drinks.
Journalistic organizations are aware of this problem and understand that regular beat reporters can get the good day-to-day stories, but if there is a need to dig beyond the daily news events, it takes a reporter who is outside the news beat structure. The Watergate expose by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein is the obvious example where many beat reporters, even at the Washington Post, were opposed to the digging by the young newsmen who eventually brought down a president.
There is no question that the White House is a prestigious beat, but too often the famous newsmen who cover there are more like stenographers taking news information fed to them in press briefings and announcements. It’s a great beat because you get to travel the world with the President and be part of televised press conferences and maybe be seen by people back home.
President Trump, with a greater antipathy toward the press than perhaps even Richard Nixon, has injected new energy into the White House press corps. No reporter there is going to readily accept the often alternative fact information from the White House press office. And that is a good thing. The media and the politicians from municipal governments to Washington, need to have a respected adversarial relationship.
Both sides need to develop a trust for the role each plays and President Trump deciding not to be part of the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner may be off to a good start. Obviously, the thin-skinned president would not have enjoyed the friendly jibs from the head table speakers and he knew that even the powerful media organizations would have difficulty producing glittery celebrity world guest if he attended and he would be blamed, not that he cared. All one needs to do is look at the paucity of Hollywood celebrities at the Republican National nominating convention in Cleveland.
President Trump wasn’t trying to do Washington journalism a favor, but by not attending the Correspondents’ Dinner, he has. Maybe the dinner can truly focus more on its earlier established roll of promoting responsible, ethical journalism. Good journalism is and should be hard work, and just maybe, a dinner focused on responsible, First Amendment journalism, is a move in the right direction.
Ron Faucheux is a political analyst, author and pollster. He publishes LunchtimePolitics.com, a daily newsletter on polls. He also runs Clarus Research Group, a nonpartisan survey research firm that has worked for the Advocate and WWL-TV.
After the bloodletting of last year’s election, most of us aren’t ready for another one. But, in fewer than 20 months, America will elect a new Congress and 39 of the nation’s 50 governors. The future of both parties hangs in the balance.
If the intensifying Democratic resistance to President Donald Trump has any success, it most likely would happen in gubernatorial and U.S. House races. The U.S. Senate will be much tougher for them.
Republicans hold 33 governorships and, with that, set state policy in 60 percent of the country. If they can maintain this advantage, it will give them decisive influence over the reapportionment of congressional and state legislative seats after the 2020 census.
This year and next, Republicans have 28 of those governorships up for election and Democrats have only 11. That’s why Democrats are trying to gin up what they call an anti-Trump “tsunami” to exploit their opposition’s broad exposure.
In November, Democrats are aiming to retake New Jersey’s governorship and keep Virginia’s, two states with term-limited incumbents. These are often interesting indicators.
Next year, Democrats will focus on flipping at least nine potentially vulnerable GOP-held governorships, including those in big states such as Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan. Republicans have far fewer opportunities.
Looking at Congress, Republicans hold a 43-seat majority in the House. Taking into account the five vacancies, Democrats need a net gain of 25 seats to shift control.
We’ve seen the president’s party suffer losses of this magnitude twice in recent times. Republicans lost 30 House seats in 2006 when President George W. Bush’s popularity was sinking, and 26 seats in 1982 after the first two years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency when the economy was still sluggish. We’ve also seen bigger shifts in 1994 and 2010, when first-term Democratic Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton lost 52 and 63 House seats, respectively.
It’s too early to tell whether Democrats can take the House. There are now about 30 Republican seats and half that many Democratic seats at potential risk, which gives Democrats more running room.
In the Senate, Democrats have the exposure problem. Twenty-five seats on the ballot in 2018 are Democratic-held, and only nine belong to Republicans. To make matters worse, Democrats also have to defend five vulnerable incumbents in strongly pro-Trump states.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, for example, must overcome forces that produced a 42-point Trump win in his state to win re-election. Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, Joe Donnelly, of Indiana, Jon Tester, of Montana, and Heidi Heitkamp, of North Dakota, represent states that gave Trump victory margins of between 19 and 36 points.
Democrats now appear to have only two shots at Republican incumbents, Sens. Dean Heller, of Nevada, and Jeff Flake, of Arizona. Either could be vulnerable, but neither will be easy pickings.
Other GOP Senate incumbents up for election are in the Republican strongholds of Alabama, Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. It would take Category 4 winds at their back for Democrats to have a chance at any of those seats.
In the end, Trump is the wild card. As the central force in American politics, what he says and does matters.
However, some Republicans theorize that even if Trump loses support, it may not have much effect on GOP candidates in state and district races. As Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker reasons, Trump is seen as a separate and distinct entity, and his personal controversies won’t rub off on other Republicans.
Maybe so. But Trump and congressional leaders still have to hack their way through the controversial details of thorny issues, from health care, tax reform and budget cuts to funding infrastructure and dealing with immigrants. If they flub their chance, Republican candidates across the country could tank. But if they deliver, and if Trump follows up on his successful speech to Congress, the Democratic resistance would flop.
It’s an understatement of biblical proportions to say a lot of water must still flow under the proverbial bridge between now and November 2018. But, it’s no understatement to say Republicans — in the stormy, unpredictable era of Trump — are already checking the skies, hoping the levees will hold.
Joel Payne, Director of African American Paid Media and Advertising for the 2016 Hillary Clinton Campaign, discusses his insights on the final outcome of the election and assesses how both campaigns engaged with African American voters. Payne rejoined Qorvis MSLGROUP in November 2016 following the election.
Joel Payne, Director of African American Paid Media and Advertising for the 2016 Hillary Clinton Campaign, discusses his insights on the final outcome of the election and assesses how both campaigns engaged with African American voters. Payne rejoined Qorvis MSLGROUP in November 2016 following the election.
Campaign veterans Archie Smart and Wyeth Ruthven sat down to discuss the strategies and messaging witnessed by over 100 million people during the first Presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump. The debate took place on September 26 at Hofstra University.
Smart, Executive Vice President of Qorvis MSLGROUP, emphasized that one of Trump’s main endeavors in the debate was to appear presidential and what could be described as a referendum on his temperament. Did he succeed?
According to Smart, the answer is a mixed bag, as he saw success during the first half of the debate, before Clinton began to needle him into frustration. Smart points out, however, that this is Trump’s first one-on-one debate, compared to Clinton’s more extensive background on the stage.
Ruthven, Vice President of Qorvis MSLGROUP, agreed that Trump’s status as a first-time debater could have had an impact on his performance, although as he pointed out, “No one has had any practice debating Donald Trump.”
From the perspective of a media trainer, both candidates had their positive and negative moments.
Ruthven stated that Clinton fell flat on her trade answers; in this case, the strict two-minute time limit adhered to in the beginning by moderator Lester Holt helped Trump succeed in getting his messaging on the issue across.
Trump fell flat on his tax answers, according to Smart.
It has become apparent over the course of the election that these candidates take radically different approaches in their appeals to the public. The role that digital strategy, big data and technology play factored into the debate, as Trump used the podium to address Clinton’s massive spending on executing strategies that included attack ads. Trump favors a more traditional media blast approach, putting himself on TV as much as possible.
“The proof will be in the pudding,” said Smart, suggesting that it will be a fascinating case study once the results are in and its evident which approach prevailed.
This debate was only the first of four. The next will premiere on Tuesday October, 4 at Longwood University in Virginia.
Chuck Conconi welcomed James Zogby on this week’s episode of Focus Washington for a discussion on the current political climate. Zogby, President and Co-Founder of the Arab American Institute (AAI), discussed the implications of the 2016 presidential race and Donald Trump on the Arab American population.
In the last polls AAI conducted in 2014, the political gap in the Arab American community was 2-1 Democrat and voter engagement was 3-1 Democrat, making voter patterns and party identification similar to those of Hispanics or the Jewish population. According to Zogby, nothing in the last two years has changed that dynamic, even the 2016 presidential election.
The election may not be changing the political leanings of America’s ethnic groups, but it is having an effect on the attitude of Americans about the Arab American community. Zogby states that hate crimes, while nothing new, are still occurring after a sharp increase following the 9/11 attacks. The increase in negativity toward the community, however, is equally matched by positive support from additional groups throughout the years, including African Americans, Latinos, mainline protestant churches and civil liberties organizations. These groups “wouldn’t give us the time of day 20 years ago,” exclaimed Zogby, but now quickly come to the defense of the Arab American community.
Like many Americans, Zogby has hung memorable documents on the walls of his office over the years. The most important document, he explained in the interview, was his father’s naturalization papers. This is important to him because his father came here illegally in his twenties at a time when the Senate “zeroed out quotas and said Syrian trash aren’t welcome.”
Hanging next to his father’s naturalization papers is a parchment from President Obama appointing Zogby to a post in the government. This, he contends, is the nature of the country – where even the son of an illegal immigrant can rise to serve the President of the United States.
“I continue to manifest though, in all the positions I make, the fact that you cannot view America either as fundamentally good or fundamentally evil. We are both. We are the Statue of Liberty and we’re Donald Trump.”
For Zogby, that is the story of America.
Well-known independent voter discusses what the GOP and Dems Should Learn from Americans in the 2016 elections
13 June 2016 (Washington, DC): Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower and Chairman Emeritus of the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College, sits down with Chuck Conconi on this week’s episode of Focus Washington to discuss the changing dynamics of the Republican party as well as the impact partisan politics has had on this year’s presidential race.
Susan addressed at length the ongoing leadership crisis this country faces. Although she had always been a Republican, she left the party eight years ago and became an independent. In fact, she endorsed President Obama during his initial campaign as well as his second presidential race. She claims that the party has ideologically shifted tremendously since her grandfather, President Eisenhower held office.
Susan’s grandfather, Dwight Eisenhower, represented a form of moderate Republicanism advocating for social progression while remaining fiscally conservative. Unfortunately, in today’s polarized political arena, this ideology represents neither party but instead a combination of both the Republican and Democratic parties.
“The [Republican] party’s changing, and frankly, the party has been changing for a very long time,” stated Eisenhower.
Susan alluded to this year’s presidential nominations as an example of the transitions that are taking place within both parties. “In some ways it was surprising that [Hillary] had the kind of vigorous challenge that she did, and on the same side we had what we thought was going to be an heir apparent in Jeb Bush and it was rather fascinating to watch how quickly that set of assumptions fell through. So what I think it tells me is that both parties are changing, and they’re changing for larger reasons than I think what is currently being analyzed.”
Party politics has become a major obstacle, contributing to the lack of strategic leadership in this country. She emphasized to Chuck that “strategic” alludes to an element of time involved, and strategic leadership is defined by leaders who are trying to achieve long term goals. Susan points out that party politics make it impossible to talk and think about measures for all of America. She laments that the era when our presidents had to get up and articulate a strategy for the entire country is gone.
After declining to say which side she would be taking in this race, Susan says that she sees the United States as in transition, and that she knows much more about it than she did before this election. She recognizes the feeling of frustration emanating from the people of the United States, resulting from the notion that their government system is unavailable to them. The American people want new leadership– strategic leadership—but as Susan points out, the party politics shaking up Washington today makes it difficult to put such bold leaders into office.
With unprecedented negative views of both major party candidates, Ron Faucheux of Clarus Research Group predicts that the 2016 elections are likely to determine the future of the Democratic and Republican Parties.
08 June 2016 (Washington, DC): Ron Faucheux, President of Clarus Research Group, sits down with Chuck Conconi on this week’s episode of Focus Washington to discuss what the polls can show us about the next couple of months of the election campaign now that both the Democrats and Republicans have their presumptive Presidential nominees.
“Polls don’t predict” Faucheux was quick to emphasize, but rather offer a snapshot of the current situation. Despite this disclaimer, following the polls and the Faucheux’s Lunchtime Politics report would have offered an accurate prediction for the winners over the course of the primary elections; in this case, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were seemingly in the cards.
As we turn toward the next couple of months of campaigning and the elections in November, the reputation and potential upcoming blunders of both candidates will play a major role in influencing voters. “We’ve never had two presidential nominees who’ve had such high negative ratings,” stated Faucheux, as both Clinton and Trump currently have negative approval rates of at least 60%. In light of the fact that neither candidate has begun campaigning heavily against each other, their negative approval rating is sure to only go up from here.
The Presidential election will not just be a two-way race, however. According to the polls, “Both Clinton and Trump, at this point anyway, are losing about the same [number of votes to Libertarian and Green candidates] when you go from the two-way race to the four-way race.” Trump has officially welcomed Sanders supporters, but Clinton cannot necessarily expect those voters to come her way. Voters who don’t want to vote for either Trump or Clinton will need to make the decision to stay home, or cast their vote for a Libertarian or Green Party candidate.
There is a danger this election could wreck either, or both, parties. Both candidates bring major issues to the table. Leaders of the Republican party have expressed decisions not to back Trump, despite his successful campaign; meanwhile, the potential for Clinton to be implicated in or associated with criminal acts surrounding her email scandal spell trouble for Democrats.
As the general election gears up, be sure to subscribe to Ron’s Lunchtime Politics report for daily insights, and stay tuned for more election coverage Focus Washington-style.
On this segment of Focus Washington, Chuck Conconi interviews President and CEO of Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, Behshad Sheldon, about the New Jersey based company’s intention to proceed with plans to develop a manufacturing and research facility in Durham County, North Carolina, despite the enactment of HB2, the controversial law that overturns local ordinances to prohibit discrimination against the LGBT community.
Sheldon has met with North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who shares the view that HB2 is unjust and needs to be overturned. However, the Attorney General argued that Braeburn could help more by advocating from within the state than by protesting through dropping plans to open the facility. The company states they have also been encouraged by the Department of Justice lawsuit filed on May 9, 2016 in NC Federal Court seeking a determination that HB2 violates federal non discrimination law, as well as the Obama administration’s guidelines issued to public schools on May 13, 2016.
19 May 2016 (Washington, DC): In this segment of Focus Washington, Chuck Conconi sat with Pierre Ghanem, an Arab journalist covering Washington and the United States, to discuss the Arab world’s reception of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Just like many here in the US, Donald Trump’s rise has surprised the Arab world, but officials of Arab countries are unlikely to be caught off guard. Ghanem elaborates, “Trump may be different but government officials are professionals, we can make it work.” However, the Arab street may harbor some resentment after Trump’s numerous offensive remarks about Muslims.
Clinton, on the other hand, doesn’t elicit as many negative preconceived notions. As Secretary of State, she has not been associated with the worst aspects of the Obama administration in the eyes of Arabs; She hasn’t been tainted by the perceived pivot to Iran, as Kerry has. She was also one of the first US officials to focus on Palestine and its citizens, saying that they deserved a state. According to Ghanem, whether it’s Hillary or Trump, the new president will be a welcome relief after Obama whose empty promises and poor leadership in Syria disappointed most of the Arab and Muslim world. Continue reading »
Chuck Conconi welcomed Bob Cusack on this week’s episode of Focus Washington. Cusack, Editor-in-Chief of Washington-based publication The Hill, evaluated the irregular political climate of the 2016 presidential election.
According to Cusack, the ascension of Donald Trump has transformed the identity of the Republican Party. By confronting the potential loss of House and Senate seats, “Republicans are coming to grips with reality.” Cusack predicted that Speaker Paul Ryan will endorse Trump by the Republican Convention in July. Despite his limited appeal among Hispanic and women’s groups, Trump surprised pundits by attracting a loyal base of support.
Insecurity among Republicans parallels growing divisions within the Democratic Party. Cusack noted that a contested convention will require critical negotiations between Clinton and Sanders. He predicted that Clinton will triumph over Sanders to receive the Democratic nomination. The Convention will measure Clinton’s success as she attempts to unite her traditional supporters with Sanders voters.
Cusack concluded his remarks by urging caution in predicting Convention results. Thus far, wavering support for Clinton, combined with Trump’s unforeseen political rise, has defied voters’ expectations. This time last year, confidence in particular candidates was unshakeable. To Cusack, a fragmented Republican Party and mounting opposition to Clinton define “the year of the outsider” in which no candidate is guaranteed victory.
Is the country’s budget process broken? Stan Collender sits down with Chuck Conconi on this week’s episode of Focus Washington to discuss the ins and outs of the budget process and prospects for compromise under the next administration.
As general election season approaches and the country hones in on the two likely nominees for the race, the differences between a Trump budget or a Clinton budget merits discussion. Collender points out that, however, that regardless of who will next sit in the Oval Office, the process goes beyond the total authority of the President; Clinton or Trump, the responsibility of passing a budget will still be with a split congress, making the chances of four more years of budget stalemate high.
Although budget jargon and process may be beyond reach for most Americans, Collender explains that the process is, in reality, very simple. Put in place in 1974, there are three steps: The President submits a proposed budget, Congress passes a Budget Resolution in response, and this is followed by Reconciliation with existing legislation. However, due to the inability of Congress to agree on budget priorities and the subsequent failure to pass a Budget Resolution, the process has broken down every step of the way.
Collender recently testified in a Senate Budget Committee hearing on just this subject. As he recounted to Chuck, “I told them this process is broken down and it’s broken down because you have refused to implement it, so the idea you’re holding a hearing now to talk about better ways to implement it is crazy. I called it the fiscal equivalent of chutzpah.”
Of course, compromise has been reached before. Bill Clinton’s administration proved that it can be done. Now, however, a different political climate exists in the country, and Congress effectively holds the budget hostage when it refuses to participate in negotiations. “I’m not optimistic, but it’s not about the budget process. Congress doesn’t need it, they have all the power they need in the constitution, they can do whatever they want–the problem is they can’t agree on what they want to do, and until that happens, you’ll never get a budget process either enacted or actually implemented,” Collender explained.
After all, Congress didn’t even look at the President’s budget request this year. The failure of the budget process reflects the highly partisan nature of politics today. As Stan Collender points out, a lack of coherent priorities or decisions by the legislative branch paralyzes the fiscal policy of the nation – and this is a fact that is not likely to change in the coming four years.
05 May, 2016; Washington, DC: For several months now, Donald Trump has been considered the presumptive nominee for president on the Republican side. On Tuesday, that assumption became a reality.
By winning the Indiana Primary, Trump padded his massive delegate lead and is now closer than ever to securing the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination (Trump is now up to 1,056 delegates with 9 states remaining). He has such a commanding lead that both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have bowed out of the race entirely, leaving Trump without a single Republican competitor moving forward.
Trump is now +220 to win the White House at BetOnline, his best odds overall since we started keeping track back in early 2015. This means that a $100 bet on Trump to win the White House would pay out $220 if he wins the election.
For all intents and purposes, the Republican primary is over. It is no longer a question of “Can Trump win the nomination?” It is now a question of “Who will Trump’s Democratic opponent be in November?”
Things are much more interesting on the Democratic side
Hillary Clinton remains a solid favorite to win the nomination (she is currently -1500 at BetOnline, which means you would have to risk $1500 to win $100). However, while the former Secretary of State has won a majority of states and delegates, Clinton still hasn’t clinched the nomination.
After losing the New York Primary, Bernie Sanders was written off by the political and media establishment. He was counted out and left for dead. News pundits and party elites demanded that he drop out of the race and “unite” the party behind Clinton.
But a funny thing happened after New York.
Earlier this week, Sanders shocked the establishment by winning Indiana with nearly 53% of the vote, proving all the doubters wrong who told him to quit and exit the race.
While his path to victory remains narrow, Sanders is primed for a big 4th quarter comeback. Of the 13 remaining contests (9 states, 3 territories and Washington, DC), many favor Sanders.
According to the latest polling, the Vermont Senator leads Clinton in West Virginia and Oregon. He is gaining in Kentucky and New Mexico. He could sweep Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota as well.
If this happens, it will create a showdown for the ages in California, the largest state in the country (California doesn’t vote until June 7th). Sanders has vowed to run an “unprecedented grassroots campaign” in the Golden State and has already sent dozens of his top staffers to set up the campaign infrastructure.
Sanders currently trails Clinton by about 300 pledged delegates. If he can pull off a string of late victories he will close the gap substantially heading into California, where 475 delegates are up for grabs (more than enough to flip the race in his favor).
If this scenario holds true, neither candidate will have the 2,383 delegates needed to secure the nomination, which means the Democrats are headed for a contested convention in July.
Will There Be A Democratic Contested Convention?
Sanders can take some solace in the fact that the last Democrat to win a contested convention was Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, the godfather of the Democratic Socialist movement that Sanders now champions.
Many have predicted that in the case of a contested convention, Sanders’ army of revolutionaries will flood the city of Philadelphia, exerting massive pressure on super-delegates (party elites who can change their vote) to switch from team Clinton to team Sanders.
Also aiding Sanders is the fact that super-delegates in states that Sanders won big will face enormous backlash if they side with Clinton and go against the will of their constituents. They will also be inundated with polls showing Sanders as the stronger general election candidate (nearly every national poll shows Sanders beating Trump by much larger margins than Clinton).
While Clinton’s unfavorable ratings are only slightly better than Trump, Sanders remains a massively popular figure nationwide. He is the only candidate left in the race with a net-positive favorability rating. He also appeals to a much wider audience than Clinton. Sanders has incredible support among young people and independents, two constituencies that are key to winning the general election in November.
Long story short, if you believe Sanders can shock the world and pull off the upset, you should place your bet on him now, as his numbers are sure to improve with a series of wins down the stretch. Simply put, Sanders’ value will never be higher than it is now.
We are already starting to see this trend take place. After winning Indiana, Sanders’ 2016 odds rose from +2000 to +1400 at BetOnline, while his nomination odds rose from +1400 to +1000. This means that a $100 bet on Sanders to win the nomination would pay out +1000, while a $100 bet on Sanders to win the White House would pay out $1400.
On the flip side, if you view the Sanders comeback as a progressive fantasy that has no shot of actually taking place, you shouldn’t place your bet on Hillary right now, as her odds are sky-high (she is currently -240 to win the White House at BetOnline. This means you would have to risk $240 in order to win $100). More closely, you would be better suited to wait for Sanders to win a few contests, which will deflate Clinton’s odds, giving Hillary backers a better price.
What do you think?
Is Clinton still a shoo-in? Can Trump win in November? Or will Sanders pull off the greatest upset in modern political history?
Josh Appelbaum is the Customer Service Manager, Affiliate Manager and Political Expert for Sports Insights, a sports betting analytics web-site based in Boston, MA. For over a decade, intelligent sports bettors have relied on Sports Insights’ innovative software to make smarter bets. Learn more at www.sportsinsights.com or follow Sports Insights on Twitter: @SportsInsights
Washington, DC; 28 April 2016: Providing aid and bolstering development in a region that has been a perennial conflict zone since 1948 is both demanding and rewarding. United Palestinian Appeal (UPA) has managed to do just that with a small dedicated staff and supporters since their founding in 1978 by a group of successful Palestinian-American professionals in New York. Focus Washington’s Chuck Conconi sat down with UPA’s Executive Director Saleem Zaru to learn more about the organization and its operations.
Zaru discussed the challenges of working under the constant state of emergency, noting that providing relief often consumes a great deal of time and funding, as opposed to being able to focus on development. One of the founding principles of UPA was to contribute to socioeconomic and cultural development in Palestine, but immediate needs to provide food aid, medical care (including psychological care for trauma victims) and basic needs like clothing and hygiene products sometimes take precedence.
In spite of the ongoing violence and emergency situations, UPA has made remarkable inroads in anticipating and instituting programs that help Palestinians become more independent so their situations do not perpetuate reliance on charity. Whether through micro-finance programs that launch small entrepreneurial start-ups, scholarships that advance education to better position Palestinians for employment, or partnerships programs like the Embracing Life campaign which is bringing Cleft Lip and Palate surgical and nursing training to West Bank and Gaza in conjunction with the Craniofacial Center at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
When asked about how programs like UPA can address extremism, Zaru stated that giving someone the opportunity to put food on their table and support their family creates hope, and hope is the best way to fight the lure of extremism.
Zaru’s dream for UPA is that they would go out of business because there is no more need and Palestinians live under normal conditions. Until that time comes, UPA will continue delivering hope to the people in Palestine and the refuge camps.
To learn more about United Palestinian Appeal, visit their website at: http://helpupa.org/
April 5, 2016: In the second race of the season, the German racer Nico Rosberg took a comfortable win in the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday April 3rd. Meanwhile, his Mercedes team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, climbed to third following a first-lap collision. The event attracted a peak of 3.2 million viewers. Around a hundred of them were watching from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain in Washington, DC.
The viewing party drew an eclectic crowd of friends of the embassy, as well as fans of the event. Attendees tended to wear red and/or white – in support of Bahrain – or wore apparel that identified their favorite team. Employees of the embassy mingled and socialized with the rest of the crowd, but were readily identified by their matching red and white Bahrain International Circuit shirts.
The main room functioned as a majlis (a room for gatherings in Arab homes) where people could watch the race and socialize. With large windows that flooded the space with natural light, the space was decorated from flags from all over the world and had multiple large screens to carry the broadcast from Manama. Outside a long buffet had been set up that served American and Arab Barbecue fare — with everything from hot dogs and kofta (similar to grilled “sausage” made from minced lamb and beef with spices) to hummus and pita. Arabic sweets were provided for dessert.
In comparison to the event in Bahrain — which is held as a night race set off by shooting sparks resulting from car modifications that have welded titanium plates to the undercarriage of the low, sleek automotive beasts — the viewing party at the embassy was casual and provided a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy the afternoon. After the excitement of Rosberg crossing the finish line, the embassy raffle brought its own cheers as several winners took home first class tickets to Florida, and others won pearls from Bahrain.
In 2008, when President Barack Obama was elected, progressive liberals looked forward to a leader who could move a progressive agenda along. On this week’s episode of Focus Washington with Chuck Conconi, liberal political commentator Bill Press addresses his disappointment in Obama’s pursuit of progressive legislation and change; Press’s recent book, Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down, makes a case for each missed opportunity.
According to Press, who is the former chairman of the Democratic Party in California, Obama fell short of progressive expectations on issues such as gun control, health care and immigration. Nevertheless, Press praises Obama for several accomplishments during his eight years in the White House, “I give him credit for all the good things…brought the economy from the brink of ruin, saved the American auto industry… the [recent] Iran nuclear deal, re-opening relations with Cuba, so long overdue…”
Press criticizes the philosophical underpinnings of Obamacare’s in particular. “[Obama] said single-payer option was not under consideration–mistake number one,” says Press. “Then a public-plan option was offered, giving people the option: instead of buying private insurance they can set up for Medicare, he sold that public plan action, dropped it without a vote or fight.” Current Obamacare requires every single American to buy insurance from a private insurance company… pharmaceutical companies can charge anything they want for prescription drugs.”
Press says that where the President walked away from Congress, he should have stepped forward. Both gun control and immigration reform present similar scenarios: Democrats had the majority in Congress for the first two years, and the Obama administration failed to act decisively.
“Obama should have fought the fight…. there are people that know how to work Congress. President Obama didn’t develop any strong relations when he was there and certainly didn’t as president.”
A progressive will work with Congress, says Press, engage in conservation, and “fight the fight.” To the extent that Obama didn’t use the power of the presidency with Congress, he let down the progressive liberals like Bill Press down.
It’s a fundamental issue addressed in media outlets all over the country: what happened to the conservative party?
Vic Gold states, “The breakdown of the republican party starts with Newt Gingrich and the 104th congress in 1994.” This, according to the long time conservative consultant, writer and journalist is where the polarization begins.
Gold elaborates, “Newt introduced a personal venom; the congress spent time impeaching [Bill Clinton], stopping the government…” (Once in 1994 and 1995 due to budget talks with the Clinton Administration.)
A seasoned politico who has lived through 24 elections, Gold knows that current GOP nominees are not descendants of the Goldwater rebellion; Vic served as the press secretary for Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election and co-wrote George H.W. Bush’s 1987 autobiography. “These people are not conservatives…they are practically anarchists.” Gold agrees with Marco Rubio’s sentiments regarding Donald Trump: he is a third-world dictator.
It’s important to note the distinction between conservatives and anti-liberal in 2016. “[Anti-liberals] hated the Clintons and hate Obama… that’s all that matters.”
A reflection of the republican party’s state is particularly jarring, “Barry Goldwater would not run today, Ronald Reagan would not and could run today, let alone be elected.”
The unraveling is not exclusive to the republican party, it’s the whole political fiber.
“Why is Bernie Sanders the only guy that gets in the race? The political system, the money system we have…it has something to do with it. Joe Biden doesn’t get in the race because he doesn’t have the money. This is what Sanders has…he doesn’t have the money but he gets into it… we used to have that.”
While each party is responsible for its own weakness, it is “a “confluence of things that are working towards [Trump] a psychopathic megalomaniac. The republican party is broken down but the democratic party, which is a great party, how is it after twenty years with all the democrats, we come up with Hillary Clinton and the only other person is [Bernie Sanders]? Where are the democratic leaders today? Why? That’s what I want to know. That concerns me.”
With too few democratic leaders entering the arena and too many anti-liberals campaigning as republicans, the integrity of the republican establishment has disintegrated and held hostage by the likes of Donald Trump and others.
Why does Bernie Sanders matter? Washington D.C. reporter and author Harry Jaffe answers that very question and shares insight he gained for his book, Why Bernie Sanders Matters in an interview on Focus Washington. He addresses a vital principle that is absent in many presidential candidates: Bernie wants to lead and govern where others want the power that comes with being a president.
Jaffe elaborates, “[Bernie’s] message is more than ‘I want to be president’, he wants to start a political revolution and he is on a mission.” Sander’s mission concerns the working class, a demographic that has no doubt suffered from stability in recent years. He looks through a lens that views the historical context of working class as the backbone of the American economy that is inconsistent with its state today. This is why, Jaffe says, he is not surprised about Bernie’s success, in Michigan or otherwise.
Working class voters are angry that their jobs are increasingly being sent overseas and their paychecks decreasing as a result. Opportunities for the working class are diminishing, rendering parents unable to provide a quality of life for their families that was once standard. To that point, Sanders has always lobbied on behalf of the working class and never supported a fair trade agreement. Jaffe explains that Sanders measures every agreement not as to whether it helps the corporate class, but whether it is going to help the working class. Given that Ohio and Illinois are industrial states, Bernie has a favorable chance of winning in those primaries (contrary to projections of other commentators).
The Vermont senator carries momentum in the support of young voters. According to Jaffe, he has the “effable ability to be sincere, believable and trustworthy.” A perennial insider, Hillary Clinton is conditioned in the conventional political rhetoric; answers are rehearsed and produced according to polls and advisors, a strategy the Sanders campaign defies. When asked, “Bernie Sanders will respond in a direct way because that’s the way he has been speaking for 40 or 50 years, he doesn’t have to think about it” because everything boils down to what he thinks and believes. That’s refreshing and unusual.
Jaffe points out that Sanders as a Populist does have something in common with Trump in that he is not part of the establishment. But, the comparison ends there as the author viewsTrump as a “populist fascist” to Sanders as a “populist socialist”.
Bernie Sanders champions voters who are apathetic or distressed with Washington. He answers their call for change and relief; he hears them and shows them they matter. And because he lets them know that they matter, Bernie matters.
The Republican establishment is drafting a movement to defeat Trump– but will it stick? If it’s anything similar to the public controversies inundating the businessman’s campaign, it won’t. Donald Trump as Bob Cusack, says, is “the Teflon candidate”.
His divisive statements regarding Muslims and tolerance of his KKK connections only seem to ameliorate his numbers.
Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority leader Mitch McConnell denounce his positions; however, as Cusack points out, both have gone on record to say they will support the nominee.
Anemic in delegates, “unless the establishment coalesces against [him], he will no doubt be the nominee,” Cusack suggests. With two senate endorsements to Ted Cruz’s zero, Marco Rubio’s deflating momentum (victorious in only Minnesota and more recently, Puerto Rico) and John Kasich’s waning campaign– “there is no good alternative”.
Unconventional republican rhetoric drives Trump’s broad appeal: he has openly blamed George W. Bush for 9/11, attacked pharmaceutical companies and even Wall St. This works, in part, because, “the republican electorate is rebelling against the establishment and there’s nothing they can do to stop it…. you’ll never see anything like this in politics ever again.”
Republicans on the Hill have balked at the intransigent candidate, going so far as to promise to vote for Hillary Clinton over Trump. In a scenario where Donald Trump doesn’t get the delegates, “it will be a nightmare for the establishment”.
Simply: Trump’s numbers will slide and he will, ultimately fall to Hillary Clinton.
MSLGroup/Qorvis has polished up its 2016 campaign tracker, Influencer16.com. Launched in 2015, the digital platform is a visual guidebook to each candidate’s campaign structure for the 2016 presidential election.
President of Qorvis/ MSLGroup president Michael Petruzzello remarks, “Nothing like Influencer2016 has ever existed before.” Influencer16’s innovative approach is a resource that is fit for any political novice or expert. “Our digital and campaign teams joined together to build an extraordinary digital map that offers a special look inside and behind the scene of the campaign apparatus,” Petruzzello explains.
Seasoned politicians establish a plethora of relationships with trusted advisors who help anchor his or her presidential bid. Influencer16 places the individual campaigns in context of the bigger picture and elucidates voters of presidential campaign nuances. MSLGroup/Qorvis is proud of Infleuncer16 and its continuation of producing unique strategies/tools in the public affairs arena.
By Stan Collender
Many members of the U.S. House and Senate have complained long and hard about what they say is an out-of-control Federal Reserve Bank. They protested when the Fed took what they considered to be unprecedented measures during the recession, railed against someone other than an elected official making critical decisions about the U.S. economy and complained about what they claim is the Fed’s overbearing regulatory stance.
But congressional critics of the Federal Reserve should count their blessings: Instead of the Fed, they could be dealing with the increasingly hard-to-explain and harmful actions of the National Bank of Ukraine.
There is no doubt about the difficulty of the economic situation in the Ukraine. The value of the country’s currency has recently lost two-thirds of its value and inflation has soared to what for Americans is a hard-to-believe almost 43 percent.
Ukraine’s political situation is just as difficult. Just a few weeks ago, Vice President Joe Biden demanded in a speech in Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev that the country quickly move ahead with governmental reforms that he insisted were long-promised and much-needed.
But Ukraine’s economic and political challenges do not explain or justify the actions by the National Bank of Ukraine that are actually exacerbating rather than alleviating the country’s problems.
In the midst of one of the worst economic downturns in Ukraine’s history that put serious stress on the country’s banking system, the NBU chose to close almost 60 banks rather than arranging for the strong ones to take over the operations of the weak. This made credit less available to Ukrainians at the precise time that it was most needed and exacerbated rather than alleviated the difficult economic situation.
It also greatly reduced the confidence Ukrainians have for the banks in their country. After the inept way the NBU acted, a survey conducted by The Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation this past July 2015 showed that almost 77 percent of Ukrainians did not completely or mostly trust their banks.
The NBU is also making it far more difficult than necessary for the surviving institutions and by doing so it reduced both current and future economic activity.
Read the full article here in The Hill.
Chuck Conconi is back this week with a new episode of Focus Washington! His guest is budget expert Stan Collender, lending his insights into the continuing resolution, the effects of a shutdown, and giving his predictions for the upcoming elections.
Kurdistan is a roughly defined geo-culture located in the Middle East with a population of 28 million; however, the recent immigration crisis has resulted in the absorption of 1.8 million refugees into the region. This increase causes an extreme strain on Kurdistan’s available resources.
The article below by Eli Lake was originally posted on Bloomberg View:
When the Islamic State in 2014 began its rampage throughout Iraq, many of the displaced people found a safe haven in the Kurdistan provinces in the north. That safe haven is now in danger.
This week at the start of the U.N. General Assembly, the Kurdistan Regional Government (or KRG) publicly warned that it was running out of money to provide basic services to the nearly 1.8 million Iraqis and Syrians who have fled there.
Unless the regional government receives a quick infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars, “there is going to be absolute destitution among the displaced population that we have not seen since the 1990s under Saddam,” the KRG’s U.S. representative, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, told me Tuesday.
The current refugee crisis created by the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars has received significant attention in recent weeks as hundreds of thousands of refugees have sought new lives in Europe. But it’s the countries in the Middle East that are suffering the most as a result of the ongoing war.
In Jordan up to a quarter of the population is now Syrian refugees. The Kurdish region of Iraq has seen its population increase by 30 percent since the crisis began in 2014. Today the Kurdish region hosts 1.5 million displaced Iraqis and 280,000 Syrian refugees, according to the KRG’s statistics.
In the face of this crisis, one might think the Kurds would consider closing their border if the wave of migrants continues. But Abdul Rahman said that would be a last resort.
“We don’t want to close our borders,” Abdul Rahman said. “It’s not fair to someone running for their life. How can you shut your door to them?”
For Kurds the issue is a matter of principle. Almost all Kurds know the experience of being displaced. In Iraq they survived Saddam Hussein’s Anfal campaign, which included the use of chemical weapons in Halabja. “We’ve all been refugees at least once,” Abdul Rahman said. “Even people like me who are very privileged have been refugees. This is something we want to avoid at all costs.”
At the same time the situation in the Kurdish region is growing desperate. According to a recent estimate from the World Bank and the KRG’s own Ministry of Planning, the KRG will need $1.4 billion to stabilize the internally displaced people in its region if the flow of asylum seekers ended today. In a less optimistic scenario, it would need $2.4 billion.
In reality this would mean that even fewer children of the displaced in the Kurdistan region could go to school. Today 60 to 70 percent of school-age children do not go to school. Basic health services are often not available. Many of the internally displaced are living in shipping containers and half-built buildings without heat or electricity. Meanwhile, the U.N. vouchers for necessities like food could be eliminated, creating an even greater need.
When I was in the Kurdish region in January and February, I saw the misery for myself. The yards of churches and mosques around Erbil were turned into camps with tents and generators housing Iraqis who only a few months before had been comfortably middle class. Homeless Iraqis who couldn’t get housing at one of the seven U.N. camps in Erbil begged on the streets in broad daylight.
For now Abdul Rahman and other KRG officials in New York this week are appealing to Western governments for much-needed cash. But she told me she was also hoping for relief from other sources, including Christian charities and other private philanthropies.
Part of Abdul Rahman’s pitch is that over time, the young people displaced by the war will become a threat to the region and beyond if they are not integrated into society. She’s not alone in fearing this outcome. In testimony Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Nancy Lindberg said the seven camps for the internally displaced just in and around Erbil were described to her by one aid worker as “seven time bombs.”
Abdul Rahman compared the fate of the displaced in the Kurdistan region to the generations of Palestinians who live in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank. “I don’t want to take a side in that conflict,” she said. “But it’s a fact that there is a Palestinian generation who have lost everything, who are radical and vulnerable and have no hope. I don’t want that in my backyard in Kurdistan. One Palestine is enough.”
Zack Space is an American politician and a former Congressman, representing Ohio’s 18th congressional district from 2007 until 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Space serve on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, as well as on the Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection; Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet; and Subcommittee on Health. Space currently serves as a principal for Vorys Advisors LLC, a subsidiary of the law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease.
Transcript below: Continue reading »
Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy’s Sue Sheridan discusses the impact of GOP control of the Senate on transmission policy.
Sue Sheridan is the President and Chief Counsel of CFTP. Ms. Sheridan began her work on Capitol Hill as counsel to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power when it was chaired by Rep. Philip R. Sharp, after stints at the Department of Energy and the White House Domestic Policy Council. She worked afterwards at the Energy and Commerce Committee for Chairman John D. Dingell, and served as Chief Counsel to the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment when she left the Hill in 2008. Ms. Sheridan now works as a consultant and an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs and the George Washington School of Law. Ms. Sheridan graduated from Duke University and Vanderbilt Law School.
Transcript below. Continue reading »
Watchen Bruce is Chief of Party for USAID’s “Liberia Investing for Business Expansion Program” or IBEX. Implemented by the International Executive Service Corps’ consultants and volunteer experts, IBEX works on the ground in Liberia to support small- and medium-sized businesses by offering technical advice and facilitating access to credit. IBEX is also helping to raise funds and conduct crisis mitigation training to help local businesses to cope with the disruptive effects of the Ebola virus.
By Cui Tiankai
Originally posted on CNN
Editor’s note: Cui Tiankai is ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United States. The views expressed are those of the author.
News that U.S. President Barack Obama is planning to attend next week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing has been extremely welcome. China is thrilled to have President Obama as one of our guests, especially as the success of any initiatives that emerge from APEC rest squarely on cooperation between China and the United States.
Such cooperation is as important as ever, and this meeting — an event I have been involved in for many years — offers an opening to ending confusion among neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region while setting the stage for vigorous economic cooperation and integration in the coming decades.
The reality is that without strong participation by China and the United States, APEC would not have made such remarkable progress. When China and the United States find ways to work together, all nations benefit.
But shared economic growth cannot come through the decisions or actions of a single country. Instead, economic integration should be seen as a vital driving force for economic growth and prosperity in the region. Continue reading »
In the book “Careers in International Affairs” published by Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Qorvis MSLGROUP’s Rebecca Bouchebel-MacMillan wrote about a career in Public Relations in the world of international affairs. The award-winning career book is the ultimate job hunting guide for anyone hoping to work in the US government, international organizations, business, or nonprofits.
Editors: Laura E. Cressey, Barrett J. Helmer, and Jennifer E. Steffensen.
By Rebecca Bou Chebel- MacMillan
When Tiger Woods crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant at 2.25 am outside his Florida home he could not have anticipated the consequences – within days his life would be turned upside down and his public image damaged, possibly forever. By the time his managers came up with a strategy it was too late: a sporting icon and international household name had become damaged goods.
A good public relations campaign could have spared him the worst of the media onslaught but his team was too slow to act – they lost the golden hour and damage control became impossible.
The international free flow of information, globalization and the speed at which news is being disseminated via social media have made the fields of PR and Marketing imperative for any government or corporation.
From world-leading nations to small islands, global corporations to local businesses, all are finding themselves exposed and vulnerable to the speed of communication and the power of unchecked narratives channeled through the web. Today more than ever, they are vulnerable to crisis, as they are constantly put under the microscope. It is within this new media world order that the need for constant “engagement” and “relationship building” has become the bread and butter of PR and Marketing professionals. Continue reading »